waffle pressed pizza pockets

I take a deep breath when people ask me about the best pizza in New York City. My desk may be an overrun pile of papers, my cupboards an exercise in organized chaos, but my mind is a neatly organized rolodex of pizza, classified according to type (gas oven, coal oven, and wood-fired). So, I’m going to need some clarity on what kind of pizza you want my “best” opinion about. And you need to be willing to travel for it, because I don’t satisfy my pizza cravings based on proximity.

Then there’s this pizza I’m sharing with you today. It fits into none of the above categories. The pizza purist in me wants to slap myself, while the recipe developer side is giving a pat on the back. A few years back, Jennifer Carden wrote The Toddler Cafe cookbook. Her recipe for waffle grilled cheese was a total game changer, and fueled my quest to see what else I could use my waffle iron for besides simply making waffles. My girls love Amy’s pizza snacks (gasp, yes, I occasionally buy frozen food!). I used to buy them once a week as a treat for their lunch, but they’re pretty pricey. Then one day last spring I had the idea to use a few staples I always have in the house to make my own version of their beloved pizza pockets. As simple as that sandwich looks, it took a few tries to get the filling just right. Too much cheese, and you risk it oozing out. Too much sauce, and you’re stuck with a soggy sandwich. Don’t skimp on the Pecorino or Parmigiano cheeses either—they give it that sharp, salty tang kids love (at least my kids). I had to resist the urge to use a fancy country bread. A soft, sandwich style bread works best to create a seal to keep the filling inside. In a perfect world, I’d make my own pizza nuggets, as we call those Amy’s ones they love, from scratch (that’s been on my To Do list for a few years now). Until then, they’re quite happy with this ad hoc version.

You know, I have to admit that as I’m writing this, I feel a change in the air. The last few years you’ve all followed along on such a personal journey. It sounds odd, maybe even uncomfortable to say this, but I gained something in my loss. The way I let words flow from my mind, to my fingers, and then to these pages over the past three, almost four, years—it made me recognize myself as a writer. Perhaps I felt like there was nothing more to lose, so I just bared it all. But then I have moments like today where I really just want to share a recipe without much of a back story, or at least not a deeply moving story. I struggle with how to share those, having put myself in a box of sorts. Not every day can be prolific writing, but I don’t want that to stop me from sharing.

One last thing before I go. I’m working on the spring issue of Simple Scratch Cooking, and would love your feedback. It takes a good deal of effort to send out the print version, mainly because I’m a bit of a control freak. I like writing each label, and getting to know where all my readers live. That said, I’m seriously considering only offering a digital version starting with the spring issue next month. Another thought I had was to only offer print copies for annual subscribers (a few of you have inquired about this option, instead of ordering individual issues). Please chime in, and leave me a note in the comments with your thoughts about this.

That’s it for now folks. I’m working on my first loaf of gluten free sandwich bread, and need to go tend to that—fingers crossed!

One more, one last thing…thank you for all the enthusiasm and kindness you’ve shared in the comments on the last few posts. I’ve got the best cheerleading section ever, and could feel the love with every word.

Okay, now I’m off to work on that bread, for real.

Waffle Pressed Pizza Pockets

Serves 4

Music Pairing: Don’t Sweat the Technique by Eric B. & Rakim

Pizza in a pinch is how I usually describe these easy-to-make sandwiches.

8 slices soft white or whole wheat bread

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons marinara sauce (I use this recipe)

2 teaspoons grated Pecorino-Locatelli or Parmigiano cheese

Preheat a waffle iron.

Lay 4 slices of the bread on a counter or cutting board. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of mozzarella on each slice, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Pecorino or Parmigiano on top. Top with the remaining slices of bread.

Place the sandwiches into the waffle iron (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your iron). Close the lid, and cook until the sandwiches are golden, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the temperature setting of your waffle iron. Serve hot, or wrap in foil to pack in school lunch.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 to 4 minutes

Ease of preparation: easy


Active Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 7 to 9 minutes

Check out more inspiring twists on grilled cheese sandwiches from my friends participating in Food Network’s #ComfortFoodFeast this week:
The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Croque Monsieur Sandwiches
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Homemade Pizza Pockets
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Best Caramelized Mushroom and Pineapple Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Dishing With Divya: Egg and Mushroom Cheese Sandwich
The Cultural Dish: Croque Monsieur and Madame
Weelicious: Grilled Cheese Pickle Panini
Swing Eats: Mind-Blowing Grilled Cheese: Sriracha Ketchup, Kettle Potato Chips, Pickles, Sharp Cheddar (gluten-free)
Red or Green: Cheddar, Peppadew & Basil Panini
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Inside/Outside Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Avocado & Sundried Tomatoes
Taste with the Eyes: Grilled Halloumi Cheese Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream
Creative Culinary: Inside Out Grilled Cheese with Tomato
The Mom 100: Fork in the Road: Great Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Cheese Italian Style: Pepperoni and Parmesan Crust
FN Dish: 6 Gooey Grilled Cheeses You Can’t Live Without


  • Liesl

    Jennie, I just saw the bread in your tweet1 Gorgeous! I love the print version and think an annual subscription would be great. I love reading your posts, am so happy for you and your new love. I think it’s fine that not every post has a back story- though it is interesting and I love to read them when they do. You would think I get my fill hearing about others’ lives as I am a psychologist! But you and a few other bloggers always add to my day. Thank you.

  • Mabel

    i would love a subscription because then I could give it as gifts- I know several people I would like to give it to as a gift and I would love a digital version for myself!

  • Brandi

    I haven’t told you yet, but I am so very happy for you! When I read your pot roast post, I read it with a tear on my cheek. Even though we have never met, I feel like I have been with you in some way through your grief and now your renewal. I do wish you all of the happiness in the world!

    As far as Simple Scratch Cooking, I confess, I have never purchased a copy. I want the printed copy in my hands and every time I get around to ordering it–they are all sold out. I can, and might, try a digital copy but I am a girl who loves a cookbook. I can look up a recipe online in a pinch, but when I want to cook something–I usually surround myself with cookbooks choosing just the right recipe. (this afternoon it was chocolate cupcakes–my daughter is making them for a friend’s birthday–and after looking in about 8 books I chose yours)

    If you offered a subscription to the print version, I would subscribe.

  • Kara

    I have to admit, I kind of like the print but would certainly buy whatever you put out 🙂 I would absolutely buy a subscription.

    And, as for your writing, personal or recipe, I am happy whenever you are sharing something with us!

  • Cherie

    Isn’t it funny that you feel awkward just wanting to share a recipe on your food blog LOL? I’m so happy that your life is evolving in such a pleasant way lately – and this looks great.

  • anthea pena

    Hi Jennie
    you know I adore your recipes, posts & cookbook. I’m up for anything but love the annual subscription idea, however if we go digital only I’m up for that too! Sorry no help whatsoever.

  • Allie St. Pierre

    This is one of my favorite places to come for recipies, inspiration and hope.

    If you didn’t do a print run I would buy an electronic copy and print it my self. I love having my simple scratch cooking on my shelf with my cookbooks and easy to use when getting messy in the kitchen.

    If you offered an annual subscription, I’d by that too.

    I think what I’m trying to say is… if you make it, I will buy.

    Tonight’s dinner has been changed to anything i can make in my waffle iron.

  • Deborah Gray

    I’ve been following you from the peanut butter pie recipe days and although I’ve never commented before I devour every word you write. My daughter went through grief of her own (divorce that blindsided her 6 weeks after she had our first grandchild) and I realize from your story that there is hope that she will find the right person and be happy again. I want you to know that I appreciate your hand written labels and have mine attached proudly to the inside cover of my Simple Scratch Cooking magazines….like a connection between us. Please offer us a print copy, annual subscription would be fine and save me the worry I won’t get mine ordered before they run out!

  • Sue

    I love the hard copy and would definitely subscribe, but would do digital too if that’s the route you choose. Basically, we just want access to your wonderful recipes and writing!

  • Emily H.

    I’m a girl who loves a hard copy, so I would prefer the annual subscription option. However, if you decide to go all-digital, I would still purchase that, too! I’m a big fan of yours…I love your cookbook, blog, and magazine. You’ve taught me a lot over the years about slowing down and cooking from the heart. Thank you for sharing!

  • Theresa

    Hey Jennie!
    I would gladly do an annual subscription. I have to be physically reminded of the things I like to cook…haha!

  • Laura JOhnson

    I prefer hard copy. Honestly would probably not subscribe if it was digital only. I would prefer annual subscription over paying quarterly. Just so you know – when you mail out your cookbook it needs to be protected so the corners do not get damaged. I was able to fix mine with those little corner protectors, but I just thought you should know. Love you!

  • Antonia James

    Digital only would be great! A woman of your talent should not be labeling anything other than bulk items going into your pantry, and freezer items. If people really want hard copy, the annual subscription option sounds fair; in that case, I recommend that you have your older daughter teach herself (if you can’t teach her) how to set up an address data base and to create labels from it on your computer; then pay her to handle all of the sticking of labels and stuffing of the envelopes. ;o)

  • Ailene

    I would like to have the printed version of Simple Scratch Cooking for annual subscribers. I guess I am from the old school but I really don’t like the digital version of books or magazines. Looking forward to your Spring edition!

  • PamelaSue

    I have to say I have ordered each print edition and I love it. I would definitely subscribe to annual subscription without thinking twice!

  • Kristen

    I love the hard copy as well…something you can keep, and leaf through again and again. Very much enjoyed it! This recipe looks fun–can’t wait to try!

  • Carol H.

    Jennie, The first time I ever read your blog was the “Peanut Butter Pie” one. Your grief was so raw and honest and you showed such courage in sharing it with the world. Over the years I’ve watched you grow, move forward, take a step (or two) backwards, and go forward again. I’ve laughed with you, cried with you and shared your sorrows and joys. In case you don’t already know it, you’re an amazing woman, mother, cook, friend. Keep stretching your wings, dear one, and never doubt you CAN do it. Trust in yourself and in your instincts. They will never lead you astray. You inspire us all with your courage and humor.

  • Radhika

    I like the print edition. How much will it cost me? Money is kinda tight so I need to know how much before I can commit to it. Sorry.

  • Patricia

    Thanks, Carol H for saying almost exactly what my thoughts are. I also found you with the Peanut Butter Pie one and have been here ever since. Would love an annual subscription as I so enjoy all your publications, including your cookbook. Follow your heart….it knows where to lead you.

  • Amy

    I love the print version. I have never gotten into Kindle, Nook, etc. because I love holding a book in my hands. Same goes for your mini cookbooks! But, if you decide to go all digital, I’d adapt. 🙂