Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese

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Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-OnionSorry for the delay in scheduled programming this week, friends. I realize some of you may have been freaking out without me, but there was the whole President’s Day thing, and then my sister got hit by a car.

Relax, she’s fine, which makes it totally acceptable to laugh about today. Let’s discuss.

I snoozed past my alarm yesterday morning, but around 8:20 am, I finally decided to start my coffee and social media hour. I took a quick peek at my phone and immediately panicked. Four missed calls from my sister’s husband, Will, at 8 am? Either he was really annoyed that I hadn’t yet come over to look at their 1,512 honeymoon photos, or something was seriously wrong. Honestly, it was a toss-up.

Because I do not have voicemail (sorry), I immediately checked my texts. Will had sent the following:

Your sister just got hit by a car. She’s in ambulance right now. Please call me.


I immediately called him back and demanded to know what was going on. He said an SUV had hit Olivia while she was crossing the street with their dog and that they were currently in an ambulance on the way to Lenox Hill Hospital. Apparently, she was conscious but in pain, and she had not been jaywalking (which was obviously the first question I asked). I was too shocked to say anything other than, “I’m on my way!” before springing into action. I don’t really remember getting dressed, but I tripped over my suitcase from the weekend and knocked over at least six things in the bathroom before throwing several random items from the fridge into my purse (including a 2-pound bag of chia seeds, which was useless) and running out the door. I didn’t even brush my hair. Logan was confused.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-3The 3x normal fare Uber that I managed to procure at morning rush hour was a Godsend, since my anxiety was through ze roof. Weirdly enough, my sister is not the first person in my family to be hit by a car. My dad was mowed down by an SUV on Park Avenue circa 2004, and that one was bad. He had a shattered pelvis, a broken leg and all kinds of other scary injuries. (Don’t worry, he’s also fine now! Total spring chicken.) My sister already has enough health problems to sink a ship (Lupus, neuropathy, etc.), and the thought of adding broken bones and other serious injuries to her pre-existing issues was terrifying.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I burst into the ER to find my sister and Will SITTING IN CHAIRS in the waiting room and SMILING. “Hey! Thanks for coming!” they said. My pleasure? What the heck was going on? I mean, obviously I was happy to see that my sister wasn’t laid out on a bed connected to a bunch of monitors, but I was slightly perplexed given the nature of the aforementioned text/phone conversation re: getting hit by a car.

Turns out a BMW SUV had struck Olivia on her side at relatively low speed, knocking her to the pavement. According to my sister, the woman driving was about 60 years-old, very well-dressed and had clearly been distracted (MOM?!). An ambulance with some very friendly EMTs had come almost immediately, and good news! Those guys had told my sister that the morning is the best time to get hit by a car because wait times in the ER aren’t too bad. Glorious.

I was obviously very annoyed that my sister was just sitting in a chair, potentially bleeding internally while waiting for a doctor, but luckily one came by about ten minutes later. Olivia was asked what her pain level was, to which she responded, “4 or 5,” and the doctor promised she’d be back “shortly.” As soon as the doctor was out of earshot, Will and I chastised Olivia for her lackluster pain level response. “Why would you tell them anything less than a 9?!” I demanded. “I came to the ER with stomach pains once, and when they showed me the pain chart, I pointed to the sad face next to the 10! I threw in some tears and moans too! ‘4 or 5’ is like stubbing your toe. They’ll let you sit here all day! Also, stop telling the doctors that Pippin is fine. Nobody cares about Pippin right now!” (Pippin is her dog.)

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-2The problem with my sister is two-fold. First, she doesn’t like to complain (which I respect, but not in this situation), and second, she’s on so many meds for her auto-immune/chronic pain issues that she doesn’t experience pain like a normal person. Her “4 or 5” is my 11, so she can’t be trusted to assess her own situation. Will and I made sure to explain this to the doctor and nurse(s), who quickly began to dislike the two of us. We didn’t care.

All I can say is that the next nine hours were a hilarious clusterfuck. My sister was in and out of CT scans and X-rays, and she didn’t have her phone, so Will and I were fielding calls from my Mom, my Dad, my stepmom, my Dad’s assistant, roommates, medical people, family doctors etc. My mom finally showed up around 2 pm with 17 pounds of food and enough reading material for a month. Long story short, a few friends and many enemies were made in that waiting room, and I had a shocking amount of fun under the circumstances.

Throughout the day, there were a few scares. First, the doctor thought Olivia might have head trauma because of her headache. Thankfully, a head CT eliminated that possibility. Then they thought she had a displaced hip fracture because of an “inconclusive x-ray.” My sister did not like the sound of this, and she told me she didn’t want to have anything “popped back into a socket, like on Grey’s Anatomy.” I told her to relax because “displaced” was not the same as “dislocated.” She didn’t trust me at first, but I reminded her that I know what I’m talking about. I watched all 8 seasons of House. 

Around 5:30 pm, my sister was finally discharged. She’s a little bruised and battered, but not seriously worse for the wear, which is ridiculously lucky. Plus, the whole “getting hit by an SUV” thing led to a pretty entertaining and festive day of family bonding at the hospital. Excellent silver lining.

Full disclosure, when I wasn’t thinking about my sister yesterday, I was thinking about this Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese…

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-4I made this life-changing grilled cheese on Tuesday, and it was off-the-charts amazing. Tangy barbecue chicken, creamy avocado, sautéed red onions, fresh cilantro, and plenty of mozzarella and cheddar sandwiched between whole-wheat sourdough and grilled to crispy perfection? UNREAL. I know I’ve already detailed my grilled cheese fetish, so I’m trying to keep it together here, but this sandwich is beyond epic. It’s the type of thing that haunts you with its deliciousness for days after you eat it, especially when you’re sitting in a hospital waiting room for hours on end with nothing but an oversized bag of chia seeds in your purse.

I’m probably going to make another Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese today in honor of my sister being the second family member to cheat death by SUV. It’s a celebratory and comforting type of sandwich.

Get after it.

Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese: (Makes 3 Sandwiches)

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded chicken breast (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken, but feel free to roast or poach your own chicken breast.)
1/3 cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for dipping
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small avocado, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
6 slices bread of your choice (I strongly recommend whole wheat sourdough if you can get your hands on it.)
For Dipping: (optional)
Ranch Dressing
Barbecue Sauce

Preparing your Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese:

-Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small pan. When hot, add the thinly sliced red onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-1-In a small bowl, combine the shredded chicken breast and barbecue sauce.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-2-In a separate bowl, combine the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-3-Now it’s time to build your grilled cheeses! To assemble each sandwich: Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil (about 1 teaspoon per piece).

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-4-Place the bread oil-side down on a cutting board. Top one piece of bread with 1/3 cup of cheese and 1/3 cup of barbecue chicken.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-5-Add 1/3 of the sliced avocado.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-6-Then add 1/3 of the onions and 1 tablespoon of cilantro leaves.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-7-Top with another 1/3 cup of cheese in an even layer.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-8-Add the second piece of bread with the oil-side facing out (duh).

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-9-Heat a large non-stick pan or skillet over medium heat. When hot add the sandwiches and cover with a lid. Cook for about 4 minutes until the underside is golden brown.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-step-10-Flip the sandwiches and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Remove your grilled cheese from the pan and serve immediately with extra barbecue sauce or ranch dressing for shameless dipping.

Barbecue-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-with-Avocado-Cilantro-and-Red-Onion-6If you happen to char your grilled cheese a teensy-bit (see above), don’t panic. It still tastes BOMB. Who doesn’t like a little added crunch?

I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Comfort Food Feast this week. For more mind-blowing grilled cheese recipes, check out the blogs below.

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Lighted Up Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese
Blue Apron Blog: The Tastiest Grilled Cheese Fillings
Weelicious: Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini
Devour: Kelsey’s Decadent Grilled Cheese
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Inside Out Grilled Strawberry and Cheese Sandwiches
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Pimento Cheese with Instant Pickles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pork Stew in Port Wine Sauce with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Red or Green: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Three Pepper Cheese, Grilled Onions and Pickled Jalapenos
Dishing With Divya: Egg and Mushroom Cheese Sandwich
Taste With The Eyes: Bulgogi Panino with Kimchi, Cheddar and Ssamjang Mayo
Virtually Homemade: Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese with Bacon
The Sensitive Epicure: Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts and Thyme (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: 10 Grown-Up Grilled Cheeses

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  1. Ann on November 15, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    So good, I made these for dinner tonight, had to use guacamole as we didn’t have avocado. They were so good, best sandwich I have had in a long time. Made them without the onion and guac for the kids!

    • Serena Wolf on November 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Love to hear this, Ann! (I’ve used guacamole in a pinch too, and I think it may actually be better than straight up avocado, so good call.) And thrilled to hear there were kid-friendly versions made as well.

  2. myn on February 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Serena – I made these sandwiches last night and they were absolutely DELICIOUS. I never knew my efforts in the kitchen could result in something so amazing. The only thing I need for Sunday grocery trips now is your blog and the will-power to navigate through the Texas crowds at HEB.
    p.s. you were right, the only way to describe these sandwiches are BOMB. my fiancé thanks you!!

    • Serena_Wolf on February 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

      AH, this is excellent news! I could probably live on these grilled cheese and die happy, so I’m glad they were such a hit! I’m also thrilled to hear that you are becoming so domestic (the will-power to navigate through Sunday grocery crowds is truly impressive).

  3. Prudy Blank on February 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Thank goodness your sister is ok!!
    I love how you tell a story… you had me cracking up throughout (as you always do..) I swear you’re my twin sister (30 years apart..yeah, except that you got the looks and the youth!!), because I’d be thinking/saying the same things as you!
    Seriously though, I’m glad she’s ok..and that you can laugh about it, because the love you have for your family completely shines in your blog…And you know what? I’m glad that Pippin is ok too.
    The sandwich looks fabulous. I spent the day yesterday in the ER, so I’m thinking I’m in need of one of those sandwiches too. And a piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. And wine. And beer.

    • Serena_Wolf on February 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      Ahhh! Thank you, Prudy! This comment just made my day. I hope your ER visit wasn’t too painful and that you’re recovering. And yes, you deserve multiple grilled cheeses with at least as many cocktails. Hospitals really take it out of you. Also, we probably are twins because yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles is my all-time favorite (preferably made from a box, not even embarrassed to say that). xox

      • Prudy Blank on February 24, 2014 at 6:47 am

        Get out!! I freaking knew you were my looong lost twin… the cake just confirms it. Its my favorite.. I cant have it in the house often because I lose all control.. I eat until its gone. Like a dog. Well, I dont mean I eat like a dog… ok.. maybe once or twice… but I mean a dog will usually keep eating until the food is gone, growling at anyone who comes close to his food.. yeah, thats me with yellow cake with choc frosting and sprinkles. 🙂

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