Cooking at home for relatives visiting over the holidays can be a chore, but dinning at a restaurant can be expensive. For families seeking an affordable holiday meal out, Panera Bread offers a seasonal menu with warm and hearty pastas and some delectable and decorative sweets.
Panera Bread bakery-cafes across Southern California will feature a special menu until December 31 offering a Fontina Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Pasta and Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Chip Marshmallows. Special dessert items include green iced Christmas Tree shortbread cookies decorated with candy Christmas balls, and a holiday bread drizzled with a sweet icing on top and apple filling inside – delicious served warm.
The new Fontina Grilled Cheese Sandwich features Vermont white cheddar, fontina cheese, a reduced-fat chive and onion cream cheese spread and an Italian four cheese blend, served on a thick white miche French bread. While the adults in our party loved it, the kids preferred the traditional grilled cheese.
The Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Pasta blends ricotta, Swiss and Romano cheeses in Alfredo sauce, topped with smoked, pulled chicken and Asiago-parmesan cheese. This new offering is available in as a small or large serving and comes with either a half salad or cup of soup.
Both kids and adults swooned for the decadent Hot Chocolate, made with premium dark chocolate, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and steamed milk, topped off with whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce and marshmallows that looked like chunks of chocolate chip cookies floating on top. This drink was so full of chocolate that the bottoms of our mugs were coated with it after we emptied them.
Other festive menu additions include Peppermint Mocha, Cranberry Walnut Bagel and Red Velvet Crinkle cookies. Other signature pastries perfect for holiday gatherings include Bear Claws, fruit tarts and fudgy brownies.
For our family, an outing to Panera Bread to sample the holiday menu was just the remedy for cabin fever. To treat others to a night out, Panera offers a special promotion on their holiday themed gift cards. Customers who purchase $100 in gift cards or e-gift cards for the foodies on their holiday gift list will receive a $10 e-gift card for themselves.
In the holiday spirit, and year round, Panera routinely donates bread and baked goods to community organizations in need. Additional information is available on their website, http://www.panerabread.com.