Eggs for dinner

It’s 4:30 pm.  “What’s for dinner?” is the question on everyone’s lips.  I’m mom, so it’s my job to figure out the answer.  The problem is that I’ve been thinking about it all day and haven’t been able to come up with anything.  And all the meat is frozen.  *sigh*  So, back to the kitchen I go to look around.  Again.

Then I see them – eggs!  Our hens have been giving us at least a dozen eggs a day for the past week, so we have plenty.  One of my favorite quick dinners when we have an abundance of eggs is quiche – or a frittata – or egg casserole.  Whatever you wish to call it.  It started as quiche.  I would make a pie crust and use a pie pan and everything.  One of those used to be enough, but then I had to start making 2, which was too much.  No one really likes it leftover, so whatever was left would go to the cats or chickens and that seemed like a waste.  So I started making it in a 9″ x 13″ in cake pan or casserole dish.  That was closer to the right size.  Usually, only one or two pieces would be left and I was OK with that.  Then the extra 10 minutes to make the crust, plus having the mess to clean up, extra bowl and equipment to wash got on my nerves.  So I started eliminating the crust most of the time.  Also, the quiche recipe in my cookbook calls for more milk than eggs and I didn’t always have that much milk, and I think it increases the cooking time, so that started to get reduced.  I also stopped with the two-part cooking.  Fifteen minutes at this temp and 30 at another.  With the loss of the extra milk, I didn’t feel this was necessary – plus it was an extra step I didn’t want to deal with.  I’d realized that what I was calling “quiche” really wasn’t that anymore.

So I started to call it a frittata.  But, that isn’t truly accurate either.  It doesn’t have a crust, but a frittata is started out on the stovetop in a large fry pan for a few minutes, then moved into the oven for about 15 minutes.  Faster, but too high maintenance.   Why should I have to move it?  It’ll cook in the oven just as well.  I have multi-tasking to do and don’t want to have to be there in 5 minutes to move it.

It’s almost more like the breakfast casseroles I’ve brought to church for our annual Harvest Days breakfast.  Except that those have bread in them and my dinner casserole does not.  So, Egg Casserole is the current name.  The interesting thing is that all the kids actually like it.  Really.  I never thought they would, but they do.  Well, except maybe my oldest son, but he doesn’t eat dinner with us much these days, so it’s OK.

So, here’s my “recipe”:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan with butter or shortening.  Crack 10-12 eggs into my blender.  The blender has liquid measure marks on the side.  I see what the amount of eggs is and add about the same amount of milk, or a little less if I want.  Sometimes I just add onion powder or dried onion flakes to the egg mixture, as well as some garlic powder and some salt and pepper.  If I feel Mexican I add chili powder.  Italian?  Some basil, oregano, fennel.  Add whatever spices you want to the blender.  Turn the blender on low to mix all that up.  Put some chopped meat and maybe some chopped onions and other veggies – chopped small or they won’t be totally cooked – into the pan.  Pour the egg mixture over the meat and veggies in the pan.  Then sprinkle on some grated cheese if you want.  Put it in the oven.  It is done in about 30 minutes.  Take it out when it’s lightly browned.  It will also be puffy coming out of the oven.  It sinks after a few minutes and will be only about 1″ thick.  Cut it up into squares and serve.  It’s that simple!

This is gloriously flexible.  Use whatever meat, veggies, spices, cheese you want.  Or no meat.  Or no cheese.  Or no veggies.  Whatever.  Our favorites are ham and cheddar with or without broccoli.  Or leftover taco meat and/or beans with chili powder and cheddar cheese, sometimes with chopped tomatoes and green pepper.  If you don’t want the veggies in it you can have them on the side or have a salad with it or carrot sticks or fruit – canned or fresh. When our garden is producing, we use different veggies in season.

Whatever you do, this is a quick and very simple meal to throw together at the last minute.  Not to mention cheap.  This meal can cost as little as $5.  It feeds 6-8 of us, so that’s less than $1 per person.  I cut it into 12 pieces.  The little kids generally only eat one, older people one or two.  It’s very high protein so very filling.  With a veggie or salad and maybe a slice of bread with butter, it’ll go even farther.   Give it a try one night and let me know what fun combinations you’ve come up with!