Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

Today just may have been the most perfect day, weather wise, of the entire summer. Virtually zero humidity, blue skies dotted with puffy clouds and a completely comfortable high of 76 degrees. There was nothing to grumble about all from the get go. 

As soon as I woke up, I knew it was going to be a fabulous day. Bright sun streaming through my bedroom window blinds, I hopped out of bed clear-headed, incredibly chipper and ready and rarin' for a great Sunday - and this was all before I had my morning coffee.

After a perfectly blissful 7-mile run, I came home and did a little light housework and some blog reading while waiting on Eric to come home from mountain biking. When he got home, I bombarded him with an idea for a delicious lunch.

"JALAPENO POPPER GRILLED CHEESE," I imposed as a full sentence. Eric was on board immediately, and we headed to the market to pick up a couple ingredients.

Just this morning, I'd come across a lip-smacking recipe for Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese sandwiches and the craving began instantly. Crusty bread, two kinds of melty cheese, fresh jalapenos and perfectly savory bacon - what wasn't to love?

We varied from the original recipe a bit, substituting New York hot pepper cheddar cheese for pepperjack and using a panini press (a very thoughtful housewarming gift from our friends Josh and Amber), and they turned out magnificently.

Served with a side of Popchips and a summer beer (Wisconsin's O'So Brewing Company's Picnic Ants, which has strong citrusy notes, and was interesting, but I'm not sure I'd make it a staple), it was the the perfect lunch for such a perfect summer day. This one, you can bet, will be a regular in the sandwich rotation.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese
(adapted from We Are Not Martha)

Makes two sandwiches:
4 slices crusty bread (we chose French)
3 tbs cream cheese
3 large jalapenos
4 slices New York spicy pepper cheddar cheese (or any cheese with a spicy kick!)
3 slices bacon, cooked
Butter (spray or spreadable) to coat outsides of bread

Butter one side each of four slices of bread, then slather the opposite sides with cream cheese. Slice jalapenos (seeded... or keep a few if you like it hot), and grill halves on a panini press (or grill). Once grilled, assembled sandwich on panini press, starting with bread, then jalapenos, bacon, cheese slices and top with second piece of bread (cream cheese side down). Grill for approx. 5 minutes, enjoy!

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