Thursday, September 24, 2009

CEiMB - Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

When I make grilled cheese, this is how I start:

Then I add a whole mess of shredded cheese (usually Ementhaller) to some whole wheat bread. I cook the sandwich until the bread is crisp and the cheese melts over the sides and onto the pan.

I always knew this wasn't an optimal meal for my cholesterol, but that didn't stop me from eating grilled cheese sandwiches a lot. And when they're made with butter in a screaming hot cast iron pan, something magical happens.

Well, unless you have a heart attack and don't get to savor your sandwich. Which is why, when it was my turn to pick the recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly, I jumped for this one. I LOVE grilled cheese, but I have to find a way to make it healthier so I can continue to enjoy it without feeling like I'm gambling with my health. Ellie is one step ahead of me.

Ellie's recipe includes caramelized red onions (the sweet) and Cheddar and pepper Jack cheese (the spicy).

I learned (again) a lesson with this one. Read the recipe completely before starting. Don't think "I've made a zillion (actual number) grilled cheese sandwiches and I know how they go so I'm going to bypass the instructions." No. Ellie gives key pieces of information (turn the heat to LOW) that will keep you from burning the bread and not melting the cheese.

I like a little more sweet and spicy in mine, so I added some jalapeno jelly. You could also add spicy mustard or honey mustard. If I had any in the house, I would have tucked in a few cilantro leaves as a nod to my favorite grilled cheese sandwich at Big Sky Cafe. It's no longer on the menu but that used to be the quintessential grilled cheese for me. Ellie's comes close, very close. In fact, it is way better than my butter laden go-to version. Give it a try...your arteries will thank you!

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (serves 4)

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 large red onion, finely diced
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced, divided
8 slices whole-wheat bread
3 ounces pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced, divided
1 large or 2 medium beefsteak or hothouse tomatoes, sliced
Cooking spray

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium. Add onions and saute, stirring, until edges are browned, about 10-12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place 3/4 ounce Cheddar on one slice of bread. Spread 1 tablespoon caramelized onions on top of cheese and top with 3/4 ounce of pepper Jack. Top with 1 large or 2 medium tomato slices and other slice of bread. Repeat with 3 other sandwiches.

Spray a non-stick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and heat until hot. Place sandwich on griddle and weigh down with a heavy skillet or plate. Lower heat to medium-low and grill until underside is a deep brown but not burnt, and cheese is partially melted, about 5-6 minutes. Flip sandwich and grill other side an additional 4-5 minutes. Slice in half and serve hot.


Lauryn said...

Thanks for a great pick!! I love this!! Yours looks fantastic! It tastes so good that its hard to believe that it really is healthy!

AppleC said...

Leslie: sorry - had to correct my post since I mixed up bloggers. Ahhh - been one of those weeks. Amazingly, I did have the link right.
Second: This was a great pick. It has been so long since Ted and I had GC that it was a nice change.

Imafoodblog said...

haha, I love that you took that butter picture just for the post :)

These were soooo good, I think everyone really enjoyed this pick. It brings out the little kid in us :)


MacDuff said...

Thank you for the awesome pick this week! I loved the recipe, although I opted out of the onions. But it's definitely a heart healthy option, huh?

Alyssa said...

Thank you SOOOOO much for picking this recipe! I love grilled cheese sandwiches and I was excited to see them roll in around 350 calories.

I'm definitely going to add this as a weekly on-the-go meal!

Love, love, love it!

Amy I. said...

Thanks for the great pick this week, we loved it! Love your idea to use jalapeno jelly.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic pick! I am so glad I got to try this alongside you this week because it was delicious. I actually made it a few weeks ago and have been craving another one since. I thought butter was an integral part of a good grilled cheese, but Ellie proved me wrong!

margot said...

Yummy! Grilled cheese with caramelized onions sound awesome. I sometimes make baked grilled cheese to make it healthier, still tastes good.

Kayte said...

Oh, this was so great...thank you for picking this recipe! I love this combination. I like the idea of adding the things you suggested, but honestly, I was one very happy camper with just this exactly the way she wrote it, too! Loving this book. Your sandwich looks wonderful (even with the crusts on...LOL...I don't like crusts).

Liz said...

Whoa nelly, this looks fantastic! I haven't had grilled cheese in years because it's so guilt-inducing, but this looks positively virtuous. I'll have to give it a try!

Pamela said...

I apologize in getting here so late to tell you that I LOVED THIS PICK!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. So good!