Cooking with Lauren: Quick breakfast ideas for back-to-school

By LAUREN HALLOW/lhallow@state-journal.com Published:

Now that schools are back in session, I wanted to write a column that gives parents a couple of easy and quick breakfast foods to feed their kids before they head out the door each morning.

I’ve written before about how breakfast is, in my opinion, the greatest and most delicious meal of the day. If I were more of a morning person, I would wake up early each day to cook myself a nice spread of eggs, sausage, hash browns and biscuits.

(If I were more of a morning person, I may also be 200 pounds, so maybe it’s best I like my sleep!)

I also mentioned before how I discovered my love of breakfast later in life, and my picky eating habits forced me to miss out on years of yummy breakfast experiences.

I don’t want that to happen to your kids. If there’s anything I accomplish in this world, let it be that I encouraged people to embrace breakfast.

I remember all too well frantic mornings getting ready for school, with my mom begging me to eat a waffle and trying to shove a Pop-tart down my brother’s throat before we ran out the door. It seemed we never had time for breakfast, but maybe with these next recipes, you can make some extra time available.

Start day with eggs

Eggs are great way to start your day, but just handing your kid a plate of scrambled eggs can be a bit boring.

Recently I’ve seen people thinking outside of the box with their eggs, so I decided to do some experimenting.

Egg Peppers

This is extremely easy. All you need are peppers, eggs, cheese and a little bit of oil.

Simply cut a green pepper or bell pepper into slices and spray with a bit of oil. In a skillet, cook one side on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Flip over, and then crack an egg into the center of the pepper slice.

Sprinkle salt, pepper and any other spices or herbs that you like on the egg. I added a teeny bit of onion powder and some parsley).

How long you cook it depends on how you like your eggs. I like my yolks a bit runny so I cooked it for about five minutes, then flipped it over and cooked it for another minute on the other side.

When it’s cooked, remove the egg pepper from the skillet and sprinkle a little cheese on top before serving.

Egg ‘n’ Ham Cups

(Adapted from YumSugar.com) You will need: ham slices, muffin tin, eggs, shredded cheese, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray the muffin wells with nonstick cooking spray. Put the ham slices into the muffin tin. You can use any kind of deli or lunchmeat style ham for this.

Crack an egg into each muffin tin. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices you prefer. Like with the Egg Peppers, I sprinkled some parsley and a teeny bit of onion powder on top.

Cook in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes (10 minutes for runnier eggs, 12 for a harder yolk). Remove from oven and, while hot, sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipes with options

These next recipes can be used for either dessert or for an extra special breakfast.

Recently, I’ve discovered a new indulgence – bread. It’s funny because in an attempt to stay healthy, I’ve actually strayed away from pasta, breaded chicken and other carbs in my entrees, only to start eating bread for dessert. Go figure.

I am putting all the blame on Jordan Smith, The State Journal’s assistant news editor. I never ate bread for dessert until she started bringing in banana bread for the newsroom to share. I’m not one to turn down free food, so of course, I helped myself to a slice … or four.

Since then, I’ve been bookmarking all kinds of bread recipes I see online, but it’s been so hot out that I’ve been trying to avoid my oven as much as possible. However, recently my temptations have gotten the best of me.

You can serve these next two recipes as a dessert, or toast a slice for an indulgent breakfast. Give a piece to your kid when he or she gets an A or something.

Strawberry

Banana Bread

(Adapted from online cooking blog, “The No Sugar Sweet Life”)

1 2/3 cups of flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup of sugar

2 eggs

5.3 oz. of plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup cream cheese

About a dozen strawberries, diced

3 bananas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove skin and mash bananas in a bowl with a fork until mushy. Set aside. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk brown sugar, sugar and eggs in another bowl, and then add mix to the flour bowl.

Mix in cream cheese and yogurt, and then add the bananas. Fold in the strawberries.

Spray a bread pan with nonstick cooking spray (or grease with butter), then pour mixture into pan. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wait at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I’ve wanted to try out this recipe for a while, and I’m so glad I finally got around to it. This was delicious! I added the cream cheese and sugar to the original recipe to thicken up the batter a bit, so the consistency is a bit thicker and creamier than a typical bread. If you want a more traditional bread, leave the cream cheese out.

I stuck this in the fridge – to me, this was a bread that would taste better cold than hot. The author of this recipe suggested serving it toasted with some Nutella on top, but I enjoyed it just fine as is.

This next recipe I created after I needed a way to use up some extra zucchini. It’s since become my new obsession.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

1½ cups of flour

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup olive oil (vegetable oil also works)

2 t cinnamon

2 t nutmeg

2 t vanilla

1 t hazelnut extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, sugar and oil together in a separate bowl. Add the sugar and eggs mixture to the larger bowl and mix together.

Add vanilla and hazelnut extract, and then mix in zucchini. Fold in chocolate chips. Grease a bread pan and pour in mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

If you want to shave off some calories, skip the chocolate chips.

Personally, I think chocolate makes every meal better, but if you’re looking for something less rich, this bread will taste just fine without the chips.

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