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Violentvixen
02-18-2015, 12:48 PM
We got a coupon for Blue Apron (http://www.blueapron.com/)when we moved in October and gave it a shot. We've been using it about once a month since and really enjoy it. It's a great alternative to going out to eat and it's fun to share with each other.

It's introduced us to new variants on dishes we like, side dishes that hadn't occurred to us but are easy to make and a few entirely new foods (neither of us had had a sunchoke before this, for example). Having exactly what we need and the exact amounts we need is great, there are several things I wouldn't have tried without this because I would have had to buy a large amount at the grocery store and wouldn't be comfortable doing so.

Here are the recipes we've gotten so far with some notes:

Flank Steaks & Creamed Kale with Sunchokes Two Ways (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/hanger-steaks-creamed-kale-with-sunchokes-two-ways) As said above, we'd never had sunchokes. They're really good! The steak was great and the creamed kale was still really light, I loved this one.

Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Capers & Garlic Breadcrumbs (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/corsetti-pasta-with-roasted-cauliflower-capers-garlic-breadcrumbs) Not a combination I would have thought of and I haven't seen purple cauliflower before or since. Really tasty.

Beef on Weck Sandwiches with Heirloom Potato Salad (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/beef-on-weck-with-heirloom-potato-salad) I expected this one to be really boring but it there were a lot of great flavors in the sandwich. The salad was surprisingly good too!

Chicken Schnitzel with Watercress, Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/chicken-schnitzel-with-watercress-apple-golden-beet-red-walnut-salad) I've never seen watercress for sale here but if I did I would buy it to make this salad again. So good.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Maple-Glazed Carrots (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/roast-chicken-with-mashed-potatoes-maple-glazed-carrots) This was good, but definitely the least interesting meal.

Thai Chicken Meatballs with Red Coconut Curry, Bok Choy & Rice Noodles (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/look-chin-gai-with-red-coconut-curry-boy-choy-rice-noodles) This is a lot of stuff I'm not a fan of so I thought it was just okay, but Lumber loved it and would make it again.

Crispy Salmon & Barley-Fennel "Risotto" with Fresh Herb & Walnut Salad (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/butter-basted-salmon-barley-fennel-risotto-with-fresh-herb-red-walnut-salad--2) Probably our least favorite. I just can't get into barley unless it's in beer. Not a fan of the texture and taste.

Pasta e Fagioli with Cannelini Beans & Tuscan Kale (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/pasta-e-fagioli-with-cannelini-beans-tuscan-kale) This was a wonderful upgrade to white bean/kale soup which is one of our winter staples. The garlic chips are easy and add a lot to the dish.

Southern Beef & Collard Green Stew with Cheddar Grits (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/seared-hanger-steak-with-black-eyed-pea-collard-green-stew-cheddar-serrano-grits) I expected to hate this one. Instead I polished it off and was hugely disappointed there wasn't more. Absolutely not something I would have tried on my own.

Chicken & Wild Mushroom Casserole with Porcini Béchamel Sauce (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/chicken-wild-mushroom-casserole-with-porcini-bechamel-sauce) Neither of us like mushrooms so we modified this one a bit but it was still filling without them. Liked this much more than I expected.

Steak & Miso-Roasted Vegetable Salad with Ponzu Dipping Sauce (http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/flank-steaks-miso-roasted-vegetable-salad-with-ponzu-dipping-sauce): This is the most recent one we've had and it was freaking amazing.

Anyway, Lifehacker did a great job of comparing Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated (http://lifehacker.com/the-best-meal-kit-services-blue-apron-vs-hello-fresh-1682517921)recently, I'd recommend reading that if you're curious.

TheSL
02-18-2015, 01:07 PM
This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.

MCBanjoMike
02-18-2015, 01:12 PM
This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.

We do longer meals like this on weekends, but yeah, during the week it's all stuff that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We should start another thread with our go-to weekday recipes.

I had never heard about the idea of meal kit delivery prior to this. None of the fun delivery services exist in Canada, but I'd be tempted to try one out if they did. How much does one of these meals cost?

Red Hedgehog
02-18-2015, 01:16 PM
I've known someone who was doing this for awhile. It's a cool idea and it's nice that you only get a meal portion of stuff that would otherwise sit in your pantry/fridge until it goes bad. The downside is that it's still generally more expensive than going out and getting groceries for meals for two. If I were single, I'd be much more likely to do it.

Violentvixen
02-18-2015, 02:20 PM
This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.

We do longer meals like this on weekends, but yeah, during the week it's all stuff that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We should start another thread with our go-to weekday recipes.

I had never heard about the idea of meal kit delivery prior to this. None of the fun delivery services exist in Canada, but I'd be tempted to try one out if they did. How much does one of these meals cost?

Most of these are 30-45 minutes, I think the only time it took longer than an hour was when I wanted the meat more done than the recipe called for. Having all the stuff there and pre-portioned saves a ton of cooking time.

Blue Apron comes out to about $10/person/meal. The lifehacker writeup (http://lifehacker.com/the-best-meal-kit-services-blue-apron-vs-hello-fresh-1682517921) has a good breakdown.

Bummer about Canada, but I'm sure shipping produce would be a huge headache. Wonder if there's an equivalent?

I've known someone who was doing this for awhile. It's a cool idea and it's nice that you only get a meal portion of stuff that would otherwise sit in your pantry/fridge until it goes bad. The downside is that it's still generally more expensive than going out and getting groceries for meals for two. If I were single, I'd be much more likely to do it.

It's absolutely a restaurant replacement for us rather than a grocery replacement. Instead of one nice $60 meal for both of us we get three, and we absolutely enjoy them more than we would that one meal. Depends on why you go out to eat, for us it's usually a treat to try new things, and we generally only go out once a month anyway.

Destil
02-18-2015, 03:45 PM
Cooking for one person is basically the worst thing as far as portions and shopping and whatnot, so I may have to try this out.

upupdowndown
02-18-2015, 04:46 PM
one of my friends is a food blogger (as a hobby). She loves good food and loves to cook, and she basically praises Blue Apron to the skies for weeknight meal solutions. the produce that comes in is perfectly portioned and in great shape, and she's learned all sorts of new stuff from making the meals.

i'd be tempted to give it a shot myself but p. sure that Blue Apron meals don't fit the macronutrient profile of my current diet.

Red Hedgehog
02-19-2015, 04:28 AM
It's absolutely a restaurant replacement for us rather than a grocery replacement. Instead of one nice $60 meal for both of us we get three, and we absolutely enjoy them more than we would that one meal. Depends on why you go out to eat, for us it's usually a treat to try new things, and we generally only go out once a month anyway.

Fair enough. Living in New York, we wouldn't want to give up our 1-2 times a week restaurant outings since we make it a point to go to places serving things we can't make or it would be hard to make ourselves.

SpoonyBardOL
02-19-2015, 06:34 AM
I've always been interested in services like these, but A) I'm in Canada and I don't think Blue Apron even ships there, and B) I'm in a remote, northern part of Canada so even if they do chances are I'm still out of luck.

Grey Weirdo
02-19-2015, 09:19 PM
We've been talking about trying this out, but haven't just yet. It sounds like aneat idea though.

Falselogic
02-19-2015, 10:25 PM
Cooking for one person is basically the worst thing as far as portions and shopping and whatnot, so I may have to try this out.

SpoonyBardOL
02-20-2015, 04:34 AM
I've never had too much trouble cooking for one, but I rely heavily on leftovers and freezing them. Any recipe that makes too much for me to finish in a few days I'd only make if it freezes well.

krelbel
06-28-2016, 05:03 PM
Bump! Hito's the chef, but my parents got me 4 free meals through Blue Apron to encourage me to do something nice for my husband and also help me learn how to cook, and I've had a great time with it so far! It's still $10/person/meal, which is very competitive for how we usually end up eating around here. Since all my culinary expertise before this started and ended with boiling pasta, I've been learning a whole lot, and been really pleased with the results! In chronological order:

Spicy miso glazed chicken wings with purple rice zucchini salad (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/spicy-miso-glazed-chicken-wings-with-purple-rice-zucchini-salad): I undercooked the rice; I think I lowered the heat too much after boiling, so it didn't simmer so much as sit in warm water? The miso paste in the chicken wing glaze is a stroke of genius, makes it just thick enough that the glaze sticks to the wings, they turned out great. Even with undercooked rice, the side salad is exactly my favorite kind of side dish. I made this one for myself for a trial run as Hito was out of town, and was very careful not to chop my fingers off or burn the place down in his absence. Lesson learned from this one: Allow a little extra time for the recipe to account for the fact that my knife skills are nonexistent, so it takes me somewhat longer to chop and dice than the recipe expects. It's okay, I'll get better.

Seared steak & spiced potatoes with sauteed sugar snap peas and tarragon labneh sauce (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/seared-steak-spiced-potatoes-with-sauteed-sugar-snap-peas-tarragon-labneh-sauce): This strongly resembles one of my favorite meals growing up! (flank steak + asparagus + potatoes). Except the labneh (basically a sour yogurt?) sauce with fresh tarragon made it really special; I'd never worked with fresh herbs before, heh. This seems like a fantastic application of the Blue Apron service, taking simple familiar meals and adding very minor modifications to them that elevate the meal to the next level, while making it not that much more difficult or expensive.

Spicy hoisin turkey meatballs with sauteed zucchini brown rice (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/spicy-hoisin-turkey-meatballs-with-sauteed-zucchini-brown-rice): The meatballs turned out great! This recipe used the same Sambal Oelek hot pepper paste that the chicken wings used, and I'm a big fan. Really tasty stuff. The rice was raw again :( I think I made the same mistake as I did with the previous rice, lowering the heat too much. help how do I rice???

Black garlic shoyu ramen with green beans and shiitake mushrooms (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/black-garlic-shoyu-ramen-with-green-beans-shiitake-mushrooms): What the hell, homemade ramen? I still can't believe I actually made this; this was a bit trickier than all the other recipes so far, as I had to boil+peel eggs, peel+mince ginger and black garlic, slice mushrooms, chop scallions, slice green beans lengthwise (which is a pain in the ASS), sautee the mushrooms+ginger+garlic to make the broth (homemade ramen broth!), blanch the green beans, boil the noodles, and put everything together at the end. My arm is still a bit sore after all that prep work, which is a bit embarrassing. The results were fantastic, though! I'm a big fan of ramen, and there are several great ramen restaurants in the area, so making really good ramen myself felt like a great accomplishment. I was also surprised that the recipe was entirely vegetarian aside from the eggs; I had never tried vegetarian ramen before.

So yeah, this is great for me because I'm eating like an Adult while also learning how to cook! Well worth the reasonable price. I'm only getting shipments every other week so as to not overdo it in terms of cost and work, so my next shipment comes two weeks from now. Hooray cooking!

Pajaro Pete
06-28-2016, 05:10 PM
Rice can be a little finnicky until you figure out your stove. Let it boil for about a minute, uncovered, then cover it and reduce the heat (but not as far as you've been doing), then when the time is up, turn off the heat but let it set there on the burner, covered, for five or so minutes before you take the lid off.

shivam
06-28-2016, 06:55 PM
Turnip's got the right of it. letting the rice steam is how my grandmother taught me to cook rice too.
i'm really tempted to try this!

estragon
06-28-2016, 07:33 PM
If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.

Put in the right amount of rice and water, wash the rice, press cook, and forget about it. It cooks perfectly and stays warm and ready for hours.

If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.

Torzelbaum
06-28-2016, 07:37 PM
If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.
[...]
If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.I've heard that you can cook other things in rice cookers but I can't vouch for the process.

shivam
06-28-2016, 07:42 PM
yeah, i use my rice cooker every two days, but there are some things that i still want the stove for, like various pulaos.

Violentvixen
06-28-2016, 10:41 PM
I've heard that you can cook other things in rice cookers but I can't vouch for the process.

You can make huge pancakes (http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/06/14/how-to-make-epic-pancakes-with-your-japanese-rice-cooker/).

We use it for steel cut oatmeal, it's wonderful. Lumber had to spend a lot of time convincing me to get the rice cooker since I don't like rice much but it's been quite convenient.

Also if someone is interested in trying Blue Apron I think we have a coupon code or something, I'll ask Lumber.

krelbel
06-28-2016, 11:36 PM
If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.

Put in the right amount of rice and water, wash the rice, press cook, and forget about it. It cooks perfectly and stays warm and ready for hours.

If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.

We have a nice Zojirushi rice cooker (that we never use, as I never cook and Hito prefers doing it without gadgets), and I did use a rice cooker very often back in college, but I wanted to learn how to cook it on the stove anyway, just as part of the whole learning experience.

Thanks for the suggestions though guys, I'll keep that in mind next time I try. Actually, we have some rice on hand, I might try just cooking it by itself for practice before it shows up in a recipe again.

upupdowndown
06-29-2016, 07:33 AM
krel, I'm glad you're enjoying your adventures in Cookington!

another great use for rice cookers: you can use them as good steamers with the provided tray. I use our rice cooker every week to steam myself a bunch of medium-boiled eggs for snacks as part of my weekly meal prep. It's the best method I've come across for consistently getting them the doneness I prefer.

Kirin
06-29-2016, 08:16 AM
Can you elaborate on those eggs, UUDD? Cooking time/setting? Also how much water to you need to put in?

Kylie
06-29-2016, 09:37 AM
This makes me want to Blue Apron again! Last time I did it, I loved it but food still went to waste b/c I'd have weeks where I literally didn't have time to do any cooking. If I could manage a schedule better, I think it'd be nice to get in on this again!

krelbel
06-29-2016, 10:05 AM
This makes me want to Blue Apron again! Last time I did it, I loved it but food still went to waste b/c I'd have weeks where I literally didn't have time to do any cooking. If I could manage a schedule better, I think it'd be nice to get in on this again!

I'm not sure if any of this has changed recently, but canceling (or changing; you get to choose 3 from 6 options) any upcoming shipment for free is really easy now, just three clicks on either their phone app or their website, just need to do it at least 6 days in advance. And I haven't experimented with this too much (as I've been too excited to cook to let the meals sit in the fridge uncooked for long) but my coworker who subscribes says that sometimes he'll get a shipment but not feel like cooking for a few days and everything lasts just fine in the fridge for up to a week. So as long as you can anticipate week-long crunch times at least a week in advance, the chances of food going to waste should be pretty low, at least in theory.

I was also worried about scheduling meals and food/money going to waste (as I am almost too lazy to breathe, and I have never kept any calendar but the one in my head) but I feel pretty good about this, we'll see how it works out.

upupdowndown
06-29-2016, 10:16 AM
Can you elaborate on those eggs, UUDD? Cooking time/setting? Also how much water to you need to put in?

You need to experiment with your own rice cooker. Mine has a "steam" setting. I put about an inch and a half of water in the pot, put the rinsed eggs into the steamer tray, and then set the steaming timer for 6 minutes. the timer doesn't start counting down until it reaches Full Steam (Ahead) status.

At the end of the 6 minutes, I take out the tray, rinse the eggs under cold water for like a minute, then immediately refrigerate. The yolks are still golden and very moist - slightly liquid in the center. this is my preferred texture! If I wanted hard-boiled I'd do 8 or 9 minutes I think.

if you just have a regular one button steamer, I'd experiment and try an egg out for about 11-12 minutes total to start with.

Kylie
06-29-2016, 03:08 PM
So as long as you can anticipate week-long crunch times at least a week in advance, the chances of food going to waste should be pretty low, at least in theory..

Unfortunately, this sentence is the problem. Like, the first time I started, I had a month where on a day-to-day basis I worked 16 hour days.

krelbel
06-29-2016, 04:07 PM
Unfortunately, this sentence is the problem. Like, the first time I started, I had a month where on a day-to-day basis I worked 16 hour days.

Canceling for a whole month is easy! It lets you set which deliveries you want to get or skip up to 6 weeks in advance. My biggest gripe (and it's a very minor gripe) is that it doesn't let you set a non-weekly cadence entirely automatically; it defaults to one delivery per week, so if you want deliveries any less frequently than that, it does require visiting the website to configure that at least once every 6 weeks forever until you unsubscribe. But the phone app and website are nice enough that I decided that was an acceptable drawback.

In other words, the service can still work totally fine with month-long crunch times, or even longer (as long as you babysit the website at least once every 6 weeks). The only time you'll really have a delivery go to waste is if a surprise crunch time (lasting longer than a week) coinciding with a delivery occurs with less than 6 days notice ahead of time.

Kylie
06-29-2016, 04:14 PM
The important part was day-to-day; I reasonably assumed that after each individual hellday I'd get some sort of respite, hopefully enough overall to cook my food.

I was so, so wrong.

I cancelled once I realized there was unlikely to be light at the end of that tunnel soon.

upupdowndown
06-30-2016, 05:53 AM
#lawproblemz :c

Grignr
07-02-2016, 05:48 AM
You can make huge pancakes (http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/06/14/how-to-make-epic-pancakes-with-your-japanese-rice-cooker/).

I tried this with our simple "cook"/"warm" toggle mode rice cooker, using the "1 cup of powder mix" recipe on the back of a box of Aunt Jemima Complete Buttermilk, and only got a dense normal-sized pancake that was brown on the bottom and pale on top. The cooker kept switching out of "cook" mode after only a few minutes.

Not sure if I need more batter or my cooker just doesn't believe in itself enough to keep it up.

Rufferto
07-02-2016, 01:58 PM
This seems like a great service for beginning and intermediate home cooks. I know I struggle with home cooking, even though I'd have no problem whipping something up if given the recipe. A big issue is meal planning - It's hard to shop for a week's worth of meals in advance if I want some variety. The best I can do is plan out a single dish for the week and make that in bulk, and I have a hard enough time even doing that. It's also a lot harder to find time to plan new dishes now that I'm out of school and have less free time. Having someone curate my meals and send them to me cuts out a lot of the mental cycles I'd devote to preparation.

LBD_Nytetrayn
07-03-2016, 12:21 PM
Hm, this would be something I'd be interested in, if it were available in Canada. Take a lot of the guesswork out of meal prep.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of a killjoy when it comes to things I can't eat (like peppers and onions), so this probably wouldn't be as good for me as I'd like.

krelbel
07-06-2016, 03:17 PM
Hm, this would be something I'd be interested in, if it were available in Canada. Take a lot of the guesswork out of meal prep.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of a killjoy when it comes to things I can't eat (like peppers and onions), so this probably wouldn't be as good for me as I'd like.

I'll bet there's some similar service available in Canada, though I don't know of any off the top of my head.

Blue Apron accommodates picky eaters to some degree; you get to choose 3 of 6 options for every delivery, although you're limited to certain combinations (i.e. you can get meals 1, 3, and 4 in one delivery, but you can't get meals 1, 3, and 6). Hito and I have used that already, as he vetoed one option for this week's delivery that included shrimp (weirdo). I've seen comments on some of the recipes where people suggest substitutions for people who like a recipe except for one ingredient, though obviously if you do too much of that then you're sort of defeating the point of the whole thing (as you're still paying for, then throwing away, the ingredient you don't want).

krelbel
07-10-2016, 09:54 PM
Whatever, this is krelbel's food blog now I guess!

New Blue Apron shipment arrived, so I got to cook sweet chili chicken stir fry with tinkerbell peppers and green beans over coconut rice (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/sweet-chili-chicken-with-tinkerbell-peppers-green-beans-jasmine-rice) for lunch yesterday. Yes, the rice I'd been practicing for!

Previously, on krelbel learns to not just let rice sit in warm water:

Thanks for the suggestions though guys, I'll keep that in mind next time I try. Actually, we have some rice on hand, I might try just cooking it by itself for practice before it shows up in a recipe again.

So I've practiced making rice maybe 5 times since then, so I was ready. And the rice came out perfectly, hooray! Now, I wasn't entirely inexperienced going into this, as I used to make stir fry back in college times. But this one was fancied up a bit compared to what I used to do, with coconut rice instead of normal rice (same preparation, just coconut milk powder added to the cooking water), and a sweet chili + mirin sauce and scallions/ginger/garlic for flavor. It was delicious! If I got that exact dish at a restaurant, I'd be raving about it (though I would wonder why the chef is so awful at french cutting green beans) and would definitely come back to the restaurant to order it again, and I don't think I've ever thought that about something I've cooked before!

Next up (Tuesday or Wednesday, because busy): I get to burn the hell out of some empanadas (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/empanadas-de-picadillo-with-tomato-cucumber-salad-lime-crema).

Rosewood
07-12-2016, 02:39 PM
Whatever, this is krelbel's food blog now I guess!

I expect to sign up for Blue Apron in the next few weeks, so that won't be true forever. :)

There's so much that argues for it... I dislike the amount of food that gets wasted when I cook, whether sauces and spices or unused vegetables, and it would actually be a cost savings since we do carry-out and restaurants a LOT. I also couldn't menu plan myself out of a paper bag so choosing from a pre-selected set of meals sounds perfect. And if the recipes are as beginner-friendly as they say, maybe I can convince my partner to help out, too.

I was concerned about packaging waste, and a quick check on the BA site tells me you can return wrappers and cooling packs to them free for recycling. Very nice.

More in the not-too-distant future!

Rufferto
08-02-2016, 10:49 PM
I subscribed to Blue Apron a couple weeks back because of this thread. It's not bad! Some things I learned:

Mise en place: This is a lesson I have to relearn whenever I start cooking again. It's really easy to mess up a recipe when you start cooking still have ingredients waiting to be prepped.

Portion sizes: The portion sizes are a lot smaller than I'm used to cooking. Though they look small, I've never felt hungry after eating one. Having said that, I've never felt stuffed, either. I feel sated.

It's also helped me get a better understanding of calorie amount in relation to portion size. Knowing that the portion sizes for blue apron dishes hover around 700-800 calories, I now recognize I've been habitually underestimating the amount of calories in my own cooking and in restaurant portions.

The food is pretty good, but many of the other competing services offer discounts for first time users, so I think I'm going to suspend my subscription for now and cycle through them to see what I like. So far, I'm looking at home chef, hello fresh, plated, and peach dish.

Kylie
08-11-2016, 08:38 AM
Blue Apron's been treating me okay - only one meal's been semi-wasted (and that was just the veggie portion) because I've been pretty deliberate and directed about making time to cook.

I am DEFINITELY getting a little tired of summer squash and tinkerbell peppers, though, those can leave rotation at any time.

krelbel
08-11-2016, 03:42 PM
I was really excited to get back into the Blue Apron routine this last weekend, after needing to skip a delivery. And this delivery did not disappoint; my favorite recipe by far was lemongrass chicken burgers (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/lemongrass-chicken-burgers-with-hoisin-mayo-roasted-potato-wedges). This recipe was so delicious and so easy, I can definitely see myself buying these ingredients outside of a Blue Apron delivery to recreate it myself. The burger itself was packed with flavor and moisture (ground chicken, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil), in fact there were so many liquid ingredients that it was a bit difficult to form into patties, but they held together just fine in the pan and were DELICIOUS. The rest of the burger was simple and paired beautifully with the patty; a thick slice of tomato, bunch of cilantro, and a mixture of hoisin sauce and mayonnaise, all on a toasted potato bun.

krelbel
08-11-2016, 03:55 PM
Mise en place: This is a lesson I have to relearn whenever I start cooking again. It's really easy to mess up a recipe when you start cooking still have ingredients waiting to be prepped.

Yeah this is a lesson I've learned from a few of my Blue Apron recipes; often they'll have you start something that takes a while to cook, then have you do a bunch of the chopping/mincing while that's cooking, with the assumption that it will take you a certain amount of time to complete said chopping/mincing before whatever you have going finishes cooking. Since I'm still very new, it takes me a lot longer to do the prep work (though I'm getting faster, but trying not to rush to avoid chopping my fingers off), so I learned early on that it can help to reorder the recipe a bit to do some more of the prep ahead of time, before the point where it's called for in the recipe.

Another (probably obvious) Blue Apron Pro Tip to make things easier on whoever needs to do the cleaning up: In the prep instructions, they always show a nice tidy picture with individual small bowls for each ingredient you've chopped up, implying that you should place every ingredient in its own tiny bowl. This makes for a nice picture, but I've found it worthwhile to glance ahead in the recipe while doing the prep to consolidate bowls. For example, that tasty burger recipe above calls for mincing garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. The picture shows three tiny bowls, one for the garlic, one for the ginger, and one for the lemongrass. But then the same step has you tossing all three of them in a pan at the same time. Well there's an easy optimization there; just put them all in the same bowl, and you've cut down on two bowls you need to clean. Even better, just mince all of them together at the same time, and you've cut down on the amount of mincing you need to do. My prep (and cleanup) times got a lot more reasonable once I started looking for little optimizations like this.

Torzelbaum
08-11-2016, 07:01 PM
Another (probably obvious) Blue Apron Pro Tip to make things easier on whoever needs to do the cleaning up: In the prep instructions, they always show a nice tidy picture with individual small bowls for each ingredient you've chopped up, implying that you should place every ingredient in its own tiny bowl. This makes for a nice picture, but I've found it worthwhile to glance ahead in the recipe while doing the prep to consolidate bowls. For example, that tasty burger recipe above calls for mincing garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. The picture shows three tiny bowls, one for the garlic, one for the ginger, and one for the lemongrass. But then the same step has you tossing all three of them in a pan at the same time. Well there's an easy optimization there; just put them all in the same bowl, and you've cut down on two bowls you need to clean. Even better, just mince all of them together at the same time, and you've cut down on the amount of mincing you need to do. My prep (and cleanup) times got a lot more reasonable once I started looking for little optimizations like this.Gamers... Always trying to min-max everything. (But that seriously is good advice.)

Pajaro Pete
08-11-2016, 07:14 PM
Blue Apron's been treating me okay - only one meal's been semi-wasted (and that was just the veggie portion) because I've been pretty deliberate and directed about making time to cook.

I am DEFINITELY getting a little tired of summer squash and tinkerbell peppers, though, those can leave rotation at any time.

i will take this excess summer squash off your hands

Kylie
08-12-2016, 07:50 AM
let me know where to back up the truck

Rufferto
08-29-2016, 09:15 PM
Just made the mexican beef quesadilla (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/mexican-beef-quesadillas-with-creamy-corn-shishito-pepper-salsa). The quesadilla itself is fine, but the real standout is the side. It's corn and shishito pepper tossed in a lime and creme fraiche dressing. There's only four ingredients, but damn if they don't go well together. Each ingredient adds something that just works. You get some sourness from the lime, some tang from the creme fraiche, sweetness from the corn, and a hint of spice from the peppers. It's really damn good.

Rosewood
10-10-2016, 11:05 AM
We signed up for Blue Apron!

The first dish we made was this one (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/glazed-cod-udon-noodles-with-shiitake-broth-togarashi-spiced-quick-pickles). It was pretty good! Although I've been very spoiled by restaurant udon and didn't care for the texture of the noodles in this, the fish and cucumber marinade were great together.

Even better than the dish itself was working together with J to make it. He is completely inexperienced with cooking, so he set up the ingredients on the "workstation" and read off the recipe while I did the preparation. And then we ate the meal together. Just a nice little mini-date. And we'll be having them three times a week for a while. :)

krelbel
10-10-2016, 04:45 PM
We signed up for Blue Apron!

The first dish we made was this one (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/glazed-cod-udon-noodles-with-shiitake-broth-togarashi-spiced-quick-pickles). It was pretty good! Although I've been very spoiled by restaurant udon and didn't care for the texture of the noodles in this, the fish and cucumber marinade were great together.

Even better than the dish itself was working together with J to make it. He is completely inexperienced with cooking, so he set up the ingredients on the "workstation" and read off the recipe while I did the preparation. And then we ate the meal together. Just a nice little mini-date. And we'll be having them three times a week for a while. :)

That sounds great! Hito and I skip all the fish dishes because he's really picky regarding fish (doesn't like much that isn't halibut or chilean sea bass, which are both far too expensive to show up in Blue Apron meals, and can't stand the usuals like catfish/cod/salmon/shrimp that are always the fish entry on the menu). It would be nice if their fish selection was a little less spartan, but I guess meal prices would have to go up if they were to regularly toss around $30/lb fish fillets.

I've kept up with this since starting it in June, and still really enjoying it. Still doing almost all of the meals myself (as I'm using this as an opportunity to learn how to cook), but Hito and I cooked one of the meals in the last shipment together, similar to how yours went, and we had a great time.

Remember that it's easy to cancel deliveries as long as you do it at least a week ahead of time; three times a week may turn out to be too ambitious given your budget/schedule/appetite. I find that three times every other week works out perfectly for me.

Another Pro Tip: the recipe cards that come in the box are really nice, but the recipes online (like the one you linked to) not only have short videos accompanying various steps you might not know how to do (which I find really handy), but also a surprisingly useful comment section at the bottom of each recipe. I like to spend a few minutes skimming the comments for a recipe before doing it; often they'll suggest easy modifications that help a lot in the end result.

Violentvixen
10-10-2016, 06:30 PM
Yeah, I really love the "mini-date" aspect of these. It takes a lot of the stress of cooking away and I can just enjoy a nice time together working toward the same goal.

Rosewood
10-11-2016, 09:29 AM
Remember that it's easy to cancel deliveries as long as you do it at least a week ahead of time; three times a week may turn out to be too ambitious given your budget/schedule/appetite. I find that three times every other week works out perfectly for me.

I didn't realize that you could cancel that frequently but as long as you stay signed up I'm sure they're just as happy!

We aren't, to put it mildly, accustomed to cooking at home, and part of our intention when we decided to sign up was to develop better habits, to take efforts to cook at home rather than grabbing take-out or eating at restaurants. Not getting in there and making the meals 3x a week is a literal waste of food and money, which is a good motivator. So we'll stick with the weekly deliveries for now.

Rosewood
10-17-2016, 09:18 AM
Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.

taosterman
10-17-2016, 09:38 AM
Another great way to prepare brussels sprouts is to roast the fuck out of them at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. They get really crispy and sweet.

krelbel
10-17-2016, 02:56 PM
Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.

Yeah, Blue Apron likes using seasonal ingredients in their recipes, and keeping the cost of each meal below a reasonable limit, which tends to result in similar elements between consecutive meals. I'd like to figure out a way to fancy up the simple cucumber salads they've used as sides for several dishes, because I love a nice cucumber salad, but they tend to be a bit boring going by the Blue Apron recipes alone.

Part of the fun of Blue Apron, as you get more used to their recipes, is doing your own little modifications to their recipes. A simple way to start is by taking some of the extra garlic you get in every one of their shipments and add it to a dish that doesn't have garlic in the recipe. (I've also used the extra garlic to make my own garlic rice throughout the rest of the week, after really liking the garlic rice recipe I learned in one of their recipes.) So far I've mostly stuck to modifications suggested by people in the comments on the online recipes, but I'm sure as I get more comfortable I'll continue to improvise.

Parish
10-17-2016, 03:04 PM
Another great way to prepare brussels sprouts is to roast the fuck out of them at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. They get really crispy and sweet.

Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.

upupdowndown
10-17-2016, 05:48 PM
Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.

add some chopped up shallots and toss in balsamic vinegar and baby, you got a stew goin'

Parish
10-17-2016, 06:30 PM
add some chopped up shallots and toss in balsamic vinegar and baby, you got a stew goin'

Damn, that's a lot of balsamic vinegar.

LBD_Nytetrayn
10-17-2016, 10:45 PM
Double posting for some minor Blue Apron comments:

I was getting concerned about the preponderance of vinegar-based slaw--it's nice now and then, but not something we'd want to eat every week. Luckily, as autumn goes along they're changing up the vegetable sides to squash, carrots, things along those lines.

Grilled Brussels sprouts are so good. Much like asparagus, it's amazing how much nicer the "nasty" vegetables are when they aren't boiled to death, like they were when I was tad.

Creamy coleslaw or bust.

spineshark
10-17-2016, 11:53 PM
Yeah, Blue Apron likes using seasonal ingredients in their recipes, and keeping the cost of each meal below a reasonable limit, which tends to result in similar elements between consecutive meals.hahaha, this is what's been happening when i've cooked since i moved, since even though i just buy stuff it's always either like "oh hey eggplants are still cheap" or "i bought this huge cauliflower and i can't put it all in one dinner"

as for brussels sprouts, my roommate cooked them once with onions, apples, and vinegar. it sounded kinda weird but i really liked it

as for vegetables in general...well, i get why people get upset about well done steaks even though i don't eat steaks, because i certainly have strong feelings about obliterating vegetables in a steamer or whatnot

Violentvixen
10-26-2016, 06:33 AM
Did anyone else try this week's Crispy Catfish (https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/crispy-catfish-with-yellow-curry-bird-s-eye-chile-sauce)? So good, and had more kick than usual. I wouldn't have thought all these flavors work together but they're really good.

Rosewood
10-26-2016, 07:23 AM
We did! So far the food's been on the bland side of spicy but that little bitty pepper was a powerhouse--both of us had our eyes and noses watering just from cutting it up.

The only complaint is that the coconut milk sauce's consistency didn't turn out well. Never did manage to get the base perfectly smooth, and I stirred it a lot.

Violentvixen
10-26-2016, 08:57 PM
Lumber says that he whisked it instead of stirred and that worked well. I remember it being smooth so I figured he did something a little different.

Kylie
10-27-2016, 09:02 AM
Seconding this, but first you chop up a piece of raw bacon and sprinkle it over top of the sprouts.

This is truth.

One thing that I have noticed about Blue Apron is that, for exceptional reasons, none of their meals use bacon fat as a source of flavor.

So far by my count, and I say this as someone who is not a particular lover of bacon, about half of their meals need bacon. They're drawing a lot of inspiration from french country-style and American soul food - especially stuff with vinegary greens that often get fat from lardons or egg yolks*, and these are moments where bacon is perfect and not just That Okay But Disappointing Thing Internet People Won't Shut Up About since bacon or fatback in small amounts serves to create a vinaigrette rather than just grease the food up.

Even more so because BA's target audience tends to be suburbanites of certain demographics who are very fat-conscious and so their recipes do not generally have the fat content necessary to actually execute on some of the plans. You don't cook collards if you don't have significant fat going with them, for example - some tough or fibrous starches or greens need fat, and lean proteins can't necessarily provide it well.

If you haven't Blue Aproned and are considering it, and pork is within your dietary range, definitely consider keeping a small amount of fatback on hand for whenever they suggest cooking a green.

*they don't use egg yolks for the same reason they tell you to overcook all your proteins

will
10-27-2016, 09:06 AM
This is truth.

One thing that I have noticed about Blue Apron is that, for exceptional reasons, none of their meals use bacon fat as a source of flavor.

So far by my count, and I say this as someone who is not a particular lover of bacon, about half of their meals need bacon. They're drawing a lot of inspiration from french country-style and American soul food - especially stuff with vinegary greens that often get fat from lardons or egg yolks*, and these are moments where bacon is perfect and not just That Okay But Disappointing Thing Internet People Won't Shut Up About since bacon or fatback in small amounts serves to create a vinaigrette rather than just grease the food up.

Even more so because BA's target audience tends to be suburbanites of certain demographics who are very fat-conscious and so their recipes do not generally have the fat content necessary to actually execute on some of the plans. You don't cook collards if you don't have significant fat going with them, for example - some tough or fibrous starches or greens need fat, and lean proteins can't necessarily provide it well.

If you haven't Blue Aproned and are considering it, and pork is within your dietary range, definitely consider keeping a small amount of fatback on hand for whenever they suggest cooking a green.

*they don't use egg yolks for the same reason they tell you to overcook all your proteins

I've had quite a few Blue Aprons and I think maybe once they sent a single strip of bacon.

I'm into your bacon idea, I'll give it a shot.

Rosewood
10-27-2016, 09:12 AM
While I'm enamored of the idea of a lowered animal fat meal 3x a week, the idea of eating greens that taste less of vinegar/more of savory i.e. like you get at Southern bbq places is very appealing and I know my partner would be 100% into it too. So do you fry up a piece of bacon as an oil base instead of using olive oil, something like that?

Kylie
10-27-2016, 01:54 PM
It honestly doesn't take much, just cube a few .5cm chunks (lardon (http://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-lardons-79578)-style fatback -basically cubes of thick bacon - is my pref but I also use Blue Apron because I aint got time to actually COOK what am I made of time?) and let them render out, then either (a) toss in the collards/kale/whatever it is you're sauteing and cook them in the fat, along with your bacon bits, or (b) render out the bacon fat as above, pour it off, and add it to the fresh green that you just mixed with the tiny bottle of vinegar to make a cheapass almost vinaigrette. Don't use a whole ton, in that case, but there's options for both hot and cold prep.

There's good reasons they don't put bacon in but it does potentially add a lot when they've already taken it out.

krelbel
10-27-2016, 02:56 PM
I've had several Blue Apron recipes that used a big ol' hunk of butter instead of the usual olive oil. I'm sure you can substitute butter for olive oil in other sautees if you want a quick flavor boost without the hassle/temptation of keeping bacon around.

While we're giving Fat Tips, I keep grapeseed oil around to use any time the recipe calls for using olive oil on something that will be heated, and only use olive oil for things that will not be heated (generally dressings).

MooMoo
10-29-2016, 08:34 AM
so I got a free box of one of these and was a bit disappointed to find all I got was the herbs and spices related to 4 recipes, no ingredients. Then I found out all the cool ones my friends were getting were super expensive, but did indeed include ingredients. This box (if I paid for it) was £8.99 against ingredient boxes that are £25+. Nice idea, but when you consider you can get the herbs/spices yourself cheaper, it's a bit of a wizz.

Anyway, I'm trying the butternut squash risotto recipe I got in it tonight. Will report back with findings. Butternut squash is my mortal enemy, so I don't expect this to be fun.

Edit: No point doing a photo cos risotto looks like barf at the best of times, but it was really nice! Again, not sure I really needed a box to be sent to me to accomplish it, but it was fairly simple and none too expensive (at least it was when I left out the parmesan and pine nuts and subbed for cheddar and walnuts).

krelbel
10-31-2016, 02:58 PM
This is more related to cooking in general than Blue Apron specifically, but Blue Apron is all I cook, so here it goes.

Every recipe I cook comes to a screeching halt whenever it comes to handling chicken. I'm hyper paranoid about food borne illness, so especially when I was just getting started, I'd always end up washing my hands what felt like a dozen times over the course of preparing that one ingredient.

Tear off a bunch of paper towels, get out a separate cutting board, cut the chicken over the sink, towel off the chicken, realize you didn't tear off enough paper towels. Wash hands. Tear off more paper towels, finish toweling off the chicken, put it on the cutting board. Wash hands. Apply seasonings to one side of the chicken, patting it in place. Turn the chicken over. Wash hands. Apply seasonings to the other side of the chicken, patting them in place. Wash hands. Heat up the pan. Move chicken to pan. Wash hands. Dispose of paper towels, move cutting board to sink. Wash hands. Clean area around the cutting board you accidentally got a little chicken juice on. Wash hands. And every time I wash my hands throughout that process, that adds a solid 1-2 minutes to prep time, as I'm extremely thorough about washing them. GAH

I'm getting a little more efficient but it's still a big stumbling block in every recipe. Just made chicken and broccoli last night and I had the bright idea to prep the chicken while the broccoli was sauteeing, forgetting that while I was preparing the chicken, I wouldn't be able to do anything with the broccoli, so it got pretty badly burned as my hands were stuck in Off Limits Chicken Zone the entire time I was supposed to be stirring it occasionally in the pan.

Basically I want to burn my kitchen down any time raw chicken is in it and needed to rant.

JBear
11-01-2016, 07:00 AM
Preaching to the choir. I saw some video once where they slathered a chicken in dye and then had someone cook and clean thoroughly and then turned on the black-light, and it's all I can ever think of when I'm handling it. I treat chicken like it's radioactive when I cook with it, and wash my hands just as often as you do. I hate cooking with it (or most raw meat, really).

Adam
11-01-2016, 09:55 AM
I usually lick my fingers once and then figure any accidental exposure after that will pale in comparison.

Falselogic
11-01-2016, 09:58 AM
Yet you all keep your toothbrushes in the same room you shit in...

JBear
11-01-2016, 10:04 AM
Yet you all keep your toothbrushes in the same room you shit in...
Why would I keep toothbrushes in my sex dungeon?

upupdowndown
11-01-2016, 10:15 AM
chicken cutting:

either 1) do your chicken prep FIRST before you do anything else, then move the chicken to a container and thoroughly wash the cutting board and knife

or 2) use a separate cutting board and knife for your meat.

You're also washing your hands longer than you need to.

That being said, one of my criteria for the sink when we remodeled the kitchen was faucets I could operate with the back of my forearms so I could easily wash my hands when they were meat-contaminated, so I feel you.

Rosewood
11-01-2016, 10:39 AM
The take-home I get from discussions like this is that there's not any reasonable way to 100% prevent yourself from eating living food-borne bacteria. (Moyashimon, anyone?) At least you have some control over that, whereas when you eat at a restaurant you have no way to know the servers' and chefs' sanitary habits.

I'm not as fastidious as some others here, but I do wash my hands and the counter after handling meat.

spineshark
11-01-2016, 11:50 AM
stuff like this makes me think about how much i love cooking and eating vegetarian hahaha

it's so easy, too

Dizzy
11-01-2016, 09:40 PM
Yet you all keep your toothbrushes in the same room you shit in...

Not me. I also wash my hands after coming in contact with cash and coins, knobs, handles, chemical cleaning supply containers, pancreas and shaking other people's hands.

Kirin
11-02-2016, 08:23 AM
stuff like this makes me think about how much i love cooking and eating vegetarian hahaha

it's so easy, too

Yeah, I'm not vegetarian but my wife is, so we usually don't use any meat at home, and honestly I usually don't bother dealing with real meat even when she's out of town. Having to give much less of a fuck about fastidious food safety is definitely a benefit. As long as nothing's growing fuzzy shit, we're probably good.

krelbel
11-16-2016, 03:26 PM
Had a very good interaction with Blue Apron customer service; Friday morning, when my box was scheduled to arrive Friday evening, I got an email from them saying that the delivery would be late, then another email from them that evening saying it would be stored safely overnight and delivered the following day and gave a full refund (without me even needing to ask). So they were very proactive in notifying me about the delivery status, and generous in the refund due to the inconvenience, and the food was fine when it arrived a day late anyway so I got six meals for free. Score.

That's the very first time I've encountered a hiccup in their normal service since I started it in June, and I'm pleased to see they handled it very well.

Rosewood
12-09-2016, 09:47 AM
FedEx didn't leave our shipment last week at the door like they usually do, so we ended up going to the ground ship office to pick it up. When I checked e-mail later, BA had sent a message saying "you didn't receive your package, don't worry, it will still be fresh tomorrow when they attempt delivery." The package was marked to be left without signature, so that was FedEx's error, and it's good to know that the packaging accommodates for blips like that.

As for the BA stuff itself, it's going well! We're able to predict where the recipes are going, a lot of the time

Citrus: zest off and mince the rind, quarter the rest.
"In a medium pan, non-stick if you have one..."
etc.

The dishes are getting pretty easy to make, and I'm already getting to the point that I believe I could follow a recipe that didn't start off in a parcel. I have a few America's Test Kitchen books (courtesy of the parents) where the recipes are as foolproof as recipes are likely to get, so that should be a good next step.

krelbel
12-09-2016, 10:34 AM
Citrus: zest off and mince the rind, quarter the rest.
"In a medium pan, non-stick if you have one..."
etc.

The dishes are getting pretty easy to make, and I'm already getting to the point that I believe I could follow a recipe that didn't start off in a parcel. I have a few America's Test Kitchen books (courtesy of the parents) where the recipes are as foolproof as recipes are likely to get, so that should be a good next step.

Yeah, I'm having the same experience, and I love the feeling of growing more comfortable with cooking. I'm picking up more and more tips on tweaking/enhancing their recipes, usually from the comments on their recipes online but also often from Hito. I'll usually be cooking something then call over: "Hey, they want me to do this this and this to finish the salad, is there anything I can add to make it tastier?" "Yeah, add some {X}."

After my comments earlier in the thread, I've also gotten much better at handling raw meat while staying sanitary without stretching the prep time out too much. Simple optimizations like changing a process that used to be something like:

"Unwrap chicken. Wash hands. Grab paper towels, pat the chicken dry. Wash hands. Chop the chicken. Wash hands. Salt and pepper one side of the chicken. Wash hands. Salt and pepper the other side of the chicken. Wash hands. Flour one side of the chicken. Wash hands. Flour the other side of the chicken. Wash hands. Oil/heat the pan. Move chicken to pan. Wash hands. Thoroughly wash main cutting board (large wooden boos block, not dishwasher safe)."

That process is now more like:

"Oil pan, get salt/pepper/flour all together in a bowl, get secondary (dishwasher safe) plastic cutting board, knife and paper towels all ready, pull out trash can. Unwrap chicken, pat dry, throw away chicken wrapper/towels, chop chicken, knife in sink, toss chicken with pre-prepared flour/seasoning, cutting board in sink. Wash hands and knife (to be reused later). Tongs to transfer chicken to hot pan, done."

Just as sanitary, but easily 5 times faster and WAY less stressful (just typing out the old process stressed me out). Switching to a workflow like that really made a world of difference for the non-vegetarian dishes. Took me a while to get the hang of, though.

Daikaiju
12-30-2016, 05:39 PM
Got a $40 off your first box code for Hello Fresh

first come, first serve. Just say something if you use it. Expires in 30 days.

3A432Q345

Lucas
06-27-2017, 04:33 PM
$30 off your first Blue Apron delivery if you go through the following address: blueapron.com/ba17b20. Expires 8/31. I have no idea if this is a unique code or not.