Homemade Snacks: Creamy Avocado Dip

When an afternoon snack craving hits, creamy avocado dip will pick up your energy and lift your spirits right away.

avocado dip ingredients

Avocado delivers the kind of creamy satisfaction that normally only comes from foods that are a little bit less healthful than this popular, irresistible fruit.

Creamy Avocado Dip Snack
Creamy Avocado Dip Snack

This isn’t guacamole. We’ve created a creamier dip by switching up the texture with some added sour cream. A generous addition of chopped cilantro adds even more bright green flavor, and a little bit of minced pepper keeps everything perky. Pack up a serving and add it to your lunchbox or keep the ingredients in the fridge and mash up some dip for an after-work snack.

Creamy Avocado Dip Snack

Read on for the full recipe.

Continue reading “Homemade Snacks: Creamy Avocado Dip”

What’s the Best Food to Bring to the Beach?

beach food picnic
Make sure olives are pitted

Going to the beach is supposed to be relaxing, but sometimes planning for a day of doing nothing can be surprisingly stressful. Your whole beach crew needs sun protection, a prime spot on the sand, and of course, the perfect beach food. That last item can get a little tricky—some foods are better suited for the beach than others. To make relaxing a little easier, here’s a rundown of the best foods to bring to the beach. 

To be a good beach treat, a snack needs to check a few basic boxes. The key elements of an oceanside lunch are: 

A beach food needs to travel well

From cooler, to car, to shore, it might be hours from when you pack your lunch to the time you dig in. The best beach foods should be able to hold up to the heat, and maybe even improve as they sit. This means no temperature sensitive items. Sorry, but poke is off the menu. 

Find a snack that doesn’t produce trash

The goal here is to make things easier. You don’t want to spend your day at the beach keeping track of wrappers or other refuse, and you certainly don’t want to leave anything behind on the pristine sands. If you plan ahead, this should be easy to solve for. Just pit any cherries before you pack them, slice a watermelon and discard the rind, and avoid individually wrapped snacks. 

Focus on refreshing foods

Hours out in the heat can be depleting, even if you’re just lounging. Fresh foods with a high water content and salty foods to replace lost electrolytes will keep you frolicking in the waters all afternoon. Of course, we can’t deny the pleasure of a stealthy glass or rosé or a pre-made cocktail, even if it makes you a little sleepy. Just make sure to bring along plenty of water. 

Highly recommended: 

Pre-cut fruit 

Some fruits will travel better than others. Raspberries are lovely, but are a little delicate for the beach. Strawberries with the tops trimmed off will transport well and be easy to eat. Be sure to remove any pits or peels before packing your fruit, lest you be burdened with scraps to throw away. Sliced apples may oxidize slightly, but will still be fine to eat. If you don’t like the appearance of browning, toss them in lemon juice before packing. Grapes are also a great choice.

watermelon is a good beach food

Potato chips 

Any chip will work, but potato chips are the perfect salty treat to satisfy cravings and encourage you to drink water. They’re delicious on their own, which means you don’t have to fuss with any potentially messy dips or salsas. 

Cheese and crackers

If you’re aiming for a sophisticated vibe, throw some soft cheeses in a cooler. They’ll keep well, and are delicious at room temperature. Be sure to pack the requisite tools. Having a knife, plate, and napkins will make things infinitely easier. 

Pressed sandwiches

Eventually, you may crave a more substantial meal. That’s when it’s time to bust out the sandwiches. When packing the perfect beach sandwich, the secret is in the bread. A sliced sandwich-style bread can get soft and soggy over time. A hearty baguette or ciabatta will absorb flavors and only grow more delicious. A pressed sandwich like a cuban or a pan bagnat is the ultimate travel hero—even if it ends up squished under a book, it will just enhance the flavor.   

Looking for more travel treats? Try our favorite snack for road trips.

How to Make the Perfect Homemade Garlic Bread

Homemade garlic bread

Got leftover garlic? One of the all-time best uses for garlic, extra or not, is garlic bread. Think of a buttery slice beside your plate of spaghetti as some old favorite red sauce joint. That’s the good stuff.

The only problem is that too often garlic bread disappoints. There’s not enough butter, or it’s greasy. The garlic is raw and overwhelming, or sparse and tasteless. The bread is too chewy, rather than contrasting soft interior with crunchy crust.

Today we’re here to remedy all your garlicky woes with our recipe for homemade garlic bread. If you’ve found yourself collecting extra cloves from your Blue Apron box, grab six of them right now, and let’s make some garlic bread.

Read more: How to Make Garlic Confit

homemade garlic bread ingredients

Garlic Bread Recipe

You’ll want to pick up a good loaf of Italian bread, preferably from a beloved local bakery. You want it to be soft inside and crusty on the outside—nothing too dense here. Grab a stick of softened salted butter, your pepper grinder, and those six cloves of garlic

Now, let’s multitask. At the same time, preheat the oven to 350°F and chop your garlic cloves very finely with the salt or press them on the microplane to make a paste

In a small bowl, combine the garlic with the stick of butter and some black pepper and squish together to combine them. This might take a bit of elbow grease.

Cut your loaf of bread in half lengthwise, then spread the butter thickly on bottom half.

Replace the top half, and wrap the whole loaf in a sheet of foil. Place the loaf on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, until the butter is melted.

Unwrap, open the bread up, place each half butter side up, and bake for 5 more minutes, until golden around the edges.. While the bread is crisping up, grate about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Sprinkle the cheese across the surface of both loaves, then cut each half into 2-inch wide strips. Serve hot, with plenty of napkins.

Homemade Chex Mix Recipes

This homemade Chex mix recipe was contributed by Jules Esposito. Jules Esposito is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Event planner by day and freelance food writer by night, cooking is always on her mind. 

Think about what makes the perfect bite. To me, it’s all about a variety of textures. Consider the fried chicken sandwich. There’s a reason they’re currently all the rage at fast food restaurants. The crispy chicken, smooth sauce, crunchy pickle chips, and fluffy buttered bread come together and create a symphony of texture. A satisfying bite is what makes a meal memorable. I believe the same is true for snack food. When it comes to snacking, one texture is more appealing than all others—the addictively noisy crunch. As a crunch-lover, I can’t think of a more perfect snack food than Chex mix. The cereal-based blend has a variety of textures and the ability to take on almost any flavor profile. It’s the ideal candidate for leisurely snacking. 

When was Chex Mix invented?

Our love affair with Chex mix began back in 1955, when the wife of Ralston Purina brought her homemade party mix to a holiday gathering. Does the name Purina sound familiar? If  you’re thinking of dog food, then you’re on the right track. Before Purina started making puppy chow, he created the human chow we have come to know and love. Not to worry—the businesses have been kept entirely separate, so you won’t find any kibble in the classic blue bag. According to General Mills, Purina created the first version of pre-packaged Chex Mix in 1987. Back then, it was offered in just two flavors—traditional and cheddar. Nine years later the cereal conglomerate purchased Chex mix and expanded to offer the sixteen flavors we know today.

Making DIY Chex mix at home is an easy way to clear out your pantry, feed a crowd, or satisfy any cravings you may be having. I’ve broken down Chex mix snacking into three unique flavor profiles: sweet, savory, and spicy. All of these recipes can be altered or substituted based on what you have in your pantry. Get creative and try them out!

Sweet & Salty Chex Mix Recipe

As a lover of the sweet and salty combo, I know that the balance of sugar and salt can make or break a snack. When you get it just right, it’s pure bliss. This sweet and salty Chex mix recipe is inspired by another nostalgic favorite: Seven-Layer bars. The sweet element comes from coconut flakes, graham cracker crumble, and a drizzle of dark chocolate. Topping with flaky sea salt balances it all out and completes this flavor profile. 

  • 2  Cups sweetened coconut, toasted
  • 5 Cups chocolate Chex
  • 4 Cups corn Chex
  • 1  Cup Rolos, cut in half
  • 1  Cup crushed graham crackers
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1  Cup chocolate chips, melted
  • Flaky sea salt to top
  • Powdered sugar, to top
sweet homemade chex mix

Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Evenly distribute coconut on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Toast the coconut in the oven, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. About 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine both Chex cereals and the Rolos.

Into a separate small bowl, crush the graham crackers with your hands, keeping some coin-sized chunks.

Pour the melted butter over the graham cracker crumbs and stir to combine (this will help it stick to the cereal).

After the toasted coconut has cooled, combine the coconut and graham cracker crumbles with the Chex and Rolo mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork or piping bag to drizzle the melted chocolate over the Chex mix. Add sea salt if desired.

Place the tray in the fridge to set. Once the chocolate has hardened, break apart the chunks, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Savory Seasoned Chex Mix

For a savory chex mix, I wanted to create something that wasn’t just salty. This everything bagel-inspired Chex mix recipe is full of deep, savory flavor from Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and copious amounts of everything bagel seasoning. Add bagel chips and pretzels, and you’ll end up with a snack that has just as many flavors as textures. 

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ Cup everything bagel seasoning
  • 3 Cups rice Chex
  • 3 Cups corn Chex
  • 2 Cups wheat Chex
  • 1 ½  Cups crushed pretzels
  • 1 ½ Cups everything bagel chips
  • 1 Cup potato chips

Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and everything bagel seasoning.

Measure and combine all Chex cereals in a large bowl. Lightly crush pretzels and both chip varieties so they are bite-sized (roughly the size of the Chex) and add to the bowl.

Pour the butter mixture over the cereal and combine. Distribute the mix evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with more everything seasoning, if desired.

Bake at 250ºF for 15 minute intervals, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted. Let cool and enjoy! 

Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chex Mix Recipe

In any crowd, there is always someone who loves heat. How spicy? Well, now that’s the question! This recipe can be adjusted to satisfy everyone—from fans of mild spice to wicked-hot wing lovers. Simply add more buffalo sauce or ranch seasoning to tailor it to your needs, bake, and enjoy!

  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. Buffalo ranch seasoning (or more if desired)
  • ¼ Cup Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (or more if desired)
  • 3 Cups rice Chex
  • 3 Cups corn Chex
  • 2 Cups wheat Chex
  • 1 ½  Cups Cheez-Its
  • 1 ½ Cups pretzels, lightly crushed
  • 1 ½  Cups bagel chips, lightly crushed

Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, Buffalo ranch seasoning, and Buffalo sauce. Stir to combine.

Measure and combine all Chex cereals in a large bowl. Lightly crush Cheez-Its, pretzels, and bagel chips with hands so they are bite-sized and add to mix.

Pour the butter mixture over the cereal mixture and combine well. Distribute evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with additional Buffalo Ranch seasoning if desired.

Bake at 250ºF for 15 minute intervals, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted. Let cool and enjoy! 

Still feeling snacky? Try these homemade jalapeño poppers, it’s hard not to love them. 

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

Creamy brie, salty gouda, and funky blue cheese make a balanced board.

Nothing gets a party going like a cheese board: it breaks the ice, provides a place to congregate, and gets the people snacking. While no one will turn her nose up at a box of crackers and block of extra sharp cheddar, a truly next-level cheeseboard is both impressive and easy to put together—so long as you’ve got a game plan. Read on for our guidelines and a few pro tips.

The Best Cheese for a Cheese Board

The cheese is the reason we’re all here, but the best advice is to keep it simple. Odd numbers tend to look best on a board, so pick three delicious, interesting, eclectic cheeses. Age, texture, and origin are they key factors to consider: one creamy, one crumbly, and one funky cheese is a good place to start.

cut cheese board

PRO TIP: Cut small pieces or slices into your cheese before you put the board out for guests; this is a great way to suggest a serving size, create motion in your presentation, and make people feel comfortable to dive right in. No “first person to cut into the cheese” jitters.

What is a Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie is the French word to describe cured and cooked meats like pâté, bacon, and cured salami. Incorporating some charcuterie into your cheese board, or building a separate charcuterie board with an array of cured meats, will add luxurious flavor and texture to your spread. Try visiting a local butcher to what’s in stock. Freshly shaved prosciutto and whole dried sausages will beat the precut stuff at the supermarket any day.

Picking Meats for a Charcuterie Board

Balance is key when it comes to the carnivore-friendly part of your cheese board. Texture and flavor are the most important variables: try pairing delicate prosciutto (a fan favorite) with one hard, cured salame (such as chorizo) and one soft salame (like soppressata). Avoid overkill on salt or spice. If you’ve loaded up on powerful flavors, add a slice of pâté or terrine to provide a mild foil for them.

PRO TIP: Lili Dagan, Culinary Manager, is the resident cheese board expert in the Test Kitchen after years perfecting the craft while working in events. Her signature move? A meat river. Fanning out delicately rumpled prosciutto or slices of salami into a ribbon that travels from one end of the board to the other makes the arrangement feel ample and deliberate.

cheese board with prosciutto

Other Additions to a Cheese & Charcuterie Board

A cheese board goes from good to great with the addition of a few *extras* — some crunchy, tender, sweet, and pickly bits to cut through the salt and fat of the main event. Little bowls of one-biters like roasted nuts or olives, provide necessary textural contrast. Briny bites like a cornichons or gherkins refresh your palate. Finish things off with a few condiments. Grainy mustard, honey, and jam all adds a spreadable or drizzly pop of flavor. The sweet and salty contrast of jam or honey will work will with almost any cheese.

Best Crackers for Cheese

PRO TIP: Don’t forget the carbs. Your cheeses and spreads will be SO lonely without something to put them on. Simple crackers will do the trick, providing a dependable base without overpowering any exciting flavors. For a gourmet touch, try this: thinly slice a baguette, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast in a 400ºF oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.

cheese board with fruit

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Tips

Fruit is your friend! Celebrate the time of year by adding some seasonal produce to your board. Concord grapes and stone fruit in the summer or citrus and pears in the winter add color, freshness, and a welcome respite from cheese.

PRO TIP: Temperature matters. Take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you plan to serve it, to come to room temperature. A cheese’s flavor, smell, and texture changes in the cold (and not in a good way), and you want those wedges and wheels to shine!


cheese board with meat and wine

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Pairings

Cheese’s best friend? Wine, of course. Check out the Blue Apron collection of food-friendly white wines, six wines to pair with your festive holiday cheese board.

Cereal Bars are the Perfect Road Trip Snack

cereal for bars

Without good snacks, a road trip is just a long car ride. Hours in the car are infinitely more enjoyable with a treat, but not just any snack will do. There are a few criteria that the best road trip snacks need to meet.

1: They can’t be too crumbly. Flaky granola bars might be readily available in gas stations, but you’ll regret it when you’re vacuuming oatmeal out of your car months later. 

2: They can’t be dust-coated. A box of powdered doughnuts will make it look like there was a blizzard inside of your car. Cheesy chips will leave your steering wheel coated in a thin layer of orange. 

3: They should be slightly indulgent. This is vacation. Live a little! 

4. They shouldn’t be too filling. The goal here is to enjoy some treats during the day and save room for a nourishing dinner once you arrive at your destination. 

There’s one snack that ticks all of those boxes and more: Cereal bars. Cereal bars, and their most famous family member, the Rice Krispie bar, are the perfect food for the car. They’re satisfyingly crispy, easy to eat, and simultaneously light and indulgent. They’re so easy to make that you’ll be able to throw them together at home before you pack up the car.  

How to Make Cereal Bars

The best thing about cereal bars is that they’re adaptable. Start with this base recipe, and then make it your own with add-ins. You can try switching up the cereal, adding a pinch of salt, throwing in sliced nuts, or adding shredded coconut. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 oz marshmallows 
  • 6 cups of cereal

Directions

Place the butter medium pot over medium heat and add ½ of the butter. Move the butter around with a spoon or heat-proof spatula while it melts. After it has completely melted, you’ll see it start to foam up around the edges. Continue to stir, watching the butter closely. After the foam subsides and you see some brown specks forming in the bottom of your pan, the butter is ready. 

Add in the marshmallows, and stir until they are completely melted. Add any wet mix-ins like honey, nut butter, or vanilla extract. 

Remove from heat and stir in cereal and any dry add-ins, like shredded coconut or sliced nuts. 

Using a spatula coated in cooking spray, spread this mixture evenly into a 13 X 9 inch pan.

Once cool, cut your treats with a serrated knife and enjoy. Pack in an airtight container and hit the road.

How to Make a Fancy Crudite Platter

Crudite platter

A crudite platter done right is a work of art.  It’s one of our favorite ways to display the season’s harvest, and surprise our guests with the gems we found at our local farmer’s market or specialty store. Plus, it’s our secret weapon for holiday hosting – it’s light, it doesn’t require any coveted oven time, and it has the potential to be really impressive without very much work.

Prepared Fruits and Vegetables for Crudite Platter

But without some advanced planning, the crudite platter can look like a sad grocery store veggie tray.  So this holiday season, we’re advocating to apply the fancy cheese plate mentality to the crudite platter, and make it your cocktail hour show-stopper!

crudite platter with fruit and vegetables

Read on for the crudite cheat sheet that will help you create holiday hors d’oeuvres that may just steal some of the (Instagram) spotlight from the main event! 

Crudite Platter Ideas

  1. Add color! When you’re buying your veggies and fruits, think not just about having a diversity of flavor but having a diversity of color on your board
  2. Put contrasting colors side by side.

  3. Use unusual vegetables and fruit! Try jicama, blood oranges, or heirloom anything
  4. Blanche or even cook some of the vegetables. Blanche Broccoli, cauliflower, or snap peas. Roast cherry tomatoes on the vine

  5. Keep the greens on for an extra pop of color. Try carrots and radishes for contrast
  6. Cut things in interesting/ delicious ways. Don’t keep broccoli or carrots too large. Peel and then slice oranges into wheels.

  7. Add height with various sized bowls and platters
  8. Check your pantry for some add ons: Try nuts, dried fruits, honey, olives, jared bell peppers, or cornichons .
  9. Arrange it on a wooden cutting board or platter – everything looks good on wood.
  10. Garnish with beautiful things: use herbs, edible flowers or pretty greens, or even fennel fronds to garnish.
blanched vegetables for crudite platter

Share your holiday hosting tips and tricks below!

11 Sunday Casseroles for a Game Day Feast

Casseroles are easy, warming, and make-ahead-able; all qualities essential to big game eating. Whether you plan to spend the weekend watching football, or you’re just in the mood for a cozy meal, these 11 delicious Sunday casseroles will satisfy your cravings.

1. Dig into Baked Orzo with Chorizo & Mozzarella

Baked Orzo Casserole with Chorizo & Mozzarella

Dried chorizo and garlic bring a little kick to this baked pasta casserole recipe.

2. Scoop up Savory Sweet Potato Gratin

recipes for sunday casseroles with sweet potatoes

For pure comfort, turn to carbs. This vegetarian dish combines sweet potatoes with a rich béchamel sauce to deliver a complex and layered flavor profile.

3. Chow down on Mexican Rice & Bean Casserole

Mexican Rice and Bean Sunday Casseroles

This baked dish was inspired by classic Mexican flavors. The hearty rice and bean base it topped off with baked tortilla strips for an irresistible crunch.

4. Gorge yourself with Cheesy Broccoli Rotini Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli Rotini Casserole
If you’re Sunday casseroles feature broccoli, you’re basically a saint

Want to get your family to eat broccoli? Look no further. This crowd-pleasing recipe nestles healthy broccoli in between pasta and cheese for a virtuous take on mac and cheese.

5. Spice up Sunday with Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Chicken Mole Enchiladas Sunday Casserole

Are enchiladas a casserole? We’re not here to split hairs. All we know is that this recipes is hot, satisfying, and baked in a pan. It will satisfy your casserole craving either way.

6. Stuff your friends on Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells Sunday Casseroles

Channel your inner New Jerseyan with this saucy recipe for stuffed jumbo pasta shells.

7. Then, stuff your Beef-Stuffed Peppers

Beef Stuffed Peppers

We snuck another vegetable in here! No eating around the pepper, it’s against the game day rules.

8. If football’s all Greek to you, make Moussaka

Moussaka Casserole

A squeeze of lemon keeps this decadent casserole from feeling heavy.

9. Tuck into some Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pies

Scientifically speaking, shepherds pie is a perfect food. This version is filled with a mixture of beef and lamb for a to create a hearty satisfying dish.

Here’s some good news: you don’t have to make just one! Grab your oven mitts and assemble your ingredients. It’s game time!

Three Spices for Your Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

roasted pumpkin seeds with seasoning

Carving pumpkins in one of the greatest activities of fall. Culinarily speaking, however, the best part comes right after you create your jack o’lantern: making roasted pumpkin seeds. From a food-loving grown-up perspective, the entire pumpkin carving ordeal may just be an excuse to pull out the pumpkin seed seasoning.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a true culinary treasure. To make roasted pumpkin seeds at home, the first thing you’ll need is a pumpkin. It doesn’t need to be a small sugar pumpkin. A large carving pumpkin will work perfectly.

pumpkin

To get at the seeds and preserve the shell for carving, you’ll want to cut a lid. With a sharp knife, cut around the stem in a circle or shape of your choosing. Angle the tip of the knife slightly towards the stem, that way you’ll create a wedge-shaped lid that will sit snuggly in your pumpkin without falling through.

remove seeds from pumpkin

Now it’s time to scoop out all those gooey pumpkin seeds. Each pumpkin holds a different quantity of seeds, so don’t bank on having a pumpkin seed feast until you’re sure you’ve got plenty. If you want a guarantee, invite friends over for a carving (and eating) party. Scrape the inside of the pumpking with a large spoon to clean out the seeds. It’s ok if things get a little messy.

Before you roast, you want to rinse the seeds in a big bowl of water to remove the orange slime. Then, the take seeds and place them on a dish towel on the counter. Pat them dry with a towel. You’re now ready to roast and season pumpkin seeds.

cleaning pumpkin seeds

Basic Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

how to roast and season pumpkin seeds

This simple roasted pumpkin seed seasoning is the classic. Preheat the oven to 300°F, then arrange your seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and with a bit of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they’re dry and browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt if you like, and you’re done.

Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

roasted pumpkin seed seasoning

The flavors of pumpkin pie obviously pair well with roasted pumpkin seeds. The trick is in getting the nutmeg and cinnamon to stick to slimy seeds. The glue? Egg white. To make a batch of these, you’ll need at least 3 cups of washed, dried seeds from two to three large pumpkins. Start by whisking together one egg white with a teaspoon of water until foamy. Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and big pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg (throw in ginger and cloves, too, if you have them). Whisk in a pinch of salt, then add the seeds. Use a wooden spoon to help you coat the seeds, then scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in a 300°F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until the seeds are dry.

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Seasoning

pumpkin seeds with spicy seasoning
Roasted pumpkin seeds with sweet seasoning

Getting spice to stick to your seeds requires the same cooking know-how you acquired in the sweet take, above. Again, start with at least 3 cups of seeds, then whip up an egg white until thick and foamy with a teaspoon of water and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar. Throw in big pinches of your favorite hot spices: we combined smoky chipotle chili powder, peppery ancho chili powder, and cayenne for pure heat. Get some salt in there too, to make the flavors pop. If you’re not a spicy food lover, opt for smoked paprika instead. Same deal for roasting: throw the seeds in one layer on a parchment-lined sheet, then roast until dry in a 300°F oven, tossing every 10 minutes, for about 30 minutes.

In the mood for more pumpkin? Try these festive twists on pumpkin pie.

How to Make Homemade Pear Butter

homemade pear butter on toast
this + a cup of coffee = the perfect fall breakfast

Need something new to spread on your toast on a crisp fall morning? We did—so we developed this luxurious, ultra-delicious homemade pear butter recipe.

Fruit “butters,” like nut butters, are named for their smooth, spreadable consistency. Make this spiced pear butter ahead for about a week’s worth of breakfasts. It’s delicious on toast, but we also like it on oatmeal: stir chopped dark chocolate and toasted hazelnuts into a bowl of plain oats, then top it off with pear butter and more chocolate.

Homemade Spiced Pear Butter

Makes: 1 1/2 cups
Time: 80-90 minutes

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 lbs ripe pears (about 5-6 large pears), peeled, cored, and medium diced
1/4 cup apple (or pear) cider
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Cook the pears:

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter on medium until melted. Add the pears, cider, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until the pears begin to break down. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, 60 to 65 minutes, or until softened and broken down.

pear butter ingredients
Prepared pear cubes

Make the pear puree:

Transfer the cooked pears to a blender. Blend on high until smooth. If you prefer a more rustic texture, you can skip this step and add the spices next.

Cook the pear puree:

Return the pear purée to the same pot. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Place on the stover over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, 6 to 8 minutes, or until thickened.

homemade pear butter
Cook down for a perfect creamy consistency

What to Make with Summer Tomatoes

If you’re a true tomato lover, you spend October through June just biding your time. When late summer hits, you thrive. There’s just nothing like summer tomatoes. 

Good tomatoes are a thing of beauty, but unfortunately they’re hard to come by. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one of these gloriously ripe vegetable-ish fruits, you’ll want to choose a recipe that will let it shine. Save the slow cooking for winter, and savor these beauties in their natural state. 

summer tomato toast
Simple tomato perfection

For purists, this means the tomato sandwich. It’s so simple that it doesn’t require a recipe. Just toast a piece of bread, slather on mayo, and layer on those thick tomato slices. After that, top with salt and eat. If the tomatoes are good, this will be delicious even with the most standard sandwich bread and mass-market mayonnaise. If you go all out with country bread, fancy mayo, and flaky salt; you’ll be rewarded with a truly transcendent snack.

If you’re not full after that, try these three hearty dinners that make the most of summer tomatoes. 

Chicken & Brown Butter Rice with Corn & Tomatoes

Go for it; combine tomato and rice in one bite

Tomato, Watermelon & Farro Salad with Seared Halloumi

These thick tomato wedges are paired with halloumi and watermelon for a salad that’s salty, sweet, and juicy

Greek-Style Chicken Thighs & Bruschetta with Za’atar-Honey Slaw

Try some of our other favorite za’atar recipes

Homemade Almond Butter and Jam with a Healthy Twist

What’s the best thing to put on morning toast? This week Chefs Lili Dagan and Sarah Entwistle both found themselves looking for a way to give their breakfast a boost, and ended up turning to seeds. Chef Lili created a homemade almond butter, and Chef Sarah whipped up a quick and easy jam. 

toast with almond butter
Breakfast time

Pick a team: jam and jelly, or nut butters. Don’t want to choose? I suppose you can make both. The Blue Apron test kitchen put a few healthful tweaks on each of these familiar ingredients. Enjoy them on their own, or make both to create a hearty twist on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Raspberry and Chia Seed Jam

raspberry jam
Raspberry jam on homemade crumb cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (or your favorite berry)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (most recipes call for more sugar— we like to use less because berries are naturally sweet)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds [optional]
  • 2 lemon wedges, deseeded [optional]

Process:

1. Wash your berries. 

2. Place the berries in a medium pot with the sugar and water; stir to combine. Heat to boiling on medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and stir in the chia seeds (if using). Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the jam has thickened (you should be able to see the bottom of the pot when you run a spatula through the jam). 

3. Turn off the heat. Squeeze in the juice of your lemon wedges and let cool for at least 10 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools). Store in your refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to one month. Enjoy it on toast, in your yogurt bowl, on a PB&J, or even drizzle some over your favorite pastry.

Please note: the chia seeds absorb liquid and help thicken the jam. If you are not using chia seeds, you may have to cook down the jam a bit longer. 

Almond Butter with Coconut and Seeds

almond butter
Ready to be blitzed

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups raw almonds
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons seeds (We used chia, hemp, and flax. Anything you’d sprinkle on oatmeal or a smoothie bowl would work)
  • Pinch of salt

Process:

1. Toast your almonds for 7-10 minutes in a 350°F oven. This will release their natural oils, and help them blend easily. Be sure to cool them completely before blending.

2. Place the cooled nuts and 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a food processor. (Note: I have used a vitamix to make this before, and while it’s faster, a food processor is easier to clean). Blitz, alternating between the chop and grind function, until the nuts have started to break down, periodically scraping the sides down. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil at a time, ensuring that it incorporates fully, until your desired consistency is reached. Usually, this takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Add your seeds and nuts and a pinch of salt, and blitz just a couple of times to just incorporate. 

3. Enjoy with toast or fruit. 

Looking or a more indulgent twist on peanut butter and jelly? Try these sweet and salty  peanut butter and jelly bars.