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. 🙂

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