Don’t know what to do with that leftover turkey… How about panini’s?

This post is sponsored by The Kraft Heinz Company, but all opinions, awesome ideas, and typos are my own

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but in our house the traditional meal of turkey with all of the fixings graces our table throughout the season when celebrating holidays with family and friends.   One of my favorite things about turkey, are the leftovers. 

So once I’ve had enough of holiday dishes, and football games are quiet, it’s time to make creative use of our leftovers and stretch out our love of turkey.  It’s time for a sandwich – or as the Italians often say, a “panini”.

 Today I'm whipping up a delicious panini sandwich with leftover turkey from the big bird and a few things I picked up from my local Price Chopper.  Because you know, the day after Thanksgiving, you want to keep it simple to all things kitchen oriented!

 Kraft Expertly Paired Cheese Panini

So, I'm going to take that leftover turkey and make it into an ooey, gooey, crispy, crunchy, delightfully delicious sandwich - and you don’t even need a fancy, schmancy panini press! 

What you need:

Here’s how:

First, heat-up your panini press.  Oh wait, I don't have one.  No need friends, here are a couple alternate panini press options.

1)  If you have a grill pan, pull it out and heat it up on the stove.  Have another heavy pan ready to use for the "press".  If you don' have a grill pan a regular skillet will work just fine.  No ridges...but still fabulous.

2) You can also use the grill itself! Fire up the gas grill for a perfectly toasty, truly "grilled" cheese.

Next, take a whole grained bread, add MIRACLE WHIP Dressing, thinly sliced turkey, plum tomatoes, a bit of red onion, and a slice of KRAFT Expertly Paired for Grilled Sandwiches, Mozzarella & Cheddar Cheese!   

Lastly, butter both sides of the sandwich and toast away! Grill for 4 minutes on each side or until sandwich is golden brown and cheese is melted. So there you have it, no panini press required.

 Panini grilling in pan

KRAFT Expertly Paired for Grilled Sandwiches, Mozzarella & Cheddar Cheese is perfect for any type of grilled sandwich. Why you ask? (Assuming you would have asked) Because it combines mozzarella and cheddar into ONE cheese slice.  What!?  Yes!  And it makes things easy because you only need one slice to get the combination of a softer melty cheese with the harder, classic cheddar.  Perfect for the toasty panini sandwich.  Yummmm.

.Panini expertly paired Cheese

I want to add that NEW KRAFT Expertly Paired Cheeses take all kinds of dishes, such as tacos, pastas, pizzas, casseroles and egg dishes, to the next level.  You can find all new varieties of KRAFT Expertly Paired Cheese at your local Price take a look-see!

Of course, I can't let you go without sharing how to make panini’s for a crowd, because you know I'm all about having friends over.  Simply choose a side dish you'd like to serve with your sandwiches...maybe a make-ahead soup or salad?  Then prep your sandwiches up to four hours in advance and keep them in the refrigerator until your guests arrive.  Pull them out and start Paniniing (I’m pretty sure that’s a real word!).  Awesome, right?

 Easy panini using a grill pan

Now, go have yourself a no muss, no fuss Panini Party and use up that leftover turkey!

xx, Lauren

Pasta & Sauce Pairing Guide

Click here to get right to the free download:)


My husband frequently grumbles about dinner out when I want to go to my favorite Italian restaurant. Insert eye roll. He says “why would I want to pay $20.00 for a plate of spaghetti when you make it so much better at home?”  Awe, super sweet, and maybe he has a point!  There are a few tips and tricks about paring and cooking pasta that simply take pasta to the next level.

 Pasta Bologanese

Over this past year, I’ve had the joy of collaborating with Cervasi, Kansas City Italian food importers. This has exposed me to a vast range of pasta types and pushed me to explore the sauces that highlight these beautiful varieties of pasta.

 pasta puttanesca

So, I thought to myself, this is a thing worth exploring!  Pasta is at its heart a thing of simplicity.  It is basically flour and water.  These, my friends, are not complex ingredients.  Pasta makers have a rich history in understanding what makes a great pasta and how each shape pairs to its perfect complement (or sauce).  Cervasi creates pasta with 100% durum wheat semolina flour which is a very traditional flour for pasta.  It adds a heartiness and texture that will help a variety of sauces cling to the noodles.  It’s also frequently used in dried pasta because it’s an essential ingredient in ensuring the pasta retains its shape as it is cooked. No one wants a flat rigatoni…am I right? 

 Cerasi Pasta Cuts

Soooooo, let’s get to it! Let’s explore the different pasta shapes and the most recommended sauce pairings to ensure the perfect bite…..the perfect balance of noodle to sauce.

Click below and download a free copy of my Pasta Pairing Guide!

I’ve included:

  • Which pasta pairs well with every type of sauce.

  • Cooking tips to ensure your pasta will turn out perfect every time.

  • Serving tips so you can enjoy your bowl, I mean “plate” of pasta, just like the Italians.

  • I even threw in the Italian Pronunciation so you can sound super cool and Italian like:)

Buon appetito!

This post was graciously sponsored by KC local importer of Italian foods, Cervasi. Shop local, eat pasta:)

PS Cervasi also has several great recipes here! Just click on a pasta type, and it will take you several perfect recipes. Sweet huh?

Why I do what I do….

2018 Cervasi Inspired Fall PopUp Dinner

This weekend truly encapsulated the essence of my blog……

 Lauren Lane Menu

My table united friends, acquaintances and strangers together to share a beautiful 5 course dinner.  Our farm table, set outside in the cool temps of a Kansas fall, serenaded by Italian music with crickets playing percussion created a space for our diners to come together and enjoy a home cooked meal.  Our guests dined together, making friends of strangers and bringing joy and fullness to all.

 Fireplace Cocktails
 Lauren Lane Water Pitcher

Our experience moved between spaces in our home.  Our grazing began with my riff on a classic Negroni cocktail, seasoned with rosemary from my herb garden (ok, maybe not so classic!). The cured meats were the perfect accompaniment to the fresh figs, clover honey, nutty cheeses and herbed almonds.  All this allowed our guests a comfortable moment of introduction.

 Fireplace Toast

The second course was Roman Artichokes, with the artichokes also graciously provided by Cervasi.  This dish was inspired by an amazing dish my sister and I had in Rome. These very tasty artichokes had a perfectly browned and crispy outer crust created by baking breaded artichokes at a high temperature on a sheet pan coated with olive oil.  They were finished off with lemon zest and sea salt and served with a lemon aioli.

 Roman Baked Artichokes
 Roman Artichokes

Roman Artichokes

The third course was a bit of a challenge between what I really wanted to do and what I realistically could pull off.  The third course was entitled, Orzo “Risotto”.  I wanted to serve a traditional risotto, but opted out because it was to be a 3rd course of a dinner party.  Traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice and takes up to 35-45 minutes and would put me at my stove, carefully stirring in each cup of warm broth. And I didn’t want to use the standard restaurant trick by par-boiling the rice and finishing it later.  Although I LOVE risotto done right, I’m not a fan of the thick, sticky par-cooked versions served at restaurants.  I really wanted something that had the creamy, cheesy rich flavor risotto is so known for, but needed something more conducive to the live dance of cooking for a dinner party. 

 Lauren Lane Cooks

I decided to use the same technique but use Cervasi orzo (rice shaped) pasta instead.  I was able to cook it in broth and wine just like traditional Risotto but in half the time to achieve the super al dente pasta I was wanting. I then finished it with a generous amount of freshly grated Cervasi parm and fresh thyme. This was so delicious and tender and exactly what I was looking to create.  I topped this dish with toasted pine nuts; it was simple and comforting.

 Cervasi Orzo and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 Lauren Lane serving orzo risotto

The fourth course consisted of grilled herbed shrimp skewers served with a simple squeeze of lemon.  I grilled these with fresh herbs, again from my garden (can you tell I’m getting nervous about the cool fall temps taking my beautiful herbs garden away :) and a drizzle of Cervasi fruity extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

 Herb Grilled Shrimp

The fifth, but not final course, ‘cause you seriously have to go big or go home – well, I am at home – but people pay to join me at my table and letting them down is simply not an option.  Cast Iron Skillet meatballs and marinara.  I've long felt that if I could make the best meatball eva, I would be set for life. There's nothing fancy about it, but that's the point. A meatball is about as unassuming as food can get, but when done well, it packs more flavor and more soul per square inch than anything that humble has a right to do. Marinara made with deep red wine and simmered for hours, created a thick tangy smooth sauce that was a perfect contrast from the other courses. 

 Meatballs frying
 Cast Iron Meatballs

Finally desert, which, as one might imagine, should be relatively light to lay on top of everything else our guests had enjoyed to this point.  Affogato & Almond biscotti. This lovely mixture of hot espresso and a scoop of ice cream accompanied by homemade almond olive oil biscotti enjoyed by our outdoor fireplace, rounded out a lengthy dining experience that left guests with new friends, great memories, full bellies and content souls.


A big Thank You to Shawna Johnston & Elizabeth Pascoe for all the help in making this event what it was! I also want to thank Brock Hildebrandt for the beautiful photos that captured the essence of this evening….

 Lauren Lane in her happy place

I’m full of gratitude for everyone that supports me and encourages me to do what I love to do, may it come back to you 10 fold.….xx, Lauren

Click the button below to learn more about Cervasi, a local Italian speciality food importer bringing Italian deliciousness straight to KC and my very happy belly.

PS Many of the recipes will be posted riiiiiiiight here, very soon!

Grilled Pizza's....So.Much.Fun!

Click the “Sign Up” bar (up at the top in red) for free download!

Wanna know the one party my friends ask for over and over again??? Well…just scroll on down!

Grilled Pizza Party
 grilled pizza margherita

It’s the grilled pizza party…they just LOVE this night. I have so many funny stories and memories surrounding this annual event, but the one that sticks out is the very first pizza party I hosted. Our friends still talk about that night when it started pouring down rain, literally out of nowhere, and everyone ran inside but I was NOT going to leave my grill until my margherita pizza was done. #shocker:) Well, as I was rushing my finished pizza into the house, the pizza peel caught the doorframe and pizza went FLYING across the room. I remember someone shouting, “It’s ok Lauren…we’ll still eat it!” I’m like…ummm, no.(sigh)  But everyone was laughing hysterically, and my beautiful dog River saw his chance to swoop in and take part in the gathering as well.

We laughed SO hard, created amazing memories, and enjoyed the food and each other’s company. This party is just so fun and simple, and I’m going to show you how to do it in 10 easy steps! I hope you try it…minus the pizza on the floor disaster:)  HA!


I know grilling pizza may seem tricky at first but it’s really easy. And it’s a great party because it’s super easy to prep ahead, EVERYONE loves pizza, and there are endless topping combinations!  (Hey…I’ll even give you a ton of ideas for delicious combos:)

 Making Grilled Pizzas
 Cervasi Olive Oil


1. Prepare a basic pizza dough.

Tip: Buy the dough from the grocery store or your favorite pizza restaurant to make it even easier.

2. The most important tip for grilled pizzas? Cook, slice, and grate whatever toppings you like ahead of time, and have them at the ready because the cooking goes fast. (See this link below for toppings ideas.)

3 .Take the dough and flatten with your fingertips into a circle. It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle—you want it to look rustic. Stretch the dough to your desired size and thickness and set it on a pan lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal.

Tip: Don’t do what I did my first time: I stacked the crusts on top of each other with a bit of flour in between and when it came time to grill I just had one super-thick hunk of dough. I know, rookie mistake, but I don’t want that to happen to you. (I ran down to the pizza joint, grabbed more dough and we were back in business.)

4. Instead, don’t stack them, just set them on a tray along with the olive oil, brush, tongs, flat cookie sheet and pizza cutter.

5. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Tip: A gas grill is a little easier to manage the temperature, but a charcoal grill gives even more flavor. Your choice, both are amazing!

6. Brush one side of dough with Cervasi olive oil to prevent sticking

7. Place oiled side down on the grill and brush the top with oil. Close the grill and cook for 2-5 minutes or until grill marks appear. Turn the dough over with tongs and grill the other side.

Tip: If the dough sticks to the grill grate, it’s not ready to turn over. Shut the grill, grab a glass of wine and let it go for a minute or two. It should turn over easily with tongs and have beautiful grill marks.

8. Slide the crust onto a flat cookie sheet or pizza peel and arrange your toppings, starting with sauce, then garlic and then mozzarella.

9. Place the pizza back on the grill over indirect heat and cover until the cheese is melted and delicious!

 Grilled Pizza Tips

10, Remove the pizza from the grill with a pizza peel or flat cookie sheet, place it on the cutting board and garnish.

Tip: After the pizza is done, top it with the fresh basil (otherwise the basil will turn brown) and a drizzle of olive oil for that last bit of yumminess.