Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicken-Apple Panini with Cheddar and a Little Salad to Go With It

Cooking dinner for one or two people isn't a challenge in most ways.  Think of it:  that's what restaurants do and do so well.  They cook one chicken breast at a time,  or one piece of fish, or one chop.  Of course they may also cook all of these individual meals at once, which is why your food may occasionally take so very long.  I think what gets interesting is doing it for three meals a day--in your very own kitchen.

If I'm home and not involved in some big project, I often cook lunch for Dave for lots of reasons.  It's a kind thing to do for someone who works 60 hours a week and pays the mortgages.  Otherwise he eats peanut butter on saltines over the kitchen sink.  If I cook, he takes a break, chats with me...maybe reads the paper or plays with Tucker and Gabby.  And while sometimes I'm just cooking a big pot of something anyway, I also like the test of making quick, on-the-spot meals.  Every meal needn't be a masterpiece, but it should satisfy.

While I'm not a big sandwich eater, Dave adores them.  Sandwiches are filling, use leftovers admirably, and make a decent-sized meal without a lot of time and work.  The other day I was going out to lunch with a friend, knew there was chicken left to eat, and threw together a tasty hot sandwich and salad for him in about 10 minutes.  Try this:

First, add some fresh greens to a dinner plate.  Squeeze some orange (lemon, lime) juice over them; add salt and pepper, as well as a pinch of crushed red pepper if you like hot. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Put the rest of the orange to the side for dessert.  Next, make the panini.  You needn't have a $200 panini press........

In a grill pan or heavy skillet brushed lightly with oil over medium-high heat, place slices from one small apple (or pear). Next:   lay down two pieces of sturdy bread smeared with hot mustard--mustard side up!  Top one with shredded chicken, and the other with a piece or two of great cheddar.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and maybe a little dried thyme.

When the bread and the apple begin to toast, add the apple on top of the cheese. Then carefully turn over the piece of bread with the chicken onto the slice with the apples and cheese to form the complete sandwich. Weigh the sandwich down with a grill press (I bought mine for a couple of dollars at Good Will), a foil-covered brick, or pan with a heavy can in it.  Note:  If the bread isn't browning enough at any point, you might want to drizzle it with a little bit more oil.

Let the sandwich grill to your liking and flip it, weighing down again.  When crispy, remove from pan, slice, and add to your serving plate.  Enjoy!

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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