Food From Home

Cooking at home for fun, health and frugality!

How To Make A Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This month my daughter Amethesto chose four things to learn to cook. One of these things was a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Grilled cheese sandwiches are a classic.
I don’t remember learning how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m pretty sure I was not born knowing how to make them but they aren’t complicated so good for non-cooks.

The sandwiches of my childhood were white sandwich bread with Velvetta cheese slices cut into triangles with the molten cheese oozing out. Velvetta does melt very well but at some point I developed an intense dislike for the way it tastes so we don’t use it at my house.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velveeta

As previously noted, it isn’t hard or complicated to make a grilled cheese sandwich. You can use a few different methods and change up ingredients to suit your tastes.
First thing to decide is your ingredients. I like sourdough bread best.  French bread, pumpernickel or rye bread are also good choices. Tonight we used an English toasting sandwich bread and it is pretty good as well. Choose a cheese-or combination of cheeses- that melt well. Cheddar, pepperjack, feta, mozzarella are some examples. I think thin sliced cheese is easier to work with than shredded cheese. You can have just cheese or you can add things like thin sliced/shredded cooked meat, pepperoni, thin cooked burger patty, tuna, caramelized onions, mushrooms, baby spinach, olives, peppers or even fruit…get creative!  Use up some leftovers! Don’t put very watery/juicy things directly on your sandwich though or your bread may get soggy. A grilled Reuben sandwich is delicious but drain the sauerkraut really well first. Finally, I choose to spread the outside of my sandwiches with regular butter. You could try something like margarine or cooking spray but they might brown differently, not be as crispy or taste different. Your call.

Next you need to choose what you will cook it with.  I’m a fan of my stainless steel pans for most things but when I want to make a grilled cheese sandwich it has to be my cast iron griddle. It is great for sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes or French Toast. I have used an indoor electric George Foreman grill for making sandwiches as well. It works fine but I don’t have much counter space and it is annoying to clean so I prefer to use my stove. An advantage to that kind of grill though is that you cook both sides at once so it is a little faster. I think the sandwich gets squished a bit flatter.  I have never tried to make a sandwich with a clothes iron but some people have! http://www.southphillyblocks.org/photos_essays/grilled_cheese/

Now that those important decisions have been made, we are ready to assemble and cook!
Heat your pan, griddle or grill (or clothes iron. Ha!). I put my cast iron griddle over medium heat. Hagbard tried making grilled cheese on a higher temperature and ended up with a burnt result. Medium heat seems to be best. I let the griddle heat until drops of water sizzle and dance.
Assemble your sandwich while your griddle is heating. Put bread, cheese, other fillings, more cheese and bread. I used 1 ounce of cheddar cheese and 2 slices of deli ham for my half sandwich and double the cheese for Hagbard’s full size sandwich. Amethesto used about 1 oz of  pepperjack and 1 slice of ham on a half sandwich. The thicker your ingredients the longer it will take to heat through and melt the cheese even though the outside of your bread is browning so lower the temperature and cook longer if you want a thicker sandwich.

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Note the cheese on both sides of the ham.

Butter the outside of the sandwich evenly. I butter one side and put that side down on the griddle with the cheese and meat, etc on top of that. Butter the top slice of bread and place it on top. You don’t need a ton of butter.

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All buttered up!

After about 5 minutes on the griddle the bread on bottom should be a golden brown and the cheese should be getting melty. Flip the sandwich over. Cook another 5 minutes.

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That’s it. If you were using one of those grills for cooking your sandwich just 3-5 minutes would probably be long enough.

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Amethesto’s sandwich and potatoes.

We had our sandwiches with simple roasted potato slices tonight. Grilled sandwiches also go great with soup and we will always have grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade cream of tomato soup. Yummy!

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Stuffed Bread With Buffalo Chicken

Hagbard is very happy tonight. We are having stuffed bread which has been one of his favorites since we married 16 years ago. The man loves stuffed food. He also loves clothes with tons of pockets. I think they are related somehow. He’s a complicated person.
Back to the stuffed bread making!

I made slow cooker shredded buffalo chicken to use tonight. http://hostthetoast.com/5-bc-recipes/  I also made some basic white bread dough today. You can use canned bread dough. I usually make my own because it is cheaper and I like kneading dough. It feels kind of therapeutic. I vary the filling and type of bread dough I use for stuffed bread so if one day you want to use crescent roll, French bread or pizza dough with other meats, cheeses or vegetables you can. Just follow these basic steps for whatever variation you choose. This is the first time I’ve used buffalo chicken as the filling.
I like to bake my stuffed bread on a preheated pizza stone. I inherited my pizza stone completely unused from my parents. They had it for years gathering dust in the original packaging- wisely they passed it on to me. I’ve used it like crazy ever since for making pizza, naan, pita bread, and stuffed bread. If you don’t have one just use a baking sheet.

Stuffed Bread With Buffalo Chicken
1 loaf raw bread dough
About 1 c shredded buffalo chicken
8 oz shredded mozzarella
Optional: grated Parmesan, dill, butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the pizza stone for at least 10 minutes if you are using it. Grease your baking sheet if you are using that instead.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out in a rectangle about 1/4″ thick. Put chicken and cheese in center leaving stopping about 1″ from the ends and about 2″ from the sides. Cut in from the edges to the center in 1″ intervals on both sides. Fold ends in and overlap alternate side pieces over the filling.
Optional: Before baking, butter or spray the top with cooking spray. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and dill weed.
Place loaf on baking sheet or pizza stone. Bake 20-30 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 4-6 servings.

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Let’s wrap this up!

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Tuck in the ends first.

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Ready to bake.

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Look at that warm melty cheese oozing out! Yum!

Verdict:

Hagbard- This is really tasty. I want the leftovers for lunch tomorrow… if we have any leftovers!

Lounmoun- This IS tasty but oozy. I have to alternate which end I eat from so I don’t squish all the filling out! I think maybe some red pepper flakes would be good in or on this. Some onion or blue cheese might be nice in it too.

Amethesto- Did not eat dinner here with us tonight. Did not inherit her father’s love of stuffed food anyway. More for us!

From my home to yours,
Lounmoun

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Oven Roasted Chicago Style Hot Dogs

I’ve always hated hot dogs… until a couple of years ago when  Hagbard got me to try a Chicago dog that is. A Chicago style hot dog is a beef frankfurter topped with mustard, chopped onion, sweet pickle relish, tomato, dill pickle, celery salt and pickled sport peppers often on a poppy seed bun. I was really dubious of this combination since I hate sweet pickle relish. Hot dogs and sweet pickle relish!  I was shocked at how good it is though. This is now my preferred way to have a hot dog.

I’m not a purist. Where I live poppy seed buns are not in the stores so we just use a regular hot dog bun. We don’t find jars of pickled sport peppers locally either so I use pepperoncini or pickled banana peppers. If that scandalizes you then there are places where you can order more authentic peppers and things online. Vienna Beef offers a Chicago Dog kit. http://www.viennabeef.com/chicago-style-hot-dog-kit

Maybe you don’t have a grill and don’t like boiled hot dogs. You can put your hot dogs in the oven and get a pretty good result.


 

Oven Roasted Hot Dogs

Heat oven to 400F. Put your hot dogs on a baking sheet. Cook for about 15 minutes. Serve in a bun with your favorite toppings.

For a Chicago Style Hot Dog: Put cooked beef frankfurter on a bun. Put relish on one side and mustard on the other. Put tomato slices on one side and pickle spear on the other. Top with chopped onion and peppers. Sprinkle with celery salt.


 

What is your favorite style of hot dog?

 

 

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Chicken Caesar Sandwich for One

I have seen slow cooker chicken Caesar sandwich recipes floating around Pinterest and blogs. It looked tasty to Hagbard and me for a quick dinner or lunch. Amethesto does not want to try it at all so she is having a plain chicken sandwich.
Basically you will need some cooked chicken to start with. You can slow cook the chicken like they do in the other recipes but if you don’t have a slow cooker you could also just boil/bake some chicken, use leftover chicken or buy a precooked chicken from the deli and use that.
For a 4-6 serving recipe version using a slow cooker try this-> http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2011/09/slow-cooker-chicken-caesar-sandwiches.html
I’m going to give you the ingredient list for my faster version with one sandwich. I added a bit less parmesan cheese and dressing to my mixture than the other recipes would have you do because I am watching calories. I used baby spinach instead of romaine lettuce for more of a nutritional punch. I had it all on a warm crusty ciabatta roll.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich for One
3 oz cooked shredded chicken
2 T Caesar salad dressing
1 1/2 tsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper or to taste
Lettuce or baby spinach (about 20g)
Bun or roll (58-85 g)

Mix chicken, salad dressing, parmesan cheese, parsley and pepper. Heat in pan on stove over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Put mixture on bun with lettuce or baby spinach.

Verdict: This is a keeper!
Hagbard- “This tastes like Caesar salad.”
Loumoun- “It is supposed to so that’s good I guess. Do you hate Caesar salad?”
Hagbard- “No, it’s fine.”
Lounmoun-  “Is there anything you would change?”
Habard- “The only thing I might add is some bacon. It is pretty flavorful and tasty as it is though. I would eat it again.”

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It’s Gyro-riffic!

homemade gyro

Yesterday was Hagbard’s 30th birthday and he had requested gyros for dinner. I made homemade Tzatziki sauce, gyro meat and pita bread. I pretty much spent all day in the kitchen yesterday so today is leftovers or pbj!

I made the Tzatziki on Saturday night.

Tzatziki

1 T salt for salting cucumbers

3 c Greek yogurt (or strained plain yogurt)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large cucumber

1T olive oil

1T fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

Peel cucumber. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cube the cucumber and place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Drain water and pat cucumber dry.

In a food processor combine the remaining ingredients and process until well-blended. Refrigerate.

Make at least 2 hours ahead so flavors blend.

Sunday morning I made the gyro meat. In the past we’ve bought frozen gyro kits at the grocery store and gyro meat over the internet. These were somewhat expensive options. We wouldn’t like the sauce or pita bread in the kit so it was pretty wasteful. After trial and error over the years I’ve arrived at a recipe for “gyro loaf” which pleases my family. I’ve found using fattier ground beef is important and using the food processor gives it the texture my family likes. I often freeze half of the loaf after cooking it  and that works well.

Gyro Meat

1 lb ground lamb

1 lb ground beef

1 c onion, finely chopped or shredded

1 T minced garlic

3/4 tsp salt

1T dried marjoram

1T dried rosemary, ground

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325F. Mix everything in a food processor for 1 minute. Shape mixture into  a loaf- about 5 1/2 ” x 11″ and 1 ” tall.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool several hours or overnight before slicing. Warm slices briefly  in a skillet or microwave before serving.

I had decided to make pita bread instead of buying it this time.  I found a new recipe for Arabian Pita Bread on Food.com that looked simple and had good reviews. The recipe calls for 1T dried nonfat milk powder. I rarely use powdered milk but had some in the cabinet so I pulled it out. My box apparently expired in December last year so I decided not to use it. Maybe it would’ve been okay but maybe not. I thought I’d just use some regular milk but totally forgot to add it. I used honey instead of sugar. Other than that I followed the recipe.  I mistakenly stacked some rolled out dough between pieces of waxed paper. They stuck fast. None of my pita bread really formed a pocket but that wasn’t important to me since we put everything on top and fold it to eat. It seemed that the ones that were a bit thicker worked a bit better since the thinner ones got crispier and stiffer. I think if I did it over I’d make the dough balls bigger and not roll them as thin- and not stack anything! In the end I got some bread and it worked for our gyros.

I thought we had olives to add to our gyros but none could be found. I also totally forgot to make french fries until we were putting food on our plates so we just had gyros last night. Oops. Everyone enjoyed the gyros though. Little Lulu had meat and feta cheese on her pita bread. Hagbard and I had meat, tzatziki, onion, feta cheese and tomato on our bread.

Later in the evening we had an ice cream cake Hagbard had picked up from Dairy Queen. I love making and decorating cakes but it is his tradition to have an ice cream cake on his birthday so he usually just buys one.

Happy Birthday Hagbard!

The History of Gyros

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