Spicy Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese

My best friend Jess and I have a relationship that borders on unhealthy.  We met as dorm next door neighbors our sophmore year of college, and by the end of our senior year we were literally spending 72 hours at a time together.  I'm talking sleeping over at each other's houses like 4 year olds, eating lunch together, going shopping together, joined-at-the-hip-weirdo friends.  Of course since college we've been forced to cut the umbilical cord a little bit (I'm sure neither her nor my boyfriend would be thrilled with exclusively double dates), but we still try to get together as much as possible.  This weekend we had the rare opportunity to spend more than 24 hours together again and it. was. glorious. All of Sunday was essentially devoted to a law and order SVU marathon, coupled with the creation of epically delicious comfort food.  I headed up the soup project, Jess took control of the grilled cheese, and then we ate everything in sight.  This soup is pretty spicy (cut back on the red pepper flakes for less burn), but paired perfectly with our more mild grilled cheese.  Jess made the grilled cheese on a caramelized onion focaccia, and used both sharp cheddar and mozzarella to get the perfect degree of ooey-gooey-goodness.  Seriously so good.

(recipes and more photos after the jump)

Spicy Tomato Bisque (about 4 servings)
1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/4 C milk
4 oz Cream Cheese
Salt to taste
Fresh graded Parmesan to garnish

1) In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together tomato puree, red pepper flakes, black pepper, basil, and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

2) Whisk in the cream cheese until well blended, then stir in the milk.  Heat throughout without bringing to a boil.  Season with salt, and serve with parmesan as a garnish.

Grilled Cheese
Carmelized onion focaccia, sliced
Sharp cheddar cheese

1) Jess swears the key to perfectly browned sandwiches is to melt the butter in the pan, rub the bread on the melted butter, and then cook....in more butter.  Butter is a vegetable right??

2) After buttering all of your bread, layer the cheese onto one buttered piece in the pan, top with another slice, and cover the whole thing with a lid to compress the sandwich slightly.  (cheese is a vegetable too)

3) Once cheese begins to look smooth, flip the sandwich and toast on the other side.  Once the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, cut in half and serve.

(Jess, you are a grilled cheese master)

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