Posts Tagged ‘ ★★★★★ ’

Frozen Margaritas – easy mode (★★★★★)

Look, I know, this recipe is embarrassing.  I’ve been making frozen lime and mango margaritas for years.  I’d love to pretend that mine are sooo much better because I make them with fresh ingredients and love, but that’s just not true.

I made these because I wanted to have an easy way to have frozen drinks on minimal notice this summer.  And they disappeared.  I ran out of mix and had to get more.  Then I made them for a friend with a Vitamix, and she didn’t believe the recipe was as simple as I confessed when asked.  Then I made them again, and was told by yet a third group of people that they were the best frozen margaritas they’d ever had, and I had to scratch my head, because the recipe is as simple as this:  Ice, mix, tequila.

I’d love to say that the secret is the organic blanco tequila, or that I picked the Master of Mixes margarita mix after trying every option available, or even that I’m super careful about the mix of the three ingredients.  Nope.  This one really is one of those recipes that just works because the Vitamix turns ice cubes, mix and liquor into magical frozen beverages better than anything else can:

Frozen Margaritas – easy mode (★★★★★)
I love any halfway decent frozen margarita, but this has been too popular with too many people not to share

Master of Mixes Margarita Mixer
Ice
Tequila (I use 3 Amigos Organic Blanco)

Just eyeball it.  Really.  I throw in the ice cubes for the quantity I want, add the tequila I want, then add mixer until almost at ice level.  I keep the tequila in the freezer to reduce the amount of ice I need to use. Mix on high and enjoy.

Garnish with a lime wedge and/or salted rim if you like.  You can see how much effort I put into these, I threw the ingredients together and then threw it into some IKEA kids cups.  It was still a huge hit.

Shaved Hawaiian Watermelon Ice (★★★★★) using the Vitamix 7500

My wife and I are huge fans of high quality hawaiian shaved ice, or as they’re known in Japan, かき氷 (kakigori).  Much like my blender experience in Japan, good shaved ice was the norm, and easy to find at summer festivals throughout the warm months of the year.

Moving to the states, snow cones, Kona Ice and similar frozen treats weren’t quite scratching the itch, and shaved ice treats are not cheap here.  This summer we found a great deal and pulled the trigger on our own shaved ice machine so we could create our own syrups/toppings and enjoy shaved ice whenever we wanted.

iceshaver2

So why is this relevant for a Vitamix post?  Here’s why:  Prior to the Fourth of July, we were picking up a lot of food and drinks for a neighborhood party.  We picked up two “seedless” watermelons, and cut the first one open as soon as we got home.  It was right on the border of being overly ripe, and the party was still two days away.  I decided to blend the majority of the watermelon, and freeze the resulting juice in two 32oz tubs:

I used a strainer after blending, but no surprise, there was nothing to be caught in the strainer.

I shaved the one of the two watermelon blocks on July 4th, and I can only describe it as being like frozen cotton candy.  It was incredible!  It also made an incredible mess, which I cleaned up before realizing what a hit the shaved watermelon was, so I held off on making the second block until my wife’s family was visiting later that summer.

Again, even after multiple weeks in the fridge, the shaved watermelon is likely the best way to enjoy watermelon I have ever found.  Yes, the Vitamix cleanup is easy, but the shaved ice machine is not.

 

Shaved Hawaiian Watermelon Ice (★★★★★)
Seedless Watermelon

Cut out the watermelon, avoiding the rind, and put it in the Vitamix.  Blend on high until no pulp is left.  Pour into plastic containers and freeze.  Shave watermelon ice block as finely as possible.

IMG_5651

 

This is probably the best thing I have made with my Vitamix or shaved ice machine that I will not regularly make, just because of the concerns I have around clean up, but if you have access to a shaved ice machine and interested, I do highly recommend this, as it really is a special treat!

Frozen Lime Margaritas (★★★★★)

After the delicious Frozen Mango Margaritas, we tried to replicate the magic with a traditional lime margarita following the same basic recipe, and it was delicious.  As with the Frozen Mango Margaritas, I think the secret was using all of the lime fruit, and the Vitamix‘s ability to make the pulp so fine that it adds to the texture and flavor of the drink.

Frozen Lime Margaritas (★★★★★)
This is my personal favorite take on a frozen margarita

two medium/large limes
1/4 cup sugar (I use less)
1/2 cup tequila
3 tablespoons triple sec
2 cups of ice
water and ice

Lime wedges (optional)

As with the mango recipe above, using the whole lime instead of just lime juice is what makes this so good.  Remove the skin with a knife, keeping as much of the fruit intact as possible.  Throw the fruit in the blender and squeeze any remaining juice left on the lime skin slices.  I don’t use an entire quarter cup of sugar, but people who prefer sweeter drinks will want to use a quarter cup of sugar.  Add sugar and alcohol and a bit of ice and water and blend.  You’ll need to start with two cups of ice to get a reasonable frozen consistency.  Then add ice to keep the mix thick and gelato-like, or water if the mix is too thick.  The exact blend is up to personal preference.

Garnish with a lime wedge and/or salted rim if you like.

My Frozen Lime Margarita

My Frozen Lime Margarita

Frozen Mango Margaritas (★★★★★)

Summer is over.   It was a great summer, and we ended it in style.  I made some great frozen margaritas, and I want to get the recipes down here so that I can make them again in the future!

I started with a recipe for frozen strawberry margaritas that was supposed to be very good, but it didn’t do anything for me.  A few tweaks gave me some substantially better tasting mango and lime margaritas.  The big secret seemed to be slicing the rind off the lime and throwing all of the inside fruit into the blender (and squeezing the bit that stuck to the skin) instead of trying to squeeze the lime juice in.  The Vitamix‘s ability to make the pulp so fine that it added to the texture and flavor of the drink probably helped a lot.

While we made frozen strawberry, mango and finally lime margaritas, the mango margaritas were the first batch to get universally rave reviews, so that’s the recipe I’ll share here:

Frozen Mango Margaritas (★★★★★)
There was no clear favorite between this and the frozen lime margarita, but even if you aren’t a huge mango fan, this is a great variation on a traditional frozen margarita

1 pound bag of frozen mango
two medium/large limes
1/4 cup sugar (I use less)
1/2 cup tequila
3 tablespoons triple sec
water and ice

Lime wedges (optional)

Using the whole lime instead of just lime juice is what makes this so good.  Remove the skin with a knife, keeping as much of the fruit intact as possible.  Throw the fruit in the blender and squeeze any remaining juice left on the lime skin slices.  I don’t use an entire quarter cup of sugar, but people who prefer sweeter drinks will want to use a quarter cup of sugar.  Add sugar, frozen mango and alcohol and a bit of ice and water and blend.  You’re going to want about two to three cups of ice/water, but with the frozen mango, you have the flexibility to add ice to keep the mix thick and gelato-like, or water if the mix is too thick.  The exact blend is up to personal preference, but I’d add one cup of water and one cup of ice to the above at the start.

Garnish with a lime wedge and/or salted rim if you like.

My Frozen Mango Margarita with a hint of red from the Frozen Strawberry Margarita that was in the cup a bit earlier in the evening.

My Frozen Mango Margarita with a hint of red from the Frozen Strawberry Margarita that was in the cup a bit earlier in the evening.

Ridiculously Good Pina Coladas, 2014 Version (★★★★★)

It’s summer, I’ve been mountain biking a lot, and Piña Coladas taste amazing year round, but are especially delicious in the summer, after some physical activity.

I still like my original recipe, but after making more than a dozen of these, I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit.  This new version is slightly less healthy, but the trade off is that it tastes slightly more decadent:

Ridiculously Good Pina Coladas, 2014 Version (★★★★★)
This is a dangerously good piña colada.  Consider yourself warned.

I cut out the stevia and ice from my 2012 recipe, and I replaced them with frozen pinapple juice.

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

½ can of coconut milk or coconut creme (Half a Goya 13.5 oz. Coconut Milk can is what I usually use)

frozen pinapple ice cubes (one normal sized ice cube tray worth)

Rum (optional)

Blend on high.

Using richer, fattier coconut cream makes it richer than coconut milk, but both work and a fatty coconut milk is the sweet spot, in my opinion.  Since the canned pineapple comes in 100% pineapple juice, I’ve been putting that in the ice cube tray for the next batch.  That’s about half as much as you need.  I top off the the tray with pineapple juice, and use one fairly large tray per batch.

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.

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!