Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

I fell in love with Mozzarella cheese a few years ago while I was experimenting on my homemade pasta and stuffed crust pizza . I just love how the melted cheese beautifully stretches and how its unique bland taste neutralizes the bold flavors in different dishes.

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Every now and then, when I have extra cash, I treat myself with a block of Mozzarella cheese. Haha. Usually, I melt it on steamed broccoli or on shrimp scampi. But because I craved for something different recently, I made a few spiced and breaded Mozzarella cheese sticks at home.

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Instead of just using flour, egg, and plain bread crumbs for the breading, I added chopped oregano leaves to it. It worked well since it complements well with the marinara sauce paired with the Mozzarella sticks.

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Making them was delightful and easy since it doesn’t require a lot of steps and ingredients (except for the Marinara sauce, I guess. But, it’s quite easy to do too :P). For a healthier option, you may bake the cheese sticks in the oven. I wanted to bake them; however, our oven wasn’t working at that time. So, I just used a small pan with less than a cup of vegetable oil for frying. (Oven-baked cheese sticks, I shall try you soon!)

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It was a bit tricky for me to fry the cheese sticks at first because I fried four sticks at the same time. Haha. About 10 to 15 seconds later, the sticks started to slowly pop and the cheese leaked out of the breading! It was a disaster! It even became worse when I tried to slowly flip the cheese, since the four sticks quickly stuck to each other.

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I paused for a while and asked God what went wrong. I also asked Him to help me cook the next cheese sticks properly. He then showed me that the heat I was using was too high for the cheese sticks that I was cooking. Also, since I was using a tiny pan, it wasn’t advisable for me to cook a lot of sticks at the same time. And so, I lowered the heat and fried one cheese stick at a time. When I started to feel more comfortable with it and got used to the timing of cooking one cheese stick, I then tried cooking two sticks at a time – which was just right for the pan.

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I was too excited and preoccupied with the thought of doing it and accomplishing it as soon as possible, that I didn’t prepare for it. I didn’t even think of how to cook them in the best possible way before I fried the cheese sticks.

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Through this, God showed me the importance of consulting Him first before making decisions, even when I’m experimenting in the kitchen. Instead of rushing into things and trying to do my daily activities on my own strength, He encouraged me to seek Him and ask for wisdom because He knows me more than I do. He knows what I need and what is best for me.

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I realized that there are so many things that I want to do; so many dreams and desires that I want to pursue. But, as early as now, God is teaching my heart to seek Him above all, to humble myself before Him, and wait on Him and His perfect timing.

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“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:  ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” – Jeremiah 33:2-3

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INGREDIENTS

Breading for the Mozzarella sticks:

1/3 cup of flour (or the amount enough to cover the sticks)

1 egg

1 cup of Japanese bread crumbs

Mozzarella Cheese

Chopped herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano)

 

Marinara Sauce:

2 cups of crushed tomatoes (I used canned tomatoes)

McCormick’s Italian seasoning or fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Half an onion (chopped)

3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

Pretzels and Passions

One of the chefs in our company made pretzel bites in the office last week. Because of that, I was inspired to make soft, whole pretzels at home. I didn’t know why, but, I had a strong urge to bake that certain treat. Haha. I was excited because it was my first time to make them. :)

I remember thanking God for giving me time to bake pretzels. Honestly, last week, I tried my best to manage my time wisely. However, there were days when I wasn’t able to prioritize studying God’s word. Yes, I did read the Bible every day. However, I knew and felt that I missed out on the privilege of really learning more from meditating on His word during those times. I know that it is only by His grace that I am still able to bake/cook and blog. It is only by God’s grace. :)

Going back to the pretzels, I actually enjoyed making them, even though the process required a lot of work. The funny thing about it is that even if it took me 6 hours to prepare it (including taking photos, waiting for the dough to rise, and cleaning the kitchen) and was, in fact, tiring (with all the yeasting, rolling, boiling, and baking), I would still do it again and again if given the opportunities in the future. I guess it’s because of my passion and love for baking and cooking. :)

Making the pretzels was a comfort and a challenge at the same time. It was comforting because I liked kneading the soft and fluffy pretzel dough (it was softer than the pasta dough I recently made here: (http://encouragingtreats.com/homemade-pasta-dough/). However, it was a challenge too because the tricky part in the process was when I had to flatten the dough using a rolling pin and roll it again using my hands (to form a rope-like shape).

It was harder too because I stuffed the dough with bits of cheese and bacon before rolling it. There were times when I would see twists and holes (in the dough) which eventually resulted to pieces of uneven rope-like pretzel dough.

I then remembered what Alton Brown said in one of his Good Eats episodes (“Pretzel Logic”): “Now, if you start to see a twist formed right into the middle of the dough while you’re rolling it, know that you do not have your hands coordinated, and that twist could become a breakpoint when baked.”

While I was fixing the dough, God spoke to my heart and helped me see that in the same way: If I do not coordinate with Him; if I choose not to follow Him when I make decisions, etc., it is possible that I would eventually have twists and holes (possibly mistakes, problems, insecurities, compromises, etc.) in my life that can become my breakpoints — especially, when I would go through really tough and uncomfortable times.

By God’s grace, I was able to fix the pretzel dough with some of the excess dough that I had. I have to admit that it was frustrating to fix the dough. :/

But, I guess, God allowed me to experience it because He used it to remind me of His grace. He showed me that even if I did have or do have twists and holes in my life, He still has a purpose for me and He still is able to use me for His glory. Hope, definitely, is found in Him.

When the pieces of dough were already fixed, I took a piece and shaped it into the famous pretzel knot shape. I did it again, but, with the other pieces of pretzel dough. I really was fascinated by their interesting shape. And it was really cool because I noticed how the pretzel’s shape showed these two things: the shape of a heart and the symbol for infinity. Instantly, I knew what God was trying to tell me; why He wanted me to bake the whole pretzels.

If you were able to read my previous blog post (http://encouragingtreats.com/celebrating-strawberry-cake/), you would remember how God gave me my first job offer on June 8, 2012 (in the afternoon). It was also during that day that He encouraged me through His word (in the morning) to seek Him first above everything and place my security only on Him… not on the things that are temporary (including my desire to have a job at that time) – the things of this world.

Although I didn’t know that God was going to give me a job offer that day, it was such a perfect and comforting reminder for me to desire Him more than anything or anyone else. And at that moment, I actually surrendered my future job to the Lord. By His grace, I got the job by the end of the day and started working last Monday. 

After going through my first week at work, God encouraged me again… but, this time, through the pretzels. The heart and the symbol for infinity actually are gentle reminders for me to remember that God is the everlasting God and His love for us never changes; it never fails.

I thank God because even if we sometimes fail to prioritize Him, He still loves us the same. I praise Him because He gives us the opportunities to try again and do our best in loving Him more than anything.

                I recently declared that I have a passion for baking and cooking. But, I am reminded that even these good things will fade away someday. And so, it is my prayer that I would always choose to set my heart on things above (Colossians 3:2) and live life not for my own, but for my God — my One consuming passion.

Psalm 73:25-26

    Whom have I in heaven but you?

        And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

    My flesh and my heart may fail,

        but God is the strength of my heart

        and my portion forever.

*Other posts that include homemade dough:

1. Pizza (Thank God I Got Stuck) – http://encouragingtreats.com/god-stuck/

2. Pasta (Dough Not Give Up) – http://encouragingtreats.com/homemade-pasta-dough/

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Recipe by: Edward Lee (from www.epicurious.com; October 2009)