Alert: Easy Dinner Idea! Plus a preamble (sorry to string you along)

Remember that 48-pack of string cheese I bought at Costco back when Arlo liked it, only to have him declare it unpalatable about a day later? Well, I successfully used it on pizza, as I’ve mentioned, and continued to do so (pin this idea for Halloween: it makes great spiderweb pizzas! String it to make the web, then cut it into circles for spiders, add shorter strings for legs and black sesame seeds for eyes!). I thought we were down to fewer than a dozen of those cylindrical mozzarellas when Arlo said he’d try one again and, lo and behold, he liked it once more! So the next time I went to Costco, I bought another 48-pack, inwardly rejoicing that my campaign for getting Arlo to eat protein had just made a huge stride. When I went home, I put it away only to discover that there were still 24 left in the other bag. How had I missed that? I decided I’d just have to feed him string cheese at every possible opportunity. Now, you probably saw this coming, but guess what Arlo said he no longer liked later that afternoon?

Well, the challenge was obvious. I steeled my apron strings for the weeks ahead, a crusader on a mission to incorporate string cheese into every dinner until it was gone. Even though zero of my children would eat it cold out of the fridge (WHY NOT?! String cheese is so fun! It’s like cat’s cradle but with dairy), I thought they wouldn’t protest if it were heated, melted, and incorporated with other ingredients, as evidenced by the pizza experiments. So I strung it and mixed it with cheddar for quesadilla night, lined the inside of taco shells with it before baking and filling them, layered it on the refried beans spread on dough for Mexican pizza before topping with shredded chicken. I tucked it inside grilled cheese sandwiches and burritos, crisscrossed it into lasagna, stirred it into filling for twice-baked potatoes, folded it into omelets, and decorated the pastry bottom of a quiche with the now very familiar cream-colored strands. It slowly began to disappear from the refrigerator.

My favorite repurposed string cheese-centric meal is a take on mozzarella sticks (this preparation was better-received than when I tried making actual breadcrumb-coated mozzarella sticks in the air fryer). Here’s the recipe (if you can even call it that):

Ipzza Sticks (a.k.a. Inside-Out Pizza)


String cheese (duh), frozen
Pizza dough (however you like it: store-bought, homemade, from a mix, etc.)
Marinara or pizza sauce (again, however you like it: open a jar or start from scratch)
Pepperoni, fresh basil, garlic powder or other toppings/seasonings (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with rack in center. Roll out the pizza dough and cut it into rectangles big enough to wrap around a piece of string cheese with an extra half an inch or so to allow for sealing. Remove cheese from freezer and, working quickly, wrap each in a piece of dough, sealing the edges of the dough very tightly to minimize the ooze factor and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until dough begins to brown, but watch carefully and remove from oven as soon as any cheese begins to bubble out of a seam. Serve with marinara or pizza dipping sauce. Note: you can add pepperoni or basil leaves and any seasonings you like before rolling and sealing up these little logs.

Even the child who likes string cheese least of all, who normally wouldn’t so much as touch a shrink-wrapped tube of mozzarella if she could help it, made quick work of three Ipzza Sticks while rewatching a recording of the 2021 presidential inauguration speech. As Joe Biden said to the nation that day, “Don’t tell me things can’t change.” Right on, Mr. President.

Yes, that’s a backscratcher next to her napkin. No, she doesn’t use it as a fork.

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