August 12, 2013

In the summer, when the days are hot and the evenings are longer, the thought of cooling off with an ice cream cone or milkshake often crosses one's mind. These days you can add smoothies to that list.

According the Wikipedia, in the 1930s, health food stores began selling pureed fruit drinks following the lead of Brazil. In the late 1960s, ice cream shops began offering smoothies. By the 1990s and 2000s, smoothies became mainstream and are now available at cafes and coffee shops all over the world.

The next time you need to cool down with a sweet and refreshing drink, instead of heading out, trying blending one at home.

Watermelon Smoothie

The website has healthful and delicious smoothies for kids of all ages. A watermelon smoothie will definitely cool you off on a hot summer day.

1 cup water

2 cups watermelon (diced & frozen)

1 cup strawberries (frozen)

1 banana (sliced, then frozen)

Buy a ripe watermelon from the store. Cut the red flesh into chunks and freeze overnight. Slice a ripe banana, and freeze the banana pieces overnight. Once your watermelon and your banana are frozen, you are ready to make your smoothie.

Pour 1 cup of water into your blender. Add the frozen ingredients one piece at a time, blending each ingredient on the highest setting. Continue to blend your ingredients until the smoothie is free of all chunks. Serve immediately.

Lemon Drop Shakes

Our son, Kellan, 5, has always loved the taste of lemon. His favorite flavor of yogurt is lemon. I found this recipe for a shake that he loves in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

1/2 of a small lemon, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons crushed lemon drop candies

1 tablespoon sugar

1 quart vanilla ice cream

1 1/2 cups lemonade

Rub rim of 6 juice-size glasses with one lemon slice. In a shallow dish combine crushed lemon drops and sugar; dip glass rims in mixture; set aside.

In a blender combine ice cream and lemonade. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour ice cream mixture into glasses. Top with remaining lemon slices.

Makes 6 shakes.

Banana Mama

If you're in the mood for a frozen drink, The Complete Bartender by Robyn M. Feller has several cool options.

1½ oz light rum

½ oz dark rum

1 oz banana liqueur

1 oz cream of coconut

1 oz fresh or frozen strawberries

2 oz pineapple juice

Note: 1 oz is 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons, 2 oz is ¼ cup

In blender, combine light rum, dark rum, banana liqueur, cream of coconut, strawberries, and pineapple juice with 3 oz crushed ice. Blend into smooth. Pour into goblet.

Fresh Peach Punch

I bought the book, Fresh from Terrace Hill, several years ago during a holiday open house at Terrace Hill. At that time, I was teaching at Capitol View Elementary in Des Moines. Not only is the school very near the Capitol, it's also a business partner of the Governor's office. Capitol View staff was invited to an open house at Christmas time to tour the Governor's mansion. On that particular day, there was a large amount of snow, preventing many from attending. Unbeknownst to us, the open house was rescheduled, but the Governor's house staff was kind enough to keep the doors open for anyone who was brave enough to venture out that day. On that wintery day my husband, Danny and I showed up on the Governor's door step. There were only a handful of guests in attendance, but we were greeted by Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christy, given a personal tour and treated to a fancy spread of food. I purchased a copy of the cookbook for my mom and First Lady, Christy Vilsack, even offered to sign it.

4 fresh peaches, peeled and pureed, plus additional sliced peaches for garnish (if peaches are not in season, one package frozen peaches can be substituted)

½ cup superfine sugar

½ cup brandy

1 bottles Rhine wine (a white wine sweeter than Chablis)

1 quart club soda, chilled

In a large container, combine the peaches, sugar, brandy and wine and stir, making certain that sugar dissolves

Chill for 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, pour into a punch bowl and add the club soda. Float fresh peach slices for garnish.

Serves approximately 16

Banana-Strawberry Smoothies

Williams-Sonoma's Weekend with Friends cookbook contains recipes perfect for entertaining. A banana-strawberry smoothie is a refreshing way to top off any summer weekend.

3 cups frozen strawberries

2 ripe bananas, cut up

1½ cups (12 fl oz) unsweetened pineapple juice

¼ cup (2 fl oz) frozen orange juice concentrate

½ cup (4 fl oz) good-quality vanilla ice cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (essence)

2 whole strawberries

4 fresh mint sprigs

In a blender or food processor, combine the frozen strawberries, bananas, pineapple juice, and orange juice concentrate. Process until smooth, 30-45 seconds. Add the ice cream and vanilla extract and process until thoroughly blended, 15-20 seconds. Pour into tumblers or large wineglasses. Float a strawberry on each drink, then garnish with a mint sprig. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Coconut Sorbet

My dad has been retired for about twenty years and likes to spend his days reading newspapers and magazines. Every so often I receive an envelope in the mail containing a newspaper or magazine article that he thinks I'd enjoy. The topics typically include education, cooking, and child development. A few years ago my dad read a book review in a magazine of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. For Christmas that year I received a copy of the book containing recipes for traditional Vietnamese dishes with modern flavors along with a copy of the book review.

2½ cups canned coconut milk

½ cup sugar

generous pinch of salt

2½ tablespoons light corn syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and corn syrup and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring or whisking gently, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to chill well and develop the flavor. The mixture separates as it sits, so whisk to blend again, and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.