Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

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

Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

1.5 cups cooked garbonzo beans

3 cloves garlic

1 bunch cilantro

1 jalapeño, 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 jalapeño 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

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Broccoli and White Bean Penne

Yum… garlic. We love Italian-inspired dishes that are rich in sauces, pasta, and garlic! I feel like having a glass of red wine just thinking about it. Here’s a versatile dish that the kids love and adults will eat.

I originally found a similar recipe online (I can’t remember where) and changed it a bit to be able to solar cook it. The noodles I boiled on the stove indoors, but the beans and sauce I cooked in the solar oven.

Broccoli and White Bean Penne

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced

1 or 2 cups cooked white beans

16 oz cooked penne

Large jar red pasta sauce

1 or 2 crowns broccoli, chopped

Cook the garlic, onion, and beans in the solar cooker till soft ( about an hour). Then stir in the pasta sauce and return to the sun oven till heated through. Indoors, cook the penne. Add the broccoli to the cooking pasta for the last few minutes till it is tender. Drain pasta and broccoli. Stir in the sauce with the beans. Enjoy!

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Rating: easy and good. Very kid-friendly and reheats well. I always use gluten-free pasta, so it is a gluten-free meal.

I have to say, spaghetti dishes like this are some of my favorite dinners. You can hide anything in them (pureed spinach, lentils, broccoli, etc.) and kids love them! I think this will be our lunch for the next day or two.

Oops…

You know, one of the very few drawbacks of solar cooking is that you have to cook before 3:30 most days. After that the sun just isn’t direct enough to cook anything. I know it sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many nights I want to make cookies only to remember that I can’t cook late.

Yesterday I was going to make a pasta dish. But then nap time extended till I finally fell asleep and when I woke up at 3:30, it was too late to even cook the noodles.

So, I flipped some menu items around and made the portobello fajita recipe from the Engine 2 book. It took maybe 15 minutes, and if I had to do it again with a working solar cooker, I would have served it with a side of rice. It was so good, I feel the need to share the recipe.

Portobello Mushroom Fajitas

2 portobello mushrooms, cut into thick strips

1/2 onion, cut in thin strips

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1/2 jalapeño, minced

Begin by cooking the mushroom in a large skillet with water. After about 3 minutes, add in the onion. About 2 minutes later add in the peppers. Cook till the onions soften.

Serve on corn tortillas with sides of salsa, refried beans, and guacamole. Serves about 3 people.

My kids and husband adored this. I tried to get a picture, but they ate so fast that everything was gone. Seriously, everything. Here is all I could get:

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Rating: excellent and easy. I should have made more, and will definitely do this again!

Chips

We did a family charity run yesterday morning, which was followed closely by one of my kid’s scheduled classes. I ran home in between and frantically tried to find something for lunch. We were out of leftovers, and I hadn’t put anything in the solar cooker to make. Thankfully, I did leave the solar oven outside, so it was hot. (They tell you not to do this, by the way. I see why too. Mine was up to 375 degrees!)

Since it was so nicely preheated, I took a pizza wheel to some corn tortillas in the frig and threw them onto a cookie sheet. I solar cooked them for maybe 15 minutes. The result was some lovely tortilla chips that had no oils!

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I served them with some refried beans and salsa and sliced fruit. It was yummy and tasted better than fast food!

Rating: a nice alternative to store chips. We will be doing this again!

Yummy Banana Bread!

Shout it from the hilltops, folks! I finally made an edible and yummy banana bread! This was my third or fourth try, so it was about time!

I quit trying to use sourdough, and on the advice of The Allergy Free Cookbook, I added pineapple. Yum! I will get right to it because I am so excited to share 🙂

Banana Bread

6 Tbsp applesauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp flax + 6 Tbsp water

3 bananas

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Cream all of the above. Then add in the dry ingredients below:

3 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups rice flour

1 tsp xanthum gum

Finally, fold in:

6 oz pineapple, crushed and drained

1/3 cup raisins

Bake for an hour in solar oven on parchment lined baking pans. Makes 2 loaves.

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Rating: so good. My nephew ate almost an entire loaf by himself, and he’s my selective eater. Try some!

Quinoa Cookie Pucks

I guess I have to add to the mantra – it’s pinterest’s fault! I found a cute recipe (I won’t name names) for quinoa banana cookies, and since I had both on hand, I figured why not?

So, some cooked quinoa, rice flour, one banana, and some honey later I had these lovely cookie pucks. They are great for throwing, stacking, or putting in the bottom of flower arrangements.

I would not, however, recommend eating them.

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They did solar cooked nicely though. I am enjoyong having the ability to bake even when it is hot out.

Rating: yuck. Having said that, my kids ate 12 of them, so they are apparently edible, just not tasty.

 

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!

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!