Breakfast Time

To say these are trying times is more than just an understatement. It's nearly laughable. Between wondering where all the toilet paper went and attempting to work from home (if you're lucky) while getting your kids to do something beyond look at screens (again, if you're lucky), there's that ever-nagging question that somehow doesn't manage to take a break even during the throes of a global pandemic. What's for breakfast?

I mean, it's a valid question. Often given a nod as the most important meal of the day, which might be nutritionally questionable but absolutely can have you starting things off on the right foot, breakfast is too important to be ignored. This can be especially true when you are spending a lot of time in the same place, but perhaps not actually together with your family. Breakfast gives us a chance to sit down at the start of the day, nourish our bodies, talk about our plans for the day, and share a little gratitude that something fresh and good is on the table before you.

So as a way to help you to tackle this morning challenge, below are 10 tried and true breakfast recipes. Some of them are best prepared the morning you plan to enjoy them and others are make ahead for a meal or a whole bunch of meals. And most of them are flexible enough to allow you to tweak them a bit. So add some bacon to your waffles or include some of your favorite dried fruit or nuts to your homemade granola and get ready to start the day right!

Granola Parfait Cups

  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats — NOT instant

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease a muffin top tin and set aside.

Whisk together the first three ingredients (applesauce through vanilla extract) in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Portion the batter into the muffin top cups, gently pressing up the sides.

Bake the granola cups for 15-18 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. To prevent crumbling, allow them to sit for 20 minutes before attempting to remove them from the tins.

Set each cup on a serving plate and fill with your choice of yogurt, fruit, and nuts. Enjoy!

  • Yields: 5-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Waffle and Sausage Strata

  • 8 oz. bulk pork sausage
  • 4-6 asparagus spears - cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Belgian waffles - cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2/3 c. half and half
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions

In an oven-safe nonstick skillet, fry the sausage, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Near the end of cooking, add the asparagus pieces and cook until just crisp-tender. Drain away any excess oil.

Add the waffle pieces to the skillet and toss briefly to combine.

Preheat the oven to 400° F and combine the eggs and half and half in a large, resealable jar. Shake vigorously to make a rich custard. Pour the custard evenly over the ingredients in the skillet. Sprinkle the top of the mixture evenly with the grated cheese of your choice.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the green onions before serving.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Mini-Frittatas

  • 7 eggs
  • 2 c. plain yogurt
  • Seasoning of your choice
  • Add-ins:
    • Cooked, crumbled bacon
    • Shredded cheese
    • Sliced green onions
    • Diced peppers -- sweet or spicy
    • Diced tomatoes
    • Chopped herbs
    • Chopped spinach or kale
    • Cooked sausage crumbles
    • Cubed ham

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, and seasoning of your choice to create a thick egg custard. Choose a seasoning that will complement the add-ins of your choice.

In 6 separate custard cups or 1/2-pint wide-mouth mason jars that have been sprayed with cooking spray, add the add-ins of your choice. Be creative and feel free to make each cup a different flavor combination. Carefully pour the egg custard mixture over the add-ins, leaving about a half-inch of space at the top of the cups or jars. Place the cups or jars on a baking sheet.

Carefully place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake the frittatas for 25-35 minutes or until the egg mixture is set and golden on top. Serve warm or cool. If desired, store the mason jar variety in the refrigerator with lids on them for a quick grab and go meal.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Maple-Cranberry Granola

  • 5 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 3/4 c. espresso-flavored baking chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Spray a 6-quart slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Combine the first 7 ingredients (rolled oats through coarse salt) in the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Set the slow cooker on LOW and leave the lid cracked. Stir the mixture well every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours or until the oats are toasted and the mixture is dry. Add the dried cranberries to the granola and stir well to incorporate. Spread the granola out on a large baking sheet to cool completely. When cool, stir in the espresso-flavored (or chocolate) chips. Store in mason jars at room temperature for up to a month.

  • Yields: About 8 cups
  • Preparation Time: 4 hours

Perfect Pancake/Waffle Batter

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray for the griddle or waffle iron

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until well blended. Add the milk, vinegar, oil, and sugar to the eggs and whisk until incorporated. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk together until only small lumps remain. The batter will be very thick.

For pancakes: preheat a large non-stick skillet or cast iron over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and then add ¼ cup of the batter to the pan for each pancake. Cook until bubble appear on the top of the pancake, about 3 minutes, then continue cooking until golden brown on both sides. Carefully remove to a warming plate and repeat with remaining batter.

For waffles: preheat a waffle iron. Spray liberally with cooking spray and then add enough batter to barely coat the bottom of the iron (the batter will rise during cooking). Lower the lid of the waffle iron and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Carefully remove to a warming plate and repeat with remaining batter.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cheesy Bacon Biscuit Casserole

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 pkg. (16.3 oz) refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet mini pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk, and granulated garlic with a wire whisk until smooth.

Separate the dough into individual biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. Gently stir the biscuit pieces into the egg mixture to coat evenly. Fold in the bleu cheese and sliced sweet mini peppers. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, arranging the biscuit pieces in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with the shredded cheeses and bacon.

Baked at 350° F for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown. You can either cut the casserole into squares or just pull it apart and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 30 minutes

Maple Roasted Pears with Granola and Almonds

  • 4 firm pears
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. granola — choose a favorite variety
  • 4 T. sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Slice the pears in half and, using a melon baller or teaspoon, carefully remove the core of each half. Make sure you leave the stem intact.

Place the butter in an 8-inch square baking dish and set it in the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and carefully set the pear halves in the melted butter, cut side down. Roast the pears for 10 minutes. Then, remove the pan and drizzle the maple syrup into the pan, making sure the pears get rubbed into the syrup-butter mixture. Return the baking dish to the oven and roast an additional 10 minutes.

Place two pear halves on a serving plate and sprinkle a fourth of the granola and sliced almonds over the pears. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Baked Blueberry-Challah French Toast

  • 1 large loaf challah (or other hearty bread), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (unthawed)
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Lightly grease a 9x9-inch pan. Arrange half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Layer the cream cheese cubes and frozen berries evenly over the bread cubes. Top with the remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread cubes. Press the bread cubes slightly down to absorb the milk/egg mixture. Sprinkle the top of the bread evenly with brown sugar, cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight. (Or skip this step and continue with the baking steps.)

In the morning, remove the french toast from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 22-30 minutes or until fluffy and golden. Serve with maple syrup and additional fruit, if desired.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: About an hour

Twice Baked Breakfast Potatoes

  • 2 baking potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a fork
  • 1 c. cultured sour cream, plus more for serving if desired
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 c. shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Microwave the potatoes until they are soft enough to cut in half and carefully scoop the insides out, leaving a thin shell for filling. Place the empty shells in a shallow baking dish and place the insides in a large bowl.

Add the sour cream, bacon, onions, and cheese to the potato insides and stir until the potatoes are mashed and the fillings are evenly distributed. Fill the reserved potato shells with the mixture. The potatoes will be very full. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the fillings are slightly golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with additional sour cream, if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cinnamon-Cranberry Bread Pudding

  • 8 slices of cinnamon-cranberry bread, cut into quarters
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. orange juice
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

In a round casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray, arrange the pieces of bread around the edges of the dish in layers, forming a flower pattern. Set aside.

Combine the eggs, orange juice, and heavy cream in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly to form a custard-like mixture. Pour evenly over the bread in the round casserole dish. Combine the sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top of the bread is golden and the egg-coated bread has set. Serve warm with maple syrup.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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