carbo-loading and the pioneer spirit December 8, 2009


I have a confession to make: I'm a little late to the The Pioneer Woman phenomenon. I had heard the name of the blog bandied about but never read the blog until I went to BlogHerFood in San Francisco. The quiet chatter amongst everyone at the conference that Ree Was Here made me perk up my ears. As she talked during her panel, I was taken aback by how humble, self-effacing and witty she was – not to mention completely stunning. I was instantly a fan.

As one of the treats in our after-after party swag bags, Ree included vouchers for her book, which I took advantage of immediately. Just like her blog, the tales she tells draw you in. Her writing and approach to cooking and feeding her family make you want to know her. You feel like you DO know her. She's the every woman's SuperWoman.

This is what drew myself and some friends to her book signing in Atlanta this week. Our group – including fellow bloggers The Broke Socialite and Susan along with my friends Jen and Andrea – were only a drop in the bucket at this thing. The crowds snaked between rows and rows of bookshelves – Ree must have signed books for hours after we left. Connections with people like that are real. Her blog and all of her success comes from a pure, warm-hearted place. I was so happy to be able to say hello and support her in her venture.


If you haven't seen or purchased the book yet, do so. While a lot of the recipes are a little stick-to-your-ribs and meat-centric for me, I love the recipe play by play throughout the book. If you want a book that's going to tell you EXACTLY how to make solid versions of classic recipes, this is it. The recipe that kept sticking out in my mind was a decadent Cheesy Olive Bread. It has all my favorite things in it: crunchy bread, gooey cheese, and briney olives. See why my bathrobe is tight?

Between my recent trip to Louisiana and my New Orleans Saints-obsessed boyfriend, I decided to spin this recipe into Muffuletta Bread. While this batch I made left off the meat, you could easily place a layer of salami and mortadella underneath the cheese mixture. Ree's original recipe lended itself to substituting plain olives for the classic olive salad, complete with chopped giardinara. A little Cajun seasoning added some zip. This was delicious. The topping is gooey – almost like spinach dip – and a great contrast to crunch Ciabatta bread. It's already on the menu for our New Year's Eve party – a hearty appetizer to feed a group.

Muffuletta Bread – based on a recipe by The Pioneer Woman found here

  • 1 loaf fresh Ciabatta Bread sliced in half lengthwise – you can use French bread if you like – i used ciabatta for some extra texture
  • 6 ounces green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • 6 ounces pitted black olives – i used kalamata but regular black olives would be fine too
  • 6 ounces pickled vegetables or giardinara, drained thoroughly
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 stick of butter – softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cups mayonnaise – Use Duke's here. Trust me.
  • 1/2 pound provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound white cheddar or mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning – I used Tony's

– Preheat oven to 325F.

– Chop green olives and black olives in a rough chop. Chop green onion into uniform thin slices. Rough chop giardinara. Discard any stems from peppers, etc included in your vegetable mix. Add to large mixing bowl. 

– To that bowl, add: mayonnaise, softened butter, shredded Provolone & Cheddar, and Cajun seasoning. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly on each side of Ciabatta loaf. Place on large baking sheet and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Check to ensure that cheese mixture on top is golden and bubbly – you may have to give it a few minutes depending on your oven. Cut into pieces and serve immediately.


Patti Davis Dec 8, 2009 10:12 am

Lord, how I love a muffuletta. Nom nom nom…

tamih Dec 8, 2009 12:12 pm

Me too! The next batch of this I make I’ll be adding some meat between the bread and cheese mixture. Delicious!

Deanna Dec 8, 2009 01:12 pm

I just recently jumped on the Pioneer Woman bandwagon too! I’m going to have to get my hands on her cookbook. In the meantime let me recommend these French Breakfast Puffs from her site. They might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten!

health directory Dec 8, 2009 01:12 pm

That looks so great! Howcome I’ve never seen such a thing? What a piece of art.

katie Dec 8, 2009 04:12 pm

I’m so sad I missed you last night. I didn’t end up getting there until around 645p and was there until the wee hours of the night.
And this recipe is making me drool. So wrong Tami.

The Broke Socialite Dec 9, 2009 10:12 am

‘Twas such a blast, sure enough!

tamih Dec 9, 2009 04:12 pm

Oh my…
Thanks for bringing those to my attention. Not a big breakfast person but that looks like a great recipe to fix while at my BF’s house for Xmas!

tamih Dec 9, 2009 04:12 pm

i’m bummed, too. looked around to see if i recognized you but there were 28153264294729565 people there. Glad you finally got to the end of the line. By the time you hit the table, we had hit 1/2 price wine night at Twist and probably gotten home already!
It’s so wrong, it’s right, Katie.

tamih Dec 9, 2009 04:12 pm

Always such a joy to see you, Gayle ;)

Lynn Dec 10, 2009 04:12 am

Yeah – she’s the It Girl right now. I was reading about her in Southern Living and added a link to my blog so I would remember to go by her website now and then.
I felt a little twinge that I let that book signing get by me! Shoot – I missed it. :)

The Teacher Cooks Dec 13, 2009 06:12 pm

I was there but the line it was too long. I waited 2 hours, but had to leave so I could get to work the next day. Muffuletta’s are great!!!

katie o. Dec 17, 2009 07:12 pm

Dito, but no doubt you were long gone. I basically found a spot and sat for hours. I got a few shots with Bakerella and even ended up on her site (first photo in the flickr stream).
So sad I missed 1/2 price wine night. Definitely would haverather have been drinking than waiting…and waiting…and waiting…

Rachel Schultz Jan 19, 2010 02:01 pm

Wow! Finally somebody that I’ve known Pioneer Woman longer than!