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Say cheese! These grilled cheese sandwiches will make kids happy and (hopefully) healthy

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

Is it too soon to start talking about sick days?

I'm sorry to bring this up, but with two school-age boys at home, I know firsthand that children everywhere are back to their studies after a summer break.

We all want our kids to stay healthy and happy, of course. But it's hard to avoid the fact that at some point they'll have to stay home from school. Maybe it's a cold that's going around. Or perhaps there is one of those so-called "pupil-free days" when the teachers go to school and get things done that they need to do while the students stay home.

Or, just maybe, one of those moments comes when us parents just can't get out of the house and drag our ailing selves to work. Grown-ups have their sick days too.

Regardless, it's important to be prepared for such times, especially by making sure the ingredients for delicious lunches are at the ready. The goal should be to have on hand whatever you might need to put together a quick and easy meal that is nourishing and delicious.

And what better standby could there be than the classic grilled cheese sandwich?


I'm always amazed by how quickly one particularly item disappears when my catering team and I create the food for a big party. Our bite-sized grilled cheese sandwiches topped with oven-dried tomatoes fly off the trays.

So, what follows is a home-style version of that recipe. It's basic and simple. Good sliced bread is a must, whether it's white, wheat, egg-enriched or sourdough. I like to include two different kinds of cheese, cheddar and provolone, to add some extra depth of flavor; but you can feel free to substitute whatever your children's favorites might be, or use just one cheese. And a little butter helps the sandwich turn a beautiful golden brown while the cheese melts inside.

As for the oven-dried tomatoes (which are sealed inside the sandwiches in this version), before you think your kids might turn up their noses at them, remember how many children love ketchup. The easy oven-drying process I explain in my recipe concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes to an almost candy-like sweetness that many young people love; and you could also substitute oil-packed and drained sun-dried tomatoes. Or just leave them out if you're dealing with a picky eater.

Add a bowl of your favorite good-quality soup, and you have a lunch that's very likely to support the healing process. And it's also always great for a last-minute weekend lunch for the family!


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