Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

I’m baaaaack.

Wow.

The world is a vastly different place than when I made my sabbatical announcement a few short ridiculous months ago. I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, and socially distanced in this unprecedented time. Like many of you, I’m sure, I am focusing some of my energy into the kitchen, treating myself to nice breakfasts and lunches I wouldn’t normally have time for when working in the office. I haven’t yet jumped on the sourdough bandwagon…but there’s still time. So much time.

Elkhorn Mountains, Montana

Amongst the creative endeavors I find myself craving soul comforts: long runs, blueberry pancakes, quiet mornings with coffee, ice cream for dessert, and post-dinner walks with M. Comfort food is an easy way to feel more grounded in times of turmoil and no better time than now to really cozy up your lunches and dinners. In light of that, in addition to it being National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m sharing one of my favorites.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Meatloaf is a staple entree in our household and the reason I don’t have a recipe on here is because M is nearly always the one that makes it! Also, honestly, because it’s not that photogenic. If you don’t have a go-to recipe, I’ve put ours in the notes.2 In any case, this is an excellent way to use up leftovers but it’s also a sure-fire excuse for making one in the first place. Treat yourself to a delightful cozy experience and make one tonight.

meatloaf_gc_4

Crispy bread and melty cheese envelope comforting meatloaf, lightly accented by your favorite condiments. I like to use a fancy mustard and a little mayo, but if you are a ketchup person I don’t judge. Switch it up by going fusion with different condiments and cheeses and you can make this meal as low-key or extravagant as you need right now. Sunday is National Grilled Cheese Day, in case you want to start a new Easter tradition. Either way, I promise it’ll make a cozy addition to your evening.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil (garlic infused, if you have it!)

2 slices bread (I like to use sourdough)
condiments, to taste
thinly sliced cheddar, enough for both bread slices
1-2 slices leftover meatloaf, thickness to taste

condiment ideas, optional but recommended
mayo
mustard
ketchup
bbq sauce
smoked balsamic
chimichurri

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a medium-large pan (big enough to fit bread side-by-side, and heat over medium-low.
  2. Spread bread slices with condiments of choice.1
  3. Arrange cheese atop your condiment-laden bread.
  4. If you don’t have a microwave, add your meatloaf to one slice.
  5. When the oil is hot, add both slices of bread to your pan and cover with a lid, then cook until cheese is melty and bread is golden. Reduce heat if bread is browning too fast.
  6. If you do have a microwave, heat your meatloaf separately now, then add to one slice.
  7. Top with the other slice, cheese side down (duh) then flip and cook for an additional 30-seconds.
  8. Enjoy immediately, sliced in half and served with a side of veggies, if you like.

Notes

1 I like to do mayo on one side and a fancy mustard on the other; M prefers a mayo/spicy mustard mix + ketchup. Also a great spot for a dash of chimichurri sauce, teriyaki sauce, or whatever fusion situation you can dream up.

2 In a medium bowl, combine: 1-1.5lbs ground venison (or beef), 1 egg, 3/4 cup oats, 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/4 cup finely diced onion, and herbs to taste. Coat a glass loaf pan with nonstick spray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes. Carefully pour off excess liquid and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Like most lactose-tolerant Americans, cheese is a pretty large staple in my diet. The discovery of the Costco cheese selection entailing far more than my standard Tillamook cheddar has done nothing but enable this addition, but I’m not sad about it. Gouda, specifically smoked Gouda, is one of my favorites and I purchase it nearly as often as I do medium cheddar. The smokiness is perfect with burgers and sandwiches and as a snack, and it never takes us long to go through the pretty heft block.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

The Brussels mac & cheese from a few weeks ago combined three of my favorite things: Gouda, Brussels sprouts, and carbs. Although I decided not to do a grilled cheese series this year, I felt this combination would be perfect for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day, which is this coming Friday.

Garlic Brussels sprouts and smokey Gouda are possibly my favorite combination to-date and the veggies adds a smidge of health to this delightful meal. Gooey Gouda and crispy bread are always a lovely textural juxtaposition and this sandwich is no exception. I opted to use a few of my favorite Olivelle products in my creation but if your kitchen is not stocked with 2/3 of their store the standard versions work just great.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

A little paprika adds a nice punch to the flavors without overpowering anything, but you can adjust up or down as preferred. With all the rich insides I kept my bread neutral and used my favorite seeded bread from a local bakery, On the Rise Bread Co. This robust wheat bread complemented everything nicely without being too complicated, and I’d recommend a similarly neutral whole wheat bread for this particular sandwich. For the meat-centric folks, some chopped bacon would go well, although I found it to be plenty delicious in its inherently vegetarian state.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

My loaf was fairly narrow so you may need to adjust the sprouts and cheese accordingly if your slices are larger. In my opinion extra sautéed Brussels sprouts are not a problem so just add an extra to your pan and you’ll have a small appetizer of the leftovers that don’t fit.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can roast the Brussels in the oven and then cook the sandwiches in a bigger pan or griddle to get more done at once. With just one sandwich I didn’t want to turn on the oven but for a family it’s probably worth it to streamline the process.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese

 

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day this Friday with a fancy sandwich and take a classic up a notch. Brussels or Gouda not your thing? Check out some of my other options like Beet & Feta or Huckle-bacon Brie!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil, divided
3-4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced red or yellow onion
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
pinch of (Hickory Smoked) sea salt, to taste

2 slices neutral wheat bread (I used On the Rise Seeded)
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 2 tsp oil to medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the Brussels, garlic, onion, salt, and paprika.
  2. Sauté until Brussels are cooked through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and heat remaining oil.
  4. Top one slice of bread with 1/3 of the cheese, sprouts, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top the other bread slice with the remaining cheese.
  5. Transfer both slices open-face style to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook until bread is lightly browned.
  6. Flip the cheese bread atop top sprouts and cook an addition 30-60 seconds on each side to allow the filling to stick together.
  7. Serve immediately, optionally  topped with an additional sprinkle of paprika.

Broccoli Beer Bread Grilled Cheese

We’ve reached the final week of National Grilled Cheese Month and I’ve saved my favorite for last. I hope you enjoy it too!

One of my favorite flavor pairings is broccoli and cheese, and in my opinion broccoli cheese soup is the epitome of perfection for this palate. Although it can be extraordinarily unhealthy, it’s a comforting entrée perfect for a cold winter day. My favorite cookbook has a much healthier version using goat cheese that I meal prep for lunches semi regularly throughout the colder months. Although putting broccoli in a grilled cheese felt a little strange, I decided to try it anyway. The question remaining was which bread would complement it nicely.

Broccoli Beer Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Despite not caring for beer in its original beverage form, I often enjoy it as an accent to both sweet and savory dishes and there are a handful of recipes on my blog that call for it. Beer bread is a favorite to serve with stews and chilis, and Guinness chocolate ice cream turns out to be pretty fantastic. Broccoli cheese soup is delicious accented with beer as well, and this thought lead me towards using a beer bread for this particular sandwich.

Broccoli Beer Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Crispy roasted broccoli and melty sharp cheddar blend perfectly with the beer bread, and I strongly feel all three components are necessary for the full experience. You could certainly substitute an alternate bread (I would choose a whole wheat or seeded multi-grain) but the beer adds such a great twist that I promise it’s 100% worth the extra effort to make the loaf ahead of time. This sandwich combines several of my favorite things all into one and I can easily see it becoming somewhat of a staple, presuming I have the foresight to roast extra broccoli whenever possible. Great for beer lovers and broccoli lovers alike, this might even be a way to get a few extra veggies into what feels like a decadent meal.

Broccoli Beer Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

This was the fan favorite (although to be honest, they said that about all of them) and sure to be a crowd pleaser. Whether it’s cut in half for a great appetizer, served with a cup of broccoli cheese soup for a superbly warming experience, or thrown into your regular dinner rotation, this sandwich is surprisingly homey despite its thoroughly non-traditional expectations.

Broccoli Beer Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

I hope you enjoyed the series and if you found a new favorite be sure to let me know!

Broccoli Beer Bread Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

2 slices beer bread (reduce sugar to 2 Tbsp or less)
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
olive oil or butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a pan or coat thinly with olive oil.
  2. Combine broccoli, olive oil, and spices in a bowl; stir until well coated.
  3. Spread evenly on prepared pan and roast until broccoli is starting to char, about 20 minutes. (Or to your desired texture.)
  4. When the broccoli is nearly done, heat additional oil or butter in a small lidded frying pan over medium-low heat.
  5. Mix together cheese with 1/4 cup broccoli until combined. (One head of broccoli is probably enough for 4-ish sandwiches, presuming your bread slices are small.)
  6. Lay bread in heated pan, then top one side with broccoli mixture. Put on the lid and heat until cheese is melty and bread is golden.
  7. Place empty slice on top of the broccoli (toasted side up) and then carefully flip the whole thing; cook an additional 30-60 seconds to allow the sandwich to meld together.
  8. Serve immediately; would be extra fantastic with a cup of broccoli cheese or beer cheese soup for dipping!

Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese

This sandwich is dedicated to Kathy, who is in many ways my opposite but has the best insights on the Ames food scene and is a huge fan of beets.

One of my favorite local stores is an oil and vinegar shop by the name of Olivelle. It’s a relatively recent discovery for me but has quickly grown into quite the collection of balsamic vinegars, infused oils, and spice blends. I’ve featured some of their products before, mostly as salad dressings, but they are amazing on basically everything from breakfast to dessert.

Olivelle also does really fun cooking demonstrations where you watch four different courses being made and then get to enjoy eating them. It’s both delightful and delicious and makes for a fantastic girls’ night out. At my most recent attendance, there was a roasted beet salad with a blood orange fig dressing that kind of blew my mind. It was the perfect blend of savory and sweet and a truly great winter salad that I look forward to crafting next season (or maybe this one, if winter continues at its current velocity).

Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired by the flavor combination, this week’s grilled cheese is highly non-traditional and equally delicious: roasted beets and feta, with an optional (but supremely recommended!) blood orange fig drizzle.

Although I really enjoy roasted beets, I’d somehow never purchased them before this adventure. One of the great things about running this blog is the incentive to step outside my box, and this was no exception to a quality outcome. Like sweet potatoes, beets take a while to roast but you could certainly do it ahead of time and reheat them a bit right before making the sandwich. It’s both a great way to use up leftovers from salad or breakfast hash and worth it to make them specifically for this meal, I promise. The beet and feta filling is not gooey like a traditional grilled cheese, but has a totally new flavor profile that really classes up the final result. It reminds me a bit of last year’s Boursin and veggie version in that it doesn’t stick together very well but is completely worth the slightly messier experience.

Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Naturally sweet, the beets lend a harmony of sweet and savory that is balanced nicely by the Feta cheese (I also think chèvre would work splendidly), and complimented by my favorite sourdough bread. The denser bread contrasts nicely with the softened filling and the drizzle of blood orange balsamic dressing is the perfect addition to really up the wow factor. Delightful as an entrée or cut up for an appetizer, it was a win with four out of four taste testers and a really fun way to add a twist to an otherwise commonplace meal.

Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

As an added bonus, the bright color of beets and balsamic drizzle give a professional presentation to the plate – great for parties! (Especially on a snazzy rectangular plate.)

Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 beet, peeled and diced into 1/4″ pieces (or smaller)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup feta (or chèvre), crumbled
2 slices sourdough bread
olive oil or butter

Blood Orange Vinegar Dressing
1 Tbsp Olivelle Blood Orange Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Olivelle Harvest Fig Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine beet, oil, salt, and pepper and stir until evenly coated.
  3. Spread onto prepared pan and roast 20-30 minutes, or until fork tender.
  4. When the beets are nearly done, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a lidded nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat.
  5. In (the same) small bowl, gently stir together 1/4 cup roasted beets (you’ll probably have leftovers) with feta cheese.
  6. Place bread side-by-side in the pan and top one slice with beet and feta mixture. Cover with lid and cook until bread is golden and cheese is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together Blood Orange Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar until completely combined.
  8. Top beets with the other slice of bread (cooked side out) and remove sandwich to plate.
  9. Slice in half and (somewhat) optionally drizzle with blood orange fig dressing.
  10. Enjoy immediately!

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese

Welcome to April! Remember when I said Montana springs are a bit wintery? It is literally 12 degrees as I write this (Fahrenheit, in case you’re reading from a sane country). Good thing it’s perfect grilled cheese weather.

Last year I discovered that not only is April 12 my dad’s birthday, but it is National Grilled Cheese Day, and April is National Grilled Cheese Month. This inspired a delightful series of posts and I’m back with four all-new flavors for this year – check back weekly for each new addition.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Starting off the series is a traditional pairing, apple and gouda, with a twist – apple cider bread. Inspired by my beer bread recipe, I substituted hard cider in the bread with great success last fall. For this sandwich, I nixed the Brie and also the sugar since all I had around was a pretty sweet bottle of Angry Orchard. If you’re using a dry cider, as I recommend, feel free to leave that bit of sugar in there; it adds a touch of caramel flavor to the bread.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

There are many grilled cheeses on the internet that call for apple, but most of them do not suggest you roast the apples first. I think this is a mistake as apples take much longer to cook than bread or cheese, and it will result in a possibly cold but definitely crunchy apple in the middle. If that’s what you’re going for (like if it’s not twelve degrees at your house) by all means skip the apple roasting step. For a softer, cozier, and more cohesive apple and cheese experience, pop the apples in the oven for a bit while you slice your bread and cheese and get them warm and tender.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Rich Gouda and sweet apples are a wonderful match as is, but the cider bread adds a brand new twist and a delicious savory dimension. The bread is a critical component of the Grilled Cheese Experience™ and not to be overlooked. However, if you don’t want to plan a day ahead to make a batch of bread, sourdough would be an acceptable substitution.

I always cook my grilled cheese open face and then sandwich them at the end – this allows the fillings to melt more evenly and more quickly but it does take up more space. If you’re cooking for a crowd, layer all the fillings on one slice of bread and cook those with the lid on until mostly warmed and the bread is golden, then top with your second slice and flip to finish them out.

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Get out your frying pans and prepare yourselves for some new adventures in grilled cheese. Be sure to let me know how yours turn out!

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

2 slices apple cider bread (I recommend using a dry cider and no Brie)
2-3 thin slices Gouda
1 small Granny Smith apple

olive oil or butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees1. Line a baking sheet with silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. Peel (optional), core, and thinly slice apple.
  3. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, and bake until fork tender, 10-20 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. In a medium frying pan (with lid!) over low-medium heat, warm the oil or butter.
  5. Arrange both slices of bread in the pan, and top each with half the Gouda.
  6. Place the lid on the pan and gently cook until cheese is warm (Gouda does not always get as melty in appearance as other cheeses) and bread is golden brown.
  7. Layer warm apple2 on one of the bread slices (if your apple isn’t just out of the oven, you can add it at the same time as the cheese to warm.)
  8. Flip the slice without apples on top of the other (cheese sides together) and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
  9. Serve immediately; goes great with a hard cider!

Notes

You can also use the broiler, but lower the oven rack below center and pay close attention so they don’t get crisp.

You will have leftover apple but it makes a great snack with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or is perfect for tomorrow’s oatmeal.