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My not-so-secret grilled cheese recipe

Written by on August 26, 2019

Whether you eat it as a meal or a snack, it can be hard to beat the ooey, gooey sensation of a real grilled cheese.

I recently had the chance to test my sandwich skills at the Crawford County Dairy Breakfast Grilled Cheese experience where chefs in three different age categories combined their finest ingredients to impress a panel of judges. Being in the adult specialty category myself, I knew I couldn’t cut the crust on quality.

Anyone who knows radio personalities will realize there are no better subjects to try recipes, so bringing my skillet and ingredients into the station, I put Phil to work finding the perfect combination.

KQ98’s official taste-tester Phil Costigan samples the recipes.

The first grilled cheese sandwich, which I called Cranberry Delight, featured two of Wisconsin’s top products: cranberries and cheese. The sweet, tangy cranberry butter spread paired nicely with the savory cheese and bacon (I’ll share the recipes at the bottom of this post!).

Bringing more unexpected ingredients to the table, the second sandwich, Granny Smith’s Surprise, combined the tart flavors of a Granny Smith Apple with the mild tastes of swiss and smoked gouda cheese. We tried a couple of variations of this particular recipe using both bacon and ham.

Taking second place in the contest, I at least had the chance to cook in style thanks to the organizers of the event!

Ultimately, we decided Cranberry Delight would be the best entry, and I drove into the fairgrounds in Gays Mills confident in the uniqueness of my grilled cheese. Boy was I wrong! I had never seen so many fresh ideas or tasted as many unique flavors. From dessert sandwiches featuring cheddar cheese and apple pie filling on sweet bread to dishes that required more ingredients than a five-course meal, I was lucky to scrape by with second place in my age division! (P.S. the winning entry was a DELICIOUS french-onion grilled cheese sandwich).

Although you’ll have to settle for second place, I’ve shared my not-so-secret recipe below as well as the recipe for Granny Smith’s Surprise! Now, I’m asking for inspiration for next year’s competition. What’s your favorite grilled cheese recipe? Leave a comment below!

Cranberry Delight


  • Sourdough Bread
  • Wisconsin Medium Cheddar Cheese
  • Wisconsin Colby Cheese
  • Dried Wisconsin Cranberries
  • Bacon
  • Salted Butter
  • Cranberry Butter
    • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen Wisconsin cranberries
    • 1/4 cup Wisconsin honey
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • Zest from orange
Cranberry Delight


  • Prepare Cranberry Butter
    • In a small saucepan, cook cranberries, honey and orange zest for 8-10 minutes, or until cranberries are tender. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
    • Combine cranberry sauce with butter (can mix by hand or whip with a hand mixer).
  • Shred desired amount of cheese
  • Cover outside pieces of bread with salted butter
  • Spread cranberry butter on the inner pieces
  • Add cheese, dried cranberries, and bacon and assemble sandwich
  • Cook on skillet until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown
  • Enjoy!

Granny Smith’s Surprise


  • Sourdough Bread
  • Wisconsin Swiss Cheese
  • Wisconsin Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Bacon (or Ham)
  • Granny Smith Apple
  • Whole Grain Mustard
  • Salted Butter


  • Shred desired amount of cheese
  • Slice apples into thin pieces
  • Cover outside pieces of bread with salted butter
  • Spread whole-grain mustard
  • Add cheese, apple slices, and bacon and assemble sandwich
  • Cook on skillet until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown
  • Enjoy!

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