Scone love….

They say that the way to win a man’s heart is to go through his stomach….  In my house, heart winning comes from the oven and straight to the heart.

I. love. baking.  I am one of those gals that at the first hint of cool weather the flour starts to fly.  The smell of cookies, scones, breads and cakes will be found wafting through the house as the temperature outside starts to fall.

Today I was inspired to weave an essential fall flavor into my scones-of- amazingness.  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did….

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups Flour

3 Tbs Sugar

1 Tbs Baking Powder

5 Tbs cold Butter, cut into pieces

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp ginger

1/2 cup Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 cup Heavy Cream

Glaze: 1/2 powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1 Tbs water

Mix first 8 ingredients together in your food processor. Pulse 15 times.

Turn into a large bowl and set aside.

Mix the pumpkin filling and heavy cream together and add to dry ingredients.

Turn mixture onto floured surface and press into a 9 inch circle.

 Cut into 8 wedges, and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

 Frost with the glaze while hot.

Beat back family members to keep them from eating them all while they are still too hot!

Happy Baking!

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Turkey Stew

Made this the other day on a whim actually. (read that as, had leftover turkey in the fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad)

It turned out well enough that I am willing to share it with you all.  Hubby and the kids loved it, so it is an all around thumbs up.

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Gather up the following items

1/3 cup flour
3 Tablespoons of Butter/Bacon Drippings/Vegetable Oil  (Whatever is on hand!)
6 cups water
3-4 cups cooked turkey,cubed
5 full sized carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
4 ribs of celery, chopped into chunks ……..1 medium onion, chopped
10 medium potatoes, roughly peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons Chicken Bouillon
Pepper to Taste

Now here is how you throw it together.

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Melt the Butter/Drippings/whatever you have over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, forming a rue.  Don’t brown it.  You just want to cook it for a few minutes to take the raw flour taste out of it.

Add in the water, slowly at first, whisking continually to make sure you don’t get any lumps.  Lumps are bad.  As the mixture incorporates, you can add the water at a more rapid pace.  Still whisking as you go.

Add in the Bouillon.

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This is the one that I use.  It is an ingredient of greatness.  Allow the flour/butter/water mixture to continue to simmer until it has come to a full boil.  This is where all your thickening will happen.  Rush this and you will have a burnt pan.  Be patient, you will have a velvety thick stew base.  Whisk this every-so-often as it comes to a boil.

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While that Rue is thickening.  Get to choppin’.  I roughly peeled the potatoes to give the stew that rustic appeal.  I add these right to the Rue as soon as it has come to a boil.

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Chop the carrots into bite sized chunks.  Buy those bags with the big ones!  They are so much cheaper than those little peeled nubs they try to tell you to feed your kids.  I give the carrots and potatoes their own private 10 minute head start in the pool.  They are the hardest veggies in the dish and they just need some more time to soften

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Reduce the Heat a bit to Medium Low/ Low after the carrots and potatoes have had their moment.  Grab your onion and celery and chop those up too. I use the celery leaves too.  They just add more flavor to the stew. Add some pepper now and taste the broth to see if you like the flavor.  Now is the time to adjust, not at the table.   Add in Turkey too… don’t forget the Turkey!

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After everyone is in the tub, let it all simmer together for about 30 or so minutes more.  Or until the vegetables reach your idea of done.

We paired this with some jalapeno bread sticks.  YUM!

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Happy Eating!

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BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Yet another crock pot recipe to bring your way.  September is back to school for nearly everyone so it is nice to have a few easy recipes that can cook all day and free you up to focus on other things. Even for those whose school days are long past….  It is still nice to come home to a house full of delicious aromas and know that all the hard part of cooking has been done.

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You will need

a hunk of meat…  I use chuck roast or arm roast.

and

a 12 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce  ( or in my case, whichever is on sale for 98 cents.)

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Place it in your slow cooker and let it simmer on low all day (8 hours).  If you forgot that you had to feed your family dinner until you remembered at lunch  ( don’t laugh… this happens to me…)  crank it up to High and let it go for about 5 hours.

Shred the meat and return to the sauce, and serve on some sort of roll.

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This is a perfect time to use left over hamburger or hot dog rolls.  You could use hoagie rolls or onion rolls or plain ole’ regular bread.  Use what you have. Be creative.

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See, we used a plain ole’ hot dog bun that was in the freezer from the last big cook out we had here. 

 

Enjoy and Happy Eating!

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Chili Verde

This meal is a staple in this house.  I get teased for how often I recommend it to people, but really, I can’t think of anything easier than this recipe.

Out of curiosity I went and searched the name Chili Verde, to see how complicated other people are making it.  I found one that was over 20 ingredients!  Who has time for that?  Not this girl.

So welcome to my easy recipe for it. 

1 package pork butt or pork shoulder roast.  ( where I live they have a cut of pork in the store called carnitas.  I buy this cut often because it is half the cost of a shoulder roast )

1 jar of your favorite green salsa.

That is all.

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put both in a crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on High for 4-6.  Shred the meat and eat.

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We usually serve it on tostada shells or tortillas, with our favorite taco fixings.

 

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It tastes great and feeds an army.  If you have a smaller family freeze some of the portions for a later time in the month when you have a hectic day. 

Happy Eating!

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salsa chicken

Sometimes I am teased for my cooking…. not in that “Oh my goodness I can never eat there again”, sort of way, but in a “how in the world did you think of making THAT? ” kind of way.  I often throw things together, I rarely measure things out with spoons and cups….  I eyeball everything and taste as I go.

…..this anomaly boggles the minds of my friends.

I just want everyone to know that most of my meals are NOT born out of some amazing, chef-like, next food network star sort of ability to just piece flavors together. Nor do I sit and pour over cookbooks to get just the perfect recipe.    …. most of my recipes are born from desperation.  The “oh man, I have no idea what is for dinner, it is 2 pm, and there is absolutely nothing quick to cook.”  That kind of desperation is what I am talking about.

I have found that the key to becoming a great desperation cook is buying whole food staples.  If you don’t ever have rice on hand, or chicken in the freezer…. or a bag or two of noodles and some tomatoes and pepperoni, maybe, if you don’t buy onions, celery and carrots…..you are going open the fridge and think there is nothing for dinner.   But for me…. all those things up there are two dinners and a side dish.

Thursday night I needed some way to dress up a chicken.  I didn’t want to bake it… because, well, I don’t have air conditioning and I live where it is 1000 degrees outside, which makes it about 900 degrees inside my house, without the oven on, so,…the oven was staying OFF!

Since I don’t have a roaster pan, the next logical choice is the crock…. so out it comes.  Next I am on to finding a sauce.  I haven’t been to the store in over a week, and before that, in over 3 weeks.  So really there is nothing in there but condiments and garden veggies…. I look through the fridge with that…. hmmmmmm sort of face. I open and close the door a few times hoping that something will appear in there miraculously.

I zeroed in on the salsa in the door… hmmm not enough. Oh wait! I have some bottles of taco sauce and that will stretch the salsa a bit to make a sauce for the whole family to have with the chicken.  Wa~la dinner was born.

For Salsa Chicken……You will need:

1 whole chicken OR enough of the boneless skinless parts of your choice to feed your crew

1 jar of salsa (or in my case a half bottle of salsa and whatever else you find)

1/2 teaspoon of Salt

A few twirls of the pepper grinder

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook on High for 2-4 hours if meat is thawed.  Cook on low for 5 hours if chicken is frozen.

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So I salted and peppered and garlic-ed my bird. Covered it with the Green and Red Taco Sauce, and the Salsa…. and cranked it up to high, it was nearly two p.m. and dinner was breathing down my neck.

At 4 p.m. I turned the chicken down to low, and started the rice.

1 16 ounce bag of brown rice

5 1/2 cups of water

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 cups of celery chopped

1 cup of shredded carrots

1/4 cup of chopped onion

Bring water to a boil, add other ingredients, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 min or until water is absorbed.

The chicken. You might notice that it is whole, you know, the WITH bones kind.  In the land of fast food, I realize that some people may not even know what to do with a whole bird.  I also understand that maybe not all moms were like mine and made a whole chicken slathered in French dressing, Every. Single. Wednesday night of my youth….. and this fact alone makes me better versed than most on how to carve a chicken.

It is possible your mom only bought chicken pieces all your life…..and if you someday find yourself in possession of a whole bird and you are headed for a panic attack… fear not.  There are tutorials, for everything, on YouTube.  Here is one I liked for learning how to carve a bird.  (A note to the newbies.  It is easier to do the first few times on a cooked chicken!)

Ok… where was I?  Oh yeah, finishing the chicken…..

So, I took the chicken out of the crock and carved it up and put it back in the sauce while the rice finished off.  To plate, I put the rice on the bottom, two more turns of the pepper mill, and then two to three spoonful’s of the salsa, and the chicken.

And here is the end result.

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Topped with a bit of green tomato and fresh grated carrot…..  it was quite delicious for a thrown together dinner.

 

Happy eating!

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Garlic Cilantro Chicken

I really enjoy the summer time. 

The heat outside is tempered by the knowledge that farm fresh food is available; everything from chicken to herbs and veggies can be found at my local farmer’s market.

One of my favorite vendors at the Pasco Farmer’s Market is The Happy Lil Homestead . They have hormone and antibiotic free; pork, chicken and eggs.  Trust me, you have never tasted meat and eggs like this!  So delicious!

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I was inspired, this week, to cook one of their delicious chickens and share the recipe with you. It was really easy and melt in your mouth good.

~~ The Prep ~~

I thawed the chicken out the day before cooking.  When it was thawed I placed it into a large bowl, covering it with water.  To the water I added:

2 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon of Dried Rosemary ( Fresh would be great, mine just isn’t grown enough yet!)

2 cloves of grated Garlic

I let the chicken sit breast side down in this brine overnight until cooking time the next day.

~~ Cooking Day ~~

When it was time to roast the chicken, I removed it from, and discarded the brine. I patted it dry and set it in my roasting pan.

On Saturday, I had picked up fresh cilantro and garlic from the Farmers Market, and they were perfect compliment to this beautiful bird.

To my food processor I added the entire leafy section of a bunch of cilantro, a teaspoon of Kosher Salt, and about an entire head of salad garlic cloves ( They are smaller heads than grocery stores. If you use grocery store garlic, maybe 6-8 cloves would work. )

The food processor did a great job of grinding it up into a nice paste.

Stuff the cilantro mixture under the skin of the breast of the chicken rub it over the sides and put the remaining bits into the cavity of the bird.

Cut some potatoes into fourths and season them with salt and pepper, and add them to the pan.

Roast the chicken and potatoes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. ( depending on the weight of your chicken, it may take over and hour to cook.)

Try not to drool to much while it cooks.

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Enjoy!

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The Breakfast Cookie

breakfast cookie

I love to cook…. but some days I really don’t wanna cook.  (can you hear the whine?)

This has led me to the cookbook section of the library, in the quest to find a few meals to be able to cook up and have nearly complete in the freezer, for those hot summer days when cooking dinner is the absolute last thing I want to do. 

While I was looking for these new dinners to fix, I stumbled across a recipe for a breakfast cookie. I thought, how great is that?!? to have breakfast ready too?!

The original recipe contained peanut butter, and while I am sure it was fabulous tasting, I know there are so many people out there with nut allergies that I wanted to see if I could come up with something for them to have ready to go in the freezer too.

After some thinking, and wandering the isles of the grocery stores for ingredients that were nut free, this is what I came up with, and yesterday I actually made them.  Even more surprising… is my kids won’t stop eating them.  The bigger kids have offered up additional ingredients to add in, and I will list their suggestions for you as well.

Breakfast Cookies 

1 and 1/2 cups of cream cheese

1 cup of butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup of jam ( I used peach because that was what was in the fridge.  apricot, strawberry, raspberry, boysenberry would all work just fine)

1/4 cup molasses ( could use honey, but this will make for a more pale colored cookie )

4 large eggs ( 5 if all you have is mediums)

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract.

4 cups old fashioned oats

4 cups whole wheat flour ( or potato or rice flour if there are gluten allergies )

1 cup of dry milk ( works out to be one 3.2 ounce package )

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt

In your mixer combine the first 7 ingredients.  When well combined, add in remaining ingredients.  Batter should be slightly thick and sticky.  Scoop out cookies with a 1/4 cup measuring cup, and use a spatula to plop it onto an ungreased cookie sheet.   Sort of pat them into a flatter, but still thick shaped blob.  Bake at 350 for 13-16 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

makes about 3 dozen cookies.

When cool, place in labeled freezer bags with layers of waxed paper between the cookies.  To eat, just take them out and let them thaw for a quick breakfast on the go.

The Extras

before baking you can mix in any or all of the following ingredients:

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup golden raisins

and if you don’t have a family with nut allergies, then adding in some walnuts, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds…. would all be wonderful, in 1 cup measurements.

 

The Trade

While the trade from Peanut Butter to Cream Cheese doesn’t have the same amount of protein, it does have much less fat.  I thought about using a soy substitute, and that would have worked just fine, I am just not a fan of how much soy is snuck into our food, I didn’t want to intentionally add it if I could find a workable solution with another food.

I hope you try out a batch of these great and filling cookies.  Feel free to stop back in and let me know how you liked them.

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Rice

You know, it’s funny the things that are said early on in a marriage and they just stick with you.  In this instance the subject is rice.

You see, until last week, I thought my husband hated rice. Early on in our marriage he sort of sighed this exaggerated sigh when I told him what we were having for dinner one night.  He went on to explain that when he was overseas in the military he ate enough rice, to never want to eat rice again. Being the intuitive wife that I am…..  I got the message and the rice eating in our menus went down to less than once a month.

No biggie, I thought, I can live without rice.

Now, here we are 10 years later.  I started to miss rice.  Not to mention that it is such an economical way to add a starch into a meal.  I jumped back into the pool with cooking brown rice.  I figured overseas he had white boring sticky rice…. and well brown rice tasted different.  Right?  I worked hard to flavor my rice, I cooked it in chicken broth, added onions or other spices to the broth to brighten and broaden the flavor profiles of the meal.

He ate it, but never really raved about it.  So I figured he still didn’t like rice, but he was being a good daddy and politely eating it in front of the kids.

Last week we went out on a date and ended up at PF Chang’s ( thanks Chad!) and when the waiter asked if we wanted rice, I cringed, knowing my husband’s aversion. 

But he ordered brown rice.

I pretended not to be shocked.

As we were eating, he tasted the rice, and commented on its nutty rich flavor.  He then went on to say it was good, “But not as good as your rice, babe.”  I threw him a look that contained much eye rolling and a look that said, “ Oh, brother…”  I reminded him how much he detested rice.

He explained that he did, or rather used to.  He told me that I added flavor to rice, and that made all the difference. 

It only took 10 years for me to figure it out.  HA!

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Here is a little recipe I use for “Spanish” rice.  It is really easy, and it isn’t red and tomato-ey.

2 cups white long grain rice

1 – 10 ounce can Green Enchilada Sauce

In a 4 cup measuring cup, pour the contents of the can of Green Enchilada Sauce.  Add water to the cup to make 4 cups of liquid.

Cook rice as directed on package.

(this rice is pictured on the final photo in Braised BBQ Short Ribs)

Enjoy!

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Braised BBQ Short Ribs

When we decided to go in with some friends and purchase half a cow to feed our family,  I was faced with learning how to cook parts of this animal that I had never before been introduced to.

 

One such cut was the Short Ribs.  I grew up on Pork Ribs; Spare, Baby Back, or little Rib-lets, all cooked slow and low over smoky coals until the meat nearly falls of the bone.  Though it was never really said, the crinkled nose and squint that my mother produced when Beef Ribs were mentioned (it sort of looked like she had just smelled sour milk), led me to believe they were some inferior, flavorless drivel in comparison to Spare Ribs.

 

Fast Forward a zillion years, and I have a freezer with a bunch of packages marked Short Ribs, and not a clue how to fix them, and more than a little trepidation on how they will taste.

 

My first attempt at cooking them came from inspiration found on a blog called The Cow Queen.  Her recipe for Crock Pot Short Ribs was simply fantastic.  Light, sweet, flavorful, and falling off the bone, finger licking good.  I suggest you try it!  It created a great gravy that was good on the grits as she cooked it or equally yummy on mashed potatoes.

Confidant now that Short Ribs could indeed be used for more than dog food, I set out to create a BBQ version of my own.

…. and here is how it goes…..

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I started with 10- 12 short ribs.  They were thawed enough for me to pull them apart, but they were still pretty frozen.  I took 1 cup of flour and placed it in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. To the flour I added 2 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper.  I shook it up to combine, and added the Ribs in small batches. Shaking to coat them completely.

 

On the stove I heated up a few Tbsp. of Corn oil, and placed the ribs in them to brown. 

 

While the first batch was browning, I cut up a medium sized onion and added it to the bottom of my crock pot.

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At this point the kitchen is starting to smell pretty fabulous, and the kids are starting to wander in and ask what is for dinner.  It is always a good thing to have them salivating over the thought of dinner at 10 in the morning Smile.

 

I kept working in batches until all the ribs were coated, browned and in the pot.  At one point the leftover flour that was in the oil became too dark, and was in essence burning, so I poured it out and started fresh.  (So, don’t be afraid to change your oil out if you need to.)

 

Now for the BBQ part of the dish.  It can be easy, or…. more complicated.  On this day, I didn’t have any “easy” in my fridge, so it was more complicated.  I will share both options with you, so you can decide what version best fits your style of cooking.

 

The Easy Option.  ~ when the meat has been browned, pour in a 1/2 a can of coke to the bottom of the crock pot, after that, pour over a small bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  cover and cook on High for 5-6 hours. 

 

The “What You Do When You Decide to Make BBQ Ribs and Don’t Have BBQ Sauce in the Fridge” Option  ~

3-6 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. yellow Mustard

1/4 to a 1/2 cup Catsup

1/2 to a 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic ~ minced

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

 

Wisk all that up, and you have a pretty tasty BBQ sauce.  Make sure you taste it and adjust the flavors to your liking.  I was just randomly pouring things into a bowl and tasting as I went.  The above measurements are pretty flexible, I have a friend that tells me I am like the Rat in Ratatouille, always mixing things by taste….  so make adjustments if you need to for flavoring.

Still add the 1/2 a can of coke…..Cover and Cook on High for 5-6 hours.

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When it is all said and done.  They will fall off the bone….. YUM!

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Enjoy!

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Got Eggs?

We have friends with a farm………..

The Happy Lil Homestead has some chickens that make some tasty eggs.

Thanks to these great little layers, I have roughly 7 1/2 dozen eggs in my fridge right now, and that means I am looking for tasty new ways to eat eggs.  Let’s face it, one can only eat so many fried or scrambled eggs.

At first I thought frittata.  ( Eggs baked in a large skillet in the oven )
Good idea, but the pan isn’t really big enough to feed a family of 6 and I am looking to use more than 4 eggs in a meal.

Then there is the ever present quiche…..baked eggs in a crust…..   I am married to a kill it and grill it kind of guy…..  If I told him we were having quiche for dinner….. he might,  well……..  lets just say there would be much scoffing and laughter.

That was my mission….figure out how to bake some eggs up…. use at least 18 in the dish, make the meal meat-eating-man friendly………..and keep the teenager from trolling the cupboards again in 30 minutes.

Here is what I whipped up…. 

Set the oven to 400 and leave it to pre-heat.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 glass pan.  Grease it good now, you don’t want the eggs to stick!

Fry up a pound or so of your favorite sausage.  Set that aside to cool for a bit.

Crack up a bazillion eggs (18 -20) into a big mixing bowl.

Give your 8 year old the whisk and tell him to get at it.  Remind him not to spill.

As he is taking out all his wiggles on the eggs….

grate up about a cup of cheddar cheese.

throw it in the bowl with the eggs…tell him to keep mixing…

pour in about a cup of milk into the bowl….  yup… have him keep mixing

( at this point you really could add other things your family likes… mushrooms, cilantro, onions, spinach, some hash browns…. whatever sounds good )

the eggs should be good and mixed about the time the 8 year old tells you that his arm is going to fall off if he has to keep whisking….

Slowly add in the cooled sausage… a bit of salt and pepper, and you guessed it…..  tell him he is on the home stretch…. just a little more mixing
……….just when you have decided his arm might really fall off….
Pour the mixture into the pre-greased pan.

Bake at 400 for about 35 minutes…. ( when I bake eggs like this I use some steam to help.  I place my broiler pan with a cup or so of water in it… on the rack right below my pan of eggs…  this keeps my eggs from drying out when they are cooking…. nobody likes dusty, dried out eggs ! )

See, like this……

after 35 minutes, top dinner with more grated cheese….
Why?…
……… because you can.
and melted cheese is really yummy….. now put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so….

Take it out, cut into squares and eat …. careful not to burn the roof of your mouth…. because that really hurts.

Enjoy!!!!!!!

( P.S.  I guess it is still technically a frittata…. just in a family friendly sized pan.)

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