You make a panini my friends! You know, the special fancy kind that you pay the big bucks for at Panera Bread. Only i'm willing to bet that yours will be even better! You can get super creative with paninis, so I'll just cover the basics here. I've been making a bunch for Lover lately on nights when I've been a little too lazy to make real dinner, and they have been very well received!
Here's one of my creations that came out particularly well. Grades LOVES ranch dressing more than any other condiment on the face of the earth, so this concoction served him quite well.
Cheesy Chicken Ranch Panini
- 2 pieces sandwich bread (I had whole wheat on hand)
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 fairly thin chicken breast (cut in half, if needed)
- dijon mustard
- ranch dressing
- sharp cheddar cheese
- Monterey jack cheese
- bacon and/or sausage (optional)
- half-handful of red onion, sliced
Start by shredding the cheese by hand. Buy the nice blocks at the grocery store because they melt well! Not like the plasticky pre-shredded stuff. If you want, you can just cut the blocks into thin slices and it will turn out dandy.
Sprinkle a thin piece of raw chicken with salt and pepper and fry it up with some butter in a skillet over medium heat until done. (If you have a huge breast on your hands, slice it in half before cooking) Slice it into strips and set aside. While you're at it, throw a half-handful of red onion slices in there and saute for a minute or so.
I also fried up a little leftover sausage because I had it on hand. I imagine that crispy bacon would have made it even better! By all means, if you have any, throw it in the pan. Then set it aside for later.
Take two pieces of bread and butter them generously. (soften your butter slightly in the micro, if needed) Then flip them over and coat them well with dijon mustard on one piece and ranch on the other. Don't be shy! Coat it on thick because it will turn into a dreamy sauce when heated.
Place the bread slices buttered-side-down in a pan over low-medium heat. Pile on your chicken, (bacon and/or sausage, if using) cheese, and onions on one piece of bread.
Top with other slice of bread and press it firmly with the top of a small saucepan. (Or use your handy panini maker if you're fortunate enough to possess one) Don't be afraid to squash it—that will help the flavors meld together. Then let it sit with the top covering it for a few minutes. (Check it after a bit to be sure the bread isn't burning.)
When the bread browns nicely, flip it over and squash it again. You may need to add a little more butter to the pan. Keep the panini covered because it will help the cheese to melt faster. Let it cook for a few minutes on the other side, until browned.
Cut in halves and serve with fresh fruit or whatever else your heart may desire!
Grades and I recently embarked on our first hike of the summer season! We climbed Humpback Rock, a favorite spot for the Cville locals. Let me tell you, although it was a short hike, we were sweating like pigs. It was harder than we thought! But the difficulty proved well worth it when we saw the magnificent view.