So most of my posts are intense and perhaps more than some people really want to read in a blog post. We’ll keep sharing from the depths of our lives, because if you know Tom or me, it’s just part of the way we roll.
But for today, I’m mostly interested in butter. Yes butter. The creamy, saturated fat that has my heart. (Not my actual heart- my cholesterol is just dandy).
Homemade croutons are easy, less expensive and better tasting than what you can buy in the store. What else are you looking for? Plenty have ooo’d and aww’d over homemade croutons, but what they don’t realize is I usually have stale bread (dry but not yet moldy) around and I love butter. That combination = croutons.
Anytime I’ve got a couple pieces of bread left that are dry, meaning not moldy but past the point of actually wanting to use it, I just throw it into a zip lock bag in the freezer. Then I usually have a few pieces of bread to pull out when I’m ready.
If you want to make croutons but your bread is fresh, just leave it out on the counter overnight and it will dry out or plan on it taking longer in the oven.
Here’s how I do it… nothing fancy:
1. Pre-heat oven 325 degrees
2. Cut your bread into cubes or strips or small slices (any shape works) into a mixing bowl- I usually do about 1 1/2 inch squares. That’s a “rustic” 1 1/2 in. And by “rustic” I mean, never all the same size and never actually measured.
3. Melt butter. Plenty of butter. Pour over bread and toss (hands are easier than a spoon). For about 4-5 pieces of bread cut in 2 in cubes, I would probably use about 4-6 tbsp butter- start there and add more if needed. You don’t want them sopping in butter, but just kinda mostly covered. You can add all kinds of fun things at this point: freshly pressed garlic or garlic powder or garlic salt, salt and pepper, rosemary, thyme, parsley, parmesan cheese…. you get the idea. My favorite is fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Classic and simple.
4. Spread the bread on a foil-lined baking sheet making sure all pieces are flat. Put in the oven and check in about 20 minutes. I’ve never actually timed it but check at 20 minutes and see if they’re crispy. If you want them slightly browned, then turn the oven up or leave in longer. My biggest mistake when making croutons is too much salt, so go easy on the salt and taste before you put into the oven. Always easy to add more salt, but tough (usually impossible) to correct over-salting.
Sometimes on Saturdays I’ll make lots of croutons, all the random pieces of bread I’ve thrown into the freezer over the month. Then store the croutons in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. It’s super easy to pull out what you need for salads or soup.
Now, you may be asking yourself… isn’t she a dietitian? Is she allowed to love butter? YES I AM and I always will. I keep it in moderation, and since I prefer savory over sweet- something like good croutons are like a good cookie to me. I definitely recommend using whole wheat bread- 100% whole wheat flour as first ingredient and 3g of fiber per slice, not per serving since some breads will have 5g fiber per serving but a serving = 2 slices which = 2.5g fiber per slice. You want 3g fiber per slice. (You just got a tip on how to choose your bread if you didn’t notice). But let’s get back to butter. I’m not like Paula Deen with the butter use, but I’ve never given up on butter. I’ve given up mostly on cheese, and cow’s milk . I use coconut oil whenever possible and plan to increase the use of if because I do believe it is as great as everyone says, but butter will stay too. We have something special and I’m not ready to end it.
So next time you’ve got lettuce you really need to eat (but secretly don’t want to), make some croutons to go with it. Or when you have soup, but it’s a little boring- croutons baby.
High quality, homemade, healthier, less expensive food is possible in your kitchen and you can do it.