So… I have 6 kids under the age of 7. Granted, the youngest is just starting to explore the wonderful world of pureed food, but that still leaves me with 5 little mouths to feed, plus myself (and my husband, if he’s home).
I’ll be honest, Tim does way more dinner-time cooking than I do. And what a blessing that is, although there may be some selfish reasons in there. (Like, his food tastes yummy, mine isn’t guaranteed to taste as good. Ask me about tuna and beans sometime if you want to hear the worst.)
He lived on his own for about 8 years and learned to prepare tasty food on a budget. I lived with my parents until we got married, and can follow a recipe to the last letter… But he has an intuition about what foods and spices go well together that I can only assume comes from experience. He never follows a recipe. He may look at one for a starting point, but almost never references it after that initial scanning.
That’s dinner; lunchtime, however, is all me. And since we’ve eliminated (or at least limited) processed foods, the go-to meals of my childhood (blue box Mac-N-Cheese, or a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee) are out of the question. Not to mention how many boxes or cans I’d need to feed my children, who become like ravenous wolves at mealtimes.
I recently was lamenting over the fact that my square griddle pan over round burners left something to be desired in my grilled cheese sandwiches, the corners toward the center were dark, the middle parts of the sandwiches were golden, but the outer corners were often barely cooked at all… Hardened (but not yet toasted) bread with the butter just melted.
Facebook is not the place for many things (complaining, venting, and things of this nature are better left unsaid in general, even more so in such a public arena as the internet), but Facebook actually came back with some pretty stellar advice on this one: use the oven!
This has been a lunchtime game-changer, people! Not only does the oven cook evenly, I can fit 6-8 sandwiches on a cookie sheet (depending on which cookie sheet I use) instead of only making 4 at a time on my griddle pan.
(Before I give you the super simple “recipe,” let me give one caveat to grilled cheese making: add meat! Carbs are not so great as a stand-alone; while adding the fat of the cheese probably helps a little, adding protein makes this meal go way farther!)
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Foil line your baking sheet, for easy clean-up.
Butter a piece of bread, lay it butter-side down on the foil. Add cheese, 3-4 slices of lunch meat, maybe another piece of cheese, then another piece of buttered bread, butter-side up. Repeat for as many sandwiches as you would like to make. (Tip: I do mine assembly-line style: 6 pieces of bread, butter-side down, 6 pieces of cheese, all the meat, 6 more pieces of cheese, 6 more pieces of bread, butter-side up, rather than 1 sandwich at a time).
Place in oven for about 7 minutes. The tops may not look toasted after 7 minutes, but don’t worry. Flip the sandwich over. (Another tip: the meat-and-cheese combo may make the sandwich slippery. I use a fork to hold the top of the bread down while using a spatula to get under the sandwich and flip it over.) The bottom side is probably more toasted than the top. This was not what I was expecting when I first did this. I don’t know why the bottom toasts first, but I can not know the answer and still enjoy the crispy, toasty, yummy sandwich.
Put back in oven for 7 more minutes to toast the other side of the sandwich.
Take out, cool, maybe cut in half (triangles or rectangles… Or in fourths, squares… homeschoolers make use of every opportunity to teach math!) And serve with a pickle spear. (Because, all restaurant sandwiches come with pickles, and we keep it fancy in my house.)
That’s it. Once the pan has cooled, just crumple that foil, and you’re done with clean-up! (We use paper plates, and even the one-and-a-half year old can throw hers away when she’s done so I don’t even have to clean plates off the table! Crumbs are another matter, though…)
So, if you’re like me and distraught over your round burners and square pans, I hope I have given you some relief. I am forever grateful to have this “recipe” in my book.