When the weather takes a turn for the cold, I (and I am sure most people), tend to want hot food. This proved even more true when I came down with a dreaded cold a few weeks ago. The time of year and sickness made me want soup, so I decided to have a childhood favorite, tomato. Well, if you give this girl tomato soup, she's gonna want a grilled cheese. Cheese is my guiltiest non-vegan pleasure (along with frozen yogurt) and I was feeling icky, so I broke out the goods. Cracked wheat sourdough bread, an assortment of cheeses and the panini maker. I would have used my skillet and gone old school, but my panini maker just spoke to me from the appliance cabinet and was begging to be used! I am oh-so-glad I listened to her, because the finished product was amazing! Hands down the best grilled cheese I have had in a long time. Added bonus: the meal made me feel so frisky, I decided to cut those puppies up into dipping sticks and got reaaaal crazy. If you didn't catch that pic on our Instagram feed, check us out: @ThrivingWives. Once that panini maker was pulled out after a long rest, I just couldn't get enough! I wanted to make TONS of different sandwiches, and alas, I did.
Since I realized I hadn't yet introduced my TH to the latest winter panini dinner menu, I planned a great night of cheesy goodness and salad for dinner. Knowing I needed supplies, I went to the store to stock up on some serious cheese selections as well as get him some meat (yuck, but I was feeling incredibly nice that day). I know, I know, I cast a vote with my dollars and made a poor decision, but I wanted to spoil that gorgeous TH of mine, so I broke my meat purchasing rules. Also in the cart was a fresh loaf of cracked wheat sourdough. I was soon headed home to start building these perfect paninis.
Once home I laid out my bounty of smoked Gouda (my personal favorite), brie, horseradish cheddar (for my TH), sharp cheddar, swiss and provolone. I also set out the rosemary ham, prosciutto and peppered turkey to make a "meat lover" panini for my TH. Wanting to add a sweet kick, I also grabbed an organic granny smith apple and a pear to add in the mix.
As my panini maker warmed up, I started to stack these beauties riiiight up and oh boy, stack I did! After spraying olive oil to each piece of bread I worked on my meat-free masterpiece. I used cheddar, brie, provolone and a layer of thinly sliced granny smiths and pears. Then I moved over to the beast I was making for my TH. I used ALL the cheeses and went heavy on the horseradish cheddar to really give it a KICK! Then I layered the meat and placed some apple slices for good measure. Once they were piled high, I placed the other peice of bread, delicately laid those suckers in and dropped the top. The sweet sizzle of the cheese made me giddy as it oozed out onto the grill bed. I was delighted and anxious as I made a salad and set the table, this was going to be another trip to panini heaven for sure!
We were not let down in the least! The cheeses blended perfectly and melted into an ooey gooey medley as they glued the warm fruit in place. The bread's crispy crunch was the gateway to a cheestastic center filled with flavor. TH didn't say much, he just took a bite, smiled and chewed his way through not really paying much attention to his salad. I like to think it was the glee of having a bit of meat mixed in with his love of hot cheese that did it, but either way I was pleased to have gotten a gold star on this dinner. SO easy, SO fast and OH SO YUMMY!!!
Next time I am feeling like I need a cheese overdose, I am going to hit that panini maker hard! I already have my next design in mind. Brie and apricot jam... ohh yeaaah. My favorite appetizer turned full blown dinner!