Well, hello!

by on September 8, 2014

Living out loud!That’s me, smile-screaming on the kiddie coaster at Happy Hollow this summer. My little girl insisted we sit in the front row, for maximum thrills. I am so not a roller coaster person! But my kids got me on them at least four times over the past few months. And I have to admit, I kind of loved it.

That’s kind of where things are at right now — letting go a bit, enjoying the moment, seeing where things take me. After a loooong summer, we’re all settled into our new house in the Bay Area now (well, the garage is still full of unpacked boxes, but let’s not be concerned with that :-)). The kids have both started their new schools (my little guy finally started today, so I finally sat down for a few minutes to blog!). My family was here to help  celebrate my 40th birthday over the weekend — it’s so nice to have nearby family again!

Slowly, but surely I’ve been getting back into a cooking rhythm. There are a few incredible farmers markets near us, which has been very inspiring! We’ve also been dining out a lot, as so many restaurants in the Bay Area are awesome and most are new to us. I’m looking forward to being able to share more of what I’m cooking and eating on the blog again — my Instagram hasn’t slowed down a bit, but I know some of you miss seeing recipes. I’m almost back!

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Moving House

by on June 10, 2014

Hotel Del Coronado

An intermittent little eyebrow twitch reminds me that our departure from San Diego and move back to the Bay Area is a little more than two weeks away. I’ve been a giant ball of stress for the past few months and I have a feeling that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Selling our house has been a roller coaster — in escrow, out of escrow, back in escrow. Finding a new place to live has proven to be a lot more complicated now that we have little kids — and schools — to consider. San Diego isn’t a cheap place to live, but the Bay Area is out-of-its-mind expensive and that’s kind of driving me out of my own mind.

The kids and the move — that’s where 99% of my focus has been lately. There’s been little time for much else…including blogging.

I want to be blogging. It’s a comfort to me to share what I’ve been cooking and eating — and I’ve continued to do plenty of sharing on Instagram. So why no blog posts? I’ve been stewing over that question for a while. I think it stems from pressure I feel — both internal and external — to put forth a “polished, professional and perfect” presentation on the blog. I’ve had arbitrary “rules” about this blog for a long time — a post needs to have a nice, high quality (read: sharable) photo and a recipe (ideally one that can be prepared on the panini press). That’s nice and all…but maybe it doesn’t work for me anymore.

I love iPhone pics. In fact, except for blogging purposes, it’s the only camera I ever use — even on vacation. I like to share what I’m up to in the moment — not a week later, once I’ve cobbled the time together to present it in a polished manner. Scheduling posts ahead of time? It’s not for me. I don’t decide a week in advance the conversation I want to have with my day-to-day friends, and I don’t want to pre-plan my conversations with you.

Recipes — I do think they’re important, especially if any of you are looking to recreate what I’m sharing. But does a recipe always have to be a formal list of ingredients and numbered instructions? I don’t think so. When friends ask me how I made a dish I can usually describe it — accurately — in a few quick sentences of a Facebook comment. Baking? That’s more of a science, so a formally written recipe is probably more warranted. All I’m saying is…my real life isn’t always polished and perfect (far from it) — I don’t think my blog life should strive to be either.

Panini Happy has been a virtual home for me for more than 6 years — and even though my family is moving from one physical house to another, this online one isn’t going anywhere. What’s next? That’s still to be determined. But I do know this: it’s going to be real, it’s going to be comfortable, it’s going to reflect what I’m cooking/eating/thinking/doing and you will always be welcome to drop in and stay a while. :-)

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Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese

April 30, 2014

It’s the last day of April, which means that National Grilled Cheese Month is drawing to a close. We’ve got one last guest blogger today, Stefani Pollack from Cupcake Project, and she’s sharing just about the cheesiest grilled cheese sandwich possible: Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese. The mac ‘n cheese isn’t on the inside, like […]

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Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt

April 21, 2014

Hello everyone! While my world continues to be overtaken by THE MOVE (there’s a gentleman shampooing the rugs at this very moment), my friend Amy Flanigan from Very Culinary is stopping by Panini Happy today to share her amazing grilled cheese — the Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt. She had me at Texas Toast…and asparagus…and […]

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Pickled Asparagus Grilled Cheese

April 16, 2014

Happy National Grilled Cheese Month! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately — my family is getting ready to bid a bittersweet farewell to San Diego and move back up to the Bay Area, so my time has been completely zapped by decluttering, packing, househunting and other relocation joys. Meanwhile, the cheesiest […]

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Reuben Panini

March 14, 2014

{I first posted this recipe in September 2008 — now updated with clearer instructions, a new photo and an excerpt from my cookbook, The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook} Once upon a time I asked Panini Happy readers to name their favorite sandwich. The overwhelming choice turned out to be the Reuben. It wasn’t hard for […]

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Grilled Banana Bread…and our Hawaiian Vacation!

March 1, 2014

Under the shade of an umbrella, reclined in a beach chair with my sandy legs outstretched, in view of coconut trees, paddle surfers and my little kids who are splashing at the edge of the lagoon…this is my paradise. And paradise was reality last week when my family traveled to Hawaii! I’ve got a slew […]

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Cajun Breakfast Panini + $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

February 19, 2014

“How about Andouille and eggs?” my mother-in-law Susan suggested, without a moment’s hesitation. After several days of mulling over Mardi Gras-themed panini ideas – and multiple trips to the grocery store for all kinds of ingredients – I struggled to come up with a concept that really spoke to me. I hadn’t considered going the […]

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Chocolate Spread Smackdown

February 13, 2014
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What do you do when you discover five different types of chocolate hazelnut spread in your pantry? Well, if you’re me, you conduct a little Chocolate Spread Smackdown — a non-scientific, yet indulgently fun, taste test to understand the pros and cons, similarities and difference between the various spreads on the market. It was not […]

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Seriously, The Best Homemade Quesadillas

January 29, 2014
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Over the years I’ve noticed there’s kind of a “difference”, shall we say, between the quesadillas I get at a Mexican restaurant or taquería and the ones I make at home. The restaurant flour tortillas taste a whole lot better than my store-bought ones (or have flavor at all!) — they’re very savory, with soft […]

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