Solar Root Vegetable Muffins

This time of year it might be hard to get these “muffins” done in one day. You can get a head start by prepping the vegetables the night before, or you could make hybrids; half solar, half conventional baked. Once they’re assembled they can be frozen. That way they’re ready to pop in the Sun Oven whenever the weather is favorable.

Ingredients

6 oz. pearl onions, peeled

1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and diced

1 cups turnip, peeled and diced

1 cup leeks, diced

2 cups celery root, peeled and diced

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Savory Pie To Go

I baked this savory pie for our packed lunch recently when we were out and about from early morning until late evening. On days like that I don’t get any kind of cooking done. It was very filling and easy to eat on the go. I can see why British miners took savory pies with them to work in the mines; they’re even easier to eat than a sandwich.

Solar Cheese and Onion Pie

Ingredients

Purchased or homemade pie dough for a 9-inch pie, top and bottom.

1 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/4 pound potatoes, peeled, diced, and steamed

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Frittata alle Erbe

This is my favorite frittata recipe. I cut it out of Gourmet Magazine (or maybe it was Bon Appetit) a long time ago and I’m glad I did since it’s nowhere to be found on their website. Getting all the ingredients can be a bit of a challenge but the flavors go together so well it’s worth it. If you can’t find Swiss chard (or if it’s outrageously expensive as it often is) use more spinach, but don’t skimp on the other ingredients or you won’t get the same results. It’s good warm or at room temperature so it’s another good option for a packed lunch.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, thinly sliced

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Baked Eggs on Toast

Mark likes his eggs on toast (I’m more of a “toast on the side so I can dip it into the yolk” kind of gal) so I decided to go ahead and bake the egg and toast together. I think it makes a nicer presentation. The eggs meld with the toast instead of sliding off like they do if assembled post baking.

English muffins would work great and if you don’t have the little metal mugs you could use a muffin tin or a baking pan. Get the bacon in the Sun Oven first thing in the morning. It takes about 40 minutes to solar cook it.

Baked Eggs and Toast

Ingredients

1 slice cooked bacon per serving (click here for tips on cooking bacon in your GSO)

1 slice sourdough bread or 1/2 English muffin per serving

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Mac and Cheese to Go

Sometimes I wish I didn’t work from home just so I could pack a lunch. When I did work in an office I used to looked forward to my mid-day meal. Even though I’d made it myself, opening the various containers always felt a little bit like Christmas. But having some fun-to-eat, quick-to-heat up lunch fare is a good idea for those of us who work from home, too. Many days I don’t start thinking about lunch until I’m so hungry that I just start raiding the fridge and that’s never a good way to enjoy a meal. These mac and cheese muffins make a great quick lunch option.

I got the idea to bake mac and cheese in individual portions form “The Sneaky Chef” by Missy Chase Lapine. She bulks up otherwise not so heathy recipes with lots of vegetables, a trick I use a lot too, but since they’re mostly for kids they’re a little on the bland side. I borrowed her idea of using sweet potatoes, carrots, and eggs in place of the usual milk, butter, and flour roux, but, since I don’t have any picky-eaters to deal with, I spiced it up a bit and even threw in a bit of green. I’m sure any mac and cheese recipe could be made into muffins. They would be a great for picnics or potlucks.

You can used canned pumpkin (not pie filling) instead of the sweet potato and carrot puree. The recipe below makes more than you’ll need for the muffins. The leftovers can be frozen for future use.

Sun Oven mac and cheese will dry out if it’s not covered so it’s easier to use ramekins or silicone molds placed in a baking pan rather than a muffin tin.

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Eggs ‘n’ Tomatoes

We love solar baked eggs for lunch, so I’m always on the look out for new ways to prepare them, and, if you’re lucky enough to have a vegetable garden (I’m not), you’re probably looking for ways to use all the tomatoes that are ripening this time of year. I got this recipe from “The Silver Spoon” cookbook. It’s about as simple as recipes come and can easily be personalized with different herbs or other add-ins of your choice.

Solar Baked Eggs in Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 or 2 large tomatoes per person

1 egg per tomato (at room temperature)

salt

1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil per tomato

oregano

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Mini-Frittata Solar Sandwiches

Since we got our Sun Oven, bacon and eggs have become lunch fare in our house and it seems I’m always coming up with new ways of combining the two. Today I got some bacon going first thing and it’s a good thing you can smell it from a mile away because I’d almost forgotten about it until I opened the patio door and was hit with its aroma. When it was ready I crumbled it up and mixed it with four beaten eggs, about a cup of chopped uncooked baby spinach, some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a splash of milk. After dividing the mixture up in four lightly oiled metal mugs I popped it in the Sun Oven for about 20 minutes. The result were four sandwich-sized frittatas that made a perfect lunch. I bet you could cook up a bunch of these and keep them in the fridge for a super quick weekday breakfast.

Click here to see how to cook bacon in the Sun Oven.

Savory Solar Pumpkin Pudding

This is a bit of a project. The onions need to cook for quite a long time, but, as with most solar cooking, you’ll be able to go about you business while they simmer away. If pie pumpkins aren’t available, use butternut squash, it works just as well. It can also be used as a filling for a savory pie. The pumpkin onion mixture is also good on it’s own.

Savory Solar Pumpkin Pudding

(adapted from “Savory Roasted Pumpkin Pie” New York Times Nov. 4 2008)

Ingredients

2 small pie pumpkins or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds discarded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

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How a Recipe Is Born

I’ll admit, this quiche recipe needs a little tweaking.  Normally I’d play with it a bit before posting, but I think it makes a good enough base to merit a mention. Many of my favorite recipes start out this way; first I follow it exactly as written (with the exception of cooking it in the GSO) than I play with it until it’s mine. This is the kind of recipe that is very easy to fiddle with. I’d recommend jazzing it up with your favorite vegetables or other add-ins; chopped spinach and crumbled bacon come to mind. If you want to get real creative you could personalize each quiche according to the individual tastes of each family member, kind of like an omelette station in your own back yard.

Crustless Solar Quiche

Ingredients

1 cup milk

3 eggs, room temperature

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Getting an Early Start on Solar Cooking

Longer summer days mean more hours can be dedicated to solar cooking. Here in Arizona it’s not unusual to be able to cook with the sun from as early 8:00 AM to as late as 6:00 PM. But for an even earlier start to your solar cooking day turn the GSO “topside down” (the side with the thermometer will be on the ground), remove the leveling tray, then place a rack or trivet what is now the floor of the cooking chamber and you’ll be ready to catch the first rays of sunshine. I use this trick to bake breakfast casseroles that I assemble the night before or a simple bowl of steel cut oatmeal. First thing in the morning I pop my breakfast in the GSO then I go about my business. Oatmeal is usually ready by the time I’ve finished my morning routine; casseroles take longer and are best for week-ends. Solar cooked oatmeal tastes so good even my porridge hating husband will eat it.

Breakfast for two, oatmeal in the covered mug and and eggs in the other.

Now if only I can figure out a way to get my espresso maker to run on solar power.

corin