I don’t know about you, but for as much as we eat Mexican fare, I often have a hard time thinking of sides. While beans and rice are the standards, I find that paired with tortillas (as Mexican food often has) we’re talking a lot of carbs and starch. And while we make (and love) the “famous” black beans quite frequently, sometimes you just want something different, or simply in addition to, the beans. Something a little lighter.

Calabacitas are a great vegetable side for Mexican food (or really, any food). The dish is particularly good this this time of year, when zucchini and summer squash are plentiful and tomatoes and corn are perfect. You roast the squash until golden and then toss it with some onions, tomatoes and corn. I added a jalape‏ño because how could you not? Although I didn’t try it, I don’t see why you couldn’t just roast everything to avoid cleaning an extra pan.

My kids were huge fans of this, which is good because Zachary decided recently that his years-running-second-favorite vegetable of all time, asparagus (behind brussels sprouts), is now garbage. I am working through my grief.


I can’t believe my blog has been in existence so long and I have yet to post kolokithokeftedes. For some reason any time we have them I don’t get to take a picture, or something else happens (like The Great Computer Crash of 2013). Kolokithokeftedes are basically zucchini fritters with feta. Kolokithi is zucchini (really, it’s more the word for gourd) and keftedes are meatballs. These don’t really resemble meatballs (well, they could if you rolled them differently and deep-fried them), but who am I to argue?

I love these little bad boys because they are quick, healthy, and a great way to use up all the summer zucchini. Oh, and, I’m also a fan of anything that “forces” me to make tzatziki. We aren’t really appetizer people (when it’s just the four of us eating, that is) so when we have these we normally make it an ALL small plates/appetizer night with these, small souvlaki, pitas, Greek village salad, etc.

PS: I am the queen as posting things with questionable timing. Every other blogger right now is like, “AMERICA!” and here I am with Greek food.  Sort of like how I posted Hawaiian food on St. Patrick’s Day.


Barbecue sauce and I have a bit of a sordid past. I started out not really liking it at all. I can’t tell you the first time I ever ate barbecue sauce by choice, but it was definitely in my twenties. Eventually I started coming around, first with my love for Sweet Baby Ray’s and then making my own when I discovered that one had HFCS.

When I got pregnant with Zachary, I had exactly two food aversions: barbecue sauce and ginger (which is weird, because ginger is supposed to be helpful during pregnancy). When I was approximately 30 seconds (unknowingly) pregnant with Ian, I walked into my office suite to smell someone reheating barbecue sauce and I instantly felt nauseous. Who needs EPT when you have barbecue sauce?

I’m telling you all of this as an excuse for why it took me a while to make these burgers. I need to REALLY be in the mood for barbecue sauce or for some reason, it still makes me queasy. I have no idea why, and I can only wish I had similar feelings toward things like cake and nachos.

It’s so secret I love making chicken burgers. Ground chicken is a blank canvas, as far as flavors are concerned, and they can generally be kept pretty lean, too. I’m always looking for new versions, and this one fits the bill. The burgers are flavored with paprika, garlic, mustard, brown sugar, and barbecue sauce. They’re topped with more sauce and some sharp cheddar, which  I have always loved with BBQ sauce. Josie added leftover pulled pork to hers, which would no doubt be awesome, but we didn’t have any, unfortunately. I did decided to put these on yeasted cornbread buns, because who doesn’t like cornbread with BBQ? I was just thinking that these would be pretty awesome on biscuits, too. Because – biscuits.


What are your thoughts on okra? Personally, I’ve always loved it. It’s a very popular vegetable in Greek cuisine (bamies, pronounced bahm-yes) and it was another one of those weird things I would eat by the bowlful as a kid, even if it wasn’t a meal time. My husband, on the other hand, not a big fan. Like most people who dislike okra, he’s not crazy about it because of its slimy nature. To be fair, he doesn’t hate it and he WILL eat it if I make it, but it’s certainly not his favorite.

Last year, I made this cornmeal-crusted okra on a few occasions and it turned Tom into a convert. It was also eaten with gusto by Zachary.  When I made this salad, I had another green vegetable on hand for the kids, because I wasn’t sure if they would like it. Sure, the okra doesn’t get as slimy when roasted as it does stewed, but I knew it wouldn’t be quite as crispy and easy to eat as the cornmeal-crusted version. Well, Zachary asked for more okra 4 times. And then the next day when I was having some leftovers, he asked for the rest of that, too. Ian ate it, too. Tom still prefers the cornmeal prep, but did enjoy this salad. So, I guess this was a hit.

Personally, I’ve never grilled okra, but my guess is you could skewer it and do so, and then grill the potatoes, too, if you wanted to try a different version of this. But, I LOVE roasted potatoes—especially fingerlings—so roasting was a no-brainer for me. We had grilled out the night before, though, and I had Tom set aside some of the corn he grilled for this salad. However, if you can’t/don’t do that, I would roast the corn as well because why bother dirtying another pot and dealing with boiling water?

The original recipe also calls for fava beans, which I don’t doubt would be great in this salad. Buuut I didn’t really notice they were supposed to be in there until 5 minutes before I started making it. I also added entire scallions instead of the white parts, like the recipe called for. Reading comprehension fail. Luckily, to no one’s detriment. :)



I started trying to change the words to “My Favorite Things” to include chicken shawarma and tahini instead of whiskers on kittens, but let’s just say it was falling really flat. So, in a very non-sing-songy way I would like to tell you: here are a few of my favorite things. All in one bowl.

This is sort of a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean take on your standard Chipotle-esque bowl. Just like that one, it has a protein, beans, rice, and something that…sort of resembles salsa? Personally, I like to mix everything together or take bites of a couple things at once (folded up in a pita is optional but encouraged). My kid is more interested in eating things separately and then drinking tahini sauce as though it’s a shot. Bottoms up? It’s your call.

Although there are a few components to this meal, they all come together quickly and you really shouldn’t have a problem making this as a weeknight meal (assuming, of course, you had time to marinate the chicken in the morning or night prior).  It’s healthy, filling without feeling heavy, and it just plain tastes good. Also,it includes about a million cloves of garlic and tons of tahini, so what are you waiting for?


It should be no surprise that I’ve been throwing feta in pasta for pretty much my whole life.  It adds a nice salty bite and tastes delicious, of course. The only “bad” thing about feta is that it’s not exactly known for its melting properties, so it can sometimes be a little more difficult to incorporate it into every bite (which is something you want to do with cheese in general, obviously). But, make a simple cheese sauce with butter, flour, milk, and feta and boom. FETA IN ALL THE THINGS.

This is not your typical macaroni and cheese, so even though the feta is well-incorporated into the dish, it’s not going to be that creamy, silky, overtly cheesy sauce associated with most “macaroni and cheese” recipes. I like to think of this more as a spin on baked ziti or something similar, since it also includes tomatoes. Kalamata olives are adding for that nice briny, salty, Greek flavor (PS if you don’t like olives, try kalamata olives; they blow all olives out of the water). I also added some chicken to this to make it a more filling meal.


As a kid, I was pretty picky. But, I wasn’t the kind of picky most kids are. It was never difficult to get me to eat vegetables. I would eat Greek-style okra, peas, and green beans by the bowlful—often even cold, straight out of the fridge, for a snack. And xorta would be eaten like we were approaching a crop shortage. But beans, seafood, or Chinese food? Nuh uh. No way.

Xorta (pronouced horr-tah) are just greens. They can be any sort of greens you want, really, but dandelion greens or vlita (amaranth) were the most common for us growing up. All you do is boil them until they are tender, drain them, and toss them with olive oil and lemon. We Greeks are simple – lemons and olive oil in savory foods, honey and nuts in sweet foods. :)

Full discloser: Zachary, my garbage disposal, is not a fan of these. This is not surprising because outside of mashed potatoes (WEIRDO), soft leafy greens are the only things he doesn’t really like. He will eat raw spinach or whatever but as soon as it’s sauteed or boiled it becomes untouchable. I would weep at our lack of shared love of leafy greens, but he is otherwise a great eater who does share other loves with me, like listening to REM and Le Tigre in the car.


There are some foods I cannot get enough. I will make the dish itself or versions of it often and in any way imaginable. Chicken shawarma is one of them (which I will prove to you in a new post soon) and French onion soup is another. Over the years, I’ve made countless renditions of French onion soup, from a chicken dish, to a grilled cheese, to a rice dish. It should not be surprising that I’d try to sneak gruyere and caramelized onions in as many things as possible.

I know that this is not the most spring-y dish. I know that. But I still don’t have a problem making or eating it in the warmer months (at least, now that our air is fixed). Because, again – gruyere and caramelized onions. And bread.  I also know that these pictures are  not great because I got them in the days before it was light at dinnertime. Still, I want to share this with you because I adore it.

I’ve added chicken, which is totally optional, of course, but it does make for a good complete meal. For the grain, I used farro, but you could just as easily use rice, quinoa, barley, or any number of things. I’m just the weirdo who has farro in one of my 3 counter-top canisters (bulgur, not flour or sugar, is in another of course).

Just make sure you take into account the amount of liquid (and time) required to cook your grain. Farro for me is generally a 2:1 ratio of liquid to farro (even though I have seen others that recommend more like 3:1), so that is what I have indicated below (with a little extra to be absorbed by the chicken, and while baking/sitting).  Note also that I have used pearled farro, which has a quicker cooking time.


I’ve been on a cookbook kick lately. I’m back to bookmarking and food-staining the pages of cookbooks I’ve resurrected. It’s been great because I’ve been in a bit of a food rut (especially for weekday dinners), and the cookbooks help. Plus, it makes me feel okay about the precious real estate (only 2 squares, for the record) my cookbooks are taking up on our already-way-too-full bookshelves.

So, in addition to making pretty much everything from Pasta Revolution and Mexican Everyday, I’ve been using The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook a lot, too. Because balance.

Shrimp, asparagus, and lemon are a match made in heaven, so it’s obvious this was a winning dish. What’s better is that it’s quick to make and healthy. What’s not so good is that shrimp can be expensive and both of my children are shrimp beasts. I’m pretty sure they will be getting a call from the ocean any day now.


It should come as absolutely no surprise that Zachary is a huge fan of Mexican food, given how much of it we eat (and Ian is already following closely in his footsteps). Last night we were eating tacos and guacamole salad and after he finished his meal in 2.5 seconds, I told him he should open a Mexican restaurant when he gets older, implying that he can own it/cook there. Of course he took it to mean something else entirely and said, “Yeah, so I can eat all the Mexican food!”

So, it should also come as no shock whatsoever that he loves Mexican sandwiches, which combine two of his favorite food groups. And who can blame him? We love them, too.

This time around, we tried a version of chorizo and black bean subs from the always-popular Mexican Everyday. They’re a quick and easy meal using some of my favorite ingredients (chorizo! goat cheese!) and a winner all around. These are more bean-heavy than sausage-heavy so they are also good if you’re trying to cut down a little on your meat intake but not get rid of it all together (though you could certainly make these just with seasoned beans).

I’ve made other versions of tortas before and never blogged them, but one of my favorites is with chicken that has been cooking in tomatillo salsa (crockpot FTW!) with a more-mashed-version of these black beans. Of course, tortas are infinitely adaptable just like tacos, so feel free to experiment (and then tell me your favorite combination, so I can eat more tortas).