Your Holiday Centerpiece Should Be Edible

holiday centerpiece with fruits and vegetables

So many fruits and vegetables are show-stoppingly attractive, even in the dead of winter. Take advantage of their natural beauty for your holiday centerpiece this year. It’s easy! Just take a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market, but a few extra pomegranates, persimmons, or plain old tomatoes, and use them to decorate your holiday tables and entryways. 

How to Make a Holiday Centerpiece

Once you’ve selected your produce, it’s time for the creative part. You can mix and match produce, or just fill a bowl with your favorite fruit. Experiment with cutting a few fruits open to create a still life effect. You can scatter fruits freely across the table, or use a rimmed platter like a vase. It’s an easy way to keep things organized. These are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables to use as edible centerpieces.

Ideas for Table Centerpieces with Fruits and Vegetables

holiday centerpiece with fruit

Pears

You might have pears around anyway. To make them into a beautiful table centerpiece, try mixing several different types—an assortment of colors will feel beautiful and bountiful. This works with apples, too! When you’re done, you can make apple pie bars or pear butter.

Persimmons

Whole persimmons bring a beautiful orange color to your holiday table. To make a festive plate setting, try cutting one in half to reveal its star-shaped seed pattern. After you clear the table, you can try making a persimmon grilled cheese or a stir-fry.

Satsumas

Satsumas are like clementines, but with stems and leaves. Pile a few handfuls on a footed cake plate to beautify your table.

satsumas as a holiday centerpiece

Pomegranates

You might love pomegranates for the jewel-like little seeds inside, but don’t discount the outsides! They’re rustic and a deep, dark red. We like them lined up on a skinny platter or set right on the plate. Try cutting one in half to reveal the beautiful interior. After your meal is over, eat the seeds straight, or drop a few into a glass of sparkling wine for a beautiful cocktail.

Artichokes

Artichokes are technically flowers, so it’s no surprise that they’re beautiful. Set an artichoke on a plate to prop up a place card, or slice a few in half to reveal their beautiful layers.

Lemons

lemon holiday centerpiece

Lots of chefs have dozens of lemons around. Pile them up in a pretty bowl to create the easiest possible centerpiece. When you’re ready for your next meal, use their juice to helps balance flavor, and their zest to add some zing. Did you know there’s a right way to cut them into wedges?

Pumpkins

pumpkins

You probably have some leftover pumpkins hanging around from Halloween. You don’t need plates or platters to make these feel festive. Just scatter small pumpkins across the table, or leave larger pumpkins in the entryway. When you’re cleaning up, crack them open and make soup. If you have gourds around, they can make a beautiful centerpiece too.

In the holiday spirit? Check out our gift guide to find the perfect present for the cooks in your life.

How to Reuse Blue Apron Knick Knack Bottles

A Blue Apron meal kit comes with all of the ingredients you need to make a homemade dinner. Each box will contain whole produce, proteins, and a knick knack bag filled with spices, sauces, and fun flavorful toppings. Some of these things, like soy sauce and vinegar, are individually packaged in custom Blue Apron knick knack bottles.

We’re a little biased, but we think these tiny plastic bottles are just adorable. Dispose of them if you must, but you can also give them a second life at home. Here’s how we love to upcycle our knick knack bottles.

At home uses for Blue Apron knick knack bottles

use blue apron knick knack bottle to pack salad dressing

Pack a salad dressing 

If you’re packing a salad for lunch, mix up a dressing, pour it into a knick knack bottle, and pack the whole bottle along with your salad. When it’s time to eat, just give the bottle a shake and dress your salad before digging in. Packing dressing separately will keep the salad crisp until lunchtime. 

propagate plant

Propagate a plant 

Propagating plants is a rewarding at home science experiment. Start by trimming a 4 inch piece of stem from a healthy plant like a pothos. Be sure that a few leaves are included. Then, just fill a knick knack bottle with water, place the stem in water, and set the whole thing in a sunny place. New roots should sprout in about a week. After roots have sprouted, the plant can be transferred to soil. 

use knick knack bottles for shampoo

Travel-size shampoo

Pack for short trips with Blue Apron knick knack bottles. Transfer your favorite shampoo, conditioner, or body wash into these small bottles and breeze through airport security without a care in the world. 

Get started with these upcycling ideas, and then use your imagination! Some of our home cooks have shared that they’ll use knick knack bottles to pack spices or condiments for picnics and travel. You could even create a to-go cocktail kit by filling bottles with liqueurs and citrus juice and bringing them to a gathering.  

What Does ‘Healthy’ Mean to You?

This post was written by Heather Sachs. Heather is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. She has more than 15 years of experience combining her knowledge in food, nutrition, and regulatory affairs as well as translating science into impactful brand communication. Heather is currently Blue Apron’s Director of Regulatory Affairs. 

In September 2022, Registered Dietitian’s around The United States received a long overdue gift. Following the industry’s 2015 challenge of the definition of the term healthy and subsequent comment period, FDA finally issued its proposed definition of the term Healthy when used as a claim on food packaging.

The goal of this new definition is to better align the term healthy with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, based on current science as well as the updated nutrition facts label.

Under this proposed definition, products may be labeled as “healthy” if they contain meaningful amounts of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). (fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, etc.)

The new proposed definition also aims to limit nutrients in certain food categories which in overabundance can lead to negative health outcomes (saturated fat, sodium, added sugar).

The additional focus on food groups that this expanded proposed definition introduces, rather than solely on a set of nutrients could help consumers more clearly identify food to choose to sustain healthy dietary practices.

FDA is also currently looking into the creation of a symbol to represent the term healthy which could be used on a product to convey the product meets the healthy criteria.

The regulatory definition of the term is complicated, but what does healthy actually mean to you?  

Many people strive to follow a healthy diet. Depending on your lifestyle, healthy eating can look pretty different. You don’t have to follow an entirely organic, plant-based, and local style to feel like you’re making healthy choices. 

Life is crazy, but healthy eating can be fun and enjoyable. Maybe some days you eat locally, while on busier days you rely on pre-prepared foods. Whether it’s takeout, cooking a meal from scratch, or cooking semi-prepped ingredients, the foods that we eat are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. 

It’s also important to consider mental health. For busy working parents, saving time by having a Blue Apron Wellness box delivered each week can free up time to spend with your family, and will deliver fresh produce straight to your door.

Healthy may have a strict regulatory definition, but that’s not necessarily the way we live our lives. It’s helpful to understand how the term is used in marketing, but it’s equally important to create your own definition of healthy for yourself and your family. 

How to Clean the Bottom of Pans & Pots

how to clean a cast iron pan

The best part about cooking in your own kitchen? A delicious, homemade meal you can be proud of. The worst part? Now you’ve got to deal with a sink full of dirty dishes. And even if you swore you only took your eyes off that pan of searing steak for just one teeny tiny second, you could end up with scorched pans, caked-on foods, or a greasy mess at the end of your kitchen session. But that grease is no match for you, your soap, or your sponge. Here’s our tried-and-true guide to how to clean the bottoms of pots and pans, no matter how dirty.

Boiling Water Method

For scorched, blackened stainless steel pans and burnt on foods, turn up the heat. Add water to your pan and bring to a boil for 5-7 minutes (don’t worry about covering the dirty sides with water – the steam will take care of that). After the food loosens and easily comes off the pan, pour out the hot water and wipe any remaining food with the scrubby part of a sponge. For glass or metal baking dishes, add boiling water and let sit for several minutes before using the scrubby side of a sponge to easily wipe away any residue.

clean a pan with stuck on food

Hot Water Soak

A hot water soak can loosen baked, caked on food from dishes like cheesy lasagnas or rich chocolate brownies. Fill the dish with warm to hot water right away, covering the sides. Let soak for 15-20 minutes or until food loosens. Didn’t get around to soaking your dish the moment the food left the pan? That’s ok. Add hot water later and let soak overnight. Then, wash in the morning.

Baking Soda, Vinegar, & Lemon Juice

clean a pan with baking soda

Head to your pantry to get your pots and pans extra clean and shiny. Baking soda, distilled white vinegar and fresh lemon juice are a triple cleansing threat. Add a dash of baking soda or vinegar during the boil method to help clean scorched saucepans. Soak pots, baking dishes or cookie sheets in hot to boiling water with baking soda and fresh lemon juice for an accelerated clean. Rub half a lemon around the bottom and sides of stainless steel cookware for extra shine; rinse and let air dry. Finally, a squirt of vinegar followed by a rinse of water is great for removing any residual odors.

For the really tough stuff, try adding a dash of store bought cleansing powders like Bon Ami, Zud or Bar Keepers Friend. Don’t feel like heading to the store? Use Alka-Seltzer (really)! To help loosen stuck on foods and lift stains, add hot water and a tab or two of Alka-Seltzer or other effervescent to your dish.

how to clean a cast iron pan

Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

Everyone wants to know: How do you actually clean cast iron? If there is one thing to remember, it’s to never use abrasive sponges! It will ruin the seasoning (the oil-treated surface that protects the pan and your food). Instead, rinse your cast iron with hot or boiling water. If there is still anything stuck to it, use kosher salt, warm water and a soft sponge to loosen residue and rinse again. After the dish is totally dry, run some vegetable oil in a thin layer onto the bottoms and sides to keep it lubricated and prevent rusting.

Wash wood by hand using regular dish detergent– don’t place in the dishwasher. If your wooden spoons have stains from a curry or tomato sauce, wash and let air dry in the sun to take out some of the smell and color.

Keep copper away from water and regular soap or else it will oxidize (turn your beautiful cookware green)! Instead, dip your copper in boiled water with a good amount of vinegar or use the vinegar-water solution to wipe the copper clean.

Prevention

To prevent hard-to-clean dishes in the first place, keep your eye on the stove! Line pans with aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper or use a nonstick cooking spray for certain recipes to avoid the sticking of any food that will later burn to the dish. Watch the food in your pots and pans – make sure the temperature isn’t too high and stir occasionally to avoid future cleaning problems. And dry your food thoroughly before searing. Wet or even slightly damp proteins (think chicken, beef, etc.) will stick to your pan!

But if your chow does start to burn or appear to cake on, you can still save yourself from cleaning a mess. First, lower the heat and throw a little water onto your pot, pan or dish if you can. Then, make sure to stir and scrape down the sides of your pan or pot with a wooden spoon (especially when filled with stews, soups or sauces) or wipe any splatters on baking sheets or dishes that are going into the oven. Liquids or splatters will cook off and leave markings. The longer the markings stay on the side under heat means they will caramelize, brown, blacken and burn.

Introducing the Blue Apron Tailgating Box

This fall, get ready for game day with Blue Apron. Host an at-home watch party or a family movie night with our new Tailgating box, inspired by classic game day treats. Recreate the ultimate viewing party experience at home with hearty, elevated party snacks.

Skip menu planning stress and last-minute trips to the grocery store with this party in a box. All the ingredients you need are delivered straight to your door. Our chefs designed this menu to be both satisfying and snackable. These crowd-pleasing dishes are finger-food friendly—forks and spoons are strictly optional. 

The Menu

Queso Fundido with Chorizo & Fresh Tomato Salsa

A cheesy, meaty delight topped with fresh salsa for a refreshing kick.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Buttermilk Dressing & Carrot Slaw

Flavorful chicken gets a spicy kick from hot honey, all sandwiched between soft, fluffy buns. 

BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa & Guacamole

Make your own tropical salsa for these satisfying pork tacos. Don’t worry about elaboration prep—we’re sending peeled and pitted mango and cooked pulled pork. Just chop, sauté, and go. 

The Tailgating box is portioned to serve 8 people. It will be available on the menu and in the marketplace starting 9/5. With a menu like this, your party is sure to be a hit. Even if you’re not watching the game, you’ll want to come for the food.

9 Ways To Decorate with Strawberries

fresh summer strawberries

You don’t need to be an artist to make a beautiful dessert. Try fuss-free dessert-decorating with the classic strawberry. No time to aim for a perfectly frosted and smooth cake? Don’t even worry about it. Instead, beautify your treats with already-gorgeous berries that make the sweetest part of your meal look professional and pretty – with barely any effort.

Read on for ways to decorate with strawberries. Try these strawberry-adorned dessert recipes to get started.

1. Panna Cotta with Strawberry Roses

Top creamy desserts with an elegant strawberry “rose.” Creating these edible flowers is much easier than it looks; here, a dairy-free panna cotta recipe that tastes just as rich as the classic dairy-version gets the great-looking garnish.

2. Strawberry Trifle

trifle decorated with strawberries
Decorate with strawberries for a beautiful trifle

The trifle, or a cassata, is a beautiful way to decorate with berries. The version about is made of variegated layers of halved strawberries, fluffy whipped cream, and airy angel food cake. This dessert looks decadent, but it’s light and refreshing too.

3. Chilled Strawberry Soup

Is it soup or is it dessert? Either way, this lively and smooth light pink soup can double as lunch and an after-meal treat. A floating stemmed strawberry in the center adds a touch of simple embellishment. Just blend together five ingredients and your soup is table ready.

4. Lemon Pound Cake with Mint, Berries and Cream

For a gorgeously “undone” treat, pile on the strawberries and let them fall where they may. And, the combination of flavors works too: buttery-rich lemon pound cake gets even zestier with a dollop of lemon curd, a bunch of fresh mint leaves, and those berries.

5. Yogurt Covered Strawberries

The beauty to this two-ingredient recipe is inside: Slice frozen strawberries dipped in thick vanilla Greek yogurt in half to reveal a striking color contrast.

6. Fresh Strawberry Tart

Classic tarts completely covered in strawberries provide a mouthwatering view for the eyes that just screams summer. Instead of hiding vibrant berries in a crust overlay like pies do, let your juicy fresh fruit shine on top of a bed of rich vanilla pastry cream.

7. Strawberry Nutella Poptarts

Everything is better with Nutella – and we mean everything. Smear chocolate hazelnut spread on buttery pie dough with strawberry jelly and craft a cute pop-out strawberry heart for an adult “pop tart.”

8. Brownie Cupcakes with Strawberry Santa Hats

Keep this recipe bookmarked for when the most wonderful time of year rolls around. Top rich brownie cupcakes with a jaunty strawberry Santa hat trimmed with white chocolate frosting for an easy and festive dessert decoration.

9. Sugar Cookie Crust Fruit Pizza

Pizza: not just for lunch and dinner any more, not now that you know about this beautiful, geometric fruit-bejeweled sugar cookie pizza.

Recipe: A Lemonade Cocktail Spiked with Basil

lemonade cocktail and a lobster roll
The perfect summer pairing

With summer in full swing, we’re all about easy entertaining. This lemonade cocktail can be served prepared in a large batch and served in a pitcher. That way, guests can help themselves to refills, and you can keep the party going. To make things even easier, the lemon basil syrup can be made the day before.

Lemonade cocktail recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 sprigs basil
  • 16 oz gin (optional)
  • 16 oz plain sparkling water 
  • Cucumber slices (for garnishing)

Directions:

Make the lemon sugar: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Using a sharp vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel the rind off the lemon to get long pieces of peel. In a small bowl, combine the lemon peel and sugar. Using a muddler, wooden spoon, or your hands, smash the peels and sugar together until some of the oils release and the sugar becomes fragrant. Cover and let stand for 3 hours or place in the refrigerator overnight. 

Make the lemon-basil syrup: In a small pot, combine the lemon peel and sugar mixture with 1 cup of water. Heat to boiling on medium high. Cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot. Turn off the heat. Add the sprigs of basil and stir to combine. Let stand until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Strain the liquid into a bowl, discarding the lemon peel and basil sprigs. Juice the lemons, discarding any seeds. Add the lemon juice to the bowl of strained syrup and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a pitcher. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Prepare the cocktail: To the pitcher of lemon-basil syrup, add the gin, if using. Stir to combine. Add the sparkling water and stir once more. To serve, fill collins glasses with ice and pour in cocktail from the pitcher. Garnish with cucumber slices. Enjoy!

basil lemonade cocktail at lobster dinner
Serve a lemonade cocktail with your lobster feast

For an easy summer gathering, serve this lemonade cocktail with our first ever lobster box.

Decorate Your Table with Origami Lobster

The food is delicious, the wine is chilled, and the guests are on their way. It’s time to set the table! If you’re hosting a dinner party, why not give the place settings the same love that you gave to all the other details? Sometimes it’s the tiny extras that make a night memorable. 

origami lobster place setting
Origami lobster place setting

This summer, we’re obsessed with lobster rolls. Our lobster box makes preparing a feast easy. For extra fun, try decking out your table with these festive origami lobster. 

If you’ve ever made a paper crane, this design will be easy. Just fold neatly, have confidence, and follow the steps below. 

origami lobster step 1

1. Start with a square sheet of paper. If you’re using origami paper, the colored side should face down. 

origami lobster step 2

2. Fold the paper in half to form a triangle. Press down on the fold to form a crease. 

3. Fold the two corners together to form a smaller triangle. Press down on the fold to form a crease. 

4. With the folded edge facing to the right, lift the top half of the triangle, open it, and press it flat, as shown. 

5. Repeat on the other side. The paper should now look like a square.

6. Position your new square on the table so that the folded corner is facing up. Take the right hand corner and fold it so that the edge of the paper is aligned vertically with the center. Make a crease and unfold. Repeat with the left hand corner.

7.  Take the top corner and fold it down to the center point to form a crease. Unfold.

8. Flip the square over, and repeat step 6 on the other side. 

9. Lift up a flap from the bottom corner. Press the flap open and flatten it. It should fold along the creased lines that you formed in steps 7 and 8. 

10. Repeat step 9 on the other sign. The paper should now be shaped like a thin diamond. 

turn folds of origami lobster

11. Take the right hand corner and open it like you’re turning the page of a book. Repeat this process on the other side. The paper will now resemble a kite with two arms at the top. 

origami lobster arm

12. To form the claws of the lobster, grab one of the arms at the top. Fold the tip of the arm behind and out to the side, so that it forms a 90º angle with the centerline. Repeat with the other arm. 

origami lobster claw

13. To form the pinchers, take the tip of the arm again. Fold the tip directly up and press down to flatten, as shown above. 

folding origami lobster

14. Fold the long edges of the torso back, and tuck them inside of the body to form a thinner kite shape. 

15. To form the shell of the lobster, lift up the bottom flap of the body. Fold pleats into the body to resemble the ridges of a lobster shell. Press down to crease, and unfold. 

cut the origami lobster

16. Flip the lobster over, and use scissors to cut the back flap only. Cut up to the center of the torso. 

create origami lobster legs

17. Fold the two newly formed flaps outward to create the bottom legs of the lobster. They should be at a 90º angle with the body. 

origami lobster legs

18. Flip the lobster over again. Fold the tip of the bottom legs behind the paper so that they point directly up. 

completed origami lobster

20. Use a sharpie to add eyes to your completed origami lobster, if you wish. 

Create one origami lobster to set on each plate, or scatter them across the table for a festive touch.

Four Ways to Dress up Your Hot Dog for an Over-the-Top Fourth

loaded hot dogs
festive, loaded hot dogs

Nothing says summer like a hot dog. Whether you’re grilling dogs outside, or boiling them up in the kitchen, a loaded hot dog is the perfect way to kick off any celebration. While a simple preparation is delicious, the right toppings can transform a hot dog from a nostalgic childhood favorite into a full-blown gourmet meal. Try these preparations to add a little something special. All of our dressed up dogs start with all-beef frankfurters—these sausages are the traditional base for many styles, but feel free to improvise with your favorite brand.

Chicago-style hot dog

A Chicago-style hot dog is a classic street food in the windy city. The classic Chicago dog is topped with sweet pickle relish, tomato, sweet onion, a dill pickle spear, pickled peppers, and mustard. Traditionally, ketchup is not included on a Chicago dog, and some locals consider it taboo. Many versions are served on a poppy seed bun.

New York-style hot dog

To keep things simple, try a New York hotdog-cart-inspired dog. We’ve topped our version with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup for a sweet and tangy bite.

Chili cheese dog

Chili cheese dogs originated in Pennsylvania, with deep roots in Scranton, Philadelphia, and western New York. These decadent dogs should be topped with a traditional meat chili (no beans!), shredded cheese, and chopped white onions.

Kimchi dog

For an international take, try a loaded hot dog topped with kimchi. This Korean-fermented cabbage will bring the same briny kick you get from sauerkraut, along with a little spice and additional complexity. If you like a little something, this is the dog for you. Our version is topped with Kimchi, shredded cabbage, and sriracha mayo.

Looking for a summery dessert to fill up your plate? Try this no-fuss strawberry crostata.

Celebrate Summer with our First-Ever Lobster Rolls

Everything you need for a seasonal celebration is now available through Blue Apron.  

This special spread is designed to embody the spirit of summer—it’s effortless, indulgent, and fun! Whether hosting friends or making family dinner, you’ll be delighted by how easy it can be to prepare a memorable feast.

Our first-ever lobster box features traditional Maine-style lobster rolls and plenty of sides to fill out the table. Each box includes these recipes.

  • Lobster Rolls with Lemon & Chives
  • Creamy Potato Salad with Capers & Pickled Peppers
  • Corn on the Cob with Garlic & Herb Butter
  • Green Salad with Feta, Tomatoes & Radishes

To take your meal to the next level, we’re also including a few extras. Play lobster trivia with your friends or family, and use our bonus included recipe to create the perfect summer lemonade cocktail. 

The limited-time Summer Lobster Box is available to ship starting the week of June 27 through August 29 (or while supplies last), and can be ordered through Blue Apron’s website and mobile app, as well as the Market with no subscription required.

Explore the Galaxy with Blue Apron

Blue Apron is teaming up with Disney & Pixar to celebrate their all-new movie Lightyear, in theaters June 17th. We’re bringing you more ways than ever to unlock a world of flavor and excitement.

A Blue Apron box holds more than just your next great meal—it’s also a ticket to outer space. Follow these instructions to use the box, bubble liner, and a few household items to create a DIY spacesuit costume for any
little ones who love adventure. Now you can go To Infinity and Beyond any night of the week!

Click here to download the complete instructions.

The Blue Apron box is not intended for use by children and should only be used by children under the supervision of an adult.

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.