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Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown: My Savory and Sweet Recipes

The produce in this post were provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.

At the end of March, Wisconsin Cheese announced the 2017 Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown. Anyone could submit their grilled cheese recipe for a shot at a grand prize of $15,000. I love to create dishes in the kitchen so I submitted two entries this year, one savory and one sweet. I didn’t win, but the hubby and I had fun in the kitchen making and eating these sandwiches. I hope you’ll give them a try!

If you like it spicy and savory, try this recipe:


Mangia Grilled Cheese by Chelsea Madren, OC Food Diva
Makes 2 sandwiches

This grilled cheese will have you speaking Italian! Homemade herbaceous pesto, sun ripened tomatoes, spicy Italian sausage and gooey mozzarella on grilled sourdough will make you exclaim, “Mangia!”


1 cup fresh basil leaves + 12 basil leaves for bread
½ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup Melissa’s pine nuts
¼ cup + 4 tbsp grated Wisconsin parmesan, divided
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Melissa’s minced garlic or 2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp salt
1 lb ground Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage
4 slices of round loaf sourdough bread
4 tbsp softened butter or margarine
½ tsp garlic powder
2 cup shredded Wisconsin mozzarella cheese, divided
2 roma tomatoes, sliced

  1. Make pesto sauce: Place basil, parsley, pine nuts, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Make four thin elongated patties with Italian sausage to fit sourdough bread.
  3. Heat pan to medium heat and fry Italian sausage patties to golden brown on one side. Flip and add a ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese on top of patties. Fry until cheese is melted.  Set aside.
  4. Mix butter/margarine, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder until combined. Spread on one side of sourdough. Press three whole basil leaves into spread until they are secured to bread.
  5. Heat pan to medium heat and grill sourdough bread with parmesan garlic spread side down. Add ¼ cup mozzarella cheese on top of sourdough bread to melt.
  6. Remove grilled sourdough to cutting board. Cool slightly before constructing sandwich.
  7. Starting with one slice of grilled sourdough with melted mozzarella facing up, layer two Italian sausage patties, sliced tomatoes, and pesto sauce. Top with another slice of grilled sourdough with garlic parmesan crust facing up.
  8. Slice in half and serve.

If you like it creamy and sweet, try this recipe:


Fruity Cheese Board Grilled Cheese by Chelsea Madren, OC Food Diva
Makes 2 sandwiches

Grilled cheese sandwiches are normally known to be savory. This grilled cheese is inspired by the fruit and cheese board presented during wine tastings. It is savory enough to eat with as an entrée yet sweet enough to have as dessert. For a more savory experience, try pairing it with a glass of chardonnay. For a sweeter experience, try pairing it with a glass of moscato.

2 tbsp butter
1 green apple, peeled and sliced
½ cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 oz dark rum
2 tbsp softened butter or margarine
4 slices of cinnamon raisin bread
1 wedge Wisconsin brie from large wheel or 1 Wisconsin baby brie, sliced

  1. Make caramelized apples: Heat pan over low heat and melt butter. Add ½ cup brown sugar and stir to melt. Add dark rum and tilt pan slightly to ignite (USE CAUTION). When alcohol is burned off, add apples and stir until apples are coated. Take off heat and set aside.
  2. Mix butter/margarine and 2 tbsp. brown sugar until combined. Spread on one side of each cinnamon raisin bread slice.
  3. Heat pan over low heat and grill cinnamon raisin bread with the brown sugar spread side down. Add 2-3 slices of brie on top of bread to melt.
  4. Remove grilled cinnamon raisin bread to cutting board. Cool slightly before constructing sandwich.
  5. Starting with one slice of grilled cinnamon raisin bread with melted brie facing up, layer a generous helping of caramelized apples. Top with another slice of grilled cinnamon raisin bread with brown sugar crust facing up.
  6. Slice in half and serve.

Let me know if you end up trying one of these recipe by submitting a comment below. See you next time in the Test Kitchen!

On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Philly’s Best: Celebrating 25 years making authentic Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies

The menu items in this post were provided by Philly’s Best but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Philly’s Best has been one of our go-to places to get a cheesesteak since we were in college. The first location opened in Fountain Valley in 1992, my senior year in high school, and became one of our spots to meet for lunch between classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Bob and Andrea Levey have “steaked” their claim as “Best of LA” to get an authentic taste of Philly. You can’t have a proper cheesesteak without Amoroso rolls. Philly’s Best imports these special rolls along with some Philly favorite snacks like Wise Chips and Tastykakes. If you have been to the City of Brotherly Love, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Earlier this year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary across their 21 locations in Southern California.

Here is a look at some of my favorite menu items:

Philly’s Best ($8.99) is a cheesesteak with sweet peppers and mushrooms. This cheesesteak is exactly what I want when I crave one – thinly sliced, juicy steak, gooey cheese, sweet grilled peppers and onions, and earthy mushrooms that soak up all the beefy juices from the grill. The Amoroso bread is like a French and sourdough mix of flavors with a chewy interior. Rating: 5/5

Cheesesteak Fries ($7.99) are their French fries topped “wit” cheese sauce, thinly sliced steak, and onions. If you love “loaded fries” like I do, you need to order this! My hubby steers clear as he is not a “cheese sauce” type of guy, but when fries are in the mix, I love cheese sauce. It sticks to the fries while also helping the other toppings stick for a delicious bite every time. I love their cheesesteaks but I have to admit I love the cheesesteak fries even more! Rating: 5/5

Pizza Fries ($3.49) are their French fries topped “wit” pizza and cheese sauce. I love cheese sauce with fries but with the pizza sauce, I think shredded mozzarella or provolone would have been better. The creaminess of the cheese would work better with the sweetness of the pizza sauce and fit better with the Italian flavor profile. It’s a smaller portion than the cheesesteak fries and works well as a side to a cheesesteak or hoagie. Rating: 4.5/5

Thinking of buying a plane ticket to Philadelphia to experience one of their most iconic foods? Fo’ get about it! Hop in the car and take a short drive to the nearest Philly’s Best!

Sepcials for Phil eClub members:

  • $1 off any ice cold Coca Cola fountain drink with purchase of any sandwich and a side of fries or onion rings through 6/30/2017
  • 5 on 5 Special: Any sandwich $5.99 on the 5th, 15th, and 25th at the Orange location.


Ambiance: 4 out of 5
Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
4250 Barranca Pkwy. Ste R
Irvine, CA 92604
+1.949.857.2448
Reservations: None, fast casual
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town Alive! takes you back in time to the Old West


The experience and food in this post were provided by Knott’s Berry Farm but the opinions expressed here are my own.


There once was a town in the Old West called Calico where the lives of cowboys and outlaws intertwined with good, law abiding townsfolk. On this fine day, Mayor Howell welcomes townsfolk and guests alike to the Founders’ Day celebration with a pony race, shooting contest, and hoedown. Yeehaw! But, the Mayfield gang is due to be released from the custody of Sheriff Wheeler today. Oh my!

They call me, Clementine Mayfield. I’m a long-lost niece of my Uncle Sad Eye Joe Mayfield. He be getting’ out of jail today. I reckon he’ll have some plans. Wink, wink.

Ain’t Betty the cutest pony you ever did see!

I found the Mayfield hideout, but they gone robbin’ without me!

I found Boothill Cemetery, but didn’t find any of our kinfolk buried there.

The Pony Express Outpost even trusts us Mayfields to deliver packages around town. I delivered this here package to Town Hall.

I swear I was tempted to hijack that darn Rio Grande train, but I heard there is gold in them hills.

In them hills is Calico Mine Co., where we hitched a ride on the mine car and found LOTS OF GOLD! I can’t wait to tell Uncle Sad Eye Joe!


  • Tip: If you are planning an event like a corporate team building event, corporate sales meeting, wedding, family reunion, etc., Knott’s a great place. They have locations like Wilderness Dance Hall to host your event. They can handle groups of 50 to 5,000.


A Mayfield’s mind is always turning and we need food to keep us on our toes. A country lunch of Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken, Boysenberry BBQ Meatballs, potato salad, pasta salad, fresh fruit, and Caesar salad hit the spot!

A meal ain’t complete without boysenberry pie! Hoo doggy!

It’s summer so git down to Knott’s Berry Farm for Ghost Town Alive! now through the 4th of September Two Thousand and Seventeen. Say howdy to my Uncle Sad Eye Joe!

For more information:
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620


  • 2017 Season Pass: $109 for all ages 3+, valid through 12/31/2017
  • 2017 Gold Pass: $126 includes admission to Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City Waterpark, for all ages 3+, valid through 12/31/2017
  • 2017 Platinum Pass: $212 – 48” and taller, $172 – under 48” or age 62+, included admission to Knott’s Berry Farm, Soak City Waterpark, and all Cedar Fair Parks plus parking, valid through 12/31/2017
  • Single Day Admission: $75 ($48 if purchased online) – ages 12 to 61, $45 – ages 3 to 11 or age 62+



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