Perfectly crispy, melty, and stringy; these Baked Mozzarella Sticks have all the flavors of their fried cousins, but without all the oil and fat.
Welcome to round 4 of #FreakyFriday; Spring edition. “What’s #FreakyFriday” you ask? Well, it’s hosted by Michaela from An Affair of the Heart. There are 17 bloggers participating in the event this month. It’s kind of like SRC, if you’re not new to my blog. If you are, well, here’s the 411.
Each blogger who signs up is assigned a blog from another participant. Like me, for instance. I was assigned Who Needs a Cape? Once you receive your assigned blog, you get to go through their recipes and pick something you want to cook. Then, once you cook up their recipe, you post about on #FreakyFriday; telling everyone about their wonderful blog, what you found out, and how delicious their recipe was!
It’s simple as that!! Well, not really!! The hardest part is picking a recipe! Heather and Lori have so many delicious recipes on their blog. It really did make chosing a recipe that much more difficult. Between the Loaded Artichoke Garlic Bread, Spicy Honey Garlic Chicken, Saucy Sesame Peanut Noodles, and the Coffee Vodka what’s a girl to do??
Yes. I said Coffee Vodka! I think we all have mornings where that would come in REALLY handy!! This recipe must have been the influence of Heather. She lives with her fam on the Jersey Shore. Not sure if she’s made it on the show, yet, but ya never know how far her super powers can take her. But not far enough because she loves peace and quiet but never seems to get enough. Such is the life of a mother. But, not just any mother! She’s a mother of three, count them, THREE boys! That’s one SUPER power.
But, no matter how many recipes I perused and how many pins I looked at I kept coming back to these Baked Mozzarella Sticks. This must be Lori’s influence on the blog because one of her passions are baking, beaches, coffee, Bret Michaels (but seriously isn’t he everyone’s passion?), finding a good bargain (again, doesn’t this apply to everyone?), and all things chocolate (no brainer). She lives in Michigan with her Brady Bunch style family of 6 that spans 24 years in ages. I can’t even imagine.
I must confess, I’ve been dying to make baked mozzarella sticks for a LONG time. Seriously LONG time. That’s part of the reason why these kept haunting me. Not like a poltergeist hunt, but like a Casper haunt. Ya know? Friendly? I had all the ingredients to make these gorgeous looking Cheesy Beer Bread and the Banana Brown Sugar Muffins. I even MADE the brown sugar for those muffins. But when it came down to it…the cheese sticks won.
You see, me and cheesesticks have a love hate relationship. I love them, they hate me. They stick around making certain parts of me swell up if I eat them as much as I’d like. Ya know what mean, right? Things like your derrier, your waist, your hips, your thighs. All those things get bigger if I eat that OTHER version too much. And since I’m always looking for healthier alternative to the foods we love, I jumped on this recipe like a PBR. No, not a beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon) but a bull rider. Professional Bull Riding? No?
Just look at that stick. Look at that crunch, that golden color; all things you look for a good mozzarella stick. Now, it’s confession time. I swapped out regular breadcrumbs for the panko variety and I lightly toasted them before I dipped the sticks on the breadcrumbs. This is just my little touch on the recipe and makes for a super duper crunchy mozzarella stick.
And here’s another confession. I cannot – I repeat CANNOT – use panko without toasting it first. If I’m using it as a coating for anything, it goes in the oven first. That’s how you can get amazing, crunchy oven fried foods that don’t make you miss the deep fat frying. So, if you haven’t done this, please do next time you over fry something dipped in panko. Just lightly toast it to a slightly golden color. You’re gonna thank me for this one.
I was multi-tasking the day I made these. When they come out of the oven, they are SUPER stringy and delicious. It’s not easy trying to hold the cheese with your hands AND take the picture. I honestly need to find a tri-pod for my phone so I can do that. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of asking the hubs for help with the photo sessions because I know he’d just make fun of me. He did, however, devour a large part of the bowl with dinner that night. So, I know he loved them just as much as I did.
Now, along with this recipe is a straight up marinara recipe. Since I had a bit of a sensory overload with tomato sauces at our house lately I opted for the jar of sun-dried tomato pesto I had on hand. Please, PLEASE do make their marinara sauce. I plan on whipping up a batch to have on hand so I can make these babies repeatedly. Because I will. Make them repeatedly.
Please head over to Who Needs a Cape? and see what other delicious recipes they have you’re dying to make. While you’re there, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. And make sure you’re following Michaela, our coordinator Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, StumbleUpon, and Bloglovin.
Be sure to scroll past the recipe to see what the rest of the group cooked up for this Spring edition of #FreakyFriday!
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 8 mozzarella sticks, cut in half
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 large eggs or three large egg whites)
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Place the cheese stick halves in the freezer 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the cheese is freezing, place the panko on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven. Remove from heat and combine with the garlic salt and Italian seasoning in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Place the egg and flour in a small, shallow bowl. Set aside.
- Remove from the freezer and dredge in the flour. Dip the cheese into the egg mixture and then the panko mixture; making sure to press the cheese firmly into the panko.
- Place the cheese on a baking rack placed on top of a sheet pan. Continue with remaining cheese, flour, egg, and panko.
- Bake at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes or until the coating is crisp and the cheese is heated through. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving with the tomato pesto or other, favorite dipping sauce.
Recipe adapted from Who Needs a Cape? Baked Mozzarella Sticks
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