Friday, September 9, 2011

Game Time, I Guess?

I know nothing about sports. I totally admit that.

I mean, it's not like I'm trying to learn anything about the athletic sphere... I honestly couldn't care much less about the rules and plays and scorekeeping that goes on for specific "seasons" (which, I may add, have nothing to do with actual seasons at all), and the whole fuss and bother about what are essentially games (they are, people!) totally weirds me out. Seriously, I can't see huge masses of people getting into riots or blowing their life savings over a hand of Go Fish or Hangman. The hype seems to take away from the true love of the game, the enjoyment the players have for it, and the unity it brings to the audience. I have yet to find a crowd of kids playing ball hockey on the street since I was pounding pavement, and the baseball diamonds and soccer fields lie abandoned when organized groups aren't booked to play. Given the stress and pressure placed on the players, its a wonder that anyone gets into sports at all. I guess that now the allure is now all monetary - and lets face it, money speaks volumes.

As much as I'm not personally a fan of the commercialization of athletics, I can still appreciate that many - if not most - others are. And from what I'm hearing on TV and through the internet it's football season now, which means that hockey is close on it's heels. In my (step)family, though, you may as well say "hockey season ended?" (no secret if you've heard me moaning on Twitter), but one things for sure - Fall and Winter are the seasons of crazy families, parties and pow-wows. What better food than comforting, simple, guilty-pleasure inducing treats to herald the season?

These Mozzarella sticks were the last thing I made for my sister before she went back to college for the year, and are reminiscent of the deep-fried morsels of delectableness (yes, my own word) I used to get in my Kelsey's kids meal "sampler" (they've since changed their menu, and the sticks aren't on any part of it now). Even though they skip the fat frying in favour of a stint in the oven, they're golden and crispy thanks to panko breadcrumbs, coarse cornmeal and a beaten egg "glue" sticking everything together. Biting into one rewards you with ever-so-slightly oozing cheese, hot but not enough to burn your mouth apart, and when dunked into some thick, spicy marinara or pizza sauce, its like the best of pub food at your kitchen table.

Baked Mozza Sticks
Serves 8
8 oz package reduced-fat mozzarella
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp 1% milk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch paprika
1/2 cup panko
1 tbsp coarse cornmeal
cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, line a cookie sheet with parchment or greased foil.
  2. Slice the cheese into 8 even "sticks", set aside.
  3. Beat the egg with the milk, salt and paprika in a bowl. Whisk together panko and cornmeal in a shallow dish.
  4. Dip cheese in egg, then into toasted bread crumbs, tossing to coat completely.
  5. Re-dip into the egg and panko mixtures.
  6. Place coated sticks on baking sheet 1 1/2" apart.
  7. Mist lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Bake 6-8 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
  9. Can be frozen after baking - bake from frozen at 350F for 15 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 97.6
Total Fat: 5.2 g
Cholesterol: 39.6 mg
Sodium: 151.2 mg
Total Carbs: 4.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
Protein: 8.2 g

Of course, I have to leave you with the gratuitous "garden bounty" shot of the day - I found some Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hiding in the vines today, along with a shocker - strawberries - in September! I had no idea we had even planted strawberries, but they are some of the most deliciously sweet morsels of fruit I have ever put in my mouth. I would send you some... if there was any left! I've got plans up my sleeve for the grapes too (both the wine and the Concords we're growing), but you'll have to come back for that.