It’s Just a Cheese Sandwich

You’ve eaten them since you were little. Your kids eat them NONSTOP and you’re reeeeeeally bored with them (and wish these small humans could appreciate your extra sharp cheddar instead of their plastic square cheese). But I promise… this is not THAT Grilled Cheese. Stick with me, kid.

A sneak preview of where we’ll end up.

THIS Grilled Cheese is ooey and gooey and ACTUALLY TASTES LIKE HEAVEN. Seriously. But first, we have to address a few problems.

  1. The Elephant in the Room (its name is American Cheese). American cheese is not really cheese, so should it take center stage? I know, I know. It’s what you (and I) have eaten for our whole entire lives and it makes the grilled cheese you grew up with and it’s creamy and melty and yada yada yada. We can do better. American cheese is Cheddar in sheep’s clothing. It’s wannabe Cheddar. It WISHES it could be Cheddar, but instead, it’s just… the nap of the cheese world.
  2. Cheese and its baggage. Cheddar, Swiss and their other cheesy friends can often get oily when they melt. This is true- but help is on the way!
  3. BREAD (this one is more important than you think). Grilled Cheese on whole-wheat-sticks-and-stones bread, while tasty, does NOT hit that childhood Happy Place you’re looking for in the first place when you eat a Grilled Cheese, and your kids will fight you on it, too, because it doesn’t “look” right. I maintain that sticky-teeth-white-bread is actually the correct bread for this application- but you can’t mistreat it. No shoving it around a poorly heated skillet with a turner that can’t get under it. More on that later. You CAN use “grown-up” white bread here (sourdough, country, etc.), but if you’re going to do that, you’re probably making another kind of sandwich altogether, if we’re honest.
  4. Additives. I say that any additive has to ENHANCE the cheese, not cover it up. Bacon, while delicious and perfectly suited for a Grilled Bacon and Cheese or BLT, is NOT going to end up on this sammich. Sorry, not sorry. Instead, we’re going to use Dijon Mustard (pay attention- this is NOT the same as Spicy Brown or Deli Mustard). Hey- don’t make that face! You won’t be able to pick out the flavor of mustard, and neither will your kids. But the mustard will actually act as an emulsifier to keep your cheese from being oily in the finished product. And, since we’re using a sharp and delicious cheese, the mustard will act to accentuate that sharpness and make you sorry you didn’t do this before.
  5. Fat. It’s what gives us a roasty toasty exterior with potential for maximum crunch. And… This is the last place we will steer off of the well-established Grilled Cheese path. I know your grandma used butter, and your mom used margarine, and your weird neighbor growing up used oil, but go with me here. The subtle flavor of butter, while fine for American cheese, gets lost when posted up against Cheddar. Mayonnaise, specifically Duke’s Mayonnaise (the only brand I can find with no added sugar – seriously, America, do we have to add sugar to EVERYTHING??) will give you a perfect dose of flavor, along with the kind of bite that will have your family calling you a Crunchasaurus in no time. Also, mayo is smooth and won’t tear up your delicate bread the way butter can.
  6. Time. One Grilled Cheese at a time in a pan on a stovetop for a family of six makes my eye twitch. Someone is getting soggy bread that way. Nope. We’re going to do this, all at once, in mere minutes.

Now, let’s get to it. In terms of equipment, you will need (links provided in case you need any of these things, and Amazon is speedy-quick so a quick order and you’re ready for Meatless Monday): an oven, a sheet pan, parchment paper sheets (I prefer sheets to the roll kind because sheets don’t roll up and create a game of tag in your kitchen), a butter knife, a sturdy turner (I like a metal one), a Microplane Grater (yes, they’re really better- no one wants shredded knuckles from your old dull grater, and these give you smooth and easy shredding for decades). These are all things you’ll use ALL THE TIME once you have them. Trust me, they’ll make your life easier, and not just for Grilled Cheese.

Ingredients for four sandwiches:

  • Duke’s Mayonnaise- about 1T per sandwich, so 4T
  • Dijon Mustard- about 1/2 t per sandwich, so 2 t
  • 1 16 oz. block Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread

Let’s get ready- in a professional kitchen, we call this mise en place– it means “everything in its place”– and it’s the real-deal secret to a successful meal of any kind.

  • First, preheat your oven to 425. Don’t worry- it’s not too hot. It IS important to do this at the beginning, though, if you’d like to be the aforementioned Crunchasaurus.
  • Line your sheet pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Grate enough Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese so that each sandwich will end up with 1/2 cup, loosely packed. I know that sounds crazy- but it’s Cheddar- no need to be stingy. You do actually want to grate the cheese, rather than using slices. It has to do with the humidity of the cheese, but just trust me. Also, you need to do it yourself- don’t use cheese out of a bag. The stuff in a bag is coated with cellulose, which is actually intended to keep your cheese from sticking together. The concept of a melt is we want everyone in this pool together- so grate it yourself.
  • Stage up your bread on your sheet pan so that you’re sure you have enough. A sheet pan will fit up to eight sandwiches. If you are making one, or three, or five, it doesn’t matter. Still use the sheet pan.
  • Get out your Duke’s Mayonnaise and your Dijon Mustard, and your butter knife while you’re at it.

Sammich Prep:

  • Spread a very thin layer of Dijon Mustard on the “inside” of each slice of bread. That means this sammich will have mustard above and below the cheese. Remember- this will help your cheese be creamy and magical.
  • Pile about 1/2 cup cheese on top of the mustard on the “bottom” bread slices. Top with the other slice, mustard-side down.
This sandwich is truly outrageous.

  • Spread the outside of the sandwiches (where your grandma used to put the butter) with Duke’s Mayonnaise. Don’t be shy, but don’t slather it. You want a nice, even layer, all the way out to the edges. #Crunchasaurus
  • Line up your sandwiches in your pan as you make them, and place them into your fully-heated 425 degree oven. Set your timer for 7 minutes and walk away. No peeking- you’ll steal the heat from your Grilled Cheeses and this will take longer.
Just waiting on some friends.

  • When your timer goes off, flip your Grilled Cheeses with your sturdy turner. Set the oven for 6 more minutes.
  • Flip your Grilled Cheese one last time and leave it in for one minute. Your oven may or may not have an attitude, and you may or may not need this last minute. I find that I do- but I also like a perfect, even, extra golden crunchtastic exterior on both sides. Because I am, in fact, the Original Crunchasaurus.
Perfection.

Let your Grilled Cheeses cool for just a few before you cut into them- they’ll be extra ooey and gooey and that Cheddar can be like molten lava at first.

*Drool*

I know it’s not what you think you need when you make a Grilled Cheese. I know it sounds crazy- mustard? and mayo? and cheddar? But trust me. You won’t be sad the next time your kids demand Grilled Cheese. And maybe someday, you’ll try it exactly the same way, with Baby Swiss (swoon)! It’s just a cheese sandwich, after all… or is it?

Let me know how you like it in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!

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These Times In Which We Live

“I’m an Old Soul.”

You’ve heard someone say that. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. But the reality is, you love your technology- your Instawhatever, your book of faces, your refrigerator that can sing to you, your oven with a computer for a face, and the ability to watch your dog on your phone at playschool while you’re supposed to be hammering away on your office computer. And it’s okay.

These times in which we live are strange. We have some really distinct generations trying to make a go of it all here together, with different ideas and different methods due to our different brains. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and the latest and greatest addition to this club… Xennials… are all battling for space, for power, for influence, for visibility.

One thing that most of us seem to crave, though, is a connection to our past. Most people alive today have an intense sense of nostalgia for their particular days-gone-by… and, interestingly, the nostalgia waxes the same, regardless of generation. Your grandma had jars of home-canned yummies that could have lasted through a nuclear winter. Your great aunt knew how to make her own clothes and, at one time in her life, did so out of flour sacks. Your mom knew how to make pie crust and pastry and noodles (oh my!) from scratch, with no recipe, and no fancy kitchen gadgets. Your grandpa used wooden Velveeta boxes to organize his nuts and bolts and screws in his extraordinarily organized garage, where soapbox derby cars, rolling carts, wall shelves, and other moments of ingenuity were born. These people were creative, resourceful, skilled, and knowledgeable. Somehow, we didn’t learn from them. Let’s correct that.

Let’s keep the fancy that we love in our daily lives. Let’s make sure we know that our puppy is getting all the belly rubs he could need— but let’s re-learn how to make dinner from scratch (which means NOT OUT OF A BOX). Let’s grow a garden (I’ll help you- you can do it!), let’s pick our own veggies (or better yet- make your kids- you’ll be teaching them how to survive, after all), let’s put them in jars and seal them and store them on shelves in our basement or garage. Let’s learn basic stitching so that if we ever had to mend or make a piece of clothing, we could. Let’s get back to basic home life skills. We never know when we might have to be self-sufficient again… but even if we don’t, you’ll still be the Renaissance Man or Woman in your circle of friends.

Come be an Old Soul with me. I’ll show you how. Subscribe below to learn about all of this, and more!

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

Bonus points awarded if you sang it.

My name is Amy. All my life, I haven’t quite… fit in. I don’t mind— it makes me a great aunt, a great dog mom, a great employee, and a great friend.

I’m an old-fashioned lady stuck here in this modern world. It sounds like I’m annoyed— but don’t worry. I love penicillin just as much as the next person.

I used to have a 1940’s Bakery. It sounds like I just made that up, but it’s true, I promise. I have a 1940’s soul, and I made it into the most magical living, breathing thing.

We closed, although we were quite popular, largely because this world that I don’t fit into just prefers to get their treats at a mega mart instead of making an extra trip. This is the part where I tell you small businesses need your weekly support… not just when you’re feeling generous.

Since closing, I have nearly daily had people emailing to find out how to do what we did, and to continue to ask for advice. So that’s what we’ll do here. I say “we” because there’s no way I could do it alone— and here’s where you come in! Subscribe to our blog, and make sure to ask for what you would like to know in the comments section!