It was a beautiful day here in central Iowa! The sun was shining which made me want to fling open the back door of my kitchen when I got home and twirl around in the sunshine, Sound of Music style!

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I am not crazy though and, in fact, we only reached 36° today. BUT, we’re expecting 50° on Sunday, and since we haven’t seen temps above 45° in over 91 days, well, you can only imagine how excited that makes me! :)

There was no extra time to spend in the rays though, because I have a big to-do list to tackle tonight! Whenever I have a ton of stuff on my plate, and am feeling a bit overwhelmed, I make a list. They make my life SO much easier and help me to visualize and prioritize what needs to get done. Tonight’s list:

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From the top:

1. Bake: DONE!

Per Day 2 of my cookie making process, after work I rolled and baked 5 dozen cookies in an hour and a half – a personal best time for me!

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2. Blog: DONE!

Dinner was seriously outstanding tonight – I wish I had more than one Ham & Apricot Panini!

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I started with these chewy, fluffy Ciabatta Buns. $0.99 for two buns? Yeah!

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These came right from the bakery section of my grocery store, and are pre-sliced. They couldn’t make it easier to incorporate into a quick and tasty dinner.

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The rest of the panini ingredients: low-sodium Sara Lee deli ham, mild cheddar cheese and apricot preserves.

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I started by smearing a thin layer of the apricot preserves onto both sides of the ciabatta bun.

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Add a slice of cheddar cheese,

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and some ham.

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Place the two halves together and mist a skillet with some olive oil. You could use a little bit of butter too. You just need something to help the bread crisp up on both sides.

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Ok…here’s the thing. A panini press comes in really handy when you’re trying to make panini’s, however, when you don’t own one – you’ve got to improvise! Here’s my solution – a skillet stacked with a heavy container of protein powder, a giant can of baked beans, and a massive jar of PB!

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Psssht! Who needs a $50 panini press?! ;)

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When the bottom got nice and crispy, I misted the top with olive oil, flipped the sandwich over and placed a folded piece of foil on top, so the weighted skillet wouldn’t get dirty.

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The stack goes back! I only suffered 2 topples. No biggie. ;) 

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At this point, the cheese started oozing out and I was getting hungry! Baking sure takes it out of a girl!

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Finally, the sandwich got crisped up on both sides, so I took it off the skillet, sliced (on the diagonal) and served!

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WOW! Best sandwich I ever made!

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The crunchy exterior gave way to a cheesy, gooey interior.

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And that JAM! Sweet to ham’s savory. UN-believable!

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Proof positive you don’t need a fancy piece of kitchen equipment to make fabulous, fun meals. :)

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I served my crispy panini with some crunchy carrots.

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This whole bag was $1.88! Niiiiice.

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I needed some veggies in my life, and these did the trick.

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Although I’m wishing I had about 5 more of these sandwiches…so fabulous!

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Well, per my list, I’ve got two more items to cross off tonight:

3. Make the icing which I’ll be decorating my cookies with tomorrow.

4. Get a head start on tomorrows dinner. Cookie decorating will be dominating my night, so it’ll be nice to whip something pre-made out of the fridge!

I should be done in plenty of time to catch LOST, though, which is delayed an hour for a local basketball game. Found time! Love it. :)

ps you guys are JAZZED for the chia seed giveaway – I’m so glad! I did want to tell you that although chia seeds may appear to be expensive at first glance, they honestly last forever. I’ve been using ~1/2 Tablespoon from my 2lb stash everyday since I got it last month, and I seriously think I’ll be using it for the next year. If you spread the cost out over the period of many, many months, it’s really not bad at all. PLUS ChiaSeedsDirect.com offers FREE shipping! So, there ya go! :) 

You have a great night!

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What’s your favorite kitchen gadget?

Do you ever rig up contraptions in place of fancy appliances?

Do you prefer hot, or cold sandwiches?