Stir Crazy: These breakfast ideas are faster than the toaster

September 9, 2013 

I believe in breakfast. I need fuel for my engine before I leave home, so I make time to eat. (And read the paper.)

But even if you eat breakfast at work or on the run, it's best to keep it simple. I'm always amazed at how time-consuming and complicated some of the breakfast recipes I'm sent are. It's one thing to have a leisurely breakfast on the weekend -- and the time to prepare it -- but during the week, that's just not practical.

The problem crops up on how to do a fast feed of the family during the week, but not get so bored with the same cereal/toast/bagel/etc., barrage. It can be especially difficult to keep kids interested in eating breakfast if they're bored.

What I do know is that if you invest a bit of time on a Saturday or Sunday morning to make pancakes, waffles, french toast or biscuits, you'll reap the benefits the upcoming week. Here's why:

All three breakfast items freeze really well and thaw really quickly.

All three make excellent on-the-go as well as sit-down breakfast sandwich material.

So, double the amount you make (keep pancakes on the smaller side) and use them for the upcoming week. Put them in pairs in zip-lock baggies and freeze.

Then, if you're all sitting down on a school day to eat, just put them on a plate and pop them in the microwave. If you're heading out the door, do the same, but put some deli ham or turkey and a slice of your favorite cheese in between. Stick the warm sandwich back in the bag and you and your kids are on your way. Remember paper napkins.

And, by the way, no one says you can't do this same thing with store-bought frozen waffles or pancakes, but my way is far cheaper. But don't think I don't take shortcuts, either: I go to stores like Big Lots in Fairview Heights and buy the discounted big boxes of pancake mix. (And I use Bisquick.)

I also take home any baguettes or bread I get with a salad at lunch and accumulate them in a bag in the freezer. That's my stash of slightly stale bread that makes great small rounds of french toast.

More breakfast-on-the-go ideas

1. If you don't want meat in your breakfast sandwich, you can also stuff any of the above, or a flour tortilla, with cream cheese (or ricotta), chopped apple and honey. Add a sprinkle of nuts or raisins if you've got 'em.

2. This works with peanut butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of maple syrup, too.

3. Want eggs for breakfast but don't have time? Make some hard-boiled eggs the day before, then slice them onto toast or an English muffin with a sliced tomato and some cheese on top. Microwave if you want the cheese to melt.

4. Easy parfaits: Use 12- to 16-ounce plastic cups and fill each with 1/4 cup of granola or favorite cereal, then with 1/2 cup plain yogurt. Top with 1 or 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey.

OK, this recipe takes longer than most of us have on weekday mornings, but, it's easy enough that anyone can make it. It's from RealSimple.com.

Quick Sticky Buns

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and thinly sliced into 10 pieces

1 medium banana, thinly sliced

1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans, chopped

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 (7.5-ounce) tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Drop a piece of butter in the bottom of each of 10 compartments of a muffin tin. Arrange the banana slices on top. Sprinkle the pecans and brown sugar over the bananas. Top each compartment with a biscuit. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

3. Place a baking sheet on top of the muffin tin while the buns are still hot. Carefully flip the tin over, tapping the bottom to release the buns. Transfer to a platter. Serve warm.

This recipe is adapted from Allrecipes.com. Make these mini size and add one or two to a lunch box if you don't want them for breakfast alone.

French Breakfast Puffs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup butter, margarine or vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line cups with paper muffin liners. Or, do the same for 24 mini muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, cream together 1/2 cup sugar and butter or oil. Beat in egg.

Stir flour mixture into wet mixture alternately with milk. Beat well.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, less time for mini muffins. While muffins are baking, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

4. Remove muffins from oven and muffin pan. Immediately dip the tops of the muffins into the melted margarine, then into the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Repeat with each muffin, until all muffin tops are covered. Serve warm.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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