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?

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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!