Crisp Toffee Bars

I am a huge fan of a skillet-baked dessert. Irresistible. These blondie-esque, nutty cookies were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The edges were fabulously crumbly too. In the original recipe, the edges are removed prior to serving… What on Earth?! šŸ˜‰

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed all of the dry ingredients, included both of the add-ins, increased the skillet size, and reduced the baking time. The article cited that the original recipe for these buttery, basic toffee bars belongs to Maida Heatter, the great American dessert maven of the 20th century. It was adapted for a cast-iron skillet by Charlotte Druckman, who wrote a book on cast-iron baking in 2016. Wonderful.

Yield: 2 dozen bars

  • 2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cold but not frozen, plus 1 T more for buttering the pan
  • Ā½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/210 grams soft-packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups/240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup/100 grams unsalted slivered almonds, toasted
  • 6 ounces/170 grams chocolate chips or small chunks
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place a rack in the middle and place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on it.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on low-speed for about a minute, until softened. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
  3. With the mixer running at low-speed, add salt and vanilla.
  4. Add the brown sugar, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until mixture is the color of peanut butter and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
  5. With the mixer running at low-speed, shake in flour, beating just until dough holds together. Mix in nuts or chocolate just until combined.
  6. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place 1 T of butter in it. As butter melts, swirl it over the bottom and sides of the pan until evenly coated.
  7. Dump dough into skillet and press it out to evenly fill the skillet. You can use your fingers (being careful to avoid touching the hot pan), a potato masher or the bottom of a measuring cup. Press dough down firmly to make a compact, even layer.
  8. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 to 40 minutes, until the top is walnut brown. You may be tempted to take it out when the edges have begun to darken, but let it continue to cook so the entire surface can take on that color. There may be bubbles visible on top of the dough; thatā€™s a good sign.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. If necessary, run an offset spatula or butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Cut into bars, squares or diamonds. (I cut them after they had completely cooled.)
  10. Let the bars cool completely before removing from pan.Ā Store in airtight container; they keep well for up to 1 week.

Note: This recipe can be adapted to bake in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar

A friend had recommended this recipe and I knew I was going to save it for my Thanksgiving dinner menu. I always select Brussels sprouts as one of the vegetables to serve because my mom, mother-in-law, and I love them.

It was nice to have such a simple, and relatively healthy, side dish as part of the feast as well. One side dish should be void of cheese and/or cream! šŸ˜‰ I also served roasted rainbow carrots. Two clean and fresh side dishes.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I doubled the recipe, using an entire stalk, and was only able to roast half in the skillet; I roasted the remainder on a rimmed baking sheet. I also decreased the balsamic vinegar.

  • 1 Brussels sprout stalk (about a 2 pints or 2 pounds)
  • 8Ā tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Trim Brussels sprouts off the stalk, and slice each large sprout in half top to bottom.
  3. Heat half of the oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven.
  5. Roast, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 10 to 20 minutes. Coat remaining sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in oven with the skillet.
  6. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Combine all roasted sprouts in the skillet.
  7. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Southern Cornbread Dressing

Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…

I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Cornbread:

  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
  • 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
  • 1 Ā½ teaspoons coarseĀ salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
  • Ā½ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 Ā½ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 1 Ā½ teaspoons coarseĀ salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Ā¼ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Ā¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

Optional Additions:

  • 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
  • chopped apples
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. SautƩ until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
  19. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
  • To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Yes, more harissa! I love the pop of flavor and heat it provides. The heat in this dish can easily be adjusted to taste by modifying the amount of harissa in the sauce. This finished dishĀ definitely had quite a spicy kick.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Dawn Perry. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and adjusted the cooking times accordingly. I also doubled the garlic and served it overĀ brown rice. We used sour cream or Greek yogurt to temper the heat of the finished dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Total Time: about 45 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 boneless, skinlessĀ chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • coarseĀ salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 to 4 T harissa paste, adjust to taste (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Ā½ cup chicken stock
  • Ā¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving, as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 425Ā°, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, for the first batch, in a large ovenproof skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. WorkingĀ in 2 batches, cook until browned, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side; add a second tablespoon of oil to the pan prior to the second batch. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add onion and garlic to the pan drippings; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until beginning to darken, about 1 minute.
  6. Add chickpeas, harissa, and broth; bring to a simmer.
  7. Nestle chicken in chickpeas; transfer skillet to oven.
  8. Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 15Ā minutes.
  9. Top with parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Skillet Chicken with Tomatoes, Pancetta, & Mozzarella

Wow. This dish was AMAZING. I would describe it asĀ a lighter take on chicken parmesan, but it evenĀ brings that classic dish to another level with its more complex flavors.

The first time I made this dish, I served it with roasted red potatoes and roasted broccoli on the side. Realizing that it would have been more perfect with pasta, we “had” to have it again. Absolute perfection served over rigatoni!

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She referred to the dish as “Pizza Chicken.” šŸ™‚ I used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, increased the garlic, decreased the pancetta, and used ciliegine instead of bocconcini. Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 Ā½ poundsĀ boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 15)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • Ā¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 large basil sprig, plus more chopped basil for serving
  • 8 ounces bocconcini or ciliegine, halved (or use mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
  • cooked pasta, such as rigatoni, for serving (tossed with pasta water, olive oil, or butter, as desired)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large oven-proof skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  3. Working in two batches, add chicken to skillet. Sear, turning only occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil.
  4. Add garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes to skillet; fry 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with a spatula, until sauce thickens somewhat, about 10 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes.
  7. Scatter bocconcini, ciliegine, or mozzarella pieces over skillet. Adjust oven temperature to broil. Return skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully to see that it does not burn).
  8. Garnish with pancetta and chopped basil before serving. Serve over pasta, as desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Baked Rice with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

At the beginning of the school year it is difficult to get back into our routine- especially getting dinner ready around my kids’ after-school activities. Ugh. I was able to make thisĀ one-pot dish ahead of time and keep it warm and ready to serve when we returned from running around. Perfect.

This dish is reminiscent of one of my favorite Italian dishes of orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. It reminded my husband of dirty rice. The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used sweet Italian pork sausage, increased the amount of broccoli rabe, and used shallots instead of onions.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4Ā cups chicken stock
  • 6 to 8 ounces (about 6 cups) broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces, tossed with 1 T water and 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees on convection.
  2. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet (I used a 12″ cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook sausage, stirring often, until edges are browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in shallots/onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in rice to coat, thenĀ add the wine. Bring to a boil. Cook until skillet is almost dry.
  5. Add stock. Bring to a boil.
  6. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Add broccoli rabe. Bake until rice absorbs all the liquid, about 10 minutes.
  8. Stir to incorporate the greens. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread

IMG_2811

I hate to admit it, but IĀ often use theĀ quick Trader Joe’s cornbread mix when we want cornbread as a side. It is sweet and cake-like and yummy. But… My South Carolina-raised husband and I know that this barely sweetened skillet cornbread is the “real deal” southern cornbread. COMPLETELY different from a box mix. The crust was crunchy and buttery; the inside moist and tender- delicious!! The entire kitchen filled with the wonderful smell of nutty browned butter as it baked too. šŸ™‚

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. The recipe makes a GIGANTIC 12-inch skillet (almost) filled to the rim with cornbread. We ate it with Vegetarian Chili with Winter Vegetables and a green salad but had plenty of leftovers for breakfast. The leftover cornbread was wonderful reheated in a toaster oven- and buttered. We also slathered it with homemade Peach-Vanilla Bean Jam. YUM!

Yield: One 12-inch skillet cornbread (or 9×13-inch), about 12 servings (1/2 the recipe could be made in a 9-inch skillet)

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)/170 grams unsalted butter
  • Ā½ cup/120 ml maple syrup
  • 2 Ā¼ cups/530 ml buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Ā½ cups/180 grams yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind
  • Ā½ cup/65 grams whole wheat flour
  • Ā½ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 Ā½ tablespoons/18 grams baking powder
  • 1 Ā½ teaspoons/9 grams kosher salt
  • Ā½ teaspoon/5 grams baking soda
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees (on convection).
  2. On the stovetop, in a 11- or 12-inch skillet (ovenproof and preferably cast iron), melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan to lightly coat sides and bottom, until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep nut brown. (Watch carefully to see that it does not burn.)(As it is difficult to assess the color in a dark pan, I checked the color in a teaspoon!)
  3. Pour brown butter into a large bowl. (Do not wipe out the pan.)
  4. Whisk the maple syrup into the butter, then whisk in buttermilk. The mixture should be cool to the touch; if not, let cool before whisking in the eggs.
  5. Then whisk in the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  6. If the skillet is no longer hot (cast iron retains heat longer than other metals), reheat it briefly on the stove for a few minutes. Scrape batter back into it.
  7. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into it emerges clean, about 25 minutes (on convection), or up to 30 to 40 minutes in a standard oven. Cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before slicing.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 968 other followers

Recipe Categories

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Top Posts & Pages

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
%d bloggers like this: