Gluten-free mozzarella cheese sticks, who’da thunk it? YES!
Heck, even in my former gluten-life, I could not make a cheese stick. I could make a mean hollow tube of fried bread crumbs mind you, but somehow, the cheese always managed to escape!
Has this ever happened to you? You roll your cheese stick in bread crumbs, plop it into the hot oil then *try* to wait patiently for the magic to occur: ooey, gooey, melted mozzarella cheese hugged tightly by a buttery, crisp crust that is just begging to be submerged into a warm and tangy pool of marinara sauce. Only, one of two things inevitably happens instead:
A) You turn your head for a quick second then back again, only to find a pan of oozing white lava.
B) You turn your head for two seconds, then back again in a panic (didn’t you learn your lesson the first time?), only this time, you seem to have lucked out. For reasons unknown, the cheese stick gods have apparently decided to have mercy on your poor cheese stick-loving soul and allowed a perfectly contained “stick” to remain in the pan, just for you. You get so excited in anticipation of sinking your teeth into your sinful creation, that you clamp down hard (assuming your teeth will be met with some resistance as they come in contact with the cheese), only…there is no cheese. You wonder WTF happened (nevermind the fact that you’re now missing part of your tooth), there is no cheese in your fully formed stick and there is no cheese in the pan of hot oil!! Where in the bleep did it go (as you are looking around your kitchen, half expecting to find it hiding in the corner somewhere)??
There had to be a trick to them, but heck if I knew what it was! That was when I simply gave up trying to make my own cheese sticks and just assumed I would only ever enjoy them at a restaurant or out of a box; but for me, that was many moons and an entirely different person ago.
Flash forward 20+ years and one celiac diagnosis later; I found myself, once again, in a cheese stick smack-down. This time though, I was determined to win, because I did not have anything to fall back on (it’s really amazing the things one can accomplish when when there isn’t an easy way out!), the best part about that? Empowerment. It feels REALLY good when you finally decide to stand up tall, quit feeling sorry for, and/or resigning yourself to a life of living without, and instead, figure out a way to say, YES!
I’m really not sure what to say about this.
Well, nothing other than…
Prior to making these a couple of months ago, I hadn’t had a cheese stick in well over 5 years. Then it dawned on me, neither of my boys had ever had a cheese stick before…NEVER! And you know what? They were perfectly fine and happy without them! That was when it finally hit me on a deeply personal level, that how I had come to view certain foods as an adult, really had nothing to do with the food itself…it had everything to do with the emotions and memories that were attached to them.
Now that my littlest one is newly dairy-free and casein-free, the cheese sticks are once again a thing of the past for us. This time though, that is more than okay with me, because I have decided to say YES! to allowing my children to build their own special memories surrounding the foods we now eat together as a family…instead of trying to “re-package” my childhood memories for them.
So, I am happily passing this along as a vote of encouragement for all my GF friends who can still eat dairy, “May the Casein/Lactose Force Be with You!”
Okay, these are super simple to make and Ree, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! has a FANTASTIC photo tutorial for Panko Mozzarella Sticks on her Tasty Kitchen blog, and she offers up THE TRICK to make successful cheese sticks at home. That is what I followed, only with a two very important tweaks, I used a gluten-free flour (just use your favorite, xanthan gum is not necessary, but if you use a blend with it already in it, don’t worry, it won’t affect it either way), and gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs by Kinnikinnick (if you happen to live in the Albuquerque vicinity, La Montanita Co-Op on Rio Grande Blvd. carries the GF Panko bread crumbs!):
Time to announce the winner for the Yes! Giveaway from my recent post, “Dancing in the Kitchen with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef!”
Thank you all so very much for entering this giveaway and sharing your heartfelt stories, they were all so inspirational to me! Alas, I only have one prize package to give, but learning to say YES! more often, is definitely the best gift we can all give ourselves and to our children.
I used the random number generator to pick the winner, and that person is:
#96, Diane Bramos (a.k.a. @Pilateschik on Twitter)
Diane said, “How fabulous!! I volunteered to supply snacks for my daughter’s Creative Writing Club. I ﬁgure that will help spread the word to a younger crowd about what gluten free (and other food issues) means!!”
Congratulations Diane! I will email you for your shipping information.
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