Croutons are cubes of bread that have been coated in butter or oil and then baked or fried until crisp. They’re wonderful sprinkled on soups or salads, or used as a topping for casseroles. You can buy ready-made croutons from the grocery store but why bother when homemade croutons are a hundred, no, a thousand times better and are sooo easy to make?
They can be seasoned in a variety of ways. In place of garlic powder, you could use anywhere from ½ to 2 teaspoons of italian seasoning, herbes de Provence, dried dill, Greek seasoning, chili powder, curry powder, fresh cracked black pepper, or whatever seasoning strikes your fancy. You could make parmesan croutons by adding ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese to the butter, or make fresh cheese croutons using cheddar, swiss, gruyere, emmentaler, or asiago by sprinkling 1 cup or so of the grated cheese over the croutons halfway through baking.
These garlic butter croutons are my family’s favorite. They’re so good and smell divine while they’re baking. It’s all I can do to keep the fam from gobbling them all up before dinner! Feel free to use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder if you like. The garlic powder just makes it super quick and easy to do, but fresh garlic is equally delicious.
HOMEMADE GARLIC BUTTER CROUTONS
1 loaf (about 1 lb.) french or italian bread or texas toast
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1½ Tbsp. granulated garlic or garlic powder
½ tsp. garlic salt, optional (we like a little salt on our croutons, but this is completely up to you – feel free to omit the salt if you like)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
With a serrated knife, cut bread into ¾ to 1-inch cubes.
Combine melted butter, granulated garlic, and garlic salt (if using) in a gallon-size ziploc bag.
Quickly add bread cubes to bag and seal well.
Shake like mad till bread cubes are completely coated with garlic-butter mixture.
Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake about 15 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Make sure to use a good, sturdy bread. A light, airy loaf will just turn soggy. This is better made with stale bread so try to purchase your bread a day or two before you plan to make the croutons so the bread will have a chance to dry out a little.
If you’d rather use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder, finely mince 4 cloves of fresh garlic and use that in place of the garlic powder.
Use real butter and not margarine. Margarine has a high water content and could turn your croutons soggy. Also, my family loves the butteriness (is that a word?) of these croutons but if it seems like too much butter for you, just cut the amount down to half a cup.
I needed a side-dish to take to a barbecue. Well what could be better than cornbread and a veggie salad? Enter Cornbread Trifle. This recipe has a lot of my favorite components for barbecue side dishes. Plus it looks so beautiful all layered up in your trifle bowl. It’s guaranteed to wow everyone with its gorgeous looks and just wait till you taste it! It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser for sure!
This recipe makes a lot so you’ll need a large trifle bowl. Otherwise, be prepared to have some leftover veggies (which are great tossed with chopped lettuce and ranch dressing the next day).
1 box cornbread mix (I used Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix)
sour cream (amount according to milk called for on cornbread package)
¼ cup milk
1-2 jalapeño peppers, depending on how spicy you want it
1 lb. thick sliced bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup ranch salad dressing
1½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
½ small red onion or sweet vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 cans (15-oz. each) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15-oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
8 ozs. smoked gouda cheese, grated (If you can’t get smoked gouda, you could use smoked cheddar or even just plain sharp cheddar cheese)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Make the Cornbread:
Preheat oven as per package directions and grease an 8 or 9-inch baking pan.
Cut off the stem end of the jalapeños, then remove the inner membrane and seeds.
Finely mince the jalapeños.
Prepare batter following the directions behind the box, but replace the milk with sour cream to make the cornbread moister.
Add ¼ cup milk and the minced jalapeños to the rest of the ingredients for the cornbread batter.
Bake according to the time and temperature directed on the package.
Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Cut cooled cornbread into approximately 1-inch cubes.
Prepare the Bacon:
Lay the bacon slices on a foil covered sheet pan.
Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes or until brown and crispy.
Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.
Stack the crispy bacon and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
Set aside ¼ cup of bacon pieces for garnish.
Make the Dressing:
Place the mayonnaise and ranch dressing in a bowl.
Whisk together until smooth and well blended.
Prepare the Veggies:
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, corn, black beans, and cilantro.
Stir to combine well.
Assemble the Trifle Layers:
Place half the cornbread on the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Press down lightly.
Top with half the veggies.
Next half the cheese.
Then half the bacon. Don’t touch the ¼ cup you reserved for garnish.
End with half the dressing.
Repeat the layers a second time ending in dressing.
Garnish the top with the green onions and reserved ¼ cup bacon.
Chill in refrigerator at least an hour before serving.
Summer is State Fair time in California. The State Fair makes me think of corn dogs. I love corn dogs. Corn dogs bring back warm, fuzzy memories of state fairs and carnivals past. There’s nothing like wandering around the fair taking in all the sights and smells with a corndog-on-a-stick smothered in mustard clutched in your hand.
I saw a recipe for mini corn dog muffins on the Kraft website and thought they looked like fun so I decided to try it. They turned out so good! The Kraft recipe has you poke a little cube of cheese into the muffin next to the hotdog. That actually sounds yummy to me too! I’m going to have to try that next time! I remember eating cheese dogs when I was a kid. A cheese dog was basically a hotdog-on-a-stick but with a log of gooey, melty cheese in place of the hotdog. They were oh-so-good!
If you can’t make it to the State Fair, give these tasty little muffins a try. They’re baked so they’re a healthier alternative to a deep-fried corn dog, but they’re every bit as nostalgic and addictive!
MINI CORN DOG MUFFINS
1 pkg. (15 oz.) cornbread muffin mix (I used Krusteaz)
6 beef hotdogs, each cut into 4 pieces (about 1-inch)
Preheat oven to 400ºF and grease 24 mini muffin cups.
Prepare cornbread muffin mix according to package directions.
Fill muffin cups half full with cornbread batter.
Push a piece of hotdog down center of batter in each cup.
Bake 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin pan.
I got this recipe from one of the girls at work. She said her mom makes it for them all the time. I’d never heard of biscuit dough made with 7-Up so I was really curious to try this. The biscuits turned out pretty good. The recipe makes a super sticky dough but if you sprinkle your work surface generously with extra bisquick before turning the dough out, and then sprinkle the top of the dough with more bisquick before patting it flat, it really helps a lot. You could substitute flour for sprinkling if you like.
4 cups bisquick baking mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7-up
½ cup butter
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Place butter in a 9×13″ pyrex baking dish and put into oven to melt the butter.
Remove baking dish from oven once butter is melted.
Mix bisquick, sour cream and 7-Up together in a bowl. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
Sprinkle extra bisquick onto work surface and turn dough out.
Sprinkle a little more bisquick on top of dough.
With your hands, gently pat the dough to about 1-inch thick or so. These biscuits don’t rise very much so you want to have your dough be fairly thick.
Cut out 12 circles using a biscuit cutter or an overturned glass.
Arrange biscuits on top of melted butter in baking dish. A bench scraper or spatula helps to transfer the soft dough from the work surface to the baking dish.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: I like to cut 2½-inch diameter biscuits which fill up my baking pan nicely, but you can certainly cut them larger or smaller. It’s up to you to decide what size you want your biscuits.
I keep seeing recipes for pull-apart breads everywhere…. pull-apart cheese bread, pull-apart bacon ranch bread, pull-apart cinnamon bread….. Well, I had some leftover Costco pesto sauce and I wanted to use it up before it hit the expiration date so I thought, “why not pull-apart pesto bread?” It sounded like it would be good, don’t you think? So I made a quick stop at the store to buy a french bread boule and some provolone cheese. Here’s what I came up with.
PULL-APART PESTO CHEESE BREAD
1 round french boule (bread bowl)
1 lb. sliced white cheese, such as provolone, swiss, monterey jack, etc.
½ cup butter
⅓ cup basil pesto
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top of a cookie sheet and place the bread on it.
Slice the bread lengthwise being careful not to cut all the way to the bottom of the loaf.
Next slice the bread crosswise, again taking care not to cut all the way to the bottom, so you have little 3/4-inch squares.
Insert slices of cheese into the cuts between each bread cube, cutting cheese as necessary to fit.
Melt butter in a small bowl in microwave.
Add pesto to melted butter, stirring to combine well.
Spoon all over bread making sure pesto butter goes into the cuts.
Wrap foil closed over bread.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Open up foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Transfer bread to a platter and serve immediately. To eat, everyone just pulls a little cube of bread out.
NOTE: This bread is best served warm out of the oven.
I saw a recipe for these roll-ups in a magazine years ago. I don’t remember which magazine it was, but I always remembered them and had it in the back of my mind to try them some day. Well, my Mom was here to visit and I wanted to fix her a cup of coffee and an afternoon snack to go with it so I thought it would be good to try making them today. I couldn’t find the recipe I copied down all those years ago, but I had a general idea of what to do. They turned out really yummy! Definitely one for the family favorite archives!
CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE ROLLUPS
1 loaf white bread
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup melted butter or margarine (add more as needed)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cut crusts off bread and save for later use. (I love making bread pudding with them.)
Blend cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth.
Spread a little cream cheese mixture on each slice of bread.
Roll each slice into a log, pressing ends lightly to seal.
Pour melted butter into a pie plate.
In a second pie plate, combine 1 cup sugar and cinnamon.
Aebleskiver (pronounced ey-bluh-skee-wuh) are puffy little sphere-shaped Danish pancakes. The name literally means “apple slices” in Denmark where they were traditionally filled with pieces of apple or applesauce. Since the 1600’s, aebleskiver has historically been served in Denmark at Christmas time accompanied by glogg or mulled wine. Nowadays you can find them pretty much year round. They’re often made plain, then sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with jam. You also find them filled with a variety of sweet or savory fillings like chocolate, peanut butter, cookie butter, fruit preserves, fresh fruit like blueberries or raspberries, cheese, bacon, or sausage.
They’re cooked over the stove in an aebleskiver pan which looks like a deep frying pan with several round wells in it. You can easily find cast iron aebleskiver pans on the market or non-stick cast aluminum ones like the one made by Nordicware (which is the kind I have). The trick to making aebleskiver is to be patient. Take your time turning the little pancakes one by one in quarter increments so you end up with a perfect little round ball. It takes some patience, but with practice you’ll have the hang of it in no time! Have fun!
[Makes about 30 aebleskiver]
2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, and melted butter.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar, whisking until smooth.
Gently fold in beaten egg whites, taking care not to deflate.
Heat aebleskiver pan over medium heat until hot.
Generously brush each little well in aebleskiver pan with butter. You want a little pool of butter at the bottom.
Pour batter into each cup, filling to just below the top. They’ll puff up a little as they start cooking.
Cook till they start to get bubbly around the edges.
Carefully lift and turn a quarter turn using aebleskiver turners, bamboo skewers, chopsticks, knitting needles, or even a fork will do.
After a minute or so, lift and turn a quarter turn again.
Continue cooking, lifting and turning each ball a quarter turn, until completely done. You’ll want to turn the balls a total of 4 to 5 turns each.
After the last turn, let cook a couple of minutes, then keep rotating them in the wells to ensure they cook evenly and don’t burn.
Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve with jam or syrup on the side.
NOTE: If you want to see the traditional way to cook aebleskiver, watch this. It takes a little practice but you can do it!
I found another use for my isot pepper! I’ve been trying to think what else I could use it for ever since I bought it to make the pork stir fry. Well, I made chorizo con papas (Mexican chorizo with potatoes) for breakfast a few days ago and wanted to serve it with some toast. We often make buttered toast simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I use a good quality salt and fresh cracked black pepper to season the toast. So I thought, why not try the isot pepper? Delicious!
I don’t have any measurements for this recipe. Just slice however many slices of toast you want to serve, butter them with as much butter as you want, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
BUTTERED SEASONED TOAST
1 loaf french or italian bread
good salt (I like Maldon sea salt)
isot pepper (or any fresh cracked black pepper)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Slice the loaf of bread into slices as thick or thin as you want.
Butter each slice and place on a cookie sheet.
Sprinkle lightly with salt; then sprinkle with pepper to taste.
Bake until the slices are golden brown. How long this takes depends on your oven.
Fall is definitely here! I can’t believe how quickly our triple-digit weather has turned nippy and cold. The leaves on some of the trees are already starting to turn into glorious shades of gold and copper. It’s great weather for snuggling in front of a cozy fire with a bowl of hot soup and a little basket of warm, cheesy biscuits.
These biscuits are the easiest thing to make because you start with a baking mix and just add three other ingredients. They make a great little accompaniment to a hearty bowl of soup for dinner; but I’ve also served them with eggs for breakfast. If you buy the little packages of already diced ham, and pre-bagged shredded cheddar cheese, they couldn’t be any simpler to throw together. The secret is not to overmix the dough or the biscuits will come out tough. Also, when I move them to the baking sheet after cutting them out, I place them with their sides touching each other. This helps them to rise up higher which makes for a thick, hearty biscuit that’s chock full of ham and cheese.
HAM AND CHEDDAR BISCUITS
4½ cups Bisquick baking mix
8 oz. diced ham
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Measure baking mix into a bowl.
Add ham and cheese and toss together until well combined.
Pour in buttermilk and knead just a few times until dough comes together.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Pat and shape dough into a 1-inch thick circle.
Cut out 12 rounds with a biscuit cutter. Make sure to cut straight up and down. Don’t twist the biscuit cutter or the biscuits won’t rise as high.
Place biscuits on a cookie sheet making sure they’re touching each other.
American biscuits are very different from English biscuits. American biscuits are more of a bread, whereas the English ones are more like a cookie. In the Southern part of the United States, biscuits are very popular and everyone has a grandma or an aunt who made “the best” biscuits ever.
Making biscuits from scratch is a dying art. The advent of refrigeratedready-made biscuit dough has made it unnecessary (though to my mind, the ready-made ones don’t taste as good as homemade). Then there are all those stories of “Great Aunt Bess” who made amazing biscuits using a certain brand of flour measured in her Grandma Nell’s teacup with the pink roses on it and mixed by hand until the dough “felt” just right. It’s enough to make even just the prospect seem dauntingly intimidating.
But honestly, it’s not that hard. The secret is to handle the dough as little as possible. A food processor makes quick work of this. I’ve given instructions below for making these biscuits using a food processor but remember, you could totally make them by hand, too. Just work quickly, squeezing the dough between your fingers. And don’t worry. If worse comes to worst, you could always use them as hockey pucks!.SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily is a favorite brand down South)
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
1/4 tsp. salt (real Southern biscuits have a faintly salty taste)
about 1 cup buttermilk
1/4 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425º.
Grease a baking sheet with Pam (butter-flavored is good).
In a food processor, pulse the flour, Crisco and salt together.
Pulse in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together and there is no dry flour left. You may have to add a tablespoon or 2 of buttermilk to get all the flour completely moistened.
Sprinkle work surface with a little flour and turn dough out onto it.
Lightly pat into a ball; then with a rolling pin, gently roll out to half an inch thick. Don’t worry about making the top look perfectly smooth.
Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. You could also use a glass.
Arrange on baking sheet making sure sides of biscuits are touching each other.
Add scraps to empty spaces in baking sheet. Don’t gather and re-roll them because they’ll just turn out tough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Remove from oven and brush tops of biscuits with melted butter, if desired.