French Toast Sticks in Panini Press

french toast sticks panini

French Toast Sticks in Panini Press

When it comes to breakfast, I have a lot of experience. I used to work in a dinner as a short order cook when I was young. So it’s safe to say that I’ve cracked a few eggs. Definitely thousands of eggs, maybe even tens of thousands. Also stacks and stacks of pancakes and many loafs of french toast. I’ve done the basics over and over again. Now as a Dad, I’m always looking to try something new.
french toast sticks panini

 

I saw a video from The Domestic Geek where she makes french toast three different ways. The PB&J French Toast Roll Ups looked really good and I thought that was a most outstanding idea. My kids love French Toast sticks and they love making desserts with things like peanut butter and nutella and fruit so combining the idea for a nice breakfast is awesome. But the part where she slowly rotates the sticks while cooking them seemed like a drag. If I changed her cooking technique to use the panini press, it might work out better for me. Quicker and better is always good when getting the kids ready for school in the morning.

 

I used potato bread because that’s what I had on hand. Any kind of sliced soft bread will work great. I could see a honey wheat probably adding the right flavors for these style of recipes. I’ll have to try that next time I pick some up at the store. When I make regular french toast, chill bread is the way to go. But since these are getting rolled up, I went with the sliced potato bread.

sliced bread

Now if you didn’t watch the video to see how to make these, I’ll summarize it here.

 

Take your topping and spread it over the bread. I’m going with cream cheese & strawberries in some. And I made a quick apple pie filling by dicing some apples and sauteing them in butter, cinnamon & sugar. French toast and apple pie are a great combo.

french toast cream cheese strawberries

Now gently roll them up and put them aside. If they aren’t staying together you can pin them with a toothpick if you want. But obviously remember to take it out when you cook them.

rolled french toast sticks

The french toast mixture is usually eggs, milk, cinnamon & vanilla. I’m not a big milk fan so i went with vanilla almond milk, eggs & cinnamon and then I still added a little bit of vanilla in there too. Dip the sticks in the mixture and put them directly on the preheated panini press. Close the lid and cook for 3-5 minutes. There’s really no need for rotating because the panini press squashes the sticks into a flat form.  That squashing effect wasn’t really what I expected but it turned out fine. The panini press shaped the french toast sticks more like folded over bread than like a rolled up stick. But like I said, I’m okay with this.

 

The panini press also cooks the sticks a little more crispy than regular french toast that’s cooked in a buttered pan but it works because my kids are used to french toast sticks that you eat with your hands.

 

Take them out and dust with powdered sugar and serve with syrup and or jelly.

French Toast Panini Press

Overall, I’d say this was a nice breakfast experiment and something that we’ll do again in our house. Too bad the diner didn’t have a panini press.


Cuban Panini

Cuban Panini

It seems like every time I do a post for the food category here on this blog, it winds up being a panini sandwich. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Here let me do a quick mention of The Everything Panini Press Cookbook since I’m the author and now that that’s over with, lets get down to business and make a Cuban Panini.

Cuban Panini
The Cuban sandwich is pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. That much is agreed upon. The part that isn’t set in stone is whether there’s salami on the sandwich or not. I like it with salami and I like it without. Today I’m making it without. I think a more important variation is replacing the mustard with garlic mayonnaise. No one really talks about replacing the mustard in the Cuban sandwich put I’d like to start that conversation at some point because ts a nice variation of the sandwich.
 


Now to make the Cuban sandwich as a panini, you really don’t need to change much. In fact a lot of times when you order a Cuban or Cubano sandwich as it’s sometimes called, they will press it for you so you get some nice melted cheese. It’s usually not done with a true panini press that has ridges on the grill plates. They will use a flat grill press instead. But I like the ridges that you get when you use a true panini because it makes the bread more interesting.
leftover porkchops
Here’s one of the reasons why I make so many panini sandwiches. It’s because it’s the best way to use your leftovers. I made some pork chops the other night and looking at a Tupperware container of pork chops makes me think Cuban panini. Not a lot of people are going to cook pork specifically to make a sandwich with it. So next time you have some left over pork. Definitely try this Cuban Panini.
Cuban Panini Bread
As with all panini you want a great piece of bread or roll. I went with these good looking ciabatta rolls.


Slice the pork on the thin side. Also slice the pickles. I’m using spears because my wife continues to buy pickle spears even though I’ve gone on the record many times saying that spears are for hunting dinosaurs, not for pickles. But despite this, she always brings home these spears from the supermarket. Ham and cheese is next. Swiss is the way to go but you can Italian the sandwich up a little bit if you use a good provolone instead. If you’re going to use provolone then you should also try the salami variation that I mentioned before. And if you’re going with a variation, try using the garlic mayonnaise too. Just take a cup of mayonnaise and mix it with garlic. A few roasted cloves would be ideal but you can use minced or powered garlic in a pinch. Let it sit a day in the fridge and you’ll really taste the garlic. A cup is way too much for one sandwich so use what you need and you’ll have a lot left over.
leftover sliced porkchops

Assemble the sandwich and put it in a pre-heated panini press that has been coated with a cooking spray. Press it for 3-5 minutes, remove and cut the panini in half. Cuban sandwiches are traditionally cut diagonally.

 

cuban panini sandwich
cuban panini being pressed
The two most important tips that I shared today are that panini are the best way to use up your leftovers and also that nothing is set in store. Panini with the stuff that you have and don’t be afraid to try new things. Even a popular sandwich like a Cuban can be enjoyed as a panini.


 Cuban Panini


Tomato Mozzarella Panini

tomato mozzarella panini

tomato mozzarella sandwichTomato Mozzarella Panini

I live in a carbohydrate hostile house. My wife lost enough weight over the past few years to be at her ideal weight. And she did it by eating very small meals and by cutting way back on carbohydrates like bread and pasta. Being the author of a panini cookbook hasn’t made meal time easy in our house. I would like to have a sandwich or a panini for lunch every day but she’ll just eat a few slices of cold cuts and maybe a yogurt. Come on, that’s just not fair.

 

But on Sundays during the summer, things are different.

 

You see, that’s when my wife and I go to the farmer’s market and pick up a few items for lunch. Even though she’s anti-carb, we still pick up a semolina peasant round from the Amish bakery stand. If you’re not familiar with this bread let me tell you that it’s amazing. Crunchy crust, spongy inside, really the best bread you can get. Even a known carb-hater such as my wife can not turn down this delicious bread. And what I like best about the round shape of this loaf is that when you slice it, you can make a huge sandwich. And huge sandwich is my middle name.

 

garden tomatoesThe farmers market also has this great Italian stand where these cheese artisans make mozzarella all day long. We buy a big ball of fresh mozzarella and sometimes a few cannoli too but not lately. Oh yeah did I mention that she’s anti-dessert too.


Now don’t get me wrong, she’s doing things the right way. Her eating habits are why she’s thin and she doesn’t even have to jump through the hoops of my oppressive health plan from work. They test your BMI, Cholesterol & blood pressure via an annual blood test. I also have to weigh in and take my blood pressure every week. There are kiosks at work to make it easy to do. Spouses have the same requirements.  But they called my wife and said, you don’t have to do that anymore. You’re BMI is perfect, your cholesterol is good and your blood pressure is normal. Me, not so much.

 

fresh mozzarella & tomatoThat’s awesome that she’s healthy but it doesn’t make it easy for me to try new recipes and write more cookbooks. So how does this relate to this tomato mozzarella panini? I’m getting to it now.

 

The Sunday farmer’s market is a treat for the whole family. And we’re Italian so it’s like a rite of passage to have a tomato mozzarella sandwich during the summer.

 

tomato mozzarella panini sandwichWhether or not we buy tomato at the farmer’s market has to do with what’s going on in my garden. Lately a woodchuck has been eating all of my tomatoes before they ripen so we needed to buy some. But if they’re from my garden or from a farmer’s garden, they don’t taste anything like a tomato from the supermarket. Those things are tasteless. Seriously, they taste like water with a hint of red flavor. Does the color red really even have a flavor? Well judging by these supermarket tomatoes, it does not.

 

tomato mozzarella paniniMost of the time we’ll slice up the peasant loaf, tomatoes & mozzarella, chop some basil, drizzle with olive oil and generously season with salt & pepper. This is the sandwich of summer. But after a few weeks of this, I decided to add some heat to the mix. The easiest way to make a sandwich even better is turn it into a panini. And that’s exactly what I did.

 

Here’s the recipe for the panini, not that it’s very difficult. It’s all about the ingredients. Quality ingredients make quality sandwiches. And I will enjoy this quality sandwich every Sunday until the fall.

 

Tomato Mozzarella Panini
  • Thick cut bread – semolina peasant loaf
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Garden fresh tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped basil (optional)
Preheat panini press on medium hot setting
Cut bread
Add tomato slices
Add mozzarella slices
drizzle with olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Press in Panini maker for 3-5 minutes
Remove from Panini maker & enjoy!


The Everything Panini Press Cookbook

The Everything Panini Press Cookbook
The Everything Panini Press Cookbook
The Everything Panini Press Cookbook

The Everything Panini Press Cookbook

If you look at my social media profile pages, most of them say the same thing. There’s usually something weird like “My children were sent from the future to destroy me” and then it also says that I’m a Cookbook Author. Back in 2011 I wrote The Everything Panini Press Cookbook. I recently took a look at this blog and realized that I never added a post about my cookbook. Worst author website ever!  Well, better late than never.

The story behind the book goes like this. I used to have another blog about panini sandwiches where I posted some cool recipes. You see, I’m a brown bagger and I have always brought my lunch to work. Eating regular sandwiches every single day was becoming boring and monotonous. Then I got a panini press as a gift and started experimenting with it. I’d take whatever was on hand, cold cuts, leftovers, take out and put it between some bread and press it. Some of these experiments were bad ideas that should have never been tried but a lot of them became some truly great lunches. And since I was already blogging about gardening, I thought I’d branch out and start a panini blog.




An editor at Adams Media came across one of my blog posts about how you could use a panini press for a lot more than just making panini and she was impressed. I think the post was about using a panini press like an indoor grill for cooking hamburgers. This happened around the same time that the whole Julia and Julie thing happened. All of these bloggers were getting their own book deals and I was surprisingly one of those bloggers.

The cookbook has over 300 recipes and I really enjoyed doing it. It would have been nicer to have another 3 months to write it but that crazy deadline is behind me now. Thank goodness for the panini blog. I already had over 100 recipes figured out. I also figured out a way to pack a panini sandwich in your brown bag lunch and keep them nice and crisp even if you only have a microwave for reheating in the office. That’s all in the book by the way.

Anyway, if you’re interested in some good sandwiches, then I recommend that you check out my book. If you need to see my credentials, check my social media profiles. They say that I’m a cookbook author. Ignore the parts about my time traveling children.



Best Way To Reheat Pizza

leftover pizza reheat panini press
leftover pizza ziplock
Leftover pizza

Best Way To Reheat Pizza

Pizza is my friend. It’s a well known fact that Pizza and I have been besties for a very long time. When I was in high school, I would walk into our local pizzeria, Laura’s Pizza Den and the pizza man would say to me, “Hello Mr. Tripodi, one plain and one Sicilian coming up”. It used to amaze my friends. But I went there all the time and they got to know me.

And once during a weekend visit to Newport, Rhode Island many years ago, I ate 34 slices of pizza. Not all once, it was over the whole weekend but I’m still proud of that accomplishment. It wasn’t an eating contest or anything like that. It was just that I love pizza and I ate it for most of the meals that weekend.

So if you want to know how to reheat a slice a pizza, you’ve come to right place. Everyone knows that reheating it in the toaster oven or microwave just makes for mushy pizza. The crust kind of steams or something and it gets soggy and it’s nothing like right out of the pizza oven. Sure it’s still good enough to eat (especially if it’s late night) but doesn’t have that fresh from the pizzeria taste.

Now if you had a pizza stone and a very hot oven, you can heat up a leftover slice pretty well. But it takes too long for a pizza stone to get hot. Like at least a 1/2 hour to get optimum results with the crust. If you want a quick slice, this will not work out too well for you.




I’d love to have a wood fired pizza oven in my backyard and someday i think I will. But today is not that day. Building an outdoor pizza oven is an expensive and time consuming project.

So the easiest way to reheat pizza at home is to use your panini press. Since I am the author of the Everything Panini press cookbook, I’ve tried just about everything on a panini press. And something about the hot grill plates just locks in the flavor and heats up the crust to that original pizzeria texture.

reheated leftover pizza slice
Eat as is or slice into strips & dunk in tomato sauce

The best way to do it is to take two slices and place them on top of each other. Cheese side facing cheese side and crusts on the outside facing the panini press grill plates. 2-4 minutes later and you have a real pizza panini. The cheese and sauce are sealed inside two pizzeria quality crusts. Take a pizza wheel and slice them into strips and you can even dunk them into small bowl of pizza sauce. If you only have one slice, then fold the tip over the crust like I did in the pictures on this page. Panini pizza is just about as close as you’re going to get to reheating your leftover pizza to it’s original quality.

So if you are looking for the best way to reheat pizza, and if you don’t have a pizza stone or a backyard pizza oven, then go with the panini press.


Artichoke, Roasted Pepper, Goat Cheese Panini

Artichoke, Roasted Pepper, Goat Cheese Panini
Artichoke, Roasted Pepper, Goat Cheese Panini
Artichoke, Roasted Pepper, Goat Cheese Panini

Artichoke Roasted Pepper Goat Cheese Panini

Here’s a panini sandwich that you can easily make with ingredients that you may already have in your pantry. Well at least Italians like myself will usually have a few jars of artichokes and roasted peppers in the pantry. Or if you want to make this panini taste even better, then roast your own peppers and don’t bother stocking that pantry. Here’s how to make an Artichoke Roasted Pepper Goat Cheese Panini

Anyway, the key to this really wet and messy panini is to have a nice crusty bread to soak up the moisture. Thick Italian bread, a long french bread or what I used in these pictures is a ciabatta bread.




For the artichokes, you want to use marinated artichoke hearts in oil. You can put them on a cutting board and give them a rough chop to keep the pieces bite sized if you like.

Cut the bread to the appropriate sandwich size and then layer on the ingredients. Roasted peppers lay pretty flat so you can start with them on the bottom. Then add the artichokes and top with goat cheese. I used goat cheese crumbles so it was hard to get it all balanced on there. It probably would have been easier to get a spreadable goat cheese and smear it on the bread.

You can carefully place the sandwich in your hot panini press but most likely some of the ingredients are going to spill out. This is a messy panini there’s no way around it.

After a few minutes, when the bread is nicely toasted and have those awesome grill marks on it, take it out of the panini press. And scoop up any of those ingredients that spilled out. They’ve been nicely grilled too so don’t waste them. Scoop them up and put them on the plate with the panini.

Variations: This panini also tastes really good with some homemade basil pesto spread onto the bread but don’t go overboard. Like I said, it’s already a messy panini.