Breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner: It was our surefire way to gather the kids to the dinner table and coax smiles and conversation. Omelets, crepes, fruit-filled pierogi, waffles, sometimes cereal. No matter, the flip-flopped meal succeeds.

Now we empty nesters continue the quirky tradition. We don't really need an excuse — tough day, gray skies, whatever. Nothing comforts like warm, tender sweet pancakes after a busy day. These days we lean toward savory toppings alongside sweet options.

This fall, flavor-packed sweet potatoes enliven our pancake batter. So does the nutty essence of whole wheat flour and a touch of aromatic allspice.

You have options for the sweet potatoes: Microwave 3 medium-size (total 1 1/4 pounds) potatoes on high until fork-tender for 10 or 12 minutes. Then, cool, peel and mash. Or, use 1 can (29 ounces) cut sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained and mashed. Truth be told, canned pumpkin makes a great substitute. Either way, the pancakes taste rich and yield a soft, puddinglike interior.

When serving the pancakes with a sweet topping, I spice up the batter with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Sweet potato pie comes to mind, especially when served with maple syrup. For company, we pull out the stops and offer a praline-mascarpone topping too. For flapjacks served with the savory ham and greens topping, I substitute olive oil for the canola used for cooking.

Breakfast never tasted so good. Ditto for dinner.

Sweet potato pancakes

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: About 6, 12 to 14 pancakes (each 3 inches in wide)


2 large eggs

1 ½ cups low-fat buttermilk

1 cup pureed cooked sweet potatoes (or 1 cup canned sweet potatoes, drained)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Expeller-pressed canola oil or rice bran oil for cooking