Easter Brunch Ideas

Spring is in the air and Easter is on the calendar. Here’s a quickie round-up of make-and-take brunch ideas or ideas if you are hosting your own Easter festivities.

The first rule of brunch, is not to make everything more complicated than it needs to be. Each thing you serve cannot be the most special thing ever. It is hard to make eggs, and waffles, and hashbrowns, and toast…unless you are in a diner. If you’re making something eggy, or pancake-y then do something easy with it like fruit you’ve prepped in advance, or muffins that are already made, or bagels with spreads that are ready to serve.

Quiche is a great brunch item that you’ll make in advance. Voila! Brunch is served! I made quiche lorraine recently and loved it. bacon + swiss cheese = delicious. Ms. L makes a killer tomato, basil, goat cheese quiche.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Going somewhere? Make your own granola and serve it with yogurt. I loved this maple peanut butter granola over coffee Greek yogurt, or vanilla, or coconut. It is very pack-able.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Make-your-own
this is the easiest way to serve a crowd and everyone will get what they want. It makes it fun and easily customizable for all ages.

build your own BLT bar:
bacon vs. canadian bacon? 2 lettuces, tomatoes, different breads, different spreads, avaocados, sprouts? you name it. It’s the perfect between breakfast & lunch. Maybe there are fried eggs to lean towards breakfast? Maybe there are cheeses? you. name. it.
Avocado BLT
Build your own yogurt parfait bar: 
granola, toasted coconut, strawberries, bananas, dried cranberries, walnuts, brown sugar, + whatever else you have.
Yogurt Parfait Bar
Salad bar: 
this takes the every-day side to a whole new level. Warm up a honey-baked ham, grab some good rolls, and spread out a salad bar and you’re done! Edemame, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs, cheese, and lots of veggies make it fresh and a meal in its own. Plan a salad bar as part of your meal or for those get the evening munchies hours after brunch.
The 3 Bite Rule - Salad Bar
Build your own grilled cheese:
give some bread options, a few cheeses, and then a few other add-ins will please all palates. I love a good grilled cheese. American cheese and cheddar have me easily won over on a grilled cheese. Prep some bacon, tomato slices, mustards, caramelized onions, ham, or whatever you love. You need a grill pan ready or a panini press.
grilled cheese with balsamic onions
pizza grilled cheese
bacon grilled cheese with peach compote

Build your own breakfast sandwich would be like my dream come true:
bagels, croissants, biscuits with cheese options, and a panful of eggs sounds like my idea of a good time. My fav bagel place does breakfast sandwiches with slices of egg and cheese omelets. That’s an easy way to make a bunch for a crowd. Offer bacon, sausage, ham, arugula, and tomato slices. Add some tortillas, black beans, and salsa for breakfast burritos.

Whip up a blender-ful of creamsicle smoothies. This is my favorite smoothie and I think everyone would love it. Add some champagne for a twist on a mimosa, or a splash of vanilla vodka for a spiked brunch bevvie
The Three Bite Rule - Creamsicle Smoothie
Lastly, the hands-down easiest festive breakfast is a cereal bar. Some milks and everyone brings a cereal and you have an instant cereal party. It is a fun pot-luck with no-cooking required.

Chunky Monkey Pancakes

Bananas are so deceiving. I mean the skin can be such a faker. Sometimes it loooooks like it is getting squishy and then you peel it and find a pretty fresh banana. I had bananas that looked like they weren’t going to make it another day so I planned to add them to some weekend pancakes. The skin was all speckled with brown spots. I peel the banana to find that it is pretty hard. What a fake-out!

Well, I decided to see what would happen if I warmed them up a bit with a few seconds in the microwave. Voila! Instantly overripe bananas. Problem solved.

Ingredients:

1-2 bananas
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chunks (or chips)
pancake mix
ground cinnamon
vanilla extract

Directions:

If the banana isn’t somewhat soft and overripe, microwave for 30 seconds.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Mix up the pancake batter. Add a touch of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Preheat a grill pan or flat skillet to medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray.
Prep or chop the nuts, bananas, and chocolate.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Ladle pancake batter onto the hot pan and evenly sprinkle banana, walnut, and chocolate chunks onto the pancakes. Wait for them to bubble and then flip.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Flip once.
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
Sprinkle with remaining nuts & banana chunks. Enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Chunky Monkey Pancakes
These were great. The nuts were definitely the best touch. I think the crunch was what made these so good. I added the nuts, chocolate, and bananas in after it was on the griddle because I wanted them to be evenly distributed. I figured in the batter it might come out uneven. The chocolate gets messy when it melts, but wiping the spatula solved that.

This would be great as waffles too. I add the cinnamon and vanilla to ensure the boxed mix tastes like the opposite of a box.

P.S. Is it amusing that the CHUNKY monkey pancakes are following a book about French women not getting FAT?

Blueberry Pie Smoothie

I’ve been on a savory breakfast kick for awhile with quiche lorraine, and veggie strata, and quesadilla quevos rancheros but I figured it is time for seasonal smoothies again. I tried something different and added graham cracker to mimic the pie crust. Ohh wow. Such a fun addition.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup blueberries
5 oz blueberry Greek yogurt
1/2 apple or banana, frozen & chopped
1 graham cracker, crumbled

Directions:

Add blueberries, yogurt, frozen fruit, and graham cracker to a blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Pie Smoothie
Blend and enjoy! Add a splash of milk if it is too thick.
The Three Bite Rule - Blueberry Pie Smoothie
The graham cracker in there was a new one for me. I loved how much it changed the smoothie. It totally reminded me of pie. I’ve seen smoothies with oatmeal. Maybe I’d try that next?

I used frozen green apple. Whenever I have fruit nearing it’s end or if I won’t get to it in time, I chop it up and freeze it for smoothies. I just add it to the same smoothie fruit container. The flavors don’t really mix that much and I usually use multiple fruits in my smoothies anyway.

Fruits that freeze well: apples, all berries, bananas, pears, grapes, cantaloupe. I wouldn’t freeze them and then defrost them, but they work well for smoothies.

What I Ate: Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I took a twist on one of Mr. J’s signature dishes, huevos rancheros. It was good, but I think I might like the regular method better. I whipped out the big griddle to do the quesadilla and egg at the same time.

The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros

Ingredients:

2 taco-sized tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, monetary jack, or pepper jack cheese
1 egg
salsa & guacamole

Directions:

Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray. Bring heat to medium heat and lay one tortilla down and top with cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros Then lay the other tortilla on top.
Cook for about 3 minutes.
Spray top tortilla, and carefully flip the whole quesadilla.
In a separate pan, heat to medium and fry the egg.
Top quesadilla with a sprinkle of cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
Serve with salsa, guacamole, and the egg.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
I love the yolk with the tortilla and cheese. Seriously, the yolk is like nature’s sauce. I also could eat guac or avocado for breakfast daily. Have I told you lately how much I love savory breakfasts?
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
I probably will stick to the single layer/traditional way. I think the super crisp tortilla that is almost blistered into crispness is better.

Do you ever do that? Take a regular dish you love and amp it up, only to decide it was better as-is?

Kale & Portobello Breakfast Strata

Again, I’m on the quest for not-sweet breakfast ideas. I wanted to try to make something that wasn’t all that egg-y. I love eggs but breakfast seems to be either sweet or eggs or fruit. That’s it. I figured I’d try to make something not heavy on the eggs, just for a challenge.

This veggie strata isn’t all that authentic – I went light on the eggs and light on the bread. It is really heavy on the kale and mushrooms to make it filling. I liked it, but wouldn’t eat it weekly. I made a ton and froze a few slices once I got tired of it.

Google helped me come up with a name for this. There’s a fine line between quiche (traditionally has crust, more egg than other ingredients) versus frittata (crustless, often has potatoes)  versus strata (crustless, with bread in it).

The Three Bite Rule - Kale & Portobello Strata

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups kale, deveined and chopped
1 pt portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup swiss cheese
3 slices of light wheat bread, cubed
salt & pepper
2 tbs grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
In a large bowl, add kale and mushrooms.
The Three Bite Rule - Kale & Portobello Strata
Add in the onions, cheese, and bread.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder. Add in salt & pepper to taste.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Strata with Kale & Portobello
Add the egg mixture into the veggie mixture, stir well until evenly coated.
Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray in a thin even layer. (mine didn’t all fit so I put the remainder into a smaller ramekin.)
Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake for 30-minutes.
Let cool and serve a room temperature or slightly warmed.
The Three Bite Rule - Breakfast Strata with Kale & Portobello
This made about 8 very sizable servings for me. It seemed like a ton. There’s only 3 eggs and 3 slices of bread in the 8 servings. It would be an easy way to use whatever veggies you have around. I’m lucky that work not only provides lunch daily but there’s a salad everyday, but who doesn’t need more veggies daily? I liked that it definitely seems different than quiche or eggs. It was good to start the day with a serious serving of veggies for a savory breakfast.

Mushrooms are a great way to bulk up the quantity of food, without adding anything bad. They’re great fillers to meatballs or to make salad more filling or burritos or anywhere to reduce the meat without feeling hungry afterwards.

What else should I whip up for savory but easy breakfast?

Maple Peanut Butter Granola

I cringe every time I see the price of granola at the grocery store. It’s like $4-something per box, and that box is definitely smaller than the Cheerios! I googled around to see if there were any tricks for granola. Turns out, it is just super easy. Wait till you see the price per serving!

I went with peanut butter, maple syrup, salted sunflower seeds, and oats. I was hesitant to use lots of pricey nuts until I figured out cooking times…next time! I loooove all things peanut butter. I got some maple peanut butter for xmas and it wasn’t my favorite brand on it’s own so I thought I’d amp up the maple-ness with it for granola.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

I can’t wait to try some other variations. It was the perfect not-too-sweet granola to top coffee greek yogurt!
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
Over medium low heat in a small pot, melt peanut butter and maple syrup together. Stir occasionally.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
In a large bowl, mix oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, and sunflower seeds.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Add the vanilla into the maple peanut butter and remove from the heat.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Mix the peanut butter mixture into the dry mixture with a spatula. Combine well.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Spread onto a baking pan lined with a baking mat or lined with parchment paper.
The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Bake for 15-20 minutes. I did 15 minutes and let it cool. (It wasn’t the crunchiest it could be so, I’d bake for 20 minutes next time.)

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
Let cool completely and break into crumbled chunks. Store in an airtight container.

I love this. I didn’t make a huge batch because I needed to see how it went. Next time I might double it or increase it a bit. I do like the idea making small batches different each time to test ‘em out. The peanut butter with cafe latte Greek yogurt was great. I loved it with coconut and vanilla Greek yogurt too.

The Three Bite Rule - Maple Peanut Butter Granola
It’s pretty good for a sweet treat in addition to breakfast. I’d love some chocolate chunks or mini chips and more nuts next time!

cost breakdown: 
2 cups of old fashioned oats = $0.53
1/2 cup sunflower seeds = $0.42
1/2 cup peanut butter = $0.40
1/2 cup maple syrup (I don’t buy the real stuff) = $0.50
total = $1.85 for about 6 servings or $0.30 per serving.

that’s insane. THIRTY CENTS per serving. annnnd you know what’s in it. It could go up a lot depending on what goes into it. But I’d love walnuts or almonds and a 1/2 cup of those is not going to put this close to a $1 per serving. I think I’m likely to end up with more like 8-10 servings since it’s just a sprinkle onto of my yogurt. Case closed. I’m making my own from now on.

Quiche Lorraine

Let’s chat about breakfast. I loooove weekend brunch but it seems like all quick breakfast items are sweet (yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, muffins), or really doughy (bagels, muffins, toast). I’d be happy with a bagel regularly (#everythingbagelchivecreamcheese), if it were at all nutritionally balanced. My January self-imposed cooking challenge would be savory breakfast.

The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine

Quiche is super easy to make and I can eat from it for awhile. I figured whipping this up on a weekend would carry me through the week. I dare say I could throw this together in the morning while jumping in the shower when it bakes. It also wouldn’t be crazy to make at night.

It makes a good lunch or dinner item too. This week and last week were busy with work events at night and it is great to come home to a light bite.

Ingredients:

pie dough, defrosted
3 slices of bacon
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup light cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
salt & pepper
10 oz swiss cheese, shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Fry the bacon until crisp then drain on paper towel and chop.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, mustard, cream of tartar, salt, and pepper.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Spray a tart pan, or springform pan, or pie pan with nonstick spray.
Lay the pie dough into the pan pinching together any cracks.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Sprinkle in the cheese and bacon onto the crust.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Pour in egg mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
Bake 30-40 minutes at 350-degrees.
Let cool 5-minutes before slicing.
The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
It puffs up a little but sets solidly. I really love how simple it is. The bacon flavor and swiss are perfect together. I appreciate the flavors and the subtly of the bacon with the swiss with the mustard. Yum. I used a surprisingly small amount of bacon. It was a good practice of restraint not adding tons of bacon, and just enough to taste it. I think frozen crust rolled up seems significantly better than the pie crust that comes in a tin.

The Three Bite Rule - Quiche Lorraine
I last made quiche a few years ago with a bacon, spinach, and mushroom quiche. Think quiche isn’t your thing? I made Tomato Ricotta Pie that is along the same lines. I like the lightness of quiche and need to make it more often. It doesn’t take any longer than other breakfasts because of the advance prep, I just needed an idea.

Quiche makes for some variety since a usual breakfast for me is yogurt, a smoothie, or an English muffin.

suggested adaptations: 
quiche lorraine + spinach/arugula + tomatoes/onions/mushrooms – bacon = vegetarian quiche
quiche lorraine + smaller pan = deep-dish quiche

Hmmm. I wonder what my next “year of the self-imposed-cooking challenge” should be.

Eggnog French Toast

Today I’m lucky enough to have a snow day! Woohoo! I love snow days now that I don’t have to make them up. We got out early yesterday and are home today. Snow days are so fun to be unproductive and drink hot chocolate all day. Since today feels like a weekend day, I wanted to share with you a brunchy food I made for Christmas Eve breakfast.

To me, eggnog is like spiced up melted vanilla ice cream. I don’t believe people who say they don’t like it. I believe they would like it if they just tried it (I seriously assume they haven’t tried it or maybe not tried it in their adult years). It isn’t something I go around drinking non-stop during the holidays but a sip or two is de-light-ful…just about a 1/4 cup is plenty now and then. I drizzled just a touch into my coffee one morning and was swooning. #genius

The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast

Those 2-3 sip glasses of eggnog means there’s probably a lot left. Here’s what to do with it: Eggnog Baked French Toast. Ooooo so good! I’d also make eggnog pancakes or eggnog oatmeal. Maybe an eggnog glaze for cinnamon rolls? Love these thoughts! I whipped up this eggnog baked french toast for Christmas Eve breakfast. Mr. J and I hosted Christmas Eve dinner so this such a fun breakfast to make the day feel like a holiday before anyone even arrived to celebrate.

I learned at a young age that this is the good stuff and it only happens once a year so get the real deal. Go get some and make this so you aren’t singing the winter-time blues.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf of crusty bread (like ciabatta or stale french bread), cut into cubes
1 cup eggnog
1 egg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a dash each nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Whip up eggnog, egg, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in a large bowl.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast
Add in the cubed bread and stir well.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast
Spray ramekins or a baking dish with non-stick spray before spooning the bread into the baking dish(s).
Pour any remaining liquid from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the filled baking dish(s).
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast
Bake covered for 30 minutes.
Uncover, and bake for another 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast

Voila! It was so good. There was that slight hint of wintryness to it but it very mild flavored. I loved it and would have loved an eggnog glaze over the top too. Maybe less eggnog-crazed people would think this was enough flavor.

Baked French Toast is the way to go. It is sooo much easier. A big one people could slice into would be good but individual ones are just so fun.  It saved me from having too much with leftovers. There are enough leftovers during the holidays. This one was just enough. I love the crunchy pieces from the top so I made sure they toasted up.
The Three Bite Rule - Eggnog French Toast
More eggnog leftover? Try eggnog cocoa! Or it would be prettttty amazing in a milkshake or smoothie! Now I wish I had some left! I can’t imagine buying more. I’d have to have a lot of plans for it. Plus I think the nutritionists at work would be horrified and pop out from the grocery dairy cooler. I’m pretty sure it’s a rule you can only buy one per year.

What I Ate: Apple Cider Oatmeal

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I was thinking about what could make my oatmeal better. I wanted to amp up the flavor big time. I opened up the fridge and what to my wander eyes did appear, but some apple cider! Normally I stir in some pumpkin butter from a never. ending. jar. This time I figured a different liquid could add some spice to my oatmeal.

Then I’m enjoying my apple cidery oatmeal and browsing through some blogs when I have a total deja vu moment! That very same morning I see that How Sweet It Is wrote about Baked Eggnog Oatmeal. No way! Yes way! It looked amazing. It made me want to put on jammies crawling back into bed to lounge and watch SVU marathons all morning.

Anywho, back to the oatmeal. I literally just replaced the water with apple cider. It would be even better with some chopped up apples, almonds, Craisins or whatever floats your boat.
The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Oatmeal
I loved it. I know apple cider is almost out of season, but if they’re still sellin’ it then I’m still buyin’ it, even though it is December.

The Three Bite Rule - Apple Cider Oatmeal
I made a ton and couldn’t finish it. I forgot how filling and how much oatmeal expands. Maybe next time I’ll start with less oatmeal. The flavor was big time, especially for the morning, but you could definitely do 75% cider and 25% water if it was too strong.

Make this for a quick weekend breakfast before you do lots of holiday things. I’m seeing the POPS at Symphony Hall tonight and can’t wait! It might snow a little bit again so that would make for an ideal gift-wrapping-day on Sunday after a holiday party and volunteering on Saturday.

What I Ate: Pumpkin Smoothie

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I almost wanted to call this pumpkin pie smoothie, but it is seriously much healthier for you. It only tastes like dessert. It is perfect for fall flavors. I freeze the bananas for smoothies to make it frostier and thicker, but a regular banana would be fine, just not a chilly.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 banana (preferably frozen)
6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tbs pumpkin butter (optional)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or make your own: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice)

Directions:

Add banana, yogurt, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie
Blend and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie
This is so good and tastes like dessert. The pumpkin butter amped up the pumpkin flavor even more, but could definitely be omitted. I use it in oatmeal, on toast, or mixed into yogurt during all-things-pumpkin season.
The Three Bite Rule - Pumpkin Smoothie

  • this recipe – yogurt + ice cream = dessert
  • this recipe + blend with ice + dark rum + rim the glass with graham cracker = cocktail

Does pumpkin-season end after Thanksgiving? What do you think?