I own an elcheapo Betty Crocker blender that I paid only $20.00 for at Home Depot a few years ago.
I hardly use it and it's still packed in its original box. But it DOES do the job.
I mainly used my K'Aid Pearl Metallice Food Processor (KPFP850PM) to pulverise soft foods to mush for gravies and sauces since it's always set up to use at a moment's notice and the Betty Crocker is hard to get at right now.
But I heard that K'Aid is the BETTER blender to get. It costs a pretty penny (about $150.00 or so) though. It was recently redesigned and restyled to look like their newest line of food processors now.
Still, they also have one that's styled after my K'Aid FP, and that costs about $300.00 or so. But I'd go with K'Aid if I were you. I think they are made better than Cuisinart.
Incidently, K'Aid also has their own stick blenders that you might want to try. They are a little bit cheaper than their actual blenders.
Go to Reviews from Epinions
to get the 411 on their latest blenders and stick blenders.