Wednesday, March 30

Stuffed Chicken Thighs, Penne Pasta & Red Bell Pepper-Tomato Sauce

There were only three thighs (oh, dear, try saying that fast, five times!) and it took some thinking but I was able to make a meal that would feed four. Well, two people having seconds, anyway. First of all, these were heavier chicken thighs than normal and weighed in at just under 3/4s of a pound, bone in. Adding penne pasta and my roasted red bell pepper-tomato-onion-okra combination from last year's garden helped complete what turned out to be a seriously delicious meal. "Oh, my's," were uttered from first to last bite. Love that sound. If you want to add chicken legs, as well, do so but only use the thighs for stuffing.  So good I've shared with the folks at Prairie Story Recipe Swap Thursday.
This takes a little more effort than most recipes, but it's well worth it. Both the sauce and the stuffing can be made the day before and will keep in the refrigerator, a day or two, until you're ready to use it. On the day of actually preparing the dish, make the penne pasta about 30 minutes before chicken thighs are finished baking in solar oven.

Friday, March 25

Solar Cooking Drops Energy Bill $760 a Year!

Well, it's that time of year, for me, again, and I'm delighted with the difference solar cooking has made in my electric bill. As you can see, I'm on a budget cycle that has been $199 a month and it's now down to $135+ a month. The high blocks in the summer are from using my pool (wow, that takes a lot of energy!)

In North Carolina, we have 272 available days for solar cooking. Does that mean I cook every day? Absolutely not; but, whenever I'm in the mood and there's available sun, I do, and that has resulted in this reduction. And, during this past year, Progress Energy swapped out my meter three times because they said it wasn't registering enough usage based on some average they use for homeowners.

Sunday, March 20

Solar Creamed Beef Burger Stew in No-Knead Bread Bowl

Creamed Beef Burger, Lima Bean & Green Pea Stew in No-Knead Bread Bowl
Kind of a funky few days here and these are the months of using up all of last year's garden vegetables. With my recent schedule, I hadn't the time to bake fresh bread and, yesterday, decided I simply had to make some more No-Knead Bread. But, I wanted to try something a little different from the last batch. Why not bread bowls? That way I can combine the veggies and not worry about the 'dunkin' and 'suckin' part at the end of the meal! Just cut bite-sized pieces from the bread bowl that has already absorbed all the delicious flavors -- yes, I'm on to something. This recipe has also been entered in the Fat Camp Fridays link at Mangoes & Chutney. When it's this good, you gotta share!

I'm going to put the recipe down based on my frozen, canned, and dehydrated vegetables from last year; but, you can substitute frozen and canned items that should make it taste close to the same as mine -- although, not garden fresh.

Friday, March 11

Solar-Baked Pepperoni Lasagna - Silky Smooth

Silky Smooth Pepperoni Lasagna
Sometimes you just want an entree to melt in your mouth, yet, still have a personality that keeps you coming back for more. Well, that's what happened when I created this recipe. Didn't even have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles. How's that for a lazy approach to good eating! The trick is to go the extra mile and incorporate a creamy bechamel sauce in the layers. Served with some crusty Artisan Bread and a fine bottle of your favorite red wine, you'll be singing O Sole Mio before the night's over; I promise!

Friday, March 4

Solar Ground Beef Cup with Green Peas and Shitake Mushroom Gravy

Ground Beef Cup with Peas and Shitake Mushroom Gravy
I've finally had a chance to try out my new reversible baking pan -- you know, the one that will either bake cupcakes or create a cup for filling? (see below) Well, I'm here to tell you that it worked, just as promised, and I love the way it sent my head in 800 different directions for future entrees! (Now, that's an image for nightmares; right?)  In addition to creating some beautiful table eye-candy, these cups double as a great method of portion control. If you want more, you have to take another big cup -- and that would slow down all but the most intrepid diner.

To forewarn you, I' ve generally never trusted the protein value of ground beef, alone, and feel compelled to enhance it, whenever possible. This savory mix includes chopped pecans, blueberries, quinoa -- well, you get the idea. The finished cup results in exactly a one-half cup portion (I used my 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to dish it out) and the inside cup will hold just under 1/2 cup of veggies. Because my meat mixture is chock full of seasonings and the side dish of Creamed Sauerkraut works equally well as a counterpoint, I wanted to use peas as a calming taste (you can use your own favorite), cooled off by the raw carrot curls. Basically, I wanted to brighten up another beige landscape.
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