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

summer grilled cheese with apple


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.

basil mayonnaise



this recipe for basil mayonnaise comes from southern living magazine.  this is a terrific addition to chicken Panini sandwiches or turkey BLT’s.  the herbal topping gives any bland tasting meat a delicious zip and improved taste profile.

to make the mayonnaise:  using 1/4 cup low-fat or light mayonnaise, add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, along with 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest.  mix the ingredients to incorporate.  keep chilled until ready to assemble the sandwiches.


roasted red pepper and portabella mushroom panini

some weeknights need to be centered around a meal that can be made in minutes. either our schedules require a change in dinner time, or we decide that it would be best to complete garden tasks prior to a meal break.

for those nights, i sometimes choose panini sandwiches for the main dish. using a great deli bread is the essence of a good sandwich. ciabatta, crusty italian or even a french loaf is often a great choice. for the portabella mushroom sandwiches, i clean the mushrooms first, and then grill them in the panini maker. this allows the mushroom to thoroughly cook prior to grilling them for the sandwich.

for these sandwiches, i used a sliced ciabatta bread, portabellas, sweet red roasted peppers, and grilled onions. i pre-heated and grilled the peppers and onions in a skillet and then added them to the sandwich. therefore, all ingredients were warm before making the panini.

these sandwiches are delicious, and only a small slice of bread is required as the flavor of the ingredients makes the sandwich. served along side a small salad, this is a wonderful weeknight meal.

i find ideas for panini sandwich combinations in the book panini express by daniel leader.