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I’ll have the salad, but grilled.

Oh my friends, so sorry I’ve been on hiatus. Work has been a circus. Filled with monkeys. Flying monkeys. And no net. And the elephant escaped. And the lion ate all the popcorn. (He’s a vegan lion, so progressive.)

(You think this is a metaphor, well… it is.)

Hopefully your 9-5 isn’t as much of a Ringling-Brothers-Show as mine is. (At least I’m never bored!)

Anyhow, tonight I invited my dear friend Stefanie over for what I like to call “Capresey Grilled Cheesey!” It’s like a caprese salad, but on bread, and grilled. One of my favorite ways to jazz up this american classic.

In Capri, they call it the Zoe Grilled Formaggioey. (Or at least they will.)

Anyhow, without further delay..

balsamic vinegar, fresh baked rye bread, homegrown tomatoes

Capresey Grilled Cheesey

(I adapted this from the classic we all know and love. No recipe on hand, just created it from the very fibers of my soul.)

Ingredients for two sandwiches:

  • 4 slices of your favorite bread (I used recently baked, homemade rye bread… That recipe to follow another day.)
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes (The ones you see here are fresh off the vine, homegrown baby!)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (As much or as little as you want, you’ll need enough to cover both sides.)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves (Dried just won’t do. We have basil growing in our herb garden. Best investment all summer!)
  • dash of Balsamic Vinegar (My absolute favorite is Pompeiian Balsamic Vinegar with Pomegranate, as pictured above.)
  • pinch of salt
  • softened butter (Preferably unsalted, but I accidentally grabbed the wrong kind when I went grocery shopping. Whoops. This is why Ben does the majority of our grocery-picking-upping. I love my man.)


Start with slicing your tomatoes.

slice the tomatoes Go Pro Tip: Always use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut your tomatoes; you’ll be amazed at how easily it pierces the skin and glides right through. When you’re getting to the end, lay the tomato flat on the cutting board, and slice horizontally. Watch out for your thumb when you get to the edge of the tomato.

Now butter one side of each slice of bread. 

buttering the bread

(I remember the first time I tried my had at grilled cheese. I was somewhere in the grade-school-range… Third grade maybe? I was with two of my friends, at one of their homes, and we decided we wanted to make grilled cheese. I claimed to know how and went right to it. They got bored watching, and went on to more exciting things. Meanwhile, I couldn’t remember which side needed butter, so I buttered all sides, all the bread, all the butter. You know, butter safe than sorry, right? They were merciless. I’ve since learned, you only butter one side. The outside. Only.)

Put a medium to large (depends on the size of your bread) non-stick skillet on your stovetop, and set the heat a smidge above medium. Time to start assembling that sandwich!

cheese and tomato

added balsamic

First lay down two slices of bread, buttered side down.

Layer a generous heap of mozzarella cheese, then a single layer of tomatoes. Splash with balsamic, dash with salt, do the cha-cha.

Now add a conservative sprinkling of just a little more cheese to help the basil stick to the tomatoes. You don’t want your two halves winding up in divorce. This is a marriage of food, folks. What the chef has joined together, let no spatula slide apart.

lay on the basillast layer of cheese

Now take that deliciously fresh basil and lay it on! Finally, one more layer of cheese. (The left side has yet to be assembled. My bad. Ideally, you want to assemble these beloveds like a see-saw, equally balanced.)

Take your other slice of bread, and put it on top, buttered side up.

Now, the secret to  your prefect grilled cheese: put a lid on it! (It’s okay to peek.)

put a lid on itit's okay to peek

I’m a notorious peeker. And flipper. Just like the monkeys at my circus. Wait a few minutes, flip ’em. If they’re not perfectly grilled, that’s just fine. You can flip them again, better to flip too soon and have to flip again than to flip too late and have “reduced calorie” (read: scrape off the burnt parts) grilled cheese.

Once they’re done, slide these beauties onto a plate, cut in half, and try not to burn the roof of your mouth when you eager-beaver bite into it. Seriously. Burnt mouth-roof will totally detract from the amazingness of this masterpiece.

finished masterpiece

And the best way to really class it up? Enjoy it on the couch, at the lift-up-coffee-table (ours is identical to this one, and I absolutely love it – best garage-sale find ever), while watching the Muppets.

You won’t be disappointed.


Easy-Peasy Fried-Egg Sandwich

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Okay friends, this is for anyone who mistakenly believes that all our meals are elaborately fancy. They’re not.

Sometimes I just want a simple fried egg sandwich. (Even for lunch, or dinner – who doesn’t love brunch or brinner??? Not this girl!) But I also can’t help myself; if we have the ingredients on hand, you bet’yer britches that I’m gonna’ jazz it up a bit.

So today after church, feeling that usual Sunday-afternoon-sleepy, I thought to myself, “hmmm… what can I make that’s quick and easy and satisfyingly delicious?” (Oh and healthy. Healthy is always on the back of my mind, but sometimes I forget to acknowledge it.)

Fried-egg sandwich!

(Obviously we’ve all heard of the Egg McMuffin. Well this is the much cheaper, Zoe-Baloney-ed, DIY version. Made with real, fresh ingredients, not mystery fast-food-what’s-really-in-it? ingredients, so you don’t even have to worry about how yummy it is, because you know exactly what’s in it!)

***Please be warned, if the mere thought of a runny egg makes you queasy, this post probably isn’t for you. Especially don’t look at the picture below, because it’s filled with golden-glory that you just can’t handle. I say this because I love you, and I don’t want to make you puke.***

Ingredients (makes 1 sandwich):

  • english muffin
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3 slices of tomato (depends on if you’re using the roma or beefsteak variety)
  • 1 slice of your favorite cheese (or a serving of shredded cheese, or cream cheese, yes, cream cheese, or even better yet, veggie-cream cheese! I have a home-made version that we love, but I’ll save that for another post.)
  • 1-2 TBSP butter (optional)
  • 1-2 bacon strips
  • salt, pepper, paprika to taste (Smoked paprika is extravagantly good, but can be hard to find.)


Directions: (this really doesn’t need instructions, but it wouldn’t be a food blog if I didn’t include them, right?)

Pop your english muffin in the toaster and toast to your liking (I like mine dark and crispy, so I tend to start it early. If you prefer yours light and just slightly warmed, then wait till a little further to actually start toasting it – but still go ahead and get it settled in its little muffin tanning bed now.)

If you’re cooking for one or two, grab your medium, non-stick frying pan. Three or more, you’ll want to break out the big guns. (And if you have a whole griddle, invite the whole family over. Also, I’m jealous.)

You may remember from my last post (Scones to start!) I prefer to bake my bacon, and save the surplus. So for this I just grabbed my ready-to-heat bacon. If you haven’t yet made it on the bake-your-bacon-bandwagon, start that sizzle! The only downside to baking your bacon is that previously (on special occasions) when we make bacon and eggs, we cook the bacon first, drain out some of the grease, but leave enough in to fry our eggs. Oh-so-bad for you, but oh-so-delicious! (Hence the “only on special occasions.”)

Anyhow, if you’re frying your bacon, do that, leave a little grease if you’re feeling indulgent and skip the butter. If you’re taking the quick-and-easy route, melt your butter in the pan, but try to keep a small portion of your pan butter free to heat up your bacon. (You could also use a microwave, but we chose to get rid of ours. We’re really going old-school, here.)

Place your bacon on the butter free part (it’s okay if it gets a little buttery, I’m just trying to pretend that maybe this is a healthy meal). Crack open your eggs into the hot butter and fry, again, to your liking.

I prefer mine with runny yokes (drool). No lie, I treat that over-flowing-yolk like a 5 star dressing, using my sandwich to wipe up every last drop. Ben and Milo like theirs fried hard. So I put their eggs in first, using the shell to break and gently scramble the yoke a little (a trick I learned in college from my dear friend Christina). Next, I gently drop my egg into the cooking butter and cook mine over easy (medium-easy to play it a little safer for baby-squirrel).

Using a plastic spatula (metal utensils will scratch and deteriorate the non-stick coating on your pan), I’ll push in and manipulate the size/shape of the frying egg so that it’ll fit nicely on the muffin, even with the egg-over-medium-easy. Carefully flip them after a few minutes, reshaping as needing.

Momma Kathy Food Safety Warning: Because this was so strictly enforced when I was growing up, I feel the need to remind you of the salmonella PSA. Raw/undercooked eggs carry a risk of salmonella, which could make you really, horribly, violently sick. There, I said it. You’re welcome, mom.

(I was never allowed to eat cookie dough, or try anything with raw egg in it… Though I would always sneak some when she wasn’t looking. I’m such a rebel. The days when my womb was free from human-building-responsibilities – as in, not currently, but worth the wait – I would make brownies just to lick the bowl. I love me some raw dough/batter/yum.)

Remove the bacon when it’s done (it’ll be ready sooner than the eggs), and in its place, drop your tomato slices. Trust me. (You could leave them raw, especially if they’re from-your-garden-vine-ripened-gloriously-red, but slightly “grilled” is really, really good, too!)

By now, your muffin should be nice and Florida-dark-tanned (or at least warm). Plate it, butter if you like. (Though with butter-fried eggs and bacon, I personally think that’s just too much butter, but then there’s my son who’ll eat it straight if you’re not careful.)

Put your slice of cheese (or sprinkle some of the shredded cheese, or schmear on that cream cheese) on the bottom, sprinkle with paprika, layer on your fried egg, more paprika then your bacon, then your tomato (salt and pepper if desired). And hey, while we’re add it, let’s add some more cheese on top, because dairy is good for you! (Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, in which case, I’m sorry, we eat a lot of dairy in this household; probably with every meal. Here’s hoping you have an equally tasty alternative!)

Now cut that sandwich in half and squeal in delight as the yolk starts oozing out. (For all you yolk-haters, sorry to you as well… I’m sure that doesn’t make you love it any more.)

fried egg sandwichThere! Now you know you’ll never get an Egg McMuffin that looks that good (or tastes that fresh), and it only took 15 minutes!