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SKILLET RECIPES--Simple, Soulful & Satisfying--plus a skillet folk tale!

SKILLET RECIPES--Simple, Soulful & Satisfying--plus a skillet folk tale!

by Virginia Campbell    


Skillets and Dutch Ovens are wonderfully versatile cooking pans. Whether they are old-fashioned cast iron, the latest nonstick technology, or somewhere in-between, they are indispensable when it comes to creating fabulous food! I collect books, cookbooks, and cookware, both old and new. I don’t really need more of any of those things, but reading and cooking are an essential part of my nature. The area in which I live is full of antique shops, thrift stores, and second-hand shops–and there is always a treasure to be found! I am always on the lookout for a find, and sometimes the cooking pot will come from one place, and the lid will come from another. Old cookbooks often contain little notes or cut out recipes and other things that some previous owner tucked inside. I buy things that I will use, including cooking utensils and kitchen gadgets. There are many useful and non-electronic kitchen items which some clever person thought of decades ago, and I thank them for it! I often wonder about the previous users of my collected items, and I hope that they were happy when they were cooking and working in the kitchen.


I have several favorite dishes that I make with pork & onions. Pork chops fried with onions–make a wonderful gravy from the pan “drippings”–serve with rice or mashed potates, and you must add green beans. Boneless pork spareribs & big sliced onion browned in a big, deep, heavy skillet. When well-browned, add a generous amount of homemade BBQ sauce, set heat to low and cover. Cook on top of stove until meat is fork-tender and falls apart. Serve with buttery cornbread and “cheesey” mashed potates. Add green beans for “health & color”. Spareribs & Sauerkraut: Brown boneless pork spareribs in a large, deep skillet. When well-browned add one large can sauerkraut, one large chopped onion, one or two chopped apples, a generous amount of brown sugar, and a good sprinkle of caraway seeds. Add some water to the sauerkraut can, swirl it a bit, and then add the water to the skillet mixture. Stir carefully to combine. Set heat to low, cover pan, and cook until meat is fork-tender. If additional liquid is needed during cooking, add more water. For more flavor add apple juice–wonderful in cooked sauerkraut. Serve with buttery hot bread, boiled potatoes & green beans.  


Savory Southern-Style Green Beans & Potatoes


1/2 lb. bacon, uncooked, cut in bite-sized pieces 
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups (approximately) of fresh or frozen cut green beans,
2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced 
Chicken stock, to cover

1 tsp. sugar salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste 

If using fresh green beans, remove the ends and snap in half or cut; rinse and set aside. Add the bacon directly into a Dutch Oven and cook over low heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. If using fresh or frozen beans, saute them in the cooked bacon and onion for a bit first, and then add the potatoes to the beans. Pour over enough chicken broth to cover. Add sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let them low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes and beans are tender.


Guilty Pasta:


Boil one pound of spaghetti or linguine until "al dente" or almost done. Drain pasta well, return to pot and cover to keep warm. In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt together over low heat 1 stick of real butter and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Toss in one pound cleaned, peeled, deveined medium shrimp and four smashed, peeled, chopped garlic cloves (or sprinkle liberally with California-style garlic salt, which contains dried parsley). Cook just until shrimp is nicely pink and done, stirring occasionally. Add cooked pasta and combine until mixed well and pasta is coated with butter. Stir in two cups grated Parmesan cheese and mix well. If desired, add a touch of freshly grated black pepper. Serve immediately. Accompany pasta dish with a basic romaine, tomato, onion salad topped with a vinaigrette dressing, real bacon and chunky croutons. Add some hot, fresh Italian or French bread to wipe the plates! Serve with a very well-chilled white or blush wine. Later, much later, a dessert sampler tray with fruit, cheesecake, and lots of assorted wicked chocolates. Served with hot, rich coffee. Much, much later....eat the leftovers!!!




1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can kidney beans
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can pork & beans
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed1 tbsp. steak sauce1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Brown beef with onion and green pepper in a 12" skillet; drain. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Delicious as a main dish served with grilled Texas Toast. Leftovers make great hot dog chili.   


Beautifully Basic Beef Stew

I made a version of beef stew for dinner the other evening. When I make soup, stew, pasta sauce, chili, etc, it's usually a little different each time. I sort of have a basic idea, and then use what's on hand. This time, I used two different cheaper cuts of beef that were well-marbled. I trimmed the excess fat and cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. I browned the meat well in a little olive oil with a large onion for flavor. I let the meat cook down, and then added enough water to the pan to loosen the good bits and make a nice juice. I added several bay leaves, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. I cut up at least one large potato per person into big chunks, and then added some carrots and celery, also in large chunks. The meat is better in smaller pieces, and the veggies are better in larger pieces. This is the point where you add more liquid. Water, beef broth or red wine (or some of each) are best. (One time when making beef stew, I also added a jar of mushroom gravy with some additional water one time, and it was delicious). Simmer stew covered until meat and veggies are tender, adding more liquid if needed. If desired, you can thicken the stew with flour or corn starch which has been blended smooth with a little cold water before stirring it into the hot stew. Remove bay leaves before serving. Stew is pretty basic, and the simpler the better.


Savory Corn Cakes  


1 cup yellow cornmeal;  1/2 cup all purpose flour;  1 teaspoon salt  3/4 teaspoon baking soda; 1/3 teaspoon ground pepper;  2 teaspoon sugar;  2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled;  1 large egg;  1 cup buttermilk;  1 cup fresh corn kernels (frozen or canned would also work);  1/4 cup diced scallions, white parts only (reserve tops for garnish); 1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced;  1 1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese;  2-3 tablespoons olive oil for cooking  

garnish: sour cream, cooked crumbled bacon, finely sliced green onion tops, ripe tomato slices

In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, pepper and sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl combine the melted butter, egg and buttermilk. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil and saute the scallions, jalapeno and corn kernels until cooked through, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Add the corn mixture to the bowl with the buttermilk. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese. Add the contents of this bowl to the larger bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until the batter is just combined. Carefully wipe down the large skillet you used for the scallions with a damp paper towel. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, swirling the oil around to coat the entire pan. Drop the batter onto the skillet 1/4 cup at a time, cooking 2-3 minutes on each side or until the cakes are golden brown. Add more olive oil between batches, if needed. Transfer finished cakes to a paper-towel lined plate and continue cooking the rest of the cakes. Serve warm, topped with sour cream, crumbled cooked bacon, finely sliced green onion tops, and ripe tomato slices.


Bordertown Harvest Stew   


6 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; 1 lb.  butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; 3 pints beef broth; 1 lb. beef top round steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped; 3 cloves  garlic, chopped; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/8 tsp. paprika; 1/8 dried oregano leaves; 1/8 tsp. dried red pepper flakes; salt & pepper to tastes; everal bay leaves; 1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn and carrots)

Bring potatoes, squash and broth to boil in stockpot on medium-high heat; simmer on low heat 10 min. Meanwhile, cook meat, onions and garlic in olive oil in large skillet on medium heat 10 to 15 min. or until meat is evenly browned, stirring occasionally. Add seasonings; cook 5 min., stirring frequently. Add meat mixture to potato mixture in stockpot; stir. Add in bay leaves. Simmer 30 to 40 min, until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in mixed vegetables and simmer 10 min or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves before serving.  


Saucey Turkey Cutlets with Wild Rice  


1 1/2 cups apple juice; 1/4 cup Dijon mustard; 1/4 cup honey; 1 tablespoon cornstarch (dissolve in a small amount of cold water before adding); 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; 1 1/2 pounds turkey cutlets; 1 small green apple, unpeeled, sliced thin; 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin

Combine apple juice, mustard, honey, and cornstarch; set aside. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet until hot. Cook turkey until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add apple and onion; cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in reserved sauce. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes until sauce thickens. If sauce becomes too thick, thin it with additional apple juice. Serve over hot cooked wild rice.


Summer Squash Skillet  


1 tablespoon olive oil; ½ cup chopped onion, yellow or red; 3 cloves garlic, finely minced; 3 medium zucchini, medium-sliced;  3 medium yellow squash, medium-sliced;  2-3 ripe yellow or red tomatoes, chopped; 1 teaspoon sugar; salt & pepper to taste; 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onions being to turn translucent, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, tossing well with the olive oil mixture. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking and stirring about 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini and squash are tender and the tomatoes have softened. Toss the hot mixture with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


Texas Skillet Cobbler


1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter; 1 can favorite fruit pie filling; 1/3 cup sugar;  1 1/2 cups self-rising flour; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup buttermilk 

Melt butter over low heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet; remove from heat. Spoon pie filling evenly over butter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Mix flour, 1 cup sugar, and buttermilk in a bowl. Pour evenly over mixture in skillet. Bake in 350° oven for 25 minutes, or until browned. Leave skillet in oven after heat is turned off, until topping is crusty. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.


Chicken Tenders with Cranberry-Mustard Sauce 


1 pound fresh, uncoated chicken breast tenders
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup  Dried Cranberries
1/4 cup sliced green onions, green part only


Lightly toss chicken pieces with flour; shake off excess. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken; cook about 2 minutes, turning once until chicken is golden brown on each side and cooked through. Add more butter and oil if needed. Remove to a platter; keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken. Add wine, chicken broth and mustard to skillet, scraping up browned bits. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir into skillet. Add dried cranberries. Boil 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in green onions; cook 1 more minute. Pour sauce over chicken.


Warmer Chowder


In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp. Remove with spoon; set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add chicken to pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Stir over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink; remove. Add sweet pepper and onion to pan. Cook and stir until tender. Add jalapeños and garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in flour. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender; stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, corn, cream, cayenne, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Top with jalapeño slices, shredded cheese, and croutons, if desired. Makes 8 servings.




“Granny” Tate was an eccentric little country lady who lived off the beaten path and grew wonderful vegetables, fruit and flowers. She was wise in the ways of herbs and plants and also kept honey bees. She sold her wares at the local farmer’s market, but some who knew where she lived would just stop by her house and “go shopping”. Granny Tate also canned her produce and honey, and she usually made several quilts a year to sell. When the local sheriff started receiving calls from Granny about a prowler, he paid a duty call and told her it was probably a bear after the honeycombs. He had always thought that Granny took a nip now and then, and probably made her own “Mountain Dew”. Finally, she called and said that there was a dead man on her back porch, and she needed him removed. What the sheriff found was a live man with a large lump on his head, and one angry Granny. Southern women wield a mean skillet and rolling pin, and Granny was no exception. What made her so mad was that she had used her favorite old black cast iron skillet, which had become thin on the bottom from long-time use. When she whacked the prowler on the head, it broke her prized skillet! Everyone looked at Granny with new respect. The sheriff searched high and low until he found her a good used skillet…blackened and “seasoned” just right. In return, she sent him off with a basket of preserves and home-canned goods and a large chunk of honey-on-the-comb.


“Honey, you’ll love this coffee cake!”---One sweet way to use a skillet!


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder


  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 stick chilled butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

For the cake: Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and honey and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in vanilla and sour cream. With a rubber spatula, fold in flour and baking powder until completely blended. Generously butter a cast iron skillet and spread the batter evenly in the pan.

For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and chilled butter with your fingers until well blended. Sprinkle evenly over the cake batter. Sprinkle with walnuts over the top. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes (mine took just a few minutes longer).  Serve warm.