Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Disclaimer: This dish was not created at the lakehouse. I’m afraid that now that summer has drawn to a close, there will be less lake activity to share. However, this is a wonderful end-of-summer recipe that I plan on making again many times, and I’m sure that will include at least a few times at the lakehouse next year.

My friend Norma and I had big plans to can tomatoes this summer, but like many big plans, they never materialized. To be honest, while I’ve always liked the idea of having a supply of home-canned tomatoes all winter long, I have never been very interested in the actual process of canning. It just sounds hot, labor-intensive, and messy, and the last thing I would want to do on a beautiful summer weekend.

However, during my most recent mammogram I was having a nice friendly chat with the tech, and she told me how she roasted tomatoes and froze them, saying it was so much easier than canning. It sounded like a much more do-able way to preserve tomatoes, so Norma and I decided to try that instead. But again, summer got away from us and by the time I went to buy a bushel (or bushels) of tomatoes from the farmers market for a big roasting party, it was too late. All that were available were a few random quart-ish sized containers – not enough to buy in any sort of quantity.

But I was determined to at least give roasting a try and make a batch of sauce for pasta, so I bought one container of heirlooms and one of just plain old tomatoes. Yesterday was a rainy, chilly Sunday – perfect for spending some time in the kitchen.

Tomatoes before

Here are the tomatoes, minus one because I had already cut it up. The mammogram lady made a point of telling me the tomatoes needed to be dried carefully, so this is after they were washed and dried.

Core and coarsely chop the tomatoes. There seemed to be just a few too many tomatoes to spread onto one baking sheet without crowding, so I used two sheets.

Next, roughly chop an onion and four cloves of garlic, and sprinkle everything on both trays. Because I had peppers still growing in the garden, I roughly chopped a couple of those and added them to the trays but this is optional.

Some fresh herbs are next. I happened to have some fresh basil in the garden, so I clipped a small handful. I like oregano in my pasta sauces, so I bought some fresh and added that as well. The herbs are really up to your taste and what you have on hand; rosemary and thyme would be good too. Remove the leaves of the basil and oregano from the stems (not necessary to chop them at all), and sprinkle them into the mix.

Tomatoes ready to go

Finally, sprinkle both trays with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle olive oil over everything (a couple of tablespoons per tray). With clean hands, gently toss everything together to make sure it’s all coated with oil and seasoning.

Tomato roasting
I wish I’d removed those pots from the stove before taking this picture. I didn’t try to hide the glass of wine though, because after all, what would a rainy day of tomato roasting be without a little vino?

Place both trays in a preheated oven set at 325 degrees. Roast for one to two hours or until vegetables are tender (mine only took an hour).

Finished tomatoes

These tomatoes are incredibly flavorful! I ended up dumping one tray into a Ziploc bag and freezing it; the other I used to make pasta sauce. I cooked them down (discarded most of the onion and garlic and just used the tomatoes with their juices) with red wine and a small can of plain tomato sauce, but no extra seasoning was necessary.

Roasted tomato sauce

Oven Roasted Tomatoes (printable format)

  • About 2-½ lbs. tomatoes (any combination of heirloom, regular, Roma, etc., roughly 16 small or 8-10 medium-large)
  • Small bunch fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wash and dry each tomato; core and coarsely chop. Distribute evenly among two baking sheets. Rinse and dry basil and oregano and remove leaves from stems. Sprinkle evenly over both trays; add onion and garlic, distributing equally. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. With clean hands, gently stir vegetables to evenly coat with oil.

Add both pans to oven and cook for one to two hours, or until vegetables are tender. Place in freezer Ziploc bags and freeze for up to six months.

If using immediately for sauce: Place all vegetables (I removed the onion and garlic; it’s completely up to your taste) in saucepan and add about ½ cup dry red wine. If desired, add small can plain tomato sauce. Cook until vegetables are broken down and incorporated. If you prefer a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender and blend or pulse until you get the right texture.

Advertisements

Mopedin’ Around Town

When Rich first brought two brand spankin’ new Mopeds home to the lake house, I was less than thrilled. I guess I’d been damaged from our scooter rental experience in Key West. It SEEMED like it would be fun, but I had a difficult time controlling mine and almost steered into oncoming traffic several times. Plus I’m not a big fan of speed, loud noises or adventure in general. But it turns out, there’s nothing to be scared of on these little puppies! I mean I definitely would not want to be on one in heavy traffic, but they’re perfect for tooling around town. And Spring Lake has lots of little side streets and cute neighborhoods, so it’s really an ideal place to have them.

moped mama3

On this particular outing, we decided to take the scooters over to Spring Lake’s popular dive bar, Stan’s. This little watering hole is a favorite among the locals. Plus you can order a pizza from the nearby pizzeria, Mamma Mia’s, and they’ll deliver it to you right in the bar!

Rich at Stans
The rear entrance to Stan’s. I didn’t notice the “in-out” sign when I took the picture, but I see now that it’s pointed directly at Rich’s head. I think it’s referring to his listening skills.

But I think my favorite thing about Stan’s is the wine pours. None of this fancy pouring until the wine hits the proper spot on the bowl of the wine glass. No, Stan’s bartenders take special pride in pouring to the very top of the glass.

Stans pour

It may not be particularly good wine, but you’re going to get a lot of it!

Though summer is drawing to a close, I think we still have a good month or so of Moped time left. I definitely want to explore those little lakeside streets and take some pictures, which I will share here. In the meantime, cheers to the wind in your hair, summer days and good pours!

 

 

Beans… They’re Good for Your Heart

Baked beans are such an old school dish but they’re perfect for feeding a crowd, especially at a summer cookout. I’ve played around with my tried and true baked bean recipe many times. I always start with canned beans, including a can or two of already-prepared baked beans, and doctor them up with various ingredients. I am not one to soak dried beans overnight, although I respect people who do because it seems like something serious cooks would adhere to. But really, who has the time?

Anyway, I stumbled upon this recipe for Cowboy Baked Beans on Wicked Good Kitchen recently. It’s very similar to my recipe with one unusual addition: a dark beer reduction. I made a few tweaks and was very happy with the outcome. This is now my go-to baked bean recipe.

Just look at those beautiful beans.

baked beans

Cowboy Baked Beans

For the beer reduction:

  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer (I happened to use a Michigan beer, Founders Imperial Stout, but any dark beer will work)

For the vegetables:

  • Four slices center cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 medium to large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

For the beans:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can Bush’s Original Baked Beans
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans kidney red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles, drained
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the bean sauce:

  • Beer reduction
  • ½ cup BBQ Sauce (I used another Michigan product, Brownwood Farms Yankee Bourbon Barbecue Sauce)
  • 1/3 to ½ cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1-½ tablespoons Dijon or spicy grain mustard, such as Grey Poupon®
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco® sauce or cayenne pepper, to taste (a few dashes)
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For the topping:

  • 4 slices center cut smoked bacon, partially cooked but still soft
  • A couple of tablespoons of dark brown sugar, if desired (I skipped this)

Preparation:

Prepare the beer reduction: In a heavy saucepan over high heat, bring beer to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to simmer until reduced by half to ¾ cup, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350º F. Spray 2-quart (9×13-inch) baking dish with cooking spray.

Prepare the bacon and vegetables: In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and just about crispy, about 5 minutes. Reserve rendered bacon fat in pan. Add onion and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped red bell pepper and green onions; sauté until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the beans: Combine beans and chilies in large bowl or stock pot; season with salt and pepper. Scrape bacon and vegetable mixture into beans. Season with salt and pepper; stir well to incorporate. Using rubber spatula, scrape and pour into bowl or stock pot and stir into bean mixture.

Prepare the bean sauce: Add all of the sauce ingredients to the bowl or stock pot with the bean mixture. Stir well to incorporate. Using rubber spatula, scrap and pour mixture, evenly dividing, into baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until sauce has thickened, is bubbling and cooked through, about 90 minutes. Top with the precooked bacon slices and sprinkle with brown sugar (if using) after 30 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack to rest before serving, about 5 minutes.

Hydrangea Love

So these were bursting forth when we got to the lake house for our week-long vacation. I enjoyed them in the yard until our last few days, then cut some of the blossoms for a bouquet. It still looks gorgeous so I think I’m bringing the arrangement home to enjoy before it starts drooping. I love seeing rows of hydrangea plants in bloom, especially at a waterfront home. My goal is to plant a few more before the end of the season.

Hydrangeas