What to Make in Your Blender

Make sauces, soup bases, purees, dressings and smoothies in blenders from Crate and Barrel. Tight on cabinet space? Look for a smaller scale appliance, such as a hand-held immersion blender. If you plan to keep your blender on the counter, make sure it will fit underneath your kitchen cabinets. Read on for a list of great ideas about what to make in your blender.

Smoothie Ideas: Fruit smoothies are a healthy, refreshing way to start your day. Drop into the blender any combination of frozen or fresh fruits (if using fresh fruits, try adding a handful of ice cubes to thin the mixture and keep it cool). If you want a tropical taste, focus on citrus such as pineapple and orange, as well as fruit such as mango, papaya and kiwi. For a more tart flavor, drop in a combination of berries—blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, for example. Keep it sweet with a base flavor of banana, a mild, sweet fruit that combines well with nearly any other. For extra protein and healthy fats, add a couple tablespoons of your favorite seeds—chia, flax, pumpkin and hemp, to name a few. Add the liquid last, with the amount varying depending on how thick or thin you want your final product. Use almond milk, coconut water, fruit juice or regular tap water, cover the blender and start it up. Blend time will vary depending on the make and model, as well as the ingredients in your smoothie. Be sure to check the mixture's consistency sporadically to see if it needs extra liquid or to be mixed by hand. Not just for breakfast, fruit smoothies make excellent midday pick-me-up snacks. Get a lidded glass or portable bottle for an easy on-the-go treat.

Sauce Ideas: Make a fresh, herby pasta sauce from scratch with ease. Chop tomatoes of any variety and throw them in a large casserole pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and mix so that each section is completely coated. Then chop and mix in whatever herbs you want to flavor with—basil, oregano and flat leaf parsley are classic choices—add a little salt and pepper and roast in the oven. Check on your tomatoes periodically to make sure they aren't burning and remove from the heat when they've wrinkled up and released some of their juices. If your blender is safe to use with hot foods, dump the pan right in. Cover and blend. For a chunkier sauce, simply pulse until you reach your desired consistency. Alternatively, a hand or immersion blender would allow you even more control over the thickness of the final product. Pour out into a bowl and refresh it with a couple of sprigs of those same fresh herbs on top, and you're ready to serve it atop some tasty pasta or a pizza crust you prepared in your mixer.

Soup Ideas: Soup is a surprisingly versatile food and can be made with a wide range of ingredients. While it can be served raw—gazpacho, anyone?— it's most often served hot. Blenders can help you make thick, creamy soup with ease. Start with a base of a starchy vegetable such as white potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or squash. Simply chop and steam your fresh vegetables until they're super soft, then toss them in with your favorite herbs and spices. Along with that, steam a couple of secondary vegetables—whatever you have in your kitchen fridge or freezer will do—to toss in once the base is blended. If you find your base is too thick, slowly add in vegetable or chicken stock as it blends. Once it's smooth, pour out into a pot over the stove and stir in your other steamed vegetables. Add extra seasoning if necessary, heat and mix until everything is well-incorporated and portion out. Serve with a side of fresh sourdough bread or with half of a sandwich.

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