Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Crispy Mozzarella Sticks - A Perfect Football Food

My picture is lost!! I'll add one as soon as I make these again...which shouldn't be too long. :)

These mozzarella sticks come out of the oil crunchy, gooey and just about perfect.  My husband, who enjoys his share of mozzarella sticks when we go out, enjoys these just as much.  I think they're even better.  Don't skimp or extend the freezer waiting time, though, 30 minutes is perfect to keep the cheese gooey, but inside of the breading.  If you do want to make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer, they are best when they are allowed to sit out 15-30 minutes before frying.  


Mozzarella Sticks



16 pieces string cheese, wrappers removed
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

peanut or canola oil, for frying (I prefer the peanut oil, but either is fine)

Slice the string cheese in half. Place the flour in a small bowl. In another separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. In a shallow dish, whisk the eggs with the milk to combine. To assemble, one by one, dust the cheese in the flour, tapping the excess off. Next, dip the cheese in the egg mixture, covering completely. Then lastly, roll the cheese in the panko crumb mixture. Gently remove and place on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to flash freeze.


To cook, fill a medium saucepan with the oil until it reaches a height of about 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. (*An easy check to see if it's ready - stick the end of a wooden utensil on the bottom, if it starts to bubble almost immediately, the oil is ready.  Alternately, you can put a small piece of bread in there.  If it starts to fry, you're good to go.) 

When hot, add the mozzarella sticks, a few pieces at a time.  Don't overcrowd your pan, or you'll lower the temperature of the oil too much, that will result in your mozzarella sticks absorbing too much oil.  Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow the cheese to bubble and leak. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with warm marinara sauce, if desired.

Salsa Fresca


I love salsa fresca...just some veggies thrown together in the food processor, with the addition of a lot of lime juice.  I prefer my salsa very "limey", and a fairly smooth consistency.  I like that this everything in this salsa is small, and the great thing about recipes like this - you can totally adjust the ingredients to your own taste.  Not enough onion?  Add more.  Too much lime?  Use less.  The heat of the salsa depends on how many serrano peppers you use.  Or you could use jalapeños, or I suppose even habaneros, it's completely up to you.  I like mine pretty hot, so I used 3 serranos.  Start with one, you can always taste it and add more.  Enjoy!

Salsa Fresca

1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 onion
2- 3 cloves garlic
1-4 serrano peppers, to your heat preference
2 lbs Roma tomatoes
1/2-2/3 cup lime juice
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp garlic salt


Add the cilantro, onion, garlic, and peppers to a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth, then add remaning ingredients.  Process until it reaches your desired consistency.  Taste, adjust seasonings, serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stuffed Pattypan Squash



This is really more of a method than an actual recipe, but these stuffed squash are a great way to use up leftovers that are hanging around in your fridge.  They can be made with any variety of summer squash, but I love the shape of the pattypan squash, they're too cute.  This recipe would work for either a side or main dish.  Change up the fillings as you see fit...use orzo or quinoa in place of the rice, ground beef instead of sausage, parmesan or monterey jack in place of manchego...you can do just about anything once you have the method down!  

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
4 pattypan squash
1/2 onion
1/2 sausage, browned and crumbled
1/4-1/2 cup finely shredded manchego cheese
1/4 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add about 3 inches of water to a pot or saucepan with a lid, lightly salt the walter and bring to a boil.  Add the squash to the boiling water and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.  Remove the squash and allow it to cool.  Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil, then add rice.  Simmer until liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  

Drain the water from the pot that had the squash and heat up a little oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion until tender. 

In a bowl, combine the cooked rice, onion, sausage, cheese and red pepper.  Remove the tops of the squash and scoop out some of the flesh inside, trying not to cut all the way through the squash.  (If you do, it's okay, the filling is dense enough it shouldn't cause any mess...not that I'd know...)  If you choose to add some of the scooped out flesh to the filling, squeeze out the excess water.  Check your filling for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.  Stuff the squash with the filling, mounding a little on top as well.

Spray a baking dish with a little nonstick spray and place the filled squash inside.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until everything is warmed through and the squash is very tender.  

Makes 4 side-dish servings or 2 main-dish servings

**You could more than likely use this filling to stuff bell peppers as well, just add about 1/2 inch of hot water to the baking dish before baking them.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

7 Layer Mediterranean Dip


I made this tasty dip last week for a weekly gathering we have with folks from our church.  Five of us nearly finished off the entire dish, it was that good!  I used my hummus recipe, but feel free to use store-bought as well.  We had pita chips, cucumbers and bell peppers to dip it in.  Just for fun, I topped a lamb burger with the leftovers later in the week, and it was phenomenal.  Just the right thing to go with that burger.

7-Layer Mediterranean Dip
(adapted from Circle B Kitchen)


1 1/2 cups hummus
3/4 cup peeled and diced cucumbers
3/4 cup diced red onions
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper (jarred is fine)

pita chips and/or vegetables, for dipping

In a 9-x-13 inch baking dish (or any other serving dish), spread the hummus in an even layer.  Add layers in the following order:  cucumber, onions, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and roasted red bell pepper.  Serve with pita chips and/or fresh vegetables.

**I gave measurements here, but when I made the dip, I simply put on as much as looked good.  I used the entire batch of hummus.


Enjoy!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tenderloin Steaks with Garlic Sauce


These little tenderloin steaks have a tasty garlic sauce that would taste good on any number of other foods as well.  This recipe comes from a great little book from Cooking Light, called Light and Easy Menus,  that contains menus, something I'm not the best at putting together myself.  I have a hard time coming up with creative sides that go well with a main dish.  I love the menus in this book and since it's from Cooking Light, I feel like I'm making good choices.  The steaks weigh in at 190 calories each, the sweet potatoes at 163 per serving and the broccoli at a whole 33 calories per serving!

Tenderloin Steaks with Garlic Sauce
(from Cooking Light)

1/4 cup fat-free beef broth
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon juniper berries (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks (3/4 to 1 inch thick)

Combine first 5 ingredients and juniper berries, if desired.  Set aside.

Press 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper evenly onto steaks.  Heat a heavy skillet over high heat until hot.  Place steaks in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness.  Transfer steaks to a plate; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium; add broth mixture.  Cook 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Serve sauce over steaks.  (2 servings)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup (1 ounce) goat cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook potato in a large saucepan in boiling water to cover 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain; return to pan.  Add cheese, salt, and pepper; mash well with a potato masher.  (2 servings)

Steamed Broccoli

1/2 pound broccoli, trimmed
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Steam broccoli, covered, 5 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain well.  Sprinkle with orange rind.  (2 servings)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall for Breakfast

What to eat for breakfast on a warm, muggy Texas morning in the fall?  Pumpkin bread and iced coffee...yum!  Okay, so the bread is almost more of a cake than a bread, but the streusel topping is amazing.  I toasted my slices of bread and then put some butter on and it was a perfect fall breakfast.  Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pecans...and brown sugar and butter.  Divine.  And all accompanied by the Pioneer Woman's recipe for iced coffee.  Enjoy!


Pumpkin Bread with Pecan Streusel
from Ezra Pound Cake
Bread:

  • 1 1/2 PECAN PIECES
  • 1 CUP VEGETABLE OIL OR CANOLA OIL
  • 3 CUPS SUGAR
  • 4 LARGE EGGS
  • 1 (15-OUNCE) CAN PURE PUMPKIN
  • 1 CUP WATER
  • 3 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
  • 2 TEASPOONS BAKING SODA
  • 1 1/2 TEASPOONS GROUND ALLSPICE
  • 1 1/2 TEASPOONS GROUND CINNAMON
  • 1 1/2 TEASPOONS GROUND CLOVES
  • 1 1/2 TEASPOONS GROUND NUTMEG
  • 1/2 TEASPOON SALT
    Topping:
  • 1/2 CUP FIRMLY PACKED LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
  • 1/4 CUP (1/2 STICK) UNSALTED BUTTER, MELTED AND SLIGHTLY COOLED
  • 2 TEASPOONS GROUND CINNAMON
  • 1/2 CUP TOASTED PECAN PIECES (TAKEN FROM PECANS ABOVE)
  1. To Toast the Pecans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet, and toast them in the oven for 5 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup of the toasted pecans for the topping.
  2. To Make the Bread: Grease two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans or 36 standard-size muffin cups with butter or nonstick spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, pumpkin and water, and whisk until combined.
  4. Stir in the flour, baking soda, spices and salt just until combined.
  5. Gently stir in 1 cup pecan pieces.
  6. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans. (For muffins, fill the pans almost to the top with batter.)
  7. To Make the Topping: Stir the sugar, butter, cinnamon and the reserved 1/2 cup of pecan pieces in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the topping over the loaves or muffins before baking.
  8. Bakes the loaves for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Bake the muffins for 30 to 35 minutes.)
**Notes
--I used dark brown sugar (since that's all I have on hand, particularly for Brown Sugar Cookies)
--I don't know why, but my loaves had to bake for much longer...at least 1 hour and 10 minutes
--Next time, I will use all the seasonings, but my abundant spice collection was missing allspice, so I ended up using pumpkin pie spice in place of the nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice
--I would love to try this with some chocolate chips mixed in next time...over the top?  Yes...too much?   I think not. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

I'm not the biggest fan of sugar cookies...frankly, when it comes to cookies, I like them with as much chocolate as I can squeeze into them.  My husband, however, prefers sugar cookies above all others, and I love being able to bake things for him.  So, when I came across this recipe, I figured it was worth a try.  And was I ever right.  The cookies are soft and stay that way for days afterward.  My husband sticks them in the microwave for a few seconds just to warm them.  I think these cookies are great, right up there with a lot of the chocolate recipes I love them...and my husband thinks they're just plain awesome.  Enjoy!



Brown Sugar Cookies
from Abby Cat Chat

Ingredients: 
14 tablespoons unsalted butter 
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 cups flour, plus 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1½ tablespoon vanilla extract
Heat 10 tbsp butter in medium sized skillet over medium high heat until melted.  Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, or until butter is dark golden brown. Remove from heat and put in the mixer's bowl. Add rest of butter and set aside to melt.  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In small bowl or dish combine granulated sugar and ¼ cup brown sugar and mix well.  In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  
Combine remaining brown sugar and salt in bowl with butter and mix for about 30 seconds, until mixture is free of lumps. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour mixture slowly, stirring until just mixed, about 1 minute.  Scrape sides of bowl and give one final stir to ensure everything's blended.
Divide dough into 24 pieces, each about 2 tbsp of dough. Roll into a ball and toss in sugar mixture and set about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake only one sheet at a time until cookies are round and puffy but center is still soft, about 12-14 minutes - make sure to rotate the cookies around 7 minutes in. They will look underdone but they will be perfect! When poked gently between the edge and the 
center there should be some resistance and leave a slight indent.
Allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
 

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