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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Easy Hot Breakfasts

I always wanted to have hot breakfasts for our children and it always seemed like such a hassle, especially for such a non-morning person like me. What I have found is that long cooking cereals actually saved me time, because I could start them while doing other morning preparations, and have them ready at breakfast time. Also, if that isn't a possibility, they hold up to long cooking in the crockpot overnight, for a hearty breakfast in the morning whenever you are ready for it. We generally stock steel cut oats for our breakfasts which cook at a 4:1 ratio of water to dry cereal. However, in the crockpot, it takes a little more liquid, I do a 6:1 ratio. Cook on low, starting it right before you go to bed, and you have a healthful, tasty breakfast. It is really important to include a dash of salt, though, it seems to keep them from being too bland.

Something else we do is to cook up lots of extra scrambled eggs when we make them, and the next day we use the leftovers with a little cheese, salsa and maybe guacamole or sour cream in egg burritos. Our family, at least, does not enjoy reheated eggs, but when it is remade and rolled in a tortilla, all of a sudden it's tasty. And quick. When we make pancakes or waffles we make four times the batch and freeze the extras (between waxed paper or parchment in freezer bags) and pull the out to toast in the toaster for busy mornings.

The major thing, though, is to plan for a hot cooked breakfast, and stock up on the foods you will need. We always have tons of eggs, and we always keep steel cut oats in the cupboard (I buy them in bulk and store them in an airtight container), I buy bacon when it is on sale, as much as we can afford, and store it in the freezer, same thing with breakfast sausage, though more often I buy ground pork and we season it with salt, pepper, paprika, sage (lots), brown sugar, red pepper flakes and a touch of nutmeg because it is cheaper and we know what is going into our sausage. We make a bread pretty much every night, so there is something for toast, and we keep loads of tortillas in the house. Breakfast is our house is largely eggs or oatmeal, yogurt and fruit.

I do keep grits around and we occasionally have that. Yesterday, for instance, we had cheddar grits with diced ham, jalapenos and shallots (scallions are great in this, also) that I sauteed and mixed in, and fried eggs to serve on top. Creamed eggs are simple, quick and tasty with toast to dip into the egg yolk (grease a ramekin or custard cup well, drop an egg in it, sprinkle with salt, pepper, chopped herbs like chives, drizzle with cream and bake until done to your liking, roughly 10 minutes). Those eggs fried in the toast, with the fried toast cut outs on the side are lovely also. We eat Arabic breakfasts as well, like diced up feta and tomatoes, sprinkled with za'atar, drizzled with olive oil and eaten with warm khoubz Araby, ful with warm bread and herbed egg omelets ('ijja) and other foods like that.

As the mornings are getting cooler, we also frequently have cocoa, cafe au lait or milky tea to warm up little bellies. The key, though, is planning. Just as I plan our dinners for the week, I make a rough outline of our breakfasts for the week. Since I have children who could eat oatmeal every day of their lives, if I can't think of anything else, we always fall back on that.

Easier hot breakfasts for my family works for me!

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I'm so impressed with your descriptions here, I'm feeling the urge to try to cook a few breakfasts myself. Well, maybe I'll wait until it cools down a bit here in Phoenix =) But I can make plans now for meals later.
French Toast is easy to make and freeze! I even buy day-old bread for it, which saves a lot of money. (Day-old bread doesn't get as soggy as fresh.)
Set your oven on 350 degrees F. Get out a 13x9 inch baking dish and a cookie sheet. Spray the cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
Now, crack some eggs into the baking dish. I average about 2 eggs for 3 pieces of bread. Add some milk, cinnamon, sugar and a dash of vanilla. Mix it all up. Soak your bread like you normally do. The 13x9 pan makes it easy to do several at a time.
Put the bread on the cookie sheet. Bake on one side for 7 minutes. Flip it over and cook another 3 minutes. (You may have to adjust the time according to your oven.)
After you cook them, let them cool off then 'flash-freeze' them. (In case you don't know what that means, you put the toast on a plate, separate from each other. When they freeze (they don't have to freeze solid, just get dry enough not to stick to each other), throw them in a plastic bag.
Then, just pop them in the microwave or toaster until reheated, and enjoy!
That is a great idea, too! We do make french toast with our day old bread occasionally, and I make baked french toast sometimes, but never thought to freeze it. Thank you!

Also, because I make yogurt, granola and preserves, we combine them for quick breakfasts. That is especially nice when it is warm.
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