Holiday Leftovers

bread slice

Now that the holidays are behind us what is to be done with all the cookies and sweets that are left on the countertops?

Old Bread

Breads such as Sourdough, Wheat bread or French and Italian baguettes/rolls are great items to turn into croutons once the bread stales. The best thing about making croutons at home is that you can control the flavor and ingredients. Play around with the herbs and spices to find out what suits your taste the best. Here is a recipe to get you started:

Homemade Croutons

Ingredient Measurement
Old Bread - cut into 1 inch cubes 4 Cups
Olive Oil or Melted Butter 3 to 4 Tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper 1 tsp
Thyme 1 TBSP
Herbs of Provence 2 TBSP
Garlic Powder 1 tsp

Mixing

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Place cubed bread in a large bowl and drizzle the oil or melted butter over the bread. Toss to coat evenly. In a separate small bowl combine all the spices. Once bread is evenly and lightly coated with the oil or butter then sprinkle the mixed spices over the bread cubes and toss again. Spread the bread cubes in one even layer on the baking sheet.

Baking

Bake the croutons for 15 - 20 minutes depending on how golden brown you like your croutons and how stale the bread originally was. Half way through baking remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip over the bread cubes and mix them on the baking sheet so they will toast evenly. Return to the oven and finish baking.

Leftover cookies lining your countertops?

Rumballs are a great way to use up old cookies and cake trimmings.

Rum Ball Filling

Ingredient Measurement
Dark Rum 2/3 Cup
Old cookie scraps (shortbread, sugar, brownies, ladyfingers or cake trimmings) 4 Cups
Water 1/4 Cup
Dark or Milk Chocolate (Melted) 8 oz

Optional Items

Ingredient Measurement
Crushed Nuts - any variety 1/2 Cup
Raisins (soak in rum for about 20 minutes before adding to mixture) 1/2 Cup

In a mixing bowl add all the cookie trimmings and mix with the paddle attachment, this will start to break down the cookie scraps. Once scraps are broken up, add in the water and mix for about 10 minutes to develop a smooth dough - you may have to adjust the water amount to get a smooth texture, it depends on how dried out the scraps are. Now add in the nuts and/or raisins if you are using the optional items, blend until even combine throughout the dough and pour in the melted chocolate, mix thoroughly. Finally, pour in the rum and mix until combine. You can adjust the rum amount to your personal taste or even use a alternate liquor such as cognac or grand marnier.

Spread filling across a jelly roll pan that has been lined with parchment or wax paper and refrigerate until firm. Once the mixture has become firm then you will want to roll small pieces of the mixture into balls (about the size of a walnut) If the mixture is too soft to work with then add more dry scraps, if the mixture is too dry, then add in more melted chocolate until you get a truffle consistency.

Once you have all your rum balls formed you can coat them in your favorite coating - nuts, coconut, cocoa powder, candy sprinkles, melted chocolate...etc.

If using items such as nuts, coconut or cocoa powder

Fill a bowl with the ingredient you prefer and roll the rum ball around the bowl, pressing slightly so the items (nuts or coconut) stick to the outside of the rum ball.

If using melted chocolate

You can wear a pair of latex gloves and coat the inside of your hands in the melted chocolate and roll the rum ball around between your hands quickly so it doesn't melt. Refrigerate to set chocolate and repeat with second coating.

Dip the rum ball in a bowl of melted chocolate, or coating chocolate to create a smooth finish. Candy dipping forks are available at local crafts stores.

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