Archive for the ‘ Blendtec Designer Series recipes and experiences ’ Category

Frozen Summer Drink Recommendations

It’s finally summer here in upstate New York, which means my blenders are very happily being used to make a lot of frozen drinks and treats.  Here are my personal favorites and recommendations:

Banana Milk
Frozen Piña Colada
Grown-up Polar Cup

Matcha Milk Frappachino
Mocha Frappuccino

I’ve made all of those in June, most recently frozen piña coladas, but I didn’t grab a photo of that.  Instead, here’s a photo from a few days ago when I was using both my <a title="Vitamix 7500 arrived! Uploading an unboxing video as I type this." Vitamix and Blendtec to make both the Matcha Milk Frappachino and whipped cream at the same time.

Making Matcha Cream Frappachino in my Vitamix 7500 at the same time as making whipped cream in my Blendtec Designer Series.

Making Matcha Cream Frappuchino in my Vitamix 7500 at the same time as making whipped cream in my Blendtec Designer Series.  Complete overkill, but it was fun using both blenders at once.

Blender Usage Update (Vitamix Vs. Blendtec)

Over four months have passed since I got my newest blender, a Blendtec Designer Series in January.  I got my Professional Series 300 a year before that in January 2013, although I had two Vitamix blenders before that.  I still tend to use the Vitamix the most, but I’ve got over 120 mixes clocked in on the Blendtec, and I figure it deserves an update on what I’ve found it well suited for, and what I use the Vitamix for.

The Blendtec has proven very useful for Matcha Milk Frozen Drink and frozen sports drinks.  Because the blender won’t mix properly without the right balance of ice and water, it’s easy to know if I need to add more milk to the matcha mix or water to the ice and powered sports drink.  It’s also easy to hit the button to start the blender mixing, and then put away the milk or Super VAAM sports drink powder or whatever other ingredients I have while it’s mixing.  The blender has a tendency to start dancing off to the left while mixing at high speeds on my counter tops, but there’s a hot water pot that keeps it from jumping off the counter.

The smaller Blendtec Twister Jar is also great for sauces, whipped cream, and very small mixes.  It sounds like it might also be significantly better suited for making peanut butter than the larger container, but I need to eat our existing peanut butter before I make more.  Sadly, neither Blendtec jar, nor any Vitamix I’ve had has done a great job as a coffee grinder, so while these blenders can do a lot more than a traditional blender, they’re no replacement for a coffee bean grinder.

As for soups, green smoothies, sorbets and similar thick mixes, I find it extremely satisfying to mash away with the tamper while blending.  The Vitamix is also great for the right texture on frozen smoothies and banana milks, and with its very sharp blades, I would trust it for Kinako Powder and almond powder.

I’m sure I’ll get more comfort with the Blendtec as time goes on, but I wanted to share my experiences and how I’m using both for anyone who might be interested.  If you have a specific question, please feel free to fire away in the comments.c

Matcha Milk Frozen Drink (★★★★★)

I’ve always been a big fan of Starbucks’ Matcha Cream Frappuccino, which is made way too sweet in the states, but if you order it in Japan or order it in the states with one less squirt of syrup (regular size), it’s phenomenal.  We just met up with a friend from Japan who allowed us to order things online that they brought to the states for us, and a big jar of matcha tea was one of the items we ordered, so I figured I’d try to create my own matcha cream frozen drink, and it’s as brain dead easy as I thought it would be:

Matcha Milk Frozen Drink (★★★★)
Ice, matcha, milk and sugar taste great together

Matcha
Milk
Sugar
Stevia (optional)
Ice

Put everything but the ice into the blender and get the mix you want and ensure the sugar is disolved.  I put just under a tablespoon of matcha, 12oz of milk and a mix of sugar and stevia that was probably about a tablespoon into my Blendtec Designer Series.  Hit the milkshake button and let it mix, taste and then add a lot of ice and run the milkshake cycle again.

The drink can obviously be sweetened and matcha added to meet people’s personal preferences.  Stevia is a plant and so it’s sweetness goes better with matcha than most other things, which is why I was happy to use a combination of sugar and stevia to sweeten the drink instead of just sugar.

As for the blender, I used my Blendtec Designer Series instead of my Vitamix because I’ve been using my Blendtec a lot lately for ice, water and powered Super VAAM, a zero calorie powered sports drink from Japan.  If you’re just mixing ice, water and powder, the Blendtec does make it easy to press a button and walk away, and this recipe is almost that simple, so I decided to try the Blendtec instead of the Vitamix, and it worked very well.

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★) using the Blendtec Designer Series (with video)

I thought a good challenge for the Blendtec Designer Series might be peanut butter, as it is one of the recipes in the Blendtec Fresh Blends cookbook.  I made a post back in 2012 that included a video of me making peanut butter in my Vitamix 7500.  I used the same recipe for the Designer Series that I’ve used with my Vitamix over the past three years:

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★)
Definitely not as sweet as store brand peanut butter, but my two children devour it

1 lbs. Bulk Dry Roasted Peanuts, Unsalted
3/4 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

Blend for one minute, and use the tamper to push the peanuts into the blades.  That’s it!

The difference here is that the Vitamix has a tamper and is not limited to 50 second cycles, so while I knew that the same ingredients should work, the method of mixing would need to be adjusted.  Here is what the Fresh Blends cookbook recommends:  “Add peanuts and salt to jar and secure lid. Press “Speed Up” to Speed 9 for remainder of cycle. Using a spatula, move peanuts towards center of jar, add oil and secure lid. press “Speed Up” button to Speed 3 and run full cycle. Stir and secure lid. Press “Speed Up” to Speed 5 and run full cycle.”

As you’ll see in the video below, the recommended steps don’t work as expected, but I try to follow the process recommended.

After recording, I tried the peanut butter, but it was not mixed nearly enough and the texture was somewhere between peanut butter and peanuts, so I mixed it again for a full cycle at Speed 5.  That left me with a hot, liquidy peanut butter that I could pour into a plastic container.  It now has a more smooth texture than I would normally prefer, but outside of texture, which is a substantial change, it tastes the same as the Vitamix blends I’ve been making.  It was still not set after sitting in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, but it firmed up, and by the next morning it was the consistency of the smooth peanut butter sold at grocery stores.

I am a bit surprised by how much more of a process it was to make peanut butter with the Blendtec than the Vitamix, but it certainly can be done, although I will probably stick to making future batches in my Vitamix Pro 300.

For anyone out there who is shopping for a powerful Vitamix or Blendtec blender, the best deals tends to be buying directly from either Blendtec or Vitamix, as Vitamix will give you free shipping at Vitamix.com, and Blendtec offers free shipping when visited through this link.  I also recently wrote a detailed post on how to choose the right Vitamix model.

Edit (04/08/2013): A Blendtec employee reached out to me after seeing my blog and this post and let me know that my Twister Jar is very well suited for dense mixes like peanut butter.  I will try that the next time I’m making peanut butter, and would be happy to hear from any Twister Jar owners that have made peanut butter with it.

Very Busy Blender Day (With both the Vitamix Pro 300 and the Blendtec Designer Series)

Yesterday will probably be the most blender usage my blenders see in a single day in 2014.  Less than two weeks ago, I received a Blendtec Designer Series blender, and while I took photos for a physical comparison of the new Blendtec and my Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.) I was really looking forward to actually seeing how they performed side-by-side.

We invited a family we are close friends with over for breakfast, and they stayed for lunch as well. They knew I was excited about trying out my new blender, and I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.

The first thing I made was Whipped Cream, which I made in the Blendtec because of the Twister Jar, which was very well suited for the task.  The Blendtec does this better than the Vitamix.

After that, I made the first green smoothies of the day, Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies, which I made in both blenders simultaneously.  The Vitamix edged out the Blendtec with better texture and less heating during blending.

After that, my friend chopped up a bunch of fresh, organic fruits he’d picked up.  His wife instructed him to pick up frozen organic fruits, and he couldn’t find frozen organic fruit, so he assumed fresh organic fruit would be fine.  A bunch of ice and fruit were added to the Vitamix with reasonably good results as a Frozen Fruit Smoothie, but then made a little too sweet when sweetened vanilla yogurt was added to the mix.  (Frozen fruit and unsweetened yogurt with less ice would have been fantastic.  It’s pretty much impossible to mix frozen fruit, plain yogurt and water/ice and not end up with a great drink.)

After the frozen fruit smoothie experiment, I decided to make my Homemade Frozen Mocha Drink for them, but my ice cube tray broke recently, so I had a giant frozen chunk of coffee, which gave both the Blendtec and the Vitamix difficulties, though the tamper and time were eventually enough to get the frozen coffee into the blades instead of bouncing on top of them.   I left out the stevia, which made it less sweet than normal, since getting back from Japan, I’m on a bit of a bitter is good kick, so I enjoyed it better that way, and my friends both seemed to enjoy the drink a lot.

For lunch, my wife threw together a tomato and cream sauce for some pasta that helped some of the baby kale we’d bought.  I decided to make some Powdered Parmesan, which I used the Vitamix for, as I know it excels there, while my experience with the Blendtec was not as good.

As a drink, I made a Mild Baby Kale Green Smoothie to go with lunch that was excellent, but as that was the green smoothie equivalent of throwing all your leftovers into a pot and finding out they make amazing soup, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate that drink, even though it was the best kale based green smoothie I have had to date.

As my friend was leaving he realized that he left a four pound bag of juicing oranges in our kitchen, and told us to put them to good use, as he bought them specifically to try blending them.  My wife and I did peel and blend them, but I can’t say that qualifies as good use.  After having made Fresh Oranges Applesauce, I now understand why freshly blended oranges are not a thing.

To wrap up the day, and to make a relatively easy dinner, I made Butternut Squash Soup for dinner, making reasonable sized batches in both blenders simultaneously, instead of cramming everything it the Pro 300 like I normally do.  To help heat the soup up, I did mix both batches in a Blendtec for one soup cycle, but as you can read in that post, the smell the blender gave off is making me think twice about trying that again.

So that’s it.  Not a bad Saturday of blending.  What do I think about the Blendtec?  I’m definitely still learning.  I don’t like when water comes out of the lid during a cleaning cycle, hits the LCD panel, and stops the cleaning cycle I was running it through, nor am I thrilled at the smell when running a very large patch of soup through a second soup cycle in a short period of time.  But those can be chalked up to user error or misuse.

I’ve written before about why I love Vitamix, and why I would spend so much money on a Vitamix blender, and I can’t say I’m there yet for the Blendtec, but I can already see a few things it does better, such as whipped cream or heating soup while blending.

For the budget minded, you can get a Factory Re-certified Blendtec Total Blender Classic Series for $20 less than a Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard, which is basically the 5200 model, and the warranty for the Blendtec is 7 years, while the warranty for the Vitamix is 5 years.  (Note that you can get a $0.00 shipping option through the Blendtec link above, and the Vitamix link includes provides free shipping, both of which are the cheapest ways to get a Blendtec or Vitamix with a 5+ year warranty.)  At that price, I can see the slightly cheaper, includes a longer warranty, fits better under a cabinet and includes programs arguments adding up to a compelling reason to consider the Blendtec option very strongly.

For me, it’s been years since I purchased my refurbished 5200, and I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I use my blender enough to justify buying the blender I want the most.  Which, as of today, is the 7500 model. (Also sold as the Professional Series 300 and Creations Elite)  That said, the Blendtec is still very new to me, and I plan to continue to use it again and again, in hopes of having a much better understanding of its strengths and weakness, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of my Vitamix.  I’ll probably post another evaluation of each in a few months as pricing, and my understanding of each blender, changes.

Anything I should know about the Blendtec Designer Series?  Anything you’d like me to blend?  Let me know in the comments!

Butternut Squash Soup (★★★★★)

I decided to wrap up what will probably be my busiest day of blender usage in 2014 with homemade soup for dinner.  I’ve made Acorn Squash Soup enough times over the last three years that I know how I like it, and I know what to expect, so when I asked my wife to pick up the ingredients we’d need for Acorn Squash soup, I was surprised when she came back with butternut squash instead.  She picked up butternut squash saying she thought it’d be interesting, and I’m glad she did.

I’d actually never prepared butternut squash before, so I found a great guide that helped me figure out how to prepare both the squash and the seeds.  I roasted the butternut squash as cubes, which gave me plenty of time to boil and then roast the seeds, which turned out much better than I expected.

This was going to be dinner for my family of four, so instead of making a double sized batch of soup, as I’ve done in the past, I decided it’d be interesting to make on batch in my new Blendtec Designer Series blender, and another in my Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

Regarding the recipe, over the years, my soup recipe has gradually evolved from the original Acorn Squash Soup recipe into what I make today, and I recognize that my current version is based on my personal preferences, but if you’re a fan of richer soups and squash, I think you’ll really like this.

Butternut Squash Soup (★★★)
This recipe can be doubled, which allows you to use an entire squash when making it.  It works very well with Acorn Squash as well, and tremendously aided by quality milk, so for the best possible soup, make this with fresh, in-season squash and local farm milk.

1/2 butternut squash
1 large bouillion cubes (2 cups of broth worth of bouillon cubes)
2 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoons of maple syrup
pinch of nutmeg (to taste)
cinnamon stick pieces (to taste)
pinch of extra virgin, first cold pressed olive oil
a sliver of fresh ginger
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

I prepared the butternut squash by cubing and roasting it, using the guide I linked to above.  I roasted the cubes for somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes at 400, during which time I was able to boil and then roast the squash seeds, and then prepare the blender with the rest of the ingredients above.

With everything else in the blender and ready for the squash, I take the hot squash cubes straight out of the oven and put them into the blender.  For the Blendtec Designer Series, I use the 90 second soup cycle, and for the Vitamix, I blend on 10 with the tamper for that same 90 seconds, both of which should be sufficient.

Taste.  Add nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to taste and blend.  Then add salt and pepper to taste and blend.  May need to be heated further in a pot before serving.

One of the things I was very interested in as I made this was how the two blenders would handle the same soup.  I tried to set things up to be as equal as possible:

Preparing both blenders for Butternut Squash Soup

Preparing both blenders for Butternut Squash Soup

Adding equal amount of squash to both mixes

Adding equal amount of squash to both mixes

Blending the soup in both the Blendtec Design Series (left) and Vitamix (right)

Blending the soup in both the Blendtec Design Series (left) and Vitamix Pro 300 (right)

When both mixes were complete, I asked my wife to try them both.  She said the Vitamix tasted more fluffy, but I noticed that the Blendtec soup tasted warmer.  Wanting to warm the soup up just a tad more before serving, I decided to add the Vitamix batch to the Blendtec, which I didn’t anticipate to be a problem, because that’s how much I normally make in the Vitamix when I make squash soup these days.

Running both batches of soup through a second soup cycle in the Blendtec Designer Series

Running both batches of soup through a second soup cycle in the Blendtec Designer Series

Running the Blendtec through a second soup cycle, I began to smell an electric, or motor burning smell.  The Blendtec completed it’s entire cycle, but odor that was given off makes me think that the large amount of soup coupled with running the soup cycle twice in a short period of time (it’s the longest and highest speed of any of the presets) was taxing the Blendtec a bit more than I’d be comfortable to subject it to on a regular basis, based on the odor it was giving off.  It did heat the soup, and between the heat created by the blenders and the heat of the squash, the soup did not need any additional heating before being served.

The soup was delicious, and my wife commented that it has a less distinct flavor than that Acorn Squash Soup, and that it seems like it would appeal to a large group of people as a result.  It was very filling, and the next time I’m looking for a squash for soup, I’ll choose whatever acorn squash or butternut squash is the most in-season, as this recipe works very well with either!

Fresh Oranges Applesauce (★☆☆☆☆)

We had friends over yesterday for breakfast, and they stayed for lunch. I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles. I was looking forward to mixing things in both the my new Blendtec Designer Series and my tried and true Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

One of the things that they brought was a four pound bag of Florida oranges that was being sold at the local supermarket as “Juicing Oranges”.  They’d picked up the oranges, thinking they might be good for mixing in the blender, but we didn’t blend them while they were over, and they ended up leaving them with us.  I figured, why not try to blend them?

Whole Juice is one of the six pre-programmed cycles on the Blendtec Designer Series, so I figured I’d use the Blendtec to make this.

Fresh Oranges Applesauce (★☆☆☆☆)
Not something I’d recommend as a good use of oranges, putting a bunch of oranges in any blender and expecting good orange juice is a bad idea.

4 lbs of oranges

Peel the oranges and remove as much of the pith as possible, as well as the seeds.   Put all the fruit in the blender and use the Whole Juice cycle (50 seconds) to blend everything.

I don’t know what I was expecting…  Maybe really, really pulpy orange juice?  Maybe really thick juice that would separate after a few hours in the fridge?  No, what I got can be reasonably accurately described as applesauce, made with oranges instead of apples.  Our first impression was that it wasn’t bad.  We assumed the juice would settle, but even several hours in the fridge caused no change in texture.  I put the mixture in a strainer as a last ditch attempt to save it, but ended up throwing almost all of it away.

Blending four pounds of peeled oranges in the Blendtec Designer Series

Blending four pounds of peeled oranges in the Blendtec Designer Series

Attempting to strain Fresh Orange Applesauce

Attempting to strain Fresh Orange Applesauce

So if anyone else was wondering why there aren’t recipes online for making orange juice in a Vitamix or Blendtec, now you know why!