Posts Tagged ‘ 5 stars ’

Acorn Squash Soup (★★★★★)

This is my third autumn since we’ve moved to Upstate New York, and our local farms are selling locally grown acorn squash again, so it’s time to start making Acorn Squash Soup, which is my favorite soup to make with my Professional Series 300 Vitamix.  (Yes, it’s basically the same as a Vitamix 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

Now, over the years, I my recipe has gradually evolved from the original version to 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 acorn squash, I think you’ll really like this.

Acorn Squash Soup (★★★)
This recipe can easily be halved, and used to be half this size.  I’ve simply gotten in the habit of using an entire squash when making it. The Acorn Squash is the star of the soup, and tremendously aided by quality milk, so the difference between this soup made with sub-standard milk and below average acorn squash and this soup made with fresh, in-season acorn squash and local farm milk is a big one.

1 medium acorn squash
2 large bouillion cubes (2 cups of broth worth of bouillon cubes)
4 cups of whole milk
2 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)

The easy way to cook the squash is to slice it as cleanly in half as possible.  Clean out the seeds, which I like to roast separately, and put both halves in a pyrex tray large enough to hold them, putting just enough water in to prevent air from getting in/out of the squash.  Microwave the squash for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on how large it is. (May need longer depending on the microwave)

While the squash is being microwaved, put the milk, cinnamon sticks, ginger, nutmeg, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil and bouillon cubes in the blender, and blend on high for about a minute so that everything is very well blended before adding squash.  You can easily add more cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger as needed, but you can’t take it out, so err on the side of caution if you’re not sure how much to add.  Ginger and cinnamon both help bring out the flavor of acorn squash.  While I personally add a reasonable amount of cinnamon, I haven’t had anyone successfully identify the ginger before being told it’s in there.

Once the squash is done being cooked in the microwave, it should be reasonably easy to turn the squash over and scoop out the meat out, leaving only the skin behind.  If the squash is still tough, it needs to be cooked longer next time.  After putting all the squash meat into the blender, you’re dealing with a pretty full container.  Blend until well mixed and 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.

My wife and I both love the fluffy, whipped texture the blender gives it, and this newer recipe gives it more milk, more flavor and a slightly higher ratio of squash to liquid than the original recipe.  It may not be quite as light, but if you don’t mind a filling soup and like acorn squash, I think the changes are all for the better.

Fresh Peaches and Red Grapes Sorbet (★★★★☆)

My parents have been raving about the peaches and red grapes sorbet that they’ve been making repeatedly.  They bought a huge box of fresh peaches, and after making multiple batches, they strongly believe that the red grapes are better than both the honey sweetened and pineapple sweetened versions.

Hearing them rave about it as much as they have, I decided to try and make it for myself.

Fresh Peaches and Red Grapes Sorbet (★★★★☆)
Fantastic frozen dessert when peaches are in season so you can pick up naturally very sweet peaches at a reasonable price. Well suited for utility peaches. Serves approximately 4-8 people, depending on serving size.

10-12 frozen peaches (cut and pits removed)
A handful of red grapes

Freeze the peaches in advance. Then put the peaches and grapes in the blender. Blend on medium to high, using the tamper and adjusting the blender intensity to ensure everything is well mixed. Add ice and/or water to dilute the mix to the desired strength and consistency. Add more grapes for additional sweetness, substituting honey or sugar if concerned about making grape flavor too strong. Serve immediately.

I used the last of the ripe, local, seasonal peaches I had, which were so good they didn’t need much help. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the same with lower quality peaches.

I just don’t like grapes that much.  There, I said it.  That’s why this a four star recipe, and not five.  If I had to pick a favorite between the pineapple and grape versions of the peach sorbet, I’d pick pineapple, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that I’m in the minority.  Either way, if you’re making peach sorbet with pineapple or fresh red grapes, you’re in for a delicious treat.

I’d love to have people sound off in the comments if they’ve tried both, letting me know which fruit they felt worked better as a sweetener.

Collection of Vitamix 5 star recipes

At the request of a family member who called me asking about my hiyashi-chuuka sauce recipe, saying they couldn’t find it on this blog, I’ve put together a collection of all the 5-star recipes I’ve posted to date:

Dips and Sauces
Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) sauce
Yogurt Herb Sauce

The Best Tasting Banana Milk (half soy milk, half milk, I also really like adding roasted soybeans to banana milks made with just milk (video))
Hot Chocolate

Frozen Piña Coladas
Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino

Sorbets and Italian Ices
Fresh Peaches Sorbet
Homemade Grown-up Polar Cup

Homemade Peanut Butter (video)
Kinako Powder
Acorn Squash Soup

There’s plenty of stuff I rated four stars that I still make pretty regularly, but this is a pretty good representation of most of my favorite uses for my Vitamix blender.

Fresh Peaches Sorbet (★★★★★)

We visited a local farmers market in Troy and picked up 4 quarts of delicious utility peaches (essentially a box full of peaches with split pits) for $10.  My old 5200’s Whole Food Recipes Vitamix cookbook had a Peach Sorbet recipe, but it called for ¾ cup of sugar and only 3 peaches, which is roughly 600 calories of sugar, and seemed like a crazy ratio of peaches to sugar.  It also called for 4 cups of ice, which seemed excessive.

We’d also bought some local raw honey, and I figured the peaches were sweet enough that I wouldn’t need to use much to sweeten the peaches, so I cut up a lot of peaches, roughly a dozen, and froze half of it.  I threw this recipe together on a lark, assuming I could add more honey and ice after blending the peaches, but it went over so well with all six people I served it to that it didn’t need tweaking and I thought it’d be worth sharing.

Fresh Peaches Sorbet (★★★★★)
Fantastic frozen dessert when peaches are in season so you can pick up naturally very sweet peaches at a reasonable price.  Well suited for utility peaches.  Serves approximately 4-8 people, depending on serving size.

12 peaches (cut and pits removed)
Raw honey (approximately 3-4 tablespoons)

Freeze half the peaches in advance.  Then put the peaches 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.

That’s it, the only magic is that ripe, local, seasonal fruit is so good it doesn’t need much help.  The reactions I got were so good that I can’t give this anything less than five stars, but I know it wouldn’t be the same with lower quality peaches.

(Update: Both pineapple and grapes can be used instead of honey)

Hummus (★★★★★) using the Vitamix 7500 (with video)

My original post of this hummus recipe is hidden in between two other recipes in a post back in 2011, and since it’s the most requested dish I make, I think it deserves a post of it’s own and a video showing how easy it is to make.

Hummus (★★★★★)
2 Cans of Chick Peas/Garbanzos (15.5 oz), one strained, one with all the water from the can
¼ cup of raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup of lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of sea salt

Put everything in and blend on high with the tamper for about 30 seconds or until everything’s well blended.  Chill if not serving immediately.

As I mention in the video, unless it’s a particularly large garlic clove, I tend to use two or three smaller cloves, but I’m a big fan of garlic, so adjust to match your tastes.

Yogurt Herb Sauce (★★★★★)

Before writing up the Falafel recipe, I thought I would share the Yogurt Herb Sauce that I made to go with the falafels, as I think it was the sauce that made them as unexpectedly good as they were.

Yogurt Herb Sauce (★★★★★)
Highly recommended as a sauce to serve with falafels

1 cup plain yogurt
1 lemon worth of zest (only the very outer layer of the lemon)
½ lemon (for freshly squeezed juice)
3-4 fresh cilantro sprigs
6-7 fresh parsley sprigs
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, to taste

Use a bread knife or other serrated knife to take just the outermost layer of the lemon rind, putting the zest into the blender, and squeeze half a lemon worth of juice in, taking care not to let any seeds in.  Put everything else but salt in the blender and pulse blend until no large pieces of cilantro or parsley remain.  Add salt to taste, then chill until ready to use.

Both this herb sauce and the falafels are pretty easy to make, and I’ll likely be making them again in the near future.

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)

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.