Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pina Colada Breakfast




Ingredients


  • Two ripe bananas
  • One apple, cut
  • 1 tablespoon blue agave syrup (optional)
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon Chao Thai brand coconut cream powder
  • 1-1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  • Add ingredients into blender in order listed
  • Blend for two cycles on "Smoothie" setting

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick tomato soup

I came home for lunch one cold day, and had a bunch of grape tomatoes out on the counter. They were on the verge of going bad, so I figured they would become tomato soup. And what follows is a quick tomato soup you could slap together in a couple of minutes.

Ingredients



  • Big handful of grape tomatoes, probably 1 cup worth.
  • 4-5 baby carrots
  • 1/2 cube Knorr Caldo de Tomate, or whatever "chicken & tomato" cube you have on hand

Directions

  • Toss all that stuff into the blender, preferably a Blendtec Total Blender.
  • Run for one cycle on the "Soup" setting. Or if you got a ghetto home blender, just smash it all up and microwave it to get it hot. Now if you have a Blendtec, you'd be done becuase it would be hot soup already.

Yield

  • One decent lunch-sized serving of soup.

Now my experience with this was initially, I used an entire cube instead of a half cube, and it was too strong. Use a half-cube. Also, I found the cube did leave a film on the blender that did take a bit more hot water and soap to clean out, but it wasn't anything major.

Ultimately, though, you'll have your hot soup.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A typical breakfast goes like this...

Well, our blender has about 350 blends on it, and a typical breakfast goes like this:

Ingredients

  • 1 orange, peeled and quartered
  • a postage-stamp sized piece of orange peel
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • Either a half-block of soft tofu, or a big ol' glob of Greek style yogurt. I suggest the Kirkland brand from Costco. Yes, I know, Kirkland is the Costco house brand. It's really good, though.
  • handful of washed spinach leaves
  • 1 scoop vanilla flavored whey protein
  • 1 cup (or more) frozen mixed berries from Costco OR frozen strawberries from Sam's Club. Or frozen blueberries. Well, a bunch of frozen berries.

Directions

  • Get your handy Blendtec Total Blender
  • Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed. When adding in the frozen berries, I pile 'em in there to the top of the blender.
  • Blend for two cycles on the "Smoothie" setting, particularly if you use frozen strawberries.

Yield

  • This produces enough for about three drink glasses. Or one big ol' glass and one smaller glass.
 In our case, that's what I'm doing; I drink a large glass for myself as it's my breakfast, and I serve a smaller glass to my son as a drink along with a more conventional breakfast. Cleanup is fast; I rinse the blender container with hot water, and run it with hot water and a drop of soap. The resulting foam works wonders for cleaning the rest of the dishes, and we're out of the kitchen in no time. A typical day's breakfast.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Orange + tofu = yogurt?

Well, sorta. I have found out a pleasant surprise. If you are making a smoothie, and you use both an orange and tofu together, the resulting smoothie has a creamy texture, and a yogurt taste. You even get a bit of that 'bite' that yogurt has, that mysterious tartness.

So, without too much fanfare, and no pictures, here is an example recipe I'll toss out:

Mock Yogurt Berry Smoothie

Ingredients


  • 1/2 block soft tofu. I used Tacoma Tofu, and really like it.
  • One orange, peeled of course
  • Handful of washed green spinach leaves
  • One scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • Big ol' load of frozen strawberry pieces to top it off. Maybe what, 2 cups worth?

Directions

  • Put this stuff into your hand Blendtec Total Blender in the order listed
  • Blend for two cycles on the "Smoothie" setting. Why two cycles? I've found that when you got a lot of frozen strawberry, two cycles assures it all gets blended up. Of course, if you like it with more texture, one cycle will do you fine.
So anyhow, that basic recipe will give you a berry smoothie that you will have a hard time believing does not contain yogurt. Somehow, the acid in the orange and the smooth texture of the tofu work their magic together, and you get a really great smoothie out of it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Individual Quick Freeze - how to save a banana

Or a few bananas. So, how to deal with a bunch of bananas that are ripening faster than you want. Get out a cookie sheet, preferably a non-stick sheet. Now, before you carve up bananas, check if you can fit the sheet into your freezer. If you got a deep-freeze, all the better, as they usually got enough space to fit the cookie sheet.

So you got a cookie sheet, now get maybe three bananas you want to freeze. Peel a banana, and slice it into slice not thicker than 1/4 inch. Place the slices on the cookie sheet so they are not overlapping. That's the "individual" in "individual quick freeze". Continue with as many bananas as you can fit on the sheet. Pop that sheet into the freezer overnight, and then you should be able to pop the bananas off with a plastic spatula.

By freezing the banana pieces individually, you avoid creating a giant frozen clump of bananas. You can of course do the same thing with whatever fruit you got to freeze.

I get the sneaking suspicion I wrote about IQF with bananas before, but this time I got a picture of a sheet of bananas.

Okay, I'm now 80% sure I did write about this before, so I'll give you a bit more. Now that you have a bunch of frozen banana pieces, now what? Here is something I've found about making smoothies: If you want a really thick smoothie, use frozen fruit pieces instead of ice. Bananas, due to their natural consistency, make extraordinarily thick smoothies. If you do up a smoothie using, say, frozen strawberry and frozen banana pieces, it's going to come out like ice cream, and may require a bit of liquid just to blend at all. Super thick. I've found that if you use protein powder with frozen banana pieces, you also get a super-thick result.

Ah, now for another bonus tip on using frozen fruit pieces in blending: If you want a smooth, as in no-lumps, smoothie, blend longer. If you do want some fruit chunks, then the normal blend cycle will do fine. So, let's say you got a blender recipe that calls for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting. If you use a lot of frozen fruit pieces, you might want to toss on an additional 15 seconds on the "Pulse" setting manually. Or maybe even another hit on that "Smoothie" cycle.

So there you go; what amounts to a re-run article, but with a couple of add-ons.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The secret to intense coconut flavor

This stuff, Chao Thai brand coconut cream powder , is truly the secret to adding intense coconut flavor to your smoothie concoctions. You can find it at Amazon.com by using the links here (in fact, please do use the links, I get a small percent of sales), or if you have an Asian grocery in your neighborhood, they might have it there as well.

Anyhow, the intended use for this product is to reconstitute it back into coconut cream, sort of a coconut version of dry milk powder. Forget that, though! Instead, toss in a spoonful of the powder into your smoothie before blending with your Blendtec Total Blender Classic (of course), and you will be in coconut heaven. Instant Pina Colada flavor. Well, you'd want pineapple for that, too, but you get the idea.

One interesting thing about the package itself is that on the back, not only do they list the ingredients, they list the percentages of which those ingredients make up the total product. I wish other product labels were like this. So, the package is listed as being two servings. For our purposes, it's really more like four or even six, depending on how much you put into your smoothie. But, the ingredients break down to 85% coconut cream, 11.8% glucose syrup (probably the Thai equivalent to high fructose corn syrup), and then the small stuff. So it's pretty much coconut powder. I really like this stuff, my wife loves it, and I think you'll find yourself keeping a few bags of this around the kitchen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Flax as thickener

This morning, I decided to mix up a typical banana smoothie for breakfast. I added in about a quarter cup of Premium Gold cold milled flaxseed. The shake ended up incredibly thick, but in a different way. Most thick smoothies I've made are thick because they are on the verge of freezing into ice. Think sherbert. Well, the thick imparted by the flaxseed is more like thick pancake batter, or perhaps thick syrup.

The thickness really wasn't appealing to me, but it does have me thinking it might work out really well as a thickener in sauces. I made a spaghetti sauce last night by blending two tomatoes, but it was too thin. In a pinch I added in some cornstarch, but that's just cheating. I'll have to try spaghetti sauce again with the flaxseed, as I'm sure it might impart a much better thickness than cornstarch does. Well, of course, I could actually wait and let the sauce simmer all day like an old Italian grandma, but I ain't that patient. Blend it, cook it, done.

But hey, if you want the recipe to my overly thick smoothie, here you go:

Overly Thick Smoothie

Ingredients

Directions

  • Using your handy Blendtech Total Blender Classic, add ingredients in the order listed and blend for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting. I also pulse the mix for about 10 additional seconds to finish off any lumps of frozen strawberry.

Yield


  • Two large servings of an overly thick smoothie.
So that's the recipe. I think you'll agree it's a tad too thick, and in a not-smoothie way. But, the potential for using flax for other thickening purposes is great, and I'm going to have to try out some soups or sauces just to see.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

So this is the blender we own

This blender as shown here to the left is the very model we own. Ours is black, but you can also get them in a very nice red, or even silver. The Blendtec Total Blender. Oh yeah.

Unlike the wimpy blenders you'll find at a typical department store or big box store, this thing is a monster. I'm sure that if you needed to mix a small batch of cement, the Blendtec Total Blender would do the job fine. Mind you, I'm not suggesting you actually do that, of course.

So anyhow, if you go to Starbucks, you might take a gander at their blenders. They're Blendtec units, and the mixer containers are just like the ones here, except theirs got custom labeling on them. Basically the same unit.

We picked up our blenders at Costco while an in-store demo was going on, but it isn't an item they regularly stock. If you want to purchase a Blendtec blender, click the blender picture and shop away.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The worst blender drink yet

This is about the worst thing I've spun up yet. So why am I writing about it? I figure you might want to know about things to avoid. And this sure is something to avoid.
Toxic Waste

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 nectarine, diced
  • half a package instant sugar-free pudding, butterscotch flavor
  • 1 cup ice
  • Splash of sugar-free coconut syrup

Directions, with additional ingredients

  • Spin for one cycle on "Smoothie" setting
  • Realize it isn't going to spin without some more liquid, so shut it down a few seconds into the cycle.
  • Add a splash of milk
  • Restart the "Smoothie" cycle.
  • Notice how the texture just looks odd, and the color isn't too appealing.
  • Try a taste. Way too sweet, and it's just not right.
  • Decide, unwisely, to add in a big handful of shredded cabbage, and run it all for another cycle
  • Taste again, and realize it is just beyond rescue.
So now the result is a blob of garbage-smelling overly sweet spew. Normally, cabbage is a fine additive to a smoothie, without any specific overpowering cabbage flavor. Well, that was then, this is now. The cabbage has imparted this bad-to-start-with blend a distinct rotting matter smell. This drink was bad, bad, bad.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Apple Pie Smoothie

Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apple_pie.jpg - photo by Dan Parsons
After a hard day's work doing some interior remodeling and a humble meal of diced tofu, I wanted some applie pie for dessert. But hey, I didn't want to go out and find apple pie. So, hey, I was tired. I wasn't going to bother driving to McDonalds to get one of those apple pies there.

Blender to the rescue! I decided to try creating an apple pie smoothie, and it turned out to be quite easy to do.

Ingredients


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 apples, diced. You pick whatever apple you like.
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of sugar-free vanilla syrup
  • Ice, maybe a half-cup or so. Up to you.

Directions

  • Add ingredients in the order listed
  • Blend for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting

Yield

  • Well, I got one full 16-ounce cup, and another cup of maybe 14 ounces. I guess the size of apples makes a difference.
The result was a great smoothie with classic apple pie taste. It was just what I wanted. Even my loving wife thought it was a great apple pie flavor.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The best smoothie I've concocted yet

This is a quick note for all, so no photo. Just follow along.

Ingredients



  • Handful of black grapes
  • Handful of fresh strawberries
  • Handful frozen banana pieces
  • Handful frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free Almond Roca syrup
  • 1/2 cup ice

Directions

  • Add ingredients into your handy Blendtec blender in the order listed
  • Fire it up for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting

Yield

  • Hm. I filled up a 16-ounce cup, and had about 6 ounces left over. I suppose you could knock the whole thing down as one big delicious serving.
Now about this recipe; you might notice there is no cabbage or spinach in here, no "fool the kids" ingredients. The frozen banana pieces, you can make those yourself by dicing up a banana and spreading it out on a baking dish which you then place in the freezer. Fresh strawberries, well, you can use frozen ones, too.


Ah, but the taste! This is my favorite smoothie yet, with a deep purple color, deliciously intense berry-yet-banana flavor, and the perfect texture for slurping through a straw. If you got a clear 16 oz. cup like the nice ones to the right, this is the perfect drink to pour into it. Perfect.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Orange Julisy (or Julis-ish, perhaps)

Last night, I had a pretty good idea that I could replicate an Orange Julius using my blender and some powdered milk. I decided to let Google be my friend, and after a few minutes, found this really great recipe that looked like it should do the trick. All I needed was some powered egg white.

Unfortunately, powdered egg white is like $22 for this can that is barely bigger than a tuna can. Forget it! So, I decided that if I can eat a caesar salad legally, why not just use an actual egg white? So on we go with the story.

For those of you who fear consuming a raw egg white, you might as well give up now. Close your browser, watch PBS or whatever you do, no Orange Julisy for you.

Why Orange Julisy? Well, it ain't an actual Orange Julius; I'm sure that's a trademarked term and what not. But this is like 95% close, and I think you'll like it. Anyhow, on we go.

Ingredients


  • 1 egg white. I suggest you use a pasteurized egg
  • 2 oranges, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup Da Vinci sugar-free vanilla syrup
  • 1 good squeeze of blue agave syrup (yes, that is along with the Da Vinci syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 cup cold water. Ice cold.
  • 1-1/2 cup ice

Directions

  • Add the ingredients in the order listed
  • Blend for one cycle using the "Smoothie" setting

Yield

  • You'll get maybe two 16-ounce servings with a tad left over.
This will be a tad foamy, it might be that I should stop the blending process before it finishes. But you'll be liking the taste, as I think you'll agree that it is a darn near clone of the real thing. In the convenience of your kitchen, to boot. Oh, and did you notice that unlike the real thing, this one has only the sugars of the two oranges and a squeeze of blue agave syrup? I would dare to say this might even be healthy, but I'll leave that up to the nutritionists. All you gotta do is enjoy, that is, if you get over the raw egg white. Pasteurized, that is.

Post-Workout Breakfast Banana Smoothie

Each workday morning I head to the gym before work, and today I decided to use up a couple of bananas that were due. This blend is intended to be a good post-workout start to the day, with plenty of protein for replenishing your spent body.

The spinach is in there to provide some healthy green leafy vegetables to the daily intake. Of course, as with any blender drink, once you add spinach, it's going to be a green-colored drink, which some folks find off-putting. If you are one of those folks, look away while you enjoy the flavor of this fine start to your day.

Of course, you can enjoy this any time of day, and with the use of some sugar free syrup, you have a sweet drink perfect for scratching the dessert itch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water*
  • 2 bananas, cut in chunks
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 scoop 100% whey protein, vanilla flavor
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • *Optional:  Use 3/4 cup water instead, and add 1/4 cup Da Vinci sugar-free syrup, vanilla flavor. 

Directions

  • Blend on "Smoothie" setting for one cycle.

Yield

  • Two large glasses, or one huge glass, which is what I consume for breakfast.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Luciously Tart Raspberry Smoothie

This is one of those accidental discoveries that ended up being a huge success. While there is a bunch of mixed tropical fruit in here, in the end you get a tug-of-war between raspberry and lemon, a battle you will enjoy playing out in your mouth with each taste.

Ingredients


  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 lemon, quartered (peeled, of course!)
  • 2 cups frozen mixed tropical fruit (we got ours from Costco)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • and finally (read the directions I'm gonna give) a big ol' splash of DaVinci sugar-free raspberry syrup, the kind folks use in coffee

Directions

  • Add all ingredients, except the raspberry syrup, into blender
  • Blend for one cycle on "Smoothie" setting
  • Listen to the blender cavitate slightly, as there is not sufficient liquid
  • Say "Hmm." to self, and try the "Smoothie" setting again. Watching the blender, realize that the mix has turned into a sherbert.
  • Try some of that sherbert, which has an amazingly silky texture, and realize that while it's a perfect sherbert, texture-wise, you want a smoothie, and want something with a more punched-up flavor.
  • Get out that DaVinci sugar-free raspberry syrup and add in a big ol' glug of it. My guess is I used 1/4 cup, but really it was just a big ol' glug.
  • Use a spatula to work the syrup into the now near frozen mix, and blend one more time, just enough to fully incorporate the syrup.

Yield

  • two 16-ounce drink cups work perfectly to hold this thick, tart, fantastically berry-flavored treat

Frozen Melon Cubes

While shopping at Costco, I decided to buy a "Golden Melon", about the size of a basketball. The melon itself tastes okay, a bit weaker flavor than say, a cantaloupe.

But what to do with a basketball-sized melon? I decided to quick-freeze it in cubes, so it could be used in blender recipes in place of ice.

What you need


  • Freezer with space to hold a baking sheet
  • Non-stick baking sheet, the kind with edges on it, so that melon juice would not spill off the edge. 
  • One melon, of whatever variety you like

Directions


  • Cut up the melon in quarters, and discarded the seeds
  • Cut the quarters in half, yielding eight slices
  • For each slice, cut the rind off, and dice the melon
  • Place the melon pieces on the baking sheet
  • When done, put the sheet in the freezer overnight
  • In the morning, use a plastic spatula to pop the frozen melon pieces off of the baking sheet
  • Store cubed pieces in freezer bags for storage
So now you have a nice bag of frozen melon cubes that won't stick into a giant lump. And even if they do stick together bit, they usually separate easily enough with a sufficient bonk against the kitchen counter. I found these to be a great substitute for ice in blender recipes, as they don't dilute the flavor. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

How to drink half a cabbage

Today's lunch was an attempt to use up some existing ingredients I had lying around. There was this Napa cabbage in the vegetable drawer, and I figured it was time for it to become part of the food chain.

Ingredients


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 Napa cabbage, shredded
  • The rest of that Jello vanilla pudding mix package I had left over from the Insanely Good Banana Smoothie
  • two pears, quartered and seeded
  • 1 scoop of ice

Directions

  • Add all that stuff into the blender in the order listed
  • Blend for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting. Add more water if the mix isn't getting blended properly.

Yield

  • Two tall glasses of some odd stuff indeed
Yeah, this is probably one of those items I might not be making the same next time. If there is a next time, I think I'll leave out the pudding mix and use it for something more dessert-like. Anyhow, the taste wasn't too bad, but the texture and vanilla taste threw it off a bit too much. I'll file this one as a work-in-progress.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Insanely Good Banana Smoothie

While watching the Olympics tonight, I felt like nothing would celebrate the accomplishments of our proud USA athletes like a banana smoothie. Just for me, since the rest of the family was out at the movies. So this recipe is purely a quantity = 1 item.

What you get here is in my opinion not hype, it truly is an insanely good banana smoothie. Silky smooth, and shamelessly sweet, this makes a perfect way of scratching that itch for something indulgent.

One trick I'm using here is Jello pudding mix powder. I'm not using the entire package, so that means there is enough left over to make more creations.

Ingredients

  • 1 banana, cut in pieces
  • 1 tbsp Jello sugar-free vanilla pudding powder
  • Big ol' squirt of Blue Agave syrup
  • Scoop of ice cubes from the fridge; approximately 1-1/2 cups worth or so.

Directions

  • Add ingredients in the order listed
  • Blend for one cycle using the "Smoothie" setting

Yield

  • Yields one smoothie, at least it did for me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Panang Curry Carrot Soup



This recipe is a blatant recycle of "Creamy Curry Carrot Soup" as found on page 108 of the "Fresh Blends" recipe book which came with our Blendtec blender. I reworked it to make it easier and faster to produce.

I'm using a Blendtec Total Blender Classic Fourside blender, so if you're using something else, you'll have to find your own equivalent to the "Soup" setting.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp Mae Ploy Panang Curry concentrate
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, either shredded or whole

Directions

  • Get a large microwave-safe measuring bowl
  • Add the can of chicken broth (just the broth, not the can) to the bowl
  • Add 2 cups baby carrots to the bowl
  • Add 1 tbsp Panang curry concentrate to the bowl
  • Microwave on high-power (or default) for 3 minutes
  • Pour the contents of the bowl into Blendtec mixer
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the mixer
  • Blend for one cycle using the "Soup" setting
The resulting soup will be just the cure for a rainy day, I promise. Great stuff. You end up with maybe a bit over two bowls of hot curry soup. Or one huge bowl if you happen to be serious hungry or cold. Ahhhhh.

Thick Banana Blast Smoothie


Okay, the prelims: Yesterday, I weighed in at 182.6 pounds. Too much vacation, obviously. This morning I weighed in at 179 pounds, so I'd say a day of smoothies paid off well. After work, I bought a load of fresh fruits and vegetables, which leads me to what I had for breakfast.

This drink will give you a rich, smooth, thick banana smoothie, with a bit of a bite. I really liked it, and left some in the fridge for my impartial family to try.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces cold wateer
  • 2 bananas, cut in chunks
  • 1 lemon, quartered and removed from peel
  • 1/2 block soft tofu. I use Sun Luck, which most grocery stores carry
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries

Directions

  • Place ingredients into your Blendtec blender in the order listed, and run for one cycle on the "Smoothie" setting
  • Serve and enjoy. Yields 2-1/2 large glasses.
I think this would be a fine smoothie to have random folks try, as it has an appealing pink color to it, and has a very smooth and thick texture, an almost thick milkshake quality to it. Not a bad way to start off the day.

Pear Melon Smoothie with our new Blendtec TotalBlender

Here is what I drank for dinner tonight, my first melon smoothie made in our new Blendec blender.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces cold water, the colder the better
  • squirt of Blue Agave syrup, if you want it a bit sweet
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, diced in big chunks
  • 1 pear, washed, de-seeded, cut in quarters
  • Big ol' handful of leaf spinach, the salad kind (not the in-a-can Popeye stuff!)
  • 6-8 ice cubes from the fridge. Or in our case, a scooper full of ice.

Directions

  • Place the ingredients in the blender in the order listed; starting with the water and ending with the ice on top.
  • Blend for one cycle, using the "smoothie" setting
  • Serve it up and drink while it's cold. For me, it yielded 2-1/2 tall glasses.
I really like the Blendtec, it engages in a furious churning which renders all tossed into it into a nice creamy, melony smoothie. You'd be hard pressed to notice the spinach, although the bright green is something of a giveaway.