The Perfect Panini

For me, there’s no sandwich better in the world than a rockin’ panini.  That savory, crisp exterior with a succulent, warm, gooey, cheesy inside beats a cold sandwich any day of the week.

We all strive to be able to reproduce that wonderful panini that we get at gourmet sandwich shops at home.   Well, it isn’t that difficult to do, and here is one recipe for a deliciously perfect panini that’s easy to make.


This isn’t a crazy recipe.  It’s simply a delicious one that involves ingredients that are found on common panini you’d order at a shop.  Basically, chicken or turkey, cheese, tomato, greens, and a yummy sauce all on fresh bread.

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Seared Tuna Steak Wrapped in Seaweed

Has January been flying by or what?
Spring semester is starting this Monday for me.  Yikes!  Although, I’m actually pretty excited since I’ll be graduating!

Did everyone have a fun, food-filled lunar new year?  We cooked up a Vietnamese spread for dinner… with PLENTY of leftovers.  I’ll be sure to post about it.

Onto this post’s meal, though.

I saw some beautiful tuna steaks at the store and just had to have them!

I love seaweed paper (nori), either on sushi or as a snack.  It’s great that Trader Joe’s jumped on the bandwagon with roasted seaweed snacks so that I don’t have to go to the Asian markets to get it.  Delicious!

For sushi, however, you want to get the sheets of seaweed paper, not the small snack-size.  Now, this dish isn’t sushi, of course, but it’s the same concept with rolling in nori.

As you can see, there are a few components to this dish, including a couple of fun sauces.  I also served the dish with some brown rice and shredded sautéed zucchini.  Feel free to use white rice and whatever veggie you like.  I just had zucchini I needed to use up.

Once you get the rice cooking (rice cookers are a wonderful thing), get started with the sauces.

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Crispy Orange-Ginger Chicken with Pickled Diakon & Carrots and Cucumber Kimchi

I’ve finally recovered from the holidays.  I had a wonderful holiday season, but I’ve been baked-out (in the culinary sense) and sick, and now I’m back in the game!

I made this meal last night.  The idea started with craving some pickled carrots.  That might sound like an odd craving, but they are quite tasty if you haven’t had them.  Chicken was on sale at the grocery store, and I love an orange-ginger glaze on chicken when I’m going Asian.  Cucumber Kimchi (oi sobagi) was sounding rather yummy, too.

I was cooking for Christina (my gf) and my mom.  The latter of whom can have a picky palate, particularly when it comes to vegetables and spice, so I’m often restricted in my options for dinner with her.  Naturally, I like to push her to try new things, though, which with this included the pickled veg.

Much to my surprise, my mom actually loved the dish, particularly the pickled bits!  That’s a rare result, and I do think this dish turned out quite well, so I think it’s a good one to share with you all after the holiday break.

With Cucumber Kimchi and pickled daikon & carrots

While at the grocery store, they actually had daikon radish, which I absolutely love pickled, so I picked that up, too.  Continue reading

Almond-Cardamom Biscotti

Cardamom: an amazingly delicious spice that too many people are unaware of.

If you are one of those people, you may have had it in chai without knowing.  In fact, I have a recipe for Chai Snickerdoodles coming up that puts such a lovely, refreshing new twist on a classic.

I’ve been familiar with chai for much longer than I’ve been familiar with cardamom, itself.  I often wanted to get some cardamom goodness in the form of gelato, but every time I go, my local gelato joint doesn’t have it in stock.  At the grocery store, it’s a whopping $15 for a regular-sized spice jar of it.  There’s no way I can justify that!

Finally, last Saturday while dining out at Tapas Teatro in Baltimore, I got the hit of cardamom that has eluded me.  On the dessert menu was cardamom ice cream.  It turned out to be vanilla bean ice cream with ground cardamom sprinkled on top.  That was slightly disappointing to see, but after one bite, I was in heaven.  This. Was. Delicious.

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Phyllo Dough Pizza

It wasn’t long ago that I discovered phyllo dough.  I was browsing the internet one day looking for a new idea for preparing salmon.  I came across a recipe for salmon topped with cut asparagus and wrapped in phyllo dough.

I spent at least 20 minutes trying to find the stuff in the grocery store.  Finally, I located a store-brand box of phyllo dough in the freezer section with pie doughs, after looking there at least five times.

As you may know, phyllo dough is paper thin, and a million times more fragile.  It wasn’t pretty getting a thin section cut and wrapped around the salmon.  Phyllo dough and I weren’t off to a great start.

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My Grandmother’s Almond Biscotti

This is a childhood favorite.  Unbeknownst to me, I took my Italian grandmother’s biscotti for granted as a child.  She made it often, and it was delicious!  Later in life however, she no longer lived nearby, and she was no longer healthy enough to be slaving in the kitchen.

Store-bought biscotti is just awful in comparison, by the way.

I enjoy cooking, of course, but I’ve never been that interested in baking.  I like to improvise as I go along, after all, and baking has little room for doing so.  However, I recently was lucky enough to obtain a KitchenAid stand mixer, so I decided to bite the bullet and get my hands dirty.

I didn’t even have to think about what I wanted to make first: my grandmother’s biscotti, no doubt about it.  I was driven to accomplish this task, no matter the sacrifice.  Even if I had to fly to Florida and sift through everything in my grandmother’s residence to find the recipe, spend days in the kitchen covered in flour from head to toe with nothing but failures in the oven to show for it, mark my words I would prevail.

In reality, I texted my nearby aunt in case she had the recipe, and she texted me back with a picture of it.  Looking over the recipe, it seemed like some simple baking.  So that was easy.  Onward and upward to the kitchen, now.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Mushroom with Shrimp and a Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

I made this meal up as I went along.  I had been craving stuffed mushrooms, but the nice large portobello caps have been far too expensive at the grocery store.  Thankfully, I was able to get a pack of two big beautiful ones at Trader Joe’s for just over $2.

Mushrooms have such a great meaty texture that you could simply serve the stuffed mushroom with a salad without feeling like you were lacking a main dish.

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