Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

Tomato-Pesto Grilled Cheese.

Tomato-Pesto Grilled Cheese.

This is day two of being snowed-in.  Sidewalk is shoveled, but driveway not plowed!   Go figure that one.  Snowplow guy seems to be busy elsewhere.  Well, there’s still plenty of food in the house, so no rush about going anywhere.

Under these house-bound conditions,  almost as soon as breakfast is over, I start thinking about lunch.   Wouldn’t you?  I’m imagining some kind of a grilled cheese sandwich.  Most folks love the combo of tomato soup and grilled cheese, so let me see if I can cram the two of them together in a knock-your-socks-off sandwich.  Get ready for an ooey-gooey delight.

First we’re going to go to our refrigerators to gather up all the delicious things we’ll need.  If those things should happen to be roasted, pesto-ed, or melty, that’s ideal.

Today I’m lucky, I have some good things.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes all I have in the fridge is skim milk and some bendy celery with brown tops.   That’s why there’s frozen pizza, right?  Skim milk and bendy celery are not allowed in this sandwich.   Absolutely not,  not when I see some precious Romano,  cheddar and pesto in there, not to mention some beautiful red tomatoes.

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This is what it looks like to pack every delicious item in your refrigerator between toasted onion rolls.

(These are not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but I was too impatient to eat this sandwich.)

I’m the kind of person who likes to always have pesto on hand.  Quite some time ago I posted my recipe for homemade pesto(s), and I really recommend you make some for your refrigerator.  Made from herbs or spinach or kale (ignore that bendy celery),  you’ll thank yourself when you go looking in your refrigerator for some “good things”.  BTW, make lots–it freezes well, too.

On this sandwich we layer shredded cheddar, smeared pesto, roasted tomato puree, salty Romano cheese and mayo!

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Roasting the tomatoes intensifies their flavor and sweetness.  The pesto adds a happy green, garlic-y kick.  Two kinds of cheese because we’re the kind of people who deserve two kinds of cheese on our sandwich.  Spread the top and bottom of the sandwich with mayo and grill on each side until the center is warm and melty.

The center gets melty and warm.

The center gets melty and warm.

Now the pay-off.   Take that sandwich to your favorite comfy place and settle yourself into coziness.  Sit down on the floor if you have to, just relax and enjoy it.  Now eat slowly and savor every delicious bite.    Relax.  Read your e-mails, or check out Pinterest.  Only move when the desire for some chips or a beverage motivates you beyond laziness.  Bendy celery, get outta here!

 

ROAST TOMATO PESTO GRILLED CHEESE 

Yield:    Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 4 tsp. canola mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. pesto
  • 2 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz. Romano cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices of whole grain bread or rolls of choice

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Combine 1 tsp. oil, tomatoes, and garlic on a baking sheet.

Cut in half and seed tomatoes.

Cut in half and seed tomatoes.

Bake at 400*F. for 20 minutes.  Remove skins and discard. Squeeze garlic to extract the pulp, discard skins.

Roast with garlic.  Remove skins.

Roast with garlic. Remove skins.

2.  Combine tomatoes, garlic pulp, basil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor  pulse 10 times.

Place in mini processor and  chop finely.

Place in mini processor and chop finely.

3.  Spread mayonnaise on two slices of bread or top half of rolls. Spread pesto on remaining 2 slices bread or bottoms of rolls.

Spread mayo and pesto on bread slices.

Spread mayo and pesto on bread slices.

4.  Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato mixture on sandwich bottoms.  Cover with half the grated cheese on each bottom,  top that with thinly sliced Romano cheese.

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5.  Cover with sandwich tops.  Lightly coat outsides of sandwiches with cooking spray.

6.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil, swirl to coat.  Place sandwiches in pan; cook about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Flip sandwiches, and continue to cook until lightly browned and cheese is melted.  Cut in half and serve immediately.

7.  If you have a panini pan, sandwiches may be cooked in that instead of a skillet.

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SOURCE:  Carolyn’s Originals

 

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Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I thought I heard someone singing  just outside my back door while I was making these sandwiches for lunch.

She wasn’t the best singer in the world, but ya got to hand it to her, she was brave.  I’m sure if I had the nerve to sing outside in public, I’d be less than average, too.  But a lot of times it’s more about guts than anything else when it comes to singing.  You just have to step out there and mean it.  That’s what it takes. ( Not that I would really know, but that’s what I’ve heard, anyway.)

I felt that way when I stepped into the kitchen around noon on a Saturday, and started pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator for lunch.  It takes guts to make something you’ve never made before, but I’ve had every intention of making these sandwiches for a long time now.  I think that’s called procrastination, or making excuses like I’m missing one of the necessary ingredients.   Sometimes the best plans take time to activate.  Yep, that’s what it takes;  intention, plans, and guts.  I’m telling you, it’s real.

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The idea that was floating around in my head was to put avocado into a grilled cheese sandwich.  I was imagining an irresistible gooeyness, but realized that it needed something else to contrast with all that richness, so I included firm, ripe tomato slices.  Tomatoes that are not overly ripe work best, so they don’t give off too much juice as they grill.  A leap of faith is what it was,  but one that turned out to be right on the money.    Whoo-Hoo!

This is a sandwich to make when you want to impress someone with your culinary skills!

 

AVOCADO AND TOMATO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES

Yield:  Makes 4 sandwichesIMG_7959

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup) or any other cheese of choice
  • 8 slices seedless rye bread
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp, black pepper
  • cooking spray

Directions:

1.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese over each of 4 bread slices.  If using sliced cheese, use 2 slices.  Top each with 2 tomato slices.  Arrange avocado slices evenly over tomato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.   (In place of salt and pepper, I often use Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle for an added flavor boost.)

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2.  Top with remaining 4 bread slices.  Lightly coat outsides of sandwiches with cooking spray.

3.  Heat a grill pan (or panini pan) over medium heat.  Place sandwiches in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted and well marked and cheese melts.  Cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

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SOURCE:    A Carolyn Original

 

 

 

Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese.

If you’re tired of the same old, same old for Meatless Mondays, this sandwich with its unusual combination of vegetables and cheese might just perk up your menu.  I served it with a hearty tomato soup, (read about it here.) last week when I wanted to have a meatless meal.

I had seen this sandwich recipe and earmarked it as one I wanted to try because of the inclusion of kale, with caramelized onions and two kinds of cheese.  I’ve only recently grown to like kale and I wasn’t sure I would like it in a sandwich, but surprisingly it did not announce itself too strongly.  The most prominent flavors were the onions and cheese, but the kale is quietly in the background, and you know you’re eating something healthy.  We thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich and it was a good compliment to the tomato soup.

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The two cheeses I used were Parmesan and smoked provolone.  The recipe calls for raclette, but it may not be widely available so a good substitute is Gruyère, or any cheese with good melting properties, like provolone.

KALE AND CARAMELIZED ONION GRILLED CHEESE

Yield:   Serves 4  ( 4 sandwiches)IMG_5141

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 8 slices multi-grain bread
  • cooking spray
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided ( about 1/4 cup)
  • 3.5 oz. shredded raclette cheese ( about 7/8 cup)  or other shredded or sliced cheese

1.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil;  add kale.  Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until kale is bright green.  Drain;  Pat leaves dry with paper towel.

Dry kale after blanching.

Dry kale after blanching.

2.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion, pepper, and salt.  Cool 10 minutes or until onion is tender and browned, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat; stir in vinegar, tossing to coat.

Brown onions in a little oil.

Brown onions in a little oil.

3.  Heat a non-stick skillet or panini pan over medium heat.  Lightly coat 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray.  Working with 2 slices at a time, arrange bread in pan, sprayed side down.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan on each slice.

First layer of cheese is grated Parmesan.

First layer of cheese is grated Parmesan.

Top with 1 kale leaf, one-fourth of onion mixture,

Layer on the kale and onions.

Layer on the kale and onions.

and about 1/4 cup shredded cheese, (or 1-2 slices of cheese).

Top with second type of cheese.

Top with second type of cheese.

Top with another slice of bread, sprayed side up.

4.  Toast sandwiches until browned and cheeses are melted, turning over once.  Repeat with remaining bread slices and remaining filling ingredients.

Toast till browned and cheeses are melted.

Toast till browned and cheeses are melted.

Melty, gooey cheese, savory onions, and kale on multi-grain bread.  YUM!

Melty, gooey cheese, savory onions, and kale on multi-grain bread. YUM!

SOURCE:  COOKING LIGHT  Magazine

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Did you know  that everyday is some kind of National Food Holiday?  And some days celebrate more than one kind of food.  I don’t usually pay much attention to this sort of thing because some of them are just plain silly.  For instance, you could get pretty tipsy if you celebrate National Mulled Wine Day,  or bust a gut for National Nutella Day, or get really greasy fingers on National Fried Chicken Day. See what I mean?

However there is one that I could get into in a big way.  I really love grilled cheese sandwiches, and if there was a day to celebrate them, I would eat them all day.  Well,  SURPRISE! Grilled cheese is so highly regarded it has not just a day, but a whole month devoted to it, and this is it.  April is National Grilled Cheese Month.  Yea, I am totally in.

If you like corned beef and you love grilled cheese sandwiches, then you are gonna love this sandwich that combines both along with some glazed onions cooked in dark beer.  WOW! what a combination.

With some corned beef left from our Irish meal, I made these sandwiches for a weekend lunch.  You can make the sandwich anytime using corned beef from the deli, but I used what I had on hand.  You start by slowly cooking sliced onion in a little butter with some sugar, salt and pepper, then add dark beer such as porter or stout.  Let that cook slowly to condense it into a syrupy liquid.  Add the corned beef and heat it up.  Then layer up the sandwich, and grill it.  Rich, gooey, filling and soooo good.

CORNED BEEF GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

MAKES  2

  • 1  1/2  Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup dark beer, such as porter or stout
  • 2 ounces deli sliced corned beef, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1  1/2 cups grated cheese
  • 4 slices marble rye bread

1.  Melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sprinkle with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and beer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and the liquid is slightly syrupy, about 8 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the corned beef.

Corned beef added into the pan.

Corned beef added into the pan.

2.  Divide half the cheese between 2 bread slices;  top with the corned beef mixture, and the remaining cheese and 2 bread slices.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

3.  Melt the remaining 1 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sandwiches and cook, pressing occasionally with a spatula, until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side, adding more butter to the pan if needed.***

***  I used my panini pan to grill the sandwiches, and instead of using butter to toast them, I spread mayonnaise on the outer sides of the bread.  This makes a nice golden toasted sandwich.   I read somewhere that chefs in restaurants use mayonnaise for grilled sandwiches, so now I do it, too.

Don't let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

Don’t let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine,  March, 2013