Apple and Cheddar Panini with Apple Butter

On very rare occasions I venture out for lunch. I’m lucky to get homemade lunch & salad every day at work. I know. So lucky. I have to realllly be in the mood to spend $8 on a sandwich when there’s free & delicious homemade lunch at work. The local coffee/sandwich shop has  very delightful, yet very expensive, panini with cheddar, apple, bacon, and pumpkin butter. I recreated at home using apple butter. This isn’t THAT different than one I’ve made before, but apple + cheddar in a panini is just goooood.

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Butter Panini

Ingredients:

4 slices of good bread
2 tbs apple or pumpkin butter (sub pumpkin puree if you don’t find one of the butters)
2 tbs stone ground mustard
3 slices sharp white cheddar
2 slices of American cheese
1 green apple, sliced

Directions:

Preheat the panini press, grill pan, or griddle to medium heat.
Assemble the sandwiches with apple butter on one side and mustard on the other. Top with cheese, apple, and other cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Butter Panini
Spray the panini press with non-stick spray or a brush of olive oil.
Cook about 4 minutes, or until cheese melts and outside gets crisp.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Butter Panini
I can’t believe I forgot to put the bacon in it. That’s such a great touch on the panini from the restaurant. I think it was still good. The apple butter was so great with crisp apples and melty cheese. I think that a little bit of American cheese made this ohh-so-gooey and delicious.

What I Ate: Pulled Pork Panini with Slaw

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I had one colossal pork shoulder that I cooked in the crockpot months ago. The rest of it got frozen in about 4 batches for another 2-4 meals per batch. So. Huge. I didn’t want all of it to be the same so I was eyeing some of it to become paninis. How Sweet It Is made some pulled pork & beer cheese sandwiches and it made me think: I don’t put cheese with pulled pork nearly enough. I thought about boursin since that elevates a grilled cheese like woah, but I when it came around, I wasn’t feeling that texture. I wanted stretchy cheese!

The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
I threw the slaw on these as a last minute for a crunch. People in the south are OK with slaw on their pork so I figured it was fine, or “authentic” for my paninis. Though, spell-check is NOT ok with the plural of panini.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pulled pork
1/4 cup bbq sauce
sliced colby jack cheese
3/4 cup coleslaw
4 slices of bread

Directions:

Heat a panini press or grill pan to medium-high heat, brushed with olive oil.
Toss the pork into the bbq sauce. Then lay cheese onto the bread, topping with pork.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
Put the first half onto the panini press or grill pan so the bread can start toasting and the cheese begins melting. Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Top with slaw and 2nd piece of bread.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
Grill for 2 more minutes just to toast the top slice of bread.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Panini with Slaw
The tang of the bbq sauce with the sharp cheese and the cool slaw is perfect. Just perfect. It has everything I want in a sandwich. I think the panini bread crunch is wayyy better than just any old roll.

Ultimate BLT Panini

There are only so many variations on a BLT that I can share (like this Avocado BLT, or this BLT Burger, or this BLT Scallop Pizza, or this BLT Pasta Salad, or Bacon Jam BLT Pizza) but I panini-ified my BLT and splurged on good ingredients to make it a dinner. I went all out on thickcut, pepper-crusted bacon. Think expensive bacon. I mean, it was dinner, so the pricey stuff was worth it.

The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini

Ingredients:

thick cut bacon, 3 slices per sandwich
oatmeal or sourdough bread
arugula
tomato
colby jack or sharp cheddar cheese
aoli/mayo (I used this!)/parmesan peppercorn dressing/honey mustard

Directions:

Bake the bacon slices in a 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack ontop of a baking sheet.
While the bacon is baking, spread the bread with mayo. Top the bread with the bacon. Load it up, this is a dinner sandwich.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Layer the sandwiches with arugula, and tomato.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Top with cheese and 2nd slice of bread. Preheat the panini press, a grill pan, or a griddle.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
Brush the bread/griddle/press with olive oil and grill the sandwiches until crisp and melted.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Panini
I liked this one a lot. I think the arugula and the peppery bacon were great touches to elevate this to a more special sandwich.  The greens need to be one that can stand getting warmed, like arugula or spinach. Regular lettuces would just get wilty. I liked this sandwich grilled. Toasty bread is my favorite and those grill lines are the best but melting the cheese and warming everything through took it from a toasted sandwich to a panini.

Do you ever bake your bacon? It keeps it flat, you don’t have spatters of bacon grease, and you don’t have to flip & babysit it. I don’t always bake it, but it is such a great method. Anytime I’m going to chop the bacon I do that before cooking it and then I can push it around the pan and just scoop with a slotted spoon instead of trying to keep it from curling up and cooking unevenly.

Meatball Panini

This week you may need a non-Thanksgiving-y meal and this is a great one to also not contribute to your leftovers.

The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Ingredients: (for 2 sandwiches)
6-8 meatballs
2 tbs pesto
1 cup arugula, chopped
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 slices of wheat bread

Directions:
Cook or reheat the meatballs and slice.
Spread one side of each sandwich with pesto. Then layer on half the cheese and arugula.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Add on the meatballs. Then top with remaining cheese.
Preheat a panini press, a grill pan, or a large skillet to medium-high heat.
Top the other slice of bread with marinara.
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
Grill each panini (flip if using a skillet) until crisp on both sides.
Slice & enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Meatball Panini
I loved this one. I found some new chicken meatballs that were soooo good. They were such a find. I actually might whip up a bunch of these and freeze them to live in the freezer until I need an insta-dinner.

Breakfast Panini

Breakfast sandwiches are one of my favorite things to eat. Offer me anything and a breakfast sandwich and I’ll always go for the bfast sand. This time I made it as a panini and it was so good. I like to think the panini made it more dinner-ish but that might just be me. Bfast for dinner is so fast and I only used one pan and the panini press to whip all this up!

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini

Ingredients: (makes 2 paninis)

4 slices of bacon
3 eggs
6 slices of cheddar
1 tomato, sliced
4 slices sourdough bread

Directions:

Chop the bacon and pan fry until crisp. Drain out the grease, spray with nonstick spray.
Whisk the eggs, season with salt & pepper, then pour into the bacon pan.
Cook through and flip once making one flat egg disk.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Preheat the panini press, grill pan, or a griddle.
Assemble the sandwich with the bread, half the cheese, and tomato slices.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Then add egg, bacon, and the remaining cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Brush with olive oil and grill the sandwiches.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
Serve with potatoes or fruit! I went with sweet potato tots…my fav.

The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Panini
My local bagel joint makes their sandwiches with egg cooked like this…more like an omelet than a fried egg. Cheese on either side of the bread holds everything together, and the egg stays together more than scrambled would. My other favorite breakfast sandwich spot chops the bacon instead of leaving long strips which is genius. You get some in every bite!

Suggested adaptations: 
bfast panini + cheese with the egg = omelette panini
bfast panini – bacon + ham/sausage/or meatless
bfast panini – bacon + ham + sautéed onions = western panini
bfast panini – bread + english muffin (still panini pressed)

What I Ate: Chicken & Waffle Panini

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Chicken and waffles are such a fun dinner and I was thinking it could become a panini using the waffles for the bread. These are easily adaptable. I used white cheddar, tomatoes, onions, and some buffalo aoli.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini

Ingredients:

2 frozen waffles, per sandwich
2 slices sharp white cheddar, per sandwich
2 chicken tenders, per sandwich
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onions
2 tbs mayo + 1 tsp hot sauce  + dash of garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Bake the chicken until cooked through.
Toast the waffles until defrosted and lightly toasted.
Slice the onions and add to cold water.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini

Whisk together the buffalo aoli, or add your fav spread like honey mustard, ranch, or a drizzle of maple syrup.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini
Keep the oven warm after the chicken is cooked.
Assemble the sandwiches with waffles, the spread, chicken, sliced cheddar, sliced tomato, and sliced onion.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini
Put them back into the oven, flipping once, until the cheese melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini
This was so fun. The nutty waffle was perfect with a little spice. Arugula would be good in here too. The onion bath keeps them from overpowering the sandwich, with just a subtle onion flavor.

The Three Bite Rule - Chicken and Waffles Panini

What I Ate: Cuban Panini

This wasn’t the most authentic cuban sandwich, but it was such a great tweak on the everyday. The pickles and mustard are totally what makes this special.

The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Panini
I also love pickles so this was right up my ally. A real cuban would have roasted pork but this was good for a quick meal.

Ingredients:

sliced bread
ham
swiss cheese
Provolone cheese
sandwich sliced pickles
mustard

Directions:

Heat a grill pan or panini press.
Assemble the sandwiches with mustard on both bread slices, ham, swiss, provolone, and sliced pickles.
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Panini
Grill on both sides until cheese melts and everything gets heated through.
The Three Bite Rule - Cuban Panini
It was almost a ham & cheese but the mustard and pickles are where the different flavors come from. Mr. J doesn’t like pickles, GASP…I know. His was a bit less of a cuban panini but salty and cheesy nonetheless.

What I Ate: Pesto Chicken Panini

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Sandwiches are such a quick and easy dinner for me. I love paninis and and I’m continually surprised how versatile they are. This was going to be chicken breasts marinated and grilled in pesto then I decided to shred it. I figured that would definitely make this seem different than some of my other paninis annnnnd I wouldn’t have that whole take a bite and the whole chicken breast comes out.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini

Ingredients:
2-3 chicken tenders (or 2 chicken breasts)
1/3 cup prepared pesto
1 tbs grated parmesan
1 tomato
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, or sliced provolone, or fresh mozzarella
4 slices of bread

Directions:
Cook the chicken in simmering water until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini

Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and Parmesan, then add the pesto and shred with 2 forks pulling the chicken apart.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini
Heat a panini press/grill pan/large skillet to medium high heat.
Assemble the sandwiches with sliced tomato and pesto chicken mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini

Top the sandwiches with cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini
Grill until toasty and melty on each side…about 3-5 minutes per side.
Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pesto Chicken Panini
I love the flavors in this. The tomato is key for keeping the chicken moist. The pesto is a great use for a partial jar. I would normally have used sliced cheese but I had leftover shredded mozzarella and no plan for it, so this worked well.

Paninis need bread that can hold up to what goes inside. I think this nutty one works great. I think the Pesto Chicken Panini is kind of a nod to a lazy-man’s pizza…which makes great panini fillings.

Some of my other fav paninis are: fig and prosciutto panini, bacon & gouda panini with peach compote, and turkey cranberry & brie panini.

What I Ate: Fig and Prosciutto Panini

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

This panini was more so a pressed sandwich. I realized I had some fig jam leftover from a fig and prosciutto pizza. I love fig jam on toast or in oatmeal but I wanted to use it another way. I hate specialty ingredients that have a one-time use. It has such a unique flavor and I don’t find it so strong that you can’t eat it all the time. I love it with prosciutto for the sweet/salty combo. This time I thought a panini would be a perfect use for it.

The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

This fig & prosciutto panini is kind of a nod to a monte cristo like the raspberry preserves or a Thanksgiving gobbler with cranberry sauce. Paninis are the perfect week-night meal or cooking-for-one or as a use for leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 ciabatta rolls, or 4 slices of crusty bread
4-6 slices of prosciutto
4-6 slices of fontina cheese
3 tablespoons fig spread
handful of arugula (optional)

Directions:

Assemble the sandwich with a drizzle of olive oil onto the bread, then fig spread on one side. Lay arugula and cheese onto the other side.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Preheat a grill pan or panini press or oven to medium-high heat.
Add arugula on top of the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Close up the sandwich. Optional: brush with olive oil or butter.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
Cook for about 5 minutes, melting the cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

Ohh wow. So good. There are no words.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini
This is so good and I think I could eat it weekly. The prosciutto is super salty but delicate and was great with a mild cheese (that melts well, like fontina). The arugula was leftover this week but I wanted the peppery-ness on here. The fig jam is sweet and sticky with such a great dominance on this sandwich. I seriously think this needs crusty and tough bread…nothing wimpy and soft will do for this.

I want this again. right. now.
The Three Bite Rule - Fig & Prosciutto Panini

suggested adaptations: 
fig & prosciutto panini – arugula + spinach/pickled red onions/roasted red peppers = a twist on the veggies
fig & prosciutto panini – half the bread + assembled on crustini toasts = an appetizer format
fig & prosciutto panini – fig jam + roasted figs/dried figs, sliced = similar flavors with different textures
fig & prosciutto panini + pan fried prosciutto – panini cooking = crispy prosciutto sandwich with fig

Bacon & Cheese Panini with Peach Compote

This panini was soo good. I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with bacon, cheese, and something sweet? It was a really quick dinner but now that I think about it, this would be a good brunchy kind of dish because of the bacon.

The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini

The peach compote has a sweet juicy flavor with a tiny zip to it…it isn’t spicy by any means. It could totally handle some jalepenos if you wanted spice. The peaches cook down considerably so even with just 2 peaches, there wasn’t much left over after making 2 sandwiches. It would be good on a cheese plate or on a crostini too.

Ingredients:

2 white peaches (or nectarines), diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tbs brown sugar
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
6 slices of bacon
4 slices of bread (I used seedless rye)
4 slices of gouda cheese (or fontina)
(optional: tomato, arugula, mustard)

Directions:

Add peaches, onions,and 3 tbs of water to a small pot over medium heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Pan fry bacon until crisp.
Stir peaches and add red pepper flakes and brown sugar. It will be soft and will have reduced a bit. The onions & peaches will have broken down by now.
Peach compote cooks for about 10 minutes, but can be kept warm while everything else gets prepped.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Assemble sandwiches with cheese, bacon, and spread peach compote onto one side of the bread.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini
Pan fry or press sandwiches until cheese melts and bread crisps. (keep warm in the oven if making them in batches).
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon & Peach Compote Panini

I loved this. I kept it simple so there wouldn’t be too many competing flavors but I usually think “the more the merrier” when it comes to a sandwich. I would like some tomato slices or greens in this. Ham, prosciutto, or pancetta would all be good substitutions for the bacon. It would be great as a regular sandwich without toasting it, or having it on ciabatta.

Paninis are such simple dinners. The peach compote would hold up a few days in the fridge if making it in advance. I think this turned my sandwich into something special. I would be a grilled cheese with bacon if I hadn’t added it in there. Peach compote would be a good use if any of your peaches or nectarines get a bit squishy.

Want more panini ideas? This Italian Grilled Cheese is a super easy dinner. This Turkey, Cranberry, & Brie Panini is great if you’re inching towards fall. Top-your-own Chicken & Biscuits is a fun dinner sandwich too.