Posts Tagged ‘ ★★★★★ ’

Homemade Grown-up Polar Cup (★★★★★)

To celebrate this blog getting 25,000 hits, I decided to try to make something new this weekend.  In fact, it turned into a very busy weekend for the blender, as I made Frozen Mocha Frappuccino, peanut butter and chocolate milk shakes on Saturday, and Falafels (new!) with Yogurt Herb Sauce (new!) and Black Bean Burger Patties (also new!) on Sunday.  But while those three will also all see their recipes shared in the near future, the recipe that really pleasantly surprised me tonight was something I tried on a whim that worked out really well.

After picking up a whole bag of lemons for a recipe that only needed one (Yogurt Herb Sauce for my Falafels), I decided to try to make a lemonade similar to the Newman’s Own diet lemonade that we get.  It’s really good, and it’s made with real sugar and stevia as it’s sweeteners.  That mix of sweeteners works really well in the lemonade, which is what got me to try it in my own creation.

Homemade Grown-up Polar Cup (★★★★★)
I don’t know whether to describe this as a loose italian ice, thick frozen beverage or what polar cups would taste like if they were made for adults instead of kids, but it is all of those things, and it is very good.

2 lemons (both zest and juice)
stevia
sugar
ice/water

Use a bread knife or other serrated knife to take just the outermost layer of the lemon rind, putting the zest into the blender.  Squeeze the juice from both lemons into the blender, taking care not to allow any seeds into the blender.  Add three packets of stevia sweetener and an equal amount of sugar.  (four if the lemons are large)  Add a glass of ice and blend until the mixture is too icy to blend.  Add a bit of ice and water for the desired consistency, and additional sweetener to taste.   Pulse blend on high with the tamper to insure no ice chunks remain.

Very simple to make, very good. The zest is the difference, as I’ve definitely done variations of this before with just lemon juice, and it does not have the same level of flavor that the addition of zest gives it.  I’ve got three more lemons in the fridge and will probably be making this again this week.

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The Best Tasting Banana Milk (★★★★★)

I have a lot of posts about Banana Milk.  15 entries that precede this one mention Banana Milk, but none that specifically list it as a recipe the way I’d recommend it to someone today, so here that is:

The Best Tasting Banana Milk (★★★★★)
The best tasting Banana Milk I know how to make

1 frozen banana
milk
soymilk

Add a mix of approximately half milk and half soy milk, along with the banana, to the blender jar, adding enough milk/soymilk to blend the banana into a creamy, milkshake like consistency.  It’s very important to use the tamper when making this to avoid having any banana chunks remaining.  I find I get the best results when I blend it on high for about 20-30 seconds using the tamper while blending, then check the consistency, adding more milk if needed, and then blending for another 20-30 seconds before serving.

You can adjust the milk/soymilk ratio as you like, I tend to like a little more milk than soymilk in the mix, but I definitely prefer the mix of milk and soy milk to either just milk or just soy milk.

As someone who owned the Vitamix 5200 and now owns and uses the Vitamix 7500/Pro 300, there is small difference in making Banana Milk with the two.  (I made a post with a video of me making Banana Milk in both.)  With the wider 7500/Pro 300 blender, I find it’s easier to make Banana Milk when you’re making two bananas worth, but you can absolutely do it with just one.  Unlike with the 5200, there’s no real benefit from breaking the banana into two pieces before putting it in the blender jar.

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★) using the Vitamix 7500 (with video)

Looking back at my peanut butter recipe, it’s not nearly as short or clear as it could be.  You can still view that one if you want, but this is the short, simple version, and it comes with a video.

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

Again, if you want a longer version of above, with slightly different ratios, go ahead and checkout my peanut butter recipe from 2011.

For those of you who are most interested in hearing how the Vitamix 7500 compares to the Vitamix 5200, or how well the 7500 blends dense mixes, I can say that the 7500 made great peanut butter my first time making peanut butter in it, and that the 5200 seemed to have a work a little harder, but also made great peanut butter time after time.

Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) sauce (★★★★★) and a busy blender afternoon

My wife and kids are still away, which means I’ve been fending for myself.  Just this afternoon I made a green smoothie (two small apples, four large sticks of celery, half a bag of spinach, some lemon juice, half a green bell pepper and a few ice cubes), peanut butter and a frozen mocha drink.  My wife’s cooking is both delicious and very healthy, and I’m regularly drinking green smoothies while she’s away in hopes of keeping the fruits and vegetables a reasonable chunk of my diet, they’re easy to make and easy to drink.  So far I think I’ve fended for myself pretty well.

One of the things I plan to cook for myself in the next few days is Hiyashi Chuuka, which is several orders of magnitude better than any explanation of it that I give will sound, but essentially, it’s chilled ramen(-esque) noodles with a soy and miso or sesame based sauce usually topped with some combination of sliced cucumbers, egg, ham, carrots and/or tomatoes.  Like I said, it’s way better than I make it sound, and with the sesame dressing, it’s one of my top five favorite meals.

The recipe for the sauce is simple enough, and is somewhat similar to the Creamy Sesame Dipping Sauce we use for vegetables dipping, in that they both start by blending a good amount of white sesame seeds.  Once the sauce is made, chopping up the vegetables, egg and ham is also easy, and the noodles just need to be cooked and chilled.  The only tricky thing about trying to make this dish in the states is that finding the right kind of noodles.  While cheap instant ramen is definitely not the right kind of noodle, you can use those noodles in a pinch (just throw the seasoning packet away) and it’s not bad.

Here’s the recipe for the sauce:

Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) Sauce (★★★)
3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar (can be substituted with other vinegars if necessary)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Chicken bouillon (half of an extra large cube)
Water 4 table spoon
 
First, blend the white sesame first into powder, then add other ingredients and blend.  Chill before serving.

That should be enough to serve between 2-4 people, depending on how much sauce people want and the portion size.  Just pour that over the noodles and toppings, and then eat.

Definitely one of my favorite things to eat, and while instant ramen noodles don’t do it justice, if you haven’t had this before, and they’re the only noodles you have available, it’s still very good that way. 🙂

Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino (★★★★★)

This is one I’ve made about 50 or so times already, but I started tweaking it back in March and didn’t ever get around to posting the exact recipe.  It is by no means meant to be the same as a Starbucks Mocha Frappucchino, but it’s the result of several tweaks over time to a recipe I found online that has evolved into something I like much more than a Frappucchino.  It’s far less sweet, far healthier frozen drink. (a Venti Starbucks Mocha Frappucchino has 500 calories and 79g of sugar!)

The trick to this recipe is to freeze some coffee in advance.  I personally don’t care whether it’s ice coffee or fresh brewed hot coffee that I freeze after brewing it, either way tastes great to me.  Stronger coffee tastes better in my opinion.

Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino Drink (★★★★★)

1 cup (or units) of frozen coffee (the stronger, the better)
2 cups (or units) of whole milk
2 packets of stevia sweetener (or sweeten to taste)
Cocoa Powder to taste (about a level tea spoon)
Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (a 1-2 second squeeze.  I add this because it adds a little bit of real sugar which helps with the stevia and adds a bit of “chocolate” flavor to the cocoa powder)

Originally, I added all the ingredients to the blender and blended, but lately I’ve been adding everything but the coffee and blending for about a minute on high, that whips up the milk and gives it a thicker body and creamier taste.  if I’m making more or less than normal, I add the milk and frozen coffee in their normal 2:1 ratio, but only add one stevia packet, less than normal cocoa powder and just a dab of chocolate.  That way I can add stevia, cocoa powder and/or chocolate syrup to taste.  If the coffee and milk is too strong, a few ice cubes lightens the drink up.

Personally, I like this better than anything I’ve had at a coffee shop.  I’m a fan of bitter chocolate and frozen drinks, but I don’t like overly sweet or heavy drinks.  In this recipe, the stevia works pretty well as a sweetener, although that extra bit of real sugar from the chocolate syrup really helps.

Unlike Hummus, Peanut Butter and even Banana Milk, this recipe probably doesn’t need a Vitamix or Blendtec caliber blender, but it does help a lot with the texture.  If anyone tries this in a normal blender, I’d be interested in the results.

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.

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