Wanted: Best Grilled Cheese

One of my fondest memories of childhood would have to be the nights we ate hotdogs with macaroni and cheese and the days we ate grilled cheese and tomato soup. Yep – those are my two favorite meals since childhood and what I would consider final-meal worthy.

Glee---grilled-cheesus

Sorry – I couldn’t help myself. As I was sitting down to write this entry, I couldn’t get “grilled cheesus” out of my head. I’m a horrible Glee fan too because I definitely thought this phrase was from “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

Dear Glee – please forgive me.

Ok, back to the subject at hand – grilled cheese. I personally am a HUGE cheddar fan – I believe that to be the “true” grilled cheese. When my brother came to visit in February, he brought out the mozzarella and skipped the cheddar (say WHAT??) – he called it his margherita style. I considered it a bit sacrilegious, to be quite honest, but then again, maybe I’m being to basic. Maybe I needed to broaden my horizons and be equally open to all cheeses possibly landing on my buttered slices of bread.

April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day and considering that this is one of my self-proclaimed comfort foods, I thought I would try to find the very “best” grilled cheese recipe. And what I discovered is that there are thousands of recipes circling the web, claiming to be “the best”. You may be surprised to learn that even as a lactose-intolerant individual, I’m not at all turned off by too much cheese (only my stomach thinks that way).  Some of the recipes I found looked heavenly, while others looked a bit grotesque (think grease overload).

I finally settled on a few key features that I wasn’t willing to negotiate on:

  • No funky or fancy cheeses – stick to the cheese I know and love (no sense ruining a good thing with experimentation)
  • Add some veggies – spinach and tomatoes, yum!
  • Add a little healthy fats – avocado (aka my favorite green thing)
  • Slide in some protein – chicken and bacon are my favorites
  • Must pair well with a side of tomato soup

Now growing up, we always paired our grilled cheese with the delicious taste of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I know – probably sounds kinda boring when comparing to all the soup varieties that exist today, but back then, tomato soup was high choice for us kids. As an adult, I realize now why my mom wasn’t exactly pouring this stuff down our throats every time we requested it. A) It’s not that healthy for you (don’t read the labels) and b) it’s not cheap! But I really wanted tomato soup, so I hunted around for a simple tomato soup with some extra flavorings.

I have to admit – although I went into this feeling confident I would never abandon the ol’ reliable cheddar grilled cheese, I think I’m more open to other flavors joining the party. The avocado and tomatoes were a nice addition, making me feel like less of a cheese head while devouring each cheesy bite. Adding white cheeses (like goat and Monterey Jack) also helped to “kick things up a notch”, in the words of Emeril Lagasse. I hope you find a recipe that tickles your fancy!


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Avocado & Chicken Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices bread
  • 4 oz. shredded chicken
  • 2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 T butter
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each of the slices of bread.
  3. Place a slice of bread, butter side down, in skillet or griddle.  Top with Monterey Jack, goat cheese, chicken, tomato, and avocado. Top with remaining slice of buttered bread (butter side up).
  4. Grill over medium heat until golden and cheese begins to melt – about 4 minutes.
  5. Carefully flip sandwich, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook a few more minutes until cheese has melted and bread is golden brown.

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BLT & Avocado Grilled Cheese

2 slices bread
2-3 slices turkey bacon, cooked
2 slices cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
Spinach leaves
1 T butter

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each of the slices of bread.
  3. Place a slice of bread, butter side down, in skillet or griddle.  Top with cheddar, turkey bacon, avocado, tomato and spinach. Top with remaining slice of buttered bread (butter side up).
  4. Grill over medium heat until golden and cheese begins to melt – about 4 minutes.
  5. Carefully flip sandwich, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook a few more minutes until cheese has melted and bread is golden brown.
  6. Slice in halve and serve!

 

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Cauliflower Grilled Cheese

1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 finely grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp oregano
1 cup shredded Cheddar

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray (or coconut oil).
  2. Process cauliflower florets in a food processor until the texture resembles rice.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine processed cauliflower, eggs, Parmesan and oregano. Mix until evenly combined then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Scoop the cauliflower mixture and form a small patty on one side of the pan. Repeat to form a second patty on the other side. These are your “bread” slices.
  5. Press down on both pieces with a spatula and cook until golden underneath, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden, about 3 minutes more.
  6. Top one cauliflower slice with cheese then place the other cauliflower slice on top. Cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes more per side. Serve immediately!

 

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Tomato Basil Soup

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and garlic; sauté until softened (about 5-7 minutes). Pour into a greased cork pot.
  2. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  3. Remove bay leaf and pour in heavy cream. Using an immersion blender, blend soup so no carrot chunks for whole tomatoes remain.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional garlic powder and/or basil if desired.

 

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