More ahead for easy breakfasts and lunches

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If you like homemade granola, you should give this easy recipe a try. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
If you like homemade granola, you should give this easy recipe a try. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

I’ve been on the receiving end of several new cookbooks in recent weeks as new titles have been released.

Alea Milham’s latest book, “Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches,” is one of the new books that caught my attention. The attractive cover with a collection of recipe photos made me eager to open the book and see what was inside.

The book includes 75 recipes designed to save time and money.

Milham’s website, Premeditated Leftovers, focuses on those same goals and includes meal plans, recipes and cooking tips, as well as gardening help and advice for saving money.

Her latest book includes many recipes or recipe ingredients that can be made in advance and eaten another day. For instance, batch-cooked Mason jar eggs can be made a dozen at a time, wrapped and frozen for breakfast sandwiches. Ham and broccoli mini quiche with hash brown crust can also be made on the weekend and pulled out of the refrigerator (or freezer) and warmed for a weekday breakfast.

She also has recipes for overnight oatmeal (which I love to make) and oatmeal packets. The individual packets are prepared with dry ingredients — including instant oats, brown sugar, powdered milk, nuts and spices — and saved in sealable bags or a small container. For breakfast, all the family members have to do is pour the ingredients into a bowl and add water.

At lunchtime, Milham suggests warming up soups, stews and chilis that have been made in batches previously. In the book, she offers tips for storing these meals in the freezer and for thawing and reheating.

Her recipes for lunch include taco cauliflower-rice soup, hearty steak and mushroom stew and white bean and chicken minestrone soup.

If you want something sweet, Milham has that covered as well with such tempting treats as hazelnut chocolate chip granola bars, mocha brownie bites with espresso beans and upside down German chocolate cakes made (and frozen) in Mason jars.

I have made two recipes so far in this book: hummingbird zucchini muffins and a modified version of overnight pumpkin pie-spiced pecan granola.

The muffins are packed with flavorful ingredients including pineapple, banana and cinnamon. And they would have been even better, I’m sure, if I hadn’t overlooked the oil when I was making them. Sigh.

The granola, on the other hand, was a complete success. I love making my own granola. Sometimes I have a big success with it, and sometimes I don’t. The problem can come in overcooking or having it burn or undercooking and having it chewy but not crunchy.

This granola is almost foolproof. Once the ingredients are mixed, just pour the mixture on a sheet pan and cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off the oven and forget about it for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Reggie and I made this granola before bedtime one night last week. It only took a few minutes to mix up. I used melted butter instead of “mild tasting oil” and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

The granola is crunchy and delicious. We eat it as a snack, served on yogurt and mixed with blueberries, strawberries and milk. This is a keeper for us!

“Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunch” from Page Street Publishing has a list price of $21.99 but can be purchased for less at online sites.

Overnight Pumpkin Pie-Spiced Pecan Granola

4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1/3 cup mild-tasting oil*

6 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix**

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12X17-inch jelly roll pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats and pecans. Add the oil, honey, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice mix and vanilla to the oats. Stir well to mix.

Press the oat mixture onto the jelly roll pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven — being sure not to open the oven door — and leave the oats in the oven 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

* I used melted butter.

** I used 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of pumpkin pie spice. The author uses 4 teaspoons of her pumpkin pie spice mix that’s made by combining 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 1 teaspoon ground cloves.