Saturday, August 29, 2015

In search of a Faux Dr Pepper Smoothie

This isn't a smoothie that replicates the taste of a Dr Pepper, but it is a smoothie that I could happily substitute on a 1-to-1 basis for Dr Pepper in my life. Which is a boon, because of course soda = bad and fruit = good.

For experimentation purposes, below this smoothie recipe are speculative ingredient lists for the Jamba Juice smoothie that originally gave me the idea and for the secret flavors in Dr Pepper. :)

To make a one-blenderful batch (two 15-oz portions):

  • 1 cup pomegranate-cherry juice, chilled
  • 2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen fruit -- cherry/blueberry/currant mix
  • 1 cup frozen fruit -- blackberry/blueberry/raspberry mix

Because HEB sells the latter mix in a wonderful 36-oz bag, here is the shopping list for four batches:

Two 16-oz bottles pom-cherry juice ($4 each, totals about 4 cups)
Two 32-oz containers nonfat vanilla yogurt ($2 each, totals about 8 cups)
Two 14-oz bags frozen cherry/berry/currant mix ($3.50 each. The cherries are pre-pitted! And in this mix, currant means "blackcurrant" berries rather than zante grapes. Totals about 3.5 cups)
One 36-oz bag frozen blue/black/raspberries ($9, totals about 4.5 cups)

That's a total of $28 to make eight smoothies, which comes in about 25% less than buying eight Jamba smoothies (though note these are not the same ingredients, notably lacking such things as crazy expensive acai juice).

It's probably worth digging around to find some yogurt and some juice that isn't 300 calories per serving, because those two items put the sugar and calorie load up near that of an actual Dr Pepper. Still,

WTH does one do with four batches? Well, one can freeze the juice and the yogurt separately in ice cube trays, to make smoothie packs. The yogurt should be good a month or two and the juice possibly four to six months. Or one can do all one's blending at once, which saves on cleanup and makes subsequent mornings go faster, and freeze the smoothie itself in cubes. (My trays make 2-Tbsp cubes, so 15 cubes would make a 15-oz smoothie.) Advice I found online indicates if you put the cubes in a water bottle or something, roughly an hour later it will have thawed into smoothie consistency (give the bottle a couple good shakes). It takes more than two hours for the smoothie mix to freeze in my fridge, so I'm considering buying more trays.

Here are the official ingredients of the Jamba Juice Acai Super Antioxidant smoothie...

  • "Acai juice blend, strawberries, raspberry sherbet (contains milk), soymilk (contains soy), ice, blueberries, antioxidant boost (contains soy)"

One bootleg version of this Jamba drink:

  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup acai juice, ½ cup lime sherbet, ½ cup raspberry sherbet, ½ cup soy milk, 1 cup ice

Acai juice, it appears, is crazy expensive, so I am very glad that it is unlikely to be a Dr Pepper flavoring.

Here is a popular rendition of the secret 23 flavors in Dr Pepper (bear in mind it was invented in 1885):

  • Cherry, vanilla, almond, plum, blackberry, raspberry, apricot, coriander, clove, amaretto, anise, caramel, molasses, birch beer, allspice, ginger, sarsparilla, sassafras, juniper, spikenard, wintergreen, burdock, dandelion.
Bear with me as I write out the instructions for my own blender here, as this is the blog post I actually call up and refer to when blending, and I am a pre-flight checklist kinda person. (Note: The directions also say to load the blender with liquids/soft foods on the bottom and progress to dry and/or frozen bits or ice at the top, so if one is blending a preassembled pack with frozen cubes instead of liquids, remember to adjust.)

Useful to have handy: Half-cup measure and spatula to load ingredients into blender; glass to hold the blender tamper once it comes out with smoothie all over it; plate or something to set the implements on, because all of these berries make a very effective burgundy dye. :) Also, doesn't hurt to have the ice cube trays out and ready. And baggies to put the frozen cubes into afterward, so they don't pick up other smells in the freezer.

Load ingredients (liquid at bottom, frozen on top). Snap lid on (securing its port cover with a half-turn); set to Variable and speed 1; switch on and quickly range up to speed 10, then flip to High; take out the port cover, insert the tamper and poke the ingredients down toward the blades; recover the port and blend 30-60 sec until the mix starts surging up in four mounds. Don't blend too long or it'll get melty/runny. Flip back to Variable, scroll down from 10 to 1, then Off. (Afterward, a couple drops of dish soap and a spin up to High basically equals a dishwasher cycle, if needed.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Simple frozen salmon!

Move the frozen salmon to the fridge the day before, to let it thaw, and bake on a buttered/tinfoiled sheet about 18 minutes at 375. If possible, marinate before and/or glaze during.

Soy-Garlic Salmon a la Mom -- This came out MARVELOUS.
2 Tbsp Dijon
3 Tbsp soy
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic

Balsamic Salmon
1.5 cloves garlic, minced
tsp white wine
1 tsp honey
5.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
1.5 tsp Dijon
salt and pepper to taste
Soften garlic in sauce pan; add rest and simmer 3 min.; brush on fish and bake.

Caprese salad, the cheater's way

Grocery store:
Fresh mozzarella, a bunch of fresh basil, and canned tomatoes (can actually be healthier/tastier than fresh tomatoes!)

Chop the mozzarella, wash and tear the basil, drain the tomatoes and toss it all in a bowl with some balsamic dressing.

Salad! :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Experiment! 5-grain salad

For the first real try at replicating a "5-grain salad" I used to get at a local store and became totally addicted to, I found wheat berries, a brown-basmati-wild rice mix, bulk slivered almonds and bulk cranberry "raisins" at my grocery. The prep directions on the wheat berries and the rice mix were nearly identical, so I cooked them all together with what turned out to be possibly a little too much water (rice came out gummy). Suggestions to correct gummyness include rinsing the rice first, using less water and using more (!) water. Mom suggested baking the rice instead of boiling and we think that also would work for the wheat but would need some further timing experimentation. So here's my best directions for NEXT time, plus some notes.

(Incidentally, the container of rice and the bag of wheat berries looked like they hold enough to make this exact recipe four times. And this recipe yielded 5 servings -- small ones, like side servings)

Cook 1 cup rice mix and 1/2 cup wheat berries: Rinse the rice in cold water and drain, add wheat berries and a little bit of olive oil, add 3c water, bring to boil, knock the heat down to simmer, cover tightly, simmer 15 minutes, pull pan off heat and let rest 10 minutes.

Stir in
1/2 cup dried sweet cranberries
1/2 slivered almonds

Grate the salt grinder over it a few times
Sprinkle zest of 2 lemons
Toss in a couple Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Maybe a tsp of sugar

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Southern Living's "perfect" buttermilk biscuits

(it looked like this amount of dough made about 9 biscuits) 

1 stick frozen butter, grated
2 1/2 cups White Lily self-rising flour
1 cup cold buttermilk

Grate the frozen butter and gently mix into flour, using your fingers. Store mixture in freezer 10 minutes to re-chill. Make a well in middle of mixture and pour in buttermilk. Incorporate well, using approx. 15 stirs. (One commenter's family tradition is to stir with a fork "until the dough follows the fork around the bowl.") Place mixture on floured surface and sprinkle flour on top. Flour rolling pin. Roll out into rectangle, fold over and repeat four more times. On the last fold over, roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Flour biscuit cutter each time you cut into dough, and cut straight up and down. Place biscuits on parchment-lined pan, making sure they touch. Bake @ 475 degrees for 15 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter.

Another commenter: "Make sure all your ingredients are fresh.  Flour and baking powder go bad after a while when they have been opened.  Humidity gets into it and things won't rise like they should.  Making biscuits on a rainy day you'll notice they don't rise like they should." 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

One-dish meals for family or company

Bookmarking this from Southern Living because most of these seem like meals that could be made fairly quickly with little cleanup, but would feed several people who would feel like they had a real meal.

Note these are not here cause they're healthy, necessarily (cheese. baby!). Or cheap. And not all of them are fast. Some of them take a while, but all are one-dish, and a fair proportion of them "cheat" by using premade ingredients (see "not cheap," above) which is one of my favorite sanity tricks when unannounced occasions strike.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mini pancake bites

A blog post I saw with these suggests that they would make neat brunch/potluck items, and I have to say I agree, assuming I manage to cook them in a way that they aren't gloppy in the middle, etc. And I have a mini muffin tin :)