24 September 2013

Plate Up The Panache: Croutons & Roasted Tomatoes

I've been on a food kick lately.  Making and eating the same meals every week can become all kinds of boring.  Maybe you have a big dinner party coming up, a special date or your in-laws are coming to town and you want to add some panache to your plates.  If you’re looking for a couple of easy (read: cheap) ways to bring your food flavor to a new level, check out these tips!


Two main staples in my household: salads, and anything Italian.  We had that carb loving conversation, remember?  The problem is, it can get a little redundant.  We’ll tackle salads first – I love croutons, but hate buying them.  So every now and then I like to make my own.  Less preservatives, slightly more time consuming and a hella abundance of flavor.

Make Your Own Croutons
What You’ll Need:
- Whole wheat bread slices (I like to use the heels)
- Olive oil
- fresh (minced) or dried herbs of your choosing – I like fresh rosemary and basil
- Garlic powder
- Salt & pepper

Combine your herbs, salt & pepper and garlic powder in a medium size bowl.
Cut your slices of bread into cubes – two slices of bread makes enough croutons for two smaller salads, adjust accordingly. Once you’re done add the bread to the bowl.

Homemade CroutonsHomemade Croutons

Mix enough olive oil into the bowl for the ingredients to coat the bread cubes. Stir thoroughly.

Homemade Croutons

Spray a cookie sheet (I used our toaster oven) with cooking spray or mist with olive oil. Dump the contents of the bowl onto the cookie sheet in an even single layer.

Homemade Croutons

I used the “toast” setting on our toaster oven – I’m less likely to burn them this way.  Otherwise, set your oven to broil and place the cookie sheet in the middle of your oven.  Crack the oven door and stir the bread cubes around every 1 – 2 minutes.  Once they reach your desired level of golden-brown remove from the oven and let them cool.

Homemade Croutons

Enjoy!

Onto jazzing up your nightly/weekly Italian dish – learn to love roasted tomatoes.  Premade sauce is a great starting block, and you can jazz it up any way that you’d like – cue the roasted tomatoes!

Roasted Tomatoes
What You’ll Need:
- Copious amounts of tomatoes (or however many you feel like doing)
- Olive oil
- garlic salt
- Pepper
- Fresh herbs (minced) or dried

My mother in law gifted us with two shopping bags of tomatoes last weekend – her tomato plants were busy showing off and they couldn’t eat them fast enough – take them? YES!!  Our tomato plants are busy feeding our “pet” groundhog, Phil – he has quite the posh lifestyle.

However we couldn’t eat them fast enough either, and to use them before they went bad we added them to our spaghetti sauce!

Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Wash and quarter your tomatoes. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or mist it with olive oil.  Dump the tomatoes on the cookie sheet.

Roasted Tomatoes

Sprinkle the tomatoes with the remaining ingredients.

Roasted Tomatoes
(you'll have to do without pictures after this point -- my hands were covered in tomato juice!!)

Put the cookie sheet in the middle of your oven, uncovered and let cook for 30 – 45 minutes.  They should be a dark red or brown when they are done.  Remove the sheet from the oven and let rest for about 3 – 5 minutes.  Carefully peel the skins off of the tomatoes.  Note: I’m not saying carefully because you’ll hurt the tomatoes, but because you can burn your fingers!

There are two routes you can go from here: coarsely chop the skinless tomatoes and put directly into the premade sauce for a chunky spaghetti sauce (my favorite) – OR, put the skinless tomatoes into a food process and puree.  Either way tastes great, it just boils down to which texture you prefer!

Questions or recipe ideas that you want to share are always appreciated!


Xoxo, Kate

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