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Grilled Cheese at The Counter

Grilled Cheese with Ham and Onion Rings

Put this one in the category of things I miss about Southern California that I never thought I would.

In Pasadena, we had a branch of the restaurant chain The Counter. There are several locations spread throughout the states, but if you’ve never heard of it before, The Counter is a hamburger place I’ve mentioned here before. You have several options such as choosing the type of protein you’d like, the type of bun, cheese, toppings etc., to truly make a customized burger. They also have the best Parmesan fries. I think they add rosemary. Truly insane.

Before we moved to Nevada, we went through and checked on the location of all of our favorite chains to see if they had one in Las Vegas. In most cases, we were pretty lucky including our favorite sushi place, Kabuki, and quick bites like Chipotle, Blaze and Pizza Rev. We also felt we were gaining so many great restaurants on the Strip, we really wouldn’t miss anything. 

So imagine my disappointed when only a few months in, we started realizing the things we missed. Chick-fil-a? There wasn’t one, but luckily within a few weeks of realizing this was missing, two were opened. 

We knew one of our breakfast favorites, Urth Caffe, didn’t have a location, but then we heard the news that one will be opening early next year. 

Then one day I got an email from The Counter, and at the time, I really didn’t think anything of it. A few days later, I looked to see if there was one close by. No. Now I love burgers; I think they should be their own food group, but I had found so many other great burger places, whenever we went to The Counter, I actually began ordering other things off the menu, and that was when I found their grilled cheese. As much as I love burgers, I think I love grilled cheese even more. And this grilled cheese with ham and an onion ring inside with a side of bbq sauce was just life changing. I mean I immortalized it on my phone. 

Last week when I was cleaning pictures out of my phone, I found this one, and suddenly all I can think about is The Counter. Unfortunately I would have to drive to Arizona, California or Idaho to visit one, but I kept thinking about this grilled cheese. Obsessed, I went to look at the menu online and found that this particular grilled cheese that has haunted my dreams is no longer on their menu. I probably don’t need a recipe to recreate it, but I have found the cookbook Grilled Cheese Kitchen, and now there could be be much experimentation while I look for my new favorite. 


Gift Guide // For the Ice Cream Lover

Probably one of my favorite gift ideas, I’ve used this ice cream gift for several different occasions over the years including weddings, housewarmings, anniversaries, and birthdays. I mean, who doesn’t love ice cream, and these days, buying an ice cream maker is probably not high on most people’s list of needs, but they are always good to have on hand for family events with kids. I love seeing the looks on their faces when you pour in the base and within a few minutes serve them a bowl of delicious creaminess and let them lick the beaters.

Another great aspect of this gift is that it can be customized for your budget very easily. You could start with the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker which by itself is a lovely gift. This is the maker I had for years which is based around a canister that you freeze prior to placing it into the machine. The hardest thing about using this model is making space in the freezer for the canister and remembering to freeze it ahead of time.

A nice add on to the maker is the Ben & Jerry’s book. I’ve had my copy of this book for over 20 years, and I think I’ve made everything in it by this point. Basically, this book teaches you how to make your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor at home. Ever felt like there wasn't enough chocolate in your chunky monkey? Now you have the power to add more by customizing the recipe. 

If you are looking for a maker that doesn’t require pre-freezing the canister, the Cuisinart Ice 100 brings the ultimate in convenience. Because it has a self-contained compressor, it will even keep your ice cream frozen while you are serving it to avoid that immediate melt you get with most makers. The Ice 100 has a lift up panel on the lid for ease of adding those mix ins that the Ben & Jerry’s are famous for. 

If you want to add even more to your gift basket, these MacKenzie-Childs ice cream bowls are both practical and decorative. The glaze over steel construction means your treats will melt more slowly especially if you place the bowls in the freezer before serving. They are hand painted with an adorable and whimsical check and stripe black and white print. 

Finally the ultimate luxurious part of the gift is the Mary Jurek Helyx ice cream scoop. Not your traditional ice cream scoop design, this one is more of a mini ice scoop, creating great slabs of ice cream for your bowls. 

Whichever configuration you choose for your gift, the recipient will be thrilled with the potential of sweet treats.