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. :)

 

Simple Sunday Snack: Cherry Tomatoes on Baguettes

Nothing beats fresh ingredients in home-cooked meals. It has always been my dream to own and manage a huge garden or an orchard where I could pick, eat, and cook various fruits, vegetables, and herbs anytime. In the future, God-willing, I’ll get to experience that. But for now, I am very much pleased with my baby plants in our veranda. By God’s grace, I harvested my first batch of red cherry tomatoes and made an easy, cheesy snack at home.

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While I was removing the tomatoes from the plant, I started reminiscing about its younger days. It was just a beautiful experience to see that one, tiny seed grow into a leafy and fruitful plant. When I was in gradeschool, I remember collecting fruits on the ground that fell from the trees and I was happy even in those simple moments. I guess I’ve always admired the beauty of seeing fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs grow in trees and plants.

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And now that God has given me the privilege of growing my own plants and vegetables, I am reminded even more of how amazing God is as our Creator. He is able to make seeds grow and bear fruit! The remarkable thing about it too is that even when I wasn’t able to regularly water and fertilize our plants at home, God still made a way for them to get their needs (e.g. through rain; my mom who sometimes watered the plants too).

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Seeing his grace in the growth of the plants encourages me to trust in His faithfulness. If He can easily provide for the plant’s needs, make it grow and bear fruit, how much more can He graciously work in the hearts and lives of His children?

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Philippians 1:6 says: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Thank You, Lord, for the simple joys of knowing you more through nature. :)

 

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Spices: Salt, Pepper, Dried herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, etc.)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Baguettes (I got mine from Le Coeur de France)
  • olive oil
  • Fresh Basil leaves

 

Steps:

1. Slice the tomatoes.

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2. Add a dash of salt and pepper and sprinkle some of the dried herbs. Drizzle olive oil on it and mix.

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3. Cook the spiced tomatoes in a small pan, until soft.

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4. Place the tomatoes on sliced baguettes and add shredded Mozzarella cheese.

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5. Toast them for 2-3 minutes.

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6. Sprinkle chopped fresh basil leaves on the baguettes.

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Mom’s fresh basil

7. Enjoy white it’s still hot, crunchy, and cheesy.

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I served it with Sbarro’s baked ziti with Meatball. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Thank God I Got Stuck :)

For the longest time, I’ve been craving for juicy steaks, Chili’s chips and salsa, and Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. However, because I couldn’t find anyone in my family who was available for a random food trip, I just decided to make one of those dishes at home. I chose to bake a mozzarella stuffed crust pizza because it was cheaper than steaks and it was also more interesting to make than chips and salsa.

Interestingly, last Friday night, I was supposed to attend a concert in CCF Makati; however, because of the strong wind and heavy rain, I decided to go home instead. Usually, my siblings and I would have different plans every Friday night, but because of the bad weather, God allowed us to be complete that night.

Mom was so happy that she asked us all (via text) what food we wanted to eat that night. She wanted to treat us and have food delivered to our house. I immediately replied: “Mom, I was actually planning on making homemade stuffed crust pizza this Saturday, but can we still have stuffed crust pizza delivered tonight too? Haha.” She agreed and even told me that she was hoping I would make an Italian dish soon. Cool!

My siblings and I had an interesting Friday night with mom at home (Dad was out of town). We were able to eat sausage stuffed crust pizza, catch up; laugh with each other; and even talk about random things like Italian food, sinkholes, Gabo’s dream to have McDonald’s in his future house (Haha), and the crazy weather. It was a good night. :)

The next day, the weather was still pretty bad and eventually, most of my plans for ministry that day got cancelled because of the rain. But, for a change, it was actually really nice to stay in on a rainy and windy Saturday. I loved it!

After spending time with God, my family, and even Copper (our dog), I decided to finally make the homemade mozzarella stuffed crust pizza. However, in the middle of my preparation, dad told us that since we were all present at home, He wanted us to have a family devotion (Bible study).

After hearing that, I sort of panicked because I couldn’t just stop the process of making the pizza at that moment. The pizza dough was still rising and after it has fully risen, it must be prepared for baking immediately.

“How could I possibly knead the pizza, prepare the sauce, closely watch it while it bakes, and be present in our family devotion all at the same time?” I thought to myself. “Lord, what should I do?”

By the grace of God, even though it was getting late already (around 7:30 pm), dad gave me 30 more minutes to finish making the pizza. As soon as I finished eating dinner, I immediately worked double time to bake the mozzarella stuffed crust pizza. After 15 minutes of baking it, dad already called us in to have the devotion. Even if I wasn’t 100% sure that it was thoroughly cooked, by faith, I decided to bring it out of the oven so I could join my family in our meeting.

We were able to read a few verses in the Bible as a family and dad encouraged us all to carefully study them. At first, I was getting distracted because I wanted to check on the pizza that was just resting on our kitchen table. However, God somehow whispered to me: “Nic, relax. :) Don’t worry about the pizza and just enjoy this time that you have with your family and with Me.”

By His grace, I shifted my focus from the pizza to God’s word and I’m glad I did. Our family shared with each other the different lessons we learned from His word and we committed to become accountable to each other and to God.

After closing in prayer, I went to the kitchen to check out the pizza. By God’s grace, after letting it bake for a few more minutes, I was able to make my very first mozzarella stuffed crust pizza! :D Woohoo!

While I was taking photos of the pizza, I was thanking God for another privilege of being able to bake a new treat. Here are some of the things that I really enjoyed doing while making the pizza:

  1. Kneading the dough – I just love the consistency of fresh dough;
  2. Stretching the dough – I did this with the help of a rolling pin and by throwing it in the air and catching with my hands; and of course,
  3. Seeing the mozzarella cheese stretch out from the pizza crust – THE BEST! Mozzarella cheese really is one the best types of cheese in the world!

Before letting my family taste the pizza, I decided to cherish the moment that I had with it first. I started to play with the mozzarella cheese that was oozing out from the crust. I then thought about how cool it was that hours before that moment, the thick strings of cheese were just tightly wrapped around the edges of the pizza dough. They were immovable; stuck; and had no choice but to remain inside. However, after being baked, the flexible, melted, mozzarella cheese actually became the highlight of the dish: Mozzarella Stuffed Crust Pizza. :)

God used that moment to encourage me and remind me of His goodness. God made me realize that just like the cheese, I got stuck too! (Of course, I got stuck at home because of the bad weather. :) ) Moreover, most of my plans and activities got cancelled and it could have been a reason for me to get frustrated with the surprising turn of events.

But, I thank God for the rain and for the moments when I was stuck at home. I praise Him because it was His way of allowing our family to spend more time together; and for me to get to know Him more through the Bible.

Because of this experience, I was reminded that God still is at work even in the midst of unwanted circumstances in life. Definitely, God still is good even if we get stuck in situations that we do not like. I’m also learning that, sometimes, God allows us to get stuck so we could practice being still before Him and enjoy His presence more.

John 16:33 says:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

*Other posts that include homemade dough:

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

2. Pretzels (Pretzels & Passions) – http://encouragingtreats.com/pretzels-passions/

Encourage yourself one treat at a time! :)