I recently had a BBQ with some friends that resulted in a massive excess of hamburger and hot dog buns. You may recall that I HATE to waste anything, but especially food. I'm always looking for a way to repurpose or preserve it so that it doesn't end up in the garbage. With bread, there's always the old fall back: freeze it and use if for the next BBQ. But, this may have been the last BBQ of the season for us, and also, I didn't have that much room in the freezer. So that meant croutons. I started making croutons a few years ago. Have you ever cringed over the cost of croutons? or the nutrition information on the back? I have. They are very expensive, and they aren't that good for you. So I started freezing the heels of my bread in a big bag and when it was full I made croutons with them. These are so easy to make, and my kids eat them for snacks. And, although I have no evidence to support this, I would bet at least a nickel that they are better for you than the store bought ones. Cheaper, too. So, the only problem now is that they are gone too fast.
So here's what I do:
take the excess bread and cut it into small squares with a sharp knife. (a dull knife will squish your bread and you want it fluffy.)
spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, put the diced bread on top, and spray the bread with cooking spray. (I suppose you could try melted butter, but, for me 1) that would take too long, and 2) your croutons wouldn't be as healthy.) I am pretty liberal with the cooking spray. Coat the bread, and then stir them on the pan to coat even more and spread the bread in a single layer on the pan.
now you get to season it however you want. A lot of that depends on the seasonings I have in my cupboard.
But mincing garlic and sprinkling that on top is a must.
Then I threw on some Italian seasoning.
and a generous dose of Parmesan cheese.
Then bake them in a 250degree to 275 degree oven for about three hours until they are completely dry and crunchy. You don't want the bread to have any moisture in them, or they will mold faster. (You can tell by taste testing...I recommend doing lots of this, because they're good.)
let them cool completely and store them in a zipper baggy in your pantry. Use them in any way you've used croutons...on salads, in soups, as snacks, and when you are hungry.
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