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 350┬░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? ­čÖé

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.

 

 

Jalape├▒o Cilantro Hummus

You know you have officially become a southwestern eater when you put salsa or cilantro on everything. Seriously. Avocados, tortilla chips, jalape├▒os, 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!

Jalape├▒o Cilantro Hummus

1.5 cups cooked garbonzo beans

3 cloves garlic

1 bunch cilantro

1 jalape├▒o, 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 jalape├▒o 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

Almost guacamole

One of the few beans that my husband can/will eat are white beans. So, in the interest of only having to cook as few times as possible, I have been looking for recipes that use white beans so that we can all share them together.

I had friends coming over, so I made a dip out of the white beans with avocado. It was a simple vegetable dip, and rather bland if I am honest. However, you could totally tell that we are from the southwest. Everyone called it guacamole. Now, besides the fact that it was indeed green, it bore no resemblance to the wonderful food that is guacamole. It had no spices. It had no chips. There was no lime in it. Alas, I think next time I will just make guacamole and be done with it!

However, here was the bean dip, thanks to Semi-Homemade Mom:

White bean and avocado dip

1 cup cooked white beans (solar cooked, of course!)

1 avocado

1/2 cup parsley

Juice of one lemon

1 clove garlic (minced)

salt

Solar cook the beans. Then drain them and blend everything in your food processor till smooth. Add more lemon and salt to taste.

Rating: Okay. I added way more lemon and salt then the recipe required. I just couldn’t seem to get the taste to my liking. The parsley was weird. It doesn’t taste and it doesn’t do much more then provide green chunks in the final dip. I think if I did it again, I would just add white beans to a regular guacamole dip recipe, or try to find some sort of white bean hummus recipe.

Thai Red Lentils

I was so excited to try this recipe that a friend recommended. It had all the makings of success for me: 3 ingredients, no real prep, and can be completely cooked in a slow cooker (or solar cooker, in my case).

I am sorry to have waited so long to share my experience here. I guess I needed some space before I was ready to write about it. You see, the recipe calls for lentils, water, and canned tomato sauce mixed with coconut milk and Thai curry paste. I love the smell of Thai red curry paste, and I went out in search of it. Yum. I could almost smell its fragrance in my mind. Then I got to my favorite store and it was discontinued. They didn’t carry it anymore, nor did the regular grocery stores in the area.

I scoured the shelves for sometime and I finally found a substitute that was supposed to be a thai red curry sauce that also contained coconut milk. Score!

So I took it home and mixed everything together and hoped for the best!

Red Curry Lentils

4 cups regular brown lentils

29 oz can tomato sauce

water – fill the empty tomato sauce can twice

1 jar Thai red curry sauce

1 diced onion

Mix all together and solar cook till lentils are done. Garnish with cilantro if you wish.

Rating: this recipe we were really split on. I hated it. My kids loved it. We had some quinoa that they refused to touch but would eat if I put these lentils on them. They ate lentils for days. Actually, you should only make this if you want to eat it for days because it makes ALOT of lentils!

 

 

Quinoa Salad

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I saw this great recipe for a one pot quinoa meal. I have been trying to eat more quinoa, and I hate dishes, so the one pot idea really appealed to me. Plus, it had my favorite food: avocado, tomato, and cucumber. Awesome! Below is the recipe I used. It’s borrowed from Pinterest. Thanks to skinnytaste.com!

Quinoa Salad

1 cup cooked quinoa (cooked in the solar cooker, of course!)

1 can chickpeas

1 tomato, diced

1 cucumber, cut into small pieces

1/8 red onion, diced

juice of 1.5 limes

2 T chopped cilantro

1 avocado, diced

Stir all the ingredients together and serve! I cooked the quinoa outside on a sunny afternoon at about 3:30. It actually worked! I have been having a terrible time getting the cooker to maintain high enough temperatures, but today everything was perfect! (It’s worth mentioning that I would probably have an easier time if I adjusted the cooker more frequently, but come on – it’s hot out there!)

Rating: Culinary wise – success! I loved it, and both kids refused to touch it. Apparently they don’t like quinoa. This is my second try at feeding it to them, and no dice yet. I’m going to make another effort later to see if I can sneak it in though!

It’s all Greek to me!

My immediate apologies to anyone who has had authentic Greek food.

A friend of mine was telling me about some eggplant she had bought for a good price and how she planned to make Moussaka with it. All I could think about was the line from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” about “Moose Caca!”, but she made it sound delicious, so I went home and looked it up. It turns out that Moussaka is a ground meat dish with tomatoes that is topped in a white sauce. I’m not personally a fan of the meat thing, but my husband loves it, and it sounded like we could modify the recipe to be good for him.

So, below is our version. Again, my immediate apologies to anyone who has had authentic Greek food. This is GAPS friendly, and used some substitutes based on what was in our cupboards, so it probably tasted nothing like the real thing. However – it was good!

GAPS Moussaka

2-3 large eggplants – slice in 1/4 inch round slices and salt with kosher salt. Let drain in a colander for an hour.

On the stove:

2 T olive oil

1 diced onion

2 cloves garlic

2 lbs ground beef (you can use lamb too if you are trying to be more authentic)

1.5 C diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

2 T chopped parsley

pinch cinnamon

pinch salt

pinch pepper

Combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, and meat in a skillet and brown the meat, then drain any fat from the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Butter – 3T

Once you have the eggplant drained and the meat sauce made, start layering the two in a pan. Eggplant, then meat sauce, repeat.  Top off with the butter.  Cover and solar cook all afternoon.IMG_20140718_173809470

Rating: I only smelled it, but my hubby insisted it was delicious. Again, my immediate apologies to anyone who has had authentic Greek food. This recipe makes enough to feed about 6 people, so I would only try it if you have some extra room in your refrigerator or are having a party!

strawberry mango crisp

I have been trying all week to make solar peanut butter blossoms, but I keep missing ingredients. First it was the kisses, then it was the flax for the eggs, and then it was overcast and rainy. By this point we had just eaten all the kisses!

So, I rummaged in my freezer and found strawberries and mangos. Nothing says summer like crisp!

Strawberry Mango Crisp

1 cup strawberries

1 cup mango pieces

1 1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 T vegan butter

Put the fruit in the bottom of the bowl. Then mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter. Sprinkle over the fruit. Solar cook covered until warm and bubbly.

It took me over an hour to cook this. I think I am doing something wrong because my oven isn’t getting much above 300┬░F and it is super hot and sunny here. I may try cleaning it to see if this helps.

Rating: yummy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

So, in honor of my cookie binge, I tried to make bar cookies out of peanut butter cookies in the solar oven yesterday. Peanut butter cookies are so fatty and easy, and for awhile they used to be my go-to cookie for when people stopped over. Everyone ate them, and I could have a batch ready in under a half hour.

I got out my recipe book and started cooking, and all I could think about was turning the recipe into peanut butter blossoms. However, I didn’t have any hershey kisses at home, so I had to just make plain bar cookies.

GF/Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax plus 3 Tbsp water)
1 1/4 cups rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Mix the ingredients well and then spread into a parchment-lined baking pan. Bake in a preheated solar oven until done. Mine took about 45 minutes.

Overall, they turned out okay, but they were quite crumbly. I wonder if it’s the vegan butter? I would still make these again, but I would try putting the chocolate kisses in at the end to spice them up.

The downside to all this cookie baking is that we are all eating cookies at my house more often then we probably should. We have already finished off the peanut butter cookies as well as the oatmeal ones from yesterday. Maybe I should try healthy granola bars next or something?

Rating: okay. Crumbly, but my kids loved them ­čÖé

I just had to try this new…wait, I’ve done that before.

I was so excited to cook the pasta and avocado sauce recipe that I had pinned awhile back. ┬áIt’s super-yummy, and ridiculously easy. ┬áAnd, the only heat required is that to cook the pasta. ┬áThis is good, since I have been adverse to hot foods for about 4 weeks now. ┬áSeriously. ┬áIt’s so hot outside, and even though I can solar cook anything, I don’t really want to eat hot foods.

Anyway, I cooked the pasta and started the sauce in the blender.  About 20 minutes later my family had a lovely meal that my kids devoured.  I was so excited to blog about it and share, but it turns out I had already posted it!  Oops!

So anyway, if you get a moment, check out the avocado pasta – it rocks!