Sometimes when the stress of the world gets to be too much, you just want to curl up with a nice hunk of cheese on the sofa and spend an hour watching Frasier to thaw out your brain...That's exactly what I've been doing the past few weeks, and now that I'm almost out of cheese I don't know what to do to cope. For months people have been telling me about how the last few weeks before their weddings were crazy and how stressful it gets towards the end, but I felt like I had a solid grasp on the event since I've been planning it for 17 months now, and all that I had left to do were tiny minute details. However, until the end of this past month, I don't think I really realized just how many tiny minute details I have left to do. I know that most of it is my own doing (for example, having a seating chart made entirely out of seed packets for each guest = ridiculously tedious) but I want things to be nice and I want it to be worth everyone coming all the way to northern central Oregon for the festivities. Maybe I just need to take a breather from thinking about it all the time, or maybe I need to enlist some help with the minutia of the tasks left at hand. I don't really know what to do to make it less stressful other than to just get it all done. What did you do to cope with the stress of planning your wedding? So far, what's been most soothing has been making various delicious grilled cheeses and pairing them with flavorful homemade soups, but that's definitely not a long-term solution.
On the bright side, it's at least provided me with a large amount of tasty dinners. So tasty, in fact, that I wanted to share some of my favorite combinations here today! And I wanted to tell you a bit about the Great Midwest Cheese flavors behind these creations, along with an awesome 'I Love Grilled Cheese' recipe contest they're hosting that could result in you winning a trip to a Midwestern city of your choice! For the recipes posted here, I paired their smoked cheddar with slices of granny smith apples on a buttered sourdough loaf smeared with grainy dijon mustard for a creamy, spicy, tart, and toasted grilled cheese. I loved the textural crunch from the apple slices, and the mustard grains played nicely against the smoky creaminess of the melted cheddar. I also made a quesadilla with their morel and leek jack (yes, it is as flavorful as it sounds), some sun dried tomatoes, and some pancetta bits that I pan fried beforehand until they were nice and crispy. The savory richness of the leek and morel jack was a great compliment to the tangy sun dried tomatoes, and the crispy panchetta pieces made for a nice textural component. If you're unfamiliar with pancetta, it's cured pork that's made from the same cut of meat as bacon, but unlike bacon, pancetta is not smoked and retains more of the natural flavor of the meat. Very flavorful stuff.
These two dishes do not even begin to cover the variety of cheeses that Great Midwest offers, though. The mango fire cheddar was a favorite of mine, and I loved having the blueberry cobbler cheddar on toast with a bit of blueberry jam. You can see the full list of flavors here. If you're interested in making a little something special with one of their cheeses, definitely submit your recipe to the Great Midwest I Love Grilled Cheese recipe contest and share your recipes and the contest with friends to garner more points for your entry. And it's for home-chefs only, so people of all cooking abilities should feel confident entering! I wish you the best of luck with your cheese endeavors, and would appreciate any bits of wedding-planning wisdom you feel inclined to share.
Also, the generous folks at Great Midwest are giving away an entire collection of their various cheese flavors right here! To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget below. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm PST August 20th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Granny Smith Apple & Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices sourdough bread
1/2 of a granny smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
4 ounces Great Midwest smoked cheddar, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard
Butter both sides of the bread slices, then spread the grainy dijon mustard on one side of each slice. Layer the cheese slices on top of the mustard side of each slice of bread, and then layer the apple slices on top of the cheese slices on one of the slices of bread. Take the slice without the apples and flip it over on top of the apple slice so that the apple slices are sandwiches between the cheese slices. Cook on a very lightly greased skillet or wide frying pan over medium-high heat until the bread slices are a toasty brown and the cheese is melted, about 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.
Pancetta Quesadilla with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Morel & Leek Jack
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup diced pancetta
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 quality tortillas (I recommend Mission brand, they are slightly thicker than other varieties and toast up nicely on the outside while staying fluffy inside)
4 ounces Great Midwest morel & leek jack, grated
3 tablespoons julienned (thinly sliced) sun dried tomatoes
First, prepare the pancetta. Heat the olive oil up in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and pan fry until crispy about 6-10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain out the excess oil, and set aside.
Sprinkle the salt over a clean ungreased cast iron tortilla pan or wide frying pan. Begin to warm it up over medium heat while assembling the tortilla.
Lay one of the tortillas flat on a large flat plate and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Then evenly distribute the pancetta bits and sun dried tomatoes over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover with the other tortilla.
Place the plate right next to the pan and use your fingertips to slide the quesadilla off the plate and onto the pan. Cook until the outside of the tortilla begins to show toasty golden parts and the cheese is melted through, about 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.