A Trick For Better Vegetable Lasagna

There’s too much bad vegetable lasagna in the world. You know what we’re talking about: slippery noodles sitting in a puddle of their own juice, with soggy mushrooms spilling right out. It doesn’t have to be this way! Vegetable lasagna can be great if it’s made well.

The cheap, quick, painless solution? Cook your vegetables separately. Vegetables give off a lot of moisture as they cook, but that doesn’t mean your dish needs to end up watery. If you choose your vegetables wisely (our recipe has mushrooms, zucchini, onion and spinach) and prepare them ahead of time, you’ll end up with a finished lasagna that’s moist but not soggy.

It’s also important not to overload you vegetable lasagna. Having a proper amount of vegetables will help the lasagna maintain its shape, and will keep everything moist, but not watery. As you’re creating layers, don’t worry if it looks more sparse than you’d think. Even if you can see noodle showing through in some places, there will still plenty of veggies in each bite once your dish is complete. When you’re finished, you’ll have a meal that vegetarians and meat eaters will both adore.

vegetable lasagna with cous cous

Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ lb fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 15 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsps capers
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste 
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 oz spinach
  • 12 lasagna noodles 
  • 1 24-oz jar marinara sauce 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large pot of water ¾ of the way full of salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Halve, peel and medium dice the onion. Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and roughly chop 4 cloves of garlic. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Season the ricotta cheese with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Make the vegetable filling: In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the sliced mushrooms in an even layer and cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the diced onion, sliced zucchini and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned and slightly softened. Add the capers, tomato paste, and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly coated and fragrant. Add ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and the water has cooked off. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Cook the lasagna noodles: Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. The noodles should be just shy of al dente since they will cook a little bit more while the lasagna bakes. 

Assemble the lasagna: Spoon about ½ cup marinara into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Evenly top with 3 lasagna noodles, ⅓ of the cooked vegetable mixture, ⅓ of the seasoned ricotta* and about 1/2 cup marinara*. Repeat the layers of noodles, cooked vegetables, ricotta and marinara twice. Top with a final layer of 3 lasagna noodles and the remaining marinara. Evenly top with the sliced mozzarella cheese and half the grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. 

*Chef’s Tip: Dollop a little bit of ricotta by the spoonful across the layer in the baking dish, top with the marinara and then use a spatula to smooth both out into an even layer. It’s more than okay if the layers mix a little as you go.  

Bake the lasagna & serve your dish: Bake 15 to 20 minutes**, or until lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

**Chef’s Tip: You can assemble the lasagna up to a day ahead. However, if you bake the lasagna after taking it straight from the refrigerator, it may need to bake a few extra minutes to warm all the way through.

This recipe comes from Blue Apron Chef Lisa Appleton, a noted expert when it comes to baked noodles.

Making Vegetable Stock From Kitchen Scraps

Vegetable Stock Using Kitchen Scraps

It’s just a guess, but I’m betting that vegetable consumption across the U.S. is at an all-time high.

When you eat lots of veggies, you end up with lots of veggie scraps. I always strive to reduce food waste in my kitchen, so instead of throwing those scraps in the garbage, I use them to make delicious homemade vegetable stock.

I first started making stock in culinary school. My school processed hundreds of pounds of veggies a day, which, in turn, created mountains of scraps. There was always an industrial-sized batch of stock in the works. It was simple to take what I learned in school and adapt it for home use. Now, I bring the wisdom to you.

Making Vegetable Soup Stock

How to Save Vegetable Scraps for Stock

Choose a plastic bag or plastic container to be your designated scrap saving place. I happened to have an extra pop-top container laying around, so I put that to use. Each night, after cooking, I add scraps to the container, then store it in the freezer. Keep putting scraps in the same container until it’s full, then use the whole mess to create your vegetable stock.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Scraps to Use in Stock

There are SO many scraps that make for great stock. Here are the ones that turn up most frequently in my household:

  • Outer layers of onions—While I don’t save onion skins (they retain quite a bit of dirt), I do save the outer layers of onion flesh for stock. Hang on to those layers that are slightly too tough to eat, but still have some moisture and onion flavor.
  • Dark green parts of leeks— Have you ever noticed that 99% of leek recipes call for “the white and light green parts only”? Ummm hello… leeks are expensive! Throwing away half of each stalk (the dark green part) breaks my heart. Into the stock bin they go!
  • Corn cobs—Not the ones that people have gnawed on at a barbecue. Just the ones you’ve cut the kernels off of for soup.
  • Mushroom stems—Making a recipe that calls for just the mushroom caps (like stuffed mushrooms)? The stems have SO much flavor – put them in the stock bin.
  • Celery and carrot leaves—These aren’t really part of my regular diet, so they go right into the stock bin.
  • Veggie peels—This one is a judgement call. If a carrot or a parsnip has REALLY dirty skin, and looks musty even after a good scrub, I won’t save the peels, as they’ll give the stock a muddy flavor. But if the peels are pretty clean, game on.
  • Herb stems—Parsley, in particular, has plenty of goodness in its stems. They’re a bit woody for using in a delicate dinner, but they’re perfect for stock.

What Not to Use for Making Vegetable Stock

While most everything is fair game, there are a few things that aren’t optimal for stock.

  • Moldy or rotten vegetables. Vegetables that are just a little bit past their prime (such as bendy celery) are fine, but if anything is REALLY old and looks terrible, it’s best just to introduce it to the garbage can or compost bin.
  • Anything with a very strong, specific flavor (or color)—Cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, and beets are a few examples.

Steps on How to Make a Vegetable Stock

Here’s the big secret: if you throw everything into a pot, and don’t measure anything, it will probably turn out fine. Who has time for measuring cups? Here are the very loose instructions.

  • Grab a big pot.
  • The base of a good vegetable stock is carrot, celery and onion, so make sure these three ingredients are well represented, even if you have to add a few whole (chopped) vegetables to your scrap mix.
  • Drop in all your precious scraps.
  • Add some herbs – A few sprigs of parsley and thyme work well. Also, throw in a couple of bay leaves.
  • Whole black peppercorns – Exactly 12. No, just kidding. A small handful is sufficient.
  • Garlic cloves – If you want. Don’t even bother chopping them. Just smash ’em and throw ’em in.
  • Pour cold water over everything until water just barely covers the veggies.
  • Simmer uncovered, over medium heat, at least 1 hour, but preferably 2.
  • Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer; discard solids.
  • Use stock immediately for soup, poaching fish, risotto, or any vegetarian dish. Or, refrigerate stock up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Feeling inspired? Put your new stock to use in homemade chicken soup.

How-To: Shape Pizza Dough

Feta & Olive Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce

There’s no party like a pizza party! Making your own pizza at home is a fun activity and a tasty dinner. The only tricky part is shaping the dough. Follow these tips to create a chewy, bubbly pizza crust without things getting too sticky.

Before you start shaping, bring your dough to room temperature. Have you ever experienced stretching and rolling pizza dough, only to have it snap back into place? Cold pizza dough is full of tense, tight strands of gluten that make it extra springy. If your dough has been in the refrigerator, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before shaping. It will be much easier to work with. 

Bake the pizza:

Once the dough has warmed up, you can pick your method and start shaping. It’s tempting to coat your work surface and hands in a pile of flour to prevent sticking, but adding all that flour can have some unintended consequences. Incorporating additional flour into the dough can make your crust tough. Try coating your hands with a little bit of olive oil instead. 

Once you’re prepped and ready to go, try one, or a combination, of these methods to shape your pizza dough by hand. 

Stretching pizza dough by hand

shape the pizza

To stretch pizza dough, pick up the dough in your hands. Hold the edges of the dough with both hands, and let the rest of the dough hang down. Slowly turn the dough like a steering wheel, letting gravity stretch out the dough. Watch for any thin spots forming, and use your hands to support the dough and keep it from tearing. 

Pressing pizza dough

shape the dough

Place your dough in the center of the pan. Use the tips of your fingers to lightly press down and out, gently working the dough towards the edges of the pan. We love this method for deep dish and sheet pan pizzas. 

Shaping pizza dough with a rolling pin 

Don’t be afraid to turn to a rolling pin (or even a wine bottle!) for a little help. Place the dough in the center of a working area, like a cutting board or pizza peel. Flatten the dough into a disk with the tips of your fingers, and then lightly work the dough with the rolling pin. For a round pizza, start in the center, and roll out in every direction. For a sheet pan pizza, work into a rectangle and then transfer to the pan.  

Watch a Blue Apron chef demonstrate how to shape pizza dough with a rolling pin.

How to Cook Cauliflower Rice

grating cauliflower rice
Grating cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice is a beloved secret weapon for those looking for low-carb or low-calorie dinners. The neutral flavor of cauliflower makes it a perfect vessel for stir-fried vegetables or savory proteins.

Making your own cauliflower rice at home is an easy, money-saving option. You don’t need any specialized equipment to do it. Sure, it’s a little faster with a food processor, but our box grater method works just as well. 

How to make cauliflower rice at home 

Start with a head of cauliflower. Use a chef’s knife to remove the exterior leaves. Cut the cauliflower into quarters, cutting through the core. 

Using a food processor

To use a food processor, cut out and discard the core of the cauliflower.  

Cut the body of the cauliflower into large pieces, just large enough so that all of the pieces will fit in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbles form. 

Using a box grater

Riced and ready to cook

If you don’t have a food processor, don’t stress. 

Using the large side of a box grater, grate the quartered cauliflower onto a large plate. Grate until you reach the core, and then discard the core.

How to cook cauliflower rice 

Cauliflower rice cooks quickly. Using this method to cook the cauliflower on its own will prevent overcooking it while you wait for proteins and sturdier vegetables to cook. Follow this technique, and then combine your cooked cauliflower rice with the other elements in your dish. 

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat the 1 Tbsp of oil on medium-high until hot. Add the cauliflower rice in an even layer. 

Cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened.

Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to a bowl. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired. Cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe out the pan. 

Recipes with cauliflower rice 

Once you’ve riced your cauliflower, it’s time for the fun part. These are some of our favorite recipes with cauliflower rice.

This hearty stir-fry brings together a savory mix of ground turkey, bok choy, and cremini mushrooms with an umami-rich duo of spicy sambal and our soy-miso sauce. It’s all served on top of fluffy cauliflower rice.

This spin on a Chinese takeout favorite, swaps cauliflower rice for the white rice. Its tender texture complements a flavorful combination of pork, vegetables, and scrambled egg.

These lettuce cups are loaded with juicy pork and sweet peppers—seasoned with sesame oil and savory coconut aminos for punchy, satisfying flavor.

Find more recipes like these on the Blue Apron Cookbook.

How To Properly Cook Ground Beef 

Over the past few months, we’ve noticed some troubling videos featuring ground beef.  We’re here to set the record straight. Properly cooked ground beef should be browned and flavorful. If you end up with grey or dry meat, it’s time to examine your technique. You might be accidentally steaming your protein instead of gently sautéing. 

How to Brown Ground Beef 

Cook the ground beef
Properly browned ground beef

Choose the right pan 

Start with a pan that is large enough to accommodate all of your protein in a single layer. To avoid accidentally steaming, there needs to be room in the pan for hot air and moisture to escape as the meat cooks. 

If you’re working with a nonstick pan, you may not need to add any additional oil. The natural fat from the ground beef will help the meat brown and prevent it from sticking. If you prefer, you can add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan before adding the beef. 

Control your temperature 

Allow ground beef to come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes before adding it to the hot pan. If you add the cold meat directly from the fridge, it will drop the temperature in the pan and increase the cooking time. The lower temperature will make it harder for the meat to achieve a crispy brown crust.  Be sure to heat the pan and any additional oil to a medium-high heat before adding the beef. 

Don’t worry about a little fat 

After you thoroughly brown your ground beef, there may be some liquid grease in the pan. Before finishing your dish, you can drain the excess fat out of the pan, or use a slotted spatula to lift the meat out of the pan. Remember: a little bit of fat is a good thing. Fat that remains on the meat will add rich flavor. 

Recipes with ground beef

Now that you know how to cook ground beef, try some of our favorite recipes.

How to Make Farro Risotto

Apple Cider-Honey Pork Chops with Roasted Shishito & Mushroom Farrotto
Apple Cider-Honey Pork Chops
with Roasted Shishito & Mushroom Farrotto

Traditional Italian risotto can only be made with Arborio rice. This short grain, starchy rice is what gives risotto its signature creamy texture. The thing is, sometimes it pays to break tradition. It might not be the exact same dish, but whole grains like farro can make a delicious creamy meal all their own. Here’s how to make a risotto-style dish with farro. Learn these rules, and you can swap in almost any whole grain.  

Know your grain 

Whole grains like farro, barley, millet, teff, and quinoa can all be used for a creamy risotto style dish. Farro risotto is so beloved that it’s been given its own name—farrotto. A version of farro risotto even made its way onto Blue Apron’s menu in partnership with Chef Sam Kass. 

Compared to arborio rice, farro is nuttier and a little chewier. When it comes to making risotto, farro is actually a little more forgiving. Arborio can develop a gummy texture if rushed, but farro tends to keep things nice and creamy. Farro is also packed with protein and fiber, making it a great choice for a healthy swap. 

Pick your recipe

Even if you won’t be following the instructions exactly, you can draw inspiration for farro risotto from any classic risotto recipe. 

You can use traditional risotto recipes to get ideas for mix-ins, like spinach and parmesan, or toppings, like crispy brussels sprouts and goat cheese. 

Prepare your farro 

The grain cooking technique is the most important part of any risotto dish. The key is cooking slowly and incorporating liquid gradually throughout the cooking process. 

Farro risotto is made by slowly incorporating liquid into farro as it cooks. The liquid can be broth, water, wine, or a combination. After each addition of liquid the grains should be cooked until the liquid is completely absorbed. Only then should more liquid be added. This slow cooking process encourages the grains to release their starches and create a creamy texture. 

Prepare your other ingredients 

One of the chief rules of making risotto, or a risotto-style dish, is not to rush. To develop a creamy finished dish, the grains have to be cooked slowly and gently.

This long cooking time creates a wonderfully rich base of grains, but it would destroy softer vegetables. If your dish calls for delicate vegetables, like tomato or zucchini, cook them separately and spoon them over the risotto before serving. 


For an easy, healthy version of farrotto check out the Blue Apron x Chef Sam Kass menu.

How to Cut a Pineapple

whole pineapples

There are plenty of good reasons to buy a pineapple. Whether you’re blending up piña coladas, or making sweet and savory dinner, you’ll need to start by learning how to cut a pineapple.  

Whole vs. pre-cut pineapple 

Perusing a local Wegmans online shows that a whole pineapple, which weighs approximately 2lbs, costs $3.49. Pre-cut pineapple rings up at $4.09 for just 10 oz. 

That’s $3.49 for 32 oz of pineapple, or $4.09 for 10 oz. 

Sure, whole pineapples have some extra weight. The fronds and skin are inedible, and should be discarded. Even if we generously estimate that the inedible portions weigh in at 10 oz, the whole pineapple is still a much better value. At this store, a whole pineapple costs about 15¢ cents per edible ounce, while the pre-cut pineapple costs 41¢ per ounce.  

It’s not that the cut pineapple is overpriced. The extra cost pays for the employees who do the work of cutting and packaging the pineapple. Customers pay a premium for the convenience. For cooks with limited mobility, or for those hoping to eat on the go, pre-cut pineapple is a good option. 

However, if you’re looking to save money or reduce packaging waste, buying a whole pineapple is an easy way to save on both. 

How to cut a whole pineapple 

Don’t be intimidated by the various spikes: it’s easy to cut a pineapple at home. 

To get started, you’ll need a cutting board and a sharp chef’s knife. 

To remove the green fronds, lay the pineapple on its side and cut a clean slice about ½ inch from the base of the fronds.  Next, cut off the rounded end of the pineapple. Just slice cleanly through the pineapple starting about a ½ inch from the base. Your pineapple should now have two flat ends.

how to cut a pineapple skin
Remove pineapple skin

Stand the pineapple on one of its newly created flat ends. It should be stable. To remove the skin, simply slice it away with long vertical cuts. Follow the shape of the pineapple, and cut all the way around.

Next, cut the pineapple into three slabs and remove the core. Looking down at the pineapple, imagine a triangle surrounding the core. With your knife, slice along one side of the imaginary triangle. Repeat along a second side. You should now have one remaining plank of pineapple with the core attached. Use your knife to cut the core away, as shown below. 

Remove pineapple core
Remove pineapple core

You should now have three slabs of pineapple. Working one at a time, lay each slab on its flat end. Slice vertically into three long spears. Keeping the spears together, slice crosswise about 1 inch intervals to create pineapple wedges. 

Save money and packaging waste by buying whole pineapples.
Cut pineapple into chunks

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Perfectly Crispy Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The grilled cheese plays varied roles in our lives–it may be the lunchtime diner order: two slices of white bread with gooey American cheese. It may be the late-night snack: leftover whole wheat with slices of Swiss eaten after a stressful day, à la The Devil Wears Prada. And, more and more often, it maybe be gourmet: great artisan bread, imported cheese, and fresh vegetables.

That’s the situation here. We matched slices of sourdough bread with Danish fontina cheese, which melts into an extraordinarily gooey filling. We’ve also stuffed summer heirloom tomatoes, spicy leaves of rocket, and rings of red onion in between the bread.

Delicious as they are, the ingredients aren’t everything in a grilled cheese. There’s technique too. You’ve got to get the bread crispy at the same rate as the cheese melts. You’ve got to use enough fat–butter or olive oil–in the pan so that the bread gets really golden. Below, we’re rounded up our tips for making great grilled cheese sandwiches. As if that weren’t enough, we asked our facebook fans for their tips on crafting the perfect grilled cheese. Read on to become a sandwich pro!

Grilled Cheese Toppings & Pan Grilling

Our Tips for Making the Best Grilled Cheese

The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

Cheese is arguably the most important ingredient in this sandwich. Use a melty cheese for the best results. For a flavor, fontina and gruyere are two of our favorite options. For pure meltiness and nostalgia, American Cheese is the answer. Avoid soft cheeses like goat cheese and feta, which don’t melt easily.

The Best Bread for Grilled Cheese

When it comes to bread, any loaf that you like will work well. What matters most is how you prepare if. For the best results, toast your bread first. A quick toast will help your bread develop the golden edges and luscious crisp that you’re after. It’ll also help prevent the bread from getting soggy, no matter how many fillings you add.

Apply Pressure

Press down on the sandwich with your spatula. This flattens the exterior against the hot pan, ensuring even cooking.

Fillings for Grilled Cheese

Add flavor with great filling ingredients, like fresh or sautéed vegetables, avocado slices, bacon, or pesto. Hearty fillings can transform this simple sandwich from snack into dinner. Try the recipes below for inspiration.

Recipes

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Fig Dressing

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Sweet Pepper & Fig Grilled Cheese with Butter Lettuce & Peach Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Baby Romaine & Pistachio Salad

Fan Favorite tips

  • The best grilled cheese has a THIN layer of mayo on the grilled-sides of both pieces of bread instead of butter. No grease, crispier bread, and meltier cheese! -Alyssa Kevlahan
  • Melt butter in the microwave, then brush the bread before putting it on the pan. Makes for the perfect medium browning throughout. Can use olive oil, in place of butter. But butter is better! -Christopher Perusse
  • Sounds weird but bread and butter pickles and potato chips- on the sandwich. Yum! -Danni Skaricki
  • Dijon mustard and multi-grain or sourdough bread. -Jane Rizza Scammon
  • My son’s grilled cheese trick, at the age of 8, was to toast his bread in the toaster. Butter both sides of both bread slices, place cheese between the bread slices and microwave for 40 seconds. He made me one once, it was actually pretty good. -Doug Riggle

Tips & Tricks on How to Make a Stir-Fry

Stir-fry will always be there for you. If your goal is to cook slightly more, knowing your way around a stir-fry is a great place to start. This versatile dinner can be made with an infinite combination of ingredients. You don’t even need to start with rice. Stir-fries can be built on noodles, rice, or other grains. Here’s how to master making a stir-fry out of whatever you have on hand. 

Stir-Fried Tofu & Vegetables with Spicy Sesame-Peanut Sauce
Stir-Fried Tofu & Vegetables
with Spicy Sesame-Peanut Sauce

What is stir-frying?

Stir-frying is a high-heat cooking technique, similar to sauteing. Traditionally, a stir-fry is made in a wok with a small amount of oil. The meat and vegetables are tossed and stirred until they are cooked. 

Stir-frying in a Wok

If you have one, a wok is an excellent tool for stir-frying. The high, sloping walls are designed so that food can be tossed vigorously without flying out of the pan. The walls also make it easier to cook multiple foods at once. Once an ingredient has finished cooking, it can be push up to walls and kept warm while another ingredient cooks in the center. 

Steps for making a good stir-fry

Set up your station

Stir-fries cook VERY quickly. You’ll want to have everything prepped and ready so you can focus on the cooking once you start. Gather all of your utensils and chop everything into a bite-sized piece. It will cook faster and make for a better eating experience. 

Don’t add too much to the wok or skillet at once 

If you overcrowd the pan, the moisture from the vegetables will cause the stir-fry to steam rather than fry or saute. 

Add foods to the pan according to cook time  

For example, don’t put broccoli in the pan at the same time as a snow pea. By the time the broccoli is cooked through, the snow pea will turn to mush. The heartier the produce, the longer it will take to cook. You can add things together that have the same cooking time. 

Best oil for a stir-fry

Use oil with a high smoke point. You want to cook with high-heat, so choose an oil that can complement that. Canola oil, peanut oil (though that potentially introduces an allergen) or grapeseed oil are all good options. Olive oil has a low smoke point, and isn’t the best choice for a stir-fry. 

How to make any kind of stir-fry

Use this template as a handy guide. 

Add meat first

  • As the meat caramelizes, it will build ‘fond’ in the pan that will flavor the rest of the dish. Set the meat aside while you cook the rest of the ingredients.

Cook vegetables next, as these usually take the longest.

  • Start with heartier vegetables like carrots or broccoli.
  • Lighter vegetables, like spinach, cabbage, or even bean sprouts, can be thrown in at the end to soften and wilt.
  • Don’t forget abut aromatics! Garlic, ginger and scallions should be added with the vegetables.

Mix in your eggs

  • If you’re including scrambled eggs, take the vegetables out of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs to quickly scramble them. If you’re working with a wok, you may be able to just move the vegetables to the side of the pan instead of taking them out completely

Cooked rice or noodles & sauce

  • Rice, noodles, or any other starches should be precooked. When you’re stirring everything together at this point, it’s just to quickly heat through. 
  • The sauce will thicken as it cooks, so don’t leave it on too long, unless you’re looking to thicken it up. 
  • If you want to crisp up the rice or noodles, add the sauce after. If you want to prevent sticking, add the sauce at the same time to help it all evenly coat. 

For more easy, healthy weeknight dinners, check out Blue Apron’s limited-time menu from chef Sam Kass.

How To Make Restaurant-Style Crispy Hash Browns at Home

Lori Yates, from Foxes Love Lemons has worked with some of the country’s best chefs. Her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Her post today is all about mastering the process of making crispy hash browns at home–exactly the type you’d get in a diner. Pair them with one of our homemade breakfast recipes.

grated potatoes for hash browns
Grated russet potatoes

Before I went to culinary school, I was just terrible at making breakfast. I could cook a perfect steak, make salad dressings from scratch, and bake a homemade chocolate cake. But ask me to cook breakfast, and you’d get a comically, ridiculously bad meal. Eggs were overcooked. Toast was burnt. And the biggest offense: hash browns were soggy. I now know that my problem was stirring. You shouldn’t stir if you want crispy hash browns.

My school must have realized that lots of cooks struggle with the first meal of the day, as the second class in my curriculum was “Breakfast & Pantry.” The “pantry” portion was a quick week of making salads and sandwiches, but breakfast cookery was the main event.

The hash brown station came with a handout that said “HASH BROWNS: Daily Required Objectives.” In the interest of saving breakfast nationwide, let’s walk through them so you, too, can make restaurant-quality breakfast spuds at home.

Steps to Make Crispy Hash Browns

Pre-Cook the Potatoes

Your first task is to pre-cook the potatoes. Allow for one large Russet potato for every two people you need to serve. Leave the skin on, wash them, poke a few holes with a fork, and either bake them in the oven or zap them in the microwave until they are just tender. This step can be done a few days in advance. When they’re tender, just throw them in the fridge, uncovered.

Prepare Potatoes for Frying

When you’re ready to get your hash browns on, peel the cooled potatoes (or leave the skin on if your prefer) and grate them on the largest opening of a box grater. Grab a nonstick skillet and coat it with a little bit of olive oil or butter.

crispy hash brown ingredients
Grated potatoes, ready to fry

How to Cook the Hash Browns

Heat the skillet to medium-high heat, then sprinkle in your grated potatoes in one even layer. You want to make a layer that is no more than 1-inch thick, so work in batches (or multiple skillets) if necessary.

As soon as your potatoes are in the skillet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Do not disturb them until they are dark golden brown on the bottom. NO STIRRING. You can gently lift up one edge of the potatoes to check on them occasionally.

Using a large plate that covers the skillet, flip the potato cake and return it to the pan.

flipping hash browns

Increase the heat to medium-high again. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until this side is dark golden brown, and you’re done!

crispy hash browns

Transfer to a serving plate (or use the plate you utilized for the flip). Garnish with parsley if you desire, but I’m usually way too lazy on Sunday morning for that. Cut into wedges and serve your guests restaurant-quality crispy hash browns.

Why Are My Cookies Flat?

stacked flat cookies
Classic vs. flat chocolate chip cookies

It’s happened to everyone. Your pans were prepared and your expectations were high, but for some reason, your cookies came out flat. What happened?

There are a few possible explanations for flat cookies. Before you start over, run through this list. Remember: don’t be too hard on yourself! There’s no use crying over a flat cookie. 

Your butter or dough wasn’t cold enough 

Butter keeps cookies fluffy in two ways. First, creaming cold butter with sugar creates tiny, uniform air pockets that will remain in the dough it bakes up. Second, cold butter naturally takes a longer time to melt in the oven. When butter melts, the water content evaporates into the dough, giving it body and lightness. Melted butter doesn’t have the opportunity to do that since its water content has evaporated before it was even mixed into the dough. If a recipe does call for melted butter, be sure to refrigerate the dough before baking it to elongate the spreading process. To avoid this problem, don’t leave your dough sitting out on the counter for too long before baking.

Your leavening agent is expired

Let’s admit it: going through a whole box of baking soda or powder can take YEARS, and with most dry ingredients, it can be hard to visibly tell if they’re expired. Things like grains and even flour can last on the shelf for longer than we care to admit, but items with active ingredients expire more quickly, with more detriment. If you followed all the cookie recipe directions to a T and still ended up with flat cookies, check to see if your leavening agent. If it’s expired, try replacing it.

flat cookies

The recipe doesn’t call for enough (or any) brown sugar 

Having the right balance of white to brown sugar is key for a cookie’s flavor and texture. Brown sugar takes longer to dissolve, so it creates nice pockets of air in the dough as it melts, similar to cold butter. While white sugar’s lightness is great for beating into (read: fluffing up) cold butter, it also melts and caramelizes quickly, which creates a thin, crispy exterior. 

You’re not using enough flour 

Without sufficient flour, there is nothing to absorb or hold onto all the fat and liquid from your eggs and butter, causing the dough to spread as soon as it hits the oven. Think back: were you counting your cups carefully? Sometimes it’s easy to miss a scoop. 

You’re baking at a higher altitude 

At a higher altitude, the air pressure is lower, which means liquids evaporate faster (and leavening happens quicker), and goods take longer to bake. Following low-altitude directions, a cookie would over expand and dry out before it’s cooked through, so try increasing the oven temperature by 20°F and decreasing the baking time.

Can you still eat a flat cookie?

You’re welcome to try! Depending on what went wrong, the cookie may be slightly oily or have a tough texture.

How to Fix a Broken Sauce

So, it happened. You walked away for too long, or turned the heat up too high, and suddenly you’re left with a separated (or broken) sauce. Don’t fret! Blue Apron chef Emily Ziemski is here with some key steps you can take before, during, and after making your sauce to make sure that it will be a smashing success.

how to fix a broken sauce
Don’t break your beurre blanc!

What is a broken sauce?

“Breaking” can only happen when you’re making an emulsified sauce, like a hollandaise or a beurre blanc. Instead of a velvety emulsion, where the droplets of fat are suspended in liquid, a broken sauce has separated back out into liquid and fat. A sauce on the brink of separating will show little fat droplets forming around the edges. A fully broken sauce will look distinctly separated (like it’s two different sauces), very liquidy (or loose), or grainy. 

How can I fix a broken sauce?

  1. Add a little liquid––if you’re just beginning to notice signs of breaking––droplets of fat forming around the edges of the pot or pan––don’t add any more fat, but revert back to adding just a teaspoon or two of your ‘base’ liquid (water, broth, vinegar, etc), and keep judiciously stirring or whisking until the sauce tightens up again.
  2. Work over consistent heat––sometimes a big jump in temperature can cause the emulsion to break and separate. While cooking, keeping the heat low and slow can keep your sauce happy and together!
  3. Add a little fat back––a classic emulsified sauce is typically a 1:1 ratio of fat to liquid! If your sauce is breaking but is also very thin, vigorously whisking in a little fat (butter, egg yolk) can bring it around. 
  4. Whisk whisk whisk––sometimes all a sauce needs is a little zhuzhing to come back together. If the sauce starts breaking while you’re making it, don’t add any more ingredients, just turn down the heat and give it a good whisking until the ingredients re-emulsify. 
  5. Warm it up––if a finished sauce sits for too long, it loses heat and stability, which can threaten the structure of the sauce! Reheating it slowly while consistently stirring or whisking can whip your sauce back into main dish shape.
  6. Start from scratch––don’t throw out your broken sauce, but start your base anew, then slowly combine the two sauces over heat. Voila! Now you have a little extra sauce. 

How can I prevent this from happening to my future sauces?

  1. Add a thickener while you’re making it–– adding cornstarch or flour to the liquid before adding (be sure to get out any clumps) can add some stability to your sauce.
  2. Temper your ingredients–– to avoid shocking the sauce (adding a cold ingredient to a hot sauce), you can take some of your sauce and spoon it into whatever ingredient you’re adding next. Whisk to combine, and then slowly pour in the tempered mixture! Shock avoided!
  3. Reduce your acids–– if your sauce is acid-based and also has a dairy component (eg: beurre blanc), make sure that the acidic liquid (wine, vinegar) is fully reduced in the pan before adding any dairy!
  4. Never bring a dairy-based sauce to a boil; this can cause them to curdle.

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