“Bar” themed parties are all the rage, and I don’t mean the “adult beverage” kind of bar. I mean a food kind of bar, where a basic dish is the star and guests can pick and choose the fixings they want. I’ve seen pizza bars, pasta bars, quesadilla bars, taco bars…and I have to say that the sliders/mac-and-cheese bar I hosted for my son Todd’s seventh birthday is, to this day, a delicious memory.
Well, have you ever built (or participated in) a grilled cheese bar? Trust me…it’s a triumph! Consider the simple, unadorned beauty of a grilled cheese. Now just ponder the many variations that are possible: the bread, the cheese, the meats, the veggies, the herbs, the spreads, the seasonings. It’s a natural “party bar” food!
I wanted to demonstrate just a handful of the possibilities while also featuring two Land O Lakes® products that are natural stars when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches.
First, Land O Lakes® Premium Deli Cheese. You can find it in the supermarket deli counter in a variety of options. I went with Deli American and (my favorite) 4 Cheese Italian Blend, which is sharp and flavorful…but still ultra-creamy, which is essential with any grilled cheese!
The second ingredient that will make your grilled cheeses extra delicious is Land O Lakes® Butter with Canola Oil. It has all the flavor and deliciousness of regular softened butter, but the magic is that you don’t have to allow the butter to soften before spreading it on the bread. It’s totally spreadable straight out of the fridge.
Lay out any grilled cheese fixings you’d like! Some of my favorites: plum tomatoes, caramelized onions, spinach, basil, good ‘ol mayo, Dijon, bacon strips, sautéed mushrooms…the list goes on!
Not to mention the bread itself! Sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, hearty wheat… heck, you could even use cinnamon raisin bread. You’d be surprised what a delicious grilled cheese that makes! (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
This may be controversial, but I have come to really need some kind of flavorful spread on the inside of the bread. A very thin layer of mayo is always a good start, and I think prepared pesto (this is from a jar) is pretty much the best thing ever.
But in a grilled cheese, the cheese is clearly the most important thing. I laid two slices of 4 Cheese Italian Blend on top of the mayo/pesto layer…
Then a nice layer of spinach and tomato! How good is this one gonna be?
Here’s another combo: Dijon, Deli American, and caramelized onions. Yum!
And yet another: A mix of Premium Deli Cheese, thinly sliced red onions, and roasted red pepper. The possibilities are endless.
So once you have the sandwiches built, fire up a griddle and grab a knife. Take a nice smear of Butter with Canola Oil and spread it on one side of the sandwich.
Place the sandwich, spread side down, on a griddle over medium-low heat. Then, while it’s sizzling away, spread the top side with the Butter with Canola Oil as well.
Repeat this with all of the sandwiches and grill both sides until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted. I keep the heat on medium-low so that the cheese has a chance to melt without making the bread too dark! I take grilled cheeses very seriously, as you can see. I’ve given them a lot of thought in my life!
As well I should. Look at the beauty! That cheese is gorgeous, and the bread is crispy and golden. Yum!
And here’s the sandwich with the caramelized onion. Glorious!
Now, to serve, you can either cut the sandwiches in half OR (my favorite) cut them into strips. All the better to share!
So the next time you’re planning a get together with friends, neighbors, or family, think about hosting a grilled cheese party! It’ll be fun and delicious.
Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, has partnered with Land O'Lakes for an exclusive endorsement of Land O Lakes® products. This blog post is sponsored by Land O'Lakes.