Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Becoming one with my cast iron skillet.......and a pretty killer product review.

I didn't own my first cast iron skillet until a year or so ago
when a friend had purchased one for me for Christmas. I didn't
get what the big deal was. And I'll be honest--I asked a buttload
of questions when I got it, too. I drove everyone crazy about how
to keep one seasoned, how to clean it, how to cook in it, how to love
my cast iron skillet. Because I just didn't get it.

Until I did.

This all ties together. Trust me.

I have another blogger friend,,
who whispered in my ear about a product that she was asked to test drive
but for personal reasons, she opted out. (I think her personal reason
was to boot my butt into blogging again, but I can't prove it.) She
was right, though.) The name of the company is Lancaster International
Trading Company,, who imports and
distributes sun dried apricots and sun dried tomatoes. When I got the
package, I was quite excited. As you can see, it was carefully packaged
with beautiful packaging. I'm pretty much a sucker when it comes to any
kind of dried foods but these products were just GORGEOUS.

I was so tickled over this new product to play with that I went on
a hunt right away to find new recipes to use these beautiful little
gems. Through google, I found a wonderful recipe for Chicken Parmesan
with Sundried Tomato Sauce
at a fabulous website called
Good Life Eats. I've never cooked with sun dried tomatoes EVER
but I figured that now was as good of a time as any. Not only was it
my first time cooking with sun dried tomatoes, it was my real first
time cooking with my cast iron skillet that a) wasn't egg-related or
b) cornbread.

To tell you the truth, I was a freaking ROCKSTAR. I don't often
brag about how awesome I am, but dude, I rocked it out. I should
have jumped right in to cooking with my cast iron a year ago and
gotten rid of all my other pans. (And really, I plan on doing this
immediately. No, really.) The sun dried tomatoes were off the charts
delicious. I used the recipe on Good Life Eats as a base. I always like
to play with recipes a little to see if I can't put my own spin
on them. The end result was absolutely fabulous. As you can see
from my pictures......they speak for themselves! They're practically
runnin' their mouths!

Here is the recipe, if you decide you want to try this awesomesauce
for yourself. Again, I used the recipe from Good Life Eats as a base,
this is MY version. What I like to do is cook the chicken breasts first,
then let them sit in a warm oven while I cook the sauce in the same skillet
that I did the chicken. It cuts down on dishes AND I think it adds another
layer of flavor to the sauce. It's completely up to you on how you do it, really.
Just DO it!

Sundried Tomato Sauce:
Couple turns of olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup Lancaster International Trading Company sundried tomatoes
Healthy glug of balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the Chicken:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Couple good glugs of olive oil

For the Sauce: Add the olive oil to a large cast iron skillet and
heat over medium-high. Add onion and red peppers and saute for
3-5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute more.
Add the tomato paste, the wine, the tomato paste, the diced/
crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and bay leaf, stirring well to
combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then stir in the sun dried
tomatoes. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 15 minutes or until
sun dried tomatoes are tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar and season with
salt and pepper (if desired).

For the Chicken: Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the flour, parmesan,
garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or plate
with a rim. Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of saran wrap
and with a tenderizing mallet, pound the breasts down to half the original
size. Coat each piece of chicken on both sides in the parmesan mixture.
In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken
pieces to the pan, cooking cook 5 minutes per side - or until golden.
Add chicken to a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Top each chicken breast
with mozzarella. Bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes (or until chicken is cooked
through and cheese is melted.

When assembling the chicken parmesan on the plates, I like to set
the chicken and pasta on the plate, then spoon the sauce over the
chicken and pasta. I'm not one of those who cooks the chicken in
the sauce or mixes up the sauce with the pasta. If you feel like doing
it that way, go nuts.

I hope you'll try this recipe out for yourself, as well as the products from Both the sun dried tomatoes and apricots
were delicious, I'm quite blessed to have had the chance to sample their
outstanding product. Much thanks go to
and for this wonderful opportunity.

**DISCLAIMER** Lancaster International Trading Company provided me with a gift pack of the products described for me to try. As always, any thoughts and opinions given on "Double Wide Skillet, Single Wide Budget" are my own.


  1. I am so glad you enjoyed and that sauce looks AMAZING! Yummy! Great review!

  2. Looks delicious, but I would expect no less from you!

  3. The sauce looks wonderful! Nice job on the blog - it is clean, uncluttered and easy to read.

  4. @Jo Thank you! I really appreciate all your help!

  5. @BigShotsMom Thanks, what nice things to say!

  6. I still need to buy a cast iron skillet. They intimidate me :)

  7. @Iron Chef Leftovers Dive in. I was terrified to use mine at first. Now I use it for everything!

  8. Great blog - I'll have to try that recipe. I was beyond excited to receive Aunt Bea's cast iron skillets (my hubster's great aunt) they are so well seasoned and cook like a dream! I agree with you - I'll be tossing out a few non-stick skillets 4 sure!

  9. @scotdog98 I can't believe I didn't use cast iron sooner--I feel so silly!

  10. I do know how you feel but I've been around cast iron forever :) It wasn't until last week that I got back to using mine for something more than the grill. I made my first ever upside down pineapple cake for the DS's birthday. That was one of the best cakes I've ever had without any chocolate being in it!

  11. Yahooooo! I am going to make this Saturday! I <3 cast iron, and food cooked in it! There are 2 things in this world that rock my socks - 1. A good seasoned cast ironed skillet, and 2. A good seasoned rolling pin!