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 ūüôā

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!

 

 

 

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

 

Worst cooking experiences of the week

I have tried to post this several times, but I keep having disasters of solar cooking experiments. ¬†Alas, I think this will have to be a “worst of” list instead of a tale of lovely recipes…

Worst cooking events of this week:

4. ¬†We tried to make lentil joes. My husband used the “fire roasted” tomatoes instead of the regular ones and then tried to solar cook it. The lentils did eventually cook, but it took longer than expected and the resulting dinner was spicy!

3.  Tortilla soup Рwe tried to solar cook this with regular diced tomatoes since the fire roasted ones got used the day before. It was overcast on and off all afternoon though, so we ended up cooking it on the stove. Plus, we were unable to make the crispy strips that go on it, so it was bland from beginning to end.

2. Chicken РWe tried to boil a chicken outside in the solar cooker and make broth. However, it is apparently monsoon season. It is really difficult to solar cook in a monsoon. Again, the chicken ended up indoors on the stove.

1. Pumpkin bread РI had made this recipe before in the slow cooker and I wanted to try it outside in the solar oven. I did, and it was awful!  After an hour it was still so under-cooked that it was inedible. 

Weekly rating: disaster.  Better luck next time.  Perhaps I should stick with baking cookies?

Quinoa Surprise

So I had a sweet potato stashed in my cabinet that I was determined to use up before it started to turn brown and smell bad…not that stuff like that happens in my house (often)… ¬†Anyway, I also figured I should get around to using the quinoa that I shelled out for about a month ago and still haven’t cooked. ¬†So, after a brief pinterest search, I basically made up my own recipe.

Quinoa Surprise

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 sweet potato

cinnamon

cumin

salt

pepper

Solar cook the quinoa and water in a glass dish for about 1 hour or until the water is absorbed.  Microwave the sweet potato until mushy.  Mix all ingredients together and season to taste.

I didn’t start early enough with my solar cooking. ¬†I thought I could cook after 4:30, but apparently I was wrong. ¬†After a half hour of solar cooking, my quinoa was still just sitting there. ¬†So I finished it off in the microwave. ¬†

The result was edible, but not much more.  My older son refused to eat it.  I may have to put syrup on it tomorrow to see if that helps.

Rating: A good idea gone bad.  I think some changes could help, but as is, I would not make this again.

Zucchini Chips

I have been reading more vegan cookbooks, and there were a few new dishes that I wanted to try out. ¬†At least two of them were snacks. ¬†Snacks are a little hard once you quit eating processed foods, and to be honest, our house eats an insane amount of raisins. ¬†(Seriously – we can’t keep them in the house no matter how many I buy.) ¬†So, in the interest of eating something new, we decided to try out the solar cooker with some zucchini chips. ¬†According to the book (Thrive) they are¬†a tasty snack made entirely from cut zucchini. ¬†Perfect! ¬†(They are on sale, at least….)

Zucchini Chips

2 cut zucchini

salt

thyme

basil

oregano

I laid the zucchini strips on a parchment paper lined tray and sprinkled them with the seasonings.  The recipe called for cooking them for 30 minutes, but I had mine out there for an hour.  My oven was sitting at about 300 degrees.

And… they were mushy. ¬†I suspect this is supposed to be a high temperature recipe, and it just didn’t translate well at lower temperatures. ¬†They zucchini were edible, but not particularly tasty. ¬†I’m a bit bummed, to be honest.

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Rating: ¬†Not recommended. ¬†Snack on baby carrots instead ūüôā

Cupcakes

I couldn’t just leave those lovely packages of cupcake mix alone. I know they were supposed to be for the canceled birthday party, but they looked so yummy! I had to try them!

I had the Bob’s Red Mill chocolate cake mix, and I made it according to the directions for cupcakes. I preheated my solar cooker (which only got up to 300¬įF) and tried to bake them.

I must have something wrong. It took over an hour to bake one small tray of cupcakes. I did manage to finish two trays, but that is only 12 cupcakes and it took me about 4 hours. Perhaps I am angling it incorrectly?

My husband made squash afterwards and got it up to 350¬įF in the late afternoon sun, so it is probably just me…

Rating: mushy cupcakes. I will have to try again later.

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 ūüôā

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!