Using up leftovers in a creative way is always challenging, at least in my house. My kids are deeply suspicious of anything they have seen before, even if they wanted to throw a party in celebration the first time it appeared. Being a constantly on-the-go individual, I love ready-made food at my fingertips. Makes me look like a bit of a genius, whipping up dinner in about 10 minutes. What about all the little bits that wind up hanging around in the pantry or the fridge? One can only make casseroles so often . . .
Bread is one of those things that winds up neglected. Not that it happens all the time; my family goes through bread spurts where I can hardly keep up. It’s the in between times when I face a half a loaf in the bread drawer, wanting to use it up before it goes off.
Three options, and there are likely more.
1) Make bread crumbs. Slice that bread, cut it into quarters (roughly anyway), drop it in the food processor, and whir away. The resulting crumbs can be frozen to use whenever. I freeze mine in the fresh crumb state, but you could also oven-crisp them and freeze them that way.
2) Make croutons. Best done with leftover baguette or other crusty bread. Cut into bite-size pieces. Toss with garlicked oil (or leave the garlic out of it) and sprinkle with a little salt, then bake at about 325 until browned and crisp. Cool completely, put in an airtight container, and freeze (or not) until you want to use it. My son is on a Caesar salad kick right now and these are essential.
3) Make French toast (which the French call “pain perdu”, or lost bread.) Needless to say, this one is a favorite in my house. Hmm. I wonder if they purposefully leave leftover bread so I’ll make this?
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- ½ tsp (or more) cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1+ TBS sugar (I like brown sugar in this)
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 4 slices of leftover bread
- 1 TBS butter or coconut oil for the pan
- Mix all ingredients except the bread and butter together. I mix these directly in a 9×13 pan, since that’s the perfect soaking spot.
- Lay the bread slices in a single layer in the egg mixture. Let soak for 2 minutes a side. The egg mixture will be mostly soaked up.
- Preheat the pan on medium-medium low heat for about 4 minutes. Add the butter or coconut oil and melt it until it bubbles a bit.
- Add the bread to the pan, in a single layer. Cook for maybe 3 minutes a side, or until the bread is browned and crisped. You might have to adjust the heat a little.
- Serve with bacon. Warm maple syrup. Fresh strawberries. Whipped cream. Chocolate chips. Go wild!
Having homemade bread crumbs or croutons ready to pull out of the freezer makes me feel accomplished. Using up leftovers makes me feel like a virtuous, frugal person. Small things – that make me feel badass. You?