Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite culinary taboos. People often seem shocked when I mention this particular evening meal, yet lingering on their face is always a look of triumphant glee. As if they’ve been waiting years for an excuse to eat French toast at midnight.

My first breakfast for dinner experience came in college. There, I was a member of Delta Gamma and, not to brag, but you couldn’t find a better cook in all the Greek System than our Joe. He was, and still is, a master of cooking for 92. However, my favorite thing about Joe was not his grilled cheese sandwiches or cheesecake bars (oh that flaky, buttery crust! How I miss you).

Joe, despite our large numbers and matching Juicy sweat suits (cringe) knew each and every one of us down to our midterm schedules and favorite after class snacks. I was active in the University drama department and could always count on Joe for a word of encouragement and a meal to-go when early rehearsals prevented me from eating dinner at the house.

And he loved nothing more than feeding us the foods we loved. As the edamame craze hit, a big bowl of beans materialized at our salad bar within days. When a few girls decided to go the Vegan route, Joe whipped up sautéed tofu and veggies with dinner. He cooked to please and I hope he knows just how much the ladies of Delta G appreciate him.

My favorite meal that Joe prepared was breakfast for dinner. Girls would line up extra early, hoping to snag a scoop from the raspberries before they disappeared (which they always did). I would write these nights into my planner they were that important. And the food! Cheddar covered scrambled eggs, sausage links, French toast, chocolate chip pancakes, bowls of fresh berries, crepes and of course, extra thick, crispy bacon. It was a breakfast dream come true. My plate was would be piled high, covered with pools of maple syrup that, despite my best efforts, always managed to mingle with the ketchup.

Ah the good old days!

I’ll admit, I did not expect last night’s cheesy potato pancakes to be of BFD quality. My first thought was that they would be a sort of side dish, a stand-in for dinner rolls perhaps. But after dropping my cakes onto the griddle, I realized these were no second act. They were destined for a long and illustrious career as a breakfast classic.

What makes this dish perfect as a breakfast option are the eggs. They act as the binding agent and give the pancakes an almost quiche-like quality. Add in hash browns, cheddar cheese and a topping of caramel spiced apples and you’ve got a whole lot of breakfast happening on one plate.

The meal is savory and sweet. Hearty, but not too heavy. The toasty cheese on the outside melts into the middle where the potato and onion have been holding court. But the element that brings it all together are the apples. They make the potatoes shine! Cooking them slow allows the sugar time to caramelize. And the nutmeg/cinnamon combo gives the topping a kick of heat, balancing out the sweet factor.

I know Mom always says “breakfast food for breakfast and dinner for dinner” but do yourself a favor and indulge in a BFD meal, whether it be pancakes at 9 p.m. or eggs benedict at 11.

Your inner rebel will thank you.

~Brittni

Cheesy potato pancakes with spiced caramel apples
This recipe is a great accompaniment to breakfast and can be a meal all its own. The addition of spiced apples on top makes it a sweet dish, but sour cream can also be substituted for a more savory take. A tip: mix up the pancake batter first and then turn your attention to the apples. These guys need to cook slow and low to prevent burning and insure proper “caramelization” occurs. The pancakes, in contrast, cook up nice and quick, so don’t worry if your apples finish first. Just pop them in the microwave to keep them warm.

For the pancakes:
4 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 ½ tsp. instant minced onion (you can use fresh onion as well)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 cups frozen hash browns thawed
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheeseFor the apples:
2 granny smith apples
4 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Enough cinnamon sugar and nutmeg to coat

Directions:

First, prepare you batter by beating together the eggs, flour, onion, salt and baking powder. Stir in the potatoes and cheese. Set aside. On to the apples!

Core your apples and cut into ½ inch chunks. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add your apples to the pan and lower heat to medium low. Add the vanilla and stir about.

After the apples are coated, sprinkle a layer of both cinnamon sugar and nutmeg over the mix. Don’t douse your apples; just add enough to coat lightly. Let these cook for 5 minutes or so. Then add some more sugar and nutmeg (yep, it’s a party)! The sugar should begin to caramelize at this point. Continue cooking, scraping down the pan when needed to make sure none of the sugary joy escapes from your pan. Poke the apples a bit with a toothpick. Once they start to soften, remove from the stove and transfer to a bowl. Pop this into a microwave to stay warm.

Time to heat up that griddle! The pancakes should be cooked at either medium/high heat (if on a stove) or 350 degrees (if on a fancy griddle with an oven temp dial). Grease the griddle well. Drop ½ cup dollops onto your cooking surface and wait 3-4 minutes before flipping. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

Garnish your golden cakes of potato joy with the spiced caramel apples and enjoy!

Yield ~ 6 pancakes (2 servings)

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