Three recipes for brinner (breakfast for dinner)

Serve breakfast foods for dinner and call it brinner.

Lane Brown
Who says pancakes are just for breakfast? Serve them for a fast and tasty dinner.

It’s breakfast for dinner! What was considered during my childhood a quick meal for a busy family of five has now become a regular staple in my menu planning. Whether you crave the comfort of a large pile of pancakes or need to feed yourself fast, brinner allows you to do both.

The best brinners are quick to make, inexpensive and as comfortable as your favorite sweatshirt. I stick to a few ground rules when making brinner for myself or an entire party of people. Prep time for each dish should be 10 minutes or less, ingredients should be readily accessible in the pantry or fridge (bonus if you can use leftovers!), and overall cooking-to-clean up time for each dish should be less than 15-20 minutes.

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Here’s a menu for a brinner with sweet and savory dishes. These recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to serve multiple guests.

The Sweet
My dad made pancakes every Sunday morning when I was a kid, and they were a go-to brinner whenever mom was out of town. The following recipe was handed down through my aunt to my mom to me and these pancakes are lightweight and sweeter than what you normally get from a box of pancake mix.

Grandma Bonnie’s Pancakes
Makes: 16 medium pancakes

1 cup flour (can use half white, half wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk* (note: whole wheat flour might call for slightly more milk to create a batter than can be poured easily on the griddle)
2 eggs, separated
Optional: fruit, nuts, vanilla (no more than 1 teaspoon), pinch of cinnamon

*The original recipe suggests that sour milk is the best kind to use. While that might be an ingredient you regularly keep in the fridge (I’m not judging), you can also use fresh milk for a slightly sweeter pancake.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, add milk and whisk together into smooth batter.

Crack two eggs, put yolks in with the batter, pour whites into separate bowl.

Whip egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.

Add in optional ingredients when adding egg whites into batter.

Pour pancakes in 1/4 cup servings onto a warm, greased griddle.

The Savory
Eggs are hands-down the quickest brinner cuisine to whip up. Omelettes, in my opinion, are particularly simple to master and slightly more sophisticated than basic egg scrambles. While many associate American-style omelettes with being overstuffed with fixings, the traditional French-style omelette is incredibly light. I like to mix the two, anchoring the lightweight texture of the traditional French omelette with a couple savory ingredients.

If you want to learn more about omelettes, I suggest a brief tutorial from Julia Child herself, explaining a few quick tips on making an omelette in less than a minute.

Spinach Feta Omelette
Makes: 1 omelette

1-2 ounces ready to eat cooking spinach (can also use baby spinach found in salads)
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
2 eggs
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon butter

Cook down spinach until soft, approximately 2-3 minutes, set aside.

Crack two eggs into a bowl; add 1 teaspoon water and whisk until yolks and whites are blended.

Coat a non-stick pan with 1 teaspoon butter.

Before butter browns, add eggs to the pan.

Immediately add cooked spinach and feta on top of the eggs.

Cook 1-2 minutes, swirling the pan in a circular motion to loosen the eggs from the bottom and avoid burning.

The omelette should slide easily from the pan to a plate, no spatula needed. You can slide half of the omelette onto the plate, then fold the second half still in the pan over the first half as you finish the transfer. As Julia would say – Voila!

The Sides
Just like dinner, you can also add side dishes to your brinner menu. Below is a recipe for quick hash browns that pair perfectly with sweet or savory dishes.

Brinner hash browns
Makes: Approximately three, 3/4 cup servings

4 medium-sized red potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
One pinch each of salt and pepper

Wash, peel and shredded the potatoes.

Dry the shredded potatoes with paper towel to reduce overall moisture in the hash.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.

Spread out the potatoes in the frying pan, add seasoning.

Cook until browned and crispy, flipping occasionally to avoid burning.

Lane Brown works for Monitor publishing.

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