Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s been a cookie week. My mom came on Tuesday, so I made oatmeal raisin cookies (the good kind) to harold her arrival. The next day was preschool, and I couldn’t be caught with no cookies on hand, so I quickly whipped up a batch of peanut butter cookies in the solar oven while the kids napped.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, today my son decided that he wanted to cook with his Nana, so they tried their hand at solar baking. It was really sweet. I preheated the oven while they used an oatmeal cookie mix (Pamela’s maybe?) and substituted apple sauce for the butter and used flax for the egg. They had bought raisins and dried cranberries, so they added those to the mix and made a pan of bar cookies.

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The oven stayed at 350Ā°F, and in about 25 minutes we had cookies! I was proud of them for being willing to try out the solar oven, as it was new for both of them. They both said it was easy and everyone enjoyed the cookies. I’d post the recipe, but it was the one from the bag.

Maybe this solar cooking will become a family affair? What do you think – solar ovens for Christmas? šŸ™‚

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

God bless my friend Sarah. She tries so hard to accommodate all of our food preferences. This week, she made gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies with almond flour. They were wonderful! She gave me the recipe and assured me that they were easy to make.

So, being the optimist I am, I took the recipe home and looked it over. It was simple enough, and I knew that I could solar cook it easily in the summer heat. Then I did what I always do – I changed half of the ingredients. After all, why use an egg when you can use flax? And who needs butter when you can use coconut oil? And while you are at it, we can probably substitute rice flour for almond flour because I just ran out of almond flour.

And, of course, what you would imagine would happen did. I made oatmeal pucks. They had so many substitutions that they did not turn into proper cookies. The only thing I can say for them is that they made wonderful batter that my kids loved šŸ™‚

Next time I try this recipe with some of the correct ingredients, I’ll post the recipe!

Apple Chips 2.0

I am a glutton for punishment. For those of you who were around for my many different banana bread trials, you know what I mean. Now, I am facing the same challenge with apple chips. I will conquer!

They seem so easy – and the recipe is the same.

Slice thin, bake for 1 hour on each side and then let sit for 1 hour with the oven off to crisp.

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I tried these again today, and I made something more akin to a partially dehydrated apple ring. They were sweet, and a little chewy, and my husband loved them. However, they are not apple chips.

Expect to see another apple post at a later time!

Chocolate Cookies

Someone posted in one of my mom’s groups a blogger who has great vegan, gluten-free, recipes. I have tried a few of them and loved them all, so when I saw her cookie recipe, I was psyched! It had very little sugar, and used oats for flour. Plus, as you probably have already gathered, I’m a sucker for sweets. Chocolate is a food group in our house.

It’s been raining here quite a bit with the monsoons, so I had to wait almost a week to get a day that was sunny enough at a time when I could cook. Finally I found a day, preheated the solar oven, and made the cookies!

Chocolate Cookies (original blame goes to OHSHEGLOWS )

1 flax egg (1T flax + 3 T water)

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups oats processed into flour

nondairy milk if needed to moisten batter

chocolate chips

Preheat your solar cooker. Mix the ingredients together in the order listed. Drop onto parchment lined baking sheet and then flatten into little patties. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

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Rating: Terrible. Seriously – they were dry, needed more sugar, and a waste of perfectly good chocolate. Next time I will just munch on the chocolate chips and be done with my chocolate craving!

 

 

 

Outdoor Potato Skillet

We have a nice wholesale vegetable and fruit wholesale group here. For something like $15, you get a basket of assorted fruits and vegetables that are supposed to be worth $50 retail. I don’t think it’s quite as good a deal as they advertise, but the food is good, and it is a savings. The catch is that you never know what you will get. So some weeks you get your basket and end up Googling the picture of your fruit to try to figure out what it is, or you spend time trying to Pinterest a kumquat recipe.

This week we got all easy identifiable foods, which was good. Our basket included several potatoes. I decided to see if I could solar cook the vegan equivalent of a western skillet. Potatoes take forever to cook on the stove or in the oven, so I left them to solar cook while we went to church. I was happily welcomed home to a cooked potato lunch!

Potato Skillet

2 potatoes, cubed

salt and pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

Mix together all the ingredients in a glass dish, moisten with some water, and cover. Solar cook for a few hours until the potatoes are all soft.

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Rating: Okay. I added lentils the next day and served it to the kids with ketchup. They loved it, although they love anything with ketchup. You don’t get the crispy fried outer skin to the potatoes that you would get if you did a traditional skillet, but it was a good all the same.

 

 

JalapeƱo Cilantro Hummus

You know you have officially become a southwestern eater when you put salsa or cilantro on everything. Seriously. Avocados, tortilla chips, jalapeƱos, and cilantro are shopping list staples around here.

Not surprisingly, I went out to eat the other night and fell in love with the most delicious hummus ever. It was smooth and spicy (and green!), and I ate way too much of it. So, I had to try to make some at home.

I don’t cook with oils, so the texture is a little different from traditional hummus, but the taste is awesome!

JalapeƱo Cilantro Hummus

1.5 cups cooked garbonzo beans

3 cloves garlic

1 bunch cilantro

1 jalapeƱo, chopped and seeded

Juice of one lime

Salt

Water

Solar cook the garbonzo beans and let them cook. In the food processor, process the garlic and jalapeƱo until finely cut. Add the cilantro and repeat. Then add in the beans and lemon juice. Slowly process while adding in water until you get the right consistency. It will be a bit more grainy then traditional hummus. Enjoy!

Rating: yummy! I love it with fresh veggies, but if you eat gluten, it would be food with pita too!IMG_20140810_115546346

Apple Chips

I am desperately trying to get out of my anti-cooking funk. It’s hard to get excited about hot food when it is so hot!

I thought I found the answer this morning when I stumbled upon a recipe in a magazine for apple chips. It was dead easy, and you ate them cooled, so they actually sounded appealing to me!

The recipe called for you to slice thin strips of apple and then bake them for an hour on each side (2 hours of baking total) then to cool them in the oven for another hour. Easy, right?! What could go wrong?

Apparently everything. I overcooked my chips on the first side and they never recovered. I was left with a burned apple mess. And in the process of assessing the Burnes chopnaituatikn I decided to move the cooker out of the sun. This, of course, woke up 2 sleeping children. Bad times.

Never fear! I will try these again and pay better attention!IMG_20140807_200606209

 

Answers!

I had this vision that cooking in the summer here would be a breeze. Afterall, it’s almost hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk. I can’t go walking or jogging anytime after about 5 AM for fear of getting heat stroke. Shouldn’t that make for excellent solar cooking?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, it doesn’t make for great solar cooking. I have actually had a really rough summer with cooking outdoors. For starters, it’s hot. Too hot to be standing outdoors, and too hot to eat hot food. In fact, it’s so hot I haven’t wanted to cook at all. I have kept up my solar cooking promise – I haven’t cooked indoors in an oven at all, but I have stopped inventing reasons to use it if my dinner doesn’t require it.

Then there is the angle issue. The solar cooker is naturally angled at about 75 degrees from the horizontal, which is great most of the year. However, right now our sun is directly overhead. It has taken me weeks to figure out that the reason my oven isn’t getting as hot as it should is that it isn’t pointing directly upwards. I finally solved this with the help of some bricks, so at least the technical part of cooking is improving.

Hopefully I will find a good bread recipe to try outside soon. In the last few days I have made beans, chicken, and rice. None of them were exciting enough to photograph.

Here’s to hoping it cools off enough soon to cook more!