Mozzarella Bites

Sometimes you just need a little bit of comfort food, even if it's for nothing more annoying than really bad traffic. I'm not sure how often I'll make these, because they're a bit fiddly, but they were really good. Original recipe for the balls here and the marinara sauce here, but I did change a few things.

1 tub of mozzarella balls
30-40 basil leaves*
1 package of square wonton wrappers
1 egg white
1 Tlbs milk
1 can tomato sauce
1 garlic clove
3 Tlbs fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1-2 Tlbs grapeseed oil

Make the marinara sauce first. Put the tomato sauce, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper into a food processor, and process until smooth. Then heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, and saute the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the white wine vinegar, and let it simmer for half an hour or more while you prepare the mozzarella balls. Rinse, drain, and dry the balls, then cut them in half. Chiffonade (slice) the basil leaves. Then whisk the egg white and milk together in a small bowl, and open the package of wonton wrappers. Take a wonton wrapper, and brush the egg white mixture along two sides. Then put half of a mozzarella ball and a few slices of basil in the center and fold the un-egged sides up to make a triangular package. Press the edges together. Then brush more of the egg mixture on one side of the triangle, and fold the sides and top wings down to make a little envelope. Set it aside to cure for a while. Continue doing this until you have as many as you want. Let the last ones cure for about 10 minutes. Heat the oven to 350, and spray some olive oil on a baking sheet and let it heat as well. When it's hot, put the mozzarella envelopes on the pan, spray the tops lightly with olive oil, then let them bake for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the  marinara sauce off and let it cool slightly. After removing the mozzarella balls from the oven, drain them (if needed) and let them cool slightly before eating.

*Basil. More is ALWAYS better. If you have extra, toss it in the marinara sauce.

This was good, but fairly time-consuming. It took me about an hour to prepare everything before putting the envelopes in the oven. This did not mesh with the time on the original recipe, so she might be a genie or something. I would assume you could make these ahead of time and refrigerate them for maybe 24 hours before cooking, but if you do, I would recommend keeping them in a sealed container, and make sure there is no moisture on them before you bake them.

Rating? 4/5
Why? They took a while to construct, but were really good once they were done. I ate too many. =)


Grilled Chicken and Barley Salad

Ugh....summer cooking. I just....don't. It's so much work. Fortunately, this one was easy, and only seems like it takes a long time. Most of it is just letting things cook while you watch Netflix in front of the fan. This was also the first time I have cooked with barley. It's pretty good, actually, and takes the same amount of time as regular rice. Original recipe here, which I followed with just a few tweaks.

1 chicken breast, fat cut off
1/2 cup barley*
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh or thawed corn
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup minced red onion
2-3 Tlbs cooked, chopped bacon**
10-12 leaves of basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1.5 Tlbs olive oil
1 Tlbs water
1 Tlbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tlbs red onion
salt and pepper

Put the marinade ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. Put 1/4 of vinaigrette/marinade into a plastic bag, add the chicken breast, and toss it in the fridge. Set aside the other 3/4 of the vinaigrette. Heat the broth and barley until it's boiling, then put a lid on the pan and turn it to low. Let it simmer, untouched, for 40 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and fluff the barley with a fork. Drain well and let it cool. Put the corn, cherry tomatoes, onion, bacon, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl. When the barley is cooled down, add it and the remaining vinaigrette to the bowl and toss well. Meanwhile, grill  the chicken until done, then let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

*I used pearl barley.
**I used previously cooked turkey bacon because I had it, she used 3-4 strips.

This was good, and like I said, really easy. I probably spent 10 minutes doing hands on chopping and prep and it was a good summer dish.

Rating: 4/5
Why? I'm not sure how I feel about the marinade being used on the chicken. I might not do that next time.