The title doesn’t leave a whole lot to your imagination, but I was going for easy to procure ingredients with lots of wiggle room to customize! This was also an fun way to use a smaller portion of chicken, or I’d totally make it again with meatless chicken, which I love too. I forget about paninis but now that we’re all home for quarantine, they’re a great and easy meal and can easily be a dinner. There are 4 food groups in here!
I hope some of these easy ideas give you something to look forward to. We all need that right now, right? Paninis are also so great to be build your own if you have a crowd too!
Crispy Chicken Panini with Maple Dijon Arugula
Ingredients: (for 1 panini)
2 breaded chicken tenders
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon mayo
1 slice provolone
1 small roll
Bake the chicken until crispy and fully cooked through. (Mine came frozen or use meatless tenders or make your own). Then slice in half width-wise.
Mix together the dijon, maple syrup, and mayo.
Heat a panini press or grill pan or heavy skillet.
Toss the arugula in some of the maple dijon. Reserve some to spread onto the roll.
Assemble the panini with a little maple dijon on the roll (if desired), arugula then chicken then cheese.
Press or grill or pop into a toaster oven (or skip and enjoy immediately!), as you wish, until warmed through and until the cheese melts.
Slice and enjoy!
Ohh so good, and simple. Making a little maple dijon gives it an easy special touch that I think is totally worth it- esp since I was using otherwise prepared ingredients, but substitute honey mustard dressing and call it a day.
I know not everyone can get every ingredient right now, so here are some substitution ideas:
roll – use bread, or make it a wrap!
provolone – any sliced cheese: swiss/cheddar/gouda/monterey jack
arugula – any greens: spinach/collards/swiss chard/kale
Whatever you do with it, add a panini or melt into your menu for a fun but quick lunch or a dinner.
The lunch series continues with a very veggie sandwich. Nothing about this one is rocket science BUT we all need more veggies, right? We had some illness go through our house and the winter months seems like a time to hunker down with a bowl of pasta. I embrace that but why not load up the veggies for other meals?!
My all-time fav hummus is Cedar’s Balsamic & Caramelized Onion flavor. Color and texture are both emphasized here. Also, some really good sharp white cheddar is good here on a quality roll. This should definitely be in the weekly rotation!
Hummus & Veggie Sandwich (for 2)
2 Onion rolls
4 tablespoons hummus
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
2 cups arugula
3-4 inches of a cucumber
3 tablespoons salad dressing (Parmesan Peppercorn, Creamy Caesar, Tzatziki, etc)
Saute the mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Slice the tomato, cucumber, cheese, and grate the carrot.
Layer the roll with hummus, arugula, mushrooms, tomato, cheese, cucumber, and carrot.
Drizzle with dressing.
To pack this up for lunch, as mine always are: some assembly required. I brought this to work unassembled. It makes all the difference. In one container I had the veggies and separately I packed the roll, hummus, cheese, and dressing.
This was so good. I love all the flavors and crunch. The possibilities are endless: avocado, or pickled onions, or beets, or sprouts, or whatever you love!
I hope you got some new lunch ideas whether you pack it up for an office or for your mid-day meal wherever you are!
Let’s talk lunch! I began packing my own lunch since maybe 3rd grade. It is no easy feat so I wanted to share some special ideas. Lemon Poppyseed tunafish is delicious but also requires a PSA: do not bring tuna to work for lunch unless you have your own space where nobody will smell it, or bring it if you’ll eat outside! This is a fun lunch for the weekend too.
The freshness takes this up a serious notch.
Lemon Poppyseed Tuna (for 2)
1 can chunk white tuna in water
2 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon Italian dressing (or olive oil)
1 teaspoon relish
1/2 teaspoon poppyseeds
salt and pepper
Drain the tuna and mix in mayo, dressing, relish, juice from the lemon, zest from the lemon, poppyseeds, and salt and pepper.
Mix with a fork and store until serving.
Serve on toast with greens.
I loved the lemon in here! I often go for dill relish, but the sweetness was perfect with the tart lemon. Sandwiches can be ho-hum but assembling when eating is the key!
Next up, I have a more out of the box idea to pack for lunch!
What do you get when you cross a dinner timesaver with all the fall flavors? Answer: crispy chicken sandwiches with gouda, apple, mustard, and arugula. These were so quick for dinner one night – then again for lunch another day annnnd they use some of the bajillion apples we have.
Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Gouda & Apples
Ingredients: (for 4, serves 2-3 people)
4 pieces of breaded chicken (I used frozen chicken tenders, or make your own)
3 tablespoons dijon mustard or honey mustard
1 large apple
4 rolls (I used finger rolls, shoot for the same size as your chicken)
1-2 cups arugula
4 slices of smoked gouda
Bake the chicken (until cooked through, or as the package instructs).
Slice the apple into thin slices.
Spread the mustard onto the rolls then add arugula, and apple slices.
Lay the gouda onto the chicken to melt the last minute of cooking.
Add the chicken onto the sandwiches.
I also like reminding the little ones that foods can be different all the time. We don’t just eat the apples off the core, here they are with other food!
Winner winner, chicken
dinner lunch! This was SO good and perfect if you’re packing lunches! Our pre-schooler loves honey mustard so he was my inspiration! I made a batch for a few servings – one decadently in a croissant, and some another time as a lettuce wrap.
If you’re thinking you don’t do chicken salad, I urge you to try this one. The honey mustard and lettuce make it seem like a salad and it is such a great use of leftover chicken or to liven up lunch! It is a great use for dark meat if that’s not your fav- at our house, we seek leftover options for white meat since that’s often dried out & has less flavor.
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad
Ingredients: (for 3-4 servings)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup yellow mustard
3 tablespoons mayo
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1/2 roasted chicken, torn or forked apart (~2 cups of chicken)
Whisk together the honey, mustard, mayo, and garlic- or shake together in a jar.
(If using as a salad dressing – add a splash of olive oil whisked in. It’ll be too thick otherwise!)
Add the chicken into the bowl and gently mix.
Sprinkle in salt & pepper and mix.
Refrigerate until serving, or enjoy immediately on a sandwich, salad, open-faced on toast, or in a lettuce wrap!
This is so easy, can be made in advance, and eat it all different ways. I packed some separately and spooned it onto romaine lettuce as a lettuce wrap at work. That worked out really well.
A pork shoulder in the crockpot is like the gift that keeps on giving. I’d say definitively that pulled pork is the best of any leftovers, hands down. I make it once in the crockpot and have about 6 servings. We had some as tacos and then I wanted to give it another spin with a bottle of fig and balsamic dressing from a Trader Joe’s haul. A little fig jam + a little balsamic vinegar would reach the same flavors without that exact dressing too!
I like the sweet but vinegary yet smoky pork on crusty ciabatta but any roll will do! My preschooler got a slider bun since that’s sometimes a better size for him and he’d be more likely to eat all the bread skipping the pork unless sized well. I made some sweet potato tots and called it dinner. Here’s the Balsamic & Fig dressing I used but I’m including a quick fix for just a single use without buying it!
Balsamic + Fig Pork Sandwiches
Ingredients (for ~4)
1 1/2 – 2 cups pulled pork (~8oz, cooked)
1/2 cup Balsamic & Fig Dressing (or 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fig jam whisked together)
2 cups arugula
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300-degrees.
Mix the pork and some of the balsamic & fig dressing together gently. Taste and add more if needed.
Warm the pork either in the microwave, or in a skillet.
Toast the rolls in the oven for about 5 minutes, until warmed through and just lightly toasted.
Toss the arugula in the olive oil until dressed and lay onto the bottom buns.
Top with pork and a drizzle of dressing more.
I liked this for a different twist on pork! If you buy fig jam, it is fantastic with a salty cheese (thus why it is sometimes sold near the cheeses) but it is also great for a Fig & Prosciutto Panini, or on pizza!
The lemon aoli takes this home lunch to the next level. It is tart and perfect with the salmon. It perked up my leftover salmon and brought brightness with the salty bacon, peppery arugula, and juicy tomato. I wanted to make a fun lunch to revive some leftover salmon that I overcooked a bit. It was actually better in this salmon BLT than it was the night before!
Salmon BLT with Lemon Aoli
2 tablespoons mayo
juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch salt & pepper
2 strips of bacon
3-4 oz salmon, cooked and cooled
Pan fry the bacon and remove from the grease.
Turn off the pan from the bacon and gently warm the salmon in the bacon drippings.
Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Toast the bread and slice the tomato.
Assemble the sandwich with lemon aoli on each slice of toast, then salmon forked apart into chunks, then arugula, then bacon, and the remaining bread.
This was seriously better than the salmon was the night before. Condiments can make such a difference. An extra special BLT is a great dinner too. Warming the salmon a bit in bacon drippings is definitely a good choice.
Happy new year! I’m the only chicken salad eater at home but it is so great to make for 1 or 2! Make as little or as much as you like! I made this for a weekend lunch but I’ll definitely repeat this one for packing my lunch too. I poached chicken which is the trick for chicken salad and added in dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. It has good mix of crunch- without celery, which is my nemesis.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad (for 2)
3 chicken tenders
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Italian dressing
2 tablespoons walnuts
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
salt & pepper
Poach the chicken in a medium pot, just with the chicken covered with water and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. Let cool completely before chopping/shredding.
Mix together the chicken, mayo, dressing, walnuts and cranberries.
Refrigerate until serving, or serve immediately.
Assemble sandwiches and enjoy!
I loved this! I made a sandwich with arugula on wheat toast or it would be good on salad too. The add-ins are great to bulk it up with less chicken. I was wishing I had pecans around…that would have been a fun twist from the walnuts!
December seems to be a combo of feeding guests and repurposing leftovers! Use all the leftovers! This ham, cheese, and raspberry jam sandwich on sweet bread is craving your leftover party foods (like that spiral ham) or cheese (remnants from a cheese board)! Sometimes they are ham, turkey, and cheese and the sweet fruity spread is what makes this iconic sandwich.
I made these for a lunch and it brought me back to childhood memories of my Dad ordering the monte cristo at a family favorite restaurant. That sweet bread with salty ham and melty cheese is such a great combo. Restaurants deep fry it but this is quickly pan fried without the hassle of battering the whole sandwich.
Psssst. I used challah bread for this (and you can use leftover challah for this french toast too!)
Monte Cristo Grilled Cheese (for 2)
4 slices of challah bread
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
2 slices of white cheddar
2 slices of American cheese
4 slices of ham
Slice the bread and spread one side with raspberry jam. Then layer American on the other side, then ham, then cheddar to assemble the sandwich.
Preheat a griddle or frying pan.
Lightly spread the outside with butter/oil/mayo and lay that side onto the pan.
Cook for a few minutes and spread the other side.
Carefully flip and cook for a few minutes more. Cover for the last minute to ensure the cheese all melts.
Slice and enjoy!
I loved this! The bread is so delightfully soft and sweet, especially with the jam, but the salty ham and melty cheese makes the best contrast here. The American cheese gives that melt factor and the cheddar gives good flavor. A sprinkle of powdered sugar would be beautiful. The bread is decadent. I didn’t make it as French toast, but that’s another way to do it. These would be tasty brunch elements if you’re using ingredients up or wanting to serve something without eggs! My toddler wasn’t home but I can see him liking aspects of this…maybe it would be a good reinforcement for ham since he’s not 100% gung-ho about all sandwich meat.
Could this ‘dog be any more fall? It all started with a long pretzel bun and I knew it needed a fall festive hot dog since this is the ideal weather for grilling! There’s melty white cheddar under there and a slaw of apples, onion, and arugula. It is spectacular and would be super fun for an afternoon game watching – especially since, I’m only watching football for the snacks!
Swap the hot dog for a sausage or bratwurst or whatever you like! I recently tried the Beyond Meat sausage and think this would be a good combo for that too! I made this for a lunch but it was a really great use for some frozen-since-summer hot dogs!
Fall Hot Dog with Apple Slaw and a Pretzel Bun (for 2)
2 long pretzel buns
2 hot dogs/sausages/bratwursts
1/4 white onion
1/2 cup arugula, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 slices sharp white cheddar
Finely chop the apple, white onion, and arugula while preheating the grill. (This is easy to make indoors on a pan as long as you toast the roll too.)
Mix together the apple, onion, arugula, olive oil, and vinegar. Refrigerate until serving.
Grill the dogs/sausages/brats until cooked through. While they cook, toast the pretzel bun and melt the cheese onto it.
Assemble with the toasted roll, melted cheese, dog/sausage/brat and spoon the apple slaw over the top.
This is the perfect fall food. The slaw is really addictive- as in, I ate the leftovers with a spoon. The pretzel roll and really good quality white cheddar made me really fall in love with this. Originally I was thinking apple slices but the slaw format allowed for the sweet crunch with acidic dressing to be in each bite and it seems like a real dog topping. My pretzel bun is from Trader Joe’s but my grocery store has them in this shape occasionally and I’ve seen them at Whole Foods too. I cut out a sliver to make the roll smaller and keep the ratio how I wanted it.