09 November 2013

Grilled Cheese Sticks w/ Apple Butter Dipping Sauce

There is nothing quite like a toasty grilled cheese sandwich on a crisp autumn afternoon.  It is one of those classic fall meals that transcends all generations.  My mormor always served hers with a side of ketchup, my mom with homemade tomato basil soup.  And chances are you have your own favorite variation in your household.  Man those two make quite a pair.  But along with a love of tomatoes, my mother passed down another favorite pairing with sharp cheddar...apples.  Be it raw granny smiths or hot apple pie, there is nothing quite like the sweet and salty combo of cheddar and apples.

After a lengthy debate with a foodie friend about the pros and cons of apple butter this fall, I decided to take a whirl at the homemade variety this year.  (Yes, my life is that exciting).  After years of making my own applesauce, it seemed like an obvious "duh" to add some spices to the mix to make this sweet fall treat twice as tasty.  I'm a sucker for cinnamon and nutmeg.  And this was probably the best breakfast idea of the year.  The hubs and I have been slathering this delicious spicy spread on top of waffles, pancakes and crepes on a weekly basis.  It's delicious stirred into oatmeal and to-die-for mixed into fresh walnut blondies.  I like to think we average out to an apple each a day......

One day I was struck with an inspirational thought - why not dunk a grilled cheese into this sweet, spicy sauce?  After all, apples are so very delicious with cheese, it only stands to reason that apple butter would be just as tasty.  So I gave that a little whirl....

If you enjoy the sweet/savory combos, this is absolutely the lunch for you.  Just make the classic grilled sammy with your favorite type of cheese, cut the sandwich into little sticks and dunk into sweet, warm apple butter.  You have a delicious savory sandwich served along side a sweet sauce that tastes like dessert.  Like chicken nuggets dunked in honey, the combo is complete glory.  

Dunk, bite & repeat.  Lunch, anyone?

Grilled Cheese Sticks (2 servings)

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 8 oz (8 slices) sharp cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • Easy Small Batch Apple Butter, for dipping
Place a heavy skillet over medium heat and butter the outside of two pieces of bread.  Place the bread butter-side down in the heated skillet and top each with two ounces of cheese.  Spread the remaining two slices of bread with butter on one side and lay on top of the cheese, butter-side up.  Grill the bread on each buttered exterior until the cheese is melty and the bread is golden brown.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice each sandwich into three strips.  Serve with apple butter for dipping.

Easy Small Batch Apple Butter 
Inspired by How Sweet It Is
  • 3 large apples - peeled, cored & diced
  • 1/3 c apple cider
  • 1/4 c agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dash ground cloves, dried ginger
  • pinch sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir together until the apples are evenly coated.  Turn the burner onto medium-low, cover and heat until gently simmering, about 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to retain the gentle simmer, re-cover and continue to cook for another 1-2 hours until the apples are completely broken down and have started to caramelize.  Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a food processor or blender, when you can process to the smoothness you prefer.  Apple butter will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Delicious on waffles, pancakes and little pigs!

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