Food & Drink | August 2017

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Quick Family Breakfasts

Iwould like to say that each morning we get up and have a healthy, freshly prepared breakfast to give us a well-balanced start to the day.

While I would like to say that, it would not be true. Many mornings I opt for a couple of sausage biscuits at a fast food drive-thru, and the kids ask for cereal every morning. For a while, they were on a frozen waffle kick. Pop a couple in the toaster, and then slap on some cream cheese spread, butter or peanut butter. On some days, especially late in the school year when everybody was running out of steam, those waffles were wrapped in a paper towel and handed to a kid rushing out the door to catch the school bus.

None of these are ideal breakfast dishes, we know. But by the time we get backpacks together, teeth brushed, lunches packed and shoes (hopefully a matched pair) tied, there’s just no time for anything else.

And, in my defense, at least the sausage biscuits give me a little protein. I opt for those instead of warm, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts that I could get at the two or three doughnut shops I pass between our house and work. Because, in my doughnut-eating days, I wouldn’t get just a couple of the glazed variety.

Nope, I would opt for an apple fritter and a cinnamon roll. If I was going to go for the sugar rush in the morning, I was going all in. “Go big or go home,” is the saying, I believe, but I think that has something to do with sports, not a 900-calorie breakfast of pastries.

When doing research on breakfast, I turned to the Google and was going to ask, “Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?” I typed in “Is breakfast…” and the first autocomplete prediction was “…Club on Netflix?” An important question, indeed (“The Breakfast Club” is not available via streaming, but if you’re subscribed to the Netflix DVD service, it can be found there. And I’m not saying that finding the answer to that question sent me down a rabbit hole of “Breakfast Club” scenes on YouTube, but it is taking me a lot longer to write this than it should. And did you know that Molly Ringwald is an accomplished jazz singer and started singing when she was 3 and lived in France for a while?). But it was the next two autocomplete suggestions that caught my eye:

“Is breakfast bad for you?”

“Is breakfast good for you?”

Well, research has found that while breakfast isn’t bad for you, it is also not necessarily the most important meal of the day, regardless of what your mom — and breakfast food marketing — has told you. A study funded by Kellogg found that “cereal for breakfast is associated with being thinner,” according to The New York Times. Another study, this one funded by Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, found that people who skipped breakfast lost weight but also experienced an increase in cholesterol.

While academics study the value of breakfast, it is an important meal in our house. On Saturday mornings, we may go all out with homemade pancakes or waffles with real maple syrup and fresh bacon from Green’s Sausage House, a meat market and restaurant in Zabcikville, near Temple, that has been in business since 1946. But that doesn’t help us on school mornings when time is at a premium.

So here are some make-ahead recipes that have been successful for us when we have gotten around to preparing them the night before a school morning. Some — Omelet in a Jar, Chocolate-Zucchini Bread, Six-Week Muffins, Cinnamon Quickies — can be eaten on the go, which is always a plus. And yogurt and granola has proven to be an easy, popular breakfast with one adult in our household.

The Recipes

Omelet in a Jar

  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped ham or turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Spray a 16-ounce, microwave-safe glass jar with nonstick cooking spray. Add the milk, spinach, cheese and ham to the jar. (This step can be done the night before.)

Crack the eggs into the jar. Season with salt and pepper, then place the lid back on and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds, or until the eggs are pale yellow. Remove the lid and microwave for 90 seconds.

Carefully remove from the microwave and check for doneness. Return to the microwave for 15-30 seconds as needed to finish cooking. Remove to a plate or eat warm, right from the jar. Makes 1 serving.
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Chocolate-Zucchini Bread

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, with the juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the zucchini and mix. Then add the dry ingredients and nuts and mix together well.

Pour the batter into two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.
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Six-Week Muffins

  • 1 box (about 15 ounces) bran cereal with raisins
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 quart buttermilk

For an optional topping:

  • 12 teaspoons butter
  • 12 tablespoons brown sugar
  • In a very large bowl, mix the cereal with sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, oil and buttermilk. Allow to rest before use. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use as needed. The refrigerated batter will keep for about six weeks.

    To bake the muffins, heat oven to 400 F. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

    To add some sweetness, melt 1 teaspoon butter and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in each muffin cup before filling with batter. Makes about 60 muffins.
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Cinnamon Quickies

  • 2 loaves thin white sandwich bread
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • Butter, melted
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Cut crusts off bread and use a rolling pin to flatten the slices. Spread each piece of bread with a layer of cream cheese.

Roll the slices of bread tightly, then cut each roll into quarters.

Prepare a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip each roll into melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place rolls on a baking sheet and put in the freezer. When the rolls are frozen, store in plastic bags.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 F. Bake until rolls are bubbly and puffy. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
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Love Toast

  • Butter
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Finely chopped fresh herbs

Spread butter on both sides of the two slices of bread. Use a medium heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the center out of the bread. In a nonstick skillet, add the bread and cut-out centers. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden.

Turn bread over, and add an egg to the heart-shaped hole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the egg whites are set. Sprinkle with chopped herbs such as parsley, chives or basil. Repeat with the other slice of bread and egg. Makes 2 servings.
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Pop Toast

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons jelly or jam
    Optional:

  • Thinly-sliced fruit, such as banana or strawberry
  • Peanut butter, cream cheese or chocolate-hazelnut spread

Lightly butter both slices of bread. Spread the jelly or jam on one slice of bread, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Top with fruit, if using. And if you’re using the peanut butter or other optional toppings, spread it on the other slice of bread. Top with the second piece of bread.

Cut the crusts off the bread and seal the two slices of bread together using a fork. Toast in the toaster or in a toaster oven until crisp and golden. Makes 1 serving.
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Quick Granola

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 1/3 cup oil (coconut oil works well)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 300 F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon and flax, if using; set aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine oil, honey and vanilla.

Using your hands, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then spread the mixture onto 2 baking sheets lined with foil or parchment. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven and stir. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 6 cups.
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