Cold Proof Cooking with Kathy of Panini Happy

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Happy September! As we and our kids gear up for a new year of teachers, classes, and yes, bagged lunches, what could be more appropriate for a Cold-Proof Cooking Back to School Edition than a sandwich-themed food blog? Enter Kathy of Panini Happy –a food blogger armed with a Panini press, a passion for cooking, and a penchant for creativity. Read on to find out how she awakened the Panini-lover from within, how she keeps herself and her kids healthy—and her recipe for a healthy, delicious alternative to mayonnaise!

How did you get into cooking and blogging?

When I received a panini press for Christmas in 2007, I was, of course, grateful to my sister for the thoughtful gift. She knew I loved to cook and panini presses were the “it” gift for cooks, thanks to Oprah and her “Favorite Things.” But in the back of my head I was also thinking “Uh oh…you know I’m gonna use this once and then add it to the appliance wasteland that is my pantry.” That’s what I did with the ice cream maker, the crepe machine, the pizzelle machine – and those are the ones that I can at least remember. Good intentions fallen to the wayside. I had to break the cycle, but I would need some serious motivation.

Then came the idea for a panini blog – I would come up with new ideas for panini, test them out on my press and write up my recipes. At the time, I was a new mommy to a baby girl and while I had scarcely any control over my schedule, I did have pockets of time that seemed ripe for a creative outlet. And so Panini Happy (my other baby) was born.

What’s your favorite tip for staying healthy?

I make a real effort to minimize stress in my life. It’s not always easy for me to do, but I know I feel my best when I can just take a deep breath and keep things in perspective.

What’s one important way you try to take care of yourself and those around you?

The most important way that I take care of myself is just that: remembering to take care of myself. I have two super-fun little kids who are the absolute joys of my life. Their needs always come first. But I also believe that for me to be the best parent I can be, I have to make sure that I take care of my needs as well. Blogging fulfills my need to express myself creatively and recently I’ve started taking Zumba classes at my gym (so fun!).

Can you share your favorite healthy/easy/deliciously comforting recipe?

White Bean-Chive Hummus

By Kathy Strahs,
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 0 minutes | Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper


1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and purée until the mixture is smooth. Serve immediately with pita chips, grilled bread, vegetables or on a sandwich or wrap or refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

How did you discover this recipe? Please include details on how you enjoy it, who you share it with, etc…our fans would love to know!

I created it as a super-flavorful, healthier alternative to cheese or mayonnaise on a sandwich. Of course, it’s great as a dip with pita chips or vegetables as well.

Do you have a zany cold remedy or unique stay-healthy routine?

Colds seem to be pretty unavoidable when you’ve got preschoolers in your house, so we just do our best to wash our hands often. My grandpa used to make some pungent concoction of onions and honey but I never ventured to try it. 😉

Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe, Kathy! It’s truly the best of both worlds: nutritious, one-stop-shop cooking. Meanwhile, we hope this serves as a good introduction to Kathy… and that you’ll check out her blog to see how nutritious and wide the wonderful world of sandwiches truly can be!