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Panko Baked Cheese Sticks

When I was in my twenties, my favorite thing to do was go out for appetizers – lowbrow ones, like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. Gooey cheese sticks were my favorite – deep fried and oozing with every bite, they were coated in crispy crumbs and served with chunky salsa for dipping. Completely divine. It wasn’t the sort of thing I’d ever make at home, but it turns out they’re simple to make, especially if you start with cheese snack sticks. They need not be deep fried – a quick flip in flour, egg, and panko and a turn in the oven will produce crispy golden cheese sticks, with far less fat, but otherwise just like the ones you get at a restaurant. The kids adore them.

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  • Start with cheese string snacks. 1 of 7
    Start with cheese string snacks.
    Cut them in half crosswise, or cut cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese into sticks. If you like, pop them into the freezer for a bit - this will keep them from oozing as they bake.
  • Get yourself three bowls. 2 of 7
    Get yourself three bowls.
    In one, beat an egg with a fork, in another put a spoonful of flour, and in a third, a big handful of Panko or other dry bread crumbs.
  • Douse the cheese sticks in flour. 3 of 7
    Douse the cheese sticks in flour.
    Toss them about to coat them well.
  • Then dip them into the egg… 4 of 7
    Then dip them into the egg...
    The trick here is to keep one hand dry - the other can get goopy.
  • Working with a couple at a time, roll them in Panko or breadcrumbs to coat them well. 5 of 7
    Working with a couple at a time, roll them in Panko or breadcrumbs to coat them well.
    This is where your dry hand will come in handy, and keep things (relatively) clean.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 6 of 7
    Transfer to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
    If you like, spray them with a little more spray.
  • Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. 7 of 7
    Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, or until they're golden.
    They may ooze a bit - that's OK. Serve them warm, with salsa for dipping.

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