As the weather gets even colder, I keep wanting warm comfort food. I love sandwiches, but when you add the hot element, it instantly elevates a sandwich in my mind. The Monte Cristo sandwich I made because we were having a game night. I wanted something delicious and warm, but also kind of fun. I wanted to add my own spin, so I added bacon, because I had it, and I also didn't want just the traditional jam, so I turned it into a cream sauce.
The grilled cheese came about because, well, I had a lot of bread I needed to use. Also, I had made a delicious chicken, onion and red pepper soup the night before and plenty of leftovers, so a warm grilled cheese sandwich was the perfect companion.
Monte Cristo Sandwiches with Grape Dipping Sauce
8 slices bread, I used Earth Grains Whole Wheat
4 slices turkey deli meat
4 slices ham deli meat
4 slices cooked bacon
4 slices Jarlsberg cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Grape Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grape jam
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet on medium heat, sprayed with cooking spray. Assemble sandwiches by putting 1 piece of turkey, ham, bacon (halved) and cheese in between the bread. In a shallow dish, combine egg and milk. Dunk sandwich in egg mixture on each side and add to skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on one side, flip, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side, until bread has a nice brown color and cheese is melting.
Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan on medium low heat. Melt butter, and then whisk in flour. Let cook about 1 minute. Whisk in heavy cream and let heat about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in grape jam and salt and pepper. Serve in a small condiment dish next to sandwiches.
I served this with a great light salad. It was simply spinach, halved grapes, bacon and toasted almonds drizzled with my sweet onion poppyseed dressing I love so much. Delicious!
Grilled Cheese with Spicy Cilantro Pesto
3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno, halved and seeded
1 bunch cilantro (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Olive oil as needed, about 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
8 pieces bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices colby jack cheese
4 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro pesto
For the pesto, add pine nuts and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in jalapeno and pulse again. Add in cilantro and cheese and pulse until combined. With motor running, stream in olive oil until it reaches a desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the sandwiches, Preheat a large skillet on medium heat, sprayed with cooking spray. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Spread a thin layer of cilantro pesto on the other side of each piece of bread. Layer sandwiches in this order: 1 piece bread (butter side down), 1 slice colby jack cheese, a sprinkle of Manchego cheese, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice colby jack, other slice bread (butter side up). Add to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until bread is nicely browned and cheese is melting.
While sandwiches are cooking, halve avocados and cut into slices. When sandwiches are done, slice on the diagonal and place an avocado piece on each half, secured with a toothpick. Enjoy with a nice warm soup!