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Breakfast for Dinner?

One of our favorite places for dinner is known in our house as "Sin City." It's actually IHOP (International House of Pancakes). Perhaps that sounds like a strange favorite, but we like breakfast for dinner periodically. Why "Sin City"? Because most of what's available on the breakfast menu is enough food for at least two people, and the calorie, fat, and salt content of the breakfasts is pretty much unmentionable. Once upon a time, IHOP printed in their menus the calories in each meal. They stopped. So, "Sin City." We obviously have to limit our visits to "Sin City," but once in a great while we do enjoy the giant omelets and pancakes--with syrup and topped with other bad things, like various pie fillings and whipped cream. More often, though, we can have breakfast for dinner at home without the sinning and subsequent guilt. In fact many breakfast foods provide a good amount of protein and nutrition as well as being economical.

In this post, I'm offering up several recipes for an easy weeknight supper, which I suspect your kids (and you) will like. You may even want to begin regularly incorporating the breakfast dishes into your supper rotation. The main dish is a simple, no-crust quiche that is rich with bacon and cheese and a riff on Bisquick's "Impossible Pie." Along with the quiche, how about serving some baked tomatoes, which can cook in the same oven as the quiche? Sauteed plantains, which are loaded with potassium, make a sweet and nutritious accompaniment to the quiche and tomatoes. If you'd like some sort of bread with your dinner, how about chocolate buns? They contain little fat and added sugar, so won't send your children (or you) into a sugar high before bedtime. The buns also are great to use up the mushy bananas that have lingered too long, uneaten, in your fruit bowl. This is an easy, tasty "breakfast for dinner" that doesn't involve sinning (or at least not much, so long as you don't eat ALL the plantains and chocolate buns)!

Quite Possible Bacon and Cheese Quiche

Quite Possible Bacon and Cheese Quiche -- Serves 6+

3-4 tablespoons of bacon crumbles

2 tablespoons of minced dried onions

1 cup of shredded cheese, divided (use your favorite--Swiss, Cheddar, Colby-Jack, Gouda, etc.)

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/2 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

2 tablespoons of minced dried chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a large pie or quiche pan with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles on the bottom of the pie dish and then sprinkle on the minced dried onions and 1/2 cup of the cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk well. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and chives and whisk just until the mixture is fairly smooth (don't worry if there are a few lumps, you don't want to over whisk). Pour the egg mixture into the pie dish on top of the bacon/onions/cheese. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the quiche. Bake the quiche for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and puffed. Let the quiche cool a few minutes before serving it (it will deflate).

Baked Tomatoes

Baked Tomatoes -- Serves 4

These baked tomatoes are incredibly easy and quite tasty. Think of them as "pizza tomatoes."

4 large tomatoes, halved at their equators (i.e., in the middle, not top to bottom)

1-2 teaspoons of Italian herbs

1-2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of bread crumbs (preferably Italian or Panko)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a small baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray (or line the sheet with foil and spray the foil). Slice small pieces off the non-cut sides of the tomato halves (just enough so they stay flat and don't wander all over your baking sheet or hop off into the bottom of the oven), and place the halves, large cut side up, onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle some of the herbs onto each of the tomatoes. Divide the grated Parmesan cheese among the tomato halves, then sprinkle each half with some of the bread crumbs. Bake the tomatoes for about 30 minutes or until softened and the topping has browned.

Sauteed Sweet Plantains

Sauteed Sweet Plantains – Serves 4+

Plantains are starchier than bananas and need to be cooked. Nonetheless, the fully ripe plantains are sweet and delicious, and they’re loaded with vitamins. Think of them as an alternative to sweet potatoes. For this dish, the skins of the plantains should be black—or nearly so.

3-4 medium-sized very ripe plantains, sliced into ½-inch pieces

1-2 tablespoons of sugar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of butter or Smart Balance

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Melt the butter or Smart Balance in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plantains and sprinkle on the sugar and salt. Sauté the plantains for 5-6 minutes or until softened and caramel-colored. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, if you like, and stir the plantains a little to insure all the plantains get a little of the cinnamon flavor. Serve the plantains warm.

Chocolate Buns

Chocolate Buns -- Makes 10-12

These aren't the most visually appealing buns (stay tuned for your kids comments about what they look like), but the buns taste good for low-fat, low-sugar offerings. You can dust the tops of the unbaked buns with a little raw sugar for nicer looking buns and a little crunch on the top, but that will, of course, add to the sugar content. Adding chocolate chips will add to the richness of the buns (and taste good!), but I find the walnuts are enough and don't really miss the chocolate chips (okay, I do, but you don't need them in everything!). The reason to flatten the buns a little is so they will fit in the toaster later in the week. These little buns are great in the mornings or for a quick after-school (or work) snack. In fact, they're also good as a before bedtime snack, perhaps with a bowl of yogurt or glass of milk.

3 medium-large bananas

2 eggs

1/4 cup of canola oil

1/3 cup of sugar

1 cup of white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of quick oats

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chips (optional)

2 tablespoons of raw (turbinado) sugar or a little confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mash the bananas (I use a potato masher). Add the eggs, oil, and sugar and stir the ingredients well with a wooden spoon until everything is quite mixed. Add the white whole wheat flour, oats, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir them into the banana mixture until just mixed in and no streaks remain. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips, if you're using them. Spoon golf ball-sized scoops of batter out onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 10-12 equal-sized mounds and flatten the mounds slightly. If you'd like, you can sprinkle the tops of the buns with a little raw sugar. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until puffed and barely firm to the touch. If you didn't sprinkle the buns with raw sugar, you can dust them with a tiny bit of confectioner's sugar to decorate them. Or just eat them "as is."

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