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Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

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Posted by Mariah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 29-09-2010

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This pesto recipe is super-versatile and full of flavor. I made it over a weekend and used it in several dishes — homemade pizza, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and lasagna. You can even use it to add flavor to soups and salad dressings!

Ingredients:

2 cups basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Put your sun-dried tomatoes in about 2 cups of boiling water and let stand for 20 minutes to soften the tomatoes.
  2. Just throw it all in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency, scraping the sides between pulses. I like my pesto “chunky,” but you may like yours a little smoother. Use your pulse setting, though, so you don’t over process your pesto into mush.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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Posted by Mariah | Posted in Appetizers & Sides, Main Dishes, Meal Ideas, Uncategorized | Posted on 29-09-2010

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Nearly everyone I know loves grilled cheese — it’s practically the perfect comfort food. But sometimes you want a little kick with your comfort. These “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwiches deliver and then some. They give you all of the crispy grilled-ness you love, just with more flavor and different cheeses.

I grew up hating cheese. It’s true. Someone made me eat a Kraft single when I was about four, and I was a cheese hater my entire childhood and well into adulthood, until I met my husband. He convinced me there was something inherently wrong with not liking cheese and made me try real cheese — sharp cheddar, gouda, swiss and goat to name a few — and then I was hooked! These cheeses were nothing like that oily, floppy old slice I flushed down the toilet when I was a kid!

Needless to say, when I make a grilled cheese sandwich, for my kids, myself or the hubby, I use real cheese. That’s an absolute must. But liking spicy foods, I’ve found over time that I need something more. That something more being flavor — veggies, spices, etc. So I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes with you now.

Besides real, good cheese, the other must of an awesome grilled cheese sandwich is good bread. If you don’t worry about “healthy” bread, one of the best breads to use is Pepperidge Farms sandwich white. For those wanting a healthier bread, I like Rudi’s Organic 7 Grain with Flax.

Now that you have your bread, you need to make sure you have either a grill press or a heavy pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, to press your sandwich. This is a must to achieve the all-over-golden-brown deliciousness demonstrated in the photo. However, if you don’t have a press of some sort, it will still taste good without it.

Ingredients:

Gouda cheese
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Goat cheese
Bread
Sun-dried tomato pesto
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
Butter or buttery spread

For vegans:
You can use Daiya shreds, either Cheddar or Mozzarella, to make these sandwiches every bit as yummy as the real thing. This is really the only exception to my “real” cheese must. :)

Directions:

  1. Heat skillet to medium heat, or griddle to 350.
  2. Lightly toast your bread in your toaster — this is a must for a good, crispy sandwich and another trick I learned from my husband.
  3. Butter opposite sides of bread, and then lay the buttered sides together, like you’re making a butter sandwich.
  4. For the Gouda cheese sandwich: layer three thin slices of Gouda on the dry bread side. Sprinkle with red onion and peppers. Layer three more thin slices of Gouda on top of the veggies. Then turn the bottom buttered toast layer on top of the stack, so that now both buttered sides are exposed.
  5. For the goat cheese and mozzarella sandwich: spread the sun-dried tomato pesto on the bread. Top with two thin slices of mozzarella and about five goat cheese crumbles. Then turn the bottom buttered toast over as directed above. If you want veggies, add them!
  6. Grill for about a minute, then flip over.
  7. Now lay your press on top of the sandwich and grill for one more minute.
  8. Flip over again and grill for another 30 seconds so that both sides are uniformly golden.
  9. Let cool for about a minute, then cut into sections and serve.