Ham & nectarine paninis with gouda cheese are inspired by Joanna’s recipe from Magnolia Magazine!  Melty Gouda cheese and ham alone make a great panini, but the addition of nectarines make this sandwich a real keeper.  Kids are pleased, dinner is warm with little prep or mess, and they’re versatile enough to serve with a number of sides.

Joanna’s panini (or toastie) version included peaches and prosciutto which has a nice ring to it.  It does sound a bit more fancy than a ham and gouda panini, but it’s the taste that I care about most.  I’m confident either panini will win you over.  It’s a warm sandwich with melty cheese…

…just don’t eat it in the shower like Joey from Friends. #stillafan

joey eating a sandwich in the shower

Since I’m a wee bit behind in posting this recipe and we’re now days away from Christmas, when nectarines might not be as freshly available, thinly sliced crisp apples or pears would be great too!

ham & nectarine panini

Paninis require no skills.  Start with a good bakery bread + choice of meat/veggies/fruit or combination + choose a little sauce factor + add a little crunch if desired + slather the bread with butter and press!  

Joanna’s toastie included putting mayo on the *outside* of the bread which I’ve not tried.  The mayo I keep on hand is the light stuff made with olive oil…I’m thinking the real kind would be amazing.  Just like real butter, there’s no real comparison. For real.

We chose standard white bakery bread but a flavored variety would be great too for a little extra something.  We used finely shredded romaine lettuce (once removed from panini press) for that cool crunch in every bite.  The sweet kiss of nectarines paired with ham and gouda makes this panini so refreshing.

To bring the panini all together with a little extra creaminess and zing, a simple mixture of lite mayo and whole grain dijon mustard slathered on the insides of the bread did the trick.  

*I really should make these again and photograph the cheese oozing out…it’s there, and it was gooda.

ham and nectarine panini with gouda cheese

We served our paninis with fresh sweet corn (hey, I did say I was a little late posting!), but would be great with soup, salad or veggie.

After you try our ham and nectarine panini with gouda cheese, give our other favorite panini combinations a go!  It’s hard to screw up a panini, really.  

Try these other favorite panini combinations: 

*leftover grilled chicken, pesto, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce

*leftover fajita peppers and chicken/steak, cheddar cheese, avocado

*ham, sautéed onions, jalapeño cream cheese, lettuce

*turkey, red pepper and onions, chipotle laughing cow cheese

*leftover meatloaf, provolone cheese, sautéed onions


Remember this episode???

joey sandwich king

Do you need a recipe for a panini?

Ham and Nectarine Panini with Gouda Cheese!


  • Your choice of hearty bread
  • deli sliced smoked ham, 2oz. per panini (or prosciutto)
  • Gouda cheese (fontina would be good as used in Magnolia Market's recipe)
  • nectarines, apples, or crisp pears
  • romaine lettuce
  • 2 TB light mayo
  • whole grain dijon mustard to taste
  • butter


  1. Hardly a recipe at all, but here goes...
  2. butter one side of each slice of bread
  3. layer ham, cheese, and sliced nectarines on non-buttered side.
  4. Mix mayo with a little dijon mustard and spread on the other slice, non-buttered side.
  5. Place sandwich butter sides up on preheated panini press and close.
  6. If you don't have a panini press, cook in a skillet like a grilled cheese pressing the sandwich down after it's been flipped once.
  7. Cook until desired crispiness and cheese is melty.
  8. Allow to cool slightly then slice in half.
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Jalapeno cornbread & chicken stuffed peppers were a recipe idea my daughter dreamed up combining her love for stuffed peppers and spicy foods!

Simple seasoned and sautéed chicken gets paired with boxed cornbread stuffing with the addition of jalapeños for a fun and flavorful twist on stuffed peppers.  Check out our other favorite version of stuffed peppers using Italian Sausage & Cornbread!

jalapeno cornbread stuffed peppers with chicken

Stuffed peppers make a pretty dinner presentation with not much effort or mess involved.  This chicken and jalapeño cornbread version can be macro-friendly too (well rounded in protein, fats, and carbs.)

Let’s talk cheese:

I chose to use pre sliced cheese vs. shredded making it easy to control how much was added.  1/2 a slice on each pepper was enough to be satisfied, but add as much as you like!  This method doesn’t apply to pizza 😉

We tried 2 versions…pepperjack and smoked gouda.  Both were amazing and no favorite was chosen.

The use of jarred jalapeno’s gives the cornbread a welcomed kick and can be adjusted to your liking.  If you like things with a BIG kick, then go for the real thing.  

chicken and cornbread stuffed peppers

My favorite way to season chicken breasts is with McCormick’s Smokehouse Maple seasoning and a little salt, pepper and garlic powder.  It works incredibly well in a variety of dishes…even jalapeño cornbread stuffed peppers.  duh.

When the stuffing is ready and chicken is chopped, it’s time to stuff the peppers! Don’t be a wimp about it either.  Push as much chicken into the peppers as you can, piling it high.  The cheese will help hold it all together as it melts over every piece and fills the gaps.

chicken stuffed peppers

Since everything has been cooked thoroughly it’s a matter of waiting for the cheese to melt and peppers soften just a bit more.

Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley overtop with additional jalapeños and these chicken and cornbread stuffed peppers are are worthy of your next dinner guests.  

chicken stuffed peppers

Jalapeno cornbread and chicken stuffed peppers are definitely a keeper for the girls in the family.  We didn’t share, ate them all and for the record, we’re the only ones who dig jalapeños.  Boys…such wimps.  

Let me know if you try them!

Jalapeno Cornbread & Chicken Stuffed Peppers


  • 1 lb. thin cut chicken breasts
  • 2-3 large bell peppers (any color!)
  • jarred jalapeños, 2-4 per half pepper for a mild kick
  • half red onion, sliced thick
  • stovetop cornbread stuffing
  • salt & pepper
  • McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning (optional)
  • parsley for garnish (optional)
  • sliced pepper jack, gouda, or cheddar cheese if you must...just not mozzarella. please.
  • (roughly 1/2 slice per pepper or more to your liking.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400* (reduced later to 350*)
  2. Season chicken liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and McCormick seasoning (or other favorite version).
  3. Slice the top off the peppers and remove the core...a good whack over the sink or trash can to remove the leftover seeds usually does the trick.
  4. Slice each pepper in half, from top to bottom. Place peppers in a microwaveable safe dish with lid and microwave for 3 minutes. If peppers are still too firm microwave for an additional 45 seconds at a time. They will finish slightly in the oven.
  5. Slice red onion into large rings and bake with chicken in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before chopping into bite size pieces, onion too.
  6. While chicken is baking, make stovetop stuffing. My dog could do this part.
  7. When stuffing is done, add chopped jalapeños and chopped red onions.
  8. Stuff each pepper half with a heaping spoonful of stuffing, topped with chicken, then cheese.
  9. Bake in a reduced oven temp of 350* for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and heated through.
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional jalapeño slices. Serve with a simple side salad and file this recipe away in your favorites...after you've shared it with your friends and family.
  11. * You will likely have leftover stuffing and some chicken. congrats! You now have lunch for tomorrow. Just toss in a veggie to be cool.
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I’m sharing 3 of my recent favorite and easy meal prep side dishes.

 I’m not a traditional meal prep person where you essentially cook 1 main protein and carb choice in bulk, then portion them into containers for the week.  That method is very helpful and efficient for many people and there’s TONS of ideas if you simply search “meal prep.”  However, I’ve never been able to stick with it because I love to cook and try new things!!

So while my method is very similar, I’m just adding the protein and bringing a little variety each day. So, whatever your method (or lack thereof) rock your next lunch break with one of these 3 delicious and easy meal prep side dishes!

The secret to my easy meal prep side dishes is having items on hand that require little to no prep and can be used in a variety of dishes. That’s right…meal prep that requires little prep.   Each recipe featured today includes edamame!

Meal Prep Side Dish idea #1: Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/edamame and fire roasted peppers and onions (Great alongside eggs for breakfast or paired with your choice of protein)

roasted sweet potatoes

This combination is bursting with flavor and packs a nutritious punch!  Roasted sweet potatoes are a staple in my fridge *almost* every week.  They’re ridiculously easy to prepare and super versatile.  Next time you turn your oven on, toss in a sheet of sweet potato cubes and other veggies you may enjoy.  Carrots, red onions, green beans & cauliflower are other favorites.

Meal Prep Side Dish Idea #2: Cumin & Lime Quinoa Salad w/Edamame and Mini Peppers
quinoa and edamame

Quinoa is so incredibly versatile.  I love the freshness of the lime juice paired with crisp mini peppers, edamame, and some corn for sweetness.  Sprinkle in a little cumin and it’s terrific as a standalone side dish or toss with some leftover chicken for a simple and very nutritious meal.

Disclaimer:  My favorite quinoa side dish is still my copycat BJ’s Brewhouse Copycat Bistro Grains. There have been several versions of this “bistro grains” on their menu, but I’ve never liked another one as much as the one I recreated.

Meal Prep Side Dish #3: Israeli Couscous with Edamame and Carrots 

israeli couscous salad

Last but not least Israeli couscous gets paired with edamame, matchstick carrots, and red onions for yet another super versatile meal prep side dish.  Shown above topped with leftover buffalo grilled chicken.

Israeli Couscous has a wonderful nutty flavor that pairs nicely with just about anything from sweet to savory.  Just a light drizzle of olive oil with some salt and pepper and I could eat the whole pot…

So there you have it!  3 super simple meal prep ideas that start with a main base – sweet potatoes, quinoa, couscous- and are versatile for whatever leftover veggies and protein you have on hand. 


*SWEET POTATOES: peeled, cubed, tossed in a bit of coconut or olive oil (or just lightly sprayed with non-stick) and roasted at 350* for 40 minutes.  Season with cinnamon or a combination of cumin/smoked paprika/cinnamon!

*FIRE ROASTED PEPPERS & ONIONS: frozen bag from Trader Joe’s.  Great for adding to omelets, quesadillas, paninis, soups, and more!  The fire roasted gives so much flavor that it’s worth finding a variety similar if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby.

*FROZEN EDAMAME: provides a good amount of protein and crunch to more than just salads!

*QUINOA: if you’ve not given quinoa a try I recommend starting with the red variety.  Cook according to the package and try substituting chicken broth for water depending on the recipe.



Side Dish

Incredibly delicious and creamy carrot soup that requires little work but is big on flavor and nutrients! Topped with buffalo grilled chicken for a flavor combination that’s too good to be true. Trust me…

creamy carrot soup

My husband thinks I eat weird food sometimes.  Carrot soup would definitely fit that category for him, but I’m telling you there’s more to explore than just chili and chicken and noodle soup.   I mean we enjoy burgers with peanut butter and hot pepper jelly on them so how can carrot soup be so weird? Right?!  Thank you for siding with me.

Soup must be either thick and creamy (like this carrot soup) or full of ingredients with every spoonful. No wimpy broth soups!   The decision to top this with leftover buffalo grilled chicken is brilliant and shouldn’t be left out!! 

Even though this soup is a vibrant orange, it’s not overly carrot-y.  Does that make sense? hahaha. I was worried it would taste too earthy or bitter and it definitely does not.  Think thick tomato soup, but carrot flavor with a punch.  That punch comes from the roasted red peppers.  DELISH.

carrot soup with chicken

I’ve never gotten the hang of meal prepping for the week but I’m an aficionado when it comes to repurposing leftovers.  So while this post is mainly about the carrot soup, I HIGHLY encourage you to make some marinated buffalo chicken to top it off.  You can use the rest of the chicken for paninis, toss it in a salad, or wrap.  However if you’re short on time this soup is delicious as is and needs nothing but a spoon.

You won’t regret having this on hand though…

buffalo chicken marinade

The recipe makes enough for 3 large bowls.  Each bowl (3 servings without chicken) is approx 115 calories 0fat, 26g. carbs and 6g protein.

Let me know when you try it!


Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Buffalo Grilled Chicken


  • 156g carrots, peeled and diced (about 4 carrots)
  • 1 jar fire roasted red peppers, drained (I used Trader joe's)
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • salt to taste
  • Buffalo chicken Marinade


  1. Begin by marinating chicken, preferably overnight or at least a few hours. While chicken is marinating preheat oven to 350* and prep carrots. Arrange carrots on baking sheet with non-stick spray and roast 40 minutes. (don't forget to include some other veggies or potatoes while the oven is on!).
  2. In a small pot saute onion 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute continually stirring. Add broth, roasted peppers, and beans. Bring to a simmer then pour into blender. Add carrots and blend until desired creaminess. Add more broth if desired.
  3. *I 'grill' my chicken indoors either in my cast iron skillet or grill pan.
  4. *After chicken cooks I allow it to rest 5 minutes then slice and add back to skillet (scraping out any burnt marinade pieces) with marinade to soak up all the flavor.
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