Monday, October 31, 2011

How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.Cheesecake Farms.com



Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin Lasagna
and so much more!
If the only pumpkin you've ever had came from a can, you need to taste fresh pumpkin right from the patch.

Most pumpkins are edible. 

Some have a smooth texture when cooked.  


Others (especially the jack-o-lantern type) tend to be a little bit string-y but all pumpkins work well in recipes.


How to Cook a Fresh Pumpkin for Puree

There are many ways to cook a fresh pumpkin. 
We think this is the easiest.

Use only whole, unblemished pumpkins for eating.

Do not use pumpkins that have been painted or decorated with inedible paints and materials.  Do not use carved pumpkins.

Wash the pumpkin well. 


Cut open but leave in big chunks (like half or quarters according to the size of the pumpkin - see Karla's Tip below.) 


Remove the seeds.  Save seeds for roasting. (Recipe follows.) 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 


Coat a shallow baking pan (with sides) with pan spray.


Place pumpkin, cut sides down into pan. Put into oven.


Roast, uncovered until pumpkin is very soft and collapses. 
The exact amount of time depends on the size. 
Small pumpkins roast in about 1/2 an hour.
Large pumpkins can take 50 minutes or longer.


Cool. 


Scoop out the pulp. Discard the rind. 


Mash the pulp with a fork or potato masher.  Puree if stringy. 


Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Karla's Tip - Cutting a Pumpkin

If your pumpkin is particularly big or the rind particular hard, it may not be possible to cut the pumpkin. 

You can roast the pumpkin whole and uncut but we like the taste a bit better if the seeds are not roasted inside. Also, there is a slight chance that the pumpkin will explode in the oven because of built up pressure that can not escape.

If you must roast your pumpkin without cutting, test the tenderness of the rind every now and then during the roasting. Once the rind has softened, cut a slit or poke a hole in the rind so the steam can escape to prevent an exploding pumpkin.

Another trick, if your pumpkin is small enough, is to microwave the whole pumpkin for about 2 minutes to soften the rind.  Makes cutting a whole lot easier!  

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save those pumpkin seeds for healthy snacking. 
You can eat them raw but toasting adds crunch.


Seeds from a raw pumpkin
Vegetable oil
Salt (optional)
Chili powder, garlic salt, cumin or your favorite spice blend (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put seeds into a colander and rinse well. Drain. 



Toss each cup of seeds in 1 tablespoon oil.  Spread onto an ungreased baking sheet. 

Sprinkle with salt and/or spices, if desired. 



Bake (stirring occasionally) until lightly browned - about 12 minutes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is Your Orange Juice Worth the Squeeze?

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Blood Clots and Vampire Blood Cocktails

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com




It's almost Halloween so you'd better hop on your broom stick and get busy.


Here are two frightfully ghoul-ish recipes that are so quick and so easy it's almost embarrassing.


If any one asked for the recipes, just say it's something you conjured up.



*****************
Blood Clots
OK, so these are really cherry tomatoes tossed with spices - but don't tell anyone.
A ridiculously easy (and yummy) last minute hors d'oeuvre with a name guaranteed to gross everyone out.

Serves 6-8

1 (1 oz.) package ranch salad dressing mix (dry)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

Put dry mix into a plastic bag. Rinse tomatoes. Shake off excess moisture but don't dry. (You need a little moisture to get the mix to stick to the tomatoes.) 



Place tomatoes in the bag.  Shake to coat.  Arrange on serving dish and serve with tooth picks.




Vampire Blood Cocktails
A Halloween version of the Bloody Mary. 

Serve at blood temperature, 98.6 degrees if you're a purist but we still like it cold and over ice.

For each serving:
Put ice (if desired) into a tall glass. 

Add 1 shot (1 oz.) vodka or gin (or to taste). 
Fill with V-8 juice, tomato juice or Clamato juice. 
Stir in horseradish and/or hot sauce, if desired. 
Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime, a witches broom (a stalk of celery with the ends shredded) and a couple of eyes of newt (pimento stuffed green olives).  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Smothered Brains

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Cheese makes every thing
 taste better!

You can never have enough frightful fare for Halloween.


Here's another yummy recipe that will have them howling with delight!

Smothered Brains...... so yucky the kids will love it!

(Just don't tell them it's really a vegetable!!)



Smothered Brains

OK, not really brains.....cauliflower with cheese sauce. 


But kids today are so dumb they won't know the difference.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

Serves 4-6
>>>>>>>>>>>>


1 (8 oz.) package bacon (or 1/3 cup olive oil or 1/2 stick butter) 

3 medium onions (each about 3 inches in diameter - diced)
1 head cauliflower (well washed, leaves and stem removed)
1 (8-12 oz.) jar cheese sauce or Tex-Mex cheese dip
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (any type)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (well washed, stems removed and finely minced)

Rinse bacon under tepid running water.  Separate slices so all the bacon is rinsed.  Drain.  Pat dry with paper towels.



Put the bacon into a large skillet and cook (uncovered) over very low heat until crisp - about 20 minutes.  Be careful not to burn it. (See Karla's Tip below.)  Remove cooked bacon from pan and set aside.


Remove all but about 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.  
It's OK to leave any browned bits.  
No need to wash pan.


If you're not using bacon, put the olive oil or butter into a pan and heat till warm (melted).


Add the onions.  
Cook on medium-low (uncovered) until transparent and soft - about 15 minutes.  Do not brown onions.  When cooked, set aside and keep warm.


Mean while, put the whole cauliflower into a deep pot.  Add 2 inches water.  Cover pot.  


Bring to boil on high. Lower heat to simmer.  Simmer cauliflower till tender - about 20 minutes.  Drain.

To serve:
Put the sauteed onions on a serving platter to form a bed for the cauliflower. 

Crumble cooked bacon (if using) over onions.

Place the whole cauliflower on top of the onions & bacon. 

Heat cheese sauce and pour some over the top of the cauliflower allowing it to drizzle down.

Serve any extra sauce along side. 

Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parsley.

Carve the "brains" into slices with a sharp knife.

Serve with some of the bacon and onions. 



Karla's Tip #1 - Bacon
Bacon should be cooked low and slow.  It will be crisper because you render (extract) more of the fat.  Also, there's less chance of burning the bacon or the bacon fat.


Always save bacon fat.  It's wonderful in so many recipes.... even for cooking breakfast eggs when there's no bacon.


To save the fat, cool in pan then pour or scoop into a heat and freezer safe glass canning jar. Cap when completely cool.  Keeps about 2 weeks in the fridge.  Indefinitely in the freezer.


Do not store in a plastic container or bag.  Plastic is porous and the bacon smell will seep through making everything else taste like bacon, too - even the ice cream!



Monday, October 24, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Franks in Steins

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com




This Halloween treat is really fast!


It's so fast and easy that it's embarrassing!!


But embarrassing or not.....everyone LOVES this.....
even the your gourmet pals!!


Who doesn't like hot dogs, sauerkraut and baked beans topped with yummy melted cheese served in a beer stein?


Guess you'll have to serve your beer in something else.


Franks in Steins



Makes 4 steins

1 (16 oz.) package regular or vegetarian hot dogs (heated and cut into 1 inch chunks - for a gourmet touch use cocktail franks)
1 (14 -16 oz.) can of sauerkraut (rinsed and heated)
1 (28 oz. ) can baked beans (any type)
Cheese sauce (like Cheese Whiz or Tex-Mex Cheese Salsa Dip - heated)
4 handsful tortilla chips (any type)
Condiments: Ketchup, mustard, relish, hot peppers etc. (optional)

Layer beans, sauerkraut, franks and cheese sauce in heat proof steins. Top each with a handful of chips. Serve with condiments.



Karla's Tip
If your steins are microwave safe, you could assemble all the ingredients (except chips and condiments) before heating then microwave till hot.


No steins?
Steins not heat safe?
Use big mugs....but don't change the name to Franks in Mugs.  
You still have to call this Franks in Steins.

*********************

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Barn Owlies

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Happy little owl - faced cookies waiting to be nibbled!

Can Halloween be far away?????

>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen (4 inch) cookies

Dough requires chilling before baking (2 hours or overnight - see Karla's Tip #1 below)

Baking parchment required

>>>>>>>>>>>> 

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks - margarine not recommended
1 cup light or dark brown sugar (lightly packed to measure)
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled do not use packaged liquid chocolate)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)   
Whole, unbroken cashews (about 1/3 cup)


Making the Dough
In the food processor, pulse butter and sugar together - about 10 seconds.  Add egg, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Pulse until dough is smooth and comes together - about 45 seconds.

Remove dough from processor.  Divide dough into 3 equal pieces.  Set 2 pieces of dough aside.

Put the remaining 1 piece of the dough into a small mixing bowl.  Blend in melted chocolate and baking soda.  Divide the chocolate dough into 2 equal pieces.


Forming the Dough
Put 1 portion of the light dough onto a piece of baking parchment.  Pat into a rectangle measuring 2 inches X 4 inches.  Top with another piece of parchment and roll out so the dough measures 4 X 8 inches.  Remove top parchment paper.

Using your hands, form 1 portion of the chocolate dough into a roll the same length (8 inches) as the rolled out dough.  Place on the light dough.  Mold the light dough around the chocolate.  Use the bottom parchment to wrap the roll.  Use your hands over the paper to smooth the roll and make it uniform.

Repeat with remaining dough.  You will have 2 wrapped rolls.  Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours.  Overnight is OK.


Shaping the Cookies and Baking
When ready to bake, position the oven rack so the cookies will bake in center.  Preheat to 350 degrees.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove 1 roll of dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place 2 slices side by side and touching onto prepared pan.  Let dough soften a bit and lightly press the area together where the cookies meet.

Pinch one corner of each slice to form ears.  Place a chocolate chip in the center of each chocolate area for eyes.  Press a whole cashew in between eyes for a beak.

Bake in preheated oven until the cookie edges are light brown - 12 to 15 minutes.  Cookies should be light brown on the bottom.

Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes then slide entire parchment paper (with cookies) onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Karla's Tip #1 - Chilling Dough

The dough needs to chill before rolling out and forming.  Make it at least 2 hours before baking and refrigerate, lightly covered.

Dough can also be made the day before and refrigerated.  Over wrap the parchment with a plastic bag or put into a storage container.   Freeze for longer storage.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com



Been swooping around on your broom stick all day?
Time for tea!

Try my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.
It's frightfully delicious!



Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Good the day it's made. Even better the next!

Makes 1 (9 X 5 inch) loaf

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 large or extra large eggs (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh puree - not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup milk (any type including soy and almond)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


Position oven rack so bread will bake in center.  Preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease pan. (See Karla's Tip #1 below.)

In one bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and milk.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and chocolate chips.

Combine both bowls and mix together.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester comes out clean and the loaf pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan - 1 to 1/14 hours.

Cool in pan 10 minutes before attempting to remove.  Finish cooling on a wire rack.


Karla's Tip #1 - The Sticking Problem

Do your cakes and tea breads stick to the bottom of the pan no matter how well you grease?

Here's what to do....

Measure a piece of baking parchment so it will cover just the bottom of your pan.  Don't let the parchment come up the sides even a little. Remove the parchment from the pan.

Grease pan as recipe instructs then put the parchment into the pan (on top of the grease) covering the bottom.

Put in the batter.  Bake.

Cool as directed then invert pan onto a cooling rack.  Remove pan.

Pry up a corner of the parchment and gently peel back from the baked cake or tea bread.  Discard parchment.

Re-position cake or tea bread top side up and  let cool completely.

Voila!  Nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Transylvanian Ghoul-ash

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com





Garlic is an important part of Halloween cooking.



It keeps the vampires away. 


They just can't stand the taste or smell.


Which makes me wonder if Italy was once over run by vampires. 


Italians certainly use a lot of garlic in cooking and, as far as I know, do not have a vampire problem - which they could have had in the past and, by adding lots of garlic to their cooking, drove them away to, oh - say, Transylvania which is known for the lack of garlic in its cooking and the preponderance of vampires..... Just a thought.



Transylvanian Ghoul-ash 

(with meat or vegetarian)

A tummy warming dinner for all your little goblins and ghoul-friends. Guaranteed to keep away the vampires.

To make this a vegetartian ghoul-ash, substitute 4 (12-16 oz.) packages portabello mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick for the meat.

>>>>>>>>>>
Serves 6-8
>>>>>>>>>

1/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 stick butter
2 medium onions (chopped - about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic (smashed - or more to taste - see Karla's Tip #1 below)
2 pounds very lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes in juice (undrained)
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika (or Old Bay Seasoning)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (14-16 oz.) package wide egg noodles
1 cup regular sour cream (low fat or fat free not recommended - see Karla's Tip #2 below)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped - leaves only, no stems)


Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic. Cook over low heat until transparent - about 10 minutes. Do not brown. 


Add beef. Cook, stirring occassionally, until meat is no longer pink. 
(For vegetarian, add mushrooms and cook until they're are soft - about 5 minutes.) 


Add tomatoes and paprika (or Old Bay).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer on low, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated - about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain. 



When ready to serve, stir sour cream into meat mixture and heat briefly to warm through. Do not boil or mixture may separate.

Serve over cooked noodles and garnish with parsley.


Karla's Tip #1 - Garlic

Two cloves of garlic is pretty mild but just enough to keep vampires away.  


Add more garlic if you like it (you can never have too much) or if vampires routinely visit your area.


Karla's Tip #2 - Sour Cream

Sour cream is sour cream.  Use the real stuff.  It's rich, creamy, yummy and melts into a gossamer sauce- all the reasons why it's used.  
Check the ingredient label when buying sour cream.  Good sour cream has nothing in it except cream and enzymes or cultures (to make it thick) and maybe a little salt.


If it has gums, fillers, stabilizers or a list of other ingredients, it's not good sour cream - regardless of the price. Put it back.


There are dozens of companies that make WONDERFUL sour cream.  Good sour cream is not hard to find.  It's available every where - just read the labels.


Yogurt is NOT sour cream.  Yogurt is yogurt.


Low fat and fat free sour creams are NOT sour cream - just read their labels. Sour cream substitutes are poor stand - ins for the real thing and they usually cost more.


Your cooking will improve 100% simply by using real ingredients.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Quick and Easy Honey Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Want a sweet treat that's healthy?

How about these quick and easy, honey - peanut butter pop corn balls????



You won't believe how good healthy food can taste!


Add some sunflower seeds or raisins and you've really got 
a good-health snack - mega yum!!


The kiddies will love them!
Better put a few aside for you....


Quick and Easy


Honey Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

Makes 6 (three inch) popcorn balls

1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peanut butter (any type- see Karla's Tip #1 below)
6 cups freshly popped corn (regular or hot air popped- about 1/4 cup unpopped kernels- see Karla's Tip #2 below)
Cooking spray
Optional: 1 tablespoons sunflower seeds or 1/4 cup raisins

Heat honey and salt in a small sauce pan. Whisk in peanut butter. Mixture should be smooth. Bring to a boil - uncovered. Boil 1 minute. Immediately pour mixture over popped corn (and sunflower seeds or raisins). Toss to coat. (A rubber scraper works well.)

Lightly mist your hands with cooking spray and, while mixture is still warm, form popcorn mixture into balls. Pack balls well so popcorn sticks together but not so much that you crush the kernels.

Put popcorn balls on a dish or rack to cool completely - at least an hour. Wrap balls individually in plastic wrap or store in a plastic container. I like to keep them in the refrigerator but storing them at room temperature is OK.



Karla's Tip #1 - Peanut Butter

We used natural (unsweetened) peanut butter to test this recipe but any peanut butter will yield good results. Just be sure the peanut butter is thick and not runny.

Some brands of natural peanut butter are soft and runny at room temperature which will prevent the popcorn balls from holding their shape. If this happens, keeping them in the refrigerator will help them stay firm.



Karla's Tip # 2 - Popcorn
After you've popped the corn, pick through it very carefully to remove any unpopped or partially popped kernals and discard them. You don't want your little goblins breaking their teeth.




Monday, October 10, 2011

Cauldron Cooking - Baked and Breaded Witches' Fingers

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Haunting-ly Good Recipes for Halloween


Want a ghoul-ish-ly delicious recipe that's cauldron quick?

With a little magic, you can transform plain, old (well, fresh actually - not really old - just boring) chicken breasts into Witches' Fingers.

The kids will love them.
The perfect entree for your Halloween dinner party.
This is really a chicken breast!


Baked and Breaded Witches' Fingers

Raw chicken cuts best if you freeze it till firm but not too hard.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Serves 4-6
Baking pan size not important but an 11 X 15 pan with sides no higher than 1 inch works well. (See Karla's Tip #1 below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

1 (5 3/4 oz.) package chicken coat and bake mix (like Shake & Bake - any flavor)
6-8 chicken breasts (skins removed and partially frozen - see Karla's Tip #2 below)

Garnish
2 cups your favorite, smooth pasta sauce (not chunky)
6-8 pieces of vegetable peel for a ring (like carrot, cucumber or radish)

Position oven rack so chicken will bake in center. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat pan with baking spray.

Rinse partially frozen chicken breasts under cool running water.  Drain but don't dry.

Using a sharp knife, make 4 cuts lengthwise through the meat beginning at the narrower side of each breast. Cuts should run about 2/3 the length of the breast leaving the pieces attached in fan like fashion.

Toss cut breasts with coating mix as directed on package.

Place coated breasts on prepared pan and spread the fan a little to resemble a hand.

Bake 20-25 minutes or as directed on package.  How frozen your chicken was will determine the exact amount of baking time. (See Karla's Tip #3 below.)

Meanwhile, heat pasta sauce. At serving time, divide the sauce equally between plates. Put cooked chicken on top of sauce.  Drape a piece of vegetable peel over the third finger of each hand to resemble a ring.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Karla's Tip #1 - Pan
Be sure to use a pan with low sides.
Cookie sheets are not recommended because the chicken may give off some juice which will run off the pan.
Pan with sides higher than one inch may require additional baking time.


Karla's Tip #2 - Chicken
What we commonly refer to as a "chicken breast" is actually half a breast.  A chicken breast consists of  2 halves but they are usually split when packaged for sale.

In this recipe, each "witches's fingers (hand)" is made from half a breast - that is, a split breast as commonly sold in the grocery store.

Confused?    Sorry... just get a package of chicken breasts and you'll be OK.

Karla's Tip #3 - Baking Time
Not sure if your chicken is cooked?
The meat will be firm to the touch when cooked and the juices running out will be clear.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Radical Cooking - Home Made Split Pea Soup

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Cooking the new old fashioned way....
Better, faster, fresher, cheaper, healthier 


Home Made Soup
Warms Up the Kitchen!
Here's a REALLY radical idea..... make your own soup.


OK, I can see you all rolling your eyes at me... you don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done now....so adding soup making to the mix....pleeze...


The next time you're in the grocery store, check out the never ending varieties of soup that stock the shelves, round out the salad bar and wait patiently in the freezer case. There's a lot of soup out there.


Stores and manufacturers love selling soup becaue it's a high profit item and they make a bundle. 


I'm not against people making money... in fact I applaud it... but wasting your hard earned money on something you can do better and cheaper just doesn't make any sense.

A two serving size can of brand name soup easily sells for $2.00. 

Gourmet, take out soup jumps the tab to 6 bucks.
That's a lot of cash for flavored water.

Non cooks think making soup is hard.  It's not. 

People pressed for time think soup is time consuming to make.  It isn't.

For fraction of the cost and in less time than you think, you can make soup that's better, fresher, healthier and cheaper than any you can buy.  (And every penny counts these days.)


Home Made Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
The ingredients are simple, just peas and water.  Jazz things up a bay leaf.  Add some carrots, potatoes and ham if you'd like. Even a splash of cream.  And while you're at it, home made garlic croutons would be good too.


Serves 4-6

1 (one pound) package dried green split peas
12 cups water
1 bay leaf (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash peas by putting them into a deep bowl and covering them with tepid tap water. Swish peas around and drain into a colander. Repeat 2 more times. Remove and discard any badly shriveled or discolored peas.

Put washed peas into a large pot. Add water and bay leaf (optional). Partially cover pot and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour or until peas have disintegrated and soup is desired thickness. (If the soup is thicker than you'd like, stir in some water.) Add salt and pepper to taste.


Old Fashioned Ham Hock and Split Pea Soup
Prepare Vegetarian Home Made Split Pea Soup omitting bay leaf. Add one or two ham hocks at the beginning of cooking. Add a couple of peeled, sliced carrots and some peeled, diced potato if you want.  When soup is done, remove ham hocks and cool until easy to handle. Shed meat and return to soup.  Discard bones and rind.



Karla's Tip:  
Don't know a ham hock from a holly hock????


A ham hock is a big ham bone so any ham bone will do.  This is a great soup to make using the bone from a baked ham - especially with all the ham bits attached.


Kielbsa sausage also works well  -  vegetarian sausage, too.  
There's no bone, of course, but they give the soup good flavor.  


Whirl the crusts in the food
processor for bread crumbs.
Store in the freezer.
 
Garlic Croutons
All amounts are to taste.


Oil
Butter
Garlic cloves (or garlic salt or garlic powder)
Bread


Cut some bread into cubes the size you like. (Day old/slightly stale bread works best and you'll probably want to cut the crusts off.)


Put 1/4 inch of your favorite oil (we like olive oil) into the bottom of a skillet.  Add a tablespoon or two of butter (optional.... it's for flavor). If using garlic cloves, add them too. (Garlic powder or garlic salt gets added later.) 


Heat till hot but not smoking. (The air above the oil starts to take on a moving pattern just before it starts to smoke and the butter foam will start to disapate.)   


Add the bread cubes keeping them in a single layer (don't pile them on top of each other - you might have to work in batches).  Turn croutons once they've browned to a color you like.  (Turn only once... avoid turning over and over as they cook.  Turning too much makes them greasy.)


When browned, remove to a cooling rack (use a rack like you use to cool cookies - never paper towels).  If you're using  garlic salt or garlic power sprinkle the croutons now to taste. 


Store left overs in the refrigerator.  Great on salad, too!


>>>>>>>>>>>


Free-B! 
Lentil soup is made EXACTLY the same way.... just use lentils instead of split peas.  Celery and onions are a nice addition to lentil soup.