These delightful morsels are a full breakfast in an adorable nest shape. With cheesy hash browns on the outside and a baked/shirred egg or mini-quiche filling inside, they make a delicious breakfast, brunch, or snack. You can freeze and reheat them too!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray 4 muffin cups with oil or brush with butter.
Mix the dried off hash browns and about 1/3 cup of the cheese together with a couple of good turns of freshly ground pepper.
Cook for 30 minutes. The nests should crisp up at the top. If any start to droop, take the muffin tin out of the oven and press them up against the walls of the muffin cup with the back of a spoon.
If you are making the mini quiche version, while the nests are baking, warm the oil or butter in a small pan, add the onion and pepper. Saute for about 5-8 minutes, then add the chopped spinach and cook for about 2 minutes, just until the spinach is wilted. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs with a bit of water or milk.
Once the nests are set, lower the oven to 375. Then fill each nest with an egg cracked into it for the baked/shirred version, or with a quarter of the vegetables if doing the mini quiche, followed by the egg mixture. In either event, top with a bit more cheese and bake for an additional 13 minutes. (See note regarding baking time for plain eggs.)
Once the nests are done, take them out of the oven and let them sit for 2 minutes before running a sharp knife around the edges and gently removing them from the muffin cups.
Once plated, add the chopped scallion as a garnish and serve.
In the mini quiche version, half of the space in the muffin cups is taken up by the sauteed vegetables, so you use only half as much egg.
The Kitchn suggests that you bake the eggs for the baked/shirred version as follows depending on how you like them:
12-15 minutes for runny yolks,
15-18 minutes for soft cooked, and
I found that 13 minutes followed by a 2 minute rest (while the egg still cooks a bit in the hot muffin cup) yields a yolk that is lightly set, not soft cooked.