Archive for September, 2011

World’s Best Hot Chocolate (★★★★★), Jalapeno V6 (★★★☆☆)

Didn’t post yesterday, but definitely used the blender for a few different things today and yesterday, so I’ll just post the first half of the recipes here:

World’s Best Hot Chocolate (★★★★★)
This is unbelievably good and highly recommended

2 cups of whole milk
6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
a small splash of vanilla extra
salt (just the tiniest amount)

Blend everything on high until the Vitamix 5200 heats the milk enough to turn it into hot cocoa.  Steam will rise from the top.  Drink immediately.  You can tweak the cocoa and sugar, but this is the mix I like, and it’s easier to make with larger portions, harder with smaller portions.

(Feb 2013 EditHere are some things I learned the hardway in experimenting with the above recipe:

  • Don’t use stevia as a substitute for part of the sugar
  • Don’t throw a Hershey’s Kiss in thinking it will improve the taste of the cocoa
  • Don’t add too much vanilla (granted, that was on accident.)

The other thing I’ve learned is that rather than heat it in the blender, mixing it thoroughly, then heating it in a sauce pan, taking care to not boil it, seems to be the best way to make this.)

Jalapeno V6(★★★☆☆)
This is better than I expected, but probably not for most people.

¾ cup of tomato puree
¼ celery stalk
1 romaine lettuce heart
several sprigs of cilantro
½ green pepper, with seeds and white insides spooned out
1 jalapeño pepper, halved length-wise, with seeds and white insides spooned out
1 fresh Ginger Gold apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
salt (to taste)
2 dozen ice cubes

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high.

Hopefully I can post about the Banana Milk variant and other green smoothie later today.

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Another try at Homemade Salsa (★★★★☆) and Yet Another Great Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)

Back by popular demand, I’ve improved upon the previous Homemade Salsa (★★★★☆):

Homemade Salsa (★★★★☆)
Again, absolutely fantastic and very easy to make, and definitely something I’ll continue to experiement with

5 roma tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of tomato puree
1 small red onion (quartered)
3 jalapeño peppers, halved length-wise, with seeds and white insides spooned out
½ green bell pepper (quartered)
several sprigs of cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon lemon juice from concentrate
salt

To start, I added the cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, lemon juice, salt and the tomato puree into the blender, and blend it up.  The idea is to get those flavorful components into a puree.  Then I dial the Vitamix 5200 back down to speed 5, add the onion and bell pepper letting the blender spin for 20 seconds, dialing the speed down to 3 and adding the tomatoes for 10-15 seconds.  While we ate half of it right away, the other half went into the fridge, and tastes even better after it’s chilled.

I also made:

Yet Another Great Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)
Very easy to enjoy

1 fresh banana
1 fresh Ginger Gold apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
a few dozen mint leaves
a romaine lettuce heart
½ green bell pepper
a dozen ice cubes
a smidge of salsa still in the blender (see above)

Throw everything but the ice cubes in.  Blend everything, add six ice cubes, blend until smooth and watery, add another six ice cubes and blend for frozen drink consistency.

This is pretty fantastic, but I think the thing that kept it from being four stars is not rinsing the blender, as the faint spice of the salsa wasn’t needed in an otherwise minty, slightly sweet frozen drink.

As with other days, I made another smoothie during lunch, but can’t remember it clearly enough to list it.  It used the rest of my water spinach, which seemed to go pretty well with anything.

Sweet and Fruity Green Smoothie(★★★★☆)

I made two green smoothies in the last 24 hours.  Let me tell you about the better of the two.

Sweet and Fruity Green Smoothie(★★★★☆)
Very easy to enjoy

1 frozen banana
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
a handful of cilantro
a big handful of spinach leaves
a dozen ice cubes

Throw everything but the ice cubes in.  Blend everything, add six ice cubes, blend until smooth and watery, add another six ice cubes and blend for frozen drink consistency.

Pretty good.  VERY green, and you can have a lot of spinach and cilantro (if you like cilantro as much as I do) and the banana and apple provide a nice, lightly sweet base flavor that goes well with them.

Light Mint Green Smoothie (★★★★☆) and Garlic V6 (★★☆☆☆)

This morning’s green smoothie was so good that I made it again this afternoon to make sure it was actually as good as I remembered.

Light Mint Green Smoothie(★★★★☆)
Trying out some of those fancy ingredients I picked up yesterday

½ pomegranate (fruit seeds only, yellow rind and skin removed)
¼ nashi pear (aka asian apple pear, peeled and seeds removed)
a big handful of water spinach (not sure how much, but a good amount)
two dozen mint leaves (that’s a rough estimate)
a dozen ice cubes

Cut the water spinach stems below the start  of the lowest leaf.  Blend everything but the ice cubes, add six ice cubes, blend until smooth and watery, add another six ice cubes and blend for frozen drink consistency.

Both the morning and afternoon batches were very mild but had a very pleasant taste.  I think the fruits and vegetables in this one really go well together.

Garlic V6(★★☆☆☆)
My biggest complaint about this drink is how much my wife could smell the garlic even after I’d finished.

¾ cup of tomato puree
a big handful of spinach leaves (not sure how much, but a good amount)

¼ celery stalk (the remaining quarter still in the fridge)
1 cabbage leaf (this was just for variety)
several sprigs of cilantro
1 garlic clove (peeled)
water (enough for desired thickness)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add water (or ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high).

I pretty much knew what I was going to get here, which isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s a tasty enough drink that fills you up and is pretty healthy, so don’t take the low rating as a sign of being disappointed with it.

Kinako Powder (★★★★★), Homemade Salsa (★★★★☆) and Acorn Squash Soup (★★★★☆)

Today was a very, very successful day with the blender.  First, early this morning, I made a great green smoothie.  Sadly, I don’t really remember everything that went into it, as it’s been a busy Saturday, and the blender was used several times after the green smoothie.

We went shopping at the Asian Supermarket that we like to visit and I bought all kinds of fun fruits and greens, including Water Spinach (which I’ve never had before), Asian Pears, Nashi Pears (different from the Asian Pears we bought, and more like the photo in the wikipedia link),  pomegranates and jalapeno peppers, among other things.

The first thing I made after the green smoothie this morning was kinako powder, which I mentioned yesterday.

Kinako Powder (★★★★★)
Extremely easy to make, and grinds to a fantastic consistency

roasted, unsalted soybeans

Grind on high until you have the powder consistency you want.  It’s that easy.

We used that kinako powder as part of a very easy, and very good recipe for kinako mochi dango.  If anyone is interested, I’ll gladly share it.

That afternoon, after we returned from shopping, I decided to try my hand at making homemade salsa, but didn’t want to waste too many tomatoes on salsa no one wanted to eat, so here’s what I did:

Homemade Salsa (★★★★☆)
Easier and better than expected, and definitely something I’ll experiement with

¾ cup of tomato puree
¾ red onion
3 jalapeño peppers, halved length-wise, with seeds and white insides spooned out
several sprigs of cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon lemon juice from concentrate
3 ripe roma tomatoes, halved
salt

DSC_8762

First, I put everything but the tomatoes in, and ran the blender on high until everything was blended in.  Then I cranked the speed down to three and threw the tomatoes in all at once and threw the lid back on.  I let the tomatoes blend for about 10 seconds with the salsa, stirring with the tamper to make sure everything was mixed up.  Then I just put everything in a bowl and in the fridge to cool down.

We devoured the salsa within the hour.  Here’s the crazy part…I definitely felt like I’d done a poor job in my first effort.  I just threw things in hodgepodge, didn’t even bother using just real tomatoes, substituting tomato puree for half of that role, I didn’t use fresh lemon juice, and it was my first try, but my wife loved it and we went through the whole bowl, which was over three cups worth.

I wanted to rate it three stars instead of four, but my wife raved about it so much that I feel it deserves at least four stars.  I don’t think she’s raved that much about anything from the blender yet, and I definitely see some room for improvement in future batches.  For one, fresh lemon or lemon juice and real tomatoes is obvious, but I also think there might be room for a touch of vinegar and/or bell peppers, and that better ingredient ratios and mixing duration and order can help as well.  Hopefully the next batch is even better, but there’s definitely something to be said for making fresh salsa from fresh vegetables and greens, and I highly recommend trying your own version yourself.

Acorn Squash Soup (★★★★☆)
My version’s only a small change from the Vitamix’s Whole Food Recipes cookbook

1½ cups chicken broth (using 2 cups worth of bouillon cubes)
1 cup of whole milk
½ medium acorn squash, cooked, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon maple syrup
pinch of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

First, I tried to prepare the acorn squash half by putting it in a pot of boiling water.  Right around the time the water came to a boil I found an article on the Internet that gave microwaving as one of the ways to cook acorn squash, but warned to never boil it.  I took the squash out and put it in the microwave for 10 minutes.  While that cooked, I prepared chicken broth and put the pumpkin seeds in the oven to bake.  When the squash was done I put it, and all the other ingredients (I accidentally put more nutmeg and cinnamon than I listed above), in the blender and turned it on high for several minutes.

Acorn Squash Soup

The soup was very good, and since I know how much sugar, butter and maple syrup went into the other half when baked it, I’d much rather have the soup version over the oven version going forward. 🙂

Kinako Banana Milk (★★★★★) and Simple Hot Green Soup (★★☆☆☆)

I just made a ridiculously good Banana Milk, and I wanted to post about it before I forget.

My wife and I are going to a お月見 (moon viewing) party on Sunday, and my wife’s going to make dango for it.  One of the common flavors/coatings for dango is kinako, which is powdered soybean and a bit of sugar, and it tastes better than it sounds.

To make our own kinako, as we couldn’t find any at the local asian store, I picked up some roasted, unsalted soybeans, and I plan to use the blender to turn it into kinako.  I haven’t blended any of the soybeans into powder yet, but when I was looking for something to sate my sweet tooth after dinner, my wife suggested mixing some kinako powder, and adding it to a banana milk.  Better yet, I could just make it a one step process and throw the roasted soybeans in with the Banana Milk!

Kinako Banana Milk (★★★★★)
A great Japanese version of a Banana Milk

1 frozen banana
a handful of roasted, unsalted soybeans
milk

The best technique is to break the banana into two or three parts before putting it in the blender, then blending with the tamper in, slowly raising the speed to just below whatever speed the banana bounces out of control at.

Now, at this point, I had the milk ratio down pat, and I threw in a decent amount of soybean as well.  I blended it for about 20 seconds on the way to high, and another 30 seconds at high.  Very, very tasty, and highly recommended.

As for actually making kinako powder, that’s probably something I’ll be able to comment on tomorrow.

I also made some hot soup as part of lunch, as the yakisoba I had for lunch didn’t fill me up.

Simple Hot Green Soup (★★☆☆☆)

½ cup of tomato puree
¼ onion
½ romaine lettuce heart
3 large celery sticks
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
hot water (to desired consistency)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the hot water, then add hot water for desired consistency, run on high until you reach the desired temperature, and salt to taste.

As with yesterday’s soup, it’s much better than the two stars suggests, but I wouldn’t say it was necessarily better than the Spicy Tomato Soup (★★☆☆☆) I made yesterday, so I gave it the same rating.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 10 days since I got my Vitamix 5200, especially considering how many times I’ve used it, but I am absolutely loving it.  I hope I can keep finding fun things to make in it for a long while to come, even if the current pace is pretty unsustainable. 🙂

Thursday’s Soup and Friday’s Drink

Too busy too post yesterday, but not too busy to throw something together in the blender.  At lunch time, the plan was basically make sandwiches or fend for yourself, and fending for yourself seemed like a good excuse to experiement with the blender.  I threw a bunch of stuff in the blender and called it soup:

Spicy Tomato Soup (★★☆☆☆)

¾ cup of tomato puree
¼ onion
½ romaine lettuce heart
a handful of mustard greens
1 slice of munster cheese
several sprigs of cilantro
dash of oregano
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cumin
1 cardamom seed
hot water (to desired consistency)
pepper (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the hot water, then add hot water for desired consistency, run on high until you reach the desired temperature, and salt and pepper to taste.

Again, it was better than the score might suggest, but I feel like there’s definitely room for experimenting and improving on it.

Today, as part of my breakfast, I threw together the following, which was pretty good:

Icy Hot Green Smoothy (★★★☆☆)

½ cup of tomato puree
¼ romaine lettuce heart
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
lots of ice cubes

Blend everything but the ice cubes, and then add ice cubes until it has a thick, icy consistency.

This is definitely an improvement (in my mind) over the Spicy Mustard Green Smoothie (★★☆☆☆) that I made earlier.  It’s pretty good.

And, like most days, I made a Banana Milk (★★★★★) yesterday and today. 🙂


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