September 10, 2012

Sunday Football

So being the first Sunday of the NFL season, Michael and I got some friends together to watch some of the games.  I'm not into the football, but give me an excuse to make food and I'll be there!

Since this was mostly Michael's planning, he picked the appetizers that I made.  He opted for Homemade Mozzarella Sticks and Chili Cheese Dip.  Both easy to make, but they both require preparation once the crowds arrive.  Although both of these appetizers were a huge hit, if you're entertaining for a large crowd, I might not suggest making the mozzarella sticks because, for a brief time, they take you away from the party.

Healthy Homemade Mozzarella Sticks
- 12 sticks of string cheese in your favorite cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 5 tablespoons of Italian bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil or Cooking Spray
- Sauce for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cut cheese sticks in half (24 slices total) then freeze slices in the freezer until completely frozen
3. Beat the egg in a small bowl
4. Use a separate bowl to combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese
5. To bread the cheese sticks - dip the frozen cheese stick in flour, then egg, then bread crumb mixture
6. For easy clean-up, place a piece of foil on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on the foil
7. Place breaded cheese sticks on foiled baking sheet
8. Bake in the oven for about 8/10 minutes, or until crispy (watch closely so they don't melt out completely)
9. Serve hot with sauce

I was expecting these sticks to get more brown.  I baked them for about 8/10 minutes and then broiled them for about 5 minutes.  They didn't brown, so don't expect them to look like fried mozzarella, but they melted perfectly!  By perfectly I mean, not too melted where you can't break them apart and you're choking on the cheese.  If you want the cheese to be more gooey, bake the sticks for longer, but make sure to watch very closely so they don't completely melt out.

As fast as these mozzarella sticks were placed on the table, they were gone.  I'm beginning to see a trend because the same can be said about the chili cheese dip I made.  Sometimes the easiest things to put together turn out to be the best! The chili dip that I made required minimal effort, but was being scooped out of the bowl as fast as I could replace it.

Chili Cheese Dip
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cans chili without beans (12 ounces each)
- 2 cups salsa
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed
- Tortilla chips 

1. In a small skillet, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender
2. In a separate pot, stir together the chili, salsa, and cream cheese - then add the onions and garlic
3. Cook over medium heat and stir until heated through
4. Pour into serving dish and serve hot with tortilla chips

For this dip, it's best served hot, so I was serving it out in portions.  As it went, I would reheat what was left in the pot and serve it.  By the end of the afternoon, there was a small bowl remaining.  I refrigerated the left overs, and I think it will be great reheated and served as a chili dog.  This gets me thinking that Michael can have this left over while I attempt another meatless dinner option this week for myself.

I hope you find that these appetizers can be a great addition to your future Sunday football parties or gatherings!

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