Blackforest Ham and Brie Panini

The ham and cheese sandwich is given a makeover by switching the key ingredients. In a ciabatta goes blackforest ham, brie, granny smith apples before being grilled to toasty perfection.

When I ask my friends why they don’t cook at home, they tell me they don’t have time.

I find that rather odd, especially since I’ve always thought people don’t cook at home simply because they don’t know how!

Ever the advocate of home cooking, I tell them they can prepare food in advance—at a leisurely pace—on weekends. They can vacuum seal (I recently got a vacuum sealer and it has changed the way I store and save food) and freeze pre-cooked meals, then simply reheat portions on busy weekdays. They can chop vegetables to relieve stress, then add the pre-chopped veggies to salads or stir-fries. Most people are surprised to know that a lot of baked goods can be made in half the time it takes to drive to a nice pastry shop.

Most importantly, cooking at home ensures you have total control of what goes into your meal. I try to eat lean, clean, and green whenever I can, but when I do indulge, I’m in charge of just how much fat, sugar, or sodium I put in my food.

This month, I’m going to help you plan and prepare three different kinds (healthy, hearty, and happy) of on-the-go meals.

Healthy

Homemade granola is the perfect fiber-rich, protein-packed, low-fat, low-sugar, and low-sodium breakfast munchie. I make three different kinds of custom mix-ins so that everyone in the family can secretly feel special. Mr. Flintstone, a fitness freak if I ever saw one, enjoys his "cheat day" granola with dried cranberries, dried mangoes, and soymilk. I send a jar to my parents as well because they like to snack on sunflower and pumpkin seed studded granola clusters while going about their business. The eldest youngster, a 7-year-old budding gourmand, concocted a crazy mix that pays tribute to our favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavour—chunky monkey! We mix in Reese’s peanut butter chips, Hershey’s chocolate chips, and banana chips. How this boy makes my heart skip a beat with his brilliant ideas!

Hearty

For most moms I know, mother’s day is all about comfort food. When I think of comfort food, I think of mac and cheese and ham and cheese. Moms can never get enough of cheese and that’s a fact of life.

Since my mom, who would have made a stellar career as a food critic, is coming over, I decided to snazzy up the humble mac and cheese with colby jack cheese, gruyere, heavy cream, prawns, truffle oil, and grilled bread. This can be readied up in advance, so when it's time to eat, all you have to do is pop it in the oven.

The ham and cheese sandwich is given a makeover by switching the key ingredients. In a ciabatta goes blackforest ham, brie, granny smith apples before being grilled to toasty perfection.

Happy

Cooking is a great activity to bond with little ones. Kids really love helping out if given the chance. Cookie butter oatmeal bars and cereal popsicles are fun, fuss-free recipes that will surely delight your little chef at home.

If possible, take the kids to the grocery and let them pick out the ingredients you need. Let them count how much money they need to hand over to the cashier. At home, let them measure and mix ingredients. Just make sure to keep them away from sharp objects and heat sources!

Black Forest Ham and Brie Panini

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons butter, softened
2 large slices of ciabatta bread (sourdough is a good substitute)
4 slices black forest ham
Brie
Green apple, sliced thinly
Sea salt
Black pepper

Procedure:

1.    Spread 1 teaspoon of butter on each side of bread.
2.    Pile bread with black forest ham, brie, thinly sliced green apples, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
3.    Toast sandwich in a Panini maker. Alternatively, you may toast the sandwich on a grill pan. Pre-heat the grill pan, place sandwich, and press it down with a fish turner. Flip the sandwich and toast the other side.
4.    Serve!

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