One of our favorite wedding gifts was our panini maker. I must say it is getting great use by Karel and me. Aside from the toasted-bread smell in our kitchen and the sounds of sizzling veggies or meat, the panini maker turns your boring toasted sandwich into a deli masterpiece. Don't believe me??? ....time to get your own griddler.
Here is the one that we have but there are many on the market.
Cuisinart GR4 Griddler Grill
Another great thing about the panini maker is that you can make sandwiches really quickly. The same time it takes you to toast bread in the toaster, you can turn on the griddler, prepare your stuffings for your sandwich and by the time you clean up and put everything away, your sandwich is hot and ready.
The first sandwich I have is a ham, egg and cheese sandwich that I made for Karel and one of his employees. Karel needed a truck and someone to help him move something heavy into our place so I decided to feed the boys something yummy and healthy. I was in a creative cooking mood so I made some sweet potato thins (to cook while I made the panini's) and cut up some celery for some extra crunch.
Ham, Egg and Cheese sandwich
1-2 slices deli lean ham
1 egg + 1/8 cup skim milk (seasoned with pepper, optional 1-2 tsp hot sauce)
1 slice provolone cheese
1 large kale leaf
4 slices vine tomato
5 thin slices of green pepper
6 small jalapeno rings
1/2 tbsp hummus
1. Turn on panini maker to high.
2. In a microwave dish sprayed with 2 squirts non-stick spray (or spray butter) cook 1 egg, mixed with skim milk and scrambled for 1 minute. Stir and cook additional 15 sec. Continue cooking for 15 sec. until egg is not runny. Season with a little pepper and optional hot sauce.
3. On a french bread baguette/roll, place egg on bread. Lay jalepenos, peppers and tomato on egg. Top with ham slices (omit for vegetarian sandwich) and cheese. Finish with lettuce leaf. Cover with the top of your bread, spread with hummus.
4. Cook on panini maker for 4-5 minutes. When you start to smell the panini, it is less than a minute from being ready.
5. If you are taking your panini to work for lunch, remove panini with flat spatula and wrap in tinfoil.
Sweet potato thins
1 large sweet potato
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.
2. Thinly slice sweet potato and lay slices on cooking sheet, lined with tinfoil.
3. Lightly coat sweet potatoes with olive oil (I suggest using a tsp and spreading a little olive oil on each sweet potato rather than trying to drizzle olive oil on the entire cooking sheet).
4. Top 1/2 sweet potato thins with a dash or two of cayenne pepper (on each potato) and the other half with cinnamon.
5. Cook for 15-20 minutes. When potato thins begin to look toasted, switch your burner to broil for an additional 5 minutes.
*The cinnamon sweet potato crisps are great for desert with a drizzle of honey or with a side of fat-free vanilla or plain yogurt.
Grilled Chicken and rice Panini
2 slices thin rye bread
3 ounces chicken breast
2 tsp olive oil
1 slice mozzarella cheese
3-4 tbsp cooked rice
1 tbsp roasted pepper hummus
3 large slices of roma tomatoe
2 leafs romaine lettuce (or any dark green)
4 thin slices of green pepper
1. In a small non-stick skillet, cook chicken and olive oil. Add your choice of seasonings such as pepper, cayenne, lemon seasoning, Tabasco (2 tsp) or low sodium soy sauce (2 tsp). Cook until tender and golden brown.
2. Turn on panini maker to high.
3. On each slice of rye bread, spread 1/2 tbsp hummus. On bottom bread slice, lay tomato on bread and follow with lettuce.
4. Follow with cheese slice.
5. When chicken is finished cooking, cut into strips and place strips on bread (you may have leftovers. I suggest serving with rice and beans in another meal).
6. On top layer of bread (which is spread with hummus), press rice onto bread and cover sandwich.
7. Cook in panini maker for 4-5 minutes.