Today’s “a day in the life” is Kathy of Panini Happy. I just love the focus of Kathy’s blog — the panini press. I mean — how genius is that! Kathy’s blog stars the panini press and features sweets and savory foods. Kathy just released her first cookbook. If you have a panini press that is doing nothing but gathering dust — her cookbook is a must-buy! Enjoy getting to know more about Kathy.


Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.

I fell into food blogging one day in January 2008 when I wrote a post about wanting to explore what I could do with my new panini press, and hit Publish. I called my blog Panini Happy and, for the first time in my life, set out on an uncharted course. With an 8 week old daughter at home, I was drawn foremost to blogging as a creative outlet. I’ve always “made stuff” – cooking, knitting, sewing, painting, pottery, woodworking…I love it all. Blogging – particularly within a niche like the panini press – gave me a focused creative medium and a platform to share it with others. I couldn’t have predicted back in 2008 that I would be publishing a cookbook (The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook, Harvard Common Press) on the subject five years later! So many amazing opportunities and friendships have come from blogging. Hands down, it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

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My husband, Mike, and I met in business school at Stanford and we’ve been married for 7 years. Our daughter is almost 6, our son is 3-1/2, and we live in San Diego.

Take me through your day.9853-1xsmall

6:00 AM The alarm on my iPhone rings – I reach over to my nightstand, turn off the alarm and close my eyes for another 15 minutes or so. I am not a morning person and this is way too early for me to wake up! However, if I’m going to have a chance at being up and out of bed in time for a successful morning routine with the kids, this is when I need to start my day. The East Coast has already been up for three hours so my inbox and social media streams are filling up. I make the rounds of email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ while lying in bed. I don’t usually respond to or comment on anything – I’m pretty much still half asleep – but I do a lot of flagging for follow-up.

6:30 AM  I hear the pad-pad-pad-pad of my son (aka “Mommy’s boy-boy”) scurrying down the hall into the room, arriving at my side of the bed. The sweetest little face greets me, “Good morning, Mommy!!”. I put down the phone, lift up the covers and he climbs in for cuddling – my absolute favorite part of every day.

6:45 AM I climb over my little boy to get out of bed, turn on Little Einsteins for him, and head over to my daughter’s (aka “Mommy’s big girl”) room to open the blinds. That little bit of light in the room is usually enough to wake my sound sleeper up gently. About five minutes later I turn on her lamp (“Time to wake up!”) and start prodding her to get dressed. Just like me, she takes a loooong time to get up and at ‘em.

7:00 AM Lights are on in our bedroom, we’re tuned in to GMA. I get washed up (still in my pajamas, though) and then do the same for the kids. I decide whether my little girl gets two ponytails, a side-pony or – if we’re feeling especially fancy – a top bun. She comes downstairs with me while I start breakfast. My son stays upstairs with Mike, who helps him get dressed. I assemble the lunch boxes and make sure all the requisite folders/library books/backup clothes, etc are in the backpacks. Mike comes downstairs and we run circles around each other in the kitchen – between the pantry, the kitchen island, the fridge and the kitchen table – to get breakfast (usually Greek yogurt parfaits) out. Then Mike takes our daughter to kindergarten. This is, by far, the most frenzied part of our day!

7:45 AM I finally shower (most days?), get dressed and have a few moments to chat with my little guy, who is full of interesting things to say.

8:30 AM I drop my son off at preschool. And the clock starts!

9:00 AM It’s go time. Depending on the day, I have 3 to 5 hours to take care of any of the following tasks: respond to email, edit photos, write blog posts, interact on social media, take Zumba class, have calls, eat lunch (usually leftovers), and handle anything that is easier accomplished without my beloved children. The hours pass at warp speed. When time’s up, that pretty much concludes the time I’m going to have for focused work for the day.

12:30 PM, 12:40 PM, 1:35 PM, 1:40 PM, 2:00 PM or 2:30 PM My kids are out of school at a dizzying variety of times and pick-up spots throughout the week. It’s insane. We’ll either head straight home or – if it’s an early pickup day – we might visit the library, shop for birthday presents (it’s birthday party central here!), play at the beach or something else fun. Back at home, I’m sometimes able to cook or bake something while the kids play together. You would be dumbfounded by the scant amount of natural light I frequently use to photograph food for my blogs as it gets late in the day!

4:00 PM Depending on the day, I’m helping my daughter get into a leotard and tights for ballet, or cleats and shin guards for soccer. They may not totally know what they’re doing at this age, but it’s pretty adorable to watch. J

5:00 PM It’s time to start dinner. My mom always made us a good dinner every night growing up, so I do my best to provide that for my family as well (it doesn’t always happen, but that’s the goal!). I make one meal for all of us – sometimes I’ll deconstruct it for the kids, because they prefer/require smaller pieces – but we all eat the same thing. After dinner, I finally get a little downtime. I browse the magazines that have come in the mail, look at Pinterest and my RSS reader. I let the kids watch a TV show. By the time Mike comes home, the living room looks like a tornado hit it but everyone is pretty contented and relaxed.

7:00 PM The bath routine begins. The kids have their bubble bath, brush teeth and get into pajamas. I’ll often run a few loads of laundry concurrently. We all read several books together – lately the favorites have been from the Pinkalicious, Mercy Watson and Amelia Bedelia series. The kids usually fall asleep almost immediately after they’re in bed – they’re wiped!

8:00 PM I clean up the kitchen and make the kids’ lunches for the next day. Lately I’ve often discovered that Mike has already handled everything while I was bathing the kids. I married a good one! Once things are all set downstairs, I pour a glass of wine, fold clothes and catch up on the DVR. Mike and I started watching Scandal last month – we’re almost caught up to the current season. J

10:30 PM Just like my kids, once my head finally hits the pillow I’m off to sleepy land!

What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

I love Sunday best. We usually don’t have plans or obligations. We can go for an outing…or just tool around the house in pajamas all day. I also like having time to make a good Sunday dinner.

If you had to choose one place to travel to every year, where would it be? Why? Have you been there before?

We’ve been up to Avila Beach – on the central coast of California – twice, and I could definitely see us making it an annual thing. It’s about 5 hours away by car, so it’s a change of scenery but still relatively close. We stay right at the beach. I absolutely love waking up in the morning and walking down the boardwalk with my little girl while it’s still misty, cool and quiet. I get coffee from the café at the end of the street. At home, we live in a very suburban community where you can’t really walk to anything. My little morning coffee walk is such a treat!

What recipe on your blog are you most proud of?

When I figured out How to Make Ice Cream Cones on a Panini Press, it was a real light bulb moment for me and Panini Happy. Not only was it awesome new use for the panini press, but it also made it possible to easily make something at home that most of us never anticipated even attempting. It was kind of a turning point for the blog, demonstrating just how far beyond sandwiches a panini press can perform.


What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most?

My most popular post is a Smörgåstårta (Swedish sandwich cake) that I made to celebrate my blog anniversary a few years ago. It’s turned out to be a bit polarizing – people either think it’s awesome or disgusting. Either way, they’re sharing it so I guess it’s all good.


What is your guilty food pleasure that you’re embarrassed to fess up to? Kraft Mac & Cheese? Spagetti-o’s? Canned cheese? We promise not to judge!

McDonald’s French fries. Yup, I love ‘em.



Thanks Kathy! That Smörgåstårta is insane! Such a work of art!

And, now I’m craving McD’s French fries. 

You can find more of Kathy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.