Holiday Fixins Panini-Style

Categories: Thrifty Cook
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Illustration by Cyndi Coon
Do something different this year for your holiday open house. Why cook in advance and do all the work? Just do the shopping and leave the action to occur during your event. Plan to buy bread, meat and cheese and grilling up some panini sandwiches on the spot. Pressure's off and you can enjoy your time and guests. 
Get your Holiday Open House panini plan after the jump.

The first thing you need to do is to get to know your deli counter at your local grocery store. You might think that the price of having someone slice your meat and cheese is higher than buying the same thing packages but it is actually cheaper to have it sliced then to buy packaged. Ideas for meat and cheese for your panini to follow.

Next, save even more and make your paninis out of leftovers like day old bread and cut pork tenderloin, save end cuts of cheese and that lone slice of salami because all those leftovers piled together make a great panini.

Don't have a panini press? No worries, do it up Paula Dean style and use a frying pan on the bottom and a heavy frying pan on the top to press down on the sandwich. It is a lot like a grilled cheese but with mixed ingredients.

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Photo: Cyndi Coon

For your holiday open house lay out a variety of different kinds of bread slices, different ingredients you have on hand or bought at your local deli and let guests make their own panini sandwiches and press them themselves. Everyone centers around the kitchen during an event anyway so why not put them to work!

Here are a few panini recipes ideas:
• A pizza panini with pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni
• A ham and cheese with a tomato panini: Put ham and swiss cheese into sourdough bread and add a few tomatoes
• A fresh veggi panini with a variety of veggies such as broccoli, mushrooms and asparagus. Add cheese and you are all set
• A caprese panini make this with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil drizzle with olive oil and vinegar before pressing
• A marinated goods panini. Try artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, olives or pickles with mustard and cheese.
• A grilled veggie panini - grill veggies (onions, mushrooms, squash and zucchini) in advance to have on hand and then fill bread with them, add cheese and press
• A Grilled Cheese Panini: Experiment with all different varieties of cheeses.
• An Elvis Panini: Bananas, peanut butter and bacon

Also don't forget about dessert panini recipes. Here are some ideas:
Make these with a sweet bread. And then fill with things such as:
• Cinnamon, sugar, and butter
• Cream cheese and jam
• Pie filling (such as apple or cherry)
• Marshmallows and chocolate
• Bananas and Honey

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