Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breakfast...A Few Little Tricks on Cooking In

During the week, there is little time for breakfast so many people grab something on the run like a banana or a health bar.
I try to at least make time to sit down and have yogurt with granola and berries, a banana and an English muffin with peanut butter…the superfood! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so take a few minutes to sit down and enjoy it.

When the weekend comes, I am the first one to slow down, kick back and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with friends. I’m a morning person and consequently it’s my favorite meal of the day. Sometimes I crave it and even have breakfast for dinner.

One trick that I do when I prepare breakfast at home is to cut my bacon in half before I cook it. Again, I look at my plate and it seems like I have a lot more bacon than I actually do. In fact, I will cut all of my portion in half before I crowd them on to a little plate.

Another trick on flavor is that my favorite food is the one I will take the last bite of. I know this sounds really strange but think about it? Don’t you want to leave breakfast savoring that taste? In this case, I had a real struggle between bacon and fresh pineapple because I absolutely love them both.

Some of my favorite recipes are Stratas. What I love is that you can prepare them ahead of time, refrigerate overnight and just pop them in the oven the morning of your party. The majority of your work is done and this leaves you a lot of quality time with your guests.

Here is my favorite Strata recipe with onions, bell peppers and fresh tomato salsa. Each serving is just 242 calories and 7 grams of fat. This recipe serves six.

1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced thin (about 3 cups)

1 ½ Tbsp. minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)

1 ½ Tsp. olive oil

1 large green pepper, sliced super thin

1 large yellow pepper, sliced super thin

12 slices of firm white sandwich bread, crust removed, cut into ¾ “ squares (about 5 cups)

4 large whole eggs

4 large egg whites

2 ½ cups of 1% milk

¼ cup parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated



Spray a 13x9x2 baking dish with no stick vegetable spray.

In a large skillet, cook the onion and half the garlic in oil over moderate heat until the onions are pale gold. Stir in the bell peppers along with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 covered for minutes over moderate heat. Remove the lid and let the excess liquid evaporate, 2-3 minutes.

Spread half the bread in the baking dish and top with half of the vegetables. Sprinkle with ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Put another layer on in the same order.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, parsley, the remaining garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Pour evenly over the bread and vegetables.

Chill strata, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Let strata stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until puffed and golden brown around the edges. Serve with fresh tomato salsa.

Fresh Tomato Salsa:


5 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ cup finely chopped Vidalia onion

2 finely chopped scallions

½ cup chopped fresh coriander

1 TBPS lime juice

1 finely chopped jalapeno

Cover and chill.

Makes 3 cups.

When I want a special breakfast out, I go to The Breakfast Club at 1381 W. Hubbard in Chicago. This little pink cottage serves up nothing but the freshest ingredients. You will get to know all of your neighbors quickly because this place is that intimate and cozy.

People rave about the French toast but Bonnie and I are stuck on the Steak and Eggs – the recovery food of choice from a long run or a long night!

I’ll be posting more on breakfast because there are so many great spots to go in Chicago.

Bon Appetit and happy morning to ya!