Monday, November 5, 2012

All In Favor Say "Yeah"

When the church ladies are asking, "What are you going to bring to the dinner on the grounds?", I tend to hedge.  I hate food commitments.  Seriously really do hate food commitments.

It's not all that hard to visualize my little commitment issue.  My day may change, I may run out of ingredients and not want to drive to town, I may be "in a mood", it may rain, I could break a leg.  You see how it goes; I'm the master of excuses and whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.

I have the same problem when a friend asks, "What are you going to wear?"  Well, beats me all to heck and back. 

I'm a last minute cook and fashion decision maker (or lack there of.) It's kinda like painting a picture: I need that immediate inspiration not some last Thursday bright idea.

Today was "dinner on the grounds."  I knew it was going to loosely be a Thanksgiving type meal and for those who plan, I knew what a few others were bringing.  Those that actually go to the grocery to buy ingredients for specific recipes in certain amounts for certain events. 

Yesterday I did my "what can I make with my canned tomatos?"  Then I remembered my mom's scalloped tomatoes recipe.  It's a dish I love and every one of my kids hated.  I was needing some home cooking and this was an opportunity to indulge in it while feeding the flock.

I had bread in the freezer.  I freeze bread slices, biscuits and all in large zip lock bags.  It's the end of a loaf, one final roll that no one wants, rye cocktail bread pieces left over from a party and etc.  Then when I want dressing, croutons, or a scallop dish, it's waiting.

I tore the bread into pieces and left out over night to dry.

I buttered a 9 x 12 pan - generously.  It would take a jack hammer to get it off an ungreased pan.

2 quarts of my home canned tomato-vegetable chunky sauce.  Add enough salt to bring out the flavors.

Grate 4 cups of  cheddar cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Mix & reserve 1 cup.

Melt half a cup (1 stick) of butter in the microwave.  Pour over the bread and toss.  (You can leave this out if you're trying to cut back on fat, but, face it with all the cheese it's a losing battle if you're going to eat a very big portion of this dish.)

In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes with the bread.  The bread should still keep it's shape.  Spoon into pan.  Add enough vegetable tomato juice to come half way up the sides of the pan.  This shouldn't be soggy or soupy.  I'm picturing this in my mind and hope that picture is coming through for you. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake another 30 minutes.  It will puff up and the cheese will get a bit crunchy on the edges.  It will probably make a huge mess out of your oven and smoke - I'm sorry it's just one of those dishes. 

If you don't preserve your own vegetable tomato sauces and juices, you can used store bought canned tomatoes and tomato vegetable juice.  To get the best flavor, saute onions, celery and green bell peppers and add to the mix along with sugar and Kosher salt to taste.

This dish is excellent when served with the more plain meats and starches.  Chicken, turkey, and rice are a few that stand down to let this rich dish take center stage.

Hope you enjoy another way to use the garden produce all winter. 

Photos have nothing to do with anything other than they are pretty views of the past week.     


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