Sunday, April 22, 2007

Grilled Cheese

The weather here in NC has been just ravenous. I mean, Beautiful with the capital B. Ergo, I've had my hungry little Deb mind on picnic foods. Now, I gotta tell you, there was once a point in my life when making a grilled cheese sandwich completely eluded me. The first time Stephen was sick, I bundled him onto the couch, made him call into work, and then offered to make him anything his little coughing lungs could desire. He smiled wanly and said all he wanted was a grilled cheese with chicken noodle soup.

Well, I can open a can with the best of them, so the soup was done. But then I was left to ponder the grilled cheese situation, gazing forlornly at the ingrediants on the counter while my beloved hacked and sniffled hungrily in the other room. Here was the problem: the word "grilled." I mean, was I supposed to bust out the propane tank or charcoal for this sandwich? Yikes -- NO ONE (and I mean this) wants to see me tackle real live fire. Surely not, then. Here I started to really panic. I was 18 years old and completely unable to make a sandwich. My blood pressure started to rise. I refused to be outsmarted by cooking "lingo" like "grilled"... I thought frantically of my mother -- surely she had made me a grilled cheese at some point; hadn't she?! Maybe not. Should I call her? Gads, no. That would be ghastly: whispering clarifying cooking instructions into the mouthpiece like a criminal in the kitchen. Then, as so many of my disasters have started with, I began to consider the physics of grilling. It surely wasn't that different from turning on a stove-top burner -- I could just place the cheese sandwich directly on the burner and "grill" it a little. HAH. Am physics genius, I thought smugly.

Until the smoke alarm alerted me to the fact that my sandwich was on fire. I let out an extremely vile and un-Deb-like stream of profanity, and poor Stephen stumbled up from the couch to investigate. Luckily, I'd just tossed the burning bread into the sink, so evidence was scanty. I quickly told him that the toaster was acting up and to go back to the couch. He did so, but with a few worried looks over his shoulder to inform me that he seriously had to question my ability to cook basic food.

In the end, I totally just microwaved the blasted thing. Then, my ego smarting soundly, I got up in the middle of the night and snuck online to read how to properly make a grilled cheese sandwich. Chagrined, I decided then that I should probably try cooking more.

Anyway. Here is my latest grilled cheese recipe. Only 160 calories, and it tastes really like comfort-food - perfect for picnicking (if you're lucky enough to also be in God's Country, aka North Carolina).

Grilled Cheese
You'll need:

2 slices WhiteWheat bread -- If you don't already buy it, you should totally start investing in WhiteWheat bread. It's only 50 calories per slice, and is loaded with dietary fiber (which we should all be getting 25 -- 35 grams of, according to this month's Self magazine), 5 grams per serving.
1 0z Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar (or similar product, to taste. I usually use Cabot's Vermont brand, which has a 75% Fat Free type of cheddar that melts really well. Parmesan is also really delicious, but you have to like a sharp-tasting sandwich)
Parkay's Fat Free Butter Spray, 2 T. per each side of the sandwich
Slices of fresh tomato (if you like tomato on your grilled cheese. I actually don't -- I'm a purist that way)

Heat a burner to medium high heat (don't worry, you use a skillet), and heat a skillet, then add 2 T. of the butter spray. Let it get hot and bubbly. Meanwhile, make your sandwich. Place the sandwich onto the hot skillet and let cook for about 5 minutes, then scoop up and add the remaining 2 T. of spray to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes on opposite side, until as brown and golden as you like.

Mmmm. Ooey, gooey and WITHOUT the unwelcome sides of "fire", or "shame".

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