Southern Cooking

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Although I was born and raised in Miami, Florida…


…I always considered myself a country girl at heart.  Maybe I’m just rebelling against the bright art deco lights on my hometown.  But I’m betting it has a lot to do with my mom’s Southern roots.


My mom grew up in Tennessee and now lives in a small town near Knoxville in a quintessential country home.  Her Southern charm and mannerisms always influenced me, I suppose.


My mom doesn’t cook a lot, but there are a few things that she can cook very, very well.  The #1 item on mom’s menu?  Cornbread!  My mom makes the best cornbread – you know, the gritty, buttery kind that cracks along the top as it bakes in a 20-odd year old cast iron skillet?  Yes, that kind.


Tonight’s dinner was definitely Tennessee-inspired:


Unfortunately, I don’t have my mom’s recipe for cornbread (but this reminds me to hound her!), but I did have this gluten-free cornbread mix courtesy of  I was skeptical that a gluten-free mix could be as good as mom’s.


I followed the recipe on back, but reduced the sugar from 1/2 cup to 3 tablespoons and the butter from 8 tablespoons to 3.  The result:  a perfectly moist, gritty, delicious cornbread that was ALMOST as good as mom’s (she adds love to her cornbread, obviously).


I ended up eating two slices of cornbread with honey alongside pinto beans:


And roasted asparagus and mushrooms.

IMG_5510 IMG_5511

In other news…


My suitcase is now unpacked and repacked for another weekend trip (but blogging shall resume as normal!).  Wish I could bring Maggie and James with me.


And I ran a 5K this afternoon in about 31:00.  I gave myself 48 hours to rest following my Century, and since I felt so great, I figured I’d be fine to run.  Not so!  About 2 miles in, my legs started to whimper.  I wrapped it up as fast as I could and then called it a night.  Need more stretching + rest, I suppose!


Pre-run snack was a strawberry breakfast bar (the photograph must’ve been delicious, because my camera ate it) and and post-run snack was a bowl of cherries:


What’s your favorite ‘American’ dish?  I used to LOVE Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh – they made the city’s mascot sammie: meat, coleslaw (the oil kind, not mayo), cheese, and big, thick fries in between two slices of French bread.  Mmm.  If that’s not American, I’m not sure what is!



  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 26, 2010, 8:17 pm

    As one southern girl to another, that cornbread looks amazing!!! Cornbread with honey is seriously the best.. plus pinto beans? Girl, it doesn’t get much better than that!! Add some turnip greens or collard greens and it would be perfect!

  • Allie May 26, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Mmm yes, cornbread. Born and raised in the south as well (Charlotte, NC) and love southern food so much. Collards, pinto beans, and cornbread, always yummy :D.
    But I love southern breakfasts the most. Back before I went vegan, I loved biscuits, sausage, bacon, and grits. I’m still looking for a perfect southern vegan breakfast…

  • Sarah for Real May 26, 2010, 8:26 pm

    As American as… APPLE PIE! Well, I prefer just the insides mostly…

  • devon May 26, 2010, 8:35 pm

    I had some cornbread from the Whole Foods hot bar today… and it was wicked good. It had cheese in it. Love me some Southern cookin’!

  • Lorin May 26, 2010, 8:44 pm

    You seem to customize recipes to be healthier, I wish I could have the confidence to do that. I always feel that if I change something (like reducing the amount of sugar) it won’t taste good or will burn or something. Got any tips, or does it just come from experience?

    • Caitlin May 26, 2010, 9:00 pm

      I’m never postive it will work but I just go for it! Have no fear. With this mix, I figured try were greatly over doing the sugar and butter and could reduce it without compromising the base of the recipe.

  • Lindsay @ Summit Sandwiches May 26, 2010, 8:47 pm

    Cornbread is just one of those things that is impossible to resist. I can’t believe that mix called for a 1/2 cup sugar and 8T of butter! Man, that’s a lot. I’m glad to know your reductions didn’t mess with the cornbread’s taste.

    My favorite American dish is mac + cheese made with real Wisconsin cheddar. Mmmmm…..none of that weird powdery cheese stuff.

  • Lexie May 26, 2010, 8:47 pm

    I luckily am not a HUGE fan of Primantis. And I say luckily because I live so close to it! The one thing I adore, that’s not just American but strictly Pittsburgh is french fries on my salad. Apparently we just put fries on everything here?

  • Karen @ Not Just Celery May 26, 2010, 8:48 pm

    I have to go with mac & cheese as my favorite “American” dish! You can’t go wrong. There are so many varieties and I find it an easy dish to “healthify.” One of my favorites swaps out some of the pasta for butternut squash; another for cauliflower!

  • lauren @ Eater not a runner May 26, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Cornbread is one of my favorite foods, that looks amazing!

  • Me-Linh @ Sweet and Sweat May 26, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Your cornbread looks yummy. I think my favorite American dish is still fried chicken and mashed potatoes, even though I’m a vegetarian! I guess it’s fried tofu now but it will never be the same

  • Jen May 26, 2010, 8:54 pm

    Ah cornbread screams South to me too. I never had it til I moved to SC 10 years ago, and now I love it 🙂

  • Katie May 26, 2010, 8:55 pm

    My mom’s meatloaf.She used crushed cornflakes instead of breadcrumbs. I remember a guest on Rachel Ray one day saying that that was her special trick, and I remember thinking ” My mom’s been doing that for as long as I’ve been around!”

  • Josie May 26, 2010, 8:55 pm

    I have to say– I was reading an article about CHERRIES! Did you happen to know that it is a great post-workout snack, being that they help sore muscles?
    Great dinner!

    • Caitlin May 26, 2010, 9:00 pm

      Fun fact!!

  • Carolyn @ May 26, 2010, 9:02 pm

    I’m not sure I can come up with ONE American dish: chicken and dumplings, shrimp and grits, BLT on toast with a side of chips.

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary May 26, 2010, 9:06 pm

    Can I just say that Maggie is SO CUTE! I want to squeeze her 😀

  • Alexandra May 26, 2010, 9:06 pm

    Ahhh, Primanti’s! I eat there MAYBE 2-3 times a year–so yummy, but so anti-health! lol I don’t get the coleslaw on my sandwich. And I almost always get the fries on the side.

  • Wei-Wei May 26, 2010, 9:08 pm

    Yumm! How did you know that reducing the sugar and butter by so much would make it turn out okay?? I wish I knew that much about baking to play with the ratios like that…


  • Danielle (Runs on Green) May 26, 2010, 9:10 pm

    Ohh I love gritty cornbread…it’s not meant to be cakey!

    My fav. American dish would be the sweet potato fry (that’s an American thing, right?)

  • Evan Thomas May 26, 2010, 9:12 pm

    I’ll take a big ol’ dish of ground beef and white potato anyday. haha!

    That cornbread mix sounds good! I still need to figure out how to adapt my old recipe since going gluten-free

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog May 26, 2010, 9:15 pm

    did you see that there is a primanti brothers in Fort Lauderdale??? just was poking around the website and saw that.

    • Caitlin May 26, 2010, 10:27 pm

      roadddd trip!

  • Brynne May 26, 2010, 9:20 pm

    Yumm cornbread is the best! I think my favorite “American” food is a bacon egg and cheese :0)

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 26, 2010, 9:24 pm

    Cornbread and beans sounds so good!

    My favorite American food is a cheeseburger (or cheesesteak) and fries. 🙂


  • Janelle May 26, 2010, 9:24 pm

    I think honey and cornbread is one of my all time favorite comfort foods. We always called it “Johny Cake” growing up – not sure why?

    I have a soft spot for velveeta shells and cheese – I know it is about as processed as it comes, and I haven’t had it in years, but dang I love that stuff! [hangs head in shame…]

  • lisa May 26, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Caitlin, just curious: When you eat something before a run, how long do you wait until you go for the run?

    • Caitlin May 26, 2010, 10:28 pm

      like twenty minutes – i have a stomach of steel.

  • Erin May 26, 2010, 9:29 pm

    I grew up in Pittsburgh and love Primanti’s 🙂 I moved to Dallas and can also speak to the necessity of a piece of darn good Southern cornbread. Both in occasional moderation, of course 🙂 Now I live overseas, and will definitely be partaking in a bit of both when I return to the States.

    It’s hard to know what my favorite American dish is…but I miss hummus the most.

    • Katherine May 27, 2010, 7:29 am

      is hummus American??

  • Julie @ Pickley Pear May 26, 2010, 9:33 pm

    Meatloaf! Is that American? I love Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese, together. With a veg on the side. I can’t tell you the last time I had that meal.

    Oh your poor legs. That was smart to only run 3 miles, you don’t want to overdue it!

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) May 26, 2010, 9:37 pm

    get that cornbread away from me. I could eat the whole pan…especially if cinnamon butter was around! My fave american dish would be APPLEEE PIEEE.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is May 26, 2010, 9:37 pm

    Primantis!!! I can’t believe it was your favorite. It is SO GOOD. I could go for one right now. Hopefully you get to hit one up while you’re in the ‘burgh!

  • Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy May 26, 2010, 9:37 pm

    Mmm…cornbread!!! My husband likes to make it with lots of sugar — and it’s so good!!!!

    I really like hot dogs!!!! So American!

  • Jenny May 26, 2010, 9:38 pm

    I’m not a big fan of American meat-based dishes, but I love apple pie and vanilla ice cream!

  • Erin May 26, 2010, 9:43 pm

    I *love* cornbread! I haven’t had it in years–it’s nonexistent overseas–but definitely planning to make a batch this summer.

  • Casey May 26, 2010, 9:44 pm

    I love your dog…what breed?

  • Casey May 26, 2010, 9:46 pm

    nevermind…I just clicked on the link!!

  • Marisa (Loser for Life) May 26, 2010, 9:46 pm

    I really wanted cornbread for dinner tonight! You’ve sold me, tomorrow I’m making it!

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething May 26, 2010, 9:59 pm

    oh so love the cornbread-yum!

  • Kellie May 26, 2010, 9:59 pm

    Cornbread is my favorite. I always ask my family to go to Marie Callenders so I can eat their cornbread with honey butter. So yummy.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 26, 2010, 10:04 pm

    I love bratwurst, macaroni salad, beans, and watermelon. A good ‘ole American BBQ!

  • Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt May 26, 2010, 10:06 pm

    My parents are in Pittsburgh right NOW eating at Primanti Bros RIGHT NOW. Love, love, love their sandwiches.

  • Megan May 26, 2010, 10:07 pm

    I found I could swim as normal right after my century a couple weeks ago. It felt good to shake the legs out and get them loose again before I started to run or bike again.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 26, 2010, 10:20 pm

    Are you really that blonde??

    • Caitlin May 26, 2010, 10:29 pm

      i was as a baby! then puberty hit and now i’m naturally dark brown.

  • Lisa @ bakebikeblog May 26, 2010, 10:44 pm

    What a fabulous dinner! Love it!!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople May 26, 2010, 10:47 pm

    I can’t think of anything specifically “American” that I like. Having grown up in Oregon, I can’t even really think of anything that is specifically from here.

    And I completely don’t understand the appeal of cornbread. It tastes so awful to me! But then, so do a lot of typically Southern foods.

  • Krystina May 26, 2010, 11:01 pm

    Those cherries look delicious. I want to get some but they’re so pricey. 🙁

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 10:57 am

      They are now $3.99 a pound in Florida, which means they will be cheap up north soon, too!

      • Krystina May 27, 2010, 11:48 am

        Girl, we’re both in the same city currently! Did you get them at Winn Dixie, Publix or somewhere else? I’m now on a mission.

        • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:51 am

          oh cool! i got them at publix.

  • Lorin May 26, 2010, 11:15 pm

    Sorry I already commented tonight, thanks for the answer to my question. I had a tragic dinner though tonight, I became vegetarian about a month and a half ago and my mom was making lasagna. She made it half meat half veggie (for me). But near the end of it, I saw that I had meat crumbles that seemed to slide towards the veggies. I think I might have eaten some meat. I know it’s not the end of the world, but it did upset me because I’m really dedicated to being 100% meat-free now. Has this ever happened to you? What did you do if it has?

    • Katherine May 27, 2010, 7:30 am

      I am so sorry to hear this; that is like my worst nightmare!

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 10:59 am

      Bahhhhh I would’ve been pretty grossed out. But it’s alright – you and your mom made the effort to have a vegetarian dish and your heart was in the right place. Next time, stick to the edges 🙂

  • Camille May 27, 2010, 12:12 am

    I deeply, passionately, unequivocally, love grilled cheese.
    I mean, we’re talking Jack and Rose, Romeo and Juliet love here.

  • Jolene ( May 27, 2010, 12:32 am

    I don’t know what dishes are quintessentially “American”, but my favourite Canadian dish is perogies, with cabbage rolls and sausage!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) May 27, 2010, 12:57 am

    southern cooking is the best, hands down…it’s all-encompassing and OH SO good 🙂

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 27, 2010, 3:11 am

    I love some cornbread – I made some once which was incredible, but I had some at a restaurant which was way too oiy and greasy 🙁 I haven’t really tried any other American dishes; pumpkin pie is first on my list!
    Have a good day 🙂

  • Luna May 27, 2010, 3:16 am

    Does pumpkin spice latte count as a dish? (I think I am the only italian who doesn’t like espresso coffee and has an “american style” coffee machine…) 😀

  • Helen May 27, 2010, 3:22 am

    Living in the UK I would really love to try as much US food as possible….pumpkin pie, red velvet cupcakes, real American hotdogs! I’ve brought Jamie Oliver’s American cookbook and it has great things in that I can’t wait to try.

  • Julia @ May 27, 2010, 4:20 am

    Maggie is just adorable! I get to see my little pup Ruby on Saturday (the one who has been ill) and I can’t wait.

    My favourite american food ain’t healthy – pancakes, crispy bacon and maple syrup! I will be eating this everyday on my honeymoon – SANS bacon I hope!!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog by the way, its appreciated.


  • Katherine May 27, 2010, 7:28 am

    this reminds me of “Chicken Fried” by Zach Brown Band
    download, listen, appreciate 🙂

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:00 am

      i love that song!

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) May 27, 2010, 8:22 am

    My favorite American dish may be pumpkin pie – soooooo good! And zucchini bread.. and chocolate chip cookies…. and.. yeah. I like sweets.

  • Becca May 27, 2010, 8:33 am

    Yes! Cornbread and pinto beans are my two favorite things, throw some collard greens in there and you’re really rockin. I like to douse my beans with ketchup and pepper. Yum.

  • Juli D. May 27, 2010, 8:35 am

    Does apple pie count? Nothing reminds me of my Mama and home cooking like apple pie.

  • Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) May 27, 2010, 8:47 am

    I LOVE cornbread! It is in my top favorite dishes. As for American food? I love a good slice of apple pie 😀


  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing May 27, 2010, 8:53 am

    I love all kinds of “American” dishes as long as they are done in a homemade, interesting way! Like really great mac and cheese, grilled cheese, cornbread, burgers… yum!

  • Kelly May 27, 2010, 8:57 am

    I’d have to go with a nice juicy burger and fries.

  • Hedda May 27, 2010, 8:57 am

    Fun post 🙂
    I can tell you a lot of people here in Norway associate a huge burger, fries and ketchup as typical American (think Hard Rock style). And pancakes!
    As well as using peanut butter with everything, haha 😀

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly May 27, 2010, 9:31 am

    Cornbread and I are really good friends!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! May 27, 2010, 9:33 am

    Totall agree with your “fitness philosophies”! =)

    Aren’t cherries so good right now…..YUM!

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner May 27, 2010, 9:41 am

    Cornbread pretty much tops my list too. In fact, I made your Pumped Up Corn Casserole for our guests the night before our half marathon this past weekened. It was my second time making it and it was a hit …again! thanks!

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:01 am

      Oh I forgot about that dish… Need to make it soon. Glad you liked it!

  • Christina May 27, 2010, 10:16 am

    I never thought I’d see Primanti Bros mentioned on a healthy food site! I’m a former Pittsburgher too and still get one when I’m back- but one a year is enough. 🙂

  • jessica May 27, 2010, 10:32 am

    Hi Caitlin, I’m just curious how you handle being vegetarian and going to weddings? I have three upcoming weddings and I know the dinner choices will all be meat based. How do you politely request a vegetarian dish? Do you speak up beforehand? I feel like I’m being such an annoyance :/

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:03 am

      Not saying this is the most politically correct way of doing things, but…

      If I get an RSVP card and there are no veg options (i.e. “check one: fish or meat”) I usually write under it “vegetarian if available.” I know from being a bride myself that caterers can easily make a vegetarian plate. And trust me, there is no way you are the only vegetarian at the wedding! Furthermore, I figure the bride and groom shouldn’t waste a steak on me if I’m not going to eat it. If that doesn’t work and I get served a meat dish anyway, I just eat the sides. I usually bring an emergency Clif bar in my purse for moments like that.

      This is exactly why we did a buffet at our wedding. We had meat entrees but the vegetarians could easily make an entire meal out of side + salad options.

  • Meg May 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    Primanti’s is AMAZING. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in the ‘burgh anymore – I would eat their #2 bestseller way too often if I still lived in Pgh!

  • Nichole May 27, 2010, 11:34 am

    This was such a great post to read, especially with my Georgia Roots. Nice work on the cornbread, that in a glass of milk is astonishingly good.

    I am going with a classic burger (beef, turkey, veggie, whatever) and fries. My fave.

  • Jenna May 27, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Hi Caitlin,

    I’m so excited that you are going to Pittsburgh! I’m going back to Western PA in about 3 weeks to do the MS150 (with the optional century on the first day) and definitely looking to some good ol’fashioned pierogies and Primanti’s.

    Have a great trip!

  • Dominique May 27, 2010, 8:29 pm

    OMG I love that photo of Maggie on top of your suitcase. It’s like she’s getting ready to go to Pittsburgh with you!

  • Joy May 28, 2010, 11:22 am


    When you were little and your dad was going on a business trip, you would get into his suitcase just like Maggie did in the picture on your blog. So cute. Mom

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