Monday, August 8, 2016

A Thrown Together (Sandwich) Story

A low rumble roused me from my brief sleep.

My eyelids flew open and I jolted myself up, ready for action. Other than the strange rumbling sound, it was still quiet. I let out a long, silent sigh but the mysterious rumbling returned. It was a moment before I realized, with relief, it was coming from my stomach.

I needed food.

I paused briefly at the mouth of The Monster’s den and listened intently. The barely audible ‘shh, shh’ of The Monster’s breath was the only sound.

I crept silently and stealthy, avoiding the creaky steps with practiced precision. A small grunt suddenly pierced the silence.

The Monster was beginning to stir. I didn’t have much time.

I gathered up all the food I could find within reach: meat, cheese, bread. As I searched for something leafy, The Monster’s grunting grew louder.

I had less than two minutes now.

I pulled out a bundle of greens and barely stifled a curse as I noticed how damp and wilted they were and I had to throw them away.

The Monster’s grunts morphed into shrieks. Time was running out.

I piled the food together sloppily and crammed it into my mouth.

“I’m coming!” I called between chews with my mouth still full.

The Monster responded by shrieking and snorting more intensely.

Wiping my hands on a random cloth, I ran back to The Monster’s liar.

I was out of breath but ready; my hunger satiated, my energy restored. Thanks to the sandwich I’d thrown together and eaten in record time, I could resume my duties.

When The Monster saw me approaching, her snorts subsided and she reached out a pudgy hand towards me. Cooing instead of crying, a wide, gummy smile spread instantaneously across her face.

My Baby was awake and happy to see me, her Mom.

And then she realized she was hungry too…


The above is a based-on-true-events story of some of my sandwich adventures as a new mom. In the past three months, I’ve made many a Throw-Together-Sandwich and it’s helped keep me going. It’s important to eat well and eat frequently while taking care of one’s baby. Since time between feedings, changings, and naps can be short, when you get the chance to grab something, DO IT!

I’ve said from the very beginning of this blog that the true beauty of sandwiches lies in how versatile and adaptable they are depending what you have on hand. A Throw-Together Sandwich is the absolute embodiment of this fact. Paired with other no-fuss snacks, like apples, bananas, dried cranberries, crackers, chocolate and potato chips, you’ve got a reliable standby meal in just minutes. And as my story shows, Moms sometimes only have minutes to refuel and recharge before getting back to their monsters.

I look forward to when I’ll have more time to make, enjoy and blog about sandwiches that are a bit more involved, but for now, I’m happy and thankful for fresh, non-wilted, non-gross sandwich ingredients, and for writing/blogging one nap at a time.

Some of my favorite Throw-Together Sandwiches are:

-Classic ham, cheddar, tomato and lettuce

-Salami, gouda and spicy mustard

-Leftover chicken, mayo, tomato and lettuce

-Turkey, any cheese and any vegetable; red and yellow peppers are great

Good luck to you all with your Throw-Together Sandwiches and a special shout-out to my fellow Mom Warriors on this crazy child-raising journey. We’re doing it, one sandwich, one nap, one day at a time.

PS. My husband and I refer to our girl as The Monster in a ‘My Pet Monster’/term of endearment way. She is a very content and generally sweet-natured girl…unless of course, she’s very hungry. :)

I cheated with the photo. These are not true Throw-Together Sandwich because no such photos exist.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mmmozzarella Meatball Subs

Remember when Joey on Friends swore his meatball sandwich was “the greatest sandwich in the world”? He loved it so much he even dove to ‘protect it’ from what he thought was gunfire, prompting Chandler to think he cared more about Ross, who was next to the sandwich, than him. 

Turns out it was actually a car backfiring and nobody and no sandwiches were ever in any danger but whatever - to Joey, it was worth taking a bullet for.

To quote Chandler, could there be any higher compliment paid to a sandwich?

Ever since I started this sandwich blog, I’ve wanted to make a meatball sub-style sandwich and revisiting this Friends episode reminded me that our previous attempts, while commendable and tasty, just weren’t quite blog-worthy yet. I knew we were close to something great; we just needed a little something extra…

So I consulted one of my new Jamie Oliver cookbooks and found the answer – our meatballs needed to be a mixture of beef AND pork. Another burst of inspiration had us tossing in some sautéed green peppers for another layer of flavour and with a side of Crunch Veggie Salad, we’d finally done it – our Mmmmozzarella Meatball Sub was ready to meet the world.

Mmmozzeralla Meatball Subs

You will need:

Ground Pork

Ground Beef – I’d recommend getting lean ground beef since ground pork is usually higher in fat content

Bread crumbs – we used our immersion blender to crumb-ify half a dried baguette; worked great

One egg

Minced garlic or garlic powder – we didn’t measure specifically but it looked to be around ½ - 1 Tbsp

Minced rosemary – around 1 tsp-ish

Fresh baguettes or sub-style loaves, 1-2 depending on how many sandwiches you want to make

Mozzarella cheese, torn into chunks

A jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce – after experimenting in our previous attempts, we recommend one with a bit of a spicy kick, like our favorite Arrabbiata sauce from Barilla

One green pepper, sliced and sautéed


1-Combine the pork and beef in a big bowl and use your (clean) hands to mix it all together.

2-Add the egg and bread crumbs and keep mixing until the meat sticks together but isn’t too wet; add more crumbs to achieve this and add the spices.

Meatball process
3-Shape the meat into balls; try to make them the same size so they cook evenly.

4-Place the meatballs into an oiled pan and bake in the oven until they’re cooked all the way through. (You will probably have to sacrifice one to check, but you can still use it in your sandwich.)

Watching and waiting for meatball goodness

4.5-Make the Crunchy Veggie Salad:

            -Chop and combine red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and crumbled goat/feta cheese in a bowl

            -Mix olive oil, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and oregano and pour over salad 

(Tip: If you make a big batch and know it will all get eaten, pour it over everything. But if you plan to eat this salad with a few meals, only pour the dressing over your individual serving to avoid it turning into a soggy mess.)

Crunchy Veggie Salad

5-Cut the baguette in half, length-wise and fill with meatballs and green peppers.

6-Pour pasta sauce on the meatballs and top with chunks of mozzarella.

7-Bake or broil the sandwiches in the oven, around 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden.

8-Serve with a side of Crunchy Veggie Salad.


Definitely one of the most photogenic sandwich creations we’ve made.

The pork and beef combo work so well together, I can’t believe it took us this long to figure it out. One fun variation to try is to stuff the meatballs with mozzarella before you bake them. This makes for some oozy, cheesy meatballs, if that’s your thing. I could go either way on this, but the pork and beef togetherness are a must.

Meatballs are actually quite easy to make and there are so many recipes out there to experiment with, so don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get in there.

Here are some meatball recipes to get you started – have fun! 

Joey would certainly approve.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lunch at Bagelstein Bastille

Packed and stacked with rows of different kinds of bagels and cookies, the window display of Bagelstein Café in the 11th arrondissement certainly did its job in attracting this hungry customer. 

A quick glance at my options on the sandwich-board outside, or bagel-board in this context, and I’d found my lunch spot that Friday afternoon.

I’m always on the lookout for new lunch places to try in Paris and this newly opened café on Rue de la Roquette is one of them. It’s not a big place inside but what it lacks in space, it makes up in fun décor: the walls are plastered with framed magazine covers, newspaper front pages, signed celebrity headshots and small plaques of witty French quotes.

It smells warm and inviting inside and unlike the (albeit) tasty baguette sandwiches that crowd the display cases of nearly every boulangerie, Bagelstein’s creations, on freshly baked bagels, are made to order right in front of you.

I chose the Hypolite – roast chicken, honey mustard, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles - on a toasted Gratin (cheese) bagel. I chose my seat by a signed photo of Wonder Woman and munched on my tasty bagel lunch. I was at first unsure about the pairing of pickles and chicken (and yes, as a pregnant woman I’m aware of the irony of that!) but when mixed with the flavourful honey mustard and cream cheese, it worked for this sandwich.

The reasonably-priced menu has many options for all your bagel-cravings: smoked salmon, tuna, pastrami, vegetarian and build-your-own on your choice of bagel. There’s even a Bagel-of-the-Month meal, plus a mouth-watering selection of cookies, cheesecake, and muffins so you can eat your bagel and get your fix of French baked goods. And a big bonus - the location on Rue de la Roquette is open 7 days a week for your bagel devouring pleasure.

Paris-area sandwich lovers, on your next jaunt in the city, be check out one of the many locations of Bagelstein for a delicious, low-key lunch. Because even the most devoted baguette fan needs variety once and a while. 

For more menu info and other fun facts, check out Bagelstein's unique website:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pulled Pork Perfection

Pork is a great sandwich staple and I enjoy a good ham sandwich as much as the next person. It’s classic, straightforward, no-nonsense meat that pair well with all kinds of mustards, cheeses and pickles. For a refresher on this concept and some inspiration to get you started, check out an earlier post from 2014, 3 Parts Mustard/2 Parts Pickles/1 Part Ham.

But it’s always fun to change it up and try something different and it’s even better when you have some outside help. So I must give the majority of the credit for this sandwich creation to my husband Mike, since it was his kitchen-wizardry that came through in a big and tasty way when we made our own Pulled Pork Sandwiches, on some fresh-from–the-bakery bread, topped with some lovely caramelized onions.

Pulled Pork Perfection, in 3 stages
To make your own Pulled Pork Perfection, you will need:

Leftover Pork Shoulder Meat, shredded

1/2 cup White Vinegar

1/4 cup Red Wine or Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Water

1/4 cup BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup Ketchup

2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tbsp Spicy Mustard (heaping)

Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Caramelized Onions (optional)

Sandwich Bread, thickly sliced

Smells so good!

1-Shred the pork meat with two forks and put in a pot on the stove.

2-Add the three kinds of vinegar.

3-Mix the water and sugar together and pour over the meat and vinegar.

4-Bring to a boil, uncovered for 10 minutes.

5-Turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and let out the steam. Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point.

6-Mix the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.

7-Pour sauce over the pork, mix and reduce heat.

8-Top with some fresh ground pepper and caramelized onions. They’re optional, but a very nice touch. Simply heat the sliced onion in a skillet with some olive oil and stir until they soften and brown slightly.

9-Assemble the pork and onions into sandwiches.

10-Serve warm and enjoy!

This pulled pork is tangy, sweet and just a touch spicy. You can always adjust the quantities of the vinegars to suit your tastes and play with different types of mustards and breads. It would pair really well with a cool, crisp coleslaw or salad. Think classic deli-style. Yum.

This is a great way to use up leftover pork shoulder meat from a Sunday dinner. It works well with bread and wraps stuffed with whatever you like. And it freezes well too. So with all that going for it, what’s not to be excited about?