Monday, February 2, 2009

Frugal Living - Bread Crumbs of Wisdom

Since I started eating healthier last June, I have probably eaten the equivalent of a whole produce aisle of dark leafy greens.

Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I have learned to like salad and I eat a large one almost every day. But I do have to confess, the greens are more palatable with 2 tablespoons of fat free salad dressing, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a few seasoned croutons sprinkled on top.
Without those additions, I doubt I could get the greens down.

So as I continue writing about living frugally, I thought it was time to share a few salad secrets to make a healthy and less expensive tasty green salad. And yes - I have done these!

With the rising cost at the grocery store, I make more things from scratch at home. But there are some things I really like - for instance Kraft Catalina Salad Dressing. I just wasn't sure I could duplicate the taste, especially the low fat or fat free variety. That's when I discovered there are sites with "copy cat" recipes where I can make my favorite taste-alike foods from ingredients I usually have on hand at home!

CDKitchen is one of these sites where I find a lot of my favorite recipes like this Kraft Catalina :

1 cup of sugar
2 tsp. salt
a dash of paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
grated onion to taste
1/2 cup vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
1 cup oil

It's easy to make too - just put all ingredients in the blender, mix and store in the refrigerator. The recipe makes 3 cups.

Since this is not the "diet" version, I tweaked it a little and added Splenda instead of sugar and only 1/2 the oil with 1/2 cup water. It's really good!

Seasoned bread crumbs and those tasty croutons can also be made at home just as easily.

For years I've been storing my broiler pan in my oven. I just lay the crusts of each loaf of bread on that pan and leave them inside my oven until they dry out completely. The pan catches any extra crumbs and allows air to circulate around the bread. Once dry, I just chop them up in my food processor and add the desired spices to the mix. I store the crumbs in an air tight container and always have them on hand for breading my oven baked fish and chicken.

To make the croutons, I cube several slices of bread (it's a great way to use up older bread or sandwich buns that are starting to dry out.) I lay them on top of the broiler pan as well and allow them to dry thoroughly, usually a day or 2. I like to do this right after I get done cooking something else in the oven since a hot oven will speed the drying process.

When the cubes dry, I mix 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the desired spices (garlic powder, a pinch of salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, etc) and drizzle it over the croutons on a baking sheet, tossing them lightly to coat them all. It goes back into the oven on the lowest heat for an hour or two until the cubes are thoroughly dried out. Then I store the croutons in a plastic container.
Just a few of these on my salad make all the difference. They taste every bit as good as their restaurant counterparts. Yummy!


Devita said...

that sounds really interesting. Is it okay eating that much of sugar?

Bonnie W said...

Good question Devita! - But considering that you're only eating 2 Tablespoons of the 3 cups of dressing at one time, it's not a lot of sugar - and if you make it with splenda, the sugar is negligible.