Busy mornings call for quick and easy breakfasts, but when you have a little extra time there's nothing like a fancy morning meal to gather a family around the table. Serving a gourmet breakfast doesn't have to mean slaving for hours in the kitchen. Do some prep work the night before and remember that garnishes and pretty serving ware can elevate even simple dishes to something special.
A coffee cake with a streusel topping always works for a fancy breakfast. Flavor with cinnamon, bake in a tube pan, and drizzle with glaze for a special presentation. A quick bread studded with fruits and nuts looks impressive, but is as quick to put together as the name implies. Light and flaky scones are adaptable to many flavors and are a treat at breakfast. Use dried fruits and a glaze for sweet scones, or grated cheese and herbs for savory scones. While your baked goods are in the oven you can prepare the rest of your breakfast.
Eggs are endlessly versatile and kids will appreciate eating muffins made of bacon and eggs. Slices of bacon are curled inside the cups of a muffin tin, filled with beaten eggs, topped with cheese and baked for a dramatic egg dish. For a distinctive touch, beat some ranch-flavored seasoning mix into the eggs before baking. Any variation of eggs Benedict makes breakfast a special occasion. Add spinach for color and vitamins, or substitute crab for the Canadian bacon. You can make a healthier version of hollandaise sauce to top eggs Benedict by using low-fat mayonnaise, mustard and buttermilk instead of egg yolks, and reducing the butter.
A strata is a fancy layered casserole made with cubes of bread, eggs, cheese and whatever other ingredients your heart desires. Ham, turkey bacon, chicken sausage, spinach, kale, onions, and mushrooms all work well. Add herbs, spices or dry salad dressing mixes to bring additional flavor to this casserole. The best part of a strata is that it is assembled the night before and refrigerated for cooking the next morning. This allows the egg mixture to soak the bread and creates a creamy texture. Use a high-quality rustic bread for the strata and garnish with fresh, chopped parsley.
Fruit is an essential part of breakfast for the nutrients, and it's easy to dress up for a fancy meal. Serve mixed berries in a pretty glass cup, top with a dollop of whipped cream or thickened vanilla yogurt, and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Make a substantial fruit salad with pears, apples, walnuts and creamy dressing. Poach pear slices or sauté apples, and serve in rolled-up crepes lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. A simple tray of overlapping orange slices gains drama when sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and garnished with whole cloves.