Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese {Cleveland, Ohio}

This Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese is an easy way to enjoy all the flavors of the classic pepperoni pizza, in a crispy, buttery grilled sandwich!

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I like to refer to this Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese as “Hatti’s Grilled Cheese”, since she’s the one who made this sandwich famous in our kitchen. Our daughter often picks up on recipes she sees on social media and in a variety of print magazines, and then proceeds to introduce the rest of us to her findings. Which I love. It gives me a little slack in the weekly menu planning, plus it’s a fun way to try new recipes that other family members find interesting.

This pepperoni pizza grilled cheese is all kinds of awesome. Thank you, Hatti, for making this fun sandwich a regular lunch in our home!


I thought that now was the perfect time to share this recipe, upon my return from Cleveland with the American Dairy Association Mideast. I joined them for their #OHDairyAdventure, where we ate lunch at Melt Bar & Grilled (featured on Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). You wouldn’t believe all the over-the-top grilled cheese sandwiches that are cranked out of that place! For more about my trip to Cleveland, be sure to read to the end of this post.

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Hatti has always been the one to make these sandwiches around here. I just ensure that we have pepperoni and Mozzarella cheese on hand, and she’s good to go. So when I was preparing to create these myself, while Hatti was at school, I texted her to make sure I got her method just right. Good thing I did, or I would have completely skipped the sprinkling of Italian herb seasoning over the butter. Such a crucial flavor component!

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

For this particular set of sandwiches, I picked up a loaf of just-baked roasted garlic and onion bread from the bakery of our local Hy-Vee grocery store. That bread added another layer of flavor that I’d recommend if you can find some. Otherwise, just use your favorite sandwich bread.

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

See those pools of crispy melted Mozzarella at the base of these sandwiches? That’s the stuff that Hatti lives for in a good grilled cheese. She’s even been known to place pieces of cheese on the griddle, to crisp-ify all on their own. Little crispy cheese snack rewards for the chef. Smart girl.  :)

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

We usually just eat these buttery griddle-crisped sandwiches all on their own, no dipping sauce. But every now and then we’ll pop open a jar of pizza sauce, which adds a whole new pizza lovin’ experience. The decision is all yours. To dip, or not to dip?!

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • good sandwich bread (bakery bread with roasted garlic and/or onion is especially good!)
  • salted butter
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • mozzarella slices
  • pepperoni
  • pizza sauce, optional for dipping

Directions:

This is more of a set of guidelines than an actual recipe. I provided a list of ingredients without quantities, so that you can make each sandwich according to preference. Like it super cheesy? Then add a few extra slices of cheese. Like it super meaty? Then up the pepperoni. Make it your own.

Heat a griddle or your favorite pan (we love to use a stove top cast iron griddle) over medium heat.

Prepare sandwich by buttering one side of two pieces of bread, and then sprinkling the butter with Italian herb seasoning. Arrange one piece of bread with the buttered side down and layer Mozzarella and pepperoni over the top. Top with the other piece of bread, buttered side up. Repeat to make additional sandwiches, if desired. Place prepared sandwich on hot griddle, flipping only after the bottom side is golden and crispy to your liking. Remove from heat when the second side is golden and crispy, and the cheese is gooey and melted. Slice sandwich in half and serve hot. Dip in pizza sauce, if desired.

from a farmgirl's dabbles

Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

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ohdairyadventure

Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland, OH from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I am always up for visiting a new city, hanging out with blogging friends, and taking in the opportunity to learn something new. So when the American Dairy Association Mideast invited me to join them for a couple days in Cleveland, I cleared my calendar and booked a flight.

Hyatt Regency at the Arcade in Cleveland, OH - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

We stayed at the historic Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade. The main atrium was absolutely gorgeous, with a flooding of natural light from above, plus beautiful woodwork and detailed metal railings. My room was spacious and comfortable, with a lovely integration of the modern world into its impressive older space.

West Side Market in Cleveland, OH from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Arriving in Cleveland a few hours prior to the official #ohdairyadventure kick-off, Christin and I seized the opportunity to do a little exploring. We caught up on life during lunch at Great Lakes Brewing Company and explored West Side Market next door. This is Cleveland’s oldest public market, home to over 100 vendors. We saw a bit of everything there: meat, seafood, cheese, baked goods, fresh vegetables, homemade pastas, and fresh flowers. And did I mention meat? So. Much. Meat!

#ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Then the #ohdairyadventure began with a private cheese pairing event. We were challenged to savor and think about how the selected wines and beers paired up with different cheeses. I have to say that this kind of thing is right up my alley. I love the chance to experiment, and this was both delicious and fun. This activity also introduced us to a few of the wonderful cheeses we would encounter IRL the following day at Pearl Valley Cheese.

#ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The next morning we were on the bus bright and early. Although really it was dark and very, very early. We headed out into rural Ohio to learn firsthand about dairy farming from the farmers themselves.

Both of the dairies we visited are 5th generation dairy farms, very impressive. We were able to talk with each of the family farmers and learn about their day-to-day operations, and the similarities and differences in milking 80 head of cattle at Richman Farms compared to 690 head of cattle at Clardale Farms.

Each of these dairies was uniquely different, yet at the core, very similar. Every dairy farmer has to adhere to the same high standards and regulated guidelines for food safety – no ifs, ands, or buts. But the main takeaway for me was how much both farms care – really care – about providing fresh, nutritious milk to consumers (and to themselves – they really do love their milk!) while also providing comfort to their cows and sustainability to their own land and the land around them.

Ohio Amish country - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Ohio dairy country is beautiful, green, and rolling, with a large Amish community. We were treated to a full Amish lunch at one of these farms. Our meal included platters of tender, flavorful chicken and beef, plus bowls of cole slaw, green beans, noodles, and super creamy and buttery mashed potatoes. There was also fresh baked bread and a wonderful sweet peanut butter spread. And lots and lots of homemade pie.

Pearl Valley Cheese from Ohio - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Ohio ranks nationally as #1 in Swiss cheese production and #10 in all cheese production. So it wouldn’t have been a true Ohio dairy adventure without a visit to a local cheese maker. Right?!

This stack of cheese, my only souvenir from this trip, is from Pearl Valley Cheese, a family-owned company that has been passed down through four generations of cheesemakers over 80 years. Pearl Valley Cheese manufactures Swiss and Colby cheese varieties as well as distributes many other cheeses. My family has been particularly fond of their bacon cheese, and I especially like their lacey baby Swiss.

FirstEnergy Stadium and Cleveland Browns - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Joe Thomas, tackle for the Cleveland Browns, is an advocate for empowering youth to improve nutrition and physical activity. He does this through Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program from the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in cooperation with USDA. Joe and his sweet and spunky young daughter, along with Avery Diedrick, who serves on the National Youth Council for Fuel Up to Play 60, joined us for an evening at FirstEnergy Stadium. We had the field to ourselves, and dined right on the sidelines. It was a beautiful fall evening under the stars, and a very fun atmosphere to learn more about this program.

Cleveland elementary school breakfast program - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

To see firsthand how Fuel Up to Play 60 is making a difference in the city of Cleveland, we visited a local elementary school where breakfast was added as a daily option due to this program. We ate breakfast in the classrooms with these kids and took a tour of the school garden that they are so proud of.

Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland, OH - #ohdairyadventure with American Dairy Association Mideast - from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Last stop: Melt Bar & Grilled, my inspiration for sharing about our daughter’s Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese. Chef Matt Fish joined us for lunch as he introduced us to a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches. I can’t even begin to explain how crazy awesome his list of sandwich creations is. Take a look at his menu to see for yourself. Every sandwich was tall and beautiful and perfectly grilled, works of art. My favorite was the Monte Christo. I loved how the berry preserves contrasted with the savory meats and cheeses.

And the sandwich above is the Melt Challenge, the grilled cheese that made Man vs. Food book a flight to Cleveland. This sandwich weighs over 5 pounds! It features 13 different cheeses and 3 slices of grilled bread, served on a platter with fries and slaw. Anyone who takes on the challenge, finishing every last bite (including the fries and slaw) without any help or trips to the bathroom, is awarded with Melt prizes. Hmmmm…not worth it for me. But if you give it a go, please come back here to tell me about it!!

 

Thank you to ADA Mideast for inviting me on their #ohdairyadventure. I was not required to write this post – I simply wanted to share about my experience. All opinions are my own.