Mexican Rice Soup

I have been trying a few recipes from Forks over Knives recently. Usually they turn out okay, but this one I found to be surprisingly tastey.

It bills itself as a soup, but it is really more of a stew, and like most Mexican food, it is great with avocado, chips, and salsa!

Mexican Rice Soup

1 chopped onion

2 tsp garlic powder

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

6 cups water

1 cup brown rice, uncooked but toasted (to toast just brown slightly in a pan on the stove)

1 cup black beans (cooked)

1 cup pinto beans (cooked)

1 Tbsp chili powder

Salt

Pepper

Mix together and solar cook for several hours, covered.

Serve with salsa, avocado, chips, or your other favorite sides!

IMG_20140528_162435568Rating: good! I will make this one again sometime.

 

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Saved by the Potluck

I have the sweetest grandmother. She doesn’t do the internet, so she won’t be reading this, but she is extremely thoughtful. Last week she sent me an envelope of recipes that she thought I might like. I decided to try to make the baked ziti recipe that was in top.

Right away I had some reservations. The original recipe called for several ingredients that we don’t eat, so there was going to have to be a fair number of substitutions.

I decided to try to make the sauce from tofu and butternut squash to go on the gluten-free noodles. I have all of those things handy, so it seemed to make the most sense. I got out the squash, cut it into pieces, and placed it in my solar oven.

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Two hours later I took it inside and began scooping out the seeds only to find that they had sprouted!

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Disaster! The squash would have tasted awful. As I was scraping it into the compost bin, I was lucky enough to receive an invite to a friend’s house for a potluck. Just in time!

So thank you to Sarah for saving our dinner, and thank you to Grandma for thinking of us, even of I didn’t manage to make your ziti.

Sharing

When you get married you have to learn to share. You share a house, desserts at restaurants, pool towels, etc. Now that we are doing so much solar cooking, I have to add solar cooker to the list.

Today, my husband wanted to cook a chicken and make chicken broth (he’s GAPS, so no vegan fare for him).  It’s simple enough to do – just put a whole chicken in water with whatever spices you like and leave it to cook, covered, for a few hours.  The problem, though, with sharing something like this is that it means that someone doesn’t get to bake. By the time we have preheated the oven and the cookware and then finished cooking the chicken, it is too late to cook much of anything else.

Oh well. Better luck tomorrow. Maybe what we really need to consider is a second oven?

Tough, I Mean Teff

As usual, I never meant to make teff at our house. (For those of you not familiar, teff is an African grain.) I had wanted to make injera, which is the spongey bread used to eat Etheopian food. It is made from teff flour, which is happily gluten-free. So, I got on Amazon and ordered some teff flour, and tried to ferment it to make the bread.

The only problem was that my teff kept sprouting instead of fermenting! Low and behold, I had ordered whole teff instead of the flour. So, I figured I should learn to cook with it since I now had four bags!

It turns out it is easy to cook. One part teff plus four parts water is the proportion and you cook it the same way you make rice. I like to put some in the crock pot overnight and eat some for breakfast.

Solar Teff

1 cup teff

4 cups water

1 cup banana puree

Mix together and then put in solar cooker for 3-4 hours until the water is absorbed.

Eat it like oatmeal with berries and milk on top. It has a flavor somewhat like malt-o-meal.

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Rating: good. We will be having this for breakfast a few days this week. The banana makes it sweeter, which the kids like.

 

Rice

I know! I am a bit behind in posting this. But never fear, I am continuing to solar cook!

I made awesome fajitas yeaterday, but as they are a grill item, all I could imagine to solar cook was the rice side. And, unlike the last two times I have attempted rice, I actually watched it and brought it inside before it got too crunchy!

For the record, brown rice in the solar oven seems to take me about 2 hours. I’m hoping it will take less time as the oven heats up more during the summer heat.

Rating : yum! Check out my portobello fajitas recipe for full details!

Cookies At Last!

It’s so frustrating for me to go several days without having anything edible emerge from my solar cooker! I decided to take the day and make something safe: cookies!

Peanut butter cookies to be exact. I followed the Betty Crocker recipe with vegan and gluten-free substitutes. The batter was delicious! I have to admit that I ate probably half of it before it got the the cooker. Never fear though – I did manage to cook some of the cookies!

Gf Solar Peanut Butter Cookies

1 stick vegan butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1Tbsp flax + 3 Tbsp water

1 1/4 cups rice flour

1 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch salt.

Cream the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients. Drop onto parchment-lined tray and flatten with a fork to make the crisscross pattern on the top.

Solar bake till done. For me it was about 30 minutes because my oven was only sitting at around 300°F.

 

The cookies came out a little on the dry side, and definitely more crumbly then I would have liked, but my kids still loved them and polished them off before their father got home!

Rating – okay. Cookies are good, but I need to make these a bit less crumbly.

Mush Muffins

I cannot believe the number of posts I have made recently where the best description of the food is mush. I wonder if I am doing something fundamentally wrong in my cooking?

True to my word, I made a new batch of muffin batter using the banana oat recipe from the other day. I used rice flour instead of wheat flour, but otherwise the recipe was the same. I poured it into the muffin tin again, positioned it in the preheated solar oven, and waited patiently until the toothpick came out clean (which took almost an hour).

I pulled them out to cool and it was clear immediately that the insides were undercooked. However the tops were done and I didn’t feel that more time in the oven would help. I thought maybe they would solidify as they cooled…

Nope. The recipe is a complete dud. I won’t waste the space posting it here. I am sorry to say that we made wonderful banana oat compost.

I am on a muffin kick though, so seriously, if you have a favorite recipe, post it in the comments! I’ll vegan it up and try it out in the solar cooker. You can even get a review in your name 🙂

Batter Up

So, remember that oat muffin batter I was saving from yesterday? I had it in the refrigerator overnight, and this morning I preheated the oven and poured it back into my trusty muffin tin. Then, as I started for the door, I took a quick lick of some of the batter that had landed on the side of the pan.

Holy alcoholic batter! I couldn’t bring myself to actually bake them, as I didn’t want to poison anyone!

I think this may turn our like my banana bread saga. Apparently I am not meant to bake with bananas. Tune in tomorrow as I make one more valiant effort to bake some banana out muffins!

If you have a great muffin recipe you want tries in the solar oven, please feel free to post it here! I’d love to try something new!

Mushy Muffins

Once again, I found this wonderful banana oat muffin recipe on pinterest. I really wanted to bake something edible, and this looked well above that standard.

I mixed up the batter, poured it into my muffin tin with liners, and popped it into my preheated solar oven.

However, it was 3:30 PM. I thought that maybe with the increased sumer heat I would be able to eak out a few more cooking rays.

No suck luck. While I did get the muffins into a 300° F oven, I was not able to sustain the temperature long enough. I ended up with mush.

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I will post the recipe if I can manage to make these edible. I put the extra batter into the refrigerator to try again tomorrow.

For those of you new to solar cooking, please remember that if your muffin tin is shiny like mine, then you need to out a black, cotton towel over it when baking so that you aren’t reflecting the sun’s rays back out.

Rating: usual disaster. Better luck tomorrow!

Gourmet Dog Treats

I love cookies. There is nothing so good as a portable bite of sugar and yumminess. You can munch them, freeze them, share them, or horde them. They really are great.

I thought I’d try to make peanut butter cookies today. They take only a few ingredients and cook fast. Plus I have lots of peanut butter in the house.

Of course, I tried to make them healthy, so I lessened the sugar content substantially. Then I baked them in the preheated solar oven for about 20 minutes per tray.  They baked up fine, though a bit crumbly, and I was excited to taste one! The batter tasted great!

However, as is often the case at my house, the cookies were not so great. As it turns out, without adequate sweetener, peanut butter cookies are very bland. And I did not adequately clean the cooker after my husband cooked his chicken in it yesterday.  The result: bland peanut butter and chicken cookies. Yuck!

I was sad about losing out on the cookies until another friend suggested that I rename them and call them gourmet dog biscuits! So smart! My dog loves them!

Gourmet dog biscuits

(I am not a vet, so if these make your dog sick, don’t feed them to him or her)

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp flax +3Tbsp water

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups rice flour

Cream all ingredients. Drop onto cookie sheet and press lightly with a fork. Bake in chicken- smelling solar oven for about 20 minutes.

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Rating: terrible for people, but my doggie loved them!