By Sunday evening, the mere idea of dinner seems dull. What to do when you just don't want to cook? You could eat out, but why strain the budget for a mundane meal? Besides, going to a restaurant tired, under must-do conditions, tends to be more stressful than cooking.
When Alicia and I were discussing this dilemma, we started reminiscing about what our mothers used to fix on Sunday nights. In the South in those days, our families gathered after church for a huge lunch, which we called Sunday dinner. Sunday's evening meal was "supper" the simpler the better for our tuckered-out moms. (Going out wasn't even an option for my family since the only restaurant in our one-stoplight town was closed.)
Sometimes my mom would whip up pizza out of a box. (She switched to frozen when it became available years later.) I can also remember Sunday suppers of oyster stew, grilled-cheese sandwiches or creamed chipped beef on toast. (Stouffer's still makes frozen creamed chipped beef, and we're posting our fixed-up version from the "Desperation Dinners!" cookbook at www.desperationdinners.com.)
Menu suggestion: Fancy Egg Scramble Supper
Already-cooked bacon strips
Start to finish: 15 minutes
1 large onion (for about 1 cup chopped) (see Cook's note)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
6 fresh button mushrooms (for about 1 cup slices)
1/2 red or green bell pepper (for about 1/2 cup pieces)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt, such as Lawry's
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon water or milk
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
Cook's note: While the vegetable pieces in this recipe should be bite-size for comfortable eating without using a knife, they should remain fairly large so as to be identifiable and hearty. The size does not need to be uniform or exact, however.
Most any cheese you like works well, with the possible exception of blue cheeses. We especially enjoy Swiss, cheddar and Parmesan. A combination can also be used.
Peel the onion and chop it into fairly large, bite-size pieces (see Cook's note). Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, while rinsing and cutting the mushrooms into thick slices. Add them to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, while rinsing and seeding the bell pepper half. Cut it into large, bite-size pieces. Add them to the skillet.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, and sprinkle the seasoning salt and black pepper over the vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the mushrooms begins to evaporate and the onions are just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes more. While the vegetables cook, break the eggs into a medium mixing bowl, add the water or milk, and whisk well.
Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and the garlic to the skillet. Stir for about 15 seconds until the oil begins to get hot. Shake the skillet to distribute the vegetables evenly. Add the eggs to the skillet, and shake the skillet again if necessary to distribute the vegetables. Do not stir the eggs until they just begin to set around the edges, about 15 seconds. Cook, stirring gently and scraping the bottom of the skillet to make sure the cooked eggs don't stick. Push the cooked portions of the eggs toward the center of the skillet, and shake the skillet to distribute the uncooked portions. (The goal is to allow cooked portions of the eggs to clump and hold together. If you stir too vigorously, the eggs will get mushy.)
Cook in this manner until the eggs are still moist but almost completely cooked, about 2 minutes total. Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the skillet, and cover it. Let the skillet stand for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. (The eggs will continue to cook during standing.) Serve at once.
Yield: 4 servings.
Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact them at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. Or visit the Desperation Dinners Web site at www.desperationdinners.com. © Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. Dist. by United Feature Syndicate Inc.