Saturday, December 31

Solar Turkey Burritos and Gravy - Holiday Leftovers

When you're gifted with a holiday turkey carcass that still has plenty of meat on it, you can do more than just make stock and soup. You can create another meal. And, for my Turkey Burritos, I did start with making the stock to get all that luscious turkey meat off the bone. Broken in half, placed in a 4-qt stock pot  along with rough-chopped celery, carrots, and onions, 1 tsp salt, a mixture of chopped rosemary, parsley, thyme, and oregano from my garden, it was covered with at least an inch of hot water. Popped on the cover and, then, into the solar oven at 10:30 am for a day of slow simmering. By 4:30 pm, it was time to bring the stock inside to cool. I used the turkey schmaltz to make the gravy.

Solar Turkey Burritos

2 cups finely chopped cooked turkey
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped (bulb and 3/4 of green stems)
7 medium fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh finely chopped ginger
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 beaten egg
4 10" flour tortillas
2 cups turkey gravy

While solar oven is preheating, finely chop above ingredients and place them into a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, salt, pepper, and corn starch, with beaten egg; add to ingredients in large mixing bowl and thoroughly blend together. Divide mixture into quarters.

Place 1/4 mix just right of center of tortilla, shaping into long roll.

Fold over short sides and then bring down short edge over top of mixture; then, roll toward longer edge and place seam side down in 8x8x2 pan. See alternate directions on folding a burrito.

Pour turkey gravy over burritos. Cover with tin foil and place in solar oven for 1.5 hours or until burritos have plumped up and gravy is bubbling.

  From the doubled-recipe of solar butternut squash, I had the perfect accompaniment for the turkey burrito, and cool celery sticks offset the hot pepper. A great ending for holiday leftovers, don't you think?

Best of all, there was enough turkey meat for some hearty turkey soup and stock to freeze for future meals. What did you do with your leftovers?

Wednesday, December 28

Solar Brownie Cake With Fig-Raspberry Filling

Company coming and you need something sweet to end the meal? Dress up a brownie mix with a cheese-jam filling and your guests will be delighted with the result. This super-easy dessert was made possible by using two eggs in a brownie mix to achieve a more cake-like texture and then pouring it all into a 9"x13" pan for thin layers.

Cheese Filling: 8oz of Neufchatel cheese, 4 Tablespoons of Fig-Raspberry Jam (or jam of your choice), 1/4 cup of saltine crumbs and 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans.

Bake in a solar oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, let cool for ten or fifteen minutes, then cut in half.  Spread filling on one section and place other section on top. Cut in small squares because this is a very rich and delicious treat! And, soooooo easy.

Wednesday, December 21

Solar-Baked Holiday Butternut Squash

Winter squashes are so good, it's hard to wait through the summer for their bounty. Butternut squash, in my opinion, belongs at the very top of the winter squash list for the most delicious to the pound. And, as much as I love it with little more than some butter and salt and pepper, the holidays seem to require a more adventurous approach. Adding apples, raisins, pecans, onions, and peppers will pop it up a notch and then the herbs and spices bring it all together.

Solar-Baked Holiday Butternut Squash

2 med butternut squashes, whole or split in half lengthwise, seeded, and baked until soft
1 large onion, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1 large banana pepper, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tbsps fresh basil, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh stevia, chopped fine
1 tsp Chinese spices
1 tsp corn starch
3/4 tsps salt
Juice of two oranges
2 Tbsps unsalted butter

Preheat solar oven to 225F  Lightly greased casserole dish

Bake squashes whole in solar oven, or, split in half, lengthwise and bake cut side down in lightly greased casserole dish, until soft but not mushy -- approximately 2 hours. For my whole squashes, I've used two SolarWear(tm) quart-sized carriers for easy placement and removal.

1. While squashes are baking, prepare the filling by chopping onions, banana pepper, and apples.

2. Over medium high heat, melt butter in large heavy skillet; add onions and banana pepper and saute until both are translucent.

3. In small bowl, combine all herbs, spices, and corn starch, and mix thoroughly.

4. Add orange juice to skillet; When juices start bubbling, add herb and spice mix and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Add chopped apples, raisins, and pecans; mix thoroughly, and set aside to cool.

5. When squash is ready, remove flesh from shell with small butter scoop or use paring knife to cut into small cubes. Don't worry if squash bits aren't perfect -- they'll all blend together!

6. Add squash to skillet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Scoop squash mixture back into squash shells and place in lightly-greased casserole dish. Cover and bake for approximately 55 minutes.

7. The butternut squash shell is edible, too, so the squash can be cut as shown above or left in the shell for serving -- it's luscious, either way!

Wednesday, December 7

Solar Baked Fudge - an Easy Holiday Treat

December's Crazy Cooking Challenge is fudge! Yup, fudge. Now, that may not seem like a difficult task, taken on its face, but to someone who likes to exhibit the joys of solar cooking, it brought quite a challenge. A thousand years ago, when I was a pup, my sister-in-law gave me a no-fail baked fudge recipe. Really. This was fudge -- not one of those pudding brownie thingies -- real fudge. And, after discovering how great it was, I foolishly managed to lose the recipe during my many moves. Since the Crazy Cooking Challenge requires using a recipe from another food blogger, imagine my joy to discover something so close to that old recipe that with a little tweak here and there, I couldn't wait to share it with you.

Remember, participants are supposed to find bloggers who are NOT professional chefs or commercial recipe blogs, so I was delighted to discover Kathy Maister's blog, Start . She falls somewhere in between the guidelines because she was a Home Ec teacher and has decided to help new cooks, online. There's everything your heart desires to learn, there, including this great baked fudge recipe! While visiting, say hello from the Challenge and check out all her other recipes, as well.

With just five ingredients: 1/4 tsp salt, 14 oz condensed milk, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1 pound of fine quality milk chocolate (I used dark), and 1/2 tsp vanilla, plopped into the bowl, it was ready for the oven. The beauty of baked fudge is that you don't have to worry constant stirring or spillover with hot fudge rising up the sides of the pot. You just have to check it, once or twice, during the next hour and a half and gave it a stir. Then, it's just a matter of waiting for the mixture to melt enough to be stirred smooth.

What I did do differently, of course, was use the solar oven to make my fudge. I put all the ingredients in a 2-quart glass pyrex measuring cup with handle and then placed it inside my 3-quart roaster that had approximately 1.5 inches of hot water in the bottom. This would be baked without a cover, so using a wooden spoon to hold the 'handles' of my SolarWear(R) base made it very easy to transport and place inside the oven and not have the handles fall into the fudge onto the floor of the solar oven.

Yes, my condensed milk is caramelly. I like to do that with condensed milk to have caramel on hand for other recipes -- and, when I was ready to try this recipe, that was all that was left on the pantry shelf. Brought a whole new dimension to the flavoring and didn't mess up the recipe, at all. Once it was done, I brought it inside and gave it a thorough mixing; then, poured the fudge into an 8x8x2 pan, lined with parchment paper. As you can see, I took Kathy's suggestion and let the parchment paper come up the sides. A couple of mini drops onto my counter to even out the mix and, then, into the refrigerator for the next 3-4 hours. What could be easier?

This was just a plain fudge recipe, with a great fudge texture, and soooooo easy. Next time, I'll be adding walnuts or pecans. I'll hope you'll give it a try.

Now, I have to hide it from my sister... heh heh heh...

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