Actually Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Wednesday was National Grilled Cheese Day.  I don’t really remember that day from past years, but thought I would celebrate this year with actually preparing grilled cheese sandwiches–Not just made indoors on a grill, but made outdoors on a charcoal grill.

The feat was totally easy since I have a new grilled cheese basket by The Charcoal Companion.  This non-stick basket is perfect for any type of grilled sandwich on an open grill.  The rosewood handle is especially nice and the basket clip keeps the tool together for easy turning.  I was able to fit three smaller sandwiches with plenty of cheddar cheese for each sandwich into the basket. The sandwiches are held together nicely without any worries of losing a sandwich into the charcoal.

It took only minutes before the cheese was melty, gooey and so delicious!  The actual outdoor charcoal flavor adds that extra special taste that cannot be achieved indoors. The basket is the perfect size and really could be used to grill flat vegetables as well.

I plan to be using my grills so much more this year as I have come to appreciate all types of outdoor grilling and various foods that can be easily made on the grill today with the proper tools. Grilled cheese is also perfect for tailgating season.  There is just something about cooking food outdoors that makes it taste extra special!

Baskets can be found at Wal-Mart, World Market, many specialty cooking stores and even online at The Home Depot or bbqguys.com.

Raspberry Brie grilled cheese

How do you make a summer grilled cheese sandwich?  How about changing up the flavors to include a summer fruit?  I found a recipe on Stonewall Kitchen’s website for a summer raspberry brie grilled cheese sandwich.  Even though I did not have their product, I tried my other brand raspberry jam for an equally tasty meal.

This is a great recipe for summer picnics.  No need to worry about any of these ingredients spoiling in the picnic basket. Very easy to prepare and actually tastes good either hot or cold. It seems very French to me –so very European.

Use  sturdy bread, like a ciabatta, and spread with jam.  Butter each side before cooking.  Slice the brie cheese and place over the jam.  I usually butter each side as I layer into the panini maker.  This sandwich can be baked in the oven, grilled in a panini press, or heated in a skillet until the cheese is just melted. Slice the sandwich and pack for a great meal outdoors.

BBQ grill mats are the answer to easy outdoor meals

Grilling season is back.  Some of my best meals seem to be those made with fresh ingredients that come off of the grill during the warmer months of the year.  We use both a charcoal grill and an electric patio grill for cooking, and have found many recipes work perfectly on both types of grilling surfaces.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Over the past five years, I have published many grilling recipes on this blog.  I plan to add to those this year, as I spend more time in my garden and cook with my freshly grown ingredients.  Recently, I was asked to review a set of two BBQ grilling mats made by Yumms!  These mats arrived in a flat package which allows for immediate use right out of the box.  No waiting for the grill mats to flatten on the grates.

I noticed immediately that the non-stick surface had a nice texture and will prevent food from sticking.  I also like that the mats are very sturdy and will hold food easily without dropping it through the grill’s grating. The mats can be cut to size for any recipe, and can be cleaned easily in the dishwasher.  They are also hand wash friendly.

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The mats can be used up to 450 degrees and are FDA approved.  By using grill mats, a variety of recipes that could not typically be made on a grill, without having specialty pans, are easily prepared.  Everything from eggs and toast to grilled sliced vegetables or grilled pineapple rings and melted chocolate for dipping.

I am looking forward to experimenting in the coming weeks.  For more information on the Yumms! BBQ grill mats, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00THPZ1MG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

I felt “Fall” in the air this past weekend in Michigan.  I must admit, I love this season the best of all of the seasons of the year.  The brisk mornings and the changing leaves make the season so comfortable for me.  I have been looking at many recipes over the past few weeks just getting ready for comfort food season.  I found this one in Jamie Deen’s cookbook titled Good Food.  It felt perfect for dinner last night, since I still had a whole bowl of tomatoes from the garden ready to be used in a recipe.

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I have made homemade tomato soup several times before and have posted recipes on the blog, but not for roasted tomato soup.  I must say that the tomatoes had an extra layer of flavor, since they were combined with the roasted onions and garlic.  The soup was delicious, making extra for lunches and to freeze for another colder fall evening dinner.

I loved the grilled cheese croutons.  They were delicious in the soup and were such a great garnish.  My husband had an extra grilled cheese on a plate, since the croutons were just not enough for his meal. The sandwiches could also be cut into strips and served with the soup, for dunking.

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to make the soup recipe:

Gather the following ingredients for the recipe–3 pounds of fresh tomatoes, or a mixture of fresh for roasting and boxed, one Vidalia onion, 6 cloves of fresh garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock and dill.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the tomatoes in quarters, and the large onion into chunks.  Separate the garlic into cloves. Place all on a heavy sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and honey. Mix well together.  Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and take out the garlic cloves.  Smash 2-3 cloves depending on their size and return to the pan,  discarding  the rest.  Place all in a blender to puree in batches.  Mix any browned bits from the baking pan into the chicken stock. Using about 2 cups of stock, add to the soup pan on the stove.  Add the tomato mixture from the blender along with other boxed tomatoes as needed for the recipe volume.

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Season as needed.  Simmer for at least 25 minutes. Add the rest of the stock to incorporate during the cooking time.  Stir in the dill during the last minutes of cooking to taste.  Or use as a garnish on the soup when serving. I also used fresh basil from the garden as a garnish.

 

to make the grilled cheese croutons:

Prepare a sheet pan with cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using margarine, spread one side of each slice of bread making a sandwich.  For 4 sandwiches, that would be eight slices of bread.  Place butter side down, one slice for each sandwich.  Add shredded cheddar cheese or other cheese slices.  Place the second slice of sandwich bread on top, butter side up.  Bake in the oven for a total of 20 minutes.  I usually bake 12 minutes on one side and flip the sandwiches.

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Cut into slices, strips, or cubes for croutons.  Delicious and so perfect for Fall.

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open faced tomato sandwiches

all of my summer tomatoes have ripened and for the past few weeks, i have been making a variety of recipes to take advantage of their delicious homegrown taste. this past week, i made open-faced tomato sandwiches. this process is really not even a recipe, but just a personal preference on how to make a tomato sandwich.
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one of the best steps of the sandwich, is to grow your own tomato. if it is an heirloom tomato, then the sandwich is even better. i toast my slice of bread, add a smear of low-fat mayonnaise, a bit of crumbled crispy bacon, some fresh lettuce leaves, and then the sliced tomato. sometimes i even top with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

served with a side salad, this is one of my favorite “end of the summer” meals to enjoy for lunch or dinner.

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pressed Italian sandwich

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are you planning a picnic, going camping or just having an outdoor meal on the deck?  if so, this is an easy prepare ahead hearty sandwich that is pressed over a period of a few hours in the refrigerator.  really, anything goes with this sandwich.  choose your ingredients, and then wrap in foil and press.

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i used an oval cast iron lid over the foiled covered sandwich on a thin cutting board.  every hour or so, i opened the refrigerator and pressed down to compress the sandwich.  this technique worked very well.

to make the sandwich:  brush the inside of the ciabatta or french bread with olive oil, tapenade, or a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  season with herbs, like parsley, thyme, and basil.  layer thinly sliced turkey, ham, or a combination of meats. choices could include Genoa salami or thinly sliced prosciutto.  add provolone cheese or Swiss cheese.  Add additional condiments as desired.  I added thinly sliced dill pickles, sliced red onion, and a mix of greens.  delicious and easy. serve with salad or cole slaw and fresh fruit.  pressing makes the sandwich soft and easy to eat.  the bread no longer feels dense. if desired, some of the inner lining of the bread could even be removed before the first step of preparation.

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summer grilled cheese with apple

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summer sandwiches are traditionally light and flavorful. by using some crisp apple slices along with some deli ham and provolone cheese, this sandwich is just that good.

i assembled the sandwich on a thin baguette from the market, layering the ingredients–ham, apple slices, crisp green lettuce, and then topped with provolone.  cover the sandwiches with tin foil and place on a baking sheet.

put into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to heat and melt the cheese.  remove from the oven, take off the foil, and press the sandwich together.

the cheese melts just perfectly during that time, and the lettuce stays crisp.  the apples are just perfectly warmed and not soft.  their crunch adds a wonderful texture to the summer sandwich.

serve warm with a side salad, fruit salad or pasta salad for your next picnic.