photo: Carlos Madrigal
When the mercury rises above 90, the desire to use the stove tends to plummet in equal measure.
In Frugal Foodie’s kitchen, the most-used gadget during New York City’s record-high temperatures this summer has been the ice cream machine, seconded by the blender. (Her current obsession: using homemade cookies and homemade ice cream to make ice box desserts. Mr. Foodie likes salted caramel ice cream sandwiched between gingersnaps.)
But there’s no need to invest in an ice cream maker for gourmet cooling on the cheap. There are plenty of recipes that require little more than a blender and some time in the fridge or freezer.
(As with our recent $10 dinner challenge, all cost estimates are based on non-sale NYC supermarket prices, adjusted for quantity — figuring if it’s a cheap meal here, cooks anywhere else are likely to spend even less; and that if a recipe calls for a cup of sparkling wine, you’ll find something to do with the rest of the bottle. Estimates don’t count basic ingredients you likely already have, like sugar or spices.)
Try these treats the next time you’re in the mood for food best served cold:
Cost: $1.61, or $0.40 per serving
Frugal Foodie uses leftover coffee to make next-day homemade coffee shakes. Fill two ice cube trays with leftover black coffee and let freeze. Combine in a blender with two cups of skim milk. (Or sub in your choice of milk, non-dairy creamer, more coffee — even water is fine). Add a tablespoon or two or cocoa powder, sugar, almond extract or other flavorings if desired. Blend at high speed. Mixture should resemble the frozen cappuccinos of a well-known coffee chain, for a fraction of the price.
Cherry Cola Pops
Cost: $3, or $0.50 per serving
TastingTable.com recently offered up the six-pop recipe for this sweet treat, which subs in real cherries and naturally sweetened cola for the high-fructose version. For a spicier variation, the Borgata Water Club’s Sunbar in Atlantic City uses a similar recipe for pops with root beer and ginger shavings.
Fast Fruity Soft Serve
Cost: $5.79, or $1.45 per serving
Put away the ice-cream machine. This soft serve recipe from Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati of CookingWithTraderJoes.com takes just a few minutes and a blender. Use a food processor or blender to roughly chop one 12-ounce bag of frozen strawberries. Add about two cups of half-and-half and process until the mixture is smooth. Serve immediately, or freeze until hard. Can sub in mango or other frozen fruit as desired.
Mango Peach Passion Smoothie
Cost: $5.94, or $1.49 per serving
The Canyon Breeze Restaurant at the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, makes this fruit-heavy smoothie from one banana, a cup each of frozen mangoes and peaches, a cup of apple juice, a half cup pineapple juice and a quarter cup of orange juice. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Cost: $6.82, or $1.71 per serving
Make use of in-season tomatoes, peppers and other veggies with a chilled gazpacho. Mix chopped parsley, scallions, tomato, bell peppers and cucumber (all quantities to taste) with two cups tomato juice and two tablespoons red wine vinegar. Chill thoroughly before serving. It will be even cheaper if you grow some or all of these ingredients in your own garden.
Chilled Roasted Beet Soup with Mango-Champagne Granita
Cost: $8.41, or $2.10 per serving.
Start this recipe from New York chef Douglas Wasdyke on a cooler summer day — it requires a little oven work: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wash six red beets and place in baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes or until beets are fork tender, then place beets in the fridge to chill. Peel one mango and remove flesh, then puree. In a medium saucepan, bring a half-cup each of sugar and sparkling wine to simmer on low heat. Add in the mango, increase heat to medium and continue cooking until small bubbles begin to form on the edge. Remove from heat and pour into and 8×8 baking dish. Store in freezer over night covered. The next morning, remove the skins from the refrigerated beets. Puree, adding a cup of vanilla yogurt as you go. Serve chilled soup in a chilled bowl, with a spoonful of the granita on top.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.