• Jennifer Stewart

Toasted Cheeses

In my experience of being pregnant so far, the over consumption of toasted cheeses has gotten out of control. I mean… who knew in your 5th month of pregnancy you’d be only craving orange juice and toasted cheese sandwiches? With an occasional donut or two and maybe even a grilled zucchini and possibly some ice cream to top the night. If you know anything about me, I’m a burger eater. I am. I always have been. When I lived in LA that was the thing I looked forward to the most… date nights out by myself at the wine bar while reading a play with a glass of Malbec or Amarone and a big fat juicy burger. I’m sad to say that meat just grosses me out these days.

I’ve been experimenting, needless to say, with the whole non-meat eating thing. Thank God it’s summer. I mean… everything from the ground is just delicious to me. Fruit. Vegetables. Fruit. I wonder if this baby will be a vegetarian? Or please God not a Vegan. Or will he crave burgers? Or enjoy a salad or two? Or will he love cheese and an occasional fruit or piece of pie. I honestly can say that I’m excited to teach my son how to cook and appreciate having his own garden. I want him to love the simple things in life… even if it’s a toasted cheese or a plain old thunderstorm passing through or just sitting on the porch with your loved one. I’m excited to teach him to take life in… because it's too short.

This little blog situation has me happy today. Not only because I’m writing about my unborn son that I happily await his arrival, but because I have paired an incredible summer recipe with a dear musician friend who has recently come out with a new album.

I had to pair this blog with a little gourmet grilled cheese action. A recipe I got from my new favorite magazine called Southern Cast Iron. It’s seriously the perfect place to research some authentic down home cooking using a simple cast iron skillet. An item I will always have in my kitchen.

Italian Grilled Cheese

2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves

1 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves

1 Clove of Garlic

½ Cup Olive Oil

¼ Pine nuts, toasted

1 ½ Tsp Kosher Salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 (12 Ounce) Ciabatta Loaf, cut into 2-inch sections

4 Ounces sliced mozzarella cheese

4 Ounces sliced Cappicola Ham

1 1/3 Cups roasted mixed bell peppers

4 Tbsp Salted butter, divided

FIRST in the work bowl of a food processor, combine basil, parsley, garlic, oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Pulse until mixture reaches a smooth consistency.

NEXT split bread sections in half lengthwise. Spread pesto onto both sides of bread. Top one side of bread with 1 ounce of mozzarella, 1 ounce Cappicola, and 1/3 cup roasted peppers. Top with other section of bread.

LAST in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add 2 Sandwiches, and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn, and cook until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown.

I’m thrilled to pair my simple gourmet toasted cheese sandwich recipe with a new song from Kim Divine’s new album, This Time Around. An album written about everything from love, life, and loss. Kim recently has been working through a great deal of loss when her mother passed away this year, as well as her step father and father-in-law. All within a year of each other. What we gain from these songs on her new album is the truth that we are not alone. Ever. Living life to the fullest… to dream big and achieve anything and everything we possibly can… as life is short. Life is fearful. Life is unpredictable. But it’s also mysteriously unique and completely wonderful when we are able to celebrate it. Like Kim has this year. Celebrating the life of her loved ones… and the loved ones to come.

Kim and I share a birthday. And we also happen to be pregnant at the same time with boys due four days a part. She’s already a mom… before me, but to say that life is just incredibly precious and miraculous and scary and fearful and exciting and all the things... take it all in. Simply. Fully. Be happy. Be happy listening to a thunderstorm on a Sunday afternoon. Be fulfilled with just sitting on the porch swing and listening to Earth’s incredible sounds. Be grateful for all the toasted cheese sandwiches… because life just goes by so fast. It just does.

Please visit to hear more of her new Album "This Time Around" and you can download the album on itunes!!!

#grilledcheese #castironskillet #kimdivine #Italian #thistimearound #album #southerncastiron

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