Refrigerator Quinoa

It’s the week before grocery shopping, and we have odd stuff left in the house. I moved the rice aside yesterday to find a whole trove of quinoa. We had cooked black beans in the frig already from a meal that didn’t quite make it the day before, and there was still corn in the freezer. Thus my refrigerator decided dinner.

Refrigerator Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 an onion, chopped

2/3 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup frozen corn

Salt

Pepper

Lime juice

Cumin

I cooked the quinoa first. Put just the quinoa and the water in a dish, cover, and solar cook till the seeds open up and it looks fluffy. Then put all the remaining ingredients in a baking dish with about one and a half cups of cooked quinoa. Season to taste. I like about a teaspoon of cumin and about a tablespoon of lime juice. Cook in solar cooker until the onions are soft and the corn is defrosted.

Spritz with more lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

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Rating: okay. My nephew wouldn’t touch it. I liked it but not enough to make purposefully again.

I am looking forward to planning some new meals. One bonus of the solar cooker is that I can actually bake this summer! It’s far too hot here to bake inside during the summer, but this year I can bake outside!

Strawberry Dump Cake that almost wasn’t and probably shouldn’t have been

I had a craving for dessert the other night and I found a recipe for a dump cake in the Engine 2 cookbook. It sounded easy and yummy, which are pretty much my current food criteria, so I started to make it, without the sweetner. I got it all the way prepared only to realize that it was well after sunset and thus I had no way to cook it.

Drat. So I put it in the refrigerator and the next morning decided it was too questionable to cook. So I cut up bananas to make another one. The bananas were pink though, which scared me. Are they supposed to get pink spots in the center? Again, I ended up abandoning the batter.

So finally at nap time I made the cake with strawberries and actually got it to the solar cooker. It looked just fine and was finished by snack time. Then the unthinkable happened. My kids wouldn’t eat it. Who doesn’t like cake? It wasn’t sweet, and I guess it was too bland even for them.

Here’s the recipe, in case you want to fix it:

strawberry dump cake

2 cups cut fruit

2/3 cup soy milk

2/3 cup rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything but the fruit together and put it in a baking dish. Add fruit on top and solar bake uncovered for about an hour.

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Rating: blah. Needs sugar or honey or something!

Avocado Pasta

I guess I am a glutton for punishment. Much like my ongoing banana bread tries, I am still trying to get pasta to turn out just right in the solar cooker. It’s not easy, and gluten-free  pasta has it’s own challenges. So, for dinner I tried boiling the water in the solar oven, starting to cook the noodles in it, then bringing it inside to finish. I got close to normal. It was still a bit more al dente then I prefer. I suspect I was too afraid to leave it in long enough for fear I would ruin them. I’ll try this again soon to see how close I can get!

The recipe for the sauce is good and very easy. Thanks to OhSheGlows for it!

Avocado Pasta

Spaghetti noodles for 2 people

1 avocado

1/2 lemon’s worth of juice

1 clove garlic

Pinch salt

2 tsp dried basil

2 Tbsp water

Cook enough pasta for 2 people. I used gluten-free  rice pasta.

To make the sauce, mix the remaining ingredients in the food processor till smooth.

Cover the pasta with the sauce and enjoy! This does not reheat well, so feel free to finish it all 🙂

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Rating: I love the taste and the ease of the recipe! I would recommend this one!

Double Disaster

I wanted to solar cook yesterday. I did. However, I woke up with whatever germ my husband shared with me, and felt like I got hit by a bus. Undeterred though, I climbed to the window to look out, and it was completely cloudy and raining. So much for trying to make BBQ pizza. Better luck tomorrow. Is anyone else put there solar cooking now?

Nachos

I think this is a farewell meal. I didn’t mean for it to be, but I hope it is. We have been trying to become whole food, plant-based eaters for awhile now. Most of it was easy. Meat has never sat well in my tummy (which most likely explains a high school round of vegetarianism). However, we live in the Southwest, which means yummy Mexican food. Really yummy Mexican food. And, invariable, chips to go with it.

I love chips, but the fats, salts, and oils are not to be ignored. They need to go. My parents have decided to take charge of their health too, which means cutting out meat, dairy, sugar, nuts, and oils. I feel inclined to support them by by following suit. My hubby thinks we can use tortillas and potato fries instead. We shall see.

But in meantime, here are solar cooker nachos:

Solar Nachos

Layer the bottom of thebpan with tortilla chips.

Sprinkle them with cooked pinto beans and salsa.

Solar cook till warm and yummy.

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Top with chopped avocado.

Rating: the bottom chips were a bit soggie, but the kids both loved it!

Potato Lentil Stew

I think I have come to the overwhelming realization that I don’t like vegan casseroles. It’s nothing personal. I tried hard to like them. In fact, this meal was supposed to be a casserole. However, I found myself staring at an empty pot and frantically searching pinterest for anything else to put in it.

I believe that the problem lies in the lack of cheese. Without some sort of gooey middle, a casserole is really just your starch piled on beans.

Having said that, I am more than open to being schooled, and if someone has a great vegan casserole that doesn’t require fake stuff (like soy cheese), I am all ears!

Anyway, I stumbled upon several lentil and potato stews, and here is my interpretation:

Potato lentil stew

2 chopped potatoes

2 chopped carrots

1 chopped onion

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 cup green lentils

1.5 cups water

Basil, oregano, and thyme

Salt and pepper

Stir all together. Season to taste. Solar cook covered for 3 hours or until lentils are soft.

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Rating: acceptable. Nothing to write home about, but the seasonings are good. I think I should have cooked mine a bit longer as the carrots were still slightly firm.

Scones

I almost put the title in quotation marks. The solar baking I did yesterday involved a grain – free recipe with a few extra substitutions. It begs the question: at what point is a recipe something completely different then the meal you started out making?

The “scones” are part of my hubby’s GAPS diet, but the question holds for my vegan foods as well. At what point are they bean patties instead of burgers? I’m not sure, but I think I may need to reconsider what I call foods. Case in point, whenever I finally make edible banana bread without gluten, eggs, butter, or sugar, I will probably be forced to rename it.

At any rate, I tried baking two trays of scones yesterday. They took about an hour in the sun oven, and I noticed that the top tray browned nicely while the bottom tray did not. I suspect I should start rotating the trays half way through like you are supposed to do in a conventional oven. They turned out very crumbly, but my long suffering husband loved them. I’m not sure they are actually good, but they seem to make an okay snack.

GAPS SCONES

This recipe began from healthy home happy.com

2 1/2 cups almond flour

Pinch salt

2 eggs

4 T honey

1/3 cup applesauce

2 large strawberries, choppee

Mix together all but the strawberries, then fold the berries in. Shape them into triangular wedges and bake on greased cookie sheets for about an hour.

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Rating: not scones, but edible for what it is. I’m not sure I would recommend it if you are not on GAPS.

Lentil Salad

At the risk of being untruthful, I must immediately confess that I did not cook this in the solar oven. I should have though, and it’s super yummy, so I think it belongs here anyway.

Yesterday I made chili, which I already posted here awhile ago. My husband used the crock pot (for the last time, as it died immediately) to make an amazing lentil salad. The recipe is from the Esselstyn’s book How to Prevent Heart Disease. It could and should have been done in the solar oven, so here is the recipe:

Lentil Salad

2 cups green lentils

4 cups water

1 chopped onion

1 chopped red pepper

Combine the above ingredients and solar cook till the lentils are soft.

Then add in:

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro

2 Tbsp mustard

3 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp dill

Stir and enjoy. It’s good hot or cold!

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Rating: definitely one of the better recipes here. The kids devoured it, and it’s both vegan and GAPS friendly, not to mention gluten-free!

 

Pasta Bake

I’ve been mentally muddling over how to make better solar pasta for awhile. Soaking noodles in solar heated water isn’t giving me the consistency that I want, but I am still afraid to put gluten-free noodles in water for any real period of time due to their general predisposition to turn to mush.

Today I experimented with a slow cooker version of pasta. It was one of the few recipes for cooking pasta that I could find that didn’t involve precooking the noodles so I thought I’d give it a try.

Solar Pasta Bake

Copious amounts of pasta sauce

1/2 cup red lentils

8 oz penne pasta (gluten-free)

Start by putting a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of your dish. Then put a layer of noodles sprinkled with lentils. Repeat. End with a layer of pasta sauce on top. Make sure all noodles are completely covered, otherwise they won’t soften or cook.

My layers:

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I cooked mine covered in the solar cooker for about 3 hours in the morning. I wasn’t careful enough with the top layer of sauce, so I had some uncooked noodles that needed disposed of. Otherwise, it turned out fine.

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Rating: a good first step. The kids ate it and there were plenty of leftovers for lunches. It’s a little bland. It would be better with some veggies mixed in next time! I wonder if this system would work for Mac and cheese?

Easter Bunny Carrot Cake Muffins :)

We were invited out unexpectedly yesterday evening, and our host mentioned that they had made a bunny cake for Easter, but that it was not gluten- free. Never fear, I thought! So I whipped up a small batch of carrot cake cupcakes to complement their bunny cake. I used the Betty Crocker recipe as a guide and then made vegan and gluten-free substitutions:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

1/2 cup sugar (leave this out if restricted)

1 cup applesauce

3 Tbsp flax + 9 Tbsp water

2 cups rice flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch salt

3 cups shredded carrots

Mix all together and bake in solar oven for about 45 minutes in lined muffin pan. I had to put a towel over mine, and some of the tops stuck to it, so I made a glaze from powdered sugar and a bit of almond milk to cover it up. They turned out fun and yummy! Next time I’ll try to curb the sugar more.

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Rating: good and festive, even if not entirely pretty.