I've never mastered the skillet, so when I'm in the mood for grilled cheese I have to rely on the toaster oven. Fortunately, creative spreads and toppings can make the toasted version taste (almost) as good as its fried cousin.

    • Two slices of good bread (whole grain if you're feeling healthy; sourdough or challah if you're just going for taste)
    • Good cheese, sliced thin and piled about half an inch high—if you cut the cheese too thick, it won't melt properly, but if you don't put enough on, it won't be satisfying. Putting lots of thin slices between the bread solves that problem
    • A topping of choice. Tomato and bacon are classic additions to grilled cheese, but over the years I've also enjoyed pesto (which goes well with Swiss), artichokes (a good pairing with mozzarella), and honey and apples (try with goat cheese and you won't eat anything else during the fall apple season)

Cut two thick slices of bread. If using a spread, slather both sides of bread with it. If using a topping, put a little bit on each piece of bread. Add cheese and put pieces of bread together.

Put sandwich in toaster oven on the darkest setting possible. Remove from oven and enjoy!

*Note: If you don't have a toaster oven, toast the bread in a conventional toaster before adding cheese and topping. After assembling sandwich, place it in the microwave for 45 seconds, or until cheese is melted.