Coffee. That’s a given. But I am also a salad girl. Give me a good salad over a steak any day. And I particularly love a salad that goes crunch.
Salad, soup, or snack. I. Love. Croutons.
I know these little bits of heaven are scarcely more than dry bread and a sprinkle of seasonings, but simplicity often leads to true deliciousness.
Have you seen the prices retailers demand for such a treat? Even my local store brand croutons are $1.88 for a mere 5 ounces of crusty, old bread.
When I discovered how easy (and absurdly inexpensive) it was to make my own croutons, it naturally became a part of my weekly routine.
It’s also a great way to put good use to dry, leftover bread (thus saving more pennies!). We recently went out of town for a few days and returned to a cupboard of various breads that I had neglected to use up beforehand. No problem. The ends of the Italian bread (which no one in my house will eat), and a half loaf of whole-grain sandwich bread were transformed into delectable little croutons.
I have one child that refuses to eat the crusts. Always. (I think there must be a law written down somewhere that says every household must have at least one child like this.) I have since decided it’s truly not worth the fight. I oblige her by cutting off the crusts and saving them for my weekly crouton bake.
Throughout the week, I toss all the crusts, heels, edges, and any other stale bread into an air-tight container for “croutoning.” (I’m pretty sure I just made that word up.) I use almost any kind of bread. French bread, Italian bread, various homemade breads, sandwich breads (even hearty whole-grains!), leftover hamburger or hot dog buns, etc. Endless possibilities. Then once a week (usually on Monday), I work my bread magic.
Here’s my favorite way to season them:
6 c. ½-inch bread cubes (any bread: French, Italian, sandwich, whole-grain, etc.)
¼ c. butter
3 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1. In a large skillet, melt butter. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
2. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add seasoned butter mixture and stir until bread is thoroughly coated.
3. Spread bread cubes in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake about 10 minutes more or until bread cubes are crisp and golden. Cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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Simple Lives Thursday and Fresh Bites Friday.