Hot sandwiches they'll love

Sep 1, 2011 at 10:33 a.m. ET

For a quick and easy dinner that everyone will love, try hot sandwiches tonight. A sandwich is really just a filling between two pieces of bread with lots of opportunity to get creative. You can choose from dozens of bread varieties and unlimited combinations of fillings that can turn the humble sandwich into a family-favorite meal.

Cuban Pannini

1SLow-cooked barbecue ham sandwich

This is almost too easy. For a nice change from typical barbecue pork, beef or chicken, place one pound chopped deli turkey ham or honey-glazed ham in a greased slow cooker. Combine one finely-chopped onion, 1/2 cup ketchup, one tablespoon vinegar and three tablespoons brown sugar and mix well. Pour the mixture over the ham and cook on low for five hours. Serve on toasted buns.

2Grilled havarti apple sandwich

For a fancier version of the classic grilled cheese, try a grown-up sandwich with spiced apples. Core and thinly slice two Granny Smith apples, and cook in a buttered hot skillet with four to six tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir frequently, cooking until the apples are coated with syrup. Place bread on the griddle and layer with Havarti cheese, spiced apples, another cheese slice and the bread topper. Butter the bread and flip, browning the first side; butter the top and flip again. Cook on medium heat for a total of three to five minutes until the cheese melts.

Hot chicken sandwiches >>

3Chicken fontina stromboli

For six servings of this hot sandwich, you'll need two pounds refrigerated prepared pizza dough, three cups shredded cooked chicken, three cups baby arugula, one large onion (sauteed and caramelized), three cups shredded Fontina cheese and one egg beaten with one tablespoon of water. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Divide the pizza dough into six equal, round pieces and cover with a towel to rest while you prepare the filling. Combine the chicken, arugula, onion, and cheese; season to taste. Now roll your dough into rectangles and spread with filling, leaving a 1/2-inch bare border to brush with the egg mixture. Roll each section into a cigar shape, tucking in the sides and ends. Brush the rolls with remaining egg mixture and bake for 25 minutes on a greased baking sheet. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. These are delicious drizzled with marinara sauce.

4Cuban Panini

Another fast and fun grilled hot sandwich takes just minutes to prepare thanks to the main ingredient:  Tyson Pork Loin in Sweet and Tangy Barbeque Sauce. Heat the pork loin in your microwave following package directions. On Cuban or French bread, place the pork loin, salsa -- try pineapple mango chipotle -- and top with Swiss cheese and sliced pickles. Brush outer sides of the sandwich with olive oil, and grill on medium heat until both sides of the sandwich are lightly browned.

Try these other great hot sandwich ideas: turkey with cranberry sauce; beef and cheddar with diced green chilis; meatball heroes with Parmesan cheese and marinara; and spicy sausage layered with slaw.

Ham, pork, chicken, or turkey can all cook while you're away. Place in a greased slow cooker with some spices, and have the main ingredient ready to star in hot sandwiches for a family-pleasing dinner that you can get to the table in just minutes.

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