Dress up your breakfast to kick off the day with style

Skillet granola takes five minutes to prepare and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Skillet granola takes five minutes to prepare and will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Charlotte Observer

Of all the meals that are easy to put on autopilot, it would be breakfast.

After all, there’s a whole aisle of the supermarket loaded with boxes of cereal, just waiting for you to pour them into a bowl, add milk and get on with your day.

Shouldn’t breakfast deserve better than that, though? As the first meal we usually eat, a good breakfast can set the tone for the rest of your day. It still doesn’t have to take much time.

We dug around through international flavors, simple but good ingredients and a few very easy techniques to come up with three recipes that will launch your day with a little style.

One of the recipes, for 5-minute skillet granola, can be made in advance and eaten on the go. Yogurt-based lassi and avena, an oatmeal version of the Mexican drink horchata, are so fast, they’re practically instant. The breakfast pizza using the Indian flatbread naan would be perfect when you’re facing a busy weekend day.

You’ve heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It deserves to dress up a little, even on a busy day.

Naan pumpkin breakfast pizzas

Serves: 2

If you can’t find naan, the Indian flatbread, use another version of flatbread. Adapted from and the Huffington Post.

2 whole-wheat naans or small flatbreads

2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 teaspoons dried sage

2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella, gruyere, white cheddar or a mix)

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place a naan in the dry skillet and warm through, then turn to crisp the other side. Place on a baking sheet.

In the hot skillet, warm the oil and add the onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir the onions and sage into the pumpkin puree. Spread half of the puree on each naan, then top with the cheese. Use the back of a spoon to make an indentation in the center of each topped naan, then crack an egg into each one.

Place in the oven and bake about 4 minutes. Turn the baking sheet and continue baking 4 to 5 minutes, until the egg white is set and the yolk is as done as you like. Serve warm.

5-minute skillet granola

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

From “The Clever Cookbook: Get-Ahead Strategies and Timesaving Tips for Stress-Free Home Cooking,” by Emilie Raffa. You'll have extra cinnamon sugar butter to keep in the refrigerator for another use.

For the cinnamon sugar butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the granola

3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar butter

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup quick oats (not instant or old-fashioned rolled oats)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cinnamon sugar butter: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until blended. Set aside what you need for the granola, then shape the remainder into a log, wrap in parchment paper, roll and refrigerate or freeze.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt 3 tablespoons Cinnamon Sugar Butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the honey and swirl to coat the pan. Pour in the oats, stirring constantly. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, until they just start to change from beige to golden brown. Add the walnuts and cook about 1 minute longer.

Spread on the lined pan. It will crisp a little as it cools. Refrigerate in an airtight container about a week, or freeze up to 3 months.

Avena oatmeal smoothies

Makes 2 servings

Adapted from “America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes From Coast to Coast,” by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman (Clarkson Potter, 2016). If you’ve ever had horchata, the cinnamon-flavored Mexican drink, this is very similar, but oatmeal makes it more filling.

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

6 cups milk (we tested it with cashew milk), divided

2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

About 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the oatmeal in a bowl and add enough milk to completely cover it, about 3-4 cups. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Place the soaked oatmeal in a blender and add the remaining milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Serve cold.