Robin Anish | The Table is Set: Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup go hand-in-hand

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My heart is in it, but I'm exhausted. It's been a fun week, but I'm not as young as I used to be. My exhaustion is reminiscent of running around after my children when they were toddlers.

Yes, it has been a week of exhaustion, but a week of the best hugs and snuggles a grandma could ever want! I've been babysitting my 3-year-old grandson while mom and dad are taking a few well-deserved days off.

Because my grandson lives several hours away, I invited family to come over to see him, and for him to have some crazy-fun playtime with the cousins he loves and doesn't see nearly enough of.

I can't have company without feeding them, but, believe me, I wasn't going to have time to do much cooking, so I came up with an easy menu that took very little time or effort on my part, a grilled-cheese party.

The plan was to offer guests a variety of items to put together their own custom-grilled cheese sandwich. I made a quick trip to the market and hit the deli for some good smoked ham and chicken, thinly sliced, American, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, good deli mustard and coleslaw. A few tomatoes to slice, precooked bacon. hearty loaves of white and rye bread and my shopping was pretty much done. I just needed to grab some peanut butter and grape jelly for the kids to make grilled peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. A cheesecake from Sarah's Cheesecake on Elm Street in Pittsfield made the perfect dessert for a grilled cheese-themed party.

All I had to do was set up an electric griddle and put out plenty of butter so guests could grill their own sandwiches.

Of course, a grilled-cheese sandwich is nothing without tomato soup, so I came up with this quick-and-easy tomato soup recipe that is a cut above the standard canned tomato soup.

QUICK-AND-EASY CREAMY TOMATO SOUP

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INGREDIENTS:

2 family-sized cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade

1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients except the cream, along with one soup can of water. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in heavy cream. If soup is too thick, add more water and add more cream if you like a creamier soup. Keep warm in a crockpot for serving.

The grilled-cheese party was a delicious success and I was easily able to pull it off — even with an energetic little 3-year-old running around here and there, and everywhere! He's the love of my life!


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