Panko Mozzarella Sticks! I first discovered panko bread crumbs back in 1999.
Please don’t ask me how I know that; I just do. I remember vividly reading a recipe that contained panko bread crumbs, and I remember vividly that I was nursing my second baby, and I remember vividly that I was hormonal and desperate, and the next thing I knew I was ordering panko bread crumbs from some market in Chelsea that the magazine recommended.
On the phone, of course, because although I had a computer at the time, I certainly wouldn’t have been cool enough to use it to order panko bread crumbs. Plus, I was nursing. Not enough hands. Panko bread crumbs, in a word, are delicious. Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, and are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. When I set out to make a recipe with panko bread crumbs, I started in the direction of something Asian/exotic. So guess what I did? Let me back up: my family LOVES fried mozzarella sticks. Garlic Shrimp with Basil, Tomatoes, and Pepper Flakes. [Photo: Blake Royer] I'm not sure I'll ever quite tire of the magical combination of garlic and chile—when a recipe begins with a little olive oil and garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, I know we're off to a good start.
I'm even more inclined when the involved recipe requires about 10 minutes of cooking and hardly any chopping to boot. I pulled this one from So Easy by Ellie Kreiger, which is full of health-conscious recipes that pack a lot of flavor. Healthy it might have been, but more importantly, delicious. Even though it's December and the snow has been falling furiously in Chicago, the sweet bursts of the grape tomatoes (which tend to be pretty tasty even through the winter months compared to regular tomatoes) and fragrant basil brought to mind a summer picnic. Pepperoni Pizza Puffs. If I ask my kids what they want for dinner, there’s a ninety percent chance they will say pizza. They love it, as most kids do. I guess I have an affection for it too, but we don’t indulge too often.
If I had to choose a favorite pizza, it would be the Hawaiian, but no one else in my household appreciates its flavors like I do, too bad for them. So when my kids came home from school and I had this afternoon snack waiting for them, they were pretty excited to be having pizza at 3 PM. Okay, so was I, can you blame me? These are the simplest, yummiest little bites. If you have a mini muffin pan you are good to go.
Preheat oven to 375o. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining1 Tablespoon basil. Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil. French Onion Soup. The last recipe I posted for French Onion soup was from Cook’s Illustrated and the soup came out great.
So when I saw that they had an updated recipe, I had to give it a try. The big change between the recipes was that the updated version calls for caramelizing the onions in the oven rather than on the stove top. This change lets you get a lot more flavor out of the onions and means you don’t have to stir the onions every minute. They call this, “The Best French Onion Soup,” and after trying it, I can’t argue! The Best French Onion Soup From: Cook’s Illustrated Serves 6 Notes: For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance.
Soup Cheese Croutons 1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups) Directions: For the soup: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. For the croutons: To serve: Garlic and Basil Bruschetta Bites. Finger foods are my favorite kind of food—to eat but not to make. That’s because they usually take a bit more work to put together than the full-size versions. Luckily, that’s not the case with these delicious bruschetta bites. They’re bursting with flavor and can be assembled in 15 minutes or less! So, preheat your oven, grab a loaf of your favorite baguette, and get out the cutting board. Bruschetta bites are the perfect edible addition to any gathering, and they’re great to serve at holiday parties.
Baked Bruschetta Bites 15 sugar plum tomatoes, diced 12 basil leaves, cut into ribbons 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 Tbsp. onion powder 1 tsp. olive oil 1 tsp. soy sauce 1 tsp. black pepper 1/2 loaf French baguette, thinly sliced Preheat the oven to 350ºF.In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the bread and mix well. Makes 4 servings.