Category Archives: Sandwiches

Welcome 2013 with Grilled Cheese!

Even though we are far past the 12 days of Grilled Cheese, what’s one more?  For the kids’ snack today, I went back to the old tried-and-true standard grilled cheese.  We are talking old school Kraft singles and white bread.  I’m not sure if it makes me a good mom or a bad mom that my children had never actually had this before.  A “normal” grilled cheese for us consists of bread and either Colby Jack or Cheddar cheese.

kraft and white

Since I hope you all know how to make a grilled cheese by now, assemble the ingredients shown, (my youngest adores pickles, so I added some to hers) and grill in butter on a flat top grill.  Tada!!!!

grilled cheese 'n pickles

My oldest asked what kind of cheese I used, because he didn’t remember that flavor before.  When I answered, “American,” he responded, “I didn’t know Americans made cheese!”  The child makes me laugh, and he has A LOT to learn.  😀

grilled cheese

On the side, I served some sliced apples with Muenster cheese to go on top.  All I had to tell them, was their Auntie Kara likes it that way, and they thoroughly enjoyed them!

Happy New Year!


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The Twelfth Day of Grilled Cheese

Surprise, it’s another grilled cheese!

All I have to say is, “What’s this game called? I win!” If you haven’t seen Big Daddy in a while, watch it.  Hilarious.  Anyway, we had a super snowy day, and for some reason school was not cancelled. Really?!? We have a lot out there. Oh well, when the kids came home, my oldest said to me, “Mom, please tell me you are working on another grilled cheese, ’cause that sounds really good.” HAHAHA they have been won over.

I made my own bread this time.  Not because I was feeling particularly homemaker-y, but because it was too cold and gross to make it to the store for more.


To start, slice the bread.  Next, slice some tomatoes and onions, and grill them.  Again, I used my Foreman grill.  Finally, season and grill some steak.  We used a rib eye.  I asked Jason to do the grilling, cause he is pretty awesome at it.  Cook the steak to the desired doneness, but remember it will cook more while the sandwich is being grilled.  Be sure to let the steak rest for 10 or so minutes before slicing.

grill vegetables

slice beef

To assemble the sandwich, layer the tomatoes and onions, steak, and cheese on the bread.  Butter the bread.  Grill!

grilled beef

This was a really, really good sandwich, and the kids even loved it!


From the Troika’s table to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas. Thanks for joining us in the twelve days of grilled cheeses – have a lovely holiday, everyone.


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Little Italy

I’ve mentioned my friend Gariann before, but now it is time for a formal introduction: I’d like you to meet a fabulous cook and the most positive person I know, and if you knew her I bet you would say the same thing (everyone else does!).  I met Gariann back in the spring of 2010, when I made a trip to Italy to do some teacher training, and we first started getting to know each other over a really good Italian meal.  Gariann was one of the teachers in the training, and while she was there she was offered a job in Germany.  During casual getting-acquainted talk we discovered we both grew up in small central Washington towns and had completed the same major with the same profs at Eastern Washington University.  A few months later, we were sharing an office and have been friends ever since.  As for that really good meal I mentioned, if you ever find yourself anywhere near Aeolia in Longare (Vicenza Province), trust me – make your way there for pear and prosciutto fagottini (contented sigh just thinking of it).

I’ve already written about the yummy Latin-influenced grilled cheese sandwiches we made at Gariann’s house earlier this week.  Even earlier in the week, she tested out her sandwich maker* by making an Italian-inspired version with odds and ends she found in the fridge.  Fortunately, she took a few pictures so we can all enjoy the creation!

little Italy

Gariann’s Little Italy Grilled Cheese

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1 Italian sausage link
  • A few sun-dried tomatoes
  • Dried Italian seasoning to taste
  • A little red wine
  • Sliced mozzarella
  • Bread of your choice
  • Grated parmesan, garlic powder, and rosemary to taste
  • Butter, olive oil, or butter or olive oil spray

Thinly slice the veggies and sauté them with the sausage link sans skin.  Add some Italian seasonings and a generous splash of red wine along with the sundried tomatoes.

all together now




splash of wine

Heat sandwich maker and butter the bread slices or spray with butter or olive oil.  Put a layer of the sausage-veggie mixture on the bread, add mozzarella slices, then top with another slice of bread (buttered side up and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, garlic powder and rosemary).   Cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasty.



in the press



*This sandwich maker found a new home in Gariann’s kitchen when our friends Pat and Sue retired and moved back to the states – a panini press or Foreman grill would give the same great results, and a good old-fashioned frying pan with a lid will do the trick as well (in that case, follow the method described in the first post of this series).

Tami and Gariann

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The End of the World

Did anyone out there notice that no one posted last night and get a little worried that maybe this end-of-the-world, Mayan thing wasn’t a silly idea after all?

Fear not, we’re still here!

And today, you’ll get two grilled cheese sandwiches to make up for our (mostly my) lack of post yesterday.

Also, kitty:



So you see why I got distracted.

This morning’s grilled cheese is slightly similar to Tami’s recent grilled cheeses: we used guava paste, mashed black beans, gouda, and a few candied jalapenos. I was inspired to make this from a description of a glorious-sounding grilled cheese I found a while back:

“Gouda Grilled Cheese at Queens Kickshaw in Astoria: Nutty gouda is reinforced by an earthy black bean spread and sweetened by guava jam, all piled on well-crisped brioche. It’d be an overbearing combination, save for the ample sprinkle of pickled jalapenos, a reprieve of sour and spice to pop in each bite. This is sandwich architecture at its finest: powerful flavors, well balanced, delivered in the perfect package.”

Only one thing: I am running out of bread to make all these grilled cheeses and had to use corn tortillas. It was still delicious.

End of the World Grilled Cheese
  • bread or tortillas
  • gouda
  • candied jalapenos (This is at least the third time we’ve referenced these. You really need to make them.)
  • guava paste
  • black beans, mashed with the back of a fork



beans mashed







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Grilled Cheese Fiesta

It all started last weekend when our good friend Gariann invited a bunch of us over to make tamales one last time before we move away.  Of course she fed us all while we cooked, and I’m talking about delicious appetizers like chorizo and guava puff pastry bundles, molletes, guacamole, and the like (to get us ready for the hands-down best tamales I’ve ever had in my life).  Well, somehow the topic of “12 Days of Grilled Cheese” came up and one of us (probably Gariann, the smart one) declared we should make a contribution to the series.

So back to Gariann’s I went after work today, and wow!  We made some darn good sandwiches.  We had something sort of Latin in mind, and she started pulling ingredients from the pantry and fridge.


We had enough for endless variations, and the only hard part was deciding which ingredients to combine in each sandwich.   We used an electric sandwich press, but if you don’t have one, follow the basic procedure outlined in the first “12 Days” post.

La Latina #1

  • Sliced pepper jack cheese
  • Sliced cooked chicken, seasoned to taste
  • Your favorite enchilada sauce or bottled hot sauce (we used an amazing sauce Gariann’s husband John made from guajillo, cascabel, and other chiles)
  • Roasted, peeled, and seeded poblano chiles
  • Cooked black beans
  • A little more pepper jack, shredded
  • Bread of your choice

Layer it up, spray the top side of the top bread with spray butter or olive oil, dust with dried cilantro or Mexican oregano, and grill in a pan or sandwich maker.  A nice variation is to mash up some of the beans with the enchilada sauce and use that as an inside spread on the bread before assembling.

grilled cheese

grilled cheese

grilled cheese

La Latina #2

  • Thin slices of guava paste (we used Goya brand)
  • Thinly sliced chorizo, quickly browned in a skillet (Goya again)
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • Roasted, peeled, and seeded poblano chiles
  • Crumbled cotija cheese
  • Bread of your choice

Spread the guava paste on one slice of bread, then top with everything else, following the same procedure as above.  If you are using a sandwich press, it will hold the ingredients together.  If you are cooking the sandwich in a pan, layer the shredded and crumbled cheeses throughout the rest of the ingredients so the cheese will fuse the sandwich together as it melts (keep the heat low and use a lid to help melt the cheese without overcooking the bread).

grilled cheese 5


grilled cheese


grilled cheese in press


grilled cheese

No photos of artistically plated sandwiches today – we ate them up too fast for that!

Tami and Gariann

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Eggplant grilled cheese

This afternoon, I told my kids that we were again experimenting with grilled cheese. I received a very astounding, “ahhh….Mom…”  I think they may be over it.  Little did they know this was going to be pretty much the best thing ever.  When I was grocery shopping, I was intending to pick up some normal eggplant.  Instead, I found these adorable little ones!  See!?!? Seriously, they are the size of an egg.  SO cute!

eggplant like eggs

At first, I considered putting eggplant between layers of bread.  Yeah, kinda boring.  I eventually decided to get rid of the bread, and just use eggplant and cheese.  Good, good, good.


Since they were so little, I decided they would make a wonderful appetizer.  The kids were thrilled they didn’t have to eat grilled cheese again.  Really, whose kids protest grilled cheese?  Um, yeah.  Mine.

To begin, thinly slice the eggplant, I used 4 small ones.  After they are all sliced, sprinkle with a very small amount of salt.  I’m not sure if it is an old wives’ tale, but I have always heard that salt draws out the bitterness.  It could be true, maybe not.  I figure it can’t hurt.  Salt is good!

While the eggplant sits for a few minutes, combine the following in 3 separate dishes. Glass pie plates work wonderfully.

1st dish:

  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

2nd dish:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3rd dish:

Seasoned breadcrumbs – I added crushed red pepper, onion powder, and ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese to 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs.

Coat the eggplant in flour. Place in the egg mixture, coat thoroughly, and then coat in the breadcrumbs.  Let the eggplant rest for a few minutes.


Slice fresh mozzarella cheese and heat marinara sauce. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with a couple tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil.


Pan fry in the oil heated at medium heat.  After they are browned on both sides, assemble the “sandwich.”  Take a piece of eggplant and top with a small amount of marinara sauce along with a slice of the mozzarella.  Finally, top with another piece of eggplant. Enjoy!

dressed up

P.S. My kids loved them as well!



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It’s All Greek To Me

When experimenting with grilled cheese, you must always keep in mind that the experiments could go awry. Obviously you hope and even believe this won’t be the case, and that you’re invincible, and that no grilled cheese is too great for you, but there will come a day when your grilled cheese is just “meh.”

For me, today was that day.

I make a pretty delicious tzatziki, if I my say so myself. So I thought, “Hey! Grilled cheese would love some tzatziki! Maybe with a little roasted lamb? A slice or two of tomato? Like a kebab-meets-extra cheese-and-an-American type thing?! YEAH!”


I was wrong. Or at least, I think I was wrong. Today’s grilled cheese was made of tzatziki, havarti, a slice of deli-style turkey, and that’s it. No lamb, for no pre-roasted slices of lamb were to be found. Sure, I probably could have bought some lamb and roasted it myself, but I wasn’t quite in the mood to wait that long when I was already starving. I also forgot to buy a tomato, and I think my slices of bread were a teeny bit too small to handle all the saucy mess of grilled havarti + tzatziki.

But, in spite of alllllll these shortcomings, I recommend you give it a shot.

Or at least make the tzatziki. It’s good.

Tzatziki Grilled Cheese

To make tzatziki, combine about a cup of Greek yogurt, a big handful of chopped dill, a 1/4 cup of crumbled feta, a squirt or two of lemon juice, some zest of a lemon, a splash of olive oil, ground pepper, and about a 1/3 – 1/2 cup of finely diced cucumber (peel and seed it first). Taste; adjust for seasoning and add salt if you need to. I added a few pinches of dill seed, because I felt like it. Also some garlic would be nice (I just don’t really use garlic).


To make the sandwich, spread a layer of tzatziki on one slice.  On the other slice, carefully layer turkey (Or lamb! Do try lamb! And tell me if it’s good!), havarti, a bit of extra feta if you’d like, and tomato slices if you remember to buy a tomato. (I really think that would have improved the sandwich a lot. It was just very….richandcheesy. Which might make you go “Uh…yeah Kara…it’s grilled cheese….it’s s’posed to be cheesy…” but whatever.) Grill, serve with some extra tzatziki on the side, and give it a try.

grilled cheese with extra tzatziki

That’s all I ask.


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Another Day, Another Dollar — I Mean Grilled Cheese

If your husband is a hunter like mine, you probably need a few new ways to use the meat. My hubby had Italian sausage made out of some of the elk, and it is actually quite delicious.  Yes, until about a month ago, I was convinced I wouldn’t like game meat. Surprise!!! I love it.  (Side note…if your husband isn’t a hunter, just use any sausage!)


First things first, thinly slice bell peppers and onions, because everything is better with a plethora of onions. Sautee the peppers and onions in a bit of oil or butter. You don’t want them to cook all the way through, a bit of crunch is good!


Next, thinly slice sausage. Make sure it is pre-cooked.  You can always cook it beforehand, like we did.


I used a ciabatta bread again. It was very inexpensive, what can I say? This time I chose not to spread the outside with butter before grilling. It turned out a lot better, and the crust was not the slightest bit chewy.

Layer cheese (I used Muenster), the onion/pepper mixture, and sausage.

Grill it!





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Grilled cheese for breakfast (or whenever)

This morning, I was planning on getting up really early to make a yummy breakfast grilled cheese.  Although I did wake up far too early, I didn’t make it for breakfast.  Instead, I made a breakfast-for-lunch grilled cheese.


Breakfast grilled cheese

I made scrambled eggs by combining:

  •  6 eggs (this was for 2 adults and 3 kids)
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sliced green onions (my kids claim that they don’t like green onions…but if they come from my gene pool, lets face it… they love them. Even if they don’t realize it yet.)

I cooked the eggs in a buttered skillet until they were almost done.  I left them fairly wet, because they cooked a little more when they were in the sandwich.


I cooked them a bit more than the picture shows. 🙂

After the eggs were ready, I let them sit for a little while to firm up a bit more. While the eggs were resting, I sliced the cheese and tomatoes. I then assembled the sandwich and grilled it!


I used an Irish cheese that was on sale, and it was amazing. The label said it was a “gouda style” cheese, so any gouda would be just as delicious.  For the bread, I used a ciabatta loaf, and sliced it up. Looking back on it, I probably would choose another bread.  The crust got a little chewy when grilled.  It was still good, good, good!



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Das gegrillte Käsesandwich

Braeden’s parents gave us a little log of Lebanon Bologna as an early Christmas present. (Thanks!)  Perfect timing for a German-inspired  grilled cheese.


Das gegrillte Käsesandwich
pronounced “dahss guh-grill-tuh kay-zuh-…sandwich”

  • 2 slice of bread
  • a few slices of Lebanon Bologna
  • cheese – we used a German-style Butterkäse, but only because we couldn’t find Muenster. It was good, though.
  • Sweet Bavarian style mustard
  • Curry ketchup (it’s a German thing…) for dipping, if your name is Braeden (and/or Kara)

I’m going to assume you folks are bright and have by now picked up on my method of making grilled cheese. So get to it!

pre grilling



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