3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cast Iron Skillet

Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true workhorse is beloved for its durability and versatility; you can fry, grill, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.

How to clean a cast iron skillet

After use, wipe your skillet clean, then rinse under hot running water. Scrub off stuck-on debris with salt and a damp towel. Contrary to popular belief, it’s fine to use a little soap on a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. The seasoning on a cast iron pan is polymerized oil, which won’t be broken down by a few suds.

Should you dry a cast iron skillet?

Yes. Immediately and thoroughly dry your pan with a towel. Leaving the pan damp or leaving it in water in it can lead to rusting.

*If your pan rusts, not all is lost! To bring a rusted pan back to life, bake at 450ºF for about an hour, then remove from the oven and carefully rub with oil and a paper towel to loosen and wipe out the rust. Scrub out any remaining rust with salt, then rinse, dry and carefully rub with an oiled paper towel.

How to season a cast iron pan

Use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the pan with a small amount of vegetable or canola oil. Use enough oil to give the inside of the pan a nice sheen, but not so much that it feels sticky. Heat the pan gently in the oven or over the stove top, just until is starts to lightly smoke. Let it cool, and put it away until next time.

If you won’t be using your cast iron pan for a while, it’s important to heat the pan to help the oil form a protective seal with the iron. Place the pan on the stovetop and heat on high for a few minutes, until hot and the oil starts to smoke lightly. Remove from heat; when cool enough to handle, carefully wipe out the pan with a dry rag. Let cool completely before storing.

Pick up a cast iron pan of your very own at the Blue Apron Marketplace.

Essential Kitchen Tools

If you’re new to cooking, or moving into your own place for the first time, you’re probably wondering what you need in your kitchen. If the kitchen aisle of your local homegoods store feels overwhelming, we’re here to help. These are the basic tools that every cook should own. Once you have the essentials, you’re free to daydream about fancy blenders or specialty appliances.

A chef’s knife

A chef’s knife is a true workhorse, and no kitchen is complete without it. In our version, an 8.2” blade makes a knife that’s versatile enough every day use, but formidable enough to break down a chicken. The handle is made from composite wood. This knife will make slicing, chopping, and carving a cinch. After use, hand wash and wipe dry to prevent rusting.

A cutting board

To make the most of your knife, you’ll need a cutting board. We love this beautiful wooden cutting board for prepping vegetables. Cut meat on a non-porous material, like plastic or silicone.

Tongs

We use our tongs for tossing salad, flipping large pieces of protein, and serving just about anything. A good pair of tongs will feel like an extension of your own two hands. Our favorite set of tongs is this smooth silicone-tipped pair, available in both 9 inch and 12 inch (we have both).

Wooden spoon

No tool in the kitchen can replace the humble wooden spoon. A wooden spoon is strong enough to scrape up sticky caramelized fond, but soft enough that it won’t scrape a nonstick pan. Wood doesn’t conduct heat as quickly as a metal. That means that you can stir a pot of boiling soup without worrying about a scalding hot handle. If you’re in the comfort of your own home, you can use your wooden spoon to sneak a taste. You’ll be less likely to burn your mouth. 

Ladle

A ladle doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s just a simple way to transfer liquid from one vessel to another. No need to risk sloshing soup all over the counter while pouring out of a heavy pot.

Whisk

When it’s time to emulsify a dressing, beat an egg, or combine dry ingredients for baking, you’ll need a whisk. A solid whisk will make thorough mixing a joyful task. A bit of an upper body workout is just an added bonus.

Spatula

The word ‘spatula’ can be used to describe multiple tools. We love our favorite fish spatula for flipping everything from filets to pancakes, but you can’t beat a silicone spatula for scraping the sides of a bowl. 

Nonstick pan

A great nonstick pan will spare you frustration in the kitchen. For certain foods that are prone to sticking, like fresh fish and fried eggs, a nonstick pan will make all the difference between transferring your seared flounder filet to your plate in one piece and leaving too many scraps stuck to the pan.

Cast iron pan

Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true kitchen staple is beloved for its durability and versatility: you can fry, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.

A Microplane

What do shaved chocolate, garlic paste, and freshly-grated Parmesan have in common? Two things: they’re all ingredients that can finish a dish with a powerful punch of flavor, and they can all be easily created at home with a Microplane. 

A baking sheet

A baking sheet is an irreplaceable tool for tasks like baking cookies, roasting vegetables, or preparing sheet pan dinners. A simple aluminum half sheet (or quarter sheet, for those with small ovens), is an essential item that you’ll find yourself using almost every day. 

A Dutch oven

We’d love to recommend a whole set of pots: large ones for pasta, medium for sauce, small for grains, and a few others just for fun. If we must recommend just one, nothing compares to the versatility and durability of a heavy bottomed dutch oven. A good Dutch oven can bubble happily on the stovetop as a vessel for soups or stews. Wash it out, and use it in the oven for baking bread or long, slow braises. 

Save Time and Space with the Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven

space-saving panasonic multi-oven

Whether you live in a small apartment or a roomy house, kitchen counters tend to fill up. That’s why we love space-saving multi-tasking kitchen tools.

The Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven might look like a microwave at first glance, and it is, but it’s also a whole lot more. 

This multi-oven’s features include: a Convection Oven, an Air Fryer, an Inverter Microwave, and a FlashXpress Broiler. With combination cooking, you can achieve the textures and flavors your microwave has always been missing–perfectly cooked insides and brown, crispy outsides. This appliance is already doing a lot, but on top of those main features it includes simple settings that make cooking and reheating a breeze. Use the keep warm function to keep your sides hot while you finish cooking a main dish, or try turbo defrost or 1-Touch Sensor Reheat to bring life back to leftovers. 

In addition to saving space, this multi-oven saves time. It’s high-powered, and doesn’t require any time to preheat. Have you ever made it halfway through a recipe before realizing you forgot to preheat the oven? Say goodbye to that frustration forever. 

The Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven also includes a silent mode for those times that you want to heat up a snack without waking up the family. 

Order a Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven for your home at the Blue Apron Marketplace, and follow this post to learn how a multi-oven can help you prepare your favorite Blue Apron dinners.

Get cooking 
Try using your Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven to save time in this recipe for Mafalda Pasta & Roasted Broccoli by skipping the preheating step. Just use the convection bake oven function to roast the broccoli for 14-16 minutes at 425°F.

Use the air fry function to make the crispy prosciutto for these Crispy Prosciutto Lettuce Cups with Sambal Mayo & Pepper Rice. Using the included air fryer basket, lay out whole pieces of prosciutto in an even layer and air fry for 6 minutes or until crispy.

The air fry function will make perfect crispy potatoes and free up the oven when you’re making this Gochujang Beyond Burger™ with Scallion Jam & Roasted Potatoes. To use, just place the potato wedges in the fry basket and cook on the air fry setting for 25 minutes.

Save oven space by using the Panasonic 4-in-1 Multi-Oven to make this Pork Sausage & Beef Ragú Pasta Bake. Use the bake setting to bake the pasta at 400°F for 9 to 11 minutes. Finish the dish by using the broiler setting for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown. 

For these Cheesy Balsamic Onion Crostini, you can use the bake setting to create a quick appetizer. Bake the crostini at 400°F for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. 

Use the microwave setting to warm and soften your tortillas for these tasty Chorizo Tacos. Just cover with a damp paper towel and microwave tortillas for 30 seconds.

A Mason Jar Baking Kit for the Dessert-lover in Your Life

Gift-giving season can be a struggle. The goal is to show our friends and family that we care, and maybe even to make their lives a bit brighter. The reality is that it can be hard to know what another person truly needs. There is, however, a safe bet. Everyone always has room for dessert. 

The holidays are a time of abundance. Desserts and gifts are everywhere. Mason jar baking kits are a way to give something delicious that the recipient can prepare themselves whenever their table is empty. They’re inexpensive, cute, and perfect for friends, teachers, or co-workers.

How to make a Mason jar baking kit

A Mason jar baking kit is basically just the dry ingredients for a baking recipe, measured out and layered into a clear jar. After the jar is assembled, just attach a card with instructions on how to finish the batter or dough and bake. To make a DIY baking kit, you’ll need a jar with a lid, dry baking ingredients, some card stock, and ribbon or twine. 

Almost any cookie or brownie recipe can be made into a kit. Here’s how we adapted our beloved 5 ingredient brownies. 

Measure the dry ingredients into the jar. Pour in one ingredient at a time. You want to form layers, so don’t share the jar.  For extra fun and flair you can add chocolate chips, m&ms, nuts, or other dry mix-ins between the layers. 

Our jar contains:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

After the dry ingredients are measured, secure the lid. To decorate, tie a ribbon around the top of the jar and write the remaining instructions on a small card. 

Make sure to mention the other ingredients that they’ll need to complete the kit. Here’s what we’re writing on our card: 

You’ll need

  • ½ cup salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Whisk together the melted butter and eggs. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the prepared batter into a greased 9×9 baking pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Careful not to shake it up! You don’t want to ruin the layering effect.

Still feeling the holiday spirit? Find more gift ideas for people who love to cook here

Gifts for People Who Like to Cook

The holidays are about two things: celebrating the people you love, and eating. Our holiday gift guide helps you combine two. Our team of test kitchen chefs picked out the best kitchen gifts for people who love to cook, whether they’ve mastered risotto or are just trying out grilled cheese. 

Kitchen Gift Ideas

Microplane 

microplane gift

I’ve gifted this to my mom and my partner, and they’ve both told me how it has revolutionized their cooking. You can use it to zest citrus, make garlic paste, and create fluffy clouds of cheese—it’s a small grater with lots of possibilities. — Annabel Epstein

Citrus squeeze 

gift for people who love to cook citrus

Being quarantined has led to a lot of at-home cocktail making sessions, which have been made significantly more enjoyable (and efficient) thanks to my citrus squeeze. From margaritas and palomas to sidecars and sours, making a big batch of drinks in a short amount of time has never been easier. This is the perfect gift for people who love cocktails. I also use it all the time for curd. Lauren Katz

11-inch Nonstick Fry Pan by Scan Pan 

nonstick frying pan gift for people who love to cook

This is one of the best nonstick pans I’ve ever used. It can brown anything, and food won’t stick. It’s also a wonderful size; it’s big enough to cook a lot, but not so large that it feels unwieldy. This is one of the best gifts for people who like to cook, or for someone who is just getting started in the kitchen. — Lisa Appleton

Prep Bowls

These bowls are my go-to kitchen gift idea. I truly believe that a set of great prep bowls will set any home cook up for success in the kitchen. They’re perfect for organizing your mise en place, and they can also double as storage containers for leftovers in the fridge. Kristen Merris-Huffman

Olive Wood Wooden Spoon 

gift for people who love to cook olive wood spoon

A good wooden spoon is one of the most underrated and versatile tools in the kitchen. It won’t damage or scrape your pans, and it’s perfect for sauteing and stirring. Durable and attractive, a sturdy wooden spoon is an essential part of the home cook’s kitchen. John Adler 

Slotted Spatula

slotted fish spatula

Also known as a fish spatula, this tool can do so much more than its name suggests. I love it for flipping pancakes, pressing down latkes, or gently scraping under the crispy cheese that starts to puddle around a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s such a precise tool that allows you to get really close to your food. This is a great gift for a cook who already owns most of the basics. Claire King

Baking Dish Set 

This set has the only two sizes of baking dish you’ll ever need. The small one is perfect for a few chicken breasts while the larger is great for a lasagna. The white ceramic is super durable and transfers heat well, while also being simple and stylish. — Diane Casner

Why & How To Warm (& Cool) Your Plates

warm plates and chilled plates

This post comes from Lori Yates, the author of Foxes Love Lemons. Lori is adapting the lessons she learned in culinary school for the home kitchen. Her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Her post today is all about enhancing your meal by warming (or chilling) your plates.

A friend recently asked me, “No offense, but are you, like, really picky about restaurant food now that you’ve gone to culinary school?” I told him that actually, no, I’m pretty easygoing. I hardly ever send food back to the kitchen. With one exception. Hot food has to be served hot, and cold food has to be served cold. Bring me a cold bowl of soup or a warm and wilted salad, and I will send it back every single time.

Neighborhood dive bars get this wrong once in a while, but upscale fine dining restaurants hardly ever misstep. The reason is simple, and it’s one that can be easily replicated at home. Try this trick to elevate your home cooking into the realm of a restaurant-quality meal.

warm plates
warm plates

Chilling plates

Serving a side salad or frozen dessert? Grab your salad plates or bowls and let them chill out in the fridge while you prepare your Blue Apron dinner. Twenty minutes is all it should take (do it even faster in the freezer!). By the time your dinner is ready, you can take the frosty plates out of the fridge, plate up your salads, and take them right to the table. Your greens and vegetables will stay cool, refreshing, and crisp while you eat, even on a warm summer day.

Warming plates

Making a pot roast or casserole on a cold winter day? Nothing is worse than cold casserole. Most roasts and casseroles need to stand for a few minutes after they come out of the oven, before serving. Take this time to reduce the oven temperature to 200°F, and throw your plates in there while your roast rests. In just five minutes, your plates will be warmed through and ready for you to serve up your piping hot dinner. You’ll appreciate that your meat stays hot on your warm plates while you take your time savoring each bite.

This maneuver was an absolute requirement when working at the student-run restaurant at my culinary school. The trick made every dish that left the kitchen seem like it could be served in a four-star restaurant anywhere in the world. One tip? Just don’t put your plates in the oven and forget about them. This may have happened just a few times at school. And when the chefs arrived in the morning and noticed plates that had been “warming” in the oven for the last 18 hours, well, there was yelling. Luckily, you won’t have a Certified Master Chef breathing down your neck in your home kitchen. Relax and enjoy your hot food being HOT, and cold food being being COLD.

How the Sloppy Joe Got Made

BBQ Sloppy Joes with Green Bean & Tomato Salad
Sweet, savory, and sloppy

The Origin of the Sloppy Joe

There’s nothing complicated about a Sloppy Joe.

At its most basic, the Joe is a sandwich made with ground beef and a tomato sauce. The Sloppy Joe’s history, however, is a bit more complex.

Some attribute the original Sloppy Joe to a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa, where, many years ago, in 1930 a cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his “loose meat” sandwiches. Voila: a new between-the-bread offering, and the sandwich’s official name. (Loose meat sandwiches continue to be a staple in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.)

Chicken Sloppy Joe Sliders   with Kale Slaw & Homemade Pickles

Others say that the original sandwich was born at the iconic restaurant in Key West, Florida, Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

And then there are those who say that the concept of the sandwich was dreamt up in Havana of all places, at Sloppy Joe’s saloon, which recently re-opened after a half-century hiatus (!).

But while people may contest where the “official” Sloppy Joe was born, the concept of mixing meat, cheese, and bread is so simple that it’s no surprise that Sloppy Joe soon it became an American favorite.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich Ingredients
Sloppy joe ingredients

Loose meat sandwiches

Let’s start at the origin: the loose meat sandwich.

And the origin of that Midwestern delicacy? Well, as ground beef gained popularity in the 19th century, it became renowned as a nourishing and economical food option: it delivered lots of protein for your money. Fillers (like bread crumbs, ketchup, tomato paste, cheese, etc.) were often added to stretch the meat and the ground beef mixture was then turned into things like meatballs, meatloaves and stews. The loose meat sandwich was just another way of using that meat in a creative manner, one that stretched the meat even further because of the carb-filled bun.

While the name leaves something to be desired, in the Midwest loose meat sandwiches are very much a culinary tradition, particularly in Iowa. If you watched the sitcom Roseanne in the late 1980s and early 90s you may remember the loose meat sandwiches that were served up at the Lanford Lunchbox.

Tempo Turkey Sloppy Joes with Shishito Peppers & Carrot Fries
Turkey sloppy joes

Sloppy Joe’s: A Cuban Specialty?

If there’s one restaurant that has become synonymous with the sandwich, it’s Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida, which opened on December 5, 1933—the day Prohibition was repealed.

Originally launched under a different name, it was none other than Ernest Hemingway who encouraged rebranding the bar as Sloppy Joe’s. But it had nothing to do with a sandwich. Nope, the name was adopted from Jose Garcia Rios’ Havana Club, which sold liquor and iced seafood.

“Because the floor was always wet with melted ice, his patrons taunted this Spanish Joe with running a “sloppy” place,” said Donna Edwards, Sloppy Joe’s Brand Manager. “The name stuck.”

But why do so many people order Sloppy Joes at Sloppy Joe’s? While some say we have that chef back in Sioux City to thank for it, we can’t forget about the Cuban connection.

“A loose beef sandwich was on the menu at the original Sloppy Joe’s in Havana,” confirmed Edwards.

Either way, the Key West version of Sloppy Joe’s has been serving the sandwich since the beginning, Today, the joint sells more than 50,000 Sloppy Joes a year.

The Manwich

Manwich, slush burger, yum yums, dynamite, spoonburgers, tavern sandwich; a Sloppy Joe can be called by many other names. The most well-known however is Manwich. Much as we’d like this to constitute a reference to the SJ being a man’s favorite sandwich, this nickname derives from a brand of canned Sloppy Joe sauce that was launched by ConAgra Foods and Hunt’s in 1969.

Marketed with the slogan “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a manwich is a meal,” it’s no surprise that this one-pan meal became so popular during the 1970s and 80s, and for many years, Americans made their Sloppy Joes straight out of a can.

Sloppy Joe Goes to School

Just like people in the early 20th century saw cooking with ground beef as a smart economical choice when it came to nourishing food, school cafeterias embraced the Sloppy Joe even more firmly than the patrons in Key West. Why? A question of value and nutrition. And so, the messy sandwich got a bad reputation as cafeteria food.

“I think the origination of placing Sloppy Joes on school menus likely came from a need for a fulfilling a hearty meal with a minimal cost,” says Robert Jaber, Director of Office of Food and Nutrition Services for District of Columbia Public Schools. “The Sloppy Joe, if served properly, can be the perfect combination of economics, nutrition, heartiness, and student acceptance – it’s a perfect fit for a school menu.”

But as we all know, it’s rare that kids care about money and nutrition; they just want to eat, which means that ultimately, the popularity of Sloppy Joes is all about taste. “It’s funny—It must just be the mixture of spices and sauce which people love,” says Margo Livingston, Kitchen Manager of Stonepark Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Canada, adding that “with Sloppy Joes you can throw some veggies in there and they don’t know the difference.” As Jaber adds, they’re also “a comfort food, especially in the colder months,” which might be why so many of us have childhood memories of the sandwich.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich Filling

Sloppy Joe Variations to Make On Your Own

As a comfort food, Sloppy Joes are certainly a staple, and while we most often think of them as a cafeteria food, you can find upscale versions at restaurants across the country. From serving the sandwiches with aged cheddar to using challah buns, there’s a different variety depending on what you want. But why wait to go out? Using quality meat, or even chicken, making good Sloppy Joe’s at home is easy and a fun way to incorporate a classic comfort food into your weekly meal plan.

Sloppy Joe recipes

BBQ Sloppy Joes with Green Bean & Tomato Salad

BBQ Sloppy Joes with Green Bean & Tomato Salad

Chicken Sloppy Joe Sliders   with Kale Slaw & Homemade Pickles

Chicken Sloppy Joe Sliders with Kale Slaw & Homemade Pickles

Tempo Turkey Sloppy Joes with Shishito Peppers & Carrot Fries

Tempo Turkey Sloppy Joes with Shishito Peppers & Carrot Fries

Other Sloppy Joe Variations

Try these ideas for some fun twists on a classic sandwich.

Add vegetables. Chop up some carrots, dice a red bell pepper, sauté some mushrooms.

Use fresh herbs. A little thyme or oregano will liven up the dish.

Or all kinds of spices. You can change the flavor profile of your Sloppy Joes by adding different spices like cumin, curry powder, or chipotle. You can even try an Asian inspired Joe with Sambal Oelek and Hoisin sauce.

Embrace fusion. You might also want to give Sloppy Joe Tacos or Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese a try.

Make the sauce with wine. Just like a good meat-based pasta sauce benefits from a red-wine base, so will your Sloppy Joes.

Mix in sun-dried tomatoes. You can change up the tomato flavor by using sundried tomatoes in addition to the tomato base in your recipe.

Go vegetarian. Switch out ground beef for a veggie protein.

This post was written by Anna Brones, a food and travel writer based in Paris, France who has a love for bikes, coffee and all things organic. 

How to Choose the Right Size Pot or Pan for Cooking

Cook the rice in medium pot

There are a few pots and pans we use all the time—we love our large pot for boiling water, and our medium-sized frying pan for searing beef or chicken. When it comes to making dinner, choosing the right pot or pan can make a big difference.

If a frying pan or baking sheet is too small, the food will end up very close together. This make it difficult to brown or sear whatever you’re cooking. Vegetables and proteins release steam as they cook, and if they’re all piled on top of each other, the steam won’t be able to escape. You’ll end up with a watery steamed dinner instead of a flavorful browned dish. An unnecessarily large pan can lead to waste, and increases the likelihood of burning your dish.

Read on for tips on how to choose the right pan for the job.

Cook the chicken in large frying pan

Frying Pan

A large frying pan is true kitchen workhorse. Blue Apron recipes use large frying pans for everything from browning chicken for Chicken Tikka Masala to searing tilapia for Tilapia with Shallot-Tarragon Butter. It’s a good idea to invest in one your love. If you cook often, you’ll find yourself setting it on the stove nearly every day. We alternate between two pans, one nonstick and one a heavy stainless steel pan. Both are about 12 inches in diameter, which means there is plenty of room any task we encounter, from sautéing onions to flipping fish. If you’re cooking for a crowd you can even go for a bigger pan—a 14-inch frying pan will cook up to 4 chicken breasts at once.

Don’t have a pan that’s exactly this size?  Don’t fret. The good news is that you can improvise. The main criteria is simply that you have enough space to cook your food. If necessary, you can brown two filets of cod, for example, in two smaller frying pans.

cook pasta in a large pot

Large Pot

When we call for a large pot, we’re likely cooking pasta (or sometimes gnocchi!). When pasta cooks, you want to give it lots of space to dance around the boiling water. In a crowded pot, your spaghetti will cook unevenly and stick together. Don’t let that happen. Haul out the biggest pot you’ve got. We like one that holds at least 6 quarts.

When cooking grains or vegetables, we usually reach for medium pot rather than a large one. Depending on the quantity, these foods often don’t need as much space. If you only own one pot, make it a large one.

Make the mustard seed rice

Small Pot

The small pot should hold about 1 1/2 quarts and have a tight-fitting lid. We use the small pot almost exclusively for cooking up grains, from brown rice to bulgur wheat. In this case, the tightly fitting lid is more important than the exact size of the pot. Since most grains steam as they cook, you don’t want to let boiling water or hot air escape from the vent in between the pan and the lid. If your lid doesn’t fit tightly, you can seal a sheet of foil on top of the pot before placing the lid on.

Prepare & roast the cauliflower

Medium-Sized Baking Sheet

We use our baking sheet for heating up bread or naan, baking meatballs, or finishing our quinoa-falafel patties. When it comes to choosing a baking sheet, the determining factor is often the size of your kitchen. Half sheets, quarter sheets, and full-sized sheet pans can all get the job done, as long as they can fit in your oven. When you’re cooking, make sure you have enough room to allow for a few inches of space between your items. This will help ensure even cooking. As with your frying pan, if your baking sheet is on the small side, improvise by using two.

Why You Need Kitchen Tongs

kitchen tongs and potatoes
Kitchen tongs ready for duty

Stop burning your fingers! If you cook a lot, it may occasionally be tempting to reach straight into a hot pot or a pan of cooking food. We understand the impulse, but we must advise against it. A good pair of kitchen tongs is an essential tool. Use them frequently, and they’ll spare you many kitchen accidents. 

silicone-tipped kitchen tongs

Our favorite set of tongs is this smooth silicone-tipped pair, available in both 9 inch and 12 inch (we have both). The soft silicone tip won’t scratch up your non-stick pans, and it’s heat resistant up to 430°F. The locking mechanism and handle loop are designed for easy storage. Lock them in a closed position and place them in a drawer, or hang them on a hook using the silicone loop. 

These are some of the ways we love using our tongs

Grab pasta out of a pot of boiling water

Set your colander aside. You can use tongs to grab noodles right out of pasta water. Just reach in, gently grab, and transfer them to a bowl or a pan of sauce. This method only works for long noodles like spaghetti or fettuccine.  

Flip foods

Whether you’re roasting vegetables or grilling chicken, tongs are the easiest way to lift and rotate pieces of cooking food. Just gently grab and keep turning until whatever you’re cooking is brown on all sides. 

Grab ice 

Hate the feeling of ice sticking to your fingers? You’re not alone. Use tongs to reach into your freezer drawers and grab ice for your favorite cocktails. 

Toss salads 

Don’t leave all the tasty salad toppings resting on the bottom of the bowl. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, add your dressing, and use tongs to vigorously mix a salad. 

Serve…everything 

Grab tongfuls of salad, pick up chicken legs, or lift a few spears of asparagus. Tongs are an easy way to serve food. Just set them in the bowl and let everyone help themselves.

Four Buffalo Sauce Recipes We Love

buffalo sauce chicken

What is Buffalo sauce?

When it comes down to it, Buffalo sauce is just a type of hot sauce. Buffalo flavor gets its signature tart and tangy spice from a vinegar-base and a mixture of spices including cayenne and a hint of garlic. Most Buffalo wing recipes call for mixing the hot sauce with melted butter to balance out the acidic vinegar and add rich flavor. 

Why is it called Buffalo sauce? 

All due respect to the American buffalo, but this sauce is actually named in honor of the city in New York. Most stories about the origin of this tangy condiment point to Anchor bar in Buffalo, NY. Anchor bar has been open in Buffalo since 1935, and is still serving up Buffalo wings today. 

How do I make Buffalo sauce at home?

The easiest way to make a Buffalo-flavored dish at home is by starting with a bottled Buffalo-style hot sauce. Frank’s Red Hot is the old-school favorite. It’s available in grocery stores across the U.S. 

How hot is Buffalo sauce? 

There are dozens of varieties of Buffalo sauce available in supermarkets. The classic Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce is only mildly spicy, but you can find hotter options. If you’re not a fan of heat, you can turn down the spice by adding more melted butter into the mix. 

Buffalo sauce recipes 

Chicken wings are the nostalgic favorite, but Buffalo flavor can do a lot more. These are some of our favorite ways to create a hot sauce-slathered dinner. 

Buffalo-Style Chicken Drumsticks with Blue Cheese Sauce & Celery-Apple Salad

For a game day party or a casual dinner, you can’t go wrong with this iconic snack.

Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Pecan Salad

For dinner tonight, hearty hot sauce-spiked cauliflower stars in a vegetarian spin on a Buffalo-style sandwich. 

Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Pecan Salad

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Caesar Salad

 Toss roasted cauliflower with buttery hot sauce mixture to make a delicious topping for flatbread.

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Caesar Salad

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Carrot-Celery Salad

For an easy spin on classic buffalo chicken, we’re recreating all the zesty, saucy flavors of the dish in these irresistible meatballs. 

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Carrot-Celery Salad

Chef Tip: Use Your Microplane Every Day

microplane with citrus

What do shaved chocolate, garlic paste, and freshly-grated Parmesan have in common? Two things: they’re all ingredients that can finish a dish with a powerful punch of flavor, and they can all be easily created at home with a Microplane. 

For most tasks in life, you get out of them about what you get into them. This is true of work, hobbies, and personal relationships. The more the work, the greater the reward, right? This is not true with a Microplane. With this one tool, the effort-to-reward ratio is way out of whack. 

Let us give you an example: grating garlic into a fine paste and then zesting a lemon will take about three minutes with a Microplane. Now put those ingredients in a bowl and toss them with roasted vegetables. In about five minutes you’ve transformed a standard side dish into a scene-stealer. The payoff is almost too good to be true. 

A Microplane can also help you get the most out of your ingredients. Let’s think about those roasted vegetables again for a minute. When it comes to garlic, the finer you chop it the more flavor you can get out of it. One smashed garlic cube will give your dish a hint of mellow garlic flavor. When it’s grated with a Microplane, that same cube can turn a whole tray of vegetables into a pizzeria-flavored delight. For zesting a lemon, this tool will create shavings small enough that they won’t end up getting caught in your teeth. 

The perks don’t stop there. Peeling ginger can be an annoying and wasteful process. If you use a Microplane to grate ginger, you don’t need to peel it first. If you want to tone down the spice in a dish, you can finely grate the peppers. This ensures that no one accidentally gets an extra large chunk of Jalapeño in their lunch. A Microplane is also excellent for grating whole spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Working with whole spices will give you a more powerful aromatic punch than pre-ground cinnamon that’s been sitting in a cupboard for months. 

A Microplane is light and maneuverable, so taking it out is effortless. It’s strong, so it can shred hard cheeses as easily. This thing is basically begging to be used. Try storing your Microplane vertically in a container on your countertop. That way it will catch your eye while you cook, prompting the question: what have you grated today? There’s always something you can finely zest to make dinner a little better, and this tool makes it easy.

the many things you can microplane

Many of the most delightful things in life are not technically essential for basic survival. Fresh ginger doesn’t make a stir-fry more filling, and grating garlic won’t add much nutrition to your roasted vegetables. When you’re cooking at home, It’s easy to skip those little finishing touches that aren’t adding any extra fuel to your plate. Fortunately, with a Microplane, it’s also easy to not skip those steps. Motivation is precious, and with this simple sheet of metal, you can conserve it for more arduous tasks. You’ll barely have time to second guess yourself before you’re making it rain parmesan all over your nightly pasta.

Grab this essential tool for yourself at the Blue Apron Marketplace.

Take a Bite out of Stress

In honor of Stress Awareness Month, we’re looking to foods that have the power to soothe. Sometimes when you’re feeling tense, a conscious indulgence is just what you need to bring you back down to earth. 

Soothing Pantry Essentials 

Chocolate 

A 2009 study measured a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol in subjects that consumed 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks.

Lavender 

The aroma of lavender promotes relaxation. Try baking a lavender shortbread to fill your whole home with this feel-good scent. Scan the code for a recipe. 

Simple shortbread recipe
A quick and easy shortbread

Sweet Potatoes 

The tryptophan in simple carbohydrates can promote production of serotonin, a chemical associated with happiness and a sense of well-being, in your body. Choosing to eat a whole, nutrient-rich carbohydrate like a sweet potato makes this an all-around good decision.

Steaks & Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemon Aioli
Steaks & Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges
with Lemon Aioli