Sunday, March 10, 2013

Four Simple Family Breakfast Ideas - Simple Family Dinner Blog Hop

Stuck in a breakfast or dinner rut? We do our fair share of cereal or bagel/English muffin + cream cheese mornings (Wild Thing calls it bagel and snow), but I also really enjoy making breakfast with Wild Thing and have found that having breakfast for dinner is a great way to shake up a dinner rut. (I know I am not the only one). So, when I decided join in with about 30 other blogs for the Simple Family Dinners Blog Hop, I was pretty sure I would end up sharing my favorite simple breakfast ideas -- all of which are fun to have the kids help you to make and many of which can do double duty as either a nice dinner alternative or snack/lunch box items. Plus, they all are made with real ingredients and can be tailored to different dietary needs rather easily - my favorite (actually the favorite of the entire family) is gluten free. So, I hope we inspire you to hop in the kitchen with your kids and get cooking!   

First things first, French Toast -- ours has a bit of twist and is so moist and good that we do not even use syrup -- though Wild Thing often loves to make it snow by sprinkling on some powdered sugar. The secret is in the bread. We use cinnamon raisin bread, preferably one with thinner slices. I find that the thin slice helps keep it really moist. Wild Thing (as you can see) loves to help prepare the batter, stirring the eggs. 

We include a dash of milk, cinnamon (I just let him shake in as much as he wants, within reason) and then I also add in some orange zest. It is a subtle thing, but it works really well. You know the rest, dredge the bread in the batter and then put on a hot, buttered griddle pan. (When I get to that part, Wild Thing is occupied with getting plates on the table). Quick, easy and fast -- breakfast (or dinner) is done!   

Pancakes are another family favorite, but I like to mix it up. We have done corn cakes and a pancake topper taste test in the past. Recently, I had some bananas that were moving steadily toward being overripe, so I knew banana oat pancakes would be the perfect solution. I used this recipe from Healthy. Happy. Life. (which is actually a recipe for vegan pancakes) as my guide, but smashed up the bananas instead of using them sliced and made a few other variations. For instance, I did not have flax seeds, nor buckwheat flour and I added in some oats (maybe 1/2-1 cup and then slowly added in the flour stopping when I realized the batter was a good consistency because the oats off set the amount of flour needed). Also, my favorite tip for gluten-free (easy and cheap) pancakes is to take rolled oats and put them in the food processor to create oat flour. It is so easy and works really well in pancake batter, plus it is much cheaper than buying gluten-free flour. We are not gluten-free, but I often make oat flour because I like the flavor and convenience of it. Also, I am not a huge fan of syrup (mainly because most syrup at stores is really just high fructose corn syrup and sugar and real maple syrup can be pricey, but also because even the good stuff seems too sweet), so I am always getting creative with pancake toppings using fruit, applesauce, etc. This time, I decided to make a peanut butter-honey syrup because I thought it would compliment the bananas and it did! Yum.  

The syrup involved mixing peanut butter and honey together and putting it in the microwave.
Another peanut butter oat combination that we love is our Banana Peanut Butter Oat Breakfast Cookies. These are really fun and great because they can be made anytime and kept for later. Plus, what kid does not like the prospect of eating cookies for breakfast? (Or they make a great addition to a lunch or a snack bag). Here is my recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • cinnamon and nutmeg (Wild Thing shakes it in for me!)
  • 1/4 cup or 2 TBS peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups oats 
  • 1 egg
  • 3 mashed ripe/soft bananas
  • sunflower seeds (I just toss some in)
I mix all of the dry ingredients (except the oats) and then add the eggs, bananas and other wet ingredients and add the oats last (as you may decide to adjust the amount of oats a bit). Then they cook for 12-15 minutes in an oven pre-heated at 400 degrees.

A great thing about the breakfast cookies and pancakes is that they are great ways to use up the bananas that have been sitting on the counter for almost too long -- or you can buy the red banded bananas (that are sold often for 29 cents a pound) specifically for this purpose. Also, the oat flour also works well in the cookies making them a great gluten-free option as well. I plan to try both recipes out with sunflower seed butter soon as I suspect it will work as a nut free alternative for children with nut allergies. If anyone does try that, please leave me a comment and let me know how they turn out. My other favorite, healthy cookies are our 3 Ingredient No-Bake Cookies. Super, duper easy.

Last but definitely not least is the family favorite: Hashbrown-Crusted Quiche! (100% Gluten-free and 200% delicious). This recipe is great because you can throw whatever you want, practically, in as a filling: bacon, ham, sausage, veggies, etc. We often do turkey breakfast sausage, but I have also done spinach, collard greens, and just cheese. A great combo is mushroom and sausage (sautee the mushrooms first). I find that I prefer a cheddar or sharp cheese blend with meats and parmesan shredded cheese with veggies, especially greens, but that might just be me. Also, an easier alternative with this dish is to lose the hashbrown crust and just make a frittata, which I often also done in muffin form with great success. This is probably the most popular breakfast for dinner that we make. My disclaimer is that the crust makes this one a little less simple, mainly in terms of prep time, but I still hope you will give it a try. Here is the step by step.

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Shred/grate potatoes, enough to line a pie pan. If you have small red potatoes, you need about 10. If you have big Idaho or Russet potatoes, you need 2-3. I don't like to peel my potatoes, but you certainly could. (I throw mine in a food processor making the grating/shredded process rather easy).

3. Mix potatoes with 2-3 tablespoons melted better and line pie-pan with hashbrowns. (You could also use frozen hashbrowns, just make sure you thaw them first).

4. Put in oven and crisp the hashbrown crust (25-45 minutes). The cook time can vary so you have to check.

5. While hashbrown crust is in the oven, cook the meat you want to add or sautee your vegetables. (If you use ham, you would not need to cook it).

6. Beat 6 eggs. Add freshly ground pepper (a few twists), a dash of milk (if you prefer, probably 1/4 cup) and cheese.

7. Mix eggs, sausage and mushrooms together and pour over hashbrown crust (once crust is crisp, but not overdone).

8. Reduce oven to 350 and cook for 30-45 minutes (use a toothpick to check for the eggs to be done). If you do a frittata, you simple start at step 5 as you prepare your filling. Also, the cook time for frittata muffins is much shorter. I have only made them once and cannot remember the exact cook time, but I would start checking at 15 minutes. I think it is somewhere between 15-25. 

While this one takes a bit more time, for much of that time items are just sitting in the oven, so I will often get the hashbrown crust started and then go play with the boys or have them help me make the egg mixture and then play with them again during the second round of cook time in the oven.

I hope we have inspired you to shake it up at breakfast or dinner! So many great bloggers are involved so you can find lots of other great ideas from them too, and you will definitely want to make sure you are following the Simple Family Meals Pinboard.   

Also, if you have not liked The Good Long Road Facebook page, please do. Each Monday, I share a meal plan for the week and recently shared a great recipe that got my toddler excited about eating mustard greens! Oh - and you might also want to check out my Eating the Alphabet A-Z post with 30+ Kid-Friendly Veggie Recipes, including an amazingly delicious Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese.

Here is the complete list of bloggers joining in the fun: 
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom | Inspired by Family | Sun Scholars | This Reading Mama | Life by Ashley Pichea | In Culture Parent | Raising Life Long Learners | Glittering Muffins | Life at the Zoo | Octavia and Vicky | Kid World Citizen | Kitchen Counter Chronicles | Nomad Parents | Childhood 101 | Triple T Mum | Adventures in Mommydom | The Freckled Homeschooler | Teach Beside Me | The Chirping Moms | Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes | So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler | Pickle Bums | The European Mama | The Golden Gleam | Forever, For Always, No Matter What | Motherhood on a Dime | Harrington Harmonies | Rainy Day Mum | Jenni Fischer | Cakes and Sribbles | Toddling Into Madness | Mermaids' Makings | Mud Hut Mama | Here Come the Girls | All Done Monkey | Small Potatoes | Little Artists
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  1. It's strange...we do french toast quite a bit and I usually mash up bananas and add milk, vanilla, and nutmeg, but I've never tried it with cinnamon swirl bread - I am SO trying that! As for what JDaniel4's Mom's comment ... we do "brinners" all the time! lol

  2. This all look so good that we decided to feature you on our Saturday recap post! (