Garlicky caprese paninis (and new photo swag)

Garlicky caprese paninis (and new photo swag)

Happy New Year! I'm so excited to get back to cooking, photographing, and writing. It's been a long few months with a few home/life changes which I'm optimistic are for the best. No, I'm not referring to the election...let's save that for a later (probably never) post...but I do feel obligated to be more involved in the community and stand up for equal rights, mutual respect, tolerance, and compassion. Yes, we still have to fight for these things in 2017.

2016 was the year of travel for me. I saw so many beautiful places, got to celebrate with friends and family at weddings (including my brother Vinnie bunnie and Sendo's festivities in Atlanta), attended my first ever food blogger conference, and ate more food than I can remember. The last few months of the year I lost my appetite a bit, but it's back with a vengeance. I'm back to saying YES to second helpings, eating regular meals and even craving cinnamon cupcakes so much that I might have to venture into baking this year (YIKES get ready for a series of "How I messed up baking this easy beginner level thing despite having a clear recipe" posts). 

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has asked, prodded, and encouraged me to get back to this in the last few months. Every time you have said "Hey do you have any more chicken recipes?", "When are you going to post more veggie stuff?", "i miss your pictures and stories", "I made your soup last night", and "When is the next post going up??", I've gotten one step closer to writing this post. You know who you are - Love you and thank you for your kind words and subtle (sometimes not so subtle) encouragement.

Speaking of encouragement, I recently received a wonderful surprise gift from a dear friend who is part of the "not so subtle" category above. Turns out he decided to basically force me back into blogging by sending me an awesome photography setup - a lightbox and background mats to use as photo backdrops. He sent a note saying "Lighting is everything and I hope this brightens up your food pics. Don't stop blogging". Oh COME ON. How was I going to resist that?? I was way too excited and decided to make the recipe featured in this post and photograph it using the setup. (The recipe's coming further below I swear).

You guys. I don't know what business I had food blogging without this light. It makes photos taken at nighttime (which is when I usually cook so the lighting isn't ideal) look like it was taken in perfect daytime lighting. The earlier photos on this blog were taken using the auto setting on my DSLR and I never bothered to learn the manual settings. The recipes from the last 3 years or so have all been photographed with my Iphone which is pretty good considering that it's a phone. Having this setup makes me want to learn about the DSLR and work on improving my photography even more. Oh and I need to renew my passport this month, so I'll also use this light to take a pic of my face at home. COOL.

 new lighting setup!

new lighting setup!

Congrats if you've made it this far, you must love me. Now onto the recipe :)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Some kinda crusty sandwich bread
  • Sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Prep:

Add the garlic to the evoo to make garlic evoo (too easy). Heat up the Panini maker. When the panini grill is hot, place the bread on the grill and brush with the garlic oil. Place the sliced sundried tomatoes, basil, and cheese on one slice of bread and cover with the other slice. Close the panini maker lid for a few minutes until the cheese is slightly melted. Remove from the grill, slice, and serve warm. This would go great with a tomato basil bisque...maybe I should make that next.