“Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings.” By Katie Sullivan Morford. Roost Books. $24.95.

I am not a morning person.

I set multiple alarms and usually hit “snooze” for at least two of them. I have mastered the 4-minute shower for mornings when I oversleep. And I groggily eat the same unsatisfying breakfast every morning before work: yogurt, sometimes mixed with cereal and fruit.

Hoping to break my routine, I turned to “Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings” by Katie Sullivan Morford.

This book is geared toward parents with children, like Morford. I don’t have children, but I do revert to my cranky 13-year-old self before I’ve had my morning coffee.

“In the process of writing this book, nearly everyone I spoke to responded the same way: with an enthusiastic ‘I LOOOOVE breakfast.’ Yet many of these same folks confessed that breakfast often gets the shaft. This book intends to change that,” Morford writes.

Morford is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition from New York University. She wrote her cookbook with an emphasis on using fresh ingredients over packaged foods. In that spirit, an entire chapter is dedicated to grocery shopping for a balanced breakfast. When a homemade breakfast isn’t an option, charts scattered throughout offer lists of her preferred healthy brands for cereal and other breakfast staples. Her suggestions are thorough and informative, but certainly more expensive than the cereal boxes that stocked my family’s pantry in my childhood.

Morford also includes a chart to “remodel your breakfast,” which provides healthier alternatives for traditional morning meals. I made a note of her recommendations to upgrade a cup of strawberry yogurt: plain yogurt with strawberries and one of the granola recipes in her book. The switch allows for more protein, less refined sugar, more nutrients and more fiber to start the day, she says. Some of the ingredients in the Apricot Ginger Cluster Granola – flaxseed, spelt, hemp – are not usually on my shopping list, but Morford did suggest several substitutes if they can’t be found in the grocery store.

Many of the 75 recipes in “Rise & Shine” offer homemade alternatives to store-bought staples – including Make-and-Freeze Buttermilk Waffles, Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos and Homemade “Better than Boxed” Instant Oatmeal. I quickly realized Morford’s key to busy mornings is strategic planning. Almost every recipe includes instructions for preparing part of the dish ahead of time and reheating leftovers.

I always complain that cooking eggs before work requires too much time, but the recipe for Muffin-Tin Baked Eggs promises they will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. A whole chapter is dedicated to make-ahead muffins, breads and bars. Buckwheat Blender Crepes were a surprisingly easy recipe in the chapter on “Weekend Favorites,” and if my boyfriend and I hadn’t enjoyed them so much and finished the dish, I would have taken up Morford’s suggestion to reheat them in a skillet the next day. Same with Big Joe’s Huevos Rancheros, another weekend breakfast meant to supply leftovers but too tasty to resist seconds.

Some recipes require little to no cooking, like all the ideas in the chapters on toast toppings, yogurt bowls and smoothies. Others require kitchen tools I don’t own, like a waffle iron or a crepe pan. (Luckily, Morford gave detailed instructions for making crepes in a regular skillet, which I found worked well.) Some were illustrated with photos, but not all. But most made me feel like I could liven up my yogurt without setting my alarm for the crack of dawn. It might require a longer grocery list and an evening of prep work, but Morford’s book chips away at my excuses for my bland breakfast routine. Perhaps a busy family – the target audience for this cookbook – would find those adjustments more difficult, but they don’t ask too much of a childless adult like me.

Maybe I’ll become a morning person someday, but in the meantime, at least I’ll eat a better breakfast.


A note on the ingredients: I like my food spicy, so I added three chipotle chiles instead of one.

Makes 4 large or 8 small servings

6 bacon slices

1 medium onion, finely chopped

One (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/2 cup water

1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced into a puree (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a generous pinch, divided

2/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro, divided

8 eggs

8 corn or small flour tortillas

1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

Sliced avocado or sour cream, for serving (optional)

1. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Lay the bacon slices flat in the pan. Cook until the slices are deeply browned on one side and begin to curl up, about 5 minutes. Using a fork, turn the slices over and cook the second side until browned and most of the fat is rendered, another 3 minutes or so. Transfer to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels to absorb the drippings. When they are cool enough to handle, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces.

2. Pour off all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, scraping up any tiny bacon bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped bacon, tomatoes with their liquid, water, chipotle, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pan. Stir well. Adjust the heat so the sauce simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and a little of the liquid cooks off, about 10 minutes. It should look like a thick, chunky sauce. If it appears too dry, add 2 tablespoons more water.

3. Add half the cilantro and stir. Crack the eggs into the sauce, spacing them evenly in the pan, and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the top. Set a lid, large pot, or a piece of aluminum foil over the skillet so that it’s completely covered (I inverted a wok on top of the pan). Simmer the eggs, adjusting the heat as needed, until done to your liking. For runny eggs, the whites should be cooked but the yolks still soft to the touch, about 6 or 8 minutes. Hard-cooked eggs will take an additional 2 minutes or so.

4. While the eggs are cooking, heat the tortillas in another skillet set over high heat or directly on the burner if you have a gas range, quickly warming each side. You want the tortillas warm and maybe a little blistered, but not crispy. Wrap in a napkin or a dish towel to keep warm until ready to eat.

5. When the eggs are done, scatter the cheese and the remaining cilantro over the top. Serve right from the pan: spoon an egg and plenty of sauce onto a tortilla and top with avocado and sour cream, if desired. Eat like a very messy taco, or use a fork and knife.

To make ahead: Follow the recipe until just before adding the eggs (through the first addition of cilantro) and store the sauce in the fridge overnight. To prepare the dish the next day, reheat the sauce, add the eggs, and continue the recipe. You may need to add a little more water when reheating. Leftovers keep well for up to 2 days.

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