When I was pregnant with Jack, one of my many visions of our new life together was taking this baby out to see the world. Socializing him. Letting him feel the wind in his fuzzy hair. Introducing him to trees and lakes, the open road, and exotic snacks.
And though I myself am resourceful, intuitive, creative, and good at improvising, motherhood taught me that I both crave and create really good routines for a household. In fact, I think I’ve become almost too good at it, too reliant on our particular sequences. Which is why we’ve only taken a handful of day trips since Jack was born.
So when my dad asked me a few weeks ago if we’d like to do a day trip with him up to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, I immediately said yes. Beautiful midwestern fall scenery? Fresh air and a day in nature? Extra grandparents on hand to help wrangle the almost two-and-a-half-year old? The promise of roadside cheese stops? (#roadcheese) What’s not to love?
Only one voice my head dissented, pushing up her glasses and raising a serious index finger, mumbling something about naps. I mostly ignored her.
You see, one of my favorite things about being the mother of a toddler is that though we haven’t seen it all yet, we’ve seen enough to know what happens if Jack’s nap gets thrown off on one isolated day.
Nothing. Nothing happens. He might be a little testier around dinnertime. We might have to cajole him to the table with an applesauce pouch. He might be a little more rascally right at bedtime, running laps around his bedroom and then jumping up in my waiting lap to squeeze my face in his hands and utter something in toddler gibberish, only to jump back down and start it all again. (It’s kind of cute.) (Until it stops being cute.)
Bottom line, we can handle it. And if what we get in return is an adventure day full of memories that Jack is now old enough to 1) recall and 2) articulate back to us in the future, it’s worth a $.67 applesauce pouch and five extra minutes of monkeying around.
I also said yes to this jaunt so I could make breakfast sandwiches for the ride up. Coincidentally, I think I started this tradition on the eve of our first day trip together to Madison, WI to visit arguably the greatest farmer’s market on the planet. Making our own breakfast sandwiches was my way of completely avoiding the fast food breakfast options that trigger a parade of intense and icky sense memories I’d rather not experience in a moving vehicle. And anyway, the best breakfast sandwich is the one you make yourself.
This version hinges on one essential kitchen trick: the folded scrambled egg patty. It doesn’t need to be pretty, so you won’t have to waste any eggs practicing, though you will gain confidence as you make more. In patty form, you’ve got the softness of a scrambled egg with the structural integrity you need for a mess-free journey.
The other beautiful thing about these is that you make them the night before, wrap in foil and toss in the fridge, then in the morning just stick ’em in a low oven to warm as you pack up the car. You’ll be rewarded with a warm breakfast without the dreaded pit stop — which as every parent knows is a surefire way to get your sleeping babe to stir and, horrors, wake up from a sound road nap.
I tend to keep the fillings pretty classic, shooting for a trifecta of sharp, craggy Cheddar, soft scrambled eggs, and caramelized bacon (often with a final shot of hot sauce), but you really can go any direction you want here. I love the idea of a snazzy sauce (our house green AP sauce would be killer on this) and other condiments (I just made No Crumbs Left’s marinated onions for the first time and we are obsessed), and even just using up fridge leftovers if you’re really trying to clean out before a longer trip. Of course, avocado would not be unwelcome here, though its slipperiness could be a liability in a moving vehicle. I leave it to you.
(for 4 sandwiches; 1 sandwich serves a hungry person, but we’ve been known to bring a few spares for that final stretch just so we don’t have to stop.)
- 6 thick slices Black Forest bacon
- 4 eggs
- 4 croissants or other large, soft rolls, sliced in half
- 4 thick slices of almost any cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil or butter, for the pan
- Optional: hot sauce, avocado, roasted veggies, other condiments, etc.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a sheet pan with foil, then place a rack on the pan. Arrange the bacon on the rack, leaving as much space as you can between the slices. Bake the bacon for 2o minutes, or until caramelized and crisp. (It’s not a bad idea to rotate your pan midway through.)
While the bacon is cooking, place a small skillet over medium heat and heat about a teaspoon of olive oil or butter. Crack one egg into a small bowl and beat the egg until white and yolk are thoroughly combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg into the skillet and, with a spatula, stir the eggs quickly, arranging and rearranging the curds into a loose rectangle as the eggs cook. (If you feel like this is all cooking too fast, you can lower the heat.) You can use the back of the spatula to sort of press the curds into a uniform shape. Once the eggs are mostly set, flip the four outer sides toward the middle so you have a small rectangle or square. You can also just fold this like an envelope, one side and then the other.
A note: If you like your scrambled eggs in big fluffy curds, this will feel counterintuitive for you. Lean into it. (And if you hate leaning in: you can sidestep this altogether and just let the eggs cook gently in one layer until they set, then fold them. It’ll still yield a good product, but I have found it’s not as soft and ready for mingling with the other fillings.)
As you finish each patty, set it aside on a plate. Crack another egg into the bowl, season, and cook as before. Repeat to make four total patties.
When the bacon is finished and cool enough to handle, stack the slices on a cutting board and cut them in half.
Assembly time! Open and line up the croissants. Place an egg patty on each croissant, then a slice of cheese, then three half-slices of bacon. You can slather the other half of croissant or roll with whatever condiment/s you’re using, then close the sandwich. Repeat until all sandwiches are assembled.
Wrap each sandwich tightly in a small square of foil and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, heat the oven to 300F and place the sandwiches inside while you get everything (and everyone) ready. The oven doesn’t even need to be fully preheated when they go in — just shove ’em in when you turn on the oven!
What’s your favorite road food? Is it homemade or do you make a special stop for it?
- baked goods
- beans + legumes
- dinner party
- gluten free
- make ahead
- pregnant food
- roasted stuff
- special occasions
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