While some people go out for fancy dinners on Valentine’s Day night, or cook fancy meals like steak and lobster tails, I made truck stop food humble food.

However, my husband loves eggs, love potatoes, and since he surprised me, I wanted to surprise him and to him, this is a lobster tail. Well, almost, but you know what I mean.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole

I’m frequently asked why I don’t photograph our dinners more often or feature more savory or dinnertime food on my site and the reason is that frequently, dinner is a simple entree, paired with a salad.

Not “bad” but I don’t know if the world cares about eggs and potato casseroles, so I typically refrain.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole

And then there’s the issue of lighting…

At 4pm (and with the help of Lightroom 3 editing), the lighting is acceptable, and this is what the casserole looked like before I baked it. However, by the time dinner is actually served, the lighting is usually sub-par making it hard to take pictures that are useable, even after massive editing and color tweaking.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole before baking

The spinach added a nice pop, both in flavor and in color to otherwise neutral food. It doesn’t get more white-colored and neutral-tasting than potatoes and eggs, and I like to incorporate veggies as often as possible. For once, I do live up to my blog’s name.

And I tossed in some kick and heat, too. Cayenne or hot pepper jelly is great for the sinuses and as a way to jazz up those hum-drum eggs ‘n taters before baking.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole before baking

This is humble and honest food; this is not fancy. This is dinner on Tuesday; this is not the French Laundry.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole

But sometimes the basics are just what the doctor ordered truck driver ordered.

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Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

3 eggs

3 cups hash browns (I used Simply Potatoes that I had in the freezer)

1 1/2 cups spinach (I did not thaw it first, just tossed in the frozen flakes)

3 tablespoons olive oil, drizzled (or melted butter or margarine, drizzled)

salt and pepper, to taste

pinch chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion powder, Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, Tabasco Sauce droplets, hot pepper jelly, optional and to taste

1/2 cup carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, onions, corn, or any vegetable that needs to be used or your have on hand, optional

1/2 cup shredded cheese, optional

ketchup drizzle, optional

Preheat oven to 375F and spray a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray. Crack eggs into the baking dish and lightly beat them with a fork. Add all remaining ingredients and any optional ingredients and swirl them into the eggs, dispersing them evenly. Place baking dish on top of a cookie sheet if needed for stability, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, covered. If your baking dish does not have a lid, you may wish to cover it with foil so the top doesn’t burn before the rest is cooked through.  I removed the lid and baked for 20 additional minutes, uncovered, to brown the top very slightly (25 minutes covered + 20 minutes uncovered = 45 minutes total baking time) Optionally, top with cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking. Cooking times will vary based on size of baking dish and amount of vegetables used. Remove from oven when edges are just beginning to brown and pull away slightly from the sides of the dish. Slice and serve immediately, with ketchup drizzled over the top if desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and serve them either cold or reheated, for up to two days, using common sense.

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After three years of not showcasing a savory egg dish on my site, I’ve done it twice in one week by kicking off the week with a Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata.

Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata

I can promise that three times in one week will not be a charm.

Spicy Baked Eggs and Hash Brown Casserole

You’re safe if you’re not as big of an egg fan as my husband is because I’m fresh out of eggs. I blame it on all the baking I did yesterday.

And I’m also fresh out of the Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Pink Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting now, too.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Pink Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

They were our Valentine’s Day dessert and I’d like to think they look a little fancier than the casserole, but truthfully, I make bars whenever possible instead of cookies because they’re easier and faster.

Do you have any weeknight staple dinners or favorites?

In general, do you prefer fancy food or more basic food?

I can appreciate fancy food and I love going out for fancy dinners when the time is right.  But at 6:37pm on a weeknight with hungry mouths to feed, that’s not the time for fancy. That’s a time for have a gameplan, get it done and on the table quickly, and the basics are where it’s at.

Thanks for the Peanut Butter Cheerios Giveaway entries

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