Like everybody else, I spent most of the pandemic cooking new dishes and putting on more weight than I'd like to admit.

We made steaks, stir-frys, and soups! I used to love grilling everything, but over the last few months I've been experimenting a lot more with my cast-iron pans and it's become my new favorite method of cooking.

Usually, my specialty was a thin-cut ribeye. You could use a slightly lower heat to cook the meat and you wouldn't have to worry about the inside being too red.

The challenge with thicker steaks is getting the right heat. Too hot and the outside gets burned and the inside is raw.

Bacon wrapped teaks and crab legs for a nice Sunday dinner
Bacon-wrapped steaks and crab legs for a nice Sunday dinner

I started using a cast-iron and a thicker steak to see if I could finally nail a piece of meat that was thicker than an inch. (I always pull my steaks out a good twenty minutes before cooking to let them rise up to room temp.) Warm your oven to 450 degrees while you season your steaks. I always rub them with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, some salt, and some pepper. (You can use your favorite seasonings here, too.)

I turn on the stovetop and get my cast-iron nice and hot. (Sometimes flicking a drop of water in is a good test. If the water beads and skips across the pan it should be good.) Add another drop of oil (or butter) and lay the steaks into the pan away from you. After about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, turn the steaks over. (They are ready to turn if they pull away from the pan pretty easily.)

At this point, I usually drop in some chopped onion and a can of mushrooms and then put a nice pat of butter on top and (carefully) slide the whole pan into the oven.

After about 8 to 10 minutes I temp the steaks with a meat thermometer. 130 degrees is rare, 145 degrees for medium, and 170 degrees for well done. (Remember, your steak needs to rest for 5 minutes once you pull it out and will continue to cook, so don't leave it in too long!)

My dad made a huge turkey breast on the grill and gave me a whole bunch to use up. Since my son, Jacob, is a finicky eater, I knew I'd have to do something creative or he'd never eat it.

I found this great recipe on The Pioneer Woman website called "Turkey and Biscuits Casserole with Lemon and Dill."

It wasn't overly complicated but there are a few components to the recipe, including the turkey casserole and the biscuit parts, so you may want to do a little prep work in advance to make things easier. (I'd suggest dicing up all the vegetables the night before so you can just throw it all together when you make the dish.)

Also, I've never really used lemon zest for a recipe. I found that a little goes a long way, so don't go overboard.

As you can see in the photo above, it came out perfect, and my son actually ate every bit I put in front of him.

I'd suggest giving it a try on a cold night or save the recipe for your Thanksgiving leftovers this year.

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