Posts Tagged ‘ ★★☆☆☆ ’

Fresh Blackberry Sorbet (★★☆☆☆)

Our backyard has a fence that’s lined with blackberry and raspberry bushes on the other side of it.  The blackberries are at their peak and we we’re bringing in about a pound a day this week.

Based on how good the Fresh Peaches Sorbet was, we decided to try to recreate that magic with fresh blackberries.  Unfortunately, the blackberries are smaller than what you’d see at the grocery store, and have a substantial number of seeds per berry.  Despite blending them for a reasonable length of time, the gritty, sand-like seeds in the sorbet meant the excellent flavor was ruined by the unfortunate texture.

Fresh Blackberry Sorbet (★★☆☆☆)
Might work better with large, juicy farm berries, but still not something I’d recommend based on the gritty texture added by the berry seeds.

1 lbs. of blackberries (half frozen, half refrigerated)
Raw honey (approximately 3-4 tablespoons)

Freeze half the blackberries in advance.  Then put the blackberries and two cups of ice in the blender.  Blend on medium to high, using the tamper and adjusting the blender intensity to ensure everything is well mixed.  Add approximately three tablespoons of honey and taste.  Sorbet can be sweetened with additional honey or diluted with additional ice.  Serve immediately.


It looked good and had nice flavor, but it’s not something I’ll be making again.   Neither this nor the berry juice I made last year seem to be great uses of the berries.  Maybe I’ll come up with a great recipe involving the berries and Vitamix next summer.

Iced Coffee Polar Cup / Shave Ice (★★☆☆☆)

In the summer, we keep our thermostat pretty high, and frozen treats taste that much better as a result.  In fact, when I come in on a hot day, pretty much anything frozen is a treat.

That’s basically way I keep putting coffee, mostly decaf, in ice trays and blending them in the Vitamix 7500.  The 7500 basically turns them into coffee ice dust, and the blender container has enough surface area that an entire tray ends up as powder without any chunks or slush left to circulate in the blades.


I don’t bother adding anything else, I just consider it a different way to have a black ice coffee on a hot day.  Surprisingly, both my kids occasionally help me eat them as well, despite the flavor being just black coffee.  I wouldn’t be all that surprised if I’m the only one who likes it as much as I do, which is why I’ve rated it so low, but I’ve already made this a dozen times this summer, and it’s really grown on me.

It probably doesn’t need to be spelled out as a recipe, but on the off chance that it might help someone, here goes:

Iced Coffee Snowcones / Shave Ice (★★☆☆☆)
As with fruit bars, you need a stronger flavor in the frozen treat than you do in the liquid drink.  When I’m making a pot of coffee, I’ll add a little bit coffee more than I normally would, and as soon as there’s enough coffee to fill two ice trays, I’ll fill the trays and put them in the fridge.

1 tray of coffee ice cubes

Throw the whole tray in the blender and start it at 10.  Let it spin until basically nothing is making contact with the blades, which won’t take long, then turn the blender off.  (If you go past 30 seconds, you’re dealing with a different tray of ice cubes.)  Use a spatula to scoop all the snow from the container and lid into the bowl.  (A reasonable amount will be on the bottom of the lid.) If you’re in a warm room, the snow in each corner will already start clumping together, as you can see in the photo above.


Edit: Iced Coffee Snowcones / Shave Ice with Sweetened Condensed Milk (★★★★☆)
Want to make this a valid tasty treat that you can serve to others?  Drizzle it with sweetened condensed milk and/or caramel sauce.  I personally prefer just sweetened condensed milk.

Black Bean Burgers (★★☆☆☆)

Hm…  Seems like my star based rating system (0-5) is not as useful as I’d hoped, since the search function doesn’t seem to distinguish between the number of filled and empty stars.  Maybe I’ll go back through and add in “# stars” to the tags for each recipe so I (and maybe others?) can quickly pull up the four and five star recipes.

This is not going to be one of those recipes.

I’ve never been a vegetarian, but I genuinely like Black Bean Burgers.  And hummus.  And falafels.  And pretty much anything refried beans are in.  I guess I am a big fan of legumes.  That said, this recipe definitely failed to impress:

Black Bean Burgers (★★☆☆☆)
½ green pepper, seeded, roughly chopped
¼ medium onion (25g), peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 15-ounce (426 g) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed well, divided use
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
1¼ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) pizza sauce
1 large egg
1 cup (108 g) plain breadcrumbs
¾ cup (180 ml) canola oil
Place the pepper, onion and garlic into the Vitamix, select Variable 5, and pulse three to four times, then scrap the side of the container with a spatula before pulsing several more times until chopped.
Add half the black beans (1 can), Italian seasoning, basil, salt and pizza sauce, select Variable 1 and blend for 10 seconds, then scrap the side of the container with a spatula before blending for five more seconds.  (The mixture should have the consistency of guacamole.)
Put the mix into a mixing bowl and add black beans, egg and breadcrumbs, combine by hand.  Divide into seven balls and flatten into patties.  Make sure mixture is not too wet or too crumbly.  If mixture sticks to your hands, add breadcrumbs one tablespoon at a time.
Pan fry over medium-high heat for three to four minutes on each side.


That’s it.  The big issue for me was that I used panko breadcrumbs, which did not substitute well for breadcrumbs, and I ended up having to add more breadcrumbs and some roasted soybean powder, which I actually think substantially helped the flavor.  But even without any of the issues of getting the right batter consistency, it was not as good as I would have hoped.  Unlike my falafels with yogurt herb sauce or hummus, which I think are better than anything premade I can buy at the local grocer, these weren’t as good as premade frozen patties.

The ultimate litmus test?  Both my kids chose falafels over black bean burgers. While I’m sure potential for improvement is there, I don’t see this being something worth spending a few more iterations on.

Light Mint Green Smoothie (★★★★☆) and Garlic V6 (★★☆☆☆)

This morning’s green smoothie was so good that I made it again this afternoon to make sure it was actually as good as I remembered.

Light Mint Green Smoothie(★★★★☆)
Trying out some of those fancy ingredients I picked up yesterday

½ pomegranate (fruit seeds only, yellow rind and skin removed)
¼ nashi pear (aka asian apple pear, peeled and seeds removed)
a big handful of water spinach (not sure how much, but a good amount)
two dozen mint leaves (that’s a rough estimate)
a dozen ice cubes

Cut the water spinach stems below the start  of the lowest leaf.  Blend everything but the ice cubes, add six ice cubes, blend until smooth and watery, add another six ice cubes and blend for frozen drink consistency.

Both the morning and afternoon batches were very mild but had a very pleasant taste.  I think the fruits and vegetables in this one really go well together.

Garlic V6(★★☆☆☆)
My biggest complaint about this drink is how much my wife could smell the garlic even after I’d finished.

¾ cup of tomato puree
a big handful of spinach leaves (not sure how much, but a good amount)

¼ celery stalk (the remaining quarter still in the fridge)
1 cabbage leaf (this was just for variety)
several sprigs of cilantro
1 garlic clove (peeled)
water (enough for desired thickness)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add water (or ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high).

I pretty much knew what I was going to get here, which isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s a tasty enough drink that fills you up and is pretty healthy, so don’t take the low rating as a sign of being disappointed with it.

Kinako Banana Milk (★★★★★) and Simple Hot Green Soup (★★☆☆☆)

I just made a ridiculously good Banana Milk, and I wanted to post about it before I forget.

My wife and I are going to a お月見 (moon viewing) party on Sunday, and my wife’s going to make dango for it.  One of the common flavors/coatings for dango is kinako, which is powdered soybean and a bit of sugar, and it tastes better than it sounds.

To make our own kinako, as we couldn’t find any at the local asian store, I picked up some roasted, unsalted soybeans, and I plan to use the blender to turn it into kinako.  I haven’t blended any of the soybeans into powder yet, but when I was looking for something to sate my sweet tooth after dinner, my wife suggested mixing some kinako powder, and adding it to a banana milk.  Better yet, I could just make it a one step process and throw the roasted soybeans in with the Banana Milk!

Kinako Banana Milk (★★★★★)
A great Japanese version of a Banana Milk

1 frozen banana
a handful of roasted, unsalted soybeans

The best technique is to break the banana into two or three parts before putting it in the blender, then blending with the tamper in, slowly raising the speed to just below whatever speed the banana bounces out of control at.

Now, at this point, I had the milk ratio down pat, and I threw in a decent amount of soybean as well.  I blended it for about 20 seconds on the way to high, and another 30 seconds at high.  Very, very tasty, and highly recommended.

As for actually making kinako powder, that’s probably something I’ll be able to comment on tomorrow.

I also made some hot soup as part of lunch, as the yakisoba I had for lunch didn’t fill me up.

Simple Hot Green Soup (★★☆☆☆)

½ cup of tomato puree
¼ onion
½ romaine lettuce heart
3 large celery sticks
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
hot water (to desired consistency)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the hot water, then add hot water for desired consistency, run on high until you reach the desired temperature, and salt to taste.

As with yesterday’s soup, it’s much better than the two stars suggests, but I wouldn’t say it was necessarily better than the Spicy Tomato Soup (★★☆☆☆) I made yesterday, so I gave it the same rating.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 10 days since I got my Vitamix 5200, especially considering how many times I’ve used it, but I am absolutely loving it.  I hope I can keep finding fun things to make in it for a long while to come, even if the current pace is pretty unsustainable. 🙂

Thursday’s Soup and Friday’s Drink

Too busy too post yesterday, but not too busy to throw something together in the blender.  At lunch time, the plan was basically make sandwiches or fend for yourself, and fending for yourself seemed like a good excuse to experiement with the blender.  I threw a bunch of stuff in the blender and called it soup:

Spicy Tomato Soup (★★☆☆☆)

¾ cup of tomato puree
¼ onion
½ romaine lettuce heart
a handful of mustard greens
1 slice of munster cheese
several sprigs of cilantro
dash of oregano
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cumin
1 cardamom seed
hot water (to desired consistency)
pepper (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the hot water, then add hot water for desired consistency, run on high until you reach the desired temperature, and salt and pepper to taste.

Again, it was better than the score might suggest, but I feel like there’s definitely room for experimenting and improving on it.

Today, as part of my breakfast, I threw together the following, which was pretty good:

Icy Hot Green Smoothy (★★★☆☆)

½ cup of tomato puree
¼ romaine lettuce heart
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
lots of ice cubes

Blend everything but the ice cubes, and then add ice cubes until it has a thick, icy consistency.

This is definitely an improvement (in my mind) over the Spicy Mustard Green Smoothie (★★☆☆☆) that I made earlier.  It’s pretty good.

And, like most days, I made a Banana Milk (★★★★★) yesterday and today. 🙂

Tasty Tuesday blended smoothies

When I woke up this morning, I wanted something simple, so I ate puffed wheat cereal and made a Banana Milk.  Nothing fancy, but it was a good breakfast.  And I got the hang of making a non-lumpy Banana Milk.  It helps to keep the tamper in when blending, as it keeps the liquid from bouncing out of control, and it also helps to slowly dial up to whatever speed the banana stays under control at, gradually increasing power until the banana has been blended in, then cranking it up to high for a few seconds to really whip the drink up and ensure the banana is thoroughly blended.

For lunch, I was pretty hungry by the time I came home, so I whipped up another Banana Milk to drink while I made a sandwich.  The Banana Milks are so quick to make, easy to clean up and tasty that despite having already had one that morning, I wanted another one.

After throwing together a quick sandwich, I knew I needed to be back at the office quicker than usual due to a business trip that afternoon, so I threw together a V7:

V7 Vegetable Drink (★★★☆☆)
Basically, it was whatever seven partially eaten vegetables I had lying around

½ cup of tomato puree
½ yellow bell pepper
¼ eggplant
¼ onion
6 sticks of baby asparagus from the refrigerator, steamed the night before
¼ celery stalk (the remaining quarter still in the fridge)
1 cabbage leaf (this was just for variety)
several sprigs of cilantro
water (for desired thickness)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the salt and water, taste, add salt and water for desired flavor and thickness

This was pretty good.  I don’t want to oversell it, so I only gave it three stars, but when this is what you get from the random leftover vegetables in your fridge, it’s a pleasant surprise.  As far as “stuff I accidentally made from leftovers” go, it’s well above average.  Of course, the secret ingredient is salt, as anyone who’s tried both V8 and low sodium V8 can attest to.  I didn’t go crazy with the salt, but it certainly helped.

Later today, after finishing dinner, I was still pretty hungry and wanted something sweet, so I decided to try adding some cocoa powder to a banana milk for something cold, sweet and chocolatey:

Bitter Chocolate Banana Milk (★★★★☆)
Basically a banana milk with some cocoa powder added

1 frozen banana
cocoa powder

Adjust the amount of milk for the right consistency, and add the desired amount of cocoa powder.  Slowly increase the speed until the banana is properly blended in with the milk, then mix on high for 15 seconds.

That turned out pretty good, but not amazing.  There’s something really, really good about just a plain Banana Milk, and the addition of cocoa powder didn’t really help things.  Or, it was just that it was my third Banana Milk of the day, and my body was trying to stop me from making this a regular part of every meal.

After the third Banana Milk, I was still thirsty, or just craving something, so I decided to make another vegetable smoothie to sate me, this time using the remaining carrot and onion from my wife’s cooking:

V6 Vegetable Drink (★★☆☆☆)

½ cup of tomato puree
½ peeled carrot
¼ onion
1 cabbage leaf
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
12 ice cubes(for a frozen smoothie consistency)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high.

I know, I know…I counted the cilantro as a vegetable when it got me to V6, but not when it would have gotten me to V8…  V8’s been taken already, and V6 sounds better than V5, so I’m using artistic license to dub them V6 and V7 respectively.  Totally drinkable, but not as good as what I made this afternoon.

Another post I made today that I don’t want to see go unread as a result of posting this one right after it is the how and why I got my Vita-Mix 5200.  I think it’ll be especially useful and interesting for anyone who’s considering getting their own.