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Sautéed veggies make grilled cheese special

May 22, 2012
By Wendy Monro , Simply Food

I love a wedding. My kids were annoyed all week because I kept saying this. I was excited that we were about to attend one. I didn't realize how often I repeated these words until the two of them moaned in unison and shouted, "We know you do!" They thought I was so weird.

This particular wedding had some huge advantages. It took place in beautiful San Diego, Calif. on the grass of an amazing country club, on the most pristine sun shiny day, with a royal blue sky above and ocean breezes wafting through the air. The bridal party looked like models arriving for a magazine photo shoot. The bride was the most gorgeous bride I had ever seen in my life. I am not exaggerating. She looked like the bride who starred in your biggest wedding fantasies when you were a child.

The dresses, the flowers, and the music were magical. Every word that poured out of the rabbi's mouth was brilliant. I cried, I laughed, and I smiled. I held onto Claud's hand so hard through the parts about true love and staying together forever. I was reminded of how lucky I am to have true love in my life. I was so happy to be a part of my cousin's big day. I felt honored to be included in this ceremony. I truly love a wedding!

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A grilled cheese with vegetables and basil, served with a glass of white wine.

After the ceremony, we headed to the cocktail party and began mingling with friends and family. The kids loved seeing old cousins they hadn't seen in years. While we caught up, they served hummus, tabouleh, feta cheese, fried shrimp, lamb, and much more. I, of course, had just stuffed myself with a huge burrito before the wedding and could not eat any of this. It looked amazingly delectable. I began drinking champagne instead. Luckily, by the time we made our way to the dinner tables, my appetite returned. I had the most amazing tower of polenta, with a huge portabella mushroom and grilled vegetables covered in red pepper coulis. I ate every last bite. I kind of wanted more but decided it would be weird to ask. Claud ate the steak, Daphne ate the salmon and Jack ate the cookies and ice cream. Then, the music started

I didn't know Jack had such brilliant dance moves. He danced to every song. Daphne sang each and every song. Everyone danced at this wedding. Toddlers and grandparents were dancing. I danced with my parents, my husband, my kids, and my cousins. I couldn't sit down because every time I would go to my chair, another great song would come on. Before we knew it, it was getting really late and Claud told us we needed to head back to the hotel. Daphne, Jack and I all groaned at him. We weren't ready.

Ultimately, Claud got us in the car. I was filled with joy from this entire event. I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face.

Fact Box

Grilled cheese with vegetables and basil

Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

Emeril's Essence seasoning

4 slices of bread (any kind)

1/2 teaspoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or any heart healthy spread)

1/2 cup shredded or sliced cheese (low fat or vegan)

1 avocado, sliced

6 10 fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wok or skillet on medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and onions for about five minutes. Add the Essence and mix well. Set aside. Spread the buttery spread on one side of each piece of bread. Place the bread in the same heated pan. Add the cheese, sauteed vegetables, avocado, basil, salt and pepper. Place the other slice on top and heat until cheese melts.

The following day, we drove the five hours back to Las Vegas. I couldn't stop thinking about the happy newlyweds. There was a lot of talk during the ceremony about opening your hearts and letting love pour in. I have been thinking about hearts lately. My thoughts have been more about keeping it healthy with the foods I choose to eat or through exercising. I think it is important to keep your heart healthy with love, generosity and kindness too.

When I got home, I started going through my emails and discovered a new newsletter from the Heart of New Ulm Project, "Heart's Beat Back". Everyone should subscribe to this newsletter if you haven't already. There are always delicious recipes and great ideas in there. This edition discussed herbs and how they, "add great taste to your favorite meals."

Inspired by this, I headed to the kitchen to make something simple for dinner. I was exhausted by the long drive and the busy fun filled weekend. I decided to prepare grilled cheese sandwiches. I wanted to incorporate herbs and vegetables. This version is much healthier than the traditional buttered bread with American cheese type. I used a tiny bit of olive oil to saute the onions and mushrooms. Then, I used vegan cheese, but you could use any type of cheese you prefer. Instead of butter on the bread, I used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread. My herb of choice was basil. I also incorporated avocados to give it an extra layer of deliciousness.

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I didn't tell anyone about the vegan cheese. Please don't tell them either. After dinner, I looked through the pictures we took at the wedding. Soon, Daphne and Jack were on either side of me laughing and pointing at all of the shots of them dancing and singing. We talked about the whole event and how much fun we had. Then, Jack said, "I love a wedding!" and Daphne shouted, "me too!" I smiled big and said, "I told you so." In the end their hearts were filled with love from this fabulous wedding and their dinner was good for their hearts as well.



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