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.

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Toasts

aparg (3)

We were invited to a pot-luck cocktail party last month and with little time to spare, surveyed the fridge and put together this wonderful hors d’oeuvres that drew compliments from all gathered there.

Begin with what I call “light bread” that some call a sandwich loaf.  You’ll find you have about 24 slices to decrust and roll flat with a rolling pin or a tall bottle.  A pound of asparagus is all you will need and you may have enough leftover for a salad at lunch.  Blanch 24 of the fattest spears (covered in plastic wrap) in a microwave for three minutes.  Spread your favorite goat cheese on each flattened bread slice, place an asparagus spear at one end, grind some fresh black pepper over all, and roll up.  Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Place under the broiler, watching closely until the bread is toasted to a golden hue.  We stacked the toasted asparagus in alternating layers like Lincoln logs for serving.   You will hope there are leftovers!

Kalamata and Feta Roll-Ups

This one is a keeper.  If you have never used flour tortillas for roll-ups, you are missing out on a quick, convenient, and much-appreciated snack or appetizer.  Simply lay out a burrito-sized tortilla, mix together 8 ounces of cream cheese, 6 ounces of Feta, 6 ounces of chopped Kalamata olives, sprinkle in some Greek seasoning and garlic powder, and spread generously.  Roll up into a tube, slice into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces and plate.  This freezes well if you would like to make some in advance.  Simply wrap the whole roll in plastic wrap, and about 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, unwrap and slice.

 

Country Sausage and Collard Cups

These rich mini-muffins bring soulful memories to a tailgate or TV football party.  We prefer Conecuh sausage but any smoked pork sausage will work well.  Freeze the extras and reheat for your next party.

  • 1 pound of sausage, cooked and thinly-sliced into quarter inch thick discs
  • 1 ten ounce package of frozen collard greens, cooked, drained, and minced
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese, well-drained
  • 1 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup of green onion tops, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of Vidalia onions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh jalapeno, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Sea salt to taste

Put a sausage disc in each greased mini-muffin cup. Combine the rest of the ingredients thoroughly and spoon into the muffin cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until brown.  Cool, remove carefully, and serve.  This recipe should produce over three and a half dozen muffins.

 

Authentic Welsh Rarebit

                                    welsh rarebit

A friendly little pub in Pembroke with a spectacular view of the castle offered us a chance to taste what might have been standard fare if you had Welsh ancestors, as I did.  Plan on at least a full slice of wholemeal bread per person when you serve this classic dish.  Brain’s Beer, a bitter dark ale, is the go-to beer in Wales for Welsh Rarebit.

  •  1 pound of well-aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons each of Worcestershire sauce, English mustard, and all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons of dark ale
  • 8 slices of a coarse and rustic bread
  • Cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients, except the bread and pepper, into a smooth paste and spread generously over the toast slices.  Place under a broiler and cook until well-browned.  Sprinkle cayenne pepper over each before serving.  Caution your guests to let it sit a moment before burning their tongues. 

 

Sundried Tomato and Basil Loaf

This is a tasty dish for a picnic or tailgate crowd.  Keep the loaf wrapped in foil and slice just before serving.  Better make two, for about 30 servings.

  • 2 cups of swiss cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 loaf of french bread

Cut a thin slice off the top of the bread and hollow out the soft interior.  Combine the other ingredients and fill the loaf, replacing the top slice.  Wrap in foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Wrap in a towel and keep warm in an insulated bag if possible if you are traveling any length of time.

 

Goat Cheese Toasts with Olive Caper Relish

Nowadays none of us live far from a local cheese-maker and some of the most delicious cheeses available at your local farmers markets are the Chevre cheeses.  Pick your favorite goat cheese, toast some French bread, spread it generously, and top it with this universally appealing relish…enjoy!

  • 1 cup of stuffed green olives
  • 1/2 cup of oil-cured black olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup of kalamata olives, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons of capers
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/teaspoon of dried red chile pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil

Coarsely chop in a food processor and store in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before using as a relish.

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