November 13

Croutons

Yes, you read the title right. This is a post about croutons. I’m going to share with you how to make little crispy bread pieces.

The joke used to be, Why do croutons have an expiration date? Aren’t they already stale?

And while, yes, you can technically use stale bread to turn into croutons, that’s not the “recipe” I’m sharing. I’m using air quotes in regard to the word recipe for this particular post, mainly because I’m sharing more of a set of instructions, because croutons can be made out of just about any kind of bread and paired with any type of spices, cheese, etc. So you’ll be coming up with the recipe on your own, unless you decide you like the sound of what I came up with. In which case, I’m honored!

I’ve been battling some stomach issues recently. Possibly an ulcer. Possibly something else. Who knows? In lieu of the idea that it might be an ulcer, I’ve been avoiding acids, most dairy, spicy things, rich creamy things, and fatty things. I’m doing this in hopes of letting my stomach heal. (However, all of it is negated if I’ve got a nasty bacteria in there. Nothing’ll cure that save for some handy dandy doctor prescribed antibiotics. Well, I have zero insurance, and while a doctor’s visit will only cost me about $100, the testing they’ll want to do… might very well break the bank. No worries though, if things get bad enough, I will force myself to go. I’ve been on the mend and getting better every day so no doctor yet.) Well, since I’ve been on the up-and-up, I’ve been testing which foods my stomach will accept and which it will not. The big test was getting Thai food last night. Mussaman curry, to be exact. Two star spice. Which, normally, isn’t spicy enough, but for this test, will do (and did) just fine. I had leftovers. I wanted it for lunch today. But I kind of wanted a side salad, too.

Problem being, all I had was lettuce. That’s just a sad, boring salad. I wanted to jazz it up just a teensy bit by adding croutons. In fact, while at the grocery store this morning, a woman with two children in tow was picking up several bags of Texas Toast croutons. While they sounded delicious, I knew I could make something at home. And that’s exactly what I did. I made them to my liking, using olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and powerful Welsh cheddar cheese. I discovered this amazing cheese at my local Fred Meyer some weeks back when I needed to find something complimentary to broccoli, as I had plans to make a broc-cheddar soup. Never having had Welsh cheddar before, I gave it a go and I looooove it. It’s very strong in flavor, maybe even a little overwhelming for some. It’s a cheese I could pair with crackers or I could shred over pasta. Even eat on its own. So good. I had initially wanted to grate some Parmesan over the croutons, but upon reaching into the cheese drawer in the fridge, I noticed I had a small block of the Welsh left. SCORE!

My particular recipes makes 4 – 10 servings, depending on how many you use per serving. In small batches, these make a really nice, mostly healthy addition to a salad (or eaten on their own). In large batches, well, you’re looking at upwards of 200 calories per serving and suddenly, it’s become half of your meal.

Make sure they cool completely before putting them into storage.

Croutons

(Welsh Cheddar and Black Pepper) Croutons

Ingredients

3 slices Orowheat Health-full Nutty Grain bread
1-2 Tablespoons Collier’s Powerful Welsh cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
olive oil

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 400º.

2. Cut each slice of bread into 8 strips and cube each strip into 5 – 6 pieces. Place cubes in medium sized bowl, crust and all!

3. Drizzle olive oil over the cubed bread, tossing them until evenly and well-coated.

4. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and cheese over oiled bread, tossing.

5. Spread bread on to a baking sheet in a single layer.

6. Bake for 8 minutes. Stir the bread to ensure fairly even crisping, then re-spread into a single layer. Bake another 4 – 8 minutes, depending on level of doneness preferred.

As a note – obviously the more time you bake these, the more likely they will be to burn. However, the less time you bake them, they’ll still be a bit moist in the center and the texture will be crunchy on the outside and barely soft on the inside. While these are still tasty, they probably won’t keep as long, or as they begin to go stale, the middles may not be as appetizing.

Shake things up a bit by adding crushed red pepper flakes, extra sharp cheddar cheese, a hint of cinnamon, drizzle them in a bit of bacon drippings… whatever you like! Feel free to share your combinations and results.

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