Nothing tells you spring is here more than rhubarb, berries and fresh peas beginning to show up at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores. While tart rhubarb is almost always paired with strawberries, this pie goes a different way with blackberries and a slightly sweet crust flavored with fresh lemon zest and limoncello.
If you are like me, you end up having a few slices of bread or a few rolls left when it comes time to make fresh bread. I HATE throwing food away so I’ve found an easy way to use up those leftover pieces of bread. Bread crumbs are probably one of the simplest things ever but they turn out best if you have a bit of time to dedicate to the process. If the last remnants of loaves or rolls are too stale to enjoy, follow these simple steps to make your own bread crumbs. The other reason I prefer to make my own, beside the fact that the bread I make for my family is made of 100% freshly milled whole wheat flour, store bought bread crumbs typically contain cheese and my daughter is allergic to milk. I also like making my own because I can make just plain ones or add seasonings or herbs to make them whatever flavor I want.
My bread crumbs go through two toasting cycles. This creates super crispy bread crumbs. I start by toasting my bread slices or dinner rolls that have been cut in half. You can do this in a regular toaster or on a sheet pan in the oven, just make sure they don’t burn.
Be sure to let them cool completely before blending them. This will ensure they do not become gummy in the blender. Once blended, add your favorite spices or herbs and blend again just till mixed. It really is to taste but I typically use 1 1/2 tsp. of herb blend per cup of bread crumbs. My favorite blend is a Bread Dipping mix by S.A.L.T. Sisters. These seasoning and salt blends are the best on the market.
Once blended, spread out bread crumbs on a baking sheet. Bake at 250° for 10 minutes, stir, spread back out and bake an additional 10 minutes. Once finished, pour out onto a sheet of wax paper to speed up the cooling process. Pour into an airtight container for storage. These keep for several months.
I didn’t feel like an entire post on bread crumbs was quite good enough so I wanted to share our family’s favorite Easy Mac & Cheese recipe that is topped with these delicious, crispy bread crumbs. The base for this recipe is super yummy as is but you can easily add extras to it to make it even better. The day I made this particular dish, I was able to use some leftover buffalo chicken, the last few strips of bacon, and shredded all the leftover blocks of cheese to create a creamy three cheese sauce.
I had a small block of mozzarella, cheddar and smoked Gouda which is my favorite blend of cheese. I added these cheeses to an 8 oz. block of cream cheese and 2 cups heavy whipping cream. Stir together over medium heat until smooth and creamy. I then added in my sauteed chicken and bacon.
Toss in the cooked pasta and pour into a medium baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and bread crumbs are a rich golden brown.
Hope this helps you save those last few pieces of bread. Enjoy!
Easy Mac & Cheese
8 oz. pasta noodles, cook as directed and drain
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded cheese (whichever kinds you prefer)
2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
4 strips bacon, chopped and cooked till crispy
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup prepared bread crumbs
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt together cream cheese, whipping cream and shredded cheese. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Add in optional ingredients and cooked noodles. Stir until fully combined. Pour into a medium baking dish, top with bread crumbs and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are a rich golden brown.
As I’ve mentioned before, Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday. This is the holiday that I scour my favorite food magazines, scroll through my favorite food blogs and visit numerous websites looking for the perfect new recipe to take to our family get together. We, like so many other families, spend the night together Wednesday night so Thursday morning is literally wall to wall food from the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep that night. In years past, Carmi and I have shared some family favorites, exciting new side dishes as well as an entire series on using up those leftovers. This month we will be sharing some delicious breakfast options that don’t take a lot of time or effort but will still wow and impress your family Thanksgiving morning. Of course, if your family is staying for several days, these next few posts would also work perfectly for the weekend after turkey day.