baked oatmeal

Breakfast is a rushed time for most of us, and it’s so easy to throw something pre-packaged at the kids just so they won’t launch into their day hungry. So we may not have time to cook a three-course breakfast, but there are ways to serve something nutritious and homemade and still get out the door on time. Here are five make-ahead, kid-friendly recipes to help you save breakfast.

1. Homemade Granola and Yogurt

For an upgraded version of the traditional cold cereal and milk, put together your own version of granola. There are several benefits to this: First, you’ll save lots of money by making your own versus buying the already packaged stuff. Second, you can customize your granola for your kids. If they don’t like nuts or raisins, leave them out.

Here’s a basic recipe for granola, so that you can customize your own. Cook up a couple of batches on the weekend, and serve it with a cup of organic yogurt in the morning.

2 1/2 cups organic rolled oats
1/2 – 1 cup honey or agave nectar (according to your desired level of sweetness)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons oil (your choice, though olive oil tends to have too strong a flavor)

Optional Add-Ins (pick and choose what you like):
1 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, pineapple, papaya, etc.)
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts)
1 cup banana chips
1 cup chocolate chips or peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then spread on a greased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You may need to use two pans to keep the layer of granola from being too thick.

Cook in the oven for 4 minutes, then remove and stir. Cook an additional 3 minutes, checking for a light brown color. Cook in 3-minute increments until the mix looks lightly toasted. Be careful; it can burn fast.

2. Kid-Friendly Breakfast Burritos

I love breakfast burritos, but kids often can’t handle the mix of ingredients, especially if the burritos are spicy at all. So, along the lines of customized granola, I’ve come up with a customizable kid-friendly version. Tailor it to your children’s tastes. You can keep these pre-made in the refrigerator or freezer, then just heat in the microwave for about a minute.

1 dozen eggs
1 pound cubed ham
1 cup grated or cubed cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
8 tortillas (flour holds together better; you can also use pita or naan bread)

Beat the eggs until blended, then scramble in a large skillet. Stir in the cubed ham and cheese just when the eggs are almost done. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool, then divide evenly among the tortillas. Wrap each tortilla individually in wax paper, then store all in airtight containers in the refrigerator (up to one week) or freezer (up to three months).

3. Baked Oatmeal

I’ve seen many versions of baked oatmeal recipes; this one is from Cooking Light, and I’ve just changed up the method a bit so it’s a make-ahead. Make this one the night before, then bake it in the morning while you get dressed.

2  cups  uncooked quick-cooking oats
1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
1/3  cup  raisins
1  tablespoon  chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon  baking powder
1 1/2  cups  fat-free milk
1/2  cup  applesauce
2  tablespoons  butter, melted
1  large egg, beaten
Cooking spray

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the milk, applesauce, butter and egg. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and put in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, turn oven on to 375° and put the dish in (uncovered) while it preheats; set your timer for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

4. Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

Tell your kids they’re eating cookies for breakfast and they’ll love you forever.

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 banana
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries (raisins work too)
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips or nuts (chopped pecans, almonds) or a combination

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream the peanut butter, butter, egg and banana. Add the sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla and flour. Beat until well-blended. Stir in the oats, cherries, coconut and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. They probably won’t look done at 10 minutes, but take them out and let them cool on the pan.

Makes about 15 largish cookies.

5. Individual “Muffin” Quiches

The single-serving size makes these appealing and easy to grab on the go, as well. This recipe is one I adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

2 refrigerated pie crusts
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup chopped ham (optional)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion or 1-1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half, light cream or milk

Let pie crusts stand at room temperature according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut each pie crust into six equal sections (circles or wedges, eight sections total). Press sections of piecrust onto the bottom and up the sides of 12 greased muffin cups. Pie crust may only cover the bottom of the muffin cup.

Bake the pie crusts in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.

In a medium bowl combine cheese, red sweet pepper, ham, green onion, flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among pastry shells.

In the same bowl beat together eggs and half-and-half. Pour egg mixture over filling mixture in each pastry shell. Bake for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool; cover with foil and refrigerate in muffin pan. In the morning, remove foil and reheat in a 350° oven until warmed through, then serve.

Alternately, remove from muffin pan and store quiches in air tight container. Store in the refrigerator (up to one week) or the freezer (up to three months). Heat in the microwave (about 2 minutes each on high) or in the oven to serve.

Image: B*2