Appetizer Idea: Healthier Mozzarella Sticks

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Guess who was still trying to eat her way through 20+ egg roll wrappers after a month or more of coming up with egg roll wrapper ideas?CC Pics 016

This girl.

When my own creative mind fails, Pinterest does not. I took to the pin boards and happened across lots of recipes using cheese sticks to make baked mozzarella bites with an egg roll wrapper coating. I’ve already tried the breaded bites, so I thought why not the wrapped ones. Let’s see which is better.

Well to no surprise, they were both equally good. I think my baked mozz bites made with whole-wheat breading looked a lot prettier, but these had a nice crunch.

And these egg-rolled-wrapper ones are super quick, easy, and mess free. If you’ve got some wrappers to use or company coming over and not a lot of time on your hands, I’d go for these. CC Pics 032

1 serving (Double or triple for more company)


2 organic or soy mozzarella cheese sticks

2 egg roll wrappers

optional: Marinara sauce for dipping


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Cut the cheese sticks into three equal parts. Lay on one edge of the egg roll wrapper, and then slice the wrapper into three’s, too, to fit with each of the mini sticks.CC Pics 030

Roll up! I rolled mine sort of at an angle and then tucked in the sides at the end. Use a drop of water or less to seal the egg roll wrappers in place.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. The cheese may begin to bubble out of the sides, and if so, that’s just a sign that you did something right. They’re ready to go!


Spicy Tuna Burger


Sometimes you want a big, juicy burger you can sink your teeth into and come out of with a face full of ketchup-and-mustard-covered happiness.SAM_5906

I rarely feel that way. Never had a hankering for red meats and don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I like the elk meat my dad sends with me–it’s lean, antibiotic-free, and clean eating all the way–but to be perfectly honest, I usually reach for the shrimp, salmon, or chicken first (and in that order).

Does anybody else feel this way? I wonder. The one red meat I’ve never had a craving for, ever, is pork. Living in the pork capitol of the Midwest, Iowa, I sometimes feel like a social oddity. “How can you not like bacon?” I’m often asked. And I often restrain myself from asking, “How can you?” Yuck.

My purpose in sharing these observations with you is to explain why I enjoyed this recipe so much and why it might be a nice burger fix for those who feel as I do. I want the protein, but with my meats of choice.SAM_5908

Thanks to my lovely friend Sareena for pointing me towards this delicious recipe. And you know what’s so great about a small can or package of tuna? It’s about all you need to make one good-sized burger patty. Solo culinaires, rejoice!


1 small can or package of tuna, chunk light

1.5 T Panko crumbs

dash of red pepper flakes

bigger dash of cajun seasonings, if you have themSAM_5900


-Depending on how you want to prepare the burger–stove top or oven–you’ll either spray a non-stick pan with olive oil cooking spray or a broil-safe pan, respectively. Heat stove to medium-high heat or set broilers on high.

-Drain extra oils from the tuna meat. Place on a plate and begin to add in the crumbs and seasonings ’til well blended. Form into a patty. Here’s a trick: press your thumbs in the center to make it a little thinner in the middle, but don’t go donut hole, which will be too thin. Just a little thinner so that when the patty cooks and swells more in the center, the final patty will be about even in size.

-Broil for 5 minutes, flip and broil 3 more minutes. If you’re pan frying, each side will take about 6-7 minutes, but take care and flip delicately. These patties can break much easier than regular meat.

Once you get a nice, crispy golden-brown coating on each side, you’re set. Place on a whole-wheat bun, lettuce wrap, or whatever method suits your needs and top with your favorite fixings.

I didn’t try it on this one, but I have to say that some grilled pineapple or mango slices would be so delightful on this burger. Avocado, too.

Breaded & Stuffed Italian Chicken Rolls

If you follow this blog consistently, you probably already know this about me–heck, you probably know more than you’d like to about my philosophies on food, nutrition, and the value of a dynamic food presentation.

So you also know that my favorite weeknight supper standby features the following: a hearty whole-grain pasta, a rich tomato sauce, a sauteed veggie or two, and a featured protein. Sometimes I get crazy and top with Parmesan. What can I say? I live on the edge.

No, I don’t. And this recipe isn’t exactly daring, but it is good, and it awakened by old standby one Monday evening.

For a very small amount of effort, it’s amazing how much flavor and texture some breadcrumbs, kale, ricotta, and seasoning can do to an otherwise stolid dish.


1 medium or 2 small chicken breasts, pounded thinly

cooking spray

2 T panko crumbs

1 T parmesan

1 T whole-wheat bread crumbs (or more panko)

2 T ricotta cheese

1/2 t crushed garlic

1-2 cherry tomatoes, diced

Italian seasonings of your choice (I also used onion powder)

a little shredded kale


-Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-In a bowl, mix all bread crumbs with the Parmesan and any seasonings you like.

-Spray one side of each chicken breast with the cooking spray. Dip in breadcrumb mix until evenly coated on one side (or both if you’d like more).

-In another bowl, mix ricotta, garlic, tomato bits, seasonings, and kale. Spread cheese mixture on the thicker end of the chicken breast and begin to roll. Secure shut with toothpick or wooden skewer.

-Bake for about 15 minutes; then broil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit, but serve warm as an entree or over a bed of fresh pasta and veggies.

Zucchini Cakes

Remember my cheesy zucchini tots? The ones I posted this past May?

Well I rediscovered them again, and this time they’re all grown up.

From, I found a recipe for 12 zucchini cakes. They’re like crab cakes, albeit vegetarian friendly. was promoting them for St. Patty’s Day, but I think they’d be great any time of year as a side dish to most entrees.

But if you’re single and want just one zucchini cake, that’s okay, too!

Here’s the bad news: I didn’t make a recipe for just one. They looked too good and the divisions I calculated yielded far more than expected.

Here’s the good news: It’s zucchini, folks! It’s so low in calories that you should allow yourself to have a couple. Trust me. Unless you hate zucchini, you won’t regret it.

1/2 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 large egg (mixed up)
2 T panko bread crumbs
Pepper to taste
1 T Cajun spices
1/4 c. Parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a broil-safe pan. Set aside.

-Remove excess liquid from freshly grated zucchini by microwaving on high for about :45 seconds. Let cool.

-Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Then mix in zucchini. Shape into patties (press firmly).

-Place on baking sheet. Cook each side for about 7 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown. Finish the cakes off with a nice crispy layer by broiling for 1-2 minutes.

-Serve hot.