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What's for brinner

By Angie Sutton

Every now and then I get in a rut with what I prepare for dinner. The kids have a favorite entrée or a certain cut of meat was on sale so it ends up on our dinner table one too many times in a short time span. That's when the kids ask for "brinner." That's our version of breakfast-for-dinner.

To be honest, we rarely have time to make these dishes for breakfast unless it is a holiday or we have guests coming. So we choose two or three recipes and add some fun to our evening meal. To save time, I purchase items like green peppers in advance, chop and freeze them. Once a month I make bacon in the oven and keep that in the freezer for salads, casseroles and other recipes. In the freezer aisle you will find frozen bags of already chopped vegetables and even a mix of onions and peppers for more time saving.

Most of our favorite recipes include eggs. High-quality protein, like the protein in eggs, can benefit people of all ages in many ways according to the American Egg Board. It helps form muscle tissue, build muscle strength, repair muscles after exercise and ward off the loss of muscle tissue as we age. Eggs contain 12 essential vitamins and minerals. Tucking chopped broccoli florets in an egg casserole ensures you offer a green vegetable in addition to this protein-packed meal. So if you're feeling guilty about making breakfast-for-dinner, be assured you're providing a nourishing meal.

For the best tasting casseroles or stratas, the key is to let it sit in your refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. Eggs are the main ingredient and make a quick, economical and easy base for a meal. Recipes can be customized to include things that your family enjoys such as mushrooms, black olives or spinach. You can take advantage of leftover vegetables by chopping them up and adding them to the casserole. We often make a base and then divide it between two pans so the adults can spice it up with more ingredients.

We like egg and potato-based casseroles and a dessert-type dish for "brinner" at Sutton Central. If we want to stretch the meal for leftovers and fresh fruit is in season we'll add the Sweet and Fresh Fruit Salad. The kids encourage me to make extra so they can have leftovers for breakfast. So the next time you're stuck on what to make for dinner, consider having "brinner."

Cinnamon Apple Bake

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 (21 oz.) can apple pie filling
2 teaspoons ground Saigon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.) can refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar, apple pie filling, cinnamon and vanilla. Spread half of the apple mixture in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Separate biscuits and cut into quarters. Arrange pieces, points facing upward, over apple mixture. Drop remaining apple mixture over biscuits by the spoonful and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm and top with whipped topping.

Farmer's Breakfast Casserole

1/2 pound cooked bacon, ham or breakfast sausage or any combination of the three
2 cups chopped vegetables such as broccoli florets
12 eggs
1 cup milk
1 package (28 oz.) Potatoes O'Brien with Onions and Peppers
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat eggs and milk in a bowl. Stir in other ingredients. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Dump all ingredients in baking dish. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. Immediately top with additional cheddar cheese and let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Sweet & Fresh Fruit Salad

1 (12 oz.) container of whipped topping, thawed
1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 full-size can mixed fruit, drained*
1 can mandarin orange sections, drained
1 banana, sliced

*If fresh fruit is available, substitute can of fruit with 1 sliced kiwi, 1 pint strawberries, 1/2 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup raspberries or blackberries.

Gently mix whipped topping with pudding mix. Fold in fruit. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.


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