Friday, September 23

Stacking and Sealing in Solar Cooking - Video

Here's a new YouTube Video I've made to help people see how easy it is to double their recipes, stack the meals in their solar oven and feed tonight's hungry people and freezing a second dinner for later. Visit here or, if it's easier to click over to YouTube, there. Stacking and Sealing in Solar Cooking

Monday, September 19

Cheese Enchilada Pie with Chile con Pollo

When you have roasted chicken available in 8oz. packets in your freezer, it makes coming up with new recipes so much fun. Don't know why, but I'm in the mood for peppers in my cooking and needed to have something tasty for the market, too. With round flour tortillas, I knew I was facing a reversed square-peg-in-a-round-hole moment, and decided to use my tortillas flat in those throw-away foil pans! Ta da! Why never before? I don't know. Just too late schmartte, I guess. Result? A delicious entree and easy clean-up. 

Preheat solar oven to 225F. Have four round 9" baking pans ready. They will hold two tortillas, each.

Solar-Baked Cheese Enchilada Pie with Chile con Pollo

8 oz pre-cooked chicken, finely chopped
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, roasted and chopped
2 Tablespoon oil/lard
1 large onion, chopped
1 10oz can chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon anise
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mole
1 Tablespoon corn starch
Salt to taste
Eight small flour tortillas
2.5 cups of mixed grated cheeses of your choice
1 medium sweet onion, chopped


Over high heat, in heavy dry skillet, roast large pieces of red bell pepper for one or two minutes or until charred and softened. Remove to chopping board. Add oil/lard to skillet and when hot, add chopped onion. Meanwhile, chop pepper pieces; add to skillet when onions are translucent; stir and cook until softened and onions begin to darken. Stir in chopped chicken. Combine all dry ingredients, add to skillet mixture and blend thoroughly. Add chicken stock; cook until stock begins to boil. Remove to large mixing bowl to cool slightly. Puree in processor or use immersion blender.

Heat tortillas in steamer or microwave, just to soften. In bottom of baking pan(s), spread 1/2 cup of puree over bottom, add tortilla. Using half of grated cheese mix, divide and spread over tortillas; spread 1/2 cup puree over cheese. [NOTE: If easier for you, use a small mixing bowl to combine puree with cheese and then arrange evenly over tortillas]. Add another warmed tortilla, cover with puree, divided in four, top with evenly divided cheese and chopped sweet onion.

Bake in solar oven until cheese has browned, approximately 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool just a bit, then serve in wedges. Goes great with black beans, yellow rice, and a sweet banana pepper to crunch on.

[NOTE:  This was a test run cooked in the solar oven on Thursday. Unfortunately, Saturday dawned with non-stop rain. The vendors were there but the visitors stayed away in droves. I set the oven up for discussion, only. But, this is definitely a demo meal, too.  I hope you'll try it because it's even more delicious than I anticipated and I just know you're going to love it, too.


Monday, September 12

Solar Baked Vegetarian Spaghetti

No question, I'm a pasta lover -- no, wait -- I'm a solar-baked pasta lover! And, it's no surprise to anyone that I enjoy a good steak. That being said, I also know that I have vegetarian and vegan followers who do so because they are fascinated by solar cooking and they can adapt my recipes to vegetarian (vegan takes a little more work) by using a vegetable stock base and removing the meat protein. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy a vegetable pizza or lasagna, and often do. Reading a recent entry from one of my favorite bloggers, Penny at Penniless Parenting, featuring a vegan meat substitute recipe, was just the inspiration needed for me to try to create a solar-baked spaghetti for my vegetarian friends. Of course, I had to substitute some ingredients, so I've included the link to her recipe for a true vegan experience. Make them both and decide for yourself!

It's important for you to know that, because I love the taste of meat, meat substitutes rarely satisfy me. That has changed with Penny's recipe and my adaptations. The meat substitute was as delicious as any crumbled hamburger I've ever made and it even fooled my Gentleman Caller. And, just like Penny says, this is not the most attractive ingredient -- but, the flavor is fantastic! Double the recipe and freeze portions to have ready for another meal, or two.

Solar Baked Vegetarian Spaghetti
1# pre-cooked spaghetti
1-1/2 cups cooked green lentils
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced and fried dark (reserve 1/3 cup onions when soft)
2 cups zucchini, diced and fried dark
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped and fried dark
2 medium cloves garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt to taste
1 cup ground pecans (toasted, is better)
10 ounces diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon stevia
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1-1/2 cups grated cheeses of your choice

Directions: Preheat solar oven to 225F. Prepare pasta and set aside in large mixing bowl. Combine with diced tomatoes, basil, stevia, parsley, oregano, and reserved soft-sauteed onions. Prepare lentils. (1 cup dry lentils will give you 1-1/2 cup cooked lentils)

Have another large mixing bowl ready. In heavy skillet over medium-high heat, fry onions in olive oil (removing 1/3 cup when onions are soft to mix with tomatoes and pasta) until dark and carmelized. Remove to large mixing bowl with slotted spoon. Fry zucchini and mushrooms, separately, until dark and add to onions. Fry garlic until soft and just beginning to brown and add to mixture. Add lentils, ground nuts, sage, mustard, and blend with food processor or immersion blender.

Layer spaghetti mixture in baking pan, spread 'meat' mixture in thin layer over top; add another pasta layer, another 'meat' layer, top with final pasta layer. Spread shredded cheese over all. Bake in solar oven for approximately 55 to 75 minutes. [NOTE: If you don't want your cheese to get so dark during cooking, cover the spaghetti with a piece of tin foil for the first half of baking, then remove foil and spread the grated cheese over top. Return to solar oven and continue baking for approximately 35 minutes or until cheese just begins to brown.] 

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 5

Drunken Kielbasa Chutney at Midtown Market

The sun played hide-and-seek early morning at the Midtown Market and didn't stay out for good until just a little after 9:20.  Then, the day warmed up, the sun shone bright, and folks were sampling my solar Kielbasa Chutney by 10:30 a.m. There were many inquiries and brochures flew off the table, so I think the word is out that there's a strange lady at North Hills and she cooks food using the sun's energy! I loved the way this meal turned out; but, for home consumption, I would serve the kielbasa in either two-inch pieces or oval coins to make it more attractive. The combination of veggies, fruit, herbs and spices was delicious and most of the male samplers got seconds and thirds. I played with the focus for this picture to highlight the chutney rather than the sliced peppers and cottage cheese with paprika sides.

Drunken Kielbasa Chutney
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 medium cabbage head, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large apple, peeled and diced
2 medium peaches, peeled and diced
1 pound polish kielbasa, diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark beer
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 Tablespoons corn starch

Directions: Preheat solar oven to 225F.  Place diced sweet potatoes in oven-proof dish and microwave on high for two minutes to soften. Chop and dice all veggies and fruit and put in large mixing bowl. Combine all dry spices with corn starch and then stir into veggies and fruit to thoroughly coat all pieces. Put diced kielbasa in separate bowl. In heavy skillet over med-high heat, melt butter with brown sugar, stir in beer, mustard, and chicken stock. Stir in sweet potatoes; add veggie-fruit mixture and let cook for three or four minutes; stir in diced kielbasa. Pour into baking dish and cover. Bake in solar oven 60 - 70 minutes.

This could be served over rice or as a bed under long pieces of the kielbasa and a fresh salad as a side. Try it and let me know what you think.

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