This week is a little of everything, from appetizer to dessert!

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Mozzarella Sticks   

6 mozzarella string cheese sticks

4 egg whites

3/4 c. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, preferably whole grain

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese


Slice the 6 string cheese sticks in half, lengthwise, so you have 12 long, slender pieces. Place the 12 halves on a baking sheet and put in freezer for at least 2 hours. (*this will prevent the cheese from melting too quickly in the oven while the outer breading becomes crispy and browned)

Preheat the oven to 450˚F and coat a second separate baking sheet with nonstick oil spray. Set aside.

Whisk together the egg whites in one bowl and set aside. In another bowl, stir together the Italian-style breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Dunk each cheese slice into the beaten egg whites, shaking off the excess, and then dipping in the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs on all sides to help them adhere. Repeat these two steps so that each cheese slice has a double layer of coating; egg whites—breading—egg whites—breading. Transfer each coated cheese stick to the oil-misted baking sheet. Repeat until all of the sticks are well-coated, then discard remaining egg whites and breadcrumbs.

Lightly mist the tops of the cheese sticks with additional nonstick oil spray, and place in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese and crisp up the outer coating.

Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping. Makes 12 pieces.


Cucumber Cups with Dill Cream and Smoked Salmon

1-1/3 large cucumbers

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 T. chopped fresh dill

1 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

4 oz. smoked salmon, cut into 2-inch strips

24 small fresh dill sprigs


Trim ends from cucumbers and cut crosswise into 24 (3/4-inch-thick) rounds. Scoop a 1/2-inch-deep depression from one side of each round with a small melon-baller, forming little cups. Drain cucumbers, cup sides down, on paper towels for 15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, chopped dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper together in a bowl. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture into each cucumber cup. Top each cup with 1 salmon strip and 1 dill sprig.


Chili-Lime Mushroom Tacos 

4 lg. portobello mushrooms (about 3/4 lb.)

1 T. olive oil

1 med. sweet red pepper, cut into strips

1 med. onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. grated lime zest

2 T. lime juice

8 corn tortillas (6”), warmed

1 c. shredded pepper jack cheese


Remove stems from mushrooms; if desired, remove gills using a spoon. Cut mushrooms into 1/2-in. slices.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté mushrooms, red pepper and onion until mushrooms are tender, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic, seasonings, lime zest and juice; cook and stir 1 minute. Serve in tortillas, top with cheese.  Serves four.


Beef Suya

1 c. salted peanuts

1 T. paprika

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 beef tri-tip roast or beef top sirloin steak (2 lbs.), thinly sliced against the grain

2 T. canola oil

1 tsp. salt

1 med. onion, cut into wedges

1 lg. tomato, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro leaves


Place peanuts in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add paprika, onion powder, ginger, pepper flakes and garlic powder; pulse until combined.

Place beef in a large bowl or shallow dish. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Add peanut mixture; turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours. Drain beef, discarding marinade.

Thread beef onto metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill, covered, over medium-high heat until beef reaches desired doneness, 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve with onion, tomato and cilantro.  Serves 8.


Pressure-Cooker Mediterranean Chicken Orzo

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces

2 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 med. tomatoes, chopped

1 c. sliced pitted green olives, drained

1 c. sliced pitted black ripe olives, drained

1 lg. carrot, halved lengthwise and chopped

1 sm. red onion, finely chopped

1 T. grated lemon zest

3 T. lemon juice

2 T. butter

1 T. herbes de Provence (in grocery store spice aisle)

1 c. uncooked orzo pasta


In a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients; stir to combine. Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for 8 minutes. Quick-release pressure.

Add orzo. Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on low for 3 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 4 minutes, then quick-release any remaining pressure. Let stand 8-10 minutes before serving.  Serves six.


Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

4 bell peppers, halved

1 T. vegetable oil

1 lg. onion, sliced

16 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1-1/2 lb. sirloin steak, thinly sliced

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

16 slices provolone

Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish


Preheat oven to 325º. Place peppers in a large baking dish and bake until tender, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, 6 minutes. Add steak and season with more salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in Italian seasoning.

Add provolone to bottom of baked peppers and top with steak mixture. Top with another piece of provolone and broil until golden, 3 minutes.

Garnish with parsley before serving. Makes 4 servings.


Real Pistachio Cupcakes

1 c. roasted pistachio nut meats

1-1/2 c. white sugar, divided

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 lg. eggs

2/3 c. milk, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Blend pistachios with 1/2 cup sugar in a blender until finely ground.

Sift all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

Beat 1 cup sugar and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat one egg at a time into the creamy butter mixture, thoroughly integrating each egg before adding the next.

Stir milk and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl.

Alternately stir flour mixture and milk mixture in small amounts into the butter mixture beginning and ending with the flour mixture; stir just until it comes together into a batter. Fold the ground pistachios into the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups to about 2/3 full.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost with favorite frosting and sprinkle tops with ground pistachios or green candy sprinkles.


Quote of the Week:

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” 

~ Paulo Coelho


The Drummer and The Wright County Journal Press

PO Box 159
108 Central Ave.
Buffalo MN 55313

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