Mother's Day breakfast that will make her forget you didn't make brunch reservations

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

It happens to the best of us. You forgot to make brunch reservations on the busiest brunch day of the year. It happens. But you'll have to fix this and fix it stat. After all, she deserves one day to not have to be in charge.

Just try not to make too much of a mess, OK?

Strawberry cheesecake pancakes

Yogurt adds a welcome tartness to this dish, which might otherwise be cloying. Make the splurge on a fresh vanilla bean for the sauce for a breakfast you won’t forget.

Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


Sauce and filling

2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 cups all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup milk

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, plus more for the griddle

Graham cracker crumbs, for serving


To make the sauce and filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the jam, lemon juice, vanilla bean and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, ricotta, yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon salt and lemon zest until smooth and fluffy. Let sit at room temperature while making the pancakes.

To make the pancakes: Heat a griddle over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Whisk the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, followed by the melted butter, just until combined. Don’t worry about whisking out all the lumps; it’s important not to overwork the batter.

Brush the griddle with melted butter. Scoop pancakes out onto the hot griddle, using about 1 cup of batter per pancake. Cook until bubbles have broken the surface of the pancake, about 6 minutes, then flip to cook on the second side until the pancakes are fluffy in the center, about 3 more minutes. Transfer to a large plate and keep warm.

To serve, spoon roughly 1/4 cup of the cream cheese filling on top of a pancake, then sandwich with another pancake. Add another 1/4 cup of filling, then top with another pancake. Spoon 1/2 cup of strawberry sauce over the top, then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Repeat with the remaining pancakes, filling and sauce. Serve.

Butternut Squash and Walnut Muffins

Butternut squash and walnut muffins

These butternut squash muffins give banana bread a run for its money. This recipe can also be made in a bread loaf pan and baked longer. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag and keep for one week.

Serves: 10 to 12

Total Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes


1 butternut squash

1/2 teaspoon olive oil


1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Half the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Drizzle each side of squash with olive oil and salt. Bake until the squash is fork-tender, 60 to 70 minutes, or longer depending on the size of the squash. Turn off the oven while the squash cools.

Let squash cool completely, then use a spoon to scrape out the flesh. Using a blender, purée the squash. Measure out 2 cups purée and reserve the remainder for another use. (If not making the muffins right away, you can store the squash purée in the fridge overnight.)

Turn the oven back to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or loaf pan with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix in the squash purée.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and stir to combine.

Using a spatula, fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips, if using. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin or loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes for muffins or 50 to 60 minutes for a loaf. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cornmeal Crepes with Strawberries and Clabbered Cream

Strawberry crepes with 'clabbered' cream

We’ve given the French crepe a Southern makeover by replacing some of the flour with cornmeal. Your first crepe is more than likely to stick or otherwise produce a less than desirable result. This is perfectly normal, and all remaining crepes should work out fine.

Once a staple of the rural Southern larder, clabber was created by allowing unpasteurized milk to sour at room temperature, creating a thick, yogurt-like spread. Since raw milk is illegal to purchase in much of the United States, we can make a facsimile out of heavy cream and buttermilk. Once the mixture has “curdled” after sitting at room temperature for 48 hours, it will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 49 hours


Clabbered Cream

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Macerated Strawberries

2 cups quartered and hulled strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cornmeal Crepes

1 3/4 cups milk

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter


To make the clabbered cream: In a large glass jar or another storage container, combine the cream and buttermilk and mix well. Seal the lid and let sit at room temperature until the mixture has thickened, about 48 hours. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

To make the strawberries: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Let sit until the strawberries have softened and given off much of their liquid, about 1 hour.

To make the crepes: In a blender or food processor, puree all of the ingredients, except for the butter, until well combined. Add the butter and continue blending until completely smooth. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and spray liberally with non-stick oil spray. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl to completely coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter. Cook until the center is still slightly wet but the edges are firm, about 30 seconds. (Using a rubber spatula, test for doneness by gently lifting up the edges on all sides.) Flip and cook on the second side until the crepe can slide out of the pan with no resistance, about another 30 seconds. Transfer the crepe to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.

To serve, fold the crepes into quarters and place two on each serving plate. Top with 1/4 cup of the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of the clabbered cream. 

Creamy crab quiche

While not absolutely necessary, blind baking the crust yields the best results with this quiche. You can substitute a higher grade of crabmeat, but claw will give you the most “bang for your buck.” You can also substitute an unbaked store-bought pie crust for the homemade dough.

Serves: 8

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 0 minutes



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder


2 cups heavy cream

3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

3 cups gouda or Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped

8 ounces claw crab meat, picked

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated

1/2 cup chopped scallions

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To make the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt. Sift the baking powder into the flour, then on low speed add it into the flour mixture. Continue to mix until a dough is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate the dough for 15 to 30 minutes.

For the filling: Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs and yolks until well combined. Stir in the gouda, spinach, crab, Pecorino, scallions, garlic, salt and pepper. 

Roll the pie dough into a large circle and line the bottom and sides of a deep dish tart or pie pan. Pour in the filling so it reaches the top of the crust. Bake until lightly golden, about 45 minutes, then cover the quiche with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick oil spray, and continue to bake until the center is set, 40 to 45 more minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries

Stuffed French toast with strawberries

For crispier French toast, use day-old bread or leave the sliced bread on the counter overnight to become stale.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


Strawberry Sauce and Filling

1 1/2 cups quartered and hulled strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

French Toast

1 cup half and half

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 loaf challah bread, cut into one-inch-thick slices

Melted butter, for the griddle

Maple syrup, for serving (optional)


To make the sauce: Combine 1 cup of the strawberries with 1/2 cup of the sugar, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat, bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

To make the filling: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the lemon zest and remaining sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining strawberries.

To make the French toast: Heat an electric griddle over medium heat. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the half and half, eggs and cinnamon until smooth. Fully submerge the bread slices in the egg mixture, then transfer to the wire rack to drain for 3 to 5 minutes.

Brush the hot griddle with melted butter. In batches, place the bread on griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp on the first side, about 5 minutes. Flip and toast for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread until all slices have been cooked.

For each serving, spread 1/4 cup of filling on one slice of French toast. Top with a second slice and press down gently. Cut in half and top with 1/2 cup of strawberry sauce. Serve with maple syrup if desired.

More great brunch dishes: Cinnamon rolls, breakfast strata, buttermilk waffles, shrimp and grits

Cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing: Fewer breakfast foods are more inherently comforting than homemade cinnamon rolls. The process is relatively easy; however, it’s crucial to allow the dough enough time to proof so the yeast can work its magic. To speed up the process, place a kitchen towel under the bowl of dough and place it on top of a heated oven or a heating pad. Get the recipe

Do Ahead Breakfast Strata

Make-ahead breakfast strata: This meal does require a bit of prep the day before, but all you need to do the morning of is pop this dish in the oven to get nice and toasty. The results of your make-ahead planning — a gooey and golden combination of cheese, egg, ham, and vegetables — will make your future self all the more grateful. Get the recipe

Buttermilk Waffles

Buttermilk waffles: A cast iron waffle iron will make the difference between good and great waffles by giving them a crisp exterior with a soft interior. Try topping your crispy waffles with some fresh blueberries. Get the recipe

Shrimp Grits

Southern shrimp and grits: Use fresh, local shrimp or buy frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp from Trader Joe’s for this recipe, and don't overcook them. Stone-ground grits are key. White is best, but yellow is fine, too. Get the recipe

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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