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Start your day with a breakfast taste of fall

When the leaves begin to turn, our cravings turn to cinnamon oatmeal,  hot apple cider and other comfort foods.
When the leaves begin to turn, our cravings turn to cinnamon oatmeal, hot apple cider and other comfort foods.

After Labor Day, hope reigns that humid heat waves will soon be gone. When our thoughts turn from summer barbecues and pool days to sweaters, football and tailgating parties, we know a new season is about to begin. And it will when Sunday, Sept. 23, arrives, marking the first official day of fall.

Even though it’s not quite here yet, I’ve been thinking about my favorite season since the first 90 degree day arrived. I get happy when the leaves start changing color and cool nights become normal. Frost on the grass means it’s time to enjoy everything fall like long walks in a preserve, deck fires with hot apple cider and high school football games. Combined with tantalizing scents of cinnamon oatmeal or hot apple cider, I give a sigh of relief and welcome a new season of homey comfort foods.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so during warm weather seasons I love drinking orange juice with a bowl of cereal on the deck while enjoying the early morning sunshine. But is there a better way to start a chilly day than with a hot cup of coffee while reading the newspaper? Add in the aroma of sizzling bacon and it becomes a perfect autumn morning.

While I love cooking any time of year, for me fall is just more conducive to creating meals. The stove and oven heat warms the kitchen. And I’m more inspired (than usual) to find my fall recipes when I know I’ll be looking out the kitchen window, enjoying colorful leaves and gorgeous sunsets.

But for many of us, fall can be just as busy as summer. Football games and hectic school schedules/activities are a natural part of the season. That’s why I really appreciate the time-saving ease of simple recipes that enhance autumn meals.

Some of you may be dreading what comes after fall and hate any reminder of summer being gone. But you can make it better by starting these cool mornings off right with a hearty breakfast. Put some autumn flavor into your cooking and enjoy the taste of fall.

FALL BREAKFAST (geniuskitchen.com)

Serves 1

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

1⁄3-1⁄2 cup pumpkin puree

1⁄2 cup skim milk or 1⁄2 cup soy milk lite

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 dash cinnamon

1 dash nutmeg

maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Combine rolled oats and water; microwave. When oats are done, stir in pumpkin puree and soy milk. Add vanilla, dashes of spices.

SWEET POTATO BREAKFAST SKILLET with BACON (allergyfreealaska.com)

Makes 4 generous servings

12 ounces of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

Additional bacon fat, lard, ghee, or coconut oil

5 cups diced sweet potatoes (about a 1/2 inch dice)

4 cups diced zucchini (or any vegetable you like)

1 cup chopped onion

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6 large eggs

Black pepper to taste

In 12-inch cast iron skillet, cook bacon pieces over medium-low heat until crisp (cooking the bacon at a lower temperature will render more fat). Use slotted spoon to remove cooked bacon from pan. Set aside. There should be enough rendered bacon fat to coat entire bottom of skillet, about 1/8 inch deep. If your bacon didn’t render this much fat, add additional bacon fat, lard or coconut oil to skillet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Increase heat to medium-high; place diced sweet potatoes in hot oil. Cook sweet potatoes without stirring until bottom of cubes start to turn golden brown. Stir and cook until cubes just start to soften. Increase heat to high and add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper to skillet. Cook until vegetables just start to soften. Stir in bacon pieces. Remove from heat. Make 6 wells in potato and veggie mixture; break one egg into each well. Place skillet in oven and bake for 9-14 minutes, or until eggs are set. Serve immediately.

Note: You can place lid on skillet prior to baking to help eggs cook faster (and more thoroughly if you don't care for runny eggs), but it isn't required.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH and BACON FALL BREAKFAST HASH (wonkywonderful.com)

Super easy to make with just 4 ingredients.

4 slices Bacon - cut into chunks

1 sweet Onion - chopped

3 cups Butternut Squash - cubed

4 large eggs

In large skillet, cook bacon and onions over medium/high heat (stir occasionally) until bacon begins to crisp and onions are translucent.Remove from pan and set aside. Leave bacon grease in pan. Add butternut squash to pan in even layer. Cook over medium/high heat until browned and tender. Stir occasionally and add oil if needed). Return bacon and onions to the pan. Cook 5 more minutes. Make 4 spaces for eggs. Crack and drop eggs in spaces then cover. Cook eggs to preference. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

POTATO FRITTATA with BACON and FETA (everyday-reading.com)

Prep time: 15 min.; Cook time: 1 hour; Makes 3 to 4 servings

1 3/4 pounds red potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

3 to 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices

4 to 6 green onions, sliced into 1/4 inch bits

3.5 ounces of crumbled feta

5 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Scrub potatoes; slice as thinly as possible (think potato chips). Lay on cookie sheet; drizzle olive oil over top. Toss to coat potatoes with oil, salt and pepper generously. Spread potatoes evenly on pan. Cook for 30-35 minutes, flipping over halfway through. When tender, set aside to cool for a few minutes. Leave oven on. While potatoes are cooling, put diced bacon in cast iron or other oven-proof skillet. Cook until slightly crispy; drain bacon bits on paper towel, leaving3 tablespoons of grease in pan. Let cool for a minute or two, then add potatoes to skillet and stir to coat. Sprinkle bacon, green onions and feta over potatoes. Whisk together eggs, milk and salt; pour over potatoes. Cover skillet with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until eggs are set. Serve warm.

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