Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

At one time or another each of you has had a breakfast concoction called a “strata”. You know what I mean  – one of those sliced-bread-on-the-bottom, eggy/cheesey/milky-mixture-poured-over-the-top, kept-in-the-refrigerator-overnight-and-cooked-in-the-morning-thingies. They are usually too dry, too salty (especially if there’s sausage involved), and just not worth eating.

However, when we have overnight guests, it’s not great fun to awaken hours before everyone else and start whipping up gourmet delight. That’s when we all too often pull out one of the tried-but-not-true “strata” recipes. For lack of anything better, they’ll do.

Well, I’m here to give you something better. Actually, my friend Vicki gave me something better. 

I have fixed this several times to hungry guests who all raved about it. Give it a try next time you need an AM life saver. All you need to do is put it in the oven, set the timer, go get dressed, section the grapefruit, fix some toast and grapefruit, make sure the coffee’s ready, set the table, pour the juice, remember the salt and pepper, get the cream for the coffee, put the jelly in a pretty bowl, get the jelly spoon, get the sugar, sweetener….

Well, anyway, there’s always a lot to do, but this recipe will help somewhat. By the way, it’s easy to double. When I double it, I bake it in a buttered 9 x 13 pan.

Thanks, again Vicki.


Serves 6

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 c. corn flakes, crumbled

1 T. bacon fat or melted butter


5 eggs

2 1/2 c. shredded refrigerated hash browns

8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or cheddar)

1/2 c. cottage cheese

1/3 c. milk

2 green onions, thinly sliced


1. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels, and crumble.

2. Mix the, corn flakes and bacon fat together and set aside.

3. Beat the eggs until foamy and stir in the rest of the ingredients.

4. Butter a 9″ pie pan.

5. Pour in the egg mixture.

6. Sprinkle with the bacon/crumb mixture.

7. Cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake 325 degrees for 50 minutes. If doubling, use a buttered 9 X 13″ pan and bake for  60 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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I used some of the bountiful tomatoes yesterday to make a frittata for my knitting buddies who were here for lunch. I also was able to use a good handful of fresh herbs from my garden to add that extra “oomph” to the dish. Easy, easy, easy. 


I found the recipe in the August, 2008, Good Housekeeping and heartily recommend it for any meal, morning, noon, or night. I warmed up the leftovers today for lunch and it was nearly as good as it was yesterday. Give it a try for a meatless meal sometime.



Serves 6, maybe only 4 really hungry folks

1 container  (15 oz.) ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)

4 large eggs

1/4 c. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Salt and Pepper

1/4 c. milk

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 lb. ripe tomatoes (3 medium), thinly sliced*

1. Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs, Romano, 1/2 t. salt and 1.8 t. pepper until blended.

2. In a measuring cup, stir milk and cornstarch until smooth; whisk into cheese mixture. Stir in basil and mint.

3. Pour into a nonstick 10-inch skillet with oven-safe handle. Arrange tomatoes on top, overlapping slices if necessary. Bake pie 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and set around edge and center is puffed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*I used 1 large tomato and it was plenty.

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Breakfast Like a King

King’s table 

I remember my parents’ doctor recommending that they eat “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” Although I think that this is good advice, maybe even great advice, it is not easy to follow. Of course, like all diet and nutrition ideas, the more planning one does the easier the diet is to follow. But first, we must define what kind of meals, kings, princes, and paupers would eat.

Picture a groaning board in the great hall with silver salvers steaming with sizzling hot meats, eggs, fresh pastries, creamy butter, fruit from exotic locations, the king and queen sitting in splendor while white gloved servants bustle around, anticipating  every need. The prince and princess are in a slightly smaller room, less magnificent perhaps, with fewer gastronomic delights on their table, but still having the freshest, most tasty food available in the kingdom. In a shanty way behind the castle, when finished cooking, serving, and cleaning up from the royals’ repast, the lowly servant breaks off a crust of bread, sops up some broth, made from scraps from the castle’s kitchen, and eats just what he needs to keep alive, occasionally enjoying an apple, scrounged from an orchard along the way, or cabbage stewed in the broth.

How do we translate this into something that would fit into our modern day lifestyle? Not many of us have servants, white gloved or otherwise, at our beck and call. Neither do we have the habits that would allow us to arise early enough to prepare the gustatory wonders fit for a prince’s breakfast, much less a king’s. We are more likely to break our fasts with a pauper’s type of meal, a piece of toast, maybe a glass of juice, coffee and out the door! We have all heard and no doubt believe the adage “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but we still give it short shrift and spend most of our time, energy and money preparing the last meal of the day.

We do better at lunch sometimes, “treating” ourselves to a hot meal, which is more likely than not a fast food meal, with maybe a salad thrown in as a salve to our dietary conscience. I know no one who prepares a princely meal at noontime, barring holiday meals, of course. At those holiday times we come closest to having a prince’s lunch. Usually we have vegetables, meat, special treats, and afterwards eat more like a peasant that evening, if only because we are tired of being in the kitchen all day.

Most of our dinners are heavy, meat, lots of red meat, potatoes, maybe with gravy, but certainly with butter, and/or sour cream. Usually some type of common vegetable appears on the plate, peas, green beans, carrots, rarely anything “exotic”. Maybe a salad with some tomatoes, or onions, and definitely salad dressing, creamy or otherwise laden with fats and questionable additives. Ice cream, anyone? Chocolate sauce, anyone? Anyone?

I would love to awaken, find my clothes laid out, freshly laundered and ironed, have my hair styled for me, and see in the diningroom scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, sliced tomatoes, warm toast, freshly squeezed orange juice, maybe pomegranate juice, coffee or tea piping hot. I don’t need the silver salvers, or the servants. They can stay in the kitchen and start cleaning it up. I can serve myself, thank you very much. But the clean up? They can do it. Not many of us want to spend the time to clean up the kitchen after cooking such a breakfast and then rush off to work. How much more time would it take? Say fifteen minutes, minimum to prepare the food, fifteen to eat it, and another fifteen minimum to clean it up. That adds nearly an hour to the morning routine. What if you plan ahead? Sure, go ahead and set the table, get the pots/pans ready the night before. That saves little if any time. Table setting can be done internally to the cooking time, anyway. And just when you find that you can prepare scrambled eggs in just a few minutes, you read somewhere that “real” scrambled eggs should take at least twenty minutes to cook. Makes Cheerios sound better and better.

So, we settle for a bagel and cream cheese, or toast and peanut butter, cereal and milk. And rush off to spend our day.

Tomorrow, we will discuss lunch.

In the meantime, tonight’s “pauper’s dinner” is spaghetti and salad.  I made enough sauce to feed the proverbial army.  I had a meeting to attend early this evening and so I prepared the sauce early in the day and transferred it to the crockpot to keep safely warm while I was gone.  Now I am heating up the water to cook pasta and sipping a glass of Cab. sauvignon while I wait for Mac.  I think I will use some of the leftover sauce to make lasagne or some other casserole Sunday night.  I never manage to successfully freeze leftover spaghetti sauce.  I either forget to do it and the container gets shoved waaaay back in the frig until it becomes worthy of a science project, or I do freeze it and it gets shoved waaaay back in the freezer until it is so covered with freezer frost that I don’t even know what it is. As Mac says, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.”  I think Ike said it first. 

So, until tomorrow, happy dining.


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