I had PLANNED to eat a salad today for lunch, but then the thunderstorms came … loudly announcing their arrival then drenching the world with a sudden rush of raindrops. It was wild and refreshing, definitely needed … but chilly. So the salad I thought would be just perfect for a hot summer day didn’t quite seem like the thing to eat just now. Soup sounded more fitting, but I didn’t want to cook a pot of soup, knowing more hot summer weather is just around the bend.
Right after the thunderstorms came a burst of sunshine. The plants and trees and grass were just beaming with happiness after the rain. You can water them, and they’re okay with that, but they just revel in a good, drenching rain.
I decided on a sandwich. A nice hot sandwich with a bit of spice. If you are lucky enough to have a whole roasted green chile pepper from New Mexico on hand, that would be the perfect addition …
Cheddar Chile Chicken Avocado Sandwich on Toasted Focaccia
- 2 oz. low-fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup light mayo
- 1 teaspoon green chile powder or 1 Tablespoon finely chopped roasted green chile
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Focaccia bread, sliced horizontally
- Cooked chicken breast, sliced (or chicken or turkey sandwich meat)
- Slices of cheddar cheese
- Onion, sliced thin
- Tomato slices
- Ripe Avocado
Mix the cream cheese, mayo, green chile, onion powder and paprika. Spread this mixture lightly on the bottom of the focaccia bread, the arrange the sliced chicken to cover the bread. Cover the chicken evenly with sliced cheddar cheese, then set in the oven (or toaster oven) and bake or broil till the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Meanwhile, mash the avocado with a bit of the chile mayo spread and toast the top half of the focaccia. Spread a good thick layer of the mashed avocado on the toasted top half.
Take the bottom half of the sandwich out of the oven when it’s done and top with sliced onion, tomato, lettuce and the top half.
I’ve been eyeing all the beautiful Caprese sandwiches online for so long, waiting for the day when I had a fresh garden tomato to make one.
So I have a funny story to tell you. Last fall I had a potted tomato plant that wasn’t finished making tomatoes when the frost came. I brought it inside so the tomatoes could keep growing on the vine. It kept growing all winter long and I kept watering it … I mean, why not? It was a beautiful thriving houseplant. And when the days started getting longer, it started blooming. I didn’t have any bees to pollinate the flowers, so I tried hand-pollinating the flowers with my fingers.
The most amazing thing happened. Two tomatoes actually started growing! One of them has already ripened. It was pretty small and ugly and kind of dense and tough … but when I cut it open? Oh my … it put the store-bought tomatoes to shame. It had so much flavor it almost tasted like a sundried tomato.
So I decided it was time to give the Caprese Grilled sandwich a try. I had to supplement my little fresh tomato pieces with some store-bought tomato slices, but oh man, these sandwiches are to die for.
I think these little Caprese sammies would go well with either a soup or salad on the side. I had mine with a cup of mixed fruit topped with a few toasted walnuts. (I had SUCH a hard time waiting to eat them …)
Mini Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- French rolls (or french bread), sliced thin
- Pesto (I used the Basil Lime Pesto I made last summer and froze)
- Fresh tomato, sliced thin
- Fresh basil leaves
- Sliced or shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Butter or light butter spread
- Spread one side of each slice of bread with a very thin layer of pesto.
- Add a thin slice of mozzarella or sprinkle on a thin layer of shredded cheese.
- Cover the cheese with tomato slices, then basil leaves.
- Add another slice of mozzarella or shredded cheese.
- Top with a slice of bread (pesto side in).
- Butter the outside of the sandwiches lightly.
- Preheat a skillet pan coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and carefully place the little sandwiches in the pan. Cover and cook for a few minutes, then check to see if the bottom side is golden brown yet. Carefully flip the sandwiches to toast the other side, then cover and cook until the other side is golden brown.
- Serve immediately and revel in the deliciousness.
Can you tell which tomato piece is the home-grown one and which one came from the store?
(And yeah, I know … it’s so definitely time to ditch the purple nail polish.)
Every once in a while I get a craving for pepperoni. The thin, thin sliced pepperoni that gets a tad crispy when you put it on top of a pizza? I love that. I don’t like the grease, though, and usually pepperoni pizzas are swimming in grease.
I thought pepperoni would be fantastic on a grilled cheese sandwich and oooh that was a good thought. The first time I made one, I was so hungry that I rushed to take the photos, then gobbled it up. The photos seemed good when I took them, but when I opened them up on my computer, they were all blurry! That just wasn’t going to cut it. I needed good photos to do justice to a sandwich this good. BUT that sandwich was also the last of the loaf of bread I had. So I had to make bread before I could make the sandwich again!
I have tortured my foodie friends for days talking about this sandwich …
Herbed Pepperoni Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I know, grilled cheese sandwiches are typically in the “not healthy” category … but I did take a few steps to lighten this one up and cut down the grease factor from the pepperoni.
To make this sandwich you will need:
- Pepperoni Cheese Bread (recipe is here … or use another really good bread that you love)
- Light butter
- 4 kinds of cheeses: Parmesan, Romano, Part-Skim Mozzarella, and Gouda
- Thinly Sliced Pepperoni (9 slices per sandwich)
- Finely chopped bell pepper and onion
- Fresh Basil and Oregano
First, prep your ingredients and shred the cheese. I don’t know exactly what proportions I used. Shred just a little of the parmesan and romano to give it that extra kick of flavor, then go heavier on the gouda and mozzarella for the melt factor. Gouda has a very soft melt, mozzarella is more stringy, so mixing the two makes your grilled cheese just right. Mix all the shredded cheeses together in a bowl.
Heat the pepperoni briefly and then place them on a clean towel (or paper towel if you prefer), cover, and press so that the towel absorbs all the extra grease from the pepperoni.
Now, take your bread and spread a very thin layer of light butter on the outside of the bread. If you’re a purist, you can use real butter, but I prefer the light butter myself.
Flip the bread over and on one side of the bread, add a layer of the shredded cheeses.
Make a layer of pepperoni on top of that:
Now sprinkle lightly with onion and bell pepper:
Place the beautiful herbs on top of that:
And cover it all up with a second layer of shredded cheeses:
Place the other side of the bread on top (buttered side OUT) and now you’re ready to grill your sandwich! Heat up a frying pan on medium low heat, place the sandwich in there and cover. After a few minutes, check the bottom of the sandwich by lifting up the edge with your spatula. When it’s golden brown it’s time to flip it. Cover and let the other side cook till it’s golden brown too and the cheese is all hot and melty.
Then you can cut up your beautilicious sandwich (or leave it whole if you prefer!) … and eat it.
I recommend a salad with this to balance out all that bread and cheese and meat. I did a simple salad of mixed organic greens with bell pepper, onion, and a balsamic vinaigrette. And I discovered the vinaigrette on the plate was a nice “dipping sauce” for the crusts of the sandwich that weren’t quite cheese-ified.
I know, cheese-ified probably isn’t really a word. That’s the beauty of being a food blogger; you get to make up fun words like beautilicious and cheese-ified. I think those two words fit this sandwich very well.