Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grilled Cheese With Spinach and Bacon

We were very excited about the first day of school this year. So much so that we even attended "Meet The Teacher Day" and everything. Down here in Florida, we started a week earlier than many of our family and friends' children back home in Maryland. We have an “all day" kindergartner this year! Our daughter Julie, it's her first school experience and she has to go all day from 9:45 am to 3:45 pm. It's a long day and I miss her but it's a good miss. Anyways, as a mother there is nothing more disappointing associated with school (aside from bad behavior and poor grades) than when we open our little ones lunch boxes to clean them out and find a half eaten lunch. But I think in Julie's case, it came with first day jitters.

I usually like to assemble lunch the night before. I was ready and game; I wasn't going to strike out again this time. I started thinking what does she really like? What do we have in our refrigerator? Moreover, how can I spin it and be creative while still creating something that she actually likes? I had alot of this 4 cheese Italian cheese blend and spinach left over from my sister's visit.  She had prepared a chicken alfredo for us with a side of fresh sauteed spinach with garlic. There is nothing like fresh spinach, once you've had it you probably won't go back to the canned or the frozen stuff anymore. My sister, she can shop, is a whiz at stocking a fridge and pantry but often times she is reluctant to do so because sometimes she feels she may go a little overboard. However, the one good thing is that you won't ever starve in her home or in her company lol. There was also bacon in the refrigerator and again lots of it. My kids love bacon! I mean they really love it. But who doesn't love bacon? So, I decided that I would make a bacon grilled cheese. It was a hit! With orange slices and a cupcake there were not any leftovers in her lunch bag the next day.


2 slices of your favoritewhite bread
1/2 cup of Italian 4 cheese blend (aged provolone, asiago, parmesan, and romano)
2 slices of bacon (thick sliced and halved to make 4 sandwich sized slices)
1 tblspn  sauteed fresh spinach
1 tblspn of salted butter (enough to coat a small frying or saute` pan)

I like to cook my bacon in the oven. It doesn't shrink up as bad and it burns off much of the oil. Above all no grease wars leaving you victimized by painful grease spatters. I usually bake it in a baking tray, at a temperature of 350-375 degrees until somewhat crisp and done. Set aside on paper towel to drain. Next, heat up the pan that you have reserved to make your grill cheese, I like to spread/sprinkle a little bit of cheese in the middle of the pan. Then, place a slice of bread over top of it. This will give the bread a crust that is cheesy in flavor (like cheese bread). After, I sprinkle the cheese blend over top of that slice; arrange the bacon slices on top of the cheese. Sprinkle more cheese atop the bacon. Add your second slice of bread, then press with a spatula until slices are sealed with melted cheese. You can sprinkle more cheese on the outside of the sandwich again to create a crusty cheese flavored bread. Toast on both sides until toasted to the color and texture of your liking. Cool, slice and enjoy.


Of course, I made an adult version for myself and added fresh sauteed spinach to the middle of my grilled cheese. The adult version is the actual sandwich pictured. Fresh spinach usually cooks down to nothing, so though you may not need much make sure your have enough. For this dish, you shouldn't need more than 1-2 cups to yield the amount needed. Generally for a basic spinach saute you can use...

1-2 mashed garlic cloves (I love to use my pampered chef garlic press but a spoon can be used)
1-2 tsp of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tblspns of salted butter or 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Very simple, melt butter or heat oil. Then add in your spinach, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I usually place the spinach in between a layer of bacon and cheese. And I only use about 1-2 tablespoons of the cooked spinach. Enjoy!

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