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Continental Breakfast Challenge - so sick of Costco muffins & Yoplait.

I am tasked with organizing (from shopping, prep, set up & clean up) of our Jr. High Student of the Month Breakfasts. The challenges are: only 30 minutes of set up, only 30 minutes for entire function. It happens at 7:15am. Budget is somewhat limited but not horrible. This breakfast is for approximately 30 - 40 people. Thank you.

The last two times I have served yogurts, Costco muffins (halved), another pastry - Mini Cinnamon Rolls or halved Costco Strudel. Mini Bagels with cream cheese packets. Fruit - halved bananas, grape clusters and sliced oranges. Juice, Coffee & Hot Water (carafes) with tea & condiments.

I want to do something SPECIAL and not so BOOOOORRRING.

Any creative ideas are much welcome. This is an easy to please crowd, I had a tablecloth & tiered servers and you would have thought I brought a caterer in.

Thanks so much,
Julia in Woodinville, WA

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  1. How many people are you serving?

    2 Replies
      1. re: ttoommyy

        Dang! You are right!

        My apologies, this will teach me to never post before my second cup of coffee.

    1. Oh Lord! I am soooo with you on the standard "conference" breakfast a la Costco! I always feel crappy from so much carbohydrate with caffeine.

      What about sliced ham and cheeses, non sugary rolls, bagels with a few spreads (one cream cheese type, one nut butter type) and some sliced fruit?

      2 Replies
      1. re: sedimental

        Yes! I do love the idea of sliced meat & cheese. I would love to eat that. I may be wrong, but that seems more "European" than what we typically do here in the Northwest.

        1. re: Juliamay

          I think it sounds lovely too!

          Just call it a danish buffet, with things to make open faced sandwiches.

      2. Build your own breakfast parfaits with big bowls of vanilla and plain yogurt (kept on ice), granola, fresh fruit sald, toasted coconut, dried fruits and any other toppings you think people may like. Also, whenever we have something like this at work, there are usually hard boiled eggs. People go crazy over them. The night before, someone hard boils 2 or 3 dozen eggs, puts them back in the carton and in the fridge. Easy to transport to work the next day and you just set out the cartons when you get there.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ttoommyy

          Excellent idea about the hard boiled eggs! I have been served them before in this type of venue and really liked it. Don't forget the salt and pepper.

          Also, you could make up a light egg salad for a spread on bagels.

          1. re: ttoommyy

            Dumb question - do I need to peel the eggs to serve them? That is totally a PITA to me. :) Great idea if they can DIY.

            1. re: Juliamay

              Costco occasionally has pre-peeled hard boiled eggs in with their cheeses. They come in a big bag. I've seen them on occasion at grocery stores too. They aren't a regular item at Costco though. And who knew you could buy eggs like that - and they tasted great.

              1. re: thimes

                Don't know if you have it, but I once saw peeled hard boiled eggs at Cash and Carry.

                Also, once I learnt a decent method of hard boiling, I've found peeling much easier. Put room temp eggs in cold water, bring to boil, once boiling turn off heat, leave 10 minutes. Drain pot, fill with cold water and as it's filling crack all the eggs (once). Leave for maybe ten minutes, then they should peel easily.

            2. re: ttoommyy

              I have served a buffet for that size of group and have brought hard boiled eggs which are an excellent protein for breakfast. However, some complained about the smell of them so I kept them in a covered dish. We always have some fresh fruit on our table, which always goes over well. My budget was $40 to $50 and we always managed to have a cheese, a plate of rolled ham, some pate and rolls.

            3. My high schooler has to take a mid-morning snack about 2 times a year for a group of 10...perennial favorites are croissants, nutella & strawberries; mini almond bear claws from Safeway; bagels with plain cream cheese & strawberry cream cheese.

              DD says for some reason, the boys love the bear claws. And 3/4 kids like plain cream cheese & 1/4 like strawberry.

              I'm sure homemade banana bread, cranberry bread, etc. would go over well too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ceekskat

                Great ideas - thank you! Funny about the cream cheese.

              2. I agree about the hard boiled eggs---people love them! And since peeling them is the hassle, bringing them still in the shell and letting the attendees peel them reduces your work load tremendously.

                I love deviled eggs, but they are a lot of work.

                We have served excellent hard rolls (made of baguette dough) with unsalted butter, a variety of jams and curds, and very thin slices of cheese, and that has been very well received. I have never baked Costco's baguettes, but I have heard they are good. You could bake them at home, let them cool, and then serve slices of baguette instead of hard rolls with the above additions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: soccermom13

                  for easy deviled eggs, boil off what you need and chuck the lot in a big bowl of iced water. peel. scoop out the yolks and lay the whites, hollow side down, on towels to drain and dry. meanwhile put the yolk in your food pro with whatever is your go-to mix. whiz. place in ziploc bag. put dry whites in separate bag, being careful not to smoosh or break.

                  at event, line whites up on platters, snip the corner of yolk-mix ziploc and pipe out each egg. lightning-fast.

                  but just offering hard-boiled eggs, still in the shell, is still TOTES easier. :)

                2. Lavash pinwheels? Spread large rectangles of lavash with cream cheese, processed cheddar cheese spread, peanut butter, or nutella, as "glue".

                  For the nutella ones, slice the ends off peeled banana so you have uniform "logs" to line up running the length of the long side. Drizzle with agave or honey, roll up. Slice into 1" rolls but don't spread out until set-up, to slow the discoloration.

                  For the cream cheese, add thin slices of deli ham and a smear of honey mustard, roll up.

                  For the processed cheddar spread, drained canned diced tomato.

                  For the peanut butter, grape jelly and marshmallow fluff.

                  If you have a large skillet or griddle that would allow you to make scrambled eggs as flat as a crepe, you could use that as the filling for some of the cream cheese pinwheels. Adding finely-crumbled cooked bacon or sausage to the egg, even better. Room temp is fine for these.

                  You can use plain and multigrain lavash (sold at Costco)
                  and people will be able to pick and choose how many pieces and combos they want. Some grapes and other "finger-fruit" would be good accompaniments.

                  1. +1 for yogurt parfait DIY idea, buy large plain lowfat yogurt and tall cups to make them in

                    Let the kids peel their own hard boiled eggs
                    Or make frittata "muffins" in muffin tins

                    This baked oatmeal is delicious and can be made ahead, just scale up the recipe

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I think frittata muffins is an excellent idea - or quiche muffins (crustless or not).

                      I wouldn't do hard boiled eggs for junior high students - I ate them when I was that age but not because I liked them. A fritatta or quiche would go over much better.

                      This and some cut up fruit - maybe juice too in my opinion would be perfect for that age.

                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        This recipe looks great. Would you serve it like bar cookies or in bowls with a pitcher of milk as this blogger describes. (Come to think of it, maybe I could make large "breakfast cookies".)

                        Thanks for the great ideas. A quiche/muffin would be great.

                        1. re: Juliamay

                          I would just cut into small squares (on a buffet they will most likely choose several items, so half sized squares) and serve on a platter to be picked up and eaten like a brownie. Milk to drink a la carte.

                          This frittata muffin recipe looks similar to what i do, i just use whatever veggies are on hand:

                        1. Are you saying, you're willing to prep and bake. Sure you want to commit. If not, why not go the fresh fruit route or European with cheeses, meats, nuts, dried fruits and light pastries etc.

                          1. Mix TJ vanilla organic yogurt with equal parts plain regular or plain Strauss. Have sliced strawberries and granola on the side. Have a couple of nondairy yogurts on the side. Bake some TJs mini crossants on the side or make some mini vegetable muffins.

                            1. So, they're okay with home-produced food? I wish our schools were, as well. When we did breakfasts at our (privately run!) preschool I did breakfast sandwiches and breakfast pizza. Both, just a riff on scrambled eggs/cheese/diced meat/tomatoes/onions, but one stuffed into hollowed out loaves of french bread, wrapped in foil and baked until melted through and then sliced into servings on-site, and a similarly themed pizza with homemade crusts, but you could just as easily buy store-bought pizza crusts. I think I used a sun-dried tomato cream cheese for the pizza 'sauce'...it's been a while...The pizzas were more of a hit with the preschool crowd, but the sandwiches were much easier to transport and to keep warm (I put the heated, foil-wrapped loaves in a cooler and packed a few dishtowels around them for the 30-minute trip and setup and they stayed nice and warm). I took a fruit salad with yogurt dressing on top both times, with some bowls and forks. Bless you for branching out of the muffin-rut.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tonifi

                                Yes, we are fortunate that our school allows homemade products. (I do label everything I prepare that could be potentially an issue - nuts, eggs, etc.) The breakfast sandwiches sound awesome. very cool idea. Breakfast pizza would be easy to do as well. Thank you for your great ideas. :)

                              2. Love the pinwheel idea by greygarious.

                                How about spot with a few toasters where students can toast/top whole grain waffles? Have good butter, nut butter, chopped nuts, syrup, etc.

                                Lots of mini water and milk bottles.

                                Would the crowd rebel if you had a station with mini pitas and cold cuts and cheeses (hams, cheddars, etc)?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  I think my crowd (kids, parents & staff) would be open to anything. The toaster idea would work but I literally have 30 minutes from start to clean up. A couple minutes toasting time would cause a hold up. Everything needs to be grab & eat.

                                  Love the pitas, meats & cheeses.

                                2. - Untoasted Ham & Cheese sandwiches on white bread (butter only)

                                  - Coffee, boiled eggs sandwiches (with black pepper and butter)

                                  - Tomato soup and bread rolls for cold mornings

                                  1. Mini bagels, already sliced [leave a hinge]
                                    sliced cheese and ham or turkey
                                    cream cheese, butter, tahini, jam
                                    cut fresh fruit served in cups [pre-portion for grab and go], yogurt in cups
                                    breakfast burritos: scrambled eggs, diced cooked potatoes, salsa, cheese. Already made, and wrapped in a square of parchment. Hot sauce in a squeeze bottle
                                    IIRC, Costco also has frozen, ready to bake pastries, which are nice for a fresher option.

                                    1. As a manager of a hotel (small economy brand) we have anywhere from 50 - max occupancy of the hotel is 215 (every room full to the fire code) each morning. I have added an oatmeal bar which has gone over wonderfully... individual packs of oatmeal (some do it in a crockpot) and jars of toppings: brown sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon/sugar (premixed to a 1:1 ratio), raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts, this list could go on forever. I have done a yogurt bar before during events with small individual plain yogurt and several mix-ins. As you can tell I am all about "bars" because they are fun and customizable. Check out pinterest, I have found a TON of ideas on there. Hope that this helps some!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: jmkeenan2010

                                        Thank you very much for your response. I have just found out I am doing three consecutive days of continental breakfasts for the staff returning to the school this next week. I appreciate your help. I'll also head to Pinterest. Thanks again. :)

                                        1. re: Juliamay

                                          Consider offering hard boiled eggs too- they can peel themselves and add to toast or have as is.
                                          For three consecutive days yogurt cups vs large containers would be easier to use some and save the rest for the next day.
                                          Frittata "muffins" are easy to make and good at room temp, just add in whatever veg you have on hand, the cheese is optional

                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                            I put hard boiled eggs in my church buffet but some partakers complain about the smell. My solution was to keep the eggs in a clear colored dish, they get gobbled up all the time!

                                      2. If you're up for cooking, I made sausage rolls for a recent school breakfast - puff pastry, bulk sausage with some minced onions and a few breadcrumbs. They were pretty easy to make in bulk, and could be eaten easily and served at room temperature.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Savour

                                          That sounds delicious. Did you follow a particular recipe or just wing it? Thank you. :)

                                          1. re: Juliamay

                                            I found a few recipes for Aussie sausage rolls and just winged it from there. I mixed a pound of bulk country pork sausage with half an onion, finely minced, a couple of cloves of garlic, some dried marjoram, and about 1/4 c. panko. Cut a package of Pepperidge farm puff pastry at the folds, distributed some of the sausage filling down the center, lengthwise, then sealed it into tubes. Cut into 2" long pieces, and baked at 375 for about 25-30 minutes. I added some shredded cheddar to some of them, too.