Sun Simmered Soup

New Sun Oven

Weight Watcher members know this as Garden Soup and know that it can be a life saver. Having a big pot of it on hand this week may be all it takes to make it through the holiday without packing on a few extra pounds. It’s so low in calories and high in healthy vegetables that it’s considered a “free food”. Enjoy a bowl of it for lunch while you take a break from baking pies for Thanksgiving day. You can use any mixture of low calorie vegetables you like, just stay away from corn, peas, potatoes, yams, and beans. And while I normally shy away from them, you can significantly cut down on the prep time by purchasing any precut vegetables you local market may offer.

Solar Practically No Calorie Soup

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

Ingredients

1 carton (32 ounce) nonfat or 99% fat free broth, vegetable or chicken

2 onions, diced (about two cups)

4 to 5 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)

1 cup frozen cut green beans

1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

1 bell red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (28-ounce) diced tomatoes with their juices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as is or use an immersion blender to puree.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Savory Solar Breakfast Sandwiches

Mini Omlettes

Single serve customized mini omelettes are another great do-ahead option for anyone who prefers a savory breakfast. To make them simply gather a variety of the usual omelette components: shredded cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, diced ham, chopped veggies and herbs, etc. Beat some eggs (calculate 1 egg per omelette) with a touch of milk, salt, and pepper. Coat muffin tins or silicon baking molds with cooking spray. Sprinkle a mixture of the assembled filler into the bottom of the tins (be sure to leave enough room for the egg) and cover with beaten eggs. Pop the tins in the Sun Oven and bake until set, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately or let cool and wrap each mini-omelette in plastic wrap.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use them for breakfast sandwiches or serve with a tossed salad for a light lunch.

Solar Baked Cherry Oatmeal

Cherry Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is the perfect make ahead breakfast. It’s good straight out of the oven but it’s even better the next day. You can use any kind of fruit and nuts, but I like using cherries this time of year. It’s a little unexpected surprise and a break from the apples and pumpkin that seems to be in just about all the holiday baked treats.

Cherry Almond Oatmeal Bake

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 bag (10-ounces) frozen sweet cherries

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, almonds, dried cherries, baking powder, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Pour the milk mixture into the oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread the cherries out in the prepared baking pan. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the cherries. Cover and bake in the Sun Oven until set and golden, 1 t0 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Sun Oven Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Bowl

Cranberry sauce is so easy to prepare stove top that I’ve never really though about making it in my Sun Oven. After all, you just combine the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil, simmer a few minutes, let it cool, and it’s done. It practically makes itself. Then I remembered all those times when the turkey was about to come out of the oven and I suddenly shouted, “The cranberry sauce! I forgot to make it!” Well, this year I only have to remember to take it out of the refrigerator. And if I forget, cold cranberry sauce is better than no cranberry sauce.

Solar Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

2 oranges

The zest from one of the oranges

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Peel both oranges taking care to remove all the white pith. Roughly chop the fruit. Combine the zest and fruit with the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the cranberries burst, 1 t0 1 1/2 hours. Let cool slightly then transfer the sauce to a serving bowl. Sauce will look watery but will set as it cools. Can be stored in a cover container and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Cranberry Sauce

 

Make and Bake Pasta

Sausage Penne

This time of year, with fewer hours of sunlight and more chance of cloudy days, I like to do my prep work the night before. If the atmospheric conditions are favorable I’m ready to pop dinner (or lunch) in the Sun Oven and if clouds roll in I use a conventional oven.

Baked Penne and Sausage

(adapted for the Sun Oven from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family)

Ingredients

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into matchsticks

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

2 Italian sausages, (pork, turkey, or chicken) casings removed

8 ounces whole-wheat penne

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat a 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes with their juices until mostly smooth, about 5 pulses.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the sausage, stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until no longer pink. Stir in the processed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente, slightly less than the time indicated on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the sauce and the reserved cooking water to the pasta, tossing to combine. Spread half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and a dark kitchen towel. Bake in the Sun Oven until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted, about 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

To Make Ahead

After draining the pasta, rinse it under cold water until cool. Assemble the dish as directed with cooled pasta, cooled sauce and pasta water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking in the Sun Oven.

Makes 4 servings.

Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Chunky SP SoupI usually use a white potato for this colorful vegetarian soup but I had just over half a sweet potato left over from yesterday’s gratin so into the soup it went.

Chunky Vegetable Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 pound dried split peas, picked over, rinsed, and drained

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

8 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

sour cream for serving (optional)

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, and oregano. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the split peas, broth, and bay leaves. Cover and transfer the pot to the Sun Oven until the peas are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

Makes 8 servings.

 

Solar Sweet and Sour Pork with Cranberries and Pineapple

Cranberry Pork

The prep time on this roast is practically zero. Serve it with mashed potatoes or creamy polenta.

Pork and Cranberry Roast

(adapted for the Sun Oven from The Noble Pig)

Ingredients

1 boneless pork roast (4 to 5 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 2 or three large pieces

Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste for seasoning the roast

1 can (20-ounce) crushed pineapple

1 can (14.5-ounce) whole berry cranberry sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Pat the roast dry and rub with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place the meat in a large pot or roasting pan. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, cranberry sauce, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Pour the mixture over the meat. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve sliced topped with sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Sun Baked Beans

Maple Beans Baked beans can’t get any simpler than this. Just beans, pork, maple syrup, and a hint of mustard.

Sun Oven Maple Baked Beans

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Serious Eats)

Ingredients

2 cups dried navy beans, picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight

6 strips thick-cut bacon

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)

1 pork hock, fresh or smoked

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Drain the beans. Put the drained beans in a large pot with enough very hot water to cover by 2-inches and cook in the Sun Oven until beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the Sun Oven. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Line a large pot with the bacon strips. In a large bowl, mix the beans with the onion. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid with the maple syrup, mustard, and salt. Put half of the bean and onion mixture into the bacon lined pot. Place the pork hock on the beans and cover with the remaining bean mixture. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the beans. Cover and return the pot to the Sun Oven. Cook until the beans are soft, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove pork hock and discard or use meat for other purposes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Delicious Sun Baked Granola

Granola

Granola sounds healthy but I consider it a treat. Its high fat and sugar content make it more of a deconstructed cookie than a breakfast cereal. That said, it’s delicious as a topping for ice-cream or baked fruit, mixed into yogurt, or on its own as a snack. And it can be stored in gift jars for your friends and family.

This recipe yields about 8 cups of granola and needs to be baked in two batches so start early in the day (unless your lucky enough to own two Sun Ovens).

Sun Baked Coconut Oil Granola

(adapted from the New York Times)

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raw almonds, coarsely chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or cherries

 

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss together the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the maple mixture to the oat mix, stirring well. Spread 1/4 of the mixture into each baking pan (set aside the rest for the second batch) cross stack the pans bake in the Sun Oven.  After 30 minutes start checking every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning and remove when golden and fragrant, about 1 hour. Transfer granola, in a single layer, to a large tray to cool, use the same parchment paper for the second batch. Let the granola cool completely (it will also dry out a bit) before stirring in the dried fruit. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 months.

French Style Stew

 

Beef Stew

There’s nothing like a hearty stew on a cold night. And like most stews, this one is even better the next day.

Provençal Beef Stew

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces salt pork or thick cut bacon, diced

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into chunks, patted dry with paper towels

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry red wine

2/3 cup beef broth or stock

1 bouquet garni, (sage, thyme, basil or herbs of choice)

1 small onion, peeled and studded with 2 cloves

grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salt pork and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a large pot. In the same skillet, working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, transferring it to the pot as it browns. Add oil as needed. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and continue cooking until just softened, about 4 more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the garlic. Pour the wine and broth over the meat in the pot. Add the onion studded with the cloves and the bouquet garni. Add the vegetable mixture from the skillet. Cover and transfer the pot to the Sun Oven. Cook until the beef is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove and discard the bouquet garni and the whole onion. Stir in the orange zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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