Category Archives: breakfast

One of These Things Doesn’t Belong Here…

September 3, 2016

Zucchini Bread.

Fried Zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini.

Zucchini Fritters.

muffin trio

I over did it guys.  I have too much zucchini in my life.  Between my mother and my overzealous eye at the farmers market in Logan Square.  I have WAY.  TOO.  MUCH.  ZUCCHINI.  Did you know the zucchini is technically a fruit?  Oh yeah, it is.

Speaking of Logan Square, if you have been reading this blog regularly, you know that I am a huge fan of Lula Cafe.  In fact, it’s the one thing I do EVERY WEEKEND.  I love this place.  They do vegetables Iike no one else.  They serve the best, most amazing coffee.  They have a cute outdoor patio.  Don’t believe me?  Look here, and here for proof.

grated zucchini


Lula also changes up their menu often.  Don’t you like how I just call it Lula?  Like we are old girlfriends?  Oh hey girl, what’s up?  Well, we are friends!  Lula rocks my life every Saturday and Sunday!  As I was saying, they change up their menu often. In fact, they have this sandwich called The Royale (capital T, capital R)  and it changes almost every month.  You guys, it was featured in the National Geographic!  The National Geographic!  Yes a magazine, that covers animal life, outer space and the planet earth at large, has noticed The Royale sandwich at Lula Cafe.  Look here.  The Royale is a tour de force.  And Lula Cafe is apparently the epicenter of food on planet earth.  I can’t anymore…

ingredients 3

Now this menu change-up usually is a good thing because it means we are eating the freshest and most tasty vegetables at the exact moment they are in season.  But the problem with an ever changing menu, is that sometimes my favorites go away…and don’t come back.  Whaaahhh!  Total FWP guys (first world problem.). Good-bye Nearly Summer Salad.  Good-bye Green Chorizo Sopas, I will miss you.  Maybe next year.  Lula?  Do you take requests?  Bring back my almost summer salad and green chorizo sopas!!!!  Please!!!  Pretty please?  Why you gotta always break my heart?

I don’t do well with change.

zucchini batter

Well, these days Lula Cafe has this zucchini muffin studded with bits of chocolate, cherries and walnut.  Zucchini?  What madness is this?  Zucchini doesn’t belong in a pastry!!!  (Cue the song “One of these things just doesn’t belong here” in your head.)  You guys this muffin is practically a health food.  And you have a fridge full of summertime zucchini don’t you?  I do.  And I know you do, because I can see you thinking about what you are going to do with all of them.  Here is another idea for your zucchini surplus.

But for now, this muffin:  Grated zucchini which is low calorie.  Chocolate and cherries which have antioxidants and walnuts which have all those omega-3s.  I think for your own sake you should try these muffins.  Now.  Stat.  Isn’t that what they say on Grey’s Anatomy?


muffin layers

Le sigh, Grey’s Anatomy.  It just isn’t the same without Dr. McDreamy.  Why Shonda?  Why?  Why did you do me like that?  First you take away Sloan and then Shepherd?  I better not start on this tangent.  It won’t end well.  Forget I said anything.  (September 22nd new season.  It better be good.)

I don’t do well with change.

Go ahead Lula, take this one off the menu too.  I don’t care.  I will just make my own….humph!

Here’s how to make a health muffin:

Gluten Free, Choco-Cherry-Nut Zucchini Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 all purpose flour or gluten free flour (I like this one)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil (I’m Greek, this is the only oil I have, another health food, this is getting better)

1 cup zucchini, grated  (Yeah, I know.  Who knew zucchini a make excellent muffins)

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cups dried cherries

1 and a 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinammon

1/2 teaspoon clove

1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350F, line your muffin tin with paper liners.

2.  Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, and salt in a bowl.

3.  In another bowl beat the egg, add olive oil, milk and vanilla.

4. Stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then add the grated zucchini, chocolate chips, dried cherries and walnuts.

5.  Scoop the batter into your muffin tins about 3/4 full, top with a cherry half or walnut if you are feeling ambitious.  Or don’t.  No pressure.

6. Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes and then eat quickly.  It’s for your health.




dirty dish


Here’s a secret: Sometimes I like leftovers…ssshhh!

November 29, 2015

The Great Day of Thanks is over and you have the Mother of all Leftovers sitting in your fridge.  Now what?  Don’t waste it.  But you don’t like leftovers?  Here is the problem with leftovers.  If you try to recreate the exact same dish the way you had it the night before, it just won’t work.  It’s never quite the same and it feels like you are having a dry, sub-par dish.  You feel cheated.  Trust me, I know!  I used to be like that too.  But my husband turned me on to this quick cheat for turning day-old food into a dish that is just as good, dare I say better than what it used to be.

Sometimes I look forward to leftovers…ssshhh!

What you need to do is transform your leftovers.  Here is my favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers: A HASH.  In fact, this will work with any type of leftovers when you have a protein, veggies and a starch to work with.

Take your leftover turkey, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, beans, whatever you have on hand and transform them into an awesome brunch or dinner the next day.  Here’s how:


Turkey Hash – flexible, serves up as many leftovers as you have

Heat up a skillet of your choice (I like cast iron) and melt a tablespoon of butter.  Take equal portions of your Thanksgiving leftovers, and reheat them in the skillet flattening them.  Leave them like this for a few minutes. Turn your hash every now and then.  You want to get crispy, brown bits all over the hash.  In the meantime make yourself a soft boiled egg.

Serve and top your plate with a soft boiled egg.  Split the egg open and instantly you have a sauce for your hash.  Enjoy!

How do you make a soft-boiled egg you ask?  I have a dummy proof method.

Here’s how:


Soft-boiled eggs – makes 2-4 servings

Bring a saucepan full of water to a rolling boil.  Once it’s reached a hard boil, turn it town to a simmer, add 4 eggs.  Set your timer for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Timing your eggs is important.  Soft boiled eggs, I like to leave them for 4m30s or 5 minutes.  If you are a fan of less runny eggs, then go for 6-7minutes.  Once the desired time is over, remove them from the heat and run cold water on them for several minutes.  This will help you peel your eggs, even when they are “soft boiled” and very delicate.




A red sea of cranberries…

November 29, 2015

A couple years back, I was driving to Wausau, Wisconsin.  Usually, there is not very much traffic on the road to Wausau, so I found it very odd when every car on the road came to a screeching halt.  As I slowly inched my way into town, I finally saw what the “gawkers” were looking at.  A trailer truck split open down the center, sacrificing its contents onto the road.  An enormous red seas of tiny red cranberries had made their escape.  That was a sight to behold.  Along with snow, ice and fog, Wisconsin can now add cranberries to the list of hazardous driving conditions.

So cranberries, that under appreciated fruit…

Okay, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and you brined and roasted the turkey.  You candied the sweet potatoes.  You grilled the brussel sprouts, mashed the potatoes and topped them with gravy.  And then, chased it all down with pumpkin pie.  It’s official.  You have a Thanksgiving Cooking Hangover.  You don’t want to cook ever, ever again.  Solution:  Leftovers!

I for one, LOVE left over Thanksgiving fare.  All the hoopla leading up to Thanksgiving will yield several days of easy dinner meal planning.  It’s like a power-Sunday cook-up, but on a Thursday.  So, I am sure you all have ideas of what to do with left over turkey.  Turkey hash, turkey tetrazzini, turkey enchiladas.  Left over sprouts?  Stick them in an omelette.  Left over sweet potatoes?  Mash them in between a couple of corn tortillas with cheese and black beans and you have a fall-like quesadilla.  The list goes on and on.  But what do you do with left over cranberry sauce?


We all know that cranberry sauce is a very important but sometimes under appreciated part of Thanksgiving.  It’s the colorful pop on a plate full of brown, orange and green.  It’s the cool sweet treat to lighten up your mouth after a heavy, gravy-laden roast dinner.

So what do I suggest you do with these little glimmering jewels of leftover sweetness?  Here are a few easy things you can do with cranberry sauce especially when you don’t want to cook anything serious until next year!

  • Turn your turkey sandwich into a “leftover sandwich” with sprouts and mashed potatoes and a smear of cranberry sauce.
  • Do you like brie and preserves?  Top your brie with cranberry sauce instead.  Or better yet a grilled brie and cranberry sandwich.
  • Cranberries are not just for dinner anymore.  Have you ever thought of making a yogurt and cranberry sauce parfait topped with a pistachio coconut crumble?

Here’s the recipe I love:

Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce, adapted from Martha Stewart


1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries

3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup of water

2  strips orange zest


In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange juice and zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate until needed.

To make a parfait, just layer yogurt, crumble and cranberry sauce in a small glass or Ball jar.

So don’t knock cranberries.  They travel far to get into your belly.




I have been thinking a lot about Paris this week…

November 21, 2015

I have been thinking a lot about Paris this week.  It’s been a little over a week since last week’s tragedy.  Les mots me manquent pour exprimer ma tristesse, mais mes penseés sont avec vous.  I have never been to Paris, but I have felt a connection to this city ever since I was little and for the craziest reasons.  And so when Paris is in the news, I can’t help but think about other things too…


Photo credit: How Sweet Eats

Few people know that my mom’s hometown in Greece, Filiatra has a miniature “La Tour Eiffel” at the entrance of the town.  And that her town is also known as “mikro Parisaki”…mini Paris or micro Paris, if you will.  Oui, c’est vrai.  Those that know it, know that it’s NOTHING like Paris, except maybe for the ornate, antique bronze fountain in the town’s square, but we love it anyway.  It’s a small, rustic town about a kilometer and a half away from the sea, in the southwestern Peloponnesian prefecture of Messinia.  You’ll find tractors parked in the street as easily as you will find a Peugeot.  The sidewalks might be a little cracked but the cafes are plenty.


La mini Tour Eiffel de Filiatra

How might you ask does a miniature Eiffel Tower end up in a small agricultural town in southwest Greece?

Well, I’ll tell you.  An old doctor named Haralambos Fournarakis, was so enamored with the French language and culture, that he changed his last name to Fournier and gifted to his hometown of Filiatra this replica of the Eiffel Tower.  Back in the day, it used to sit in the courtyard of the foreign language school. Later, when the school closed, they moved the pint size Eiffel Tower to the main entry of the town, so that there would be no doubt where you were as you drove in…”we’re in mikro Parisaki now!”  Of course there is a sign that says “Filiatra” just so you don’t worry that you drove way too far and ended up in France.  Very kind of them.  😉

Adding to this absurdité the miniature Eiffel Tower of Filiatra has even claimed it’s 15 minutes of fame by starring in a Gorden’s Space Drink commercial too.  I’m not kidding, look!  Click here!

But let’s get back to Paris.  Let’s celebrate all the joy and bon vivant they have been generous enough to share with the world.  I love their language, their food, their style and their cafe lifestyle.  They gave us le camembert, le cafe au lait, la boeuf à la Bourguignonne, le vin, la champagne et la bouilliabaisse.  Oui!  And they gave us the le Renaissance, la Revolution et la Reverie.  They are the city of lights and l’amour.  A city of thinkers and philosophers.  So in my “micro-way”, in honor of Paris and it’s Eiffel tower, this girl whose roots stem from a micro-Paris in southwest Greece, I offer to them, and to you, a twist on the classic French recipe, Croque Madame Egg Cups.

Mais oui!  Allons-y!


Croque Madame Egg Cups – Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s “Little Paris Kitchen”

Makes 6, serves trois 😉


6 eggs

6 slices of sliced bread (I used Udi’s gluten free)

6 oz of swiss cheese

3 tbsp of melted butter

3 slices of Virginia ham

For the béchamel sauce

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour (I use Dove’s Gluten Free White Flour)

8 oz of milk

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 oz of grated gruyere cheese

salt & pepper


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Start by making the béchamel sauce.  in a small sauce pan, melt a tablespoon of butter, then add the flour.  Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time so that you avoid clumps.  Then add the dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Take the sauce off the heat once it’s thickened and add the gruyere cheese.  Set aside.

Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and then roll them flat one at a time.  Once you have done that, brush them with melted butter and fit them carefully into a muffin pan to form the toasty “shells” of your crock madame.

Next, tear pieces of ham into each egg cup and then carefully crack open an egg into each muffin.  I like to use small eggs for this recipe, but if you have large ones you can pour out some of the whites so that your muffins don’t overflow.

Once you have each muffin filled with the bread, ham and egg, spoon a couple of tablespoons of béchamel sauce over each one and top with the remaining swiss cheese.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

And in the wise words of Julia Child, bon appetite!



Le jambon


Les ouefs


Le sauce béchamel

Au revoir =)

Shakshuka…Or how to be more exotic for breakfast.

March 29, 2015

FullSizeRender copy

Shakshuka.  Or how to be more exotic for breakfast.

Remember when I told you a few weeks ago how vongole sound better in Italian?  Well it turns out eggs also sounds better in foreign languages too.  Why say baked eggs, when you can say:


I love the way that word sounds. I love saying it over and over again.



Try it. You’re feeling more exotic aren’t you? What I love more than how this dish sounds, is how this dish tastes! It’s basically a classic North African version of eggs baked in a sauce.

Almost every country in the Mediterranean has a variation of this sexy, little dish.  In Italy, you break a few eggs over tomato sauce and top with some shaved parmigiano reggiano and call it Uova al Purgatorio. The Greeks make Kayiana in which you scramble your eggs in a tomato sauce base, served with “pasto”, a salt-cured and fat-preserved pork with some fried potatoes mixed in. And the Spanish Pisto Manchego take fried eggs which will sit over a base of bell peppers, tomatoes and zucchini all topped with manchego cheese.

Shakshuka is one of my favorite versions. I like the mix of Spanish Chorizo, Greek feta, and wilted greens (for that extra veggie kick) and roasted red peppers for a truly Mediterranean amalgamation of baked eggs.  Here’s how:

Shakshuka – serves 2

2 Spanish chorizo sausage

1 handful or cup of baby spinach or chopped swiss chard

2 small garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup red pepper sauce* (recipe below)

2 eggs

2-3 oz. crumbled feta

pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of paprika


Pre-heat your oven to 400 F.  First, start by slicing your chorizo sausage and rendering it down in a hot pan.  When the fat from the sausage has been released, that’s your cue to add a handful of spinach and chard and wilt the greens.  Add crushed garlic cloves, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a cup of the red pepper sauce.

Divide the mixture between 2 individual sized baking dishes, or ramekins.  Crack an egg carefully over each one and top with some crumbled feta.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or to preferred level of egg doneness.  When you remove from the oven sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each dish and serve with some toasted pita bread to break your yolks and mop up that sauce.  Enjoy!


Red Pepper Sauce (adapted from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Cookbook)

This red pepper sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for a week (but it’s too good to last that long).  To make the sauce, you will need:

6 red peppers

4 cloves of garlic

425 F oven

40-45 minutes roasted until skin is blackened

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and roast peppers for 40-45 minutes, until blackened.  You will want to turn the pepper half way during the cooking process. Also on your baking pan, you can make a small foil packet of garlic cloves, topped with olive oil and let that bake during the second half, after you have turned your peppers.

Remove roasted peppers from oven and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  The steam will help loosen the blackened skin from the peppers and make cleaning them easier.  Once the peppers have cooled, peel the skins off the peppers and remove the stems and seeds.  Place your cleaned peppers in a food processor with the softened garlic cloves (skins removed) and blend.  Put in a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.