Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Panini Perfection

I bought myself a new kitchen gadget -- a panini press! It's more than just a panini maker though, I went for the Cuisinart Griddler so it serves a lot of functions, including the fact that I can buy waffle inserts to make my own Belgian waffles. YUM.

In the past week I’ve tried it out three times, all with amazing success. I’ve made two grilled sandwiches and one quesadilla. What I love about this grill/panini press is that it has removable/reversible plates so you have the option of a flat surface or a rippled one -- I’ve learned that I completely prefer flat.

MEAL 1 : Proscuitto, Fig & Fontina Panini


  • A few slices of proscuitto
  • Fig spread
  • Fontina cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Good bread (I splurged and used $6 a loaf rosemary/garlic bread from a local bakery – Nashoba Brook Bakery -- that I got at Whole Foods. It made an incredible difference.)


  • Spread fig preserve on one slice of bread.
  • Add cheese, greens, and proscuitto on top of spread and top with second slice of bread. 
  • Grill on medium until cheese is melty and bread is toasty. Cut in half. Enjoy!

Photographing sandwiches is hard....


MEAL 2 : Beef & Cheddar Quesadilla


  • A few slices of roast beef
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (I recommend using really good cheese, not that phony cheese stuff. The better the cheese the more delicious this quesadilla will be, and with only a few ingredients you really want the cheese to shine.)
  • 1 medium onion
  • Tortillas


  • Slice onion and sauté until translucent. While onion is cooking slice cheese into thin strips to help it melt.
  • Layer cooked onion, cheese, beef in a tortilla and fold over so it looks like a big taco.
  • Grill on medium until cheese melts and outside of tortilla is toasty. Enjoy!
  • (Note: Watch out that cheese doesn't melt too much and run all over the panini plate… mine did.)


MEAL 3 : Roasted Pepper & Veggie Panini

Before grilling... it looks like a big piece of bruschetta.

Ingredients: The best part about this panini is that you can use basically anything you have on hand. I used:

My ingredients all chopped up

  • Roasted red peppers
  • Artichoke hearts
  • 10 kalamata olives
  • Basil & sun dried tomato goat cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Good bread (I used the same bread as Meal 1.)


  • Chop up all veggies and cheese.
  • Layer all ingredients between two slices of bread.
  • Grill on medium until cheese is melty and bread is toasty. Cut in half & enjoy!

All three of these meals were incredibly delicious and relatively healthy, too! I’m so excited to make some more. Thank goodness I no longer have to do the awkward attempt to flip sandwich/quesadilla on pan and watch all my fillings fall out routine that I used to do when making grilled sandwiches. YAY!

If you have a favorite sandwich/panini recipe I would love to hear it! Share!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pasta With Mushrooms & Rosemary

Last week a fellow Simmons grad student lamented about the difficulties of meal prep/planning on her food blog, and I couldn’t agree more. Planning meals is hard work! Especially when you have boyfriends to factor into the equation and can’t do the single girl thing of “eat a bunch of cookies for dinner and call it a night.” I have a hard enough time deciding what I want to eat for dinner on Wednesday night ON Wednesday night, let alone trying to decide that on Monday night as I pour over food blogs and cookbooks and try to plan out my week. But I’ve been trying… with some success. With such a busy schedule this semester I’m still relying heavily on take-out, but I’m trying much more to do some easy meal-prep and to shop accordingly.

I’ve also re-instituted “date nights” which makes The Boyfriend laugh when I call it that since we live together and all it’s not like we’re really going out for a date. But I insist we are… it’s a reward for my careful meal planning and preparations all week long. And it’s our chance to get out of the house.

I’ve been on a mushroom kick lately, so when I saw that Fellow Grad Student posted that one of her recent meals was pasta with mushrooms I knew I had to try it. 

After all, it already had a stamp of approval. The original blogger she got the recipe from HERE served it with a side of sautéed kale, but heeding Fellow Grad Student’s warning that pasta plus kale was a lot to cook together, I saved the tasty-sounding kale recipe for a later date and just stuck to the mushrooms and pasta. Definitely a good idea.

I couldn’t find the cute little ear-shaped pastas at Trader Joe’s so I had to settle for bow ties, which were still cute. It made an enormous batch and we had leftovers that I ate for lunch for a few days after. I liked that this recipe was so easy... it was definitely a good mid-week meal for when I drag myself home from class or writing group or pull myself away from the computer after writing/working all day long. I think next time I try to the recipe I might fancy it up a bit with some wild mushrooms to give it an extra kick.

I served the pasta with steamed artichokes and butter for dipping. Delish!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Krispie Crazy

I am a kid at heart. I have never grown out of loving Rice Krispie Treats. If anything, my fondness for them has only grown over the years. They are so simple, yet so delicious. That’s why when there was a bake sale earlier this year (I know, I’m a little behind writing this post) at the MSPCA where I volunteer I knew exactly what I was going to make.

I thought it was possible that someone else might have the same brilliant idea so I wanted to add some extra flair to my treats. I began with a little search of the internet. When my sister was living in Philadelphia a few years back we were at a restaurant that boasted a “Rice Krispie Treat Platter” for dessert. (Had we not been so stuffed from dinner we would have ordered it. And to this day I still sort of regret that we didn’t. C’est la vie.) I hunted around online trying to find the types of unique Krispie Treats that might have graced that list. What I found was incredible. People do all sorts of unique things with Rice Krispie treats!

First thing’s first, you can find THE ORIGINAL RECIPE HERENow… on to the fun part. I found people who did just about EVERYTHING. Mixing in Oreo cookies (YUM!), M&Ms, layering with chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, etc.

I decided to buy a bag of chocolate and peanut butter chips which I melted over my super old school flat top plug in heater (the official name for which I don’t even know). I made the Rice Krispie treats according to the box directions (same as the directions above). When the chips were melted into a nice smooth creamy consistency I spread out the chocolate/peanut butter mixture on top of the treats. I then tossed on colorful sprinkles and let the whole thing sit for a while so the chocolate/peanut butter could cool and harden.

Let me tell you, it was AH-MAZING. I wish I could make treats every day.

Here’s a list of a few treats that sound interesting:
(I think I am going to have to pick something off of this list and whip them up for class and/or writing group this month!)

Have you ever made Rice Krispie Treats with unique mix-ins and ingredients? If so, share!
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