Chicken Caesar Panini

I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite kitchen appliance is my Panini press. Not only can you make amazing sandwiches and desserts on it but you can also grill other things as well (like the cooked chicken for the recipe could easily be cooked on the Panini press, shrimp, veggies…) without going into the scorching Arizona summer heat. Well, when we first got married, the only salad my husband liked was Caesar salad, so it’s what I ended up making a lot for dinner. We would go through quite a lot of salad dressing and I was always trying new and different brands of Caesar dressing. One day I found Brianna’s Home Style Caesar Dressing with Asiago Cheese… I don’t know what it is about it, but the only thing better than this dressing is real homemade (and not to dis anybody, but I’ll bet it’s even better than some homemade kinds). My husband is a highschool English teacher and the topic of deconstructing narratives often comes up in normal everyday conversation, which got me thinking that I could deconstruct a Caesar salad and make a Caesar Panini! We add avocado and tomato because we love it that way and usually add both to our Caesar salads…but you, by all means, don’t have to since they aren’t traditionally in Caesar salad!

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Original Recipe by Goodies & Guests

Makes: 2 Sandwiches

Ingredients:

4 Slices of sturdy bread (sourdough or whatever is your favorite)

6 slices of Bacon, cooked & crumbled (click here to see how to cook it in the oven)

1 Chicken Breast, cooked & shredded (try using this grilled marinated chicken)

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

4 TBS Caesar Dressing (I highly recommend Brianna’s Home Style Caesar with asiago cheese)

1 Avocado, thinly sliced (optional)

1 Tomato, de-seeded and thinly sliced (optional) Click here to see how to easily de-seed a tomato.

Instructions:

Step 1: Take your 4 slices of bread and spread 1 TBS of the Caesar dressing on each slice.

Step 2: If you’re using avocado and/or tomato, put these on top of the bottom slice of bread.

Step 3: Next put ½ of the shredded chicken breast on each sandwich and the bacon on top of the chicken.

Step 4: Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top, close the lid and place on the Panini press for 4-5 minutes, or until the bread is toasty golden and the cheese is melting.

Step 5: Cut in half and serve.

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July 12, 2010. Tags: , , , . Lunch, Recipes. 4 comments.

Sandwich Rolls

You know those little sandwich rolls they serve at graduation receptions, baby showers, 50th wedding anniversaries….? Well there are some days when my craving for them is unquenchable. I had tried to made them a few time but whenever I used round tortillas, not only did they fall apart but it just wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Then one glorious day as I was wondering through Trader Joes, I spied with my little eye something that would change my life forever.

LAVASH BREAD

It’s a rectangular flat bread. It’s a smidge sturdier than flour tortillas and the perfect shape to make rolls. Ahhhh, I could finally fulfill my craving for those amazing sandwich rolls. These can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in the fridge and they are great for picnics.

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Makes: 1 roll    Serves: 2 if eating as a sandwich or 4 if an appetizer.

Ingredients:

1 piece of Lavash Flat Bread

2-3 Leaves Romaine Lettuce (just the top half, spine removed)

Salmon Cream Cheese (to taste)

½ Avocado

5 slices of Swiss Cheese (or Jarlsberg cheese)

1 Tomato… de-seeded

3-4 Ham Slices

Instructions:

Step 1: Spread cream cheese on one entire side of the bread.

Step 2: Place the lettuce on top of the cream cheese leaving 3 inches on one side of the bread (By leaving some space at one side, the rolls will hold their shape better).

Step 3: Next fold the cheese slices in half (so they roll well) and put them on the lettuce.

Step 4: Place the tomatoes and avocados on the cheese. (If you are making these a day or 2 in advance, drizzle a little lemon juice on the avocado to keep them from going brown). Make sure you take the seeds out of the tomato or the roll will get soggy. I’ve found that a straw works well to scrape seeds out of a tomato. Click here to see pictures of how to de-seed a tomato.

Step 5: Place the ham on top of everything (still leaving 3 inches at one end).

Step 6: Roll the sandwich slowly and as tight as possible and wrap them in plastic wrap (this helps them hold their shape and not unwrap when you serve them). For best results, let them sit in the fridge for about an hour)

Step 7: Unwrap them from the plastic wrap and cut them in 1.5 inch pieces.

Serve and watch them fly off the plate

July 6, 2010. Tags: , . Appetizers, Lunch, Recipes. 2 comments.

Ham & Cheese Panini

Our panini press is probably my favorite kitchen wedding gift of all time. It turns a simple sandwich into a 5 star little bistro experience. I’ve found that almost anything can be thrown between two pieces of good bread and once its paninied, it’s delicious.

This however is one of my favorites.

Ingredients:

Bread (2 slices per sandwich, I prefer sourdough)

2 TBS Pesto (per sandwich)

smidge of mayo (optional)

2 slices of honey ham (per sandwich)

5 basil leaves (per sandwich)

2 slices provolone or swiss cheese (Jarlsberg is the BEST but a little pricey)

1/2 avocado (per sandwich)

1 tomato (per sandwich…I use Roma tomatoes)

First: turn on panini press to the highest setting possible

Second: now really all you need to do is assemble the sandwich. The order I put them in is:

bread

pesto

tomatoes

basil

avocado

ham

cheese

smidge of mayo

bread

really, the order doesn’t matter a whole lot…it’s important though to put the cheese right next to a slice of bread so it melts well (half melted cheese is no beuno)

Note: I never butter the outside of the bread because it toasts well without it and I choose to do without the added calories.

Third: once the panini press is heated up place the sandwich is the middle of the grill and leave it for about 5 minutes or until the bread to a toasty golden color.

Finally: slide the beautiful panini onto a plate, cut in half, let cool for about a minute, and enjoy!!!

June 28, 2010. Tags: , , . Lunch. 1 comment.

BLT Quesadilla

Ok, I know, I know… technically it’s a BBT Quesadilla because instead of (L)ettuce its (B)asil. Who wants lettuce in a quesadilla? Ewwwww.

Remember your mom making you quesadillas as a kid? Well this is like that but for adults. Hmmmm melted cheese with mouth watering bacon, refreshing tomato, and buttery avocado.

I like to use the extra big tortillas from Trader Joe’s because you can load it up and not worry about things falling out the side. It’s simple and tastes like a million bucks.

Servings: 1 quesadilla (serves 2 people, especially if you’re serving it with something else).

Ingredients:

2 large flour tortillas

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

3 slices bacon – crumbled

1/2 avocado – cubed

8 or 9  button mushrooms (completely optional but it really does add a nice touch)

1 small roma tomato- seeded and chopped

2 TBS butter + a smidge

4 or 5 basil leaves – juilliened

First: take a baking sheet (the one with ridges) and cover it with tin foil and place the bacon on the sheet

Second: place the baking sheet in the oven THEN turn the oven on to 400 degrees. By placing the bacon in a cold oven then heating it, the bacon turns perfectly crispy. Cook the bacon for ABOUT 15 minutes but this depends on how quickly your oven heats. Once it looks crisp, its ready to take out and place on a paper towel to drain. Then crumble it with your fingers or chop it. (The first 2 steps can be done a day or so in advance or if you’re really short on time I guess you can just use bacon bits)

Third: while the bacon bakes, saute your mushrooms in a smidge of butter over medium/low heat for about 8-10 minutes (if they start browning they’re done!!! so take them out). This will get all the water out of the mushrooms and won’t get the quesadilla soggy.

Forth: remove the seeds from your tomato. I’ve found the easiest way to remove seeds is to use a straw and scrape the seeds out with it  (don’t slurp the seeds out, you’re just using the straw as a tool. Also, I’ve found that its better to use a sturdy straw rather than a flimsy one). But if I had one of those nifty seeding spoons I’d probably use that. Then chop into medium sized chunks.

Fifth: take 1 TBS butter and melt in the the bottom of a big pan on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, put 1 tortilla in the pan and move the tortilla around a bit to make sure the butter is evenly spread.

Sixth: take half the cheese and pit on top of the tortilla…this should make a good layer of cheese. If you need more, go for it. Then evenly sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on the cheese. Finally, put the last half of cheese on top of the goodies. Don’t put the top tortilla on just yet. I find that everything cooks better if you leave it off till you need it. (picture below doesn’t have the second cup of cheese yet)

Seventh: Let it sit for about 5-7 minutes checking the tortilla side on the pan to make sure it isn’t burning. Once it’s a golden brown, put the 2nd tortilla on top of the cheese. Now… I absolutely suck at flipping things and this loaded quesadilla is no exception. So…

Eighth: Slide the quesadilla out of the pan and onto a plate. Take a second plate and put it upside down on the top of the quesadilla. Simple flip over for no mess, no stress flipping. LOVE IT!

Ninth: melt the last TBS of butter in the pan and slide the quesadilla back in the pan. Wait 5-7 minutes and it should be a perfect golden brown, if not let it sit tight for another couple minutes. Slide out of the pan and onto a plate.

LET COOL A FEW MINUTES BEFORE CUTTING INTO or else the cheese will ooze out everywhere and make a disaster.

Note! I like to cut my quesadillas with a pizza cutter because it makes a nice clean deep cut  with little effort. If you don’t have a pizza cutter just use scissors, those work well too.

So there you have it. Serve with either sour cream or bbq sauce. Happy Eatting.

May 26, 2010. Tags: , . Dinner, Lunch, Recipes. 1 comment.