The first thing I ever tried to cook, back when I measured my age in single digits, was eggs in a frame.

It was Mother’s Day, and my sister and I decided that our gift would be making breakfast for our mother. We had come across the recipe for this particular dish in some cookbook, where it was labeled as something one might “Let the Kids Cook.”

We set about laboriously and messily buttering slices of white sandwich bread, roughly carving out the middle of each slice into a shape that more or less resembled a hole, plopping everything into a pan and basically cooking the stuffing out of it.

I don’t remember if we included any side dishes. I just know that our mother made a fatal mistake. She told us, after sawing through well-done bread and an egg so overcooked it had to be like rubber, that she liked it.

And so, for years afterward, whenever my sister or I got the notion to “do something for Mom,” eggs in a frame was usually involved.

It was only years later that our mother told us that — while she appreciated the love and the effort of our making her breakfast — if she never had to face a plate of eggs in a frame ever again, she could die a happy woman.

These days, however, more and more young people have a true interest in cooking, as well as a great deal more talent and sophistication than I did back in my eggs-in-a-frame period.

They can take something like a fried eggs in a circle of bread and turn it into a truly tasty and satisfying dish, using organic eggs and good rustic bread cooked in butter or a good olive oil.

Still, sometimes it’s best to keep things relatively simple when letting the kids do the cooking. Anything that requires sharp knives, open flame and kitchen machinery should definitely be supervised by adults.

But some dishes can be made by young cooks with a minimum of supervision. Here are a few that might be perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast.

Breakfast Casserole Muffins

3-4 slices of whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces

4 slices of deli ham, torn or cut into small pieces

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 eggs

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons ground mustard (such as Colman’s)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)

Dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 6-count muffin tins well with butter or cooking spray.

2. Fill muffins tins about ⅔ full with bread pieces.

3. Sprinkle ham pieces evenly over bread.

4. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread and ham.

5. Whisk together eggs and milk. Sprinkle mustard powder over mixture and whisk (this avoids the powder clumping). Add pepper and whisk to combine.

6. Pour egg mixture evenly into each muffin tin, so that mixture reaches the top.

7. Sprinkle dried parsley over the top of each cup.

8. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

NOTE: Muffins can be made ahead and frozen. Allow to cool completely, then place muffins in a freezer bag or container, removing as much air as possible before sealing, and freeze. To reheat: wrap muffin in damp paper towel and microwave in 30-second increments until heated through.

— Recipe adapted from

Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

1 ripe banana

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Peel banana and break into chunks in a medium bowl. Mash banana with a fork until a pudding consistency is achieved, and no large lumps remain.

2. Add the beaten eggs and stir until completely combined. Batter will be loose and liquid.

3. Heat a large skillet (cast iron or non-stick) over medium heat. Melt a little butter or add a tablespoon of vegetable and heat.

4. Drop batter in about 2-tablespoon amounts into skillet, keeping about an inch between individual cakes. Batter should sizzle immediately.

5. Cook for about 1 minute, or until bottom of cake is golden brown and set.

6. Work a thin spatula halfway under each cake and carefully flip. Cook an additional minute or until golden brown.

7. Serve with warmed maple syrup, honey or jam.

NOTE: For fluffier cakes, stir ⅛ teaspoon baking powder into mix.

— Recipe adapted from

James D. Watts Jr.


Twitter: watzworld