The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 31, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Panini grill makes more than sandwiches

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — We have all seen the ads for panini. You know, those sandwiches that are pressed and grilled at the same time, preferably with a little cheese to bind the whole thing together. Panini grills or presses come in various price ranges and, according to Alton Brown, can be used for so much more than a panini, starting with breakfast.

Place bacon strips on the panini grill, close the lid and 2 minutes later, perfectly cooked bacon. Add some fresh spinach to the uncleaned grill along with some whisked eggs, close the lid and wait 1 minute. Voila, you have an omelet to go with the bacon. For lunch, place some pizza dough on the grill, brush with some olive oil and top with herbs and roasted peppers or whatever topping you choose and in 6 minutes, pizza is served. Just remember to forgo the cheese on this one.

For dinner, place a flattened, butterflied Cornish game hen on the grill, close the lid and in 12 minutes the bird is ready. Place some fresh asparagus on the same grill and in just a minute or so, it’s the perfect complement to the hen. For dessert, place fresh peach slices on the grill, close the lid and in 1 minute, they are ready to be served with cake and ice cream. Your three meals for one day, all from the panini grill.

What if you don’t want to splurge on a panini grill? There’s always your trusty skillet, which will give you similar results. The only thing missing will be the grill marks. Preheat your skillet with butter or oil, add the sandwich then press it with a heavy pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side and you will have a flattened grilled sandwich to rival one professionally made. A brick wrapped in foil or plastic wrap would really give you that effect you are looking for. A griddle will do the same thing, and a grill pan will give you those grill marks that some think must be present for it to be a real panini. If you have a waffle maker, even better. You can really get a quality panini from that kitchen gadget, and the grill marks will be an attention-getter. Lots of options for enjoying a panini.

I must share this tidbit from It got my attention by telling me I had been getting my ketchup at fast-food places the wrong way. Sure enough, I had. Yes, I squirt the ketchup into those little white cups, then dip my fries, one at a time, just like everyone else. Come to find out, those white cups are meant to fan out and accommodate more than one fry as well as the side of your burger if you are looking for more ketchup for your bite. Simply unroll and fan out the top of the container and you have a wider area of ketchup in no time. I never knew that.

If you bought too much Halloween candy or just turned out your lights early, you may have extra candy just sitting there calling your name. Here are some ideas from to put those leftovers to good use: Give it for the holidays to organizations seeking donations; use it later to decorate a gingerbread house; string Life Savers and like candies together for Christmas tree garland; use as wreath decorations; melt some of the chocolate confections for ice cream toppings; use it in an Advent calendar; bake with it by adding it to brownies, cookies and cakes; add to pretzels, raisins and nuts for a homemade trail mix; or freeze the candy to enjoy later when you haven’t indulged as much as you have this week.

Pizza always sounds good, and the chicken fajita pizza from the “Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off” cookbook is no exception. Choose the amount of chili powder and spiciness of the salsa to suit your family’s taste. Because we rarely get trick-or-treaters at our house, I stock up on my favorite candy, making sure there’s plenty left for later. I always told my grandfather that I needed a Milky Way, not that I wanted one.

It’s still my favorite candy bar, especially the new one with dark chocolate. I was happy when I found the Milky Way bundt cake recipe on The recipe is specific about not putting grease and flour more than one inch from the top of the pan, cautioning that the cake will run over, fall and make a terrible mess. That is enough warning for me. The glaze for this cake is a good one to use anytime. The candy pudding cake calls for a small cake mix, and be sure to put this cake in the oven before you start eating dinner so it will be out of the oven and warm for dessert. This recipe is also from  


Chicken fajita pizza

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into strips

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup thinly sliced onions

1 cup green or red bell pepper strips

1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust

1/2 cup salsa

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in salt and chili and garlic powders. Add onions and bell pepper; cook and stir and additional 1 minute or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Grease 12-inch pizza pan or 9-by-13-inch pan. Unroll dough and place in greased pan. Starting at center, press out with hands. Bake at 325 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until very light golden brown. Spoon chicken mixture over partially baked crust. Spoon salsa over chicken and sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 14 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Yields 8 servings.


Milky Way bundt cake

10 (2.1-ounce) Milky Way candy bars

13/8 cups butter, divided

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

21/2 cups flour

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Melt candy in microwave or double boiler with 1/2 cup butter. Stir till smooth and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and 1/2 cup softened butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. In another bowl whisk together flour and soda. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to creamed mixture, ending with flour mixture. Stir in candy mixture and vanilla until well blended. Grease and flour Bundt pan to within 1-inch of top of pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes then remove from pan. Melt 3 Milky Way bars with 3/8 cup of butter; pour over cake to glaze. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Yields 16 servings.


Candy pudding cake

1 (9-ounce) cake mix, chocolate or yellow

3 Three Musketeers candy bars, thinly sliced

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup light syrup or honey

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired

Prepare cake mix as directed and pour into greased 8-inch greased pan. Arrange sliced candy evenly over cake batter. In a small pan mix water and honey or syrup. Heat just until bubbles appear around edge of pan. Pour over cake batter and candy. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes. Spoon out of pan while warm and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Yields 8 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.