Homemade Parmesan Croutons

Homemade Parmesan Crouton

Homemade croutons are incredibly easy to make and delicious.  I always use my left over french bread to make croutons for the week.  I learned how to make croutons more out of necessity than a desire to be a fancy pants in the kitchen.  One night we ran out of store bought croutons and we just happened to have some french bread that was left over from a previous meal.  Croutons can obviously be made from almost any bread and really only requires some sort of oil for the crisping process.  In the following recipe I used a butter spread as my oil but you could most certainly use olive oil, which is now my preferred oil.

Ingredients:

-1 Loaf of french bread

-Butter spread

-grated Parmesan cheese (fresh)

-garlic powder

-Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Thinly slice the french bread into 1/3 inch slices.

Lightly smear one side with the butter spread.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning.

Sprinkle a sparse amount of garlic powder on top.  (Easy on the garlic powder, less is more.)

Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan on the buttered side of the bread.

Cook in the oven on a thin baking sheet or pizza pan cheese side up until cheese has melted.

Once cheese has melted, flip each slice of bread over cheese side down and let crisp until golden.

Depending on your oven cooking time may very.  Make sure your oven is completely heated before putting bread in the oven.  The bread should be crisp throughout.

Chop bread slices into cubes.

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*I have also used this recipe to serve bruschetta on and just as a side for pasta in place of a softer garlic bread.

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Italian Crouton and Mozzarella Crusted Shrimp

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I usually prefer my shrimp grilled 9 times out of 10 but the other day I got the bright idea to mix a few techniques together to produce my own version of fried shrimp.  These shrimp are better than restaurant quality and here’s the kicker…I used FROZEN precooked shrimp!  I can’t even imagine the next level of deliciousness that would occur by using raw shrimp.  You can do this recipe with raw or precooked shrimp.  I highly recommend raw, but at the time I only had precooked and it still yielded wonderful results.  If you are using the precooked, frozen kind it makes it much easier for you to make smaller portions if you need to.  That’s one of the reasons I always keep a bag of it in my freezer, they are separated!  On the flip side, if you are lucky enough to have fresh shrimp coming in at a local market, you can literally just ask for a numbered amount shrimp!

These shrimp are insanely crispy and flavorful.  Try them out for yourself! 🙂

Ingredients:

-20 shrimp (peeled to just under the last section of shell, picture below)

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying,  enough to fill skillet 1/2 inch deep

Dry Bowl Ingredients:

-1 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs

-1/2 cup of Crushed Italian Croutons (crush with meat tenderizer in between to dish towels or in a food processor, pea size)

-1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella (any shredded cheese will work)

-Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (1 shake)

-1/4 tsp Cajun Seasoning

-1/4 tsp Black Pepper

-3 tbs FRESH chopped Basil Leaves (game changer, dried just isn’t the same)

Wet Bowl Ingredients:

-3 eggs

-Tabasco Sauce (3 squirts)

-3 tbs All Purpose Flour

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Directions:

Heat olive oil in skillet to medium high heat.  Oil must be perfectly hot to fry properly.

Peel the shrimp leaving only the very tip of the tail, the part that looks like a fan.  Rinse shrimp in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Prepare your dry bowl by mixing all the ingredients listed under dry bowl. 🙂

Prepare your wet bowl by whisking eggs and Tabasco, while slowly adding in the flour.

Dip shrimp into egg mixture up to the tail then lay it in the dry mix bowl.  Cover the top of the shrimp with dry mixture and press into the bowl making sure both sides get breaded.

Carefully slip shrimp 5 at a time into the hot oil so that they are laying flat on one side.  Let shrimp fry on the first side for about 2 minutes, then flip each one over using tongs for another 2 minutes.  Your breading should be golden.  Cooking time can vary, so test one out first to be sure.  Place shrimp on paper towels to get rid of excess oil after being fried.

Best served immediately with cocktail sauce.