Really, BA?

I like Blue Apron – we have it delivered nearly every week. It’s great. I write this blog because I admire Blue Apron and the positive effect it has had on our weekly cooking experience. Yet, there are times when a gripe is worth mentioning, and this is one of those times.

In last week’s package of goodies – which included some awesome meals – there was one ingredient that did not belong. In a small plastic bag labeled ‘Missing Something’ was a wine cork. I get it, BA, you want us to buy wine too. We know you sell wine – it’s on your website, you tweet about it, its in your emails. We got it! Adding the cork to our meal package is a pretty slimy tactic, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

For our last meal of the week, we were given the Smoked Mozzarella and Cabbage Pizza. Seemed good enough for us, but we had some extra ingredients in the fridge we were looking to get rid of. The most pressing of these ingredients were chicken thighs. Not wanting to waste this protein, we decided to add them to the pizza and use some spicy BBQ sauce to create our version of a BBQ chicken pizza.

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We cooked the thighs first, using a non stick pan and just a teaspoon or so of olive oil. We seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and cooked them until they were browned on the outside and done on the inside. We then cut them into bite sized pieces and proceeded to follow the remaining steps of the recipe. We added the cut up chicken to the cabbage towards the end of its cooking for about 2 minutes and added just a bit of the BBQ Sauce.

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For the dough, we added a thin layer of BBQ sauce before putting down the cabbage and chicken mixture. After the cabbage and chicken was spread all over the dough, we added the smoked mozzarella, which we grated instead of cut into cubes (i think it melts better this way) and then drizzled some more BBQ sauce over the top of the pizza. We cooked it in the oven per BA’s directions, and were really happy with the result.

Got any BA Hacks? Send us a note!

Sous Vide

In order to save cooking time, we often employ a sous vide machine to cook certain meats we receive from BA and many of our non-BA meals. Sous vide is simply a method of cooking using precise temperature controlled water. Items you wish to cook are sealed as air tight as possible in a plastic bag and then placed in a water bath in which the water temperature is kept at the desired degree. For example, if you wanted to cook a steak so the inside was exactly 125 degrees, you would set your sous vide machine to 125, toss in your vacuum sealed meat, and walk away. It may take about an hour or so for the meat to reach temperature, but you can also just leave it all day, as it will never be overdone.

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Its a great way to cook, and we use it often. I built my own sous vide machine, but there are many out there to choose from.

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As we decided to switch our proteins around last week, we ended up using the Cod for the stir fry. Instead of stir frying the Cod, we left it in the sous vide cooker all day, as Mrs. BA Hacker and myself were arriving home late that day. We followed the directions for the stir fry, omitting the chicken. When the stir fry was finished, we brought the fish out of the sous vide and quickly seared them. We then laid the Cod on top of the stir fry. It was delicious, saved us time, and super simple.

Milanese style Chicken Sandies

This week we received 3 enticing meals from Blue Apron: Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry, Cod Sandwiches, and Smoked Mozzarella and Cabbage Flatbread. We were not too excited about the Cod Sandwiches, and decided to make some changes that would affect two meals this week.

We went ahead and swapped out two proteins, Cod and Chicken, with each other. This would give us a Cod based Stir Fry and Chicken Sandwiches. Today I’ll post about how we made our Chicken Sandwiches.

Not wanting to just sear our Chicken, we scoured our cabinets for ingredients, and hit pay dirt with some Ritz Crackers. The Ritz crackers would be the bread crumbs for a Milanese style chicken. We used about half a roll of crackers and smashed them with our hands in a bowl and then placed them on a place. We also used a bowl of flour, and another bowl with one egg.

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We rinsed and patted dry the chicken and then dragged each breast first through the flour, then the egg, and finally through the Ritz crumbs. Adding a nice thin layer of Olive Oil to the pan, we lightly fried the breasts until nice and golden brown.

The rest of the recipe was followed exactly, and the aioli and Kale went very well with the sandwich. I’d also recommend a few shakes of Frank’s Red Hot to complete the sandwich.

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We will discuss how we prepared the Cod in our next post.

Got any suggestions? Write to us! 

 

Shakshuka and Sausage

I don’t hate potatoes. They are great when mashed, roasted, au gratin, as a salad, and even fried when done correctly. What I don’t like are home fries, sometimes called country potatoes. This dish has become the preferred side dish for many breakfast entrees. It’s usually a heaping load of diced potatoes pan fried with salt and pepper. In general they are served lukewarm, soft, and altogether unappetizing. When did we make the switch from hash browns to home fries? Did we vote on this? Hash browns are clearly a better alternative, with that top crispy golden layer of goodness, followed by that soft starchy interior. But, I digress.

When I saw the ingredients for the Shakshuka provided by Blue Apron, I was disappointed about the potatoes. Basically, we are creating some home fries to act as the framework for the dish. No thank you. Having purchased a few sausages for breakfast a few days ago, I decided to substitute the sausages for the potatoes in this dish – so happy I did this. It came out very flavorful and delicious.

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To start the dish, we removed the sausage casings and cooked them in our pan just as if they were the potatoes and then followed the recipe as it was written by Blue Apron. A real simple and easy substitution. I understand that the Shakshuka comes as a veggie option, and we intended to use it as a veggie option, but the home fries potatoes just was not going to happen for me, so we made the change.

What are your thoughts regarding home fries? Let us know by using our comments section here. Any other suggestions or hacks for us?

A Little Help from our Rice Cooker

We had planned for yesterday to be a bit of a long day,  and me and Mrs. BAHacker were going to be coming home later than usual. No sweat, we planned ahead and were able to enjoy our Chicken Stir Fry from last week (the meal we saved by freezing the chicken). I was pretty happy with the taste of the meal, but thought the cucumber salad was missing some flavor.

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In order to shorten our cooking time, we prepped the vegetables a day in advance. We highly recommend doing this for anybody who tends to come home late. You can prep almost all the vegetables for each of your meals the day you receive your Blue Apron package. Spend a little time on the front end to cut down on time each night when you are cooking.

Additionally, we added last nights rice to a rice cooker, which really does all the cooking by itself. Best of all, when it is done the rice cooker has a ‘keep warm’ mode that it switches to once the rice has finished cooking. We set the rice cooker going a few hours before actually making the meal. It definitely saved us a lot of time last night, and we could not tell any difference in the taste of the rice. If you can, buy yourself a rice cooker, they are inexpensive and we use our all the time and it can certainly help shorten your cooking time during your Blue Apron experience.img_1381

3 Meals, 2 Days

We hope everybody had a relaxed Labor Day Holiday, but now its back to business! Last week we talked about the importance of having Red Pepper Flakes on hand to supplement what is given to you by Blue Apron. Today we are discussing how to manage a week where you only have 2 days to eat 3 meals.

Our Blue Apron package just arrived, and I am pretty excited for this weeks haul. Our meals include the Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry, Paprika Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, and Sweet Corn Ditali Pasta.

This week we broke from our normal delivery and added a vegetarian meal to our weekly menu. This is a really smart option for those who find 3 heavy meat options a bit too much. We are not vegetarians, but also see no reason to eat meat for every meal. Adding a vegetarian meal to your menu is really easy with Blue Apron, and I’ll show you how to do it.

While we were excited to add a vegetarian option to this weeks menu, we did realize that we are traveling this week, and will not be in town to utilize our all 3 of our meals. We have only 2 days for 3 meals and needed to choose a meal to save for a later date. Since we are exited to try the new veggie option, we have opted to use that for this week, and with Mrs. BA Hacker being from the south, she was pretty adamant we eat shrimp and grits sooner rather than later. So, we decided that the Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry was going to be saved for a later date. Besides the fact that we were looking forward to the other two meals, this dish has ingredients that will be able to last up to a week with proper treatment.

We’ve decided the best way to save this meal is to freeze the chicken. Simple enough, plop your chicken in the freezer, and let the cold temperature do its work. Be sure to thaw the chicken before your plan on using it. You can thaw the chicken by filling a large bowl of cold water and placing it in your sink. Simply place the frozen chicken in the bowl of water (still in its wrapping) and wait 2-3 hours.

The vegetables included in this meal, Baby Bok Choy, Scallion, and Cucumber, are fairly hearty vegetables, and should be able to last in your refrigerator for at least a week. If you have a vegetable specific drawer in your fridge, best to place your veggies in there to maximize freshness.

The other non-vegetable ingredients with this dish: rice, Hoisin Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Ginger, and Sambal Oelek (if you are new to this condiment please read this blog post from TheKitchn.com, should be a staple of every cook!), will have no problems lasting another week when we will come back to this meal.

By not cancelling this weeks delivery, we have saved a meal for a later date. This hack allows us to have 4 Blue Apron meals for next week. Want more? Follow us on Twitter @blueapronhacker

We hope you enjoy your meals from this first week in September. If you have any hacks you want to share, please contact us by clicking here or visiting our Contact page linked above.

Bon Appetite!

Give them their Red Pepper Flakes!

Spending most of my life in the southwestern United States, I’ve come to like my food spicy. Whether its Mexican, Italian, Indian, or just plain old scrambled eggs, there had better be some hot sauce within arms reach. So, I was rather delighted to see that Blue Apron had included Red Pepper Flakes with many of its dishes, such as this weeks Chicken and Fresh Basil Fettuccini. IMG_1263When I opened my BA box on Monday and began sorting the ingredients, I was a bit disappointed to find this tiny packet of Red Pepper Flakes – it reminded me of the small amount of gold flakes at the bottom of a Goldschlager bottle (yes, I used to party like it was 1999), even Domino’s Pizza has bigger packets of Red Pepper! Why you holding out on us BA? Look at that sad bag of flakes. Depressing.

Some ingredients you should just have on hand, and they should be of high quality – olive oil, salt, pepper, and a good Red Pepper should be included in that list. There are a lot of places to get your Red Pepper, and there are a lot of good brands out there. My suggestion is that you find a great local Italian grocery store and ask them for their favorite. As for me, we use Filippi’s Red Pepper. Fillipi’s Pizza Grotto is an Italian grocery and pizzeria located in San Diego’s Little Italy district and is a must try if you happen to be in the area enjoying the Southern California beaches or betting the ponies at Del Mar Racetrack. IMG_1260

Their flakes are ground down a bit more than normal flakes, which almost makes it more like an actual red pepper instead of red pepper flakes. Either way, I find it quite delicious, and a great substitute on BA meals that call for this ingredient.

Red Pepper Flakes from Filippi’s cost a whopping $1.99, and a small bottle will last you quite a while. Its a worthwhile investment for those of us using the Blue Apron service, and I recommend you pick up a bottle. So, hack away next time you see Red Pepper on the menu and add your favorite Red Pepper flakes to give your meals that extra kick of heat and authenticity

Got a favorite Red Pepper you’d like to suggest on this site? Add it to the comments section or send it to us at blueapronhacker@gmail.com. Also, any hacks you’d like to suggest for Blue Apron? Email us and we might just use it on the site.

Bon Appetite!