Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Bread Crumbs: Never Waste Bread 'Butts' Again

I would be remiss not to pause and acknowledge the tragedy that took place this past Friday in Connecticut.   My heart breaks and holds a deep sense of loss & sadness for the families & friends who are without their loved ones after this devastating shooting.  No words can change what has happened, but I believe in the power of thought and prayer.  I hope you hug your loved ones tighter, remind those close to you how much you care, and find peace within your own life.  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit". Ps34:18

Homemade Bread Crumbs:  Never Waste Bread 'Butts' Again & Weekly Meals
(scroll to bottom of post for Breadcrumb Recipe)
Like many families this Christmas, we will be traveling to see some of our loved ones over the holiday weekend.  I simply cannot wait!  I love cooking with my family & friends.  It’s actually my favorite part of both Thanksgiving & Christmas.  Getting up, staying in my PJs, making lots of dough for pies, biscuits, and gingerbread cookies, that’s what I associate to a great holiday gathering.

It’s been a tradition when we go to dad’s house to make awesome gingerbread creations.  Perhaps I can get the recipe from Hope, my baking partner in crime J   One year; Hope created a replica of my father’s house…a massive 2 story brick beaut on the lake.  It was AMAZING, and yet somehow, we don’t have the pictures to show it off…what were we thinking!?  In years since, we have made an airplane, a dog park, and a scuba scene.  Yea, not your typical gingerbread houses, but scenes that are close to our hearts!  Here’s a sampling:

As I am excited to spend time with family and friends, I have to remember that this week is a ‘normal’ week, like any other work week.  It’s going to be tough to stay focused at time as I get excited to see friends & family, cook, and ‘veg out’ (eating lots of food while staying you’re your PJs and watching a movie fest, like ‘Lord of the Rings’ or Harry Potter…yes, I have done both the days surrounding Christmas & Thanksgiving).
This week, Neal & I are cooking the most simple of foods in order to give us time to pack, relax a little, & also get that last minute gift for my brother…I have been to 3 stores now and was determined to be able to wrap it and not have it mailed after Christmas...I may have to go with the latter plan.

Meal 1 – Oven Baked Fish & Broccoli

What you need: Tilapia or white fish-thawed, egg, seasoned breadcrumbs (see below), broccoli bundle
Fish: After thawing the fish, get 2 tupperware pans and fill one with seasoned breadcrumbs (start w/ ½ a cup for 4 slightly over fist size fish) & fill the other with an egg, beat the egg.  Dip your fish in the egg mixture, then into the breading mixture.  I then put my fish on one of those racks you use to cool cookies that’s been set on top of a baking dish.  If you have a slotted baking sheet, that would work well J Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees.
Broccoli: To steam the broccoli, Neal and I use a small strainer filled to the brim with broccoli that's been salted and peppered slightly, then put into a bowl that has about 1/5 cup of water in it. Then we put that in the microwave for 3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
Meal 2 – Chicken Fajitas 
1 lb Chicken cut into bite sized pieces
Green Pepper – cut in long slices
Onion – cut in long slices
Whole Wheat Tortillas

Optional toppings

Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese  

Spices to marinate the chicken w/ for @ least 10 min:

Franks Red Hot (or other hot sauce)
Chili powder
Optional – Liquid smoke (1 teaspoon or less) 

***Neal makes this, and has never opted to share his technique…I would say use 1 teaspoon of the cumin, Creole & chili powder with ½ - 1 Tablespoon of the hot sauce. 

Marinate your chicken. Heat a non-stick stovetop pan on medium heat and add the chicken. Stir and cook the chicken 5-8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through & not pink the middle. Then add in your onion& green peppers slices. Cook those for a few minutes or until the onion no longer looks stiff. Serve with tortillas and your choice of optional toppings! Enjoy!

Meal 3 – Shrimp Stir Fry

Stir fry is one of the easiest meals. First, make some rice, we typically do a stove top rice that takes about 45 minutes.  Next,  take 2-3 cups frozen veggies and heat them up in a pan. Cook your shrimp, or take precooked peeled shrimp and add them to the pan once the veggies are thawed. I like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some stir fry sauce. I don't have a favorite yet and am still looking for a healthier sauce.

Do you have a healthy stir fry sauce?

Making Seasoned Breadcrumbs


I keep the but ends of bread in my freezer until I have a full bread loaf bag full of just the end pieces.  Once I have that, I know it’s time to make some more breadcrumbs.
This was an old batch I made with different seasoning than my ones listed below.  You can play w/ the seasonings as you like :)

This recipe isn’t hard. You can’t mess up bread crumbs.

 1.       Thaw your bread & break your into chunks and process in a food processor into thicker crumbs

2.       Put these on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 for 20-25 minutes, or until crisper, turning every 5 minutes.  I normally fill up two large baking sheets.  Let cool

3.       The next part will depend on the size of your food processor.  I go through the following steps 4 times, so I cut the spices in ¼ and make sure each time I process my crumbs, I am adding roughly the same amount of spices. See (parenthesis for ¼ mix)

·         2 T Basil                                (1/2 T
·         2 T Thyme                           (1/2 T)
·         1 t Onion Powder             (1/4 t)
·         1 t Garlic Powder              (1/4 t)
·         1 t Garlic Salt                     (1/4 t)
·         1/2 t Black Pepper           (1/8 t- or just grind some up on top!)

4.       Make sure your breadcrumbs are dry so they don’t mold.  Then, seal in a labeled container.

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