Couponing for the Rest of Us

Pantry Cooking: Leftover/Stale Bread Ideas

We frugal foodies have unique challenges that normal shoppers don’t.  This little segment aims to help by offering:

  • Stockpile-cooking ideas
  • Clever Casseroles in which to hide your leftovers from the hubby & kids
  • Kitchen tips & tricks
  • Freezer-cooking recipes & planning
  • And really, everything but the kitchen sink!

Our very own “Deal Detective Kim” has generously offered to take the lead on this one (aspiring food writer that she is) – so now, I’ll turn it over to you Kim!

A few weeks ago, the Mystery Coupon Penny Item at Publix was a loaf of Publix bread.  I absolutely –hate– white bread, which is what they were giving away, because to me it’s gummy and tasteless.  On the other hand, I truly cannot pass up something that’s pretty much free, so I brought it home anyway.  Kind of like your kids and vegetables, I can eat white bread if I hide it.  No white bread sandwiches for me, except I can eat it if it’s a grilled cheese with soup.  So what else can be done with bread? (Besides feed it to the ducks or go fishing at the creek with breadballs?)

Stuffing:

Thanksgiving is almost here, and most of us make stuffing (A.K.A. dressing) for the big holiday meal.  My Mom would always save leftover cornbread and biscuits, starting around this time. By Thanksgiving, she’d have enough for her dressing without having to make a fresh batch, just by accumulating one biscuit or one slice of cornbread at a time in a freezer bag.  If you buy the pre-packaged “stuffing mix” at the store, you’re basically buying dried bread and herbs!
Here’s her recipe for Thanksgiving dressing.  You need to start a day or two before, because it needs to sit and mingle for awhile.
  • At least a gallon zip storage bag of crumbled up biscuits, cornbread, and whatever leftover bread you have
  • 2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 lb. sausage, browned and drained, crumbled up
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 T. pepper
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. rubbed sage, plus some chopped fresh if you have it
  • 1 t. marjoram
  • 2 t. thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • chicken broth–can use homemade or from a box, you’ll need a lot!
In a big bowl with a lid or a stockpot, combine all the dry ingredients, then pour in enough chicken broth to make it soupy.  Refrigerate 24-48 hours, it will thicken as it stands.  If it’s too thick, add more stock; too thin, add more bread.
Bake it alongside your turkey until the top is brown and crispy.
Tip: if your family fights over the crispy part on top, spread it in a big shallow pan and then EVERYONE gets the crispy part!

Croutons:

This is way easy!  Cut the bread into cubes or strips.  Keep in mind that you are going to dry it out, and when that moisture evaporates, the pieces will shrink some, so don’t cut them toooo small.  (You can use different kinds of bread mixed together for this, so it’s a good way to use up leftover odds and ends.)  Put the bread in a big bowl, drizzle it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt, Caraway seed, onion salt, and black pepper.  Toss the bread and the olive oil to get it well mixed.  Spread the bread onto cookie sheets and bake in a 200 degree oven for about 3 hours, stirring them every so often so that they brown on all sides.

French Toast:

I used the cream cheese and the jelly from Food Lion’s big sale a few weeks ago to make stuffed French toast.  You can do that, or just make it plain.  To make stuffed French toast, just make a sandwich with whatever you want.  Won’t your kids think you’re a Rock Star Mom/Dad if you make peanut butter and jelly French Toast?!
Break a couple of eggs in a bowl, add any or all of the following and whisk it up good:
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
In a non-stick skillet, melt some butter over medium heat.  Soak the bread well on both sides, and plop it into the melted butter.  Watch it carefully; when it’s brown, use a spatula to lift it up, put some more butter in and flip it over.

Bread Crumbs:

This past week, I bought Progresso bread crumbs on sale at Publix; with my coupons, they were about .39 a can.  That’s a pretty good deal, so I did stock up.  But….did you know you can make the same thing using leftover bread?
Dry the bread out in the oven–just put whole slices on cookie sheets, put them in the oven at 200 for a couple of  hours or so, until they’re all dried out.  (A good way to warm up the kitchen on a cold day!)
Then put the bread in the food processor and pulse until it’s all crumbs!  They don’t have the same preservatives and such as commercial breadcrumbs, so you’ll need to store them in a freezer bag in the freezer, but they’ll work just fine!
I mentioned before that I really like Aarti Sequeria, the newest Food Network star.  Here’s a link to her Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding.  I haven’t made it yet, but I can’t wait to try it.
Til next week, keep couponing and cooking with it!  Be sure to let me know what you come up with and maybe we’ll share with the rest of the class!

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