Skillet Cornbread


Cornbread holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. I went to elementary school in San Antonio, where the cafeteria would serve cornbread the way rest of the country served plain bread.  I also grew up the grandchild of Olga Mae from Noxubee County Mississippi, who made Skillet Cornbread almost every day of her life.  The best part of her Skillet Cornbread was a not so well kept secret in the South – bacon fat.  Olga Mae, like most resourceful Southern women of her time, kept a coffee can full of bacon fat on her kitchen counter that found its way into most of the foods she cooked, especially her Skillet Cornbread.  Why buy butter or oil when you get bacon fat for free every time you cook bacon?  So when I think of my Ultimate Skillet Cornbread, it has to include bacon fat. I’m not saying anyone should go on an all bacon fat diet, just don’t throw it away the next time you cook a few slices.  There’s a cornbread waiting to bake (Read more…)

Seared Salmon in Lemon Dill Cream Sauce

I don’t recall eating a lot of fish in my childhood.  I know I had fried catfish when I visited Grandma Olga Mae in Mississippi.  I remember my brother and I lying that we caught some rainbow trout in Yellowstone (we paid a guy five bucks for his) and our mom cooking it.  I also recall my mom catching a bucket full of sun perch in Canyon Lake, Texas when I was a kid, but I think I was too traumatized by her killing them by hitting their heads on a rock to remember  if I ate any.  So yeah, other than whatever fish they use in the Fish and Chips at Long John Silvers, I really don’t remember a lot of fish in my life.

And then I moved to Oregon and ate salmon.  Oh my, The Salmon.  My gateway fish.  The fish that opened the the flood gates for fish to enter my life.  And still my absolute favorite fish to cook and eat.  This recipe is kind of an homage to the Parmesan Baked Salmon  my oldest daughter loved from The Mesquitery in Hood River, Oregon.  It’s lightened up with lemon juice and fresh herbs, but I think she’ll like it.  I think you will too! (Read more…)

Mini Cast Iron Dutch Babies

I love breakfast.  I really, really do.  Sometimes I want something savory, like biscuits and gravy or anything with bacon.  Sometimes I want something sweet, like pancakes or waffles (and also bacon).  One problem:  when I wake up, I usually just want my cup of coffee and breakfast to magically materialize in front of me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook.  You know this about me.  But there are those mornings, you know the ones, where it would sure be awesome to have someone to take care of those little details for you.  Well, these fluffy Dutch babies are a compromise.   Dusted with powdered sugar and filled with citrus marinated fruit, they take only 10 minutes of hands-on time and bake up in a mere 20 minutes.  They’re also easy enough for someone else to make for you, and they take just enough time for you to drink enough coffee to make you… nice to be around.  (Read more…)

Individual Tomato Tarts

I thought I hated tomatoes (I’m not crazy about red sauces either, except my mom’s spaghetti sauce and my own marinara 😋).  I’m not alone.  In fact, I hear variations of “I hate tomatoes” from a lot of people.  I think the actual problem is most people haven’t eaten fresh tomatoes.  The ones we get from the Mega Market don’t count.  Those are unripened tomatoes, shipped from who knows where, that are then force ripened using SCIENCE 👩🏻‍🔬🧪!   But I live in New Jersey!  Don’t laugh.  It’s called The Garden State for a reason and we are famous for our… wait for it… TOMATOES 🍅  At first I was skeptical.  I was as afraid of eating tomatoes someone had grown as I was to eat fish caught in the Hudson River.  But the difference between Mega Market tomatoes and home grown or farm fresh tomatoes is unbelievable.  Game changer.  And I use them with amazing results in these Individual Tomato Tarts.  But I’m still not eating Hudson River fish (Read more…)

Mixed Fruit and Basil Crumble

Have you ever opened the fruit drawer in your refrigerator and seen a sad assortment of fruit that has been left behind and forgotten in their little plastic containers?  A dozen raspberries, five or six strawberries (looking a little sad), a handful of cherries, or a slightly wrinkled peach? You could blitz it all together into a smoothie (which, I understand, some people enjoy 😖) or you could pull together this quick and easy Mixed Fruit Crumble!  The combination of the tart and jammy fruit filling with the buttery and crispy crumble topping is impossible to resist! With addition of basil in the fruit filling, and a final touch of vanilla ice cream, I’m gonna start purposely ‘forgetting’ I have fruit in the fridge all the time!  (Read more…)

Rosemary-Garlic Focaccia Bread

In my mind, there is a bread hierarchy.  What?!  Yes.  I’ll say it again – there is a bread hierarchy.  If you are part of an Italian-American family (I married into this madness) and you’re having a bowl of pasta with meatballs and marinara, you need a nice hunk of crusty bread to sop up the extra sauce and to move the noodles onto your fork (don’t get me started on using a spoon to twirl the noodles. They almost cast me out of the family for that 🙄).  White Italian or crusty semolina, maybe a hard roll in the morning – these were the breads of my husband’s childhood dinner table.  I ate the bread.  I liked the bread.  But I had never heard of or even seen the ultimate Italian bread until we moved away from the family.  We went to a beautiful little Italian restaurant in Oregon, and they gave us slices of light airy bread, sprinkled with bits of rosemary, and served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a dish on the side (not a truly Italian way to serve it, but when NOT in Rome…).  This was definitely not the bread my Mother-in-law had on her table.  This was FANCY bread.  Going out to dinner bread.  Bread that would disappear from our table in just a few minutes, leaving a sad crumb filled basket on our table and little girls staring up at the waiter, with big eyes, looking all Dickensian, “Please sir.  I want some more.”  This was Focaccia. (Read more…)

Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie™

Sometimes you want a cookie.  Sometimes the thought of making that cookie, using who knows HOW MANY bowls,  SO MANY utensils, creaming things, chilling stuff, scooping (so much scooping), then – oh no they’re too flat, too puffy… AAAHHHH!!! YOU JUST WANT COOKIE IN YOUR MOUTH.

It’s going to be okay.  I’m here to help.  Let’s just stop the madness for a minute.  Let’s just mix everything in a bowl, put it in a pan and bake it.  It will taste just like a cookie, but will look like a slice of pie, because it’s Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie™ (I just made that up, but the trademark symbol is kinda cute, huh?) (Read more…)