Nothing is more frustrating to me then wasting food. Whether it be because I burnt something, forgot about it in the back of my fridge, made something less then stellar, or simply bought too much of it. Whatever the case, I hate to throw away food.
One of those foods that seems to always go bad before it”s eaten in our house is bread. One of my largest hinderances to baking fresh bread is knowing that it will probably go stale before we are even halfway through it. And, since I don”t like anything to be a hinderance to me in the kitchen, I got to work figuring out ways to use it up without having to gag on the dryness.
Two of my favourite ways to use up those bread scraps are to make homemade croutons and breadcrumbs. Not only does it save us money, but since they are things that we use on a regular basis, it”s nice to know that they are much healthier being made at home. Not to mention extremely easy.
Below are instruction on how to make both croutons and breadcrumbs as well as recipes for Parmesan Garlic Croutons and Italian Breadcrumbs. Here are a few tips on how to go about it.
Do not use already stale bread. If you don”t like to eat stale sandwiches you won”t want to eat stale croutons either.
If you find yourself with lot”s of little scraps that don”t seem worth the effort to turn into something else, freeze them. Once you have a larger collection, pull them out and get to work.
If you do freeze your bread, this will probably mean you have a variety of breads stored away. The combination of breads will add a more complex flavour as well as some pizzaz to both the croutons and the breadcrumbs.
If there is any moisture in either the breadcrumbs or the croutons, they will not be able to store at room temperature without going mouldy. If you would like, you can store them in the freezer. If they regain any moisture, simply give them a short toast to perk them up.
To make croutons: cube some bread, toss it with oil and herbs, and bake at 375ºF until golden and crisp (15-20 min).
If you use only olive oil and no other perishable ingredients you can store these sealed at room temperature.
If you use butter in place of oil, or fresh herbs or garlic, you must store the croutons in the freezer.
In order to achieve the crispy breadcrumbs you purchase at the store, you will want your bread to be completely dried out and toasted. To do this, place slices of bread on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and bake at 300ºF for 10-15 min. until dry, flipping halfway through cooking time.
If your bread is already quite dry and you are only making a small amount you can rather toast it in the toaster until dry.
Once the bread is toasted, allow it to cool completely and then chop it roughly and place it in a food processor. Process until fine crumbs are created.
If you are not able to achieve fine crumbs then the bread still has too much moisture. Place the crumbs onto a baking sheet and bake again until completely dry.
Always allow to cool so that no moisture can build up, then process again until you are able to achieve the texture of crumbs that is desired.
It is becoming nearly impossible to get a good photo these days. The weather is so dreary and rainy that I have to turn on the lights as soon as I get up in the morning and they do not go off until I go to bed. Our house isn’t very well lit either so I am beginning to feel like I’m living in a cave. When the sun finally does shine through I just might hobble my way onto the porch, beating my chest, yelling in a garbled language. That may not even be too far from the truth seeing as I spend most of my days with a 16 month old who only speaks gibberish.
I don’t know what I will do when winter is in full swing. By December the sun will rise at 10 and set at 3. How in the world am I ever supposed to get anything accomplished in a mere 5 hours of daylight? Especially considering that my favourite time to photograph is between 2 and 4 when my son is napping. The sun will be descending by 2! Groan. I love winter. I really do. But, it is going to make this hobby of mine a lot more difficult.
This cajun seasoning is the bomb! I love to use it on hash-browns, grilled chicken, fries, you name it. It adds such a pop of flavour to otherwise boring fare. I like to make things like this from “scratch” because you can control the flavours and salt content. If there is a certain seasoning that your family does not like, decrease the amount, swap it for a different kind or leave it out all together. That is the great thing about making your own mix. It doesn’t have to be authentic, it just needs to suite your families taste buds. For us? I decreased the salt by half and kept everything else as is. (The recipe is written with the lower salt content.)
I seriously had no idea that making wonton wrappers was so easy. So many years I avoided recipes that relied on wonton wrappers because my grocery stores didn”t stock them. I love wontons and wonton related things so this always made me a little sad. I should have stopped being sad and looked for a recipe! I would have, if I had realized they were so simple to make. In fact, the recipe is so easy and straightforward that I didn”t even bother to take step-by-step photographs. They turn out just like the ones that you purchase in the store but this way you have the satisfaction and “convenience” of making them at home. :)
Some helpful tips when making these wonton wrappers:
You can store them in your fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for longer storage. (I have some in the freezer right now. Once I use them I will update this page to let you know how they held up. *see Update)
If you are not going to use them right away then they will probably shrink back a bit. But, the dough is so pliable they are easy to stretch out individually just before you fill/use them.
If you are wanting to stack them, coat them in cornstarch (cornflour). If you stack them with flour it will absorb into the dough and they will become one solid mass.
If they have been in the fridge for a couple of days and the moisture seems to have removed most of the cornstarch re-coat them again before placing in the freezer.
It is important to keep the dough covered as much as possible or it will dry out. Any dough/wrappers that are not being worked with should be covered, preferably with a damp towel.
If you have a pasta maker then these are even easier to make. Just pass them through, gradually going to the thinest setting.
* Update: I used up the wrappers in the freezer and they worked beautifully. I put them in the fridge to thaw in the morning and by supper they were perfect. They did shrink quite a bit so I just stretched them each individually before filling. Easy peasy.
Sift flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk together egg, salt and 1/4 cup water. Pour into flour well. Mix together, adding additional water until the mixture will stay together in a ball. (You may need more or less then 1/2 cup, use your discretion. Keep in mind that you do not want it to be sticky.)
Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable.
Let rest for 30-60 min. (This is so the gluten can relax. The longer it sits the easier it will be to roll out)
Divide dough in half. Keep one half covered while you roll out the other one on a surface lightly coated with cornstarch (if you use flour it may toughen it up). Roll out as thin as you possibly can.
Cut into 3.5 inch squares (You should be able to get approx. 12 wonton wrappers out of each half).