Archive for the ‘ Vita-Mix 5200 recipes and experiences ’ Category

Wild Blackberry Juice (★★★☆☆) and typical blender use in our new home

We moved into our new home about a month ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the edge of our yard had a lot of wild blackberry bushes growing naturally.  There are so many of them that despite eating hundreds of them over the weekend, I still have more than I know what to do with, so I figured I’d try blending them.

Wild Blackberry Juice (★★★☆☆)
This would have been two stars, but both my young kids drank a good amount of it and told me it was good.

3 cups of wild blackberries
water
one packet of stevia sweetener (a natural no-calorie sweetener that is an extract from a naturally sweet tea leaf)

That’s really it.  I started filling the water up to the three cups line, but that seemed too strong, so I put more water in, and both the kids and I drank it.  I realized afterwards that based on my own personal preference for frozen drinks, this likely would have made a much better smoothie than juice.

I’m not in a rush to try to make this juice again, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much both the young kids drank.  If there’s an abundance of ripe berries this weekend, I’ll think I’ll give the smoothie variant of this recipe a try.

As for blender use, since we moved, the blender’s been used staples such as peanut butter and Banana Milk, as well as mixing powdered drinks, but my wife’s also come up good recipe for a delicious sesame dipping sauce for vegetables and a sesame dressing (goma-dare – ごまだれ)for cold summer ramen noodles (hiyashi chuuka – 冷やし中華).

I’m going to try to get those recipes my wife and share them here next.

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Ridiculously Good Pina Coladas (★★★★★) Strawberry Milk and (★★★☆☆) and a broken and fixed blender

First, two recipes, because I have to share one that’s amazing, and I may as well share the other while I’m at it:

Ridiculously Good Pina Coladas (★★★★★)
This is a dangerously good piña colada.  Consider yourself warned.

This is one of those times where simple ingredients and an awesome blender can’t be beat.  My recipe is going to use stevia packets, instead of sugar packets, as that cuts down on unnecessary sugar calories, but you could use sugar as well.  What I did really like about the stevia in this recipe is that it’s rare that stevia really works in something as a sweetener without tasting just a bit off, but it works very well in this recipe and if you have stevia, I recommend it.

1 can (20 oz.) of crushed pineapple in unsweetened pineapple juice

½ can (200ml) of coconut milk (Half a Goya 13.5 oz. Coconut Milk can is what I used)

Ice (Nice ice helps, I used a bag from the local grocery store)

Stevia to taste (I used 3 packets for the above)

Rum (optional)

Blend the first three on high; ice being the only one I don’t have a ratio for, and that’s pretty much commonsense.  Add stevia (or sugar) and/or rum as desired.  (I found three stevia packets for the whole thing to be a good amount.)

Very, very good.  Another recent attempt, which didn’t quite live up to expectations, was the result of an abundance of cheap and delicious strawberries at the peak of the season:

Strawberry Milk (★★★☆☆)
Does not line up with “Strawberry Milk”, which, in retrospect, isn’t that surprising.

several very fresh, very sweet strawberries

milk

Blend the strawberries on high, add a pinch of milk, blend again, then add milk to taste.

It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as sweet, nor did it taste as much like strawberries, as I expected it to.  It was definitely drinkable, but for strawberries that good, I’d rather have strawberries and a glass of milk.

As for my blender, it actually did “break” a month ago.  I don’t know how to describe any better than to say that the top part of the blender that spins, that the toothed blender jar post connects to, became disconnected from the blender.

Usually when I’m writing on the Internet about some issue with a product, it’s because the company involved doesn’t live up my expectations, but in this case, I’m writing because Vitamix exceeded mine.  I contacted the company, waited a few minutes before speaking with a real person, and they sent me out a pre-paid shipping label to ship it back to VitaMix.

Less than two weeks later, I had my repair blender back, along with a brand new blender jar.  Apparently, something had compromised the jar, and that was responsible for the blender piece breaking, which is supposedly a design feature, as that part breaks so the blender doesn’t suffer any damage when excessive torque is required to spin the blender blades.

I have an earlier post where I tell the story of how I ended up with a VitaMix, but basically say that I imagine anyone will be happy with a VitaMix or a Blendtec.  Since I’m very pleasantly surprised by how painless and personal the repair process was (and free!), I’m that much more likely to highly recommend anyone in the market for a new blender order from VitaMix.  (And if you are ordering from VitaMix.com, use the coupon code 06-006651 for free shipping!)

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★)

In the past few months, Banana Milk has definitely become the main item prepared in the blender, being made almost every day.  (I’m also a big fan of making them with half milk, half soymilk, which is a bit of a variant on Kinako Banana Milk.)

That said, there are two other foods other foods I’ve ended up making quite a bit more than I expected:  Hummus and Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter has probably taken the most tweaking to get right.  I’ve bought raw peanuts and roasted them.  I’ve bought different kinds of oils.  I’ve tried a few different combinations of salt, sweeteners and oils, and I’ve found what I think is an absolutely amazing, healthy, affordable and easy combination that I can replicate to great results consistently.

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★)
Definitely not as sweet as store brand peanut butter, but my three-year-old son devours it

Bulk Dry Roasted Peanuts, Unsalted (these are sold at my local supermarket for $2.99/lbs.)
Sesame Oil (This definitely seems to work better with the peanuts than other oils.  That said, I also love sesame, so this may be a personal preference.)
Maple Syrup (We’re using Grade A, Dark Amber, which is pretty watery)

For peanuts, I recommend more than ⅔rds of a pound, but less than a full pound, I find that .75 to .80 lbs. seems to work well in the blender and fit well in the peanut butter jar we put it in.  I put all the peanuts in the blender, turn it on, quickly power up to 10, turn on high, and use the tamper to help push the peanuts into the blender.  After about 30 seconds or so of this, I have a relatively blended, dry peanut butter in the blender.  I add about a tablespoon of maple syrup and maybe a little more than half that much sesame oil.  At this point, I just kind of know how much of each to add after I’ve blended the peanuts, but I think those are reasonable estimates.

I turn the blender on again after adding the Sesame Oil and Maple Syrup, ratching quickly to 10 and then high, and use the tamper to push the peanut butter into the blades.  After 30 seconds of this, it’s ready to eat or put into a jar.

So that’s it…no salt.  I just don’t think it needs any.  It’s not overly dry or oily, nor watery or too thick.  It’s a great consistency and flavor, and easy and cheap to make.

My posts get me money? Sounds good to me. Also, Dandelion Dirt Drinks (★☆☆☆☆)

So, I’m now enrolled in my new job’s health insurance, and they have a healthy rewards program where you can get money from them for filling out a diary of things you eat (that are healthy) and exercise you do.  It seems like a perfect way to find those extra minutes in a day to post about what I’ve been mixing.

Among other things, I continue to make a lot of green smoothies in my blender, and while there are some good mixes and bad mixes with the rainbow chard I bought, I do not think I’m much of a fan of dandelion greens.

I made a variety of green smoothies with the dandelion, but most of them are along the lines of:

Dandelion Dirt Drink (★☆☆☆☆)
Gritty and bitter, but hey, it’s good for you.

Lots of dandelion greens
Some cilantro
one fresh apple from the local orchard
one banana
some water, to water it down
and a dozen ice cubes, to water it down.

So yeah, blend it all up on high, and drink it.  It’s not going to kill you, but I’ve had green smoothies I would definitely look forward to again.  In fact, I felt like the taste was probably growing on me for health reasons, and that they probably hadn’t gotten as good as I thought that had.  Then dandelion based drinks made me reconsider that some of my other drinks probably really were decent, as the dandelions based drinks just…weren’t.  They’d range from 0 to 2 stars.

In addition to three large glasses of the above, I also had three more apples, half a raw onion, a banana, some cabbage, cilantro, asian pear and a pickle to go with the lettuce, onions and salsa in our taco rice tonight.  Hopefully that’s good enough for some healthy rewards. ;-P

It’s all about the ingredients! (Acorn Squash Soup and Apple Pancakes, both ★★★★★!!)

Still using my blender a lot.  It’s easier to find time for the blender than for posting here these days, but I am definitely trying new things, and will post some of the better ones when I get a chance.

First off, we visited an apple orchard this weekend, where we got some acorn squash and fresh apples.  The apples we picked ourselves off the trees, but the acorn squash was something the owner has picked that morning.  We used the blender to make Acorn Squash Soup again, and it was unbelievably good.  The only change was the acorn squash, but it was an important one, and we devoured a whole squash worth of soup.

On the way home from the orchard, we also visited a local farm that sold, among other things, fresh eggs.  We used the blender to blend flour, eggs and milk into batter for apple pancakes, and making the pancakes with cinnamon powdered apple slices from the orchard apples to make what might have been the most amazing pancakes I’ve had in my entire life.

I’ll post more later, but for now, the weekend is over, and I need to brush my teeth and get some sleep for Monday.

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.

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.

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