My leftovers used to turn green at the back of the fridge, making me feel guilty every time I reached for a snack. But then one day, I realized what a goldmine leftovers actually are. (It might have been the day my husband got laid off when I was 9 months pregnant with our third child. Yep, I think it was that day.)
Stale bread, it happens to the best of us. My absolute favorite thing to do with stale bread is to make milk toast. I learned about this homey, warm, comforting something-from-nothing meal from a Mark Bittman cookbook. Here is what you do:
1. Use every arm muscle you have to cut a thick hunk (or two, or six) off of your mostly hard baguette, batard, sourdough round, hunk of ciabatta, whatever you’ve got.
2. Toast ’em up.
3. Apply butter and salt. (I know, weird.)
4. Heat up a quarter cup or so of milk in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until warm.
5. Pour warmed milk all over your little toasties in a shallow bowl. Flip toast over a few times to help it soak up the milk.
6. Cut off a bite with your knife and enjoy!
Yum. I wish I had another bowl of milk toast right now.
If warmed milk sounds gross (it did to me, too, not sure why I tried it in the first place) and you aren’t willing to trust me, OR if you have some leftover sandwich bread (do your kids reject the ends? do you?), here’s what you do.
You make breadcrumbs.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to do it now. I know you’re busy. Just get a big freezer Ziploc bag, rip up your stale sandwich bread into 1-2 inch or so sized pieces, and save them in the bag in your freezer. When you’re ready to make breadcrumbs (I usually wait until my bag is about half full), get out your food processor (a blender works too, just not as quickly). Let the pieces of bread defrost for about 5 minutes and then process them until you have a bowl of breadcrumbs. I store these in another big Ziploc, so I have two bags going at all times.
I use breadcrumbs (besides making meatloaf, hello, I did grow up in Iowa) to make delicious toppings—one fancy and one not so fancy. Want to hear?
Fancy: toast up some breadcrumbs, minced garlic, and chopped walnuts in a dry skillet. Excellent with fresh herbs and shredded Parmesan cheese on pasta!
Not-so-fancy: stir together breadcrumbs, shredded cheese (about half as much), olive oil, and garlic salt. Makes any casserole so much better!
OK, now I’m really hungry. Have a great day!