My Mental Breakdown at Sea

Ok fine. I will reveal my breakdown at sea. There are just a few things you should know about me before I get started.

a. I hate feeling trapped.

b. I do not care for going off shore.

c. I have a fear of being sea sick (although it hasn’t ever happened… knock on wood).

d. I can get scared in an instant.

Yep. There’s me allllll laid out. Now you know my secrets. So when Bf and his father, Jack mentioned taking me and  Jack’s girlfriend Terry to go off shore to go snorkeling I was apprehensive. It didn’t seem that rough in the channel… so maybe it was going to be ok. I have a rule of only going out to sea in seas that are 1 to 2 feet, but it looked ok. Besides… this was FLORIDA. How rough could it be?

Well, I was about to find out. We headed out on the boat with our snorkel stuff. We kept driving and driving and driving and driving and driving (“Where the hell are we going?!” I asked myself). I was starting to get nervous. We continued to drive on and on when up ahead I spotted a tower floating in the middle of nowhere. (“There it is!” Bf yelled).

Great.

From the second the boat stopped, I knew that I was not going to like this. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I wanted off. (See “fear a”). I couldn’t get off. It was too far to swim. I began to panic a little.

Once the boat was anchored the motion of the ocean was more than uncomfortable. I looked around and realized that we were officially in the middle of nowhere. There was no tour group. It was us and the ocean. I wanted off. (See “fear b”). I couldn’t get off. It was too far to swim. I began to panic more.

The rocking grew more and more intense so much that I we were being knocked into the sides and the center console of the boat. I apparently was the only one who noticed. I wanted off (see “fear c”). I HAD to get off. I would try to swim back to shore when no one was looking.

Bf yelled “Put your wet suit on!” and I wanted to punch him in the face. But, he reminded me that getting in was better than being on a rocking boat for an hour. I leapt in. I immediately began thinking about the conversation that we all had at breakfast about the movie Open Water. I began looking around for sharks (see “fear d”).

My mask may have filled with tears a few times and I think by the end of it I was just upset because I was upset. It was a nice reminder that I do not like rocking boats.

Once the snorkeling was complete, I was happy that it was over. I had lived… shark bite free and sea sick free. Phew. Then I heard the words that I will never forget “Lets go over to that shelf over there. It just a few more miles and we can dive for an hour.”  What? Panic began to set back in. What do you mean? Its not over!? Oh, no. The fun wasn’t near over.

So off we went to the shelf where Bf and his father were going to dive for lobster. Great. These two have the greatest sense of adventure of any one I have ever met. You maaaay even call it, uh hmm, … reckless. Here Terry and I are stuck miles from land with these two reckless adventurers.

They have scuba dove a lot in their lives. But still. Things can happen out at sea and I am not the person that you want to be depending on. 

Once they went through the laborious process of gearing up, they were ready to find some lobsters. I was a little apprehensive.

Upsee daysee… in Jack goes.

I was fine now. I was calm. The rocking wasn’t as bad. Maybe I was just used to it. Maybe I had used up all of my fears and tears for one day. Bf was very kind and made sure that I would be ok while he was gone. Just look at his face! So kind.

Ok, maybe he was a little frustrated with me. Granted, I was being a tad of a handful. But, I was ok now. Freakout over.

Bf braced himself for impact…

…and upsee daysee… he’s in too.

Bye guys! Bring us back some lobster! (“Yeah right” Terry and I giggled to ourselves).

Terry and I spend the next 30 minutes or so rocking to death on the boat, trying to laugh as the waves increase in intensity… even though it wasn’t that funny. Then in the distance we hear “HEEEEEEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BRING THE BOOOOOAT!!!!!!!!!!!!” Immediately Terry and I burst into high gear. We have no idea what the trauma must be, but from the way they screamed, it must be something major. My heart is pounding and for the first time that day I actually think that I am going to throw up. Terry (thinking Jack has had a heart attack) and I (thinking John has been bitten by a shark) rush to get the boat ready to meet our seemingly injured men. I yank the anchor from the depths of the sea like I am competing in a lumberjack competition. I am using my legs (not my back) as I rhythmically work the anchor up to the boat and tie the rope quickly to the cleat. I am screaming orders at Terry like: “Forward! Neutral! Reverse reverse reverse!” and we are on our way hearts pounding to the area where I am sure to see a pool of blood.

As we approach, John goes under. To Jack we are yelling “Are you alright?!?! What’s wrong!?!?!”.  It was John. I knew it. He’s gone under. He’s Jack. I am Rose. My heart will go on.

Once we finally get within hearing distance, big-eyed Terry and I search Jack’s face for a shred of information. He respond with “Man, am I tired. I want to conserve my energy.” Meanwhile, a few feet away, John resurfaces without a scratch on him carrying an empty lobster net.

Yep. That is not how I enjoy an afternoon. But this is:

Yep, there is nothing better than a beach chair, a pool, and a brand new US Weekly. Ah… bliss.

We did do a little more in shore fishing, which suited me just fine.

We even bumped into the manatee again at Smuggler’s Cove. It was this time I realized that they kind of look like water-pigs.

That was a lot of words. Thank you if you read it all. Thank you if you just read a part. It was part of the trip that I will never forget… down to what bathing suit I was wearing and how crappy my hair looked (but I didn’t care because I was so scared).

Once we were back in Atlanta. I got a text from Bf…

Translation:

him: At least I am not afraid of swimming.

me: Ahhhhhhhh!

him: round of applause

Jerk. But it was a little funny. And I am not afraid of swimming.

Tomorrow, I will feed a tarpon. Seriously.

Me and the Manatee

Ok, this is the “Manatee” post, not the “My Mental Breakdown at Sea.” I told you I was going to keep it upbeat (although the requests for my meltdown seem to be popular today…).

If you missed the Islamorada post from yesterday here it is. While Bf and I were in Islamorada for Thanksgiving, we were out on the boat everyday. We had a few days to ourselves before Bf’s dad and hid dad’s girlfriend arrived, so we soaked up every minute of every day. Not that we weren’t looking forward to Jack and Terry being there… we were…. I promise!

Bf woke up early the second day and hooked his first sailfish! Yeah Bf!!! He was alone… so there are no pictures…. but he says he caught one… do you believe him? Anyway, he came to get pick me up and we hit up the bayside for some smooth fishin’. We needed some gas for the boat so we headed over to the Smuggler’s Cove Marina. I was just hanging on the boat and Bf was pumping gas when I heard “OH MY GAWD!!! NATALIE GET OVER HERE! MANATEEEEEEE!” I am not kidding. That is exactly what he sounded like. I scurried over and we began acting like the biggest tourists in the world, taking pictures, asking a thousand questions and generally bothering everyone that worked at the marina.

There are a few manatees that hang out there and they come to the marina from the mangroves for fresh water. The marina workers told us that we could swim with them and Bf was on it like white on rice (what does that mean by the way?!). He leapt in, mask and snorkel on, ready to swim with the manatee… but off she swam. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a chance, but I got a cool video of Bf… so that was good enough for me.

Then, the manatee returned! All was saved! I climbed down the ladder and leapt into the water with the manatee.

Here is a picture in case you are unable to view the video.

Man, that was so cool. Talk about something that I will never forget! I reached out and touched him/her at one point and she was rough and fatty. This may have been the best part of my entire trip. I am so glad that the manatee came back :).

Shortly after this the manatee swam away and we resumed our day. We had a repeat of the day before: beer, sun, Mangrove Snappers, and Pufferfish. I loved it.

Then we headed over to Pierre’s at Morada Bay for an awesome sunset and some pre-dinner cocktails. Bloody Mary for she, Bourbon and Ginger for he.

Yeah, that was a creepy smile. Well, happy creepy.

Bf and me. Me and Bf. Having the time of our lives.

After this evening at Pierre’s, I don’t think that there was a night that we didn’t return. This place was the be-all-end-all to me. If you are ever in Islamorada, you must stop by for a drink… and don’t forget to swim with the manatees.

There is still more to come… too much happened for even two posts. Tomorrow there is some scuba diving which may have or may not have indirectly prompted my meltdown.

A Little IslaMOREada

Ah… Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to spend the past week in Islamorada, FL with Bf and our two dogs, Stellar and Chum. Bf’s dad, Jack and his girlfriend, Terry joined us mid-week. We split up the drive by driving Friday afternoon to Savannah, picking up the boat and hauling it the long portion of the trip down to the keys.

We woke up on a beautiful Saturday morning. The sunrise was so pretty that I almost could have stayed there for the whole week.

We were on the road by about 8 a.m. which set us to arrive a mere 9 hours later.

I love the drive down to the keys. Its long, yes, but there is a ton of stuff to look at along the way. Now, the way back, is a whole ‘nother story.

We stopped at the Florida Welcoming Center to grab a couple of fresh squeezed grapefruit juices.

Mmm… delicious. The Florida Welcoming Center is unlike any place on earth. I could park myself down on a bench and people watching ’til the cows come home.

But, we had to hit the road. Only about 7 more hours to go!

It was a long drive, but I had my camera, my iPad, my iPhone, books on tape, real books, and new music to keep me occupied.

And well, before you know it… we were in the Keys. We quickly checked into our hotel and went out for a low-key night on the town. I have a tendency to get a little carried away the first night of vacation and exhaust myself for the rest of the trip. But, I was good and got in bed early, prepared to arise at 7 a.m. to go fishing.

Chum was ready too.

This first day on the water I was giddy. I was laughing constantly and ooo-ing and ah-ing at the gorgeous scenery. The last couple of times that I have been down to the Keys, the water has been murky. But not this trip… it was as clear as the Caribbean.

My parents texted me a picture of them shopping in their winter clothes. I texted them this back:

Yep, I was in heaven. Nothing better than your boyfriend, your dogs, and couple of beers, and a pretty day.

Even Bud was feeling the vibe.

I wish I could say that we caught a fish “THIS BIG” but the weather (wind-wise) wasn’t cooperating, so we stuck to the bayside of Islamorada. We did catch some fish, just nothing big enough to mount on a wall. We caught a bunch of Mangrove Snapper, a Needlefish or two, and a bunch of Pufferfish.. which are my favorite anyway.

They are so cute. We held this guy under water so that he could get nice and puffy. Then I saw his fang tooth and realized that maybe he wasn’t as cute as I thought.

After a great day of fishing (and beer drinking and music listening) we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and get something to eat. That’s when we saw this guy:

He wasn’t afraid to get close. He was a friendly egret.

I was so happy that this was only the first day. After looking at the weather, we figured that the later the week got, the more smooth the water got. We jumped up and down over and over again, hugged, sighed, started out into the water and counted our blessing that we were in Islamorada.

I feel like I have about a billion stories to tell, but I will try to edit. I will do my best to include good ones like “Me and the Manatee” and not ones like “My Mental Breakdown at Sea.” A lot can happen in a week.

I Woke Up Singing “O Christmas Tree”

I did actually and Bf was none too pleased. I can’t help it! The season is upon us!

I feel incredibly disconnected from my computer, my phone, my family, the “real world” (not the MTV mega hit that I may or may not have applied for) and the holidays. I feel this way because I spent the last week lounging in the sun and working on my savage tan in beautiful Islamorada, Florida. Someone needs to tell the Florida Keys that it is winter time. It was about 85 and sunny our entire trip and it left me feeling like I was on summer break, not Thanksgiving. I highly recommend spending the holidays this way. I have pictures. Tons of them.

I am happy to be home, but currently reeling from the opposite nature of wearing a bikini one day and setting up my Christmas Tree the next day. Its weird, man.

As soon as we walked up the stoop to our house, the weight of late Fall hit us like a slap in the face. Bf had been begging me to pickle some green tomatoes from our garden after he had feasted on some of his step-sis Mary Delia’s. While Bf hauled in the heavy load, I worked on these:

Once the tree was in its place, I was itching to get started.

I hauled out our Christmas decor. Is it just me or is it always more unorganized than previously thought possible. I had the foresight to wrap the glass ornaments, but for the most part just chucked them into the container.

Bf agreed to help me… after a few sips of eggnog.

We got a tall tree this year so I (at 5’3″) needed his (at 6’2″) help stringing the lights and getting the ornaments up top.

You can get pretty high up on your tippy toes though. Bf had long lost interest in tree decorating at this point.

Our den is pretty expansive, so we need a big tree. The bigger the better when it comes to Christmas trees!

This is our 3rd Christmas tree together. Year one was… well, not so good. Bf didn’t like my “black and silver” theme.. and to be honest, neither did I. There are still a few ornaments hanging around from that disaster that are mixed in. Last year, we went with a more traditional theme. We just picked ornaments that we liked and ended up with a great tree. This year, we stayed with the traditional Christmas tree look, just adding a bit to our current stock of ornaments.

Clearly, I have a thing for birds.

There are more of them tucked away in the fir.

I love my gold acorns.

And I love my jewel ornaments.

But the best ones are the ones that are old, handmade, or sentimental.

Bf’s handmade angel:

Bf’s super creepy clown (I hate clowns).

The cutest of them all, Bf’s baby ornaments… ah… a mere 29 years ago.

And his favorite, the jukebox:

And my favorite, the pickle. I got this as a gift my first year of teaching and have cherished it ever since.

Once the tree was decorated (and Bf drank all the eggnog) we attempted a family picture.

The best that we could capture was Bf and two dogs who were resisting every second of having their picture taken.

I love having a Christmas tree. I wish that I could have one all year ’round.

Did anyone else jump the gun and set up their Christmas tree while it is still technically November? I just couldn’t help myself!

A Man’s View

I have never done a wordless post before, but since Bf refuses to write anything… I will have to let the pictures do the talkin’.

I could give you a little background I guess: Bf went marsh hen hunting. I don’t know what they are either.

Wow. I wish that I was there. But no… I was in class.

Good job Bf.

Salty Sweet Savory

The other night I had a party to go to where I was to bring an appetizer. I panicked. My mind started spinning out of control. I went to Target.

Does this happen to any one else? I cook all the time! Sometimes I cook 3 times a day for 7 days and all weekend. Well, maybe not that much. But, sometimes, I can throw myself into a panic. There is just too much out there to choose from. So how do you pick? Do you have a go-to app? Do you just make whatever you like? Do you buy pre-made?

Well, my problem lies in the fact that I am always cooking something that I have never cooked before. I have so few dishes that I cook more than once or twice, that I rarely have a go-to… anything! Well, except for chicken with mushroom sauce. So when it came to making the appetizer, I was at a loss.

Then, I pinterested upon a great and easy idea: stuffed dates… more specifically fontina stuffed dates. They are so easy and there is nothing better on this earth than sweet and salty to me. I think I have found a go-to appetizer (finally).

Here is what you need for appetizers for about 5 people:

15 Medjool dates, pitted

8 oz of Fontina cheese, sliced into chunks

8 slices of bacon, halved

Three ingredients! What recipe has just three ingredients! I love that.

Start by lying the dates on your cutting board.

Then, continue by horizontally slicing the pitted dates with a sharp knife. Be careful not to nick the other side.

Get out the fontina. You could actually use any cheese you wanted really: parmesan… goat cheese… cream cheese….

Cut the fontina into chunks and stuff the dates.

Using a half a slice of bacon, wrap the stuffed dates and place them on a baking sheet.

Nice and organized. Just how I like it.

Preheat the broiler and place dates under the hot broiler for 5 minutes or until the bacon is crispy on that side. Then flip the dates over to the other side and proceed to crisp that side of the dates.

Now, I was in such a rush to get to the party that I forgot to take a picture of my little bugs (don’t they kind of look like bugs?!). So I peeled back my tin foil real quick and snapped the shot. Sorry for a poor picture quality.

Ah… I see many more of these in my future.

For the printable version of this recipe click here. 

Skillet Challenge: Dark Chocolate Brownies


I absolutely loved cooking in my cast iron skillet last week and by Thursday… I had made some good dishes! If you put together the BEP, the SCC (sour cream cornbread) and the Thyme Roasted Chicken, you have one heck of a meal. Well, what’s a meal without dessert, right? That’s where Dark Chocolate Brownies come in.

Ok, I am going to admit it. The BEP were fantastic, the chicken really was a masterpiece, and the sour cream cornbread was a tasty twist on a southern classic, but the these brownies… they take the cake brownies. These suckers are goooooood. Like you might actually go “Mmmmmm” after you take a bite that has been dipped in some cool, smooth milk.

The best part is… they are super easy too.

Here is what you need:

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup cocoa flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick unsalted (4 tablespoons)

1/4 cup heavy cream

10 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli’s large cacao chips) divided

Directions:

In medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.

In a large bowl mix together the sugar and the eggs.

Add butter to cast iron skillet.

Add in heavy cream.

Swirl in butter as it melt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add in 8 ounces of the chocolate and turn heat down to low.

Cook, stirring constantly until the chocolate has melted and formed an awesome chocolate sauce. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Look at that! Like magic….

Add chocolate sauce to egg/sugar mixture, whisking until blended.

Fold in the flour mixture.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that I never needed to pull out my mixer (mainly because its crappy), but I was able to use a whisk the whole time. I love that. Just a few dishes and it was done.

Pour the batter into the skillet.

Top with the remaining 2 ounces of dark chocolate chips.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted into the middle and come out clean.

Cut and serve with a cold glass of milk.

You can see the chunks of dark chocolate on the top. You can even see the moist layer of brownie in the middle.

Yep, that was a shot of my plate. Just me and an entire plate of brownies.

Ok, I didn’t eat a whole plate of brownies, but I wanted to. They are that good. I mean, maybe the best thing that I have ever eaten. Maybe.

For a printable version of this recipe come to my house and yank it from my death grip click here.

Skillet Challenge: Sour Cream Cornbread

Day three of the cast iron skillet challenge was an exciting day for me. I was making corn bread. Being a southern girl, I was stoked to make something that I have been eating all of my life. And once again… it was something that I had never made before. Sour cream corn bread is not as sweet as traditional corn bread, or at least the corn bread that I am used to, but it is much lower in fat and taste delicious with a little bit of honey and butter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This recipe is also short and sweet so it would be perfect to whip together last minute for Thanksgiving or any other night of the week.

My camera battery was charging, so I used Instagram to capture these pictures.

Here is all you need:

ingredients:

1 1/2 cup self rising corn meal

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 can cream style corn

1 (8 oz) container sour cream

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (for topping)

Start by preheating the oven to 450.

Add the cornmeal to a large bowl.

Add the flour to the cornmeal.

Mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the corn.

Crack in the eggs.

Plop in the sour cream.

Give it all a stir just until mixed.

And pour it into a lightly greased cast iron skillet.

Top with cheese if you like, I liked… so I did.

And bake for about 22-24 minutes until the top has begun to brown and the cornbread is pulling away from the sides of the skillet.

Serve and enjoy! 

I was having my self a little vegetable platter. Sometimes you just need a break from the meat, although the chicken the previous night was delicious. You can tell that there is a little accompaniment of BEP from Monday night. I told you they were good.

For the printable version of Sour Cream Cornbread click here. 

Now, I won’t lie to you, tomorrow’s recipe is my favorite… probably because its dessert.

Skillet Challenge: Thyme Roasted Chicken

If you read yesterday, I posted an awesome recipe for BEP (a.k.a. Blackeyed Peas). Yum. They are so good and they are a perfect Fall side dish… or a full on main course if you are like me and really lurve peas. Now, while I hate to put the BEP to shame. The dish that I cooked last Tuesday was my favorite… so far.

Day two of the Cast Iron Skillet challenge welcomes…. Thyme Roasted Chicken! Believe it or not, I have never cooked a whole bird (well, once when I was 16 and babysitting), so I was really doing something different by cooking it in my cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 3 1/2 lb. chicken, giblets removed

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 teaspoons softened butter

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degress

Mash garlic and salt into a paste and mix in pepper and thyme.

With a sharp knife, remove any excess fat from the chicken. Dry the inside with a paper towel. With your fingers, loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs to make pockets. Be careful not to tear the skin.

Rub the garlic mixture all over the breasts, thighs, and top outside of the chicken.

Heat oil and 1 teaspoon of butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Add chicken and cook, turning often, until all sides are browned (about 8 minutes).

Transfer skillet to the oven and roast the chicken until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees… about an hour.

Meanwhile, mash the remaining bit of butter with the flour in a small bowl until a paste forms.

After the chicken is done, remove from oven. Be careful of the hot handle. I have made this mistake too many times.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board once it is done and tent with foil.

Place the skillet back on the stove over medium high heat. Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.

Gradually whisk in butter/flour mixture a spoonful at a time until the gravy thickens… about 5 minutes.

Bring to a simmer. 

Remove from heat and pour into a cup or bowl that is smaller in diameter (this will help the fat rise to the top and make it easier to skim off). Let rest for 5 minutes and then spoon out excess fat (I do not have a picture from this step. I learned from experience).

Then its time to carve the chicken!

Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy.

This was an awesome meal. It was even more awesome by the fact that I was able to pick at a chicken all week (and dip it in gravy). Even Bf was excited. He said that I should cook a chicken once a week just to pick at. I agree. I was able to top my salad and satiate my snackiness with this bird. I was also able to scrounge up some BEP from the night before that went just perfectly with my chicken.

For the printable version of this recipe click here!

Tomorrow is Day Three of the Cast Iron Skillet challenge. What’ll it be?

Recipe adapted from Eating Well.

Skillet Challenge: Black Eyed Peas

You may have just read that banner and thought “Huh?” Let me explain:

Last weekend, after Bf, Thao, Andrew, and I went backpacking I got a cast iron skillet. I know that it is a kitchen staple (I have one that is a grill pan), but I have never owned a regular one. After backpacking, I was exhausted. Like, wanted to cry, tired (as well as hot, cold, hungry, nauseous, cranky, and wired). So when, driving down the road from Cisco, Georgia Bf screamed “Oh my gooooooood!”  I was not amused.

“What?!?!?!!”  I screamed back fearing for my life.

“BARGAIN BARN!!!!!!!”  he screamed back clearly not hearing the anger in my voice.

He begged me to go telling me that it was his “dream” to go to a Bargain Barn. I dream of one day being a back-up singer for a major World tour or being single-handedly responsible for fixing teacher wages… but not Bf. No no… his dream is to go to Bargain Barn. So I went along with it, as long as he bought me a present. Enter: the cast iron skillet.

So, I came up with a challenge for my self. I would cook dinner each night in the cast iron skillet. Now, each day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) this is actually what I ate for dinner. They may not be particularly conventional meals, but I worked them in somehow. I may have had dessert for dinner one night (don’t judge), but I managed to work that cast iron skillet, girl.

This was a fun challenge and it really showed me the versatility of this piece of kitchen equipment.

Up first, Black eyed Peas y’all. I love black eyed peas. In college, I used to frequently eat a can of BEP (black eyed peas) for dinner. They hold a special place in my heart stomach.

For the Full Version (and printable version) of this recipe, click here. 

Start by soaking peas in water either using a “quick soak” or doing them over night. I just did it however it said to do it on the back of the package.

Then, add oil to the skillet and heat over medium. Once oil is heated, add shallot. One minute later, add garlic.

Then add in red pepper flakes.

And a little dried thyme.

Then, add the peas to the skillet.

Add the tomato paste.

Add the water.

Add the vegetable bouillon cubes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and carrots.

Bring it all to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a low heat so that it is just simmering. Cover with a heavy lid and simmer for an hour and a half at least, stirring occasionally.

Check the water level on the peas and cook for another 30 minutes or so (more if you can work it… just keep an eye on those babies). If the peas are too soupy, take the lid off for the last 30 minutes. If the peas aren’t liquid enough, add a little more water. They should be stew-like.

Mine were perfect in just about 2 hours of actual cook time.

And yep, I had black eyed peas for dinner that night (and munched on them again and again throughout the week).

I was a little hesitant about the tomatoes and the tomato paste part at first, but the tomato really made these peas taste rich and hearty. I ate them every night last week and they just got better as the week went on.

Click here for the Full Verison!

I can’t wait to share what else I made in my skillet last week. Thank you Bargain Barn for making Bf’s dreams come true.