Fall is definitely in the air lately! And once the weather starts to cool down, and leaves begin changing, my mind turns to all sorts of great things about this season: hot apple cider, a trek through the Smokies to Cades Cove, and anything APPLES!
A few years ago, I also dove into the world of cast-iron cooking. We were still living in Italy at the time, and had come home for Thanksgiving to visit. We rented a cabin in Pigeon Forge, and had both families come for the big meal! We also had an after-dinner, early-Christmas gift for everyone (when we announced that we were pregnant with Monkey #2)! It was during this trip that I picked up my first cast-iron skillet at the Lodge Outlet. Being a foodie, I had always wanted to learn to cook in one. It turns out I was also anemic with #2, and even worse with #3, so it has become my go-to method!
Honestly, I don’t even use a traditional skillet any more. Seasoned correctly, cast iron is naturally nonstick, and the flavor is out of this world! There is just something about a cast iron-cooked meal! I now have three of them (a 9inch skillet, and 12inch skillet, and a 9inch flat pan), and barely use anything else except the occasional pot for rice or similar. You can make entire meals in a large skillet, and I often do just that!
Feel free to check out our Pinterest account, where we have a board called, “Yummy Recipes!” I have pinned a lot about the benefits of cast iron cooking, as well as care instructions (it’s not that hard – if I can do it, anyone can), and some ah-mazing recipes! Here are two of my favorites:
Skillet Apple Crisp
(I have adapted the Betty Crocker recipe for my own use)
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
5 granny smith apples, peeled/cored/sliced
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup quick oats
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
Put 1 Tbsp of the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet and allow to melt in a warm oven (200-250 degrees Fahrenheit), making sure to get it up the sides of the pan as well. Once coated, arrange apples in the skillet until almost filled. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, oats, and spices. Blend in the rest of the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the oat mix on top of the apples and spread evenly, making sure NOT to pack it. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes, or until the apples are no longer tough (insert a fork or toothpick anywhere to test).
I like to drizzle caramel over the top as soon as it comes out of the oven, and serve it with vanilla ice cream.
Tender, Juicy Chicken Breasts
If you want to make to-die-for tender, juicy chicken breasts, use a skillet! I always sauté some onions first, then brown the breasts on all sides to seal in the juices. Once they’re brown, put the onions on top of the chicken, then toss the entire pan in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until your meat thermometer reads 165F or more. The closer you can get it to the 165-170F range, the juicier it will be. Take it from a self-proclaimed “food nerd:” a meat thermometer is your best friend. You’ll never overcook meat again (unless you forget about it – mommy brain, lol).
Do you have any favorite cast iron skillet recipes? Share with us in the comments!