Cheese Bread: How to Make the Best

Cheese Bread: How to Make the Best

 

Its no wonder cheesy bread is a favorite at parties: gooey cheese over warm bread. This seemingly foul proof snack can have some flaws such as not enough cheese to bread ratio, not enough textures, and lack of flavor depth. Don’t fret, read below for tips to make the best cheesy bread.

 

CUT AND PRESENTATION

There are two main styles of cheesy bread: a classic pizza breadstick and a dip. The classic pizza breadstick is a flat layer of bread, typical a formed dough in its own right, and a layer of the cheese This bread is then sliced into finger sized segments or small squares for optimum mini bites. This version offers a great cheese to bread ratio however it lacks a crust, offering just a singled textured bite.

The dip style takes a whole loaf with incisions throughout. Spices and cheese are added in-between the crevices. This version tends to have more texture since the pre-baked bread already developed a nice crust, but brings up the risk of too little cheese to bread ratio as cheese often sticks on the bottom on the loaf rather than the ‘fingers’ of bread.

What to do? Choose a good loaf of bread, not too soft as it’s second time in the oven will harden it a bit, but pick a good crust for that extra texture we mentioned above. Slice the loaf lengthwise, parallel to your cutting board. Flip each half up, wrapping the bottom (crust) in aluminum foil. You’ll end up with two foil/bread nests. Now for the cheese.

 

CHEESE AND FLAVOR

Sure you can just sprinkle some mozzarella on your bread and call it a day, but that lacks pizzaz. Choose 1-2 good melting cheeses: mozzarella, gruyere, asiago, cheddar, and gouda to name a few. Be sure the cheeses you choose complement each other. If you’re not sure or want to experiment, ask your cheese deli for a few samples and take bites of combinations together.

Once you’ve settled on the cheese, you’ll need an herbed butter. For one loaf, a stick of butter should suffice. Allow it to come to room temperature then mix in flavorings that complement the cheese like parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and chopped up sun dried tomatoes. If you’re having trouble getting the mix-ins small enough, consider using a food processor. Don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Some good combinations include mozzarella with a garlic, sun dried tomato, and basil butter; gruyere and asiago with lemon zest, thyme butter; monterey jack and cheddar with minced adobe chili, cilantro butter (sprinkle some pickled jalapeños on top).

Spread the seasoned butter mixture over the bread then top with the shredded cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is nice and melted, then stick under the broiler for a few minutes to ensure an even browning on top. Let the cheesy bread cool for 5 minutes before slicing up and enjoying.

 

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Cutting the Fat: Healthy Alternatives to Butter and Oil

Healthy Alternatives to Butter and Oil

There are times when butter and oil are needed in recipes.  When you’re making a hollandaise sauce or a cheesecake, you need these full fat ingredients to give you the texture and flavor you’re looking for.

But what about the times when you don’t need butter and oil for texture and flavor?  Are there substitutes you can use that will help you keep the fat content down without losing what you love?

There are and here are our recommendations for healthy alternatives to your favorite fats.

Oil, Butter and Sugar

Those three ingredients are a baker’s best friends.  But, if you have health concerns they can be problematic.

What can you use instead?

Apple sauce: Apple sauce is a great alternative for oil, butter or sugar.  It gives you the sweetness you’re looking for but it cuts the saturated fat content of baked goods significantly.

And, let’s face it, applesauce has a great amount of fiber and that’s always a good thing.

Mashed avocado: Avocado may be high in fat but it’s a good fat that your body needs.  Avocado as can help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level and you can actually use it in place of butter or oil in your baking.

Mashed bananas: Bananas aren’t just for a snack or sliced on your cereal.  Because they’re high in potassium – keeping your blood pressure at a normal level – they are also good for your digestive system.  You can use mashed banana as a sugar substitute.  If you do this, make sure to reduce the moisture content in your recipe because the mashed banana will replace that.

Mayo or Sour Cream

We really like non-fat Greek yogurt instead of using mayonnaise or sour cream in dishes.  While the consistencies are similar, the calories in non-fat Greek yogurt are a lot less and so is the fat content.

Next time you run across a recipe that calls for either mayo or sour cream, try substituting it with nonfat Greek yogurt and see how it tastes.  You may want to add some spices and seasonings to give it the flavor you’re looking for but it’s worth a try.

Croutons

Yes, we love buttery, crispy croutons in our salads to but there is a healthy alternative as well.  Try using unsalted nuts for a protein boost instead of high fat salty croutons.

You can substitute nuts for croutons in salads or even for granola in yogurt.  Walnuts and almonds are the best heart healthy favorites but make sure you use them sparingly because they are high in calories.

Bread Crumbs

If you love breaded chicken … and we do … try using rolled oats instead of bread crumbs the next time you cook.  Oats are high in fiber and healthy carbs.  You can take rolled oats and put them in the food processor to grind them a little finer and add seasoning for good flavor.

You can cut the fat without cutting the flavor or texture by using our recommended substitutes.

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Freeze Your Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast for both kids and adults. It’s nutritious, provides an entire morning's worth of energy and has amazing flavor. Instant oatmeal is quick, but low on the nutrition scale, however steel cut oats might take 45 minutes to prepare. How can you fit the nutritional benefits of oats into an already-packed early morning schedule? Make it ahead in a large batch and freeze it!

Here’s how to cook and freeze a large quantity of steel cut oats. This recipe can easily be doubled for larger families.

You’ll need:
3 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
Pinch of salt

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Shorter cooking times will result in crunchier oats. When done, remove oatmeal from the stove and let cool.

You can also use these same proportions and cook the oats overnight. Bring water, salt and oats to a boil in a large pot. Let boil on high for one to two minutes. Leave your pot on the burner, but turn off the heat. Cover. In the morning the oats should be perfectly cooked. For those of you at higher altitudes, cook on medium-high for five minutes before turning off the burner.

Steel cut oats are also great when cooked in the crock pot. With this make ahead method, you'll want to use a little more water, maybe 3 1/2 to four cups. Cook overnight for yummy, ready to eat oatmeal in the morning.

Freezing oatmeal is easy. For individual portions you can freeze oatmeal in ice cube trays, small silicone muffin baking cups or any other freezer container. Lightly grease the trays or cups, fill with oatmeal and freeze for four to five hours. When frozen, pop the oatmeal out of the container and store in freezer bags. These make ahead bags will keep for two to three months. For adults, about three-fourths to one cup is a good portion size. Young children will enjoy about a half cup portion and just a few tablespoons will suffice toddlers. You can remove as many portions as you need when you are ready for a healthy, quick breakfast. Get out your measuring cup to test your tray/cups in advance to determine how many cubes or portions will be the right amount.

Adding all sorts of ingredients to the oatmeal before freezing will give you variety and interesting flavors. Some ideas to try include brown sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut or finely ground or chopped nuts. Fruit also works well. Add finely chopped apples, dried or fresh banana, blueberries, chopped dates, raisins, craisins and dried apricots or cranberries. Try some wheat germ or flax seeds for a boost of nutrition and fiber.

Frozen oatmeal thaws well in the microwave. Or, use the energy saving method of setting out the amount you'll need for breakfast the night before. It’ll be thawed enough for a quick reheat in the morning.

 

Add Some Flair (and Flavor) to Your Milk

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When we think of wholesome and healthy foods, milk is one of the drinks that spring to mind. We know we should drink more. We want our kids to drink it. The fact is, many people just don’t like the taste. For others, who already drink a fair amount of it, we can get a little bored.

Let’s address both issues at once, by adding flavor and a little flair! A simple syrup is a quick way to add a little flavor. Dissolve two parts table sugar in one part warm water, and add your favorite extract, to taste. Vanilla is especially good. Because the simple syrup is concentrated, you only need a small amount to add flavor, thus not watering down your milk. Simple syrups will work with any type of milk, including soy, rice and almond. This syrup also works very well in coffee. A simple syrup will last for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

In the fall, all thoughts turn to pumpkin! Pumpkin pie is sure to please. Mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with 3 Tbs. of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to taste. Stir in 2 cups of milk. Drink it as is or add it to your coffee for a pumpkin spice latte treat! The pumpkin spice flavor is strong enough to stand up to soy and almond milk as well. This will keep one week in the refrigerator.

Caramel is one of the hot flavors right now. Take a can of sweetened condensed milk, peel off the label and place it in your slow cooker unopened. Cover the can completely with water. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Make sure the can stays completely covered. Turn the slow cooker off and cool slowly. When the can is cool enough to handle, open it up and voila! You have gooey, thick caramel sauce. Use it as is added directly to milk or coffee. Caramel will keep one week in the refrigerator.

In warmer weather we want it to be ice cold. It’s perfectly alright to freeze your flavored milk. Add concentrated flavorings directly to milk and freeze in ice cube trays. As soon as it’s frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer container as it will pick up other flavors easily. Add to your milk or cooled coffee for an icy cold treat!