Breakfast is awesome. Too bad it happens so early in the day. Sugar + Shake rarely eat breakfast at proper breakfast time. It’s either technically breakfast because it’s the first meal of the day, but eaten at lunchtime—Does that make it Elevensies? Actually, it’s more like Onesies or Twosies…—or it’s breakfast-for-dinner.

The first thing I ever cooked was in the 7th or 8th grade—I decided that for Mother’s Day, I would make breakfast for Mom. Bacon omelets, because it was pretty much the standard breakfast in our house. I thought I was being very sly, asking all sorts of questions about how one went about making bacon omelets during the week leading up to Mother’s Day weekend, and I woke up extra early on Sunday to make breakfast all on my own, before anyone else woke up.

Everything went smoothly until the bacon-frying bit. “Soak up the extra oil that comes out of the bacon with paper towels,” Mom had instructed. For some reason, I interpreted this to mean that I should lay paper towel in the frying pan underneath the bacon. As you can imagine, this resulted in the bacon cooking VEEEEEEERY SLOWLY. Shockingly, nothing caught fire. (Kitchen deployment of the fire extinguisher would not occur for several more years, but that’s a story for another blog post…)

“What are you doing?” says Mom.

“Errr, making you Mother’s Day breakfast?”

“Why is there paper towel in the pan?”

“’Cause that’s what you said I should do!”



After this rocky start, it’s not surprising that an enthusiasm for cooking didn’t catch up to me until my late 20s.

Breakfast Bread Pudding.

Now that I know that it’s best not to attempt to fry paper towels, I sometimes venture outside the standard two eggs-breakfast meat-starch model and make a fancy-pants breakfast. One of our favorite recent breakfast goodies was this Breakfast Bread Pudding with fennel sausage, arugula, garlic and onion. (Recipe at the end of this post.)

So what was the first thing you ever cooked?

Other Fancy-Pants Breakfast Greatest Hits:

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Big Island Goat Cheese, Crispy Speck.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Big Island Goat Cheese and Crispy Speck

Roasted Garlic Tomatoes on Toast, topped with Manchego cheese. The Manchego eventually melts from the heat of the tomatoes into an unsightly cheese goo, but while it's fresh, it looks all pretty and fluffy!

Roasted Garlic Tomatoes on Toast, topped with Manchego cheese

Breakfast Bread Pudding

This recipe is based off the one I use for my annual Christmas bread pudding bake-a-thon. Shake’s first reaction was, “Is this bread pudding? For breakfast?!” Normally “bread pudding” conjures up thoughts of a sweet dessert, but this is a completely savory dish.

  • Italian fennel sausage (about ½ lb.)
  • ¼ – ½ Maui onion (or other sweet round onion); sometimes these are gargantuan, sometimes they’re tiny. It also depends how much you like onion.
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (again, totally depends on how much you like garlic. Sugar + Shake love it!)
  • Approx. 2 cups arugula, divided
  • chicken broth (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ loaf French bread, cubed (1-inch)
  • several slices of Hawaiian (Portuguese) sweet bread, cubed (1-inch)
  • 5 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cubed (¼-inch)
  • 2 cups half-and-half (you can use cream, but I prefer the lighter half-and-half)
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil, cook the sausage until nicely browned, breaking it into medium-sized bits. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. If you’re not using a non-stick pan, add a little bit of chicken broth to deglaze the pan and pick up all those nice crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add half the arugula (1 cup) and cook ‘til it begins to wilt. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the butter and half-and-half; season lightly with salt and pepper. Lay the bread cubes in a 9-by-9-inch square baking dish, add the sausage/arugula mixture, then the remaining fresh arugula and gently mix everything together. Be sure to leave some of the arugula at the top of the dish; it will get crispy as the pudding bakes and develops a nice, almost grilled taste. Carefully pour the liquids over the bread.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cover the dish with foil and poke holes in it. Bake until the bread begins to swell—it will resemble a soufflé rising—about 40 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake another 10-15 minutes to brown lightly and give the top a nice, crusty texture. You may wish to put a baking sheet underneath the pan, in case there’s any overflow of liquid as the dish cooks.

Second Breakfast, anyone?