Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam

Sautéed kale is not just for side dishes. Give it a try as a sandwich base and you will forget all about lunch meat. This Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam is a hearty vegetarian sandwich with seasonal farm-fresh favorites. It is comfort food that packs a nutritious punch and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:
2 sub sandwich loaves (5 to 6 inches each), cut from a whole-wheat baguette
1 medium bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 slices white cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat a panini maker to medium-high. Slice sandwich loaves in half and set aside.
  2. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and cook or another minute, tossing to evenly coat.
  3. Layer apple slices, kale and cheddar cheese on the bottom bread slices. Spread strawberry jam on the top bread slices. Stack together and place sandwiches in the panini maker, closing the top. Grill until the bread is crusty and golden and cheese has melted. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: If you do not have a panini maker, use a grill pan or skillet and flip the sandwich to grill both sides. Placing a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich will give you the panini effect.

Servings: 2

Bacon and Apple Peanut Butter Dip

The inspiration for this dish came from Old Bourbon County Kitchen, a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky that serves a honey bourbon and sugar glazed bacon appetizer with peanut butter. My version is lighter, but still captures the wonderful combination of bacon and peanut butter. I know it sounds a little odd, but once you have tasted it you will forget all about peanut butter’s famous sidekick—jelly. Peanut butter and bacon is the new duo in town.

This appetizer is a perfect pairing with your favorite Kentucky bourbon. It brings out the whiskey’s sweet notes of vanilla, caramel and honey. Cheers to good bourbon, an appetizer your friends will love and adventurous food combinations.

Ingredients:
1 pound center cut bacon, cooked
1 large apple, sliced
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon skim milk

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food process, combine peanut butter, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla and milk. Blend or process until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately with bacon and apple slices or refrigerating until ready to serve.