From Pen to Pan

Courtesy of Colleen Bromberger & Logan Payne

Did you know that there’s actually a National Grilled Cheese Day? Well, there is. Mark your calendars and prepare your appetites for April 12, readers!

But what is this deliciousness called the grilled cheese? It can be known as a warm cheese sandwich, or two pieces of bread with some cheese in between. Historically speaking, the grilled cheese most likely originated in a home kitchen and was created by an exhausted and overworked mother who had hungry mouths to feed and little food in the pantry. Or so we think.

Regardless of how the grilled cheese was created, we, speaking as underpaid, overworked students, love it a lot. As college students it can be difficult to find time to make an elaborate home-cooked meal; making the grilled cheese is an easy choice for those nights when we want something hearty, but quick to make.

The idea for our column came about after we were discussing our inability to actually prepare a meal for ourselves besides microwaving a bag of frozen chicken from Trader Joe’s.

Thus, “From Pen To Pan” was created as a pact for the both of us to challenge ourselves for four weeks to cook a meal for ourselves using creativity and a variety of ingredients that we don’t use on a regular basis.

Colleen will focus on the easy, but not necessarily lazy, way of preparing meals. All dishes will be made in less than 15 minutes; however, she will do her best to keep each dish unique and tasty, with fresh and somewhat classier ingredients.

Meanwhile, Logan will take the harder route and cook the dish from scratch or with more complicated ingredients, ultimately emerging with a dish that’s more suitable for a meal to share with others and (hopefully) impress them with your culinary skills.

Colleen’s Pesto, Artichoke and Mozzarella Melt

A quick gourmet version of this classic staple, my mozzarella melt is an easy alternative to the basic cheese-and-bread sandwich. I purchased all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s; however, some of the items can be bought at a local grocery store.

1 English muffin
1 spoonful of pesto
1 spoonful of Artichoke Antipasto from Trader Joe’s
3 small fresh Mozzarella balls, each cut in half
Half an avocado (optional)

1. Preheat stove on medium heat, and drizzle a little bit of canola oil in the pan.
2. On a separate plate, split the English muffin in half and place the pesto, artichoke and mozzarella on one half of the muffin.
3. Place in the pan and wait for approximately 1 minute. Add other side, and flip sandwich until golden brown.
4. Continually flip sandwich for next five minutes until crunchy texture is achieved.
5. Add avocado to cooling melt.
6. Enjoy with either a side salad, or some tomato soup for a classic meal!

Logan’s Baked, Open-Faced, Havarti and Apple Sandwich

This version of a grilled cheese is, yes, an open-faced sandwich. Feel free to drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the sandwich to give it an extra layer of flavor, but I think the butter and garlic bring out the delicious crunch of the apple.

2 tbs. butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small Pink Lady apple, thinly sliced
2 slices of Havarti cheese, sandwich sized
1 slice of multigrain, wheat bread in aluminum foil

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm a pan on medium heat and melt the butter in the pan. Once the butter is melted, place the garlic in the pan and pan fry.
2. With the butter and garlic in the pan, pour in the thinly sliced apples and pan fry until the apples are coated with the butter-garlic mixture.
3. With the aluminum foil, fashion a tray out of one piece of foil that’s large enough to fit the slice of bread. With another piece of foil, fashion a cover for the tray that you created with the other piece of foil.
4. Once the apples are coated with the butter-garlic mixture, place the slice of bread in your aluminum foil tray and top with one slice of havarti cheese. Then pour the apple mixture and remaining butter-garlic mixture onto the slice of bread and top with another slice of havarti cheese.
5. Place the covered foil tray on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the apples are slightly soft and the cheese is melted.