Lodge Cast Iron Crowns Cook-Off Winner at 20th National Cornbread Festival

In a weekend-long celebration of cornbread, dishes with French influence and southern flair take home top honors at the National Cornbread Festival.

Lodge Cast Iron® hosted the 20th Annual Cornbread Festival in its hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, at which Ronna F. of Rockville, Maryland, was crowned the winner of the 20th Annual National Cornbread Cook-Off. As winner of the 2016 Cook-Off, Ronna’s original recipe, Cornbread-Topped Cordon Bleu Skillet, earned her the coveted cast iron skillet crown, a $5,000 cash prize, a 30-inch stainless steel gas range from FiveStar® Professional Cooking Equipment (a $3,250 value), and special gifts from Martha White® and Lodge Cast Iron.


1 large egg

cup milk

¼ cup sour cream

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 package Martha White® Cotton Country Buttermilk Cornbread & Muffin Mix

1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced

1¼ cups bottled Alfredo sauce

1 4-ounce can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

2 ounces thinly sliced deli-style cooked ham, roughly chopped

4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

cups panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried parsley


Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, using a wire whisk, whisk together the egg, milk, sour cream and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Blend in cornbread mix. Set aside.

In a 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet, combine chicken, Alfredo sauce and mushrooms. Lay the spinach leaves over the chicken mixture. Scatter the ham over the spinach. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top of the ham. Spoon the cornbread mixture evenly over the top.

In a small bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the cornbread.

Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes until topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Cut into wedges.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Lodge is a trademark of Lodge Manufacturing Company.

National Cornbread Festival is a trademark of National Cornbread Festival, Inc.

Bob’s Bama Hoecake Sliders Takes First Place at 20th Annual National Cornbread Festival

It was a beautiful weekend for the 20th Annual National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN. – the home of Lodge® Cast Iron. Cornbread lovers flocked to the small town to celebrate the perfect marriage of cornbread and cast iron.

Martha White® invited five past cook-off judges – all cornbread experts – to compete for a donation to their favorite food related charity. The competitors prepared an original appetizer recipe made with corn meal or a cornbread mix and cooked in cast iron. Every recipe was so creative, and the judges had a challenge to select a winner. After much deliberation, Bob Carlton, a food writer for The Birmingham News, was declared the winner for his Bob’s Bama Hoecake Sliders. He selected Magic City Harvest and Jones Valley Teaching Farm to share the $2,000.00 donation.

In addition to being delicious, part of the charm of Bob’s recipe is his use of Southern ingredients. Bob created his appetizer sliders by making little buttermilk hoecakes using Martha White Self-Rising Flour to use as bun, filled with pimento cheese, local smoked sausage and spicy pickles.


2 cups Martha White® Self-Rising White Enriched Corn Meal Mix

1 large egg

1¾ cups buttermilk

¼ cup Crisco® Vegetable Oil

2 to 3 tablespoons of Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening (optional)

12-ounce container of pimento cheese (your favorite brand or see recipe below)

1 pound of smoked sausage

1 16-ounce jar of spicy pickle slices

Beat egg in medium bowl. Add buttermilk, vegetable oil and corn meal mix and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Slice smoked sausage into 2-inch pieces. Then slice pieces lengthwise to cut in half. Set aside.

If making your own pimento cheese, follow the recipe below or use a favorite family recipe.

Cut individual pickle slices into quarters. Set aside.

Heat a 12-inch Lodge Cast Iron skillet (or a Lodge Cast Iron griddle) over medium to medium high-heat.

After skillet gets hot, add the sliced sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. After sausage reaches the desired degree of doneness, remove from skillet and let drain on paper towel. Repeat this step until all of the sausage is cooked.

Leave sausage drippings in skillet and (while skillet is still hot) begin dropping heaping spoonfuls of corn meal mixture into skillet to create medallion-sized hoecakes (about 2 inches in diameter).

Brown for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes and then flip. Brown other side for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes and then remove hoecakes.

Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in oven on low heat (about 200 degrees). Repeat this step until all of the corn meal mix is cooked. If sausage drippings run out, add 1 tablespoon of shortening to the pan for each batch of hoecakes.

To build the hoecake sliders, take one hoecake and spread with pimento cheese. Top with two slices of sausage and about four of the pickle quarters. Spread pimento cheese on another hoecake and then place it on top to create a small sandwich or slider. Hold it together with a toothpick if necessary. Repeat this step until you have used all of the ingredients.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Makes 16 servings


Optional pimento cheese recipe:

8 ounces of sharp white cheddar cheese

8 ounces of red-wax hoop cheese

2-ounce jar of diced pimentos, drained

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Grate cheese into large mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and pimentos and stir thoroughly until all ingredients are blended. Serve immediately or store in a sealed, plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Lodge is a trademark of Lodge Manufacturing Company.

National Cornbread Festival is a trademark of National Cornbread Festival, Inc.

Virtual Cornbread Potluck

My husband and I recently hosted a potluck dinner and invited a variety of guests, many of whom did not know one another. It was amazing to see how the food became a common thread that brought everyone together. Nancy’s chicken and dumplings, Charlotte’s salad and Lovella’s banana pudding were shared among the group, spurred new friendships and made for a wonderful day.

Even though we can’t all physically sit around the dinner table today, we can join together for the third Annual Martha White® Virtual Cornbread Potluck. Let’s use this opportunity to exchange recipes and memories with each other.

At the 20th Annual National Cornbread Festival, Martha White will host a Past Judges Cook-Off for Charity event. This is an exciting milestone for cornbread and the perfect time to join together with ten of our blogger partners to highlight and share their favorite cornbread recipes. The below links will take you directly to the individual blog sites making it easy to check out their delicious creations.

My virtual potluck recipe will be a Fresh Tomato Tart with Black Pepper Cornbread Crust – a cornbread crusted version of tomato pie. I love this recipe because it’s a perfect appetizer for a potluck, cook-out or any casual summer party.


Your Virtual Potluck Hosts:

Stacey – Southern Bite: Blueberry Cornbread
Brandie – The Country Cook: Caprese Cornbread
Stephanie – Plain Chicken: BBQ Chicken Cornbread Muffins
Tina – Mommy’s Kitchen: Southern Cornbread Salad
Melissa – Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen: Cheddar Bacon Jalapeno Cornbread Loaf
Christin – Spicy Southern Kitchen: Sloppy Joe Cornbread Muffins
Christy – Southern Plate: 2 Ingredient Hot Water Cornbread
Angela – About a Mom: Mini Corn Dog Muffins
Brett – This Mama Loves: Chicken Chili with Cornbread Crust
Jenny – Picky Palate: BLT Cornbread Salad

What are you bringing to the potluck?


What’s in Your Pantry for Spring?

Do you love the feeling of being prepared to make a snack, dessert or quick treat at the last minute?  Our “What’s in Your Pantry?” series suggests easy recipes that can be made with ingredients you usually have on hand.  This month we’re going to take a look at some delicious pancake recipes you can make in a flash.

To begin, we’re assuming you will have the basics – milk, eggs, butter and an assortment of Martha White® Muffin Mixes. A couple of the recipes below call for fruit which may be fresh or frozen.

Fruit Muffin Mix Pancakes are the most basic of pancake recipes.  All you need is milk and eggs to make tasty pancakes every time. Top pancakes with butter and syrup or with your favorite topping.


For something a little more creative, try Banana Berry Pancakes made with Martha White Banana Nut Flavored Muffin Mix. Top half of each pancake with yogurt and berries. Fold and sprinkle with powdered sugar as an option.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Mixed Berry Sauce are a little different take on the traditional pancake. The chocolate chip pancakes are topped with an easy-to-make homemade sauce. Frozen raspberries make a delicious sauce for pancakes and desserts. This one calls for the addition of frozen blueberries and strawberries, but use what you prefer and have on hand.


Do you have any “What’s in Your Pantry?” ideas that save the day for you?

Come Celebrate 20th National Cornbread Festival With Us!

On April 23 & 24, 2016, the picturesque Tennessee River town of South Pittsburg, TN, will celebrate the 20th National Cornbread Festival. Paying homage to the South’s perfect union of cornbread and cast iron, the Festival will be a great fun-filled weekend for the entire family.

nationalcornbread logo

At the 20th anniversary of the Festival, Martha White® will host the 2016 Past National Championship Cook-Off Winners’ Charity event on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Past judges from The National Cornbread Cook-Off will compete for a food-related charity of their choice. These food experts will prepare an original appetizer recipe with a Martha White Cornbread Mix that has been prepared in Lodge® Cast Iron cookware. You’re sure to leave the Cook-Off with some great new ideas for delicious party food to share with your friends.

Lodge® Cast Iron will also sponsor a consumer Cornbread Cook-Off.  Creative home cooks will prepare their original main dish recipes for a panel of judges at the Festival. The recipes will be made with a Martha White Cornbread Mix and cooked in Lodge® Cast Iron Cookware.

Make a point to arrive early so you can see the 4-H Student Cook-Off. Seeing these young 4-H members competing will give you hope for the preservation of good cornbread for the next generation.

Last year we invited past winners to prepare their winning recipes and interestingly one of our earlier recipes, Festive Good Luck Cornbread Skillet, was the winner. The dish features smoked sausage, black-eyed peas, collards and cornbread and proves that cornbread combined with traditional ingredients is always a winner!

Come and share the fun with us. See how cast iron cookware is made by touring the Lodge Manufacturing plant. Explore opportunities to enter prize drawings, shop the crafts, enjoy the music and eat lots of good cornbread!  For more information, visit www.nationalcornbread.com.

Delectable Muffin Bread Puddings

In its basic form, bread pudding is bread (sometimes stale) soaked in a mixture of eggs, milk or cream and sugar. Baked to creamy perfection, bread pudding is another testament to the creative genius of cooks using the ingredients they had on hand.  Last summer we talked about the Southern version, Summer Biscuit Bread Pudding – delicious in its simplicity.

Although often made with chewy yeast bread, bread pudding may be made with any bread, even muffins or fruit breads. If you ever have leftover muffins, simply freeze until you have about a dozen. More than likely you won’t have leftovers, so mix up a couple packages (any flavor) of Martha White® Muffin Mix and prepare according to package directions.


The Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding with Smoky Bacon recipe is perfect for a spring brunch. Melding flavors of blueberry muffins with a rich maple flavored custard and pecans are sure to take this bread pudding French Toast recipe to the next level.

This decadently delicious White Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding is a former recipe contest winner. Banana bread made from Martha White Banana Nut Flavored Muffin Mix is a tasty, but quick version of banana bread which also forms the base of the bread pudding. The rich custard is made with white chocolate baking chips. Top it all off with caramel topping for a crowd-pleasing dessert you’ll be asked to make time and time again.

Make Blueberry Muffins from Scratch or Take a Shortcut

On several blogs, we’ve talked about similar recipes – one made from scratch and one that gets a head start with a convenient muffin mix. The recipe you choose may be determined by your cooking skill or simply the amount of time you have that day.

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

Today I want to share with you a recipe for Homemade Blueberry Muffins. Although it requires measuring out a few ingredients, self-rising flour actually simplifies this recipe. If you happen to have fresh or frozen blueberries, you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

This recipe is made by the easy classic muffin method:

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the dry ingredients are moistened

The batter will be slightly lumpy, but that’s OK. Overmixing makes the muffins tough.

Blueberry White Chocolate Macadamia Muffins

For our shortcut recipe, I’ve chosen the delicious Blueberry White Chocolate Macadamia Muffins. It’s simple – make the mix according to the package directions. Stir in white baking chips and salted macadamias. Bake muffins according to package directions.  Let cool completely and drizzle melted white chocolate over the muffin tops.

If you want to make muffins from scratch with white chocolate and macadamias, you may certainly add the chips and nuts to the scratch batter and drizzle with the topping as directed in the muffin mix recipe. With either recipe, you’ll have delicious muffins for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack.