Thankfully, the culinary masterminds at America's Test Kitchen help prove that a healthy, energizing breakfast is well within your reach. From eggs to muffins to scones, these recipes are not only super-simple, but pack an energy punch with protein and fiber — without overdoing it with the calories. Even better, most of them can be made days in advance. So, now there's no excuse for skipping breakfast.
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This Blueberry-Pear-Ginger-Oatmeal Muffin recipe earns high marks for its creative (not to mention, virtually fat-free) combination of oats and fruit. To keep the muffins light, the quick bread mixing method worked best. This requires combining the dry and wet ingredients independently and then folding them together. Folding in the raisins, pear, and blueberries after the batter is blended ensures that wet and dry ingredients are properly incorporated and each muffin has pieces of each of the fillings.
Makes 12 muffins.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 2 egg whites
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup raisins, preferably golden
1 firm pear, peeled, cored, and chopped fine
1 1/4 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375F degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Whisk milk, sugar, egg, egg whites, and oil in another bowl until smooth. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until combined, then fold in raisins, pear, and blueberries.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin and sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture. Top with almonds and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in tin for five minutes, then carefully transfer to rack. Cool 10 minutes longer. Serve. (Muffins can be kept in airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.)
Traditional methods for making soft-cooked eggs are hit or miss. We wanted one that delivered a set white and a fluid yolk every time. Calling for fridge-cold eggs and boiling water has two advantages: It reduces temperature variables, which makes the recipe more foolproof, and it provides the steepest temperature gradient, which ensures that the yolk at the center stays fluid while the white cooks through. Using only a ½ inch of boiling water instead of several cups to cook the eggs means that the recipe takes less time and energy from start to finish. Because of the curved shape of the eggs, they actually have very little contact with the water so they do not lower the temperature when they go into the saucepan. This means that you can use the same timing for anywhere from one to four eggs without altering the consistency of the finished product.
Be sure to use large eggs that have no cracks and are cold from the refrigerator. Because precise timing is vital to the success of this recipe, we strongly recommend using a digital timer. Tarragon, parsley, or a combination of herbs can be used in place of the chives. Serve with crusty bread or toast.
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
4 large eggs
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly browned, five to six minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste and divide mushrooms between two plates.
Meanwhile, bring a ½ inch of water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Using tongs, gently place eggs in boiling water (eggs will not be submerged). Cover saucepan and cook eggs for 6½ minutes.
Remove cover, transfer saucepan to sink, and place under cold running water for 30 seconds. Remove eggs from pan and gently peel. To serve, place two warm eggs over mushrooms, cutting crosswise to release yolks and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
In developing our oat-scone recipe, we wanted to pack the chewy nuttiness of oats into a moist and tender breakfast pastry. Essential to our success: toasting the oats — either rolled or quick oats — to obtain a good nutty flavor by using a generous amount of butter for flavor and half-and-half to enrich but not weigh down the final product. We took care not to overmix the dough, and baked them in a very hot oven to get maximum rise with a soft, delicate interior.
Makes 8 scones.
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (4 1/2 ounces) or quick oats
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375F degrees. Spread oats evenly on baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant and lightly browned, seven to nine minutes; cool on wire rack. Increase oven temperature to 450F degrees. Line second baking sheet with parchment paper. When oats are cooled, measure out two tablespoons and set aside.
Whisk milk, cream, and egg in large measuring cup until incorporated; remove one tablespoon to small bowl and reserve for glazing.
Pulse flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined, about four one-second pulses. Scatter cold butter evenly over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 12 to 14 one-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; stir in cooled oats. Using rubber spatula, fold in liquid ingredients until large clumps form. Mix dough by hand in bowl until dough forms cohesive mass.
Dust work surface with half of reserved oats, turn dough out onto work surface, and dust top with remaining oats. Gently pat into seven-inch circle about one-inch thick. Using bench scraper or chef’s knife, cut dough into eight wedges and set on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about two-inches apart. Brush surfaces with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes; cool scones on baking sheet on wire rack for five minutes, then remove scones to cooling rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve.
To make this traditional egg dish in individual, brunch-friendly portions, we pour our custard into a muffin tin before baking. Increasing the fat in the mixture by opting for half-and-half instead of milk helps the frittatas release from the pan. A 425F-degree oven proved to be the best choice for creating a lightly browned exterior without overcooking the eggs, and a few different options for flavorful filling combinations keep everyone happy.
Use a nonstick muffin tin. You can prepare the egg and filling mixtures up to a day in advance; refrigerate them separately. Make two different types of frittatas in a single muffin tin by making half batches of two different filling recipes. You’ll need to reduce the sauté time to eight to 10 minutes and use a 10-inch skillet.
Makes 12 muffins.
8 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425F degrees. Generously spray 12-cup nonstick muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Whisk eggs, half-and-half, pepper, and salt together in large bowl.
Divide frittata filling (see below) evenly among muffin cups. Using ladle, evenly distribute egg mixture over filling in muffin cups. Bake until frittatas are lightly puffed and the centers are set, nine to 11 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run plastic knife around edges of frittatas, if necessary, to loosen from muffin tin, then gently remove and serve.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add potatoes, onion, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and let cool for 15 minutes. Stir in goat cheese and dill.
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