Crunchy DIY Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

We’ve all had those soggy cheese sticks at franchise fern bars and vowed never to touch them again…but the concept is great and if you will give this recipe a chance, you will have your faith restored, at least in HOMEMADE Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 dozen cheese sticks, four inches by 1/2 inch
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

Beat eggs with water in a small bowl.  Put next four ingredients in a large zip-lock bag…Roll cheese sticks in flour, dip in egg wash, then in bread crumb mixture.  Repeat with egg wash and bread crumbs and place on a baking sheet to chill for at least four hours.  When ready to cook, bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Any Italian red sauce will be a delicious dip for the cheese sticks.

Silver Queen Corn and Bacon Dip

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What a great time to try out this creamy corn and bacon dip!  Silver Queen and other varieties of tender, succulent, early June corn make it a very toothsome experience…or if it is the dead of winter, feel free to utilize frozen creamed corn or well-drained canned niblets.

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise
  • 3 large green onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups of corn, freshly grated off the cob
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 dozen strips of smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.  In a microwave-proof pan, combine onions, garlic, pepper, corn, and butter.  Cover and microwave on high for three minutes.  Stir in cream cheese mixture, add bacon, and microwave for two minutes.  Remove and mix well.  Cover and cook for an additional minute or two until heated through.  Great with corn chips!

Zucchini Crostini

Looking for something to titillate the taste buds of the vegetarians in your circle?  Try this on toasted garlic french bread in the best Tuscan manner or rely on thin party rye.  This is a rich dish that could be adapted to eggplant or other veggies with a few adjustments to the ingredients.

  • 1 cup of shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Approximately 18 small toasts

Put shredded zucchini in a mixing bowl and toss with salt.  Let stand to absorb excess liquid, then rinse and dry on a clean towel.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Mound a rounded teaspoon on each toast and bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Smoked Oyster and Olive Tapenade

Simply put, this is my favorite way to prepare smoked oysters for a party.  This dish is salty, spicy, and exotic.  It is best served with hunks of a rustic European bread to dip or spread.  I always drain smoked oysters and let them soak for a half hour in cold brine to freshen them and remove the excess oil.

  • 1 eight ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 and a half cups of good mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons of Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 4 ounces of prepared olive tapenade OR a small can of chopped black olives
  • 1 can of smoked oysters, washed, drained, and chopped.

Mix all of the ingredients and chill.  This will make about two cups

Uptown Sausage Balls

You will find other recipes on this site and in many cookbooks for sausage balls  but these are really unique and delicious.  We were visiting New Bern, North Carolina with Jim and Jane in the fall and came upon this recipe that comes originally from a parishioner of that city’s grand eighteenth century Christ Church.

  • 1 pound of lean bulk sausage
  • 3 cups of baking mix
  • 10 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of Walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup of dates, chopped (I use scissors dipped in hot water)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine ingredients and roll into marble-size balls.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 14 minutes and cool.  These may be frozen and reheated in a 300 degree oven for about 15 or 20 minutes.  This should make about seven dozen.

Caraway Puffs

We have made these with Stilton, Gorgonzola, Cougar Gold, and Blue Cheese.  Any one of these that you may have on hand is delicious.  What an easy and impressive hors d’oeuvre this is when the cupboard is almost bare and you’re challenged to come up with something fast.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Open a ten ounce cylinder of large buttermilk biscuits and cut them into fourths, then roll into balls and coat with caraway seeds.  Put in a baking dish. Melt 1/2 cup of  butter with four ounces of the chosen cheese in a saucepan.  Pour over the balls and bake for 15 minutes, turning once.  When puffed and browned, serve proudly.

Yokosuka Pickled Veggies

These were served as a pre-prandial treat at a unique home built of finely fitted and unpainted timbers near the U.S. Naval Base in Japan during a visit with friends some years ago.  I have resurrected the recipe because some folks really enjoy a salty, biting, clean taste with a really special craft beer.

  • 1/2 pound of carrots, shaved from the length of the carrot
  • 1/2 pound of large turnip roots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of radishes, (daikon if possible) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of broccoli florets, about the size of quarters
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt

Combine the ginger, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sake, and sea salt in a saucepan and heat until steaming…do not boil.  Place vegetables in a covered pyrex dish and pour the pickling solution over them.  Make sure all are covered.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. before serving

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