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posted: 9/13/2011 10:00 AM

Quick eggs and slow dinner

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  • 3-minute Breakfast Hash

    3-minute Breakfast Hash
    Courtesy of American Egg Board

  • Food Network Star David Schneider will prepare a four-course meal at a benefit for the National Hellenic Museum.

    Food Network Star David Schneider will prepare a four-course meal at a benefit for the National Hellenic Museum.
    Courtesy of the National Hellenic Museum

  • Courtesy of Slow Food


I know mornings can be hectic. The dog wants to go out ... again ... your son can't find the homework he spent an hour working on last night and your daughter wants help looking for the sparkly shoes that match her headband. Could there possibly be time to make eggs for breakfast?

You betcha!

With a little know-how, eggs take just minutes.

Why eggs? Because eggs provide high-quality protein, which kids need to feel more energetic, more mentally alert and stave off that stomach grumbling that can disrupt their morning classes.

The majority of moms and teachers who took a recent survey by the Park Ridge-based American Egg Board say eggs are "the best" breakfast option, topping cereal, waffles and even oatmeal.

"Eggs are a smart choice because they help kids stay full longer and deliver a lot of essential vitamins and minerals -- things many other breakfast options can't always deliver," says egg board spokeswoman Serena Ball, registered dietitian and partner at Teaspoon Communications nutrition group. "Plus, eggs are now 14 percent lower in cholesterol with 185 mg each."

So when it comes to those mornings when you don't have time to cook up some sunny-side up eggs, turn to your trusty microwave.

Try this incredible egg recipe for Three-Minute Breakfast Hash: Coat an 8-ounce ramekin or small cereal bowl with nonstick spray. Add cup frozen hash browns or O'Brien potatoes and cook 1 minutes on HIGH. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Break egg into bowl and beat with a fork; cook on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and cook 15 to 20 seconds longer. Add cheese and, if desired, ketchup or barbecue sauce.

To perk up this recipe a bit more, try it with southwest-style hash browns and pepper jack cheese.

Extra value meal: Now that I've told you how to make breakfast in a flash, I'm going to challenge you to slow down dinner. Drive-by the drive-through and cancel the pizza delivery and gather with family and friends this Saturday, Sept. 17, to share a budget-friendly home-cooked meal.

In response to a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables in some communities, the rising number of people turning to fast food and the increasing rates of diet-related disease, Slow Food USA has issued a $5 Challenge to encourage people to cook a meal that costs no more than five dollars per person. That's $5 a person -- the cost of a typical fast food "value meal."

The $5 Challenge's overarching message is that slow food should not have to cost more than fast food and that everyone has a right to it everyday. The group defines "slow food" as food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.

To take the pledge to cook a $5-a-person meal, head to Once you sign up you'll have access to recipes and tips for preparing a delicious and cost-effective meal (the broccoli and arugula pizza looks pretty darn tasty!).

At the site you can find $5 Challenge events that are open to the public, such as Slow Food Chicago's picnic at the Green City Market, located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday vendors will offer prepared meals for $5 or less plus recipes, shopping lists and a picnic blanketed area where market goers can share meals and more.

That's something worth slowing down for.

Going Greek: Sample world-class food, savor culinary spectacle and preview the new National Hellenic Museum before its official opening at Kouzina, the Museum's three-day benefit, Sept. 21 to 23, showcasing Mediterranean culinary arts and Chicago's trendiest chefs and artisans.

Food Network Star David Schneider will prepare a four-course meal paired with Greek wines during Kouzina's premium dinner Thursday evening. The evening's event costs $150 a person and also includes food and wine presentations and cooking demonstrations.

A $200 three-day pass includes Thursday's dinner as well as chefs' tastings on Wednesday and demos and a marketplace featuring diverse Greek goods on Friday.

The National Hellenic Museum is at 333 S. Halsted St., Chicago. Order tickets at (312) 655-1234.

On the back burner: Our popular Cook of the Week column -- the weekly profile of suburban home cooks -- will be on hiatus for the duration of the Cook of the Week Challenge. Please keep sending is the names of your neighbors, co-workers and relatives you'd like to see featured. The column will return when the contest wraps up in November.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Twitter @PankeysPlate.