Blue Apron Sweet Chili Chicken as told by a guy who still doesn’t know how to cook.

Sweet Chili Chicken with Tinkerbell Peppers, Green Beans & Coconut Rice 
(The second Blue Apron meal I’ve ever cooked.)

Okay, I came into this meal armed with a little more information from last time, namely: It takes me a long time to chop things up, and I need to plan ahead for what I’m going to do with all of the things I chop up. (Answer: use that big ol’ pot again and dump everything into it.)

But there’s an added wrinkle with this one, and it’s something that’s disturbed me all 37 years of my life: RAW CHICKEN. (More on that later.)

Okay here we go.

Step 1:


I’m not going to say I went in cocky with this step, but I feel like I knew a little bit more about how to chop up these veggies. I still just have the one huge chopping knife (one of my friends told me it was actually a big bread knife, I guess?) and I also have a couple of sharp steak knives.

So I was feeling pretty good about chopping the peppers and onions. But how does one “peel and mince” garlic and ginger? I had no idea. But, thanks to some insider information last time  from a friend who also has Blue Apron – she said you can recycle the packaging by going to the Blue Apron website and printing out a form. With that intel, I deduced that maybe the www.blueapron.com/recipes/909 page that references this recipe would help me out with some extra stuff. And it did… only partially. They’ve got a video there that explains how to peel and mince ginger, but not garlic.

Here’s my chopping station. I grabbed another plastic cutting board so I had a little more surface area. I put that big pot in the sink and dumped my chopped items in that.

I kind of just chopped the whole garlic thing in half, which was surprisingly difficult. The recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic. It was only thanks to the ingredients picture that I learned cloves are what come in the whole (bloom? blossom?) thingy of garlic. Otherwise I’d think “clove” was the unit of garlic (a whole clump?) that I received. Anyway, chopping the garlic in half was not the way to go. I wound up picking the cloves out and peeling the top part off. It was work for tiny fingers, not big meat hooks like I have.

I dumped all of the chopped veggies with the exception of the ginger into my big ol’ pot because I don’t have little fancy glass dishes, like I talked about last time. 

(I learned that Blue Apron sells these things to you on their website. They must’ve heard clueless non-cookers like me complain about it and saw an imminent cash grab.)

Stay with me on step 1, here. It’s the longest part. Coming up next: RAW CHICKEN.

Oh god, do I hate raw chicken. I hate it so much. Maybe it’s because of some conversations I had with my dad as a kid? However it came to be, I hear the word “salmonella” and the first things I think of are raw chicken and turtles (thanks, microbiology class at Santa Fe Community College [Seriously, if you rescue a turtle from the side of the road, you should sure as hell wash your goddamn hands or you could wind up in an observation room with a bunch of doctors scratching their heads until Dr. House comes in and figures it all out.]).

So, this part of Step 1 told me I have to pat this raw chicken dry with paper towels and chop it into bite-sized portions. What they don’t tell you is that you have to get the damn thing out of the packaging which I tugged at for a bit, to no avail. I eventually had to use my own knife to chop it open and slide out these slimy pieces of chicken onto my plastic cutting board.

I patted them dry with a metric fuckton of paper towels. Then I had to hold the chicken on the cutting board with one hand and saw at it with my huge bread knife thingy until I’ve got it chopped into pieces and then I put it into a cereal bowl. (I was making gross-out noises the whole time.)

At this point, I washed my hands like 10 times, and used 5 of those Lysol wipes on my counter. I’m not a super clean person, but as I said I just don’t want to be the basis for a bad TV medical drama.

Whew, that was the bulk of it. On to step 2!

Step 2:




The coconut rice was straight forward. I trudged onward and mixed the stuff and put it in a pot, this was before I started in with the gross raw chicken. It said cook the rice for 14 minutes, which I did, but it was really crunchy and all the water had gone. I put more water in and cooked it on a higher heat for like 5 minutes and it turned out okay at the end.

Step 3:


I have those black measuring spoon things, so I figured out how much 2 teaspoons of olive oil was that way. It says to cook the olive oil until hot. How do I know when it’s hot? Steam? I just left it in there for like a minute or so and figured that was good. It says to cook the chicken for 4 to 6 minutes- I cooked it for like 10 minutes and kept breaking the bite sized chunks open to make sure they weren’t pink on the inside. (Again with the salmonella nightmares. I don’t care if the chicken was overcooked or a little dry.) They were decently brown so I figured I was okay.

(Sidenote: I somehow don’t have pepper in the apartment. I just have salt. So every place it’s been saying to put salt and pepper on, I’m just salting.)

Step 4:


I dumped all the veggies in like it says. I set a timer for 2 minutes because I don’t really know how “soft and fragrant” should be measured. Just give me the minutes I need to set on my timer.

Step 5 and 6:



Easy peasy. Just do exactly what it says. They say to cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until “liquid is slightly reduced in volume”. That’s fine. 2 minutes.

Okay, so here’s my meal:

I didn’t have a big fancy looking bowl to put the stuff in. I think it looks okay on a plate, though.
Compare to their meal:

I don’t know, food photographers- I think my blue plate looks better than your lame brown bowl.
What’s great about this: Blue Apron gives you these ingredients that I would never in a million years buy for myself and they give you a good amount of confidence in working with them. I hate cutting raw chicken, but at least I know how to fry it up with a little olive oil. I also now know what people do with garlic cloves and ginger.

What’s not so great about this: Still, the biggest downside appears to be packaging. A friend of mine said that it’s cool that Blue Apron saves you the trouble of wandering around the aisles with this recipe trying to find ingredients you’d never buy. That’s super stressful. I agree, but I think now that I’m armed with this recipe card I can find this stuff with reasonable ease. Maybe not ponzu sauce. What aisle is that on?

How it tasted: It was tastier than the gnocchi I made last time. The ponzu and chili sauce were great and the peppers and scallions added a lot of flavor. It was good. It made my house smell good according to my friend who came over right after.

Blue Apron Gnocchi as told by a guy who doesn’t know how to cook.

Blue Apron- Brown Butter Gnocchi with Summer Squash, Almonds, & Soft-Boiled Eggs.

I’m not a guy who cooks much at all. I’m not a guy who owns much in the way of cooking implements, either. I’ve got one big sharp knife I use for everything- it slices my bagels, it cuts up whatever vegetables I actually wind up cutting (I mostly buy frozen stuff). I’ve got a couple of medium sized pots, one big pot, a couple of frying pans, a colander (I had to look up how to spell that. Strainer? Drainer?)

So I signed up for Blue Apron. I don’t like eating out all the time and the limited number of things I cook needs to be expanded. But I’ve never cooked seriously before, and I have no idea where to start. This seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

Anyway, the box came today, Saturday. The thing is huge. It’s heavier than you’d think. There’s enough stuff for three meals inside, but even considering that I didn’t expect it to be so heavy. I opened it up, and the first thing I said (my friend was there for moral support and audience) was: “Wow, that’s a lot of packaging.” 

Huge box. Bike in there for scale.
I should’ve taken a pic of the box with all the stuff in there. A bunch of things are now randomly floating around in my fridge in these very specifically made cardboard containers. 

Why is the thing so heavy? There are little cardboard holders for just two eggs. Little paper sacks that contain “knick knacks” for each meal. In the paper sacks are tiny plastic bags with stuff like the exact right amount of parmesan cheese for the Gnocchi and a little plastic ramekin with the exact right amount of butter that you’re supposed to brown. It comes with two huge reusable ice packs. (I play roller derby so these are actually going to come in handy.) On the packaging it says it’s made from recycled and recyclable material, but how many people are actually going to recycle this stuff? 

Okay, so I started cooking it. Here I go, following the directions:

Step 1 and 2-


As a guy who really doesn’t chop things, ever, I couldn’t do step 1 and 2 at the same time and be okay on time. If I were to do this again, I’d chop the things ahead of time because I’m slow at it. Also, what does “medium dice” mean? I cut the squash up, but they weren’t perfect cubes or anything. It didn’t seem to matter at the end.  Roughly chopping almonds was both harder and easier than I imagined. Little pieces got everywhere on my tiny plastic cutting board, but my big dumb knife was able to actually chop through the things.

Here are my chopped items. Well, some of them. I didn’t have a little bowl for the almonds so I threw them into a plastic container I had from Chinese food takeout. 

Actually, after cutting the squash – the first thing I chopped up- I realized I didn’t have anything to put chopped stuff in. You go over to someone’s house and they have all of these little glass bowls and things in their cupboards, right? I’d always think, “What the hell are all these little dishes for? Why would you need something other than just plates and bowls?” Turns out little glass bowls are good for putting chopped up things in.

All my bowls were in the dishwasher, and besides I didn’t have any regular bowls big enough to hold all the chopped up squash, so I had to throw it into my big pot. It’s like a big chili cooking pot. I rested it on the dish dryer because I have no counter space.

Meanwhile, my two eggs were cooking. I got them out at the appropriate time, used that colander I mentioned before to hold the eggs while I ran cold water over them, and then carried on with cooking the rest of the meal while the eggs just sat there. I eventually moved them out of the colander when I needed to use it for the gnocchi. (More on the eggs later.)

Anyway, the rest of step one and two was pretty easy. On to step 3. 

Step 3 –


Browning butter. I don’t think I have ever purposefully done this in my life. I think I did it right this time? I was iffy on the whole thing. They said be careful not to burn the butter, so I definitely didn’t do that, but I think when I was eating it, it tasted way too slick and buttery.

Step 4-


This was straight-forward. Add squash and almonds. Squeeze the lemons in. Okay, that’s easy enough. Stir for a couple of minutes, sure. I got that. I like that Blue Apron gives you the time and some other cues like “until the almonds are fragrant”. That cue is great, but how do I know what a fragrant almond is? I just relied on the time.

Step 5 –


The gnocchi(s) weren’t (wasn’t?) floating at the end of 3 minutes, so I left them in there until they started floating. Thanks for telling me about the floating thing, Blue Apron. I’ve never boiled gnocchi before so I had no idea what I was doing. When I got around to eating the meal they seemed doughy, but not awful I guess.

Step 6-


So the combining of things was actually pretty easy with the exception of (and here we have to go back to step 1) peeling soft boiled eggs. Guess what, it’s not easy. I mean, you can get the shell off if you want to, but I found that big chunks of the egg whites were coming off with it. My egg came out all misshapen.

Here’s the end result of my meal:

I’m surprised a stray dog hair didn’t wind up on my dish. They’re everywhere. Thanks, Zobie.

It doesn’t look so bad, but go ahead and compare it to their pic:

Professional food photographers earn their living.

The whole thing tasted okay. The gnocchi was kinda doughy, but I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be. And it was pretty damn buttery. I’m a guy who likes to eat buttery food and I feel like this was a little over the top for me. I think maybe I should’ve added some oregano, also. It needed some type of extra seasoning. 

What’s good about it: I think the convenience lies in the fact that all the stuff is portioned out for you and you don’t have to make a decision as to what to cook that week. Also the easy to follow steps are written so that a person like me who’s never cooked that much at all before can follow it.

What they don’t tell you: you might need more than one knife. You’ll need a big cutting board and things to hold the chopped up food in. Also, you’ll have a bunch of random things in your fridge. There’s a ton of random packets with names of the other meals in there. I had to also put some left overs in the fridge and find ways to do things that I never do, like store small amounts of chopped parsley. And don’t forget: a HUGE box. Seriously, if people freak out about k-cups, this is going to quickly get out of hand. 

This meal was okay. I’ll see if the other ones are any good.