Homemade : Mozzarella Sticks

In our house, we love snacks and appetizers.  Dinner parties and cook-outs are perfect for whipping up our favorite guilty pleasures.  What other time can you justify a plate full of homemade-deep-fried-cheese-sticks?  Well, Sunday afternoon football might be the other time.  And we have taken advantage off both occasions with this delicious recipe!

Homemade mozzarella sticks (Bonus : marinara dipping sauce!)

homemade cheese sticks

These seriously are so easy to make!  And they taste way better than their mass produced cousins. Only 4 ingredients – cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and flour!  In fact, this one is really more technique than recipe.

1.  Take one block of mozzarella cheese, the big block, but not the fresh ball.  And get the whole milk version.  Trust me.  The low fat variety will yield a less tasty stick.  It’s not like you are gonna eat these every day.  Its ok.  🙂   Cut the block into sticks.  I usually cut it into 1/4’s across then each slice into 4-5 pieces.
2.  In a bowl, whisk one egg and a splash of water.  On a separate plate, measure our 1 – 1.5c of flour.  Finally, on a 3rd plate 1.5 – 2c of italian breadcrumbs.
3.  Take each cheese stick, roll it in the flour, dip it into the egg, roll it in the bread crumbs.  Place on a freezer proof plate.
4.  Repeat with each piece of cheese.
5.  Ok, this is an important step – Freeze the sticks for 10-15 mins.  This helps the cheese stay together when fried.
6.  Warm (2-3 inches) oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven to 350 degrees.
7.  Fry each stick for just a few mins – until golden brown. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

If you want to, you can leave these sticks in the freezer, before frying, for a week or so.  We served them last weekend and had a few leftover that we fried today.  They came out just as yummy.  No thawing needed, but you will need to fry a little longer – so watch the temp to insure you don’t burn them!

Bonus : Marinara Dipping Sauce

1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes with basil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sugar (or to taste, depending on your tomatoes)
salt to taste
1/2c diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic

Saute onion and garlic together.
Add tomatoes, seasoning and sugar.
Let simmer together for 15 mins – or you can let it hang out until you are ready to use (on low setting). If it gets too thick, add a splash of water and stir!

Wake Up Wednesday link up here!




Pumpkin Ale Cake {Spiked Recipe Challenge}

Today I am linking up with This Gal Cooks and Frugal Foodie Mama for their Spiked Recipe Challenge : Fall Beers!

Fall marks the return of all those great things that we love.  Cooler days, crisper air, pumpkin spice lattes and seasonal beers!  We love craft beer year around, but there is something special about the flavors you can only get seasonally.  For this recipe, I chose the Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale brewed by Foothills Brewery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina!  This beer was the obvious choice since my husband works in the brewery at Foothills! : )

foothills pumpkin ale cake

I adapted my recipe from a cake that a good friend of mine introduced me to.  It’s a doctored up cake mix and her original version is ALWAYS a big hit whenever I make it.  So simple – can be mixed up and in the oven in no time!


For my Spiked version, I made a few substitutions.

Pumpkin Ale instead of the water.

Canned pumpkin in place of the sour cream.

Butter pecan cake mix and vanilla pudding instead of her vanilla / chocolate version.

I kept the chocolate chips … their semi-sweetness is a nice balance to the sweetness of the cake.

The results were just as moist and amazing!  To finish this one off, I added a drizzle of caramel sauce.  And honestly, the cake is so moist, you can get by with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if you want to tone down the sweetness!


Here’s the recipe!

Pumpkin Ale Cake

1 box butter pecan cake mix
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
8oz canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 c oil
3/4 c Pumpkin Ale
6oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350
Mix all ingredients together. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into well greased bunt pan.
Bake for 45-50 mins.

To finish, drizzle 1/2 c caramel sauce OR a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Thanks ladies for the challenge!

Kitchen Pantry List {printable}

A small house if full of charm and ultra small cabinets.  Tackling a tiny kitchen has been my battle for 5 years!  I have added bookcases and wall shelves.  I turned my laundry “nook” into additional kitchen/pantry space with industrial shelving.  The one area that hasn’t been touched is the very narrow built-in pantry cabinet.   The cabinet is only about 12″ wide and very deep.  This makes finding items in the back nearly impossible.  I am constantly shoving things back there only to find them in the “once-every-6-months” clean out.  UGH!   I forget what I have stored and I re-buy.  This is such a waist of time & money!

kitchen checklist banner

During my Fall Cleaning weekend, I decided it was time to find a solution to this issue.  I need a easy way to “see” what I had.  I keep like ingredients together – a shelf for sauces and spices, a baking shelf that holds all mixes, flours/sugars and add-ins.  And a shelf for coffee and tea bags (yes, we drink a lot!).  (Canned goods are stored in the laundry nook / pantry.)  I started with painting the inside of the cabinet door with chalkboard paint.    I like this option – it is one way to label the shelves.  Or note what I need on the next trip to the store.

kitchen checklist Collage

Next, I wanted way to record what baking neccesities I had on hand.  I created this checklist in illustrator. (you could easier make this in picmonkey or even just word, if you needed too)  I listed each of my categories : Cake Mixes, Flours/Sugars, Nuts & Chips (chocolate, butterscotch, PB), and Add-ins.    Allowed columns for flavor/style and quantity.   I left a space under each for items I may need to replace or items that I have seen in a recipe that I need to pick up.  Now I can check this before heading to the market.

I laminated it to make it re-usable.  Using a mini clipboard (spray painted bronze!), the list hangs perfectly inside my little pantry!

Here’s the PDF printable!  kitchen pantry list.-free-printabl

Tuesday Talent Show Link Up Here!

Washi Tape Cupcake Topper

I discovered Washi tape this past spring while exploring options for our wedding guestbook (coming soon).  I wanted a pretty alternative to, well, tape.  I love this stuff!  It is one of those small details that can make a big difference!

washi banner

I used it this weekend to make these cute little flags as cupcake toppers.  An easy (and inexpensive!) way to dress up these little confections.

easy washi one


I used 3 different designs (coordinating, of course!) and wrapped different lengths around toothpicks.  I like using different sizes to give visual interest.  I like variety.  Added a little notched end, voila!

easy washi tape flags


Wake Up Wednesday link up here!