Cheddar, Apple, Bacon Panini Bites

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I’m back!  I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I’ve been gone so long.

I’ve been busy traveling and I also had to make time to prioritize other factors in my life.  I’m happy to report that I started a new job at the end of October.  Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t pay my bills 🙂

With the Christmas season approaching rapidly, I hope to get some new and great recipes out to you in time for your holiday parties and festivities.  I am already scheming about which Christmas cookies to attempt this year!

Today, I have a delicious and simple make-ahead appetizer to share with you!

Panini Bites!

Paninis are pressed and toasted sandwiches that have their origins in Italy.  Electric panini makers are widely available in any kitchen appliance store, but there are ways to make them even if you don’t have one.

These Panini bites are incredibly easy to assemble and can be prepared ahead of time.  Once you’re ready to entertain, you pull the sandwiches out of the fridge, brush them with olive oil, press and toast them, cut into individual bite-size portions, and serve!  It takes no more than 10 minutes from fridge to mouth and you don’t need to attend to them much once you get them grilling.   Best of all this is a recipe that doesn’t need any exact measurements and can easily be adapted to an endless variety of combinations to suit your particular flavor preferences.

Start with any kind of wide, sturdy bread  that yield large slices.  I used slices of potato bread because that’s what I had on hand, but typically any kind of rustic, artisanal bread will be ideal.

Spread apple chutney or apple butter over 1 side of each slice of bread and sprinkle with chopped thyme or sage.

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Layer half of your bread slices with cheddar cheese, bacon, and apple slices.  I played around with cheeses and my favorite ended up being a combination of regular sharp cheddar cheese and then topping the ingredients with Vermont white cheddar cheese as well.  Top with the remaining half of the bread slices (chutney/butter side DOWN).

If you plan to make these ahead of time, wrap each sandwich with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you don’t own a panini press, don’t fret, you can still make these.

When you’re ready, brush the outsides of the sandwiches lightly with olive oil.  Heat your panini maker or a 12-inch nonstick grill pan over medium heat.  If you don’t have a grill pan, you can use a 12-inch nonstick skillet as well, you just won’t get the attractive grill marks.  Places the sandwiches on the grill pan or skillet and place a heavy pot or Dutch Oven on top to press them.  Cook until the sandwiches are golden brown and crisp on both sides and the cheese has melted, about 8 minutes, flipping the sandwiches halfway through cooking.  Obviously, if you are using a panini press, there is no need to flip them.

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As a side note, I personally love my panini press and once you have one you will start dreaming up delicious panini combinations in your sleep.  I have an older Cusinart Griddler model and I like it because you can also cook on it laying flat and there are interchangeable griddle plates as well.  They make some versions now that have even more bells and whistles and they are relatively inexpensive appliances.  XMAS gift idea!

Once golden brown and melty, transfer sandwiches to a cutting board and allow to rest for a minute or two.  Slice each sandwich crosswise into strips and serve.

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The possibilities for fillings are endless.  This sweet and savory combination is perfect for Fall and Winter months.

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  • Apple Chutney or Apple Butter
  • 8 (1/2 inch thick) slices of rustic bread
  • 2 tsp of minced fresh thyme or sage
  • 8 thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 to 5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, halved, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Yields 32 bites

Recipe Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Make-Ahead Appetizers (

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Appetizers/Snacks, Recipes

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4 Comments on “Cheddar, Apple, Bacon Panini Bites”

  1. December 9, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Looks great! I wish I had enough room in my cupboards or on the counter top for a panini press – I’ve been thinking about getting one of those cast iron grill presses to use with my cast iron grill pan, though. Seems a bit dramatic, though.

    • December 11, 2013 at 9:30 am #

      Thanks Carly! Any kind of grill pan will give the paninis the visually appealing “grill lines,” but of course those are just asthetic.

      I know what you mean about kitchen space. I keep mine in the basement most of the time because it’s one of those things I only use once in a while….Still love having it tho!

  2. December 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I mean… this looks amazing!

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