5 Ways to Put the Sun to Work on Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Pressed for oven capacity – and time – on Thanksgiving Day?   Does the big bird leave little room for the savory sides and pies that constitute your family’s feast?  Why not let the sun help carry the load – adding oven capacity and spreading the work?   Here are five recipes that will get you thinking about bringing the sun to your table.  All of these can be made one or more days in advance, taking advantage of the sunny days and not fretting about the stormy ones.  And on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll have more time to spend with your guests.   Here are five of our favorites, from surprising starters to the grand finale, sun-baked from-scratch pumpkin pie (what else?)!

1. Apple Cardamom Coffee Cake

The spicy aroma of this coffee cake – baked ahead and warmed for Thanksgiving morning – will lure your stay-over guests to the kitchen where you can put them to work!

Adapting this Family Circle recipe for solar cooking was simple, we just doubled the baking time and it came out perfectly.

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups Gala apple, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions 

1. Preheat your Solavore Sport. Coat an 8-inch-square or 11x7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

2. For the cake, whisk first 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in egg and buttermilk. Slowly add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Fold in apple. Transfer to prepared baking dish, spreading into an even layer.

3. In another bowl, combine all streusel topping ingredients with hands, breaking up butter into smaller pieces. Scatter over batter.

4. Bake uncovered for about 80-90 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

2. Cranberry Goat Cheese Toasts Made with Sunshine

Whether teamed up with goat cheese and rosemary for this eye-catching and savory hors d’oeuvre or in its usual place beside the turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce cooked in the solar oven is about as easy and foolproof as it gets.

Servings     Prep Time
10-14 servings     5-10 minutes 

Ingredients 

  • 12 ounces fresh (or frozen) cranberries 
  • ½ cup brown sugar 
  •  ½ cup orange juice 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 medium baguette or crusty bread, sliced and toasted 
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary 

Directions  

1. Place cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice, water, and salt into a solar oven safe pan and cook for 3 hours or until cranberries are fork tender -- stirring them at the halfway point.  (You can add 1-2 T brown sugar if it’s too tart for your taste.)  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. 

2. Lay toasts out onto a serving dish and smear each one with a tablespoon of goat cheese. Next, top each one with a dollop of the cranberry mixture and a couple of fresh rosemary leaves chopped fine, and serve. 

3. Pumpkin Soup 

Pumpkin taken out of order – in the form of this Caribbean-spiced soup – adds a memorable twist to your Thanksgiving feast. Even better, it’s the ultimate make-ahead dish whose flavors just get better.

Directions 

Peel 2 ½  lb. pumpkin.  Scrape out the seeds, cut in chunks.  Place in Sport roasting pot.  Do not add water.

In the second roasting pot, place 2 chopped carrots, 1 stalk celery chopped, 1 lg. chopped onion, 1 chopped green pepper, 1-2 T. grated fresh ginger, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper.  (For the green pepper use the mild “Pimiento de Cocina”, long slender light green, if available).

Place both pots in the solar oven and cook for 1 ½ to 3 hours or until tender.

Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to blend.

In small batches, blend pumpkin along with liquid generated in the cooking, carrot/onion mixture, and 1 c. chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh.  Blend until smooth.  

Combine all in a large pot.  If you prefer your soup thinner you can add vegetable broth at this point, up to 1 c. (but keep in mind you will be adding coconut milk before serving, and the soup should be relatively thick and hearty.) 

Add ½ t. thyme (more if fresh), salt and pepper to taste.  

Before serving, stir in 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk.  Heat to serve.

Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh thyme.  Great served with cheese sticks, bread sticks or seasoned toast.

4. Scalloped Potatoes 

Continuing the theme of serving up the unexpected this Thanksgiving, why not scalloped potatoes?  Remember, you don’t have to use the Sport’s Granite-Ware pots; you can use your 9x13 family-sized oblong Pyrex baking dish in the Solavore Sport if you’re cooking for a crowd.

Ingredients 

  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 c broth
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 4 large red or yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup cheese (cheddar, gruyere, etc.)
  • fresh thyme

Directions 

1. Place your Solavore Sport in the sun to preheat.

2. Peel and slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick. A mandoline  slicer is very helpful for creating slices with even thickness.

3. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute for 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Stir in the flour until it is evenly combined and saute for an additional 1-minute.  Pour in the stock, and whisk until combined. Add in the milk, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon thyme, and whisk until combined. Continue cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes until the sauce comes to a simmer (not a boil) and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In your graniteware pot, spread half of the sliced potatoes in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Top evenly with half of the cream sauce, the sprinkle evenly with half of the cheese Top evenly with the remaining sliced potatoes, the remaining half of the cream sauce, and the remaining cheese.

5. Cover the pot and place in the Solavore Sport. Bake for 3-4 hours,or until the potatoes are tender.

6. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme.  Serve warm.

5. From-Scratch Pumpkin Pie 

In all my years of cooking with a solar oven I never quite mustered the courage to bake a pie. Fruit pies, especially, require an initial blast of a 425º oven to set the crust. So I consider this year’s pumpkin pie trophy-worthy, with only a nudge of a 10-minute pre-bake of the crust in the conventional oven. Cooking up a fresh pumpkin pie in the solar oven gets you off to a simple, energy saving start. What are you waiting for?

Ingredients 

For crust:

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Pie filling:

  • 2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions 

1. Prepare pie crust by mixing together the flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour; add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time (you may need only 3 tablespoons, or up to 4 tablespoons). Mix dough and repeat until dough is moist enough to hold together.

2. With lightly floured hands, shape dough into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. With a sharp knife, cut dough 1 1/2 inch larger than the upside-down 8- to 9-inch pie pan. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it right-side up onto the pie pan. Unroll, easing dough into the bottom of the pie pan.

3. In a conventional oven preheated to 425 degrees, bake the pie crust for 10 minutes.

4. While the crust is baking, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt with an electric mixer or immersion blender. Mix well. Pour into the prepared crust.

5. Bake uncovered in the Solavore Sport approximately 2 hours or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.

 

Have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving, spend it with loved ones, and cook by the sun. We are so grateful for you. Let us know what your plan is for Thanksgiving, we'd love to hear all about it :) 

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