Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese sandwiches are certainly about bread and cheese. But they are also about butter. Butter, beautiful butter. That is one of the many reasons why I love them.

Make this sandwich, or a variation thereof.  We’re fans of fresh tomato or homemade bread & butter pickles when we feel like jazzing it up. It’s all good as long as you don’t skimp on the butter, right?

For this sandwich I used some shredded Colby Jack and a bit of Parmesan for about a cup of cheese total. I like a blend of cheeses instead of just one kind. (I also use American cheese squares because they are so perfectly suited to the task. But I’m more into shredded cheese these days. American cheese melts perfectly and is joyously gooey, but it doesn’t really taste like cheese.)

Next, I like to use some good-quality bread. White rustic bread would surely be best. But I get by just fine with my homemade whole grain no knead bread. The inside of the bread is buttered along with a big mound of cheese and a shmear of dijon mustard for a little extra zing.

Some of the shredded cheese is saved to go on the outside of the sandwich. I spread some butter on top of the sandwich and then press on a bit of the cheese. Every time I do this it seems like something is going to go wrong and the cheese is going to burn. But it never does, especially if you’re not shy with the butter. The sandwich ends up being encased in a thin layer of fried cheese in addition to the melty goodness on the inside. It’s good.

I cook my sandwich in an iron skillet over medium heat for a few minutes on each side or until it is golden brown.

What kind grilled cheeses do you make?

Swirl Lunch

Most of the time I forget very important things like the fact that my kids are suckers for fun food presentation. During some halfhearted spring cleaning I found a neglected party platter in the back of cupboard. We’ve used this serving platter once at a party during the 10+ years we’ve had it. I was about to toss it, but then I had the most brilliant idea ever.

It felt brilliant because my youngest had been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with increasing frequency. Don’t get me wrong. Peanut butter and jelly is great, but not everyday. Lately, I don’t let my kid have any say in what will appear in her swirly lunch. “It’s a surprise! Don’t look!” But we might have an understanding that there will always be some raisins in the tail.

So if you were a sucker like me and bought one of these at Crate & Barrel years ago and you’re lucky enough to have a child old enough not throw it on the floor but young enough to still find it delightful, get busy and report back!

This could be fun with deviled egg trays too. Other bloggers, such as Muffin Tin Mom, have been there and done that. But I’m still feeling like a genius parent. Allow me a moment.

Mini Meatball Sandwiches

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Having been a vegetarian for many years, I’m still learning when it comes to making a decent meatball. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is where I got the recipe for these little beauties. Lucky for me, we had a few leftover and I was able to whip up a delicious quick lunch that took no thought. Bliss![/donotprint]

Mini Open-faced Meatball Sandwiches

If you’re lucky enough to have some leftover homemade meatballs on hand, drop everything and make this now. Obviously, the proportions and number of sandwiches can be adjusted to your needs. The only real requirement is that the bread be sturdy enough to support all of that cheesy meaty goodness.

3 small slices of rustic bread
4 fully cooked small meatballs, cut in half
3 1-inch by 4-inch slices of white cheddar cheese

Preheat the broiler in the oven on High. Slide a rack into the upper third of the oven so the sandwiches will be close (but not too close) to the heat.

Assemble the sandwiches by placing the bread on a baking tray and topping them with 2 or 3 meatball halves. Top with a slice of cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and has begun to brown.

Yield: 3 mini sandwiches
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Bake-time: 5 minutes

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Bumstead Sandwich

Don’t let me be a bad influence on you. I’m pretty sure deli meat is the devil incarnate. But…well…let’s talk about the olive tapenade. What else can one make with olive tapenade? This is all I ever use it for and it seems a terrible shame.

Bumstead Sandwich Recipe

This recipe is adapted from The Last Minute Party Girl by Erika Lenkert.

I love this recipe for parties because I can do almost all of the work ahead of time and we still get to eat a satisfying warm sandwich.

1 large whole grain baguette, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons black olive tapenade
1/3 cup goat cheese
1/4 pound of thinly sliced turkey
1/4 pound of thinly sliced salami
5 slices of pastrami
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced into strips
1 cup spinach, washed and dried

Scoop out the innards of the baguette leaving the crust intact. Feed the innards to the kids.

Slather the butter on the top half of the baguette. Slather the bottom half with the olive tapenade and goat cheese. Load the meats, red peppers, and spinach onto the bottom half of the baguette. Cover it with the top half of the loaf.

Wrap the sandwich tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until it’s party time (up to 48 hours).

Preheat the oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit. Place the unwrapped sandwich on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Slice on an angle into about ten 2-inch wide segments. Hold the sandwiches together with a toothpick and serve immediately.

Yield: 10 sandwiches
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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Honey Salad

Honey Salad is my new favorite way to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. My youngest loves it because most of it is her favorite food color, white and beige, and the dressing is sweet.

Honey Salad Recipe

This salad is great sprinkled with chopped honey roasted pecans, if you have any handy. My kids refuse the addition. But, personally, I’m a big fan.

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard

For the salad:
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 cup chopped sharp cheddar cheese
1 heaping cup chopped cooked turkey
1 tablespoon raisins (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, and mustard until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together the apple, cheese, turkey, and raisins (if desired). Pour on the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Salami on Rye

We’re having a cram-every-darn-thing-in-we’ve-been-wanting-to-get-out-and-do Spring Break. Seriously, why does school have to take up so much of the day?? There’s no way I’m dragging my kids to places like Old Sturbridge Village on the weekend. I’m a stay-at-home suburban Connecticut mom and this means three things:

  1. I shop only during off-hours and expect ample aisle space while doing so.
  2. I don’t do tourist attractions during seasonal peaks.
  3. I expect staff to be extremely helpful and cheerful. (I used to be freaked out by this, but it’s just the way things are where I live and I’ve gotten used to it surprisingly quickly.)

 

Luckily, it was raining a bit the other day when we decided to head to Old Sturbridge Village which kept the crowds away. Given how well it went, I predict most of my children’s memories of family excursions will be set against a damp and cloudy day.

I made mini salami sandwiches on rye buns so we would have something to munch on while soaking up all that New England history. I made the rye buns from scratch; an impulse baking experiment inspired by the editor’s letter in the latest issue of Saveur. The entire issue is devoted to The Sandwich and is fantastic.

The editor’s mother used to make him salami sandwiches on rye with butter and ground pepper. It is a simple yet brillant sandwich, just like he said. Perfect hearty fare for a day of running around and exploring a new time and place.

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla

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The guy at California Pizza Kitchen who came up with the Barbecue Chicken Pizza should really get a medal acknowledging the greatness of his achievment. When my husband replicates the pizza it brings me great joy. But awhile ago I had to cheat and make this quesadilla because I couldn’t wait to get my fix.[/donotprint]

And miracle of miracles, the kids liked them when I made them for dinner the other night. It was a rare moment. We were all eating the same food which had been inspired by my cravings. And we all enjoyed it. Amen and hallelujah!

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

2 10-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 handful coarsely grated Monterrey jack cheese
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon purple onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Place one tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. Evenly distribute chicken and barbecue sauce on the tortilla. Sprinkle on the cheese and then the onion and cilantro. Top with the second tortilla. Cook for 3 -5 minutes or until the tortilla starts to brown. Flip and cook the other side for a few more minutes. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board. Allow to cool for a couple minutes. Slice into quarters or sixths. Serve.

Yield: 4-6 wedges
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Mommy Lunch: Japanese Spinach with Rice

When your entire morning has evaporated while you made what you thought would be a quick batch of crackers…and you’re still trying to stick to the vegan-before-6 thing, you quickly learn how important it is to have easy and healhty lunch ideas in your back pocket. Otherwise, you end up eating all the crackers you just slaved over!

Sorry kids!

For the past month or so, whenever I have leftover rice waiting in the wings I often grab a bag of frozen greens and have this brilliant lunch ready in a jiffy. If you’re unsure, please know that eating a big glob of greens (unless they were smothered in white sauce) used to be a relatively rare occurance for me. Despite the abundance of green in the photo above, I’m not overwhelmed by the roughage. It’s perfect. In fact, the other night I had it for dinner…after 6 o’clock.

Japanese Spinach with Rice Recipe

This is adapted from a recipe for Intensely Green Spinach with Sesame Seeds in Seductions of Rice by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid.

For the greens I am currently using a mixture of frozen bagged spinach and mixed greens (collard, kale, mustard, etc.). I toast the sesame seeds 1/4 cup at a time in a skillet over medium low heat and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator in order to have them at the ready.

1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 cup bagged frozen greens, loosely packed 
2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Reheat rice in the microwave. Set aside. In another bowl, defrost and warm up the greens.  Drain any excess liquid. Pour the mirin and soy sauce over the greens and mix to coat. Place greens on top of the rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve.

Yield: 1 rice bowl
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Fried Bologna Sandwich

I won’t bore you with my internal monologue about processed lunch meats. Let’s just say I went out on a limb.

And I’m glad I did.

This is a surprisingly tasty sandwich. Try one. You might like it. And while you’re munching, take a moment to appreciate the shear human ingenuity that goes into highly processed foods. Yes, they can be unhealthy, but as I learn more about food I occasionally find myself in awe of what people have been able to conjure.

Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe

2 slices bread, lightly toasted
6 slices bologna (I used Applegate Farms Turkey Bologna)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Yellow mustard, to taste

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the canola oil. Put the bologna (You’ll probably have to do two batches unless you’re using a huge pan.) in the skillet and cook for approximately five minutes on each side or until it is lightly browned and bubbly.

Place all of the bologna on one slice of bread and top with mustard as desired. Place second slice of bread on top. Cut up into small sandwiches and serve.

Yield: 1 sandwich (cut into 4 mini sandwiches for a shared snack – or not)
Prep time: 20 minutes

Apple Sage Quesadilla

I’m feeling oh-so back-to-basics with this little bundle of dried sage hanging by my kitchen window. For a recent lunch, I used some of it in a quesadilla with apples and cheese. It was delightful.

2 8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 – 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small apple, peeled and coarsely grated
7 – 10 dried sage leaves, crumbled into bits

Place one tortilla in a skillet over medium heat and cover evenly with cheeses, apple, and sage. Top with second tortilla and cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown and cheese is starting to melt (around 5 minutes). Flip the quesadilla with a stiff spatula and cook for a few more minutes or until the tortilla is golden brown. Transfer quesadilla to a cutting board and allow to cool for a couple minutes. Cut into 8 wedges with a large knife and serve.

Yield: 8 wedges
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Cook-time: 8 minutes

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