Entrée

A VEGETABLE BANH MI

A Vietnamese banh mi is Hugh's favorite sandwich. It doesn't really matter how authentic it is, just that it is good. The bread should be tender but a little toasty on the outsides. The vegetables crunchy and pickled and lots of fresh herbs. His would include crispy bits of pork and I'll take a tofu version. Pro tip from yours truly with a vegetarian food blog, the pre-cooked carnitas from Trader Joes or Costco can be warmed and shredded and sandwiched right in here with no complaints from your omnivorous eaters. I tried out and simplified the recipe in the Tartine Bread cookbook as edited below.  We've let our sourdough making habit die for the time being but I am still intrigued by the recipes in the back of this book. Most of them are naturally leavened bread recipes and techniques but the whole Tartine crew knows what they are doing with flavor so I tweak things to work with store-bought bread. Their recipe for a banh mi is written with pork inside but I really believe these could take on any basic protein. Think pan fried tofu or tempeh or a fish filet or a thin cut chicken breast. I know a sandwich is often thought of as a lunch thing but we don't discriminate over here. I believe frittatas qualify for any of the three meals of the day and sometimes I eat leftover salad with an egg on top for breakfast so all is permissible. And truly, such good things can be made smushed between fresh bread.  

VEGETABLE BANH MI // Makes 2-4 depending on size

Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

 The garlicky fish sauce here adds great salty flavor but is not completely necessary if fish sauce is not your thing. Add another garlic clove and a pinch of pepper flakes to the green aioli to bump up the flavor there a bit. As noted above, the sandwich can take on any protein.

pickled vegetables

1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. natural cane sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 bunch carrots, julienne peeled
1/2 a red onion, shaved thin

green aioli

1 garlic clove
juice of one lime
1 small jalapeno, seeded and stemmed
1 small bunch basil
1 small bunch cilantro, some saved for garnish
1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. sea salt

garlicky sauce

2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. vietnamese fish sauce
1 Tbsp. chili oil (or olive oil and a dash of pepper flakes)
pulpy juice of half a lime


2 avocados
1 baguette, cut and lightly toasted

In a large mixing bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the carrots and onions and toss them around in the pickling juice. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. These can be stored, covered, in the fridge for a week.
For the green aioli, blend all ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth. Set aside or store covered in the fridge until needed.
In a mortar and pestle or food processor, mash together the garlic, fish sauce, chili oil and lime. It will be thin and that's ok, it's just intended to drizzle. 
Mash the avocados. To assemble the sandwiches, lightly toast your baguette. Smash avocado on one face and generously spread aioli on the other side. Top with a heap of pickled vegetables, a bit more cilantro and a drizzle of the garlicky sauce. 

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Appetizer, Feeding Babies

CRACKER CRISP TARTINES: FEEDING BABIES

The thing about cooking and summer is that often times, meals are thrown together. It’s lighter longer, we’re outside and it’s so warm out that less actual cooking and more assembly sounds more like it. Tomatoes with a thinned pesto drizzled on top and thick slices of bread on the bbq. Peaches and lentils and lots of herbs mixed into some quick-cooking quinoa. I love when it can be both easy and good, not exclusively one or the other. There is so much great produce this time of year to pull it off. With a toddler and a very messy mash-eating baby at the table, Hugh and I have found it more peaceful to feed, bathe and put the kids to bed and then have dinner ourselves. We can actually talk, sip wine instead of swig it, and no one is asking me to pull the green bits out of their turkey meatballs. And lunch, since we’re usually all around for now, my default is sandwiches but everyone is tiring of those lately too. I started piling things on crackers instead, same but different. In this case, I used the new Wasa THINS. The ingredient list is short and wholesome, they’re great to eat on their own, but also sturdy enough to hold some of my favorite toppings. I have vivid memories of original Wasa crispbread from my childhood - my mom would eat them with mustard as part of some diet she was trying or slather them in peanut butter and honey for my sister and me. These are not just for Curran, these most definitely end up being for all of us. If we’re pulling a late afternoon beach day and I know everyone will get hungry, I bring some dips and cheese to keep everyone happy until dinner time. I can’t get over zealous with the vegetables for the toddler but I can make these recipes below to taste and they make for a quick little lunch. I love that these crackers are thin and delicate so they don’t take over. Crackers can be too much sometimes. All said, let’s just keep snacks and meals easy while the produce is amazing and we’d rather be outside.

This post was sponsored by Wasa Crackers. All words, photos and opinions are my own. Visit their site for more recipe ideas or check out the #snackingwithwasa hashtag.

CRACKER CRISP TARTINES

The trick is to make sure you have a “glue” to hold things down - mashed avocado, nut butter, hummus, ricotta, maybe a soft goat cheese. I have a toaster oven that I use daily so it’s easy to warm up the pizza one but I understand this isn’t the case for everyone. It only needs a minute for the cheese to melt so you could pop 'er in the real oven as well. 
I wrote the recipes for one, but if you are going to make one, you might as well make a few whether it’s a snack or lunch situation. These recipes will work on any Wasa cracker or sturdy cracker of choice.

Pizza Crisp

1 Wasa THINS or similar cracker
1 Tbsp. pizza sauce
1 Tbsp. grated mozzerella
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan
chopped olives
dried Italian Herbs, for garnish
chopped basil, for garnish

Preheat a toasted oven or oven to 375º. Spread the pizza sauce on top of the cracker. Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan. Toast for 1 minute for the cheese to just melt. Top with a sprinkle of dried herbs and fresh basil. Enjoy warm.

Peach Crisp

1 Wasa THINS or similar cracker
1 Tbsp. mascarpone
1 tsp. maple syrup
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 a ripe peach, sliced thin
granola, for garnish

Mix the mascarpone with the maple and cinnamon. Spread it on top of the cracker. Arrange the peach slices on top and garnish with granola.

Veggie Crisp

1 Wasa THINS or similar cracker
2 Tbsp. prepared hummus or mashed avocado
1/4 of a cucumber, thinly sliced
shaved fennel
chopped herbs and celery leaves
sea salt and pepper, for garnish

Spread the hummus or avocado on the surface of the cracker. Arrange the vegetables and herbs. Finish with a sprinkle or salt and pepper. 

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GREEN REHYDRATION SMOOTHIE

I consider myself to have rhythm. Maybe not a ton, but enough. I'm too shy to dance at weddings or parties but I can carry a tune and I was a song-leader in middle school and high school, so you know, I can move to a good jock jams song. Have you been to a serious spin class? Like, at a real studio with a dark room and extremely loud music. It's hard and in a season where I'm short on free time, it seems like the most efficient workout in an hours time. So, this teacher I like, Catalina, she plays great music, most of which I don't know but I can tell it's hip. She has dark curly hair that she wears up and is bleached on the bottom and she says things like "you do you" (the permission I take upon myself to sit down in the saddle for a minute while we are supposed to be up sprinting). She instructs the class sort of like you're dancing on the bike. You keep this cadence with your pedals and you follow her choreography to crunch on the bike and thrust your hips back and forth and she gives encouraging little snippets throughout. Unfortunately, there is a giant mirror in front so you have to watch yourself try to follow her moves and I actually laugh a little bit about how off-beat I usually am. But I am sweating! And I'm wearing stretchy clothes to actually work out! So I don't care that much. I just recently started exercising again, and not just for vanities sake, which I have used as motivation in the past, but for my mental health as well. I've had a tough time adjusting back to life since Cleo joined our family. For me, it was harder in a completely different way than the transition to one child. It's been largely hormonal, combined with lack of sleep and alone time, and unrealistic expectations which is the Achilles Heel of my life. I appreciated this vulnerable post from Anna. It took too many months to figure out that doing one small thing for myself each day, makes me a better mother and wife and human to other people. It doesn't have to be big, maybe a spin class, a short walk without kids, a girly date, or making myself a real lunch and sitting down to eat it. I can't do all of these things each day, but I can usually do one of them and that helps minimize the breakdowns. When you spend a large part of your day taking care of other people, there has to be some point when you recharge your own batteries or you will deplete yourself. I am only suggesting this because I was trying to be the "every woman" for too long. Some days I still find myself trying, but it is exhausting. I'm in process of balancing the energy required to care for my family, but not giving up things that fill me up to do so. I can't do it all, and asking for help or giving things up or ordering take out doesn't mean I failed. I don't think you have to have kids to relate to that feeling. 
So I come home from said classes with my ears ringing and starving. I've eaten breakfast prior and it's too early for lunch but a hearty smoothie can tide me over. My default is some combination of almond milk, protein powder, frozen banana, cinnamon, cocoa and peanut butter but now I mix it up with this one I found in David and Luise's new book

GREEN REHYDRATION SMOOTHIE // Serves 1-2

Recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Smoothies by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl
I added the avocado to David and Luise's recipe because I have found that adding some natural fats, be it avocado, flaxmeal, nut butter, or even all three if I'm feeling ravenous, staves off my hunger much better than a smoothie without any fat. I am still breastfeeding quite frequently and need that extra fat in my diet too. It also helps balance blood sugar, even though this particular smoothie isn't super sweet. If this is acting as a meal for you, a 1/4 cup old fashioned oats can help thicken it up. 

1 celery stalk
1 small frozen banana
half of a small avocado
1 gigantic handful baby spinach or other leafy green
1 Tbsp. plant-based protein powder
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 cup coconut water
juice of half a lime
a few mint leaves, optional

In a high-powered blender, blend all ingredients until completely smooth. Chill if desired. This smoothie is best enjoyed the day it is made. 

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