Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition. In her long-standing capacity as a Newsday columnist, Contributing Editor for Cooking Light, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, restaurant critic, recent columnist for several leading magazines (Better Homes & Gardens, Prevention); regular contributor to many magazines, (including Self, More, Coastal Living, and Relish) and frequent guest on television and radio, Perry is an accessible and authoritative guide for anyone who cooks, eats and travels.

In addition to Dinner Tonight, the cookbook based on her daily Newsday column, Ms. Perry has contributed recipes and text to nearly 20 other food and nutrition books. Her articles have been syndicated internationally in magazines and books, and her recipes have appeared on the Television Food Network and numerous television news segments.

Perry teaches cooking and food writing at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, food writing at mediabistro.com, and is a guest lecturer at the culinary management graduate school at New York University. Her extensive involvement with the food industry ranges from writing and reporting about cooking and nutrition, chefs, restaurants, growers, producers and manufacturers; restaurant reviewing; menu consulting; consumer trend analysis; and volunteering to bring food and cooking/nutrition know-how to those in need. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Libby Hillman Award for Culinary Excellence and the Food Writers’ Symposium scholarship and the Association of Food Journalists Award for Best Food Essay for an ode to her mother and strawberry-frosted cupcakes.

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TIP: "Light" bread, be it whole wheat, white or potato bread, works beautifully for grilled cheese sandwiches -- and saves calories.

Grilled cheese sandwiches can be light enough for a snack or lunch, or hearty enough for dinner. Pair any of these with a salad or vegetable and you have a complete, fast and easy meal.

GRILLED CHEESE, APPLE AND BACON SANDWICH

2 slices center-cut bacon

1 1/2 ounces Irish Cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices

2 slices whole-wheat bread

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1/2 apple, cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1. Cook bacon in medium skillet; remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

2. While bacon cooks, place the cheese on one slice of bread.

3. Add the apple slices to the pan with the bacon drippings and cook until lightly browned on each side (a total of about 4 minutes). Place the apples on the cheese and top with the bacon slices. Close the sandwich with the second slice of bread and place in the hot skillet. Cook until browned on the underside, about 2 minutes; flip and cook until browned on the underside again and the cheese is melted. Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 442 calories, 23 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 20 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 811 mg sodium 

ENLIGHTENED GRILLED CHEESEE

1 1/2 ounces light Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

2 slices light whole-wheat bread

2 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato

2 teaspoons butter, divided

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1. Assemble the sandwich: Place the cheese on one slice of the bread, top with the tomato (cutting as necessary to fit) and close the sandwich.

2. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwich and cook until golden brown on the underside, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and swirl the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter in the pan until melted; add the sandwich uncooked side facing down and cook until the cheese is melted and the underside golden, about 2 minutes longer. Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 265 calories, 17 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 14 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 563 mg sodium

BUFFALO-STYLE GRILLED CHEESE AND CHICKEN SANDWICH

1/2 cup cooked, coarsely chopped chicken breast

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1 tablespoon red-hot pepper sauce, divided

2 slices light potato bread

1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) finely crumbled blue cheese

1 tablespoon butter

1. Toss the chicken with about half the hot sauce.

2. Brush the remaining hot sauce on one side of a slice of bread and top with the cheese. Place the chicken on the cheese and top with remaining slice of bread.

3. Melt about half the butter in a small, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwich and cook until the underside is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sandwich and swirl the remaining butter in the pan until it melts. Add the sandwich back to the pan, uncooked side facing down, and cook until the cheese is melted and the underside is golden, another 2 to 3 minutes. Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 418 calories, 32 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 24 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 1,149 mg sodium