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Entries in cooking (122)


Cherry Nut Pound Cake


I admit it, one of my guilty pleasures has always been maraschino cherries.  I love them like crazy!  I don’t even want to know what’s in them--it’ll ruin all the fun.  They’re so pretty, all bright red and shiny--I love shiny!  If we’re out for ice cream, and one of the kids doesn’t want the shiny cherry on top?  Fork it over, kid--I’ll take care of that for you.  I’ll even let it sink to the bottom sometimes, carefully eating around it, so I can enjoy it last.  

Here’s another super simple recipe that you can serve for the holidays, or any time of year.  Coincidentally, there are maraschino cherries in it--how lucky is that?  My mom gave me the recipe quite a few years back, and I made it right away, because, you know--cherries?  Yeah.  My husband loves this, too!  He’s not a a huge fan of desserts (I know!), but he adores this cake.  By the way, I really do mean “super simple.”  It’s all in one bowl--no mixing wet, mixing dry, blending and alternating.  Easy! 

red ornament

Since it’s a pound cake, it improves every day.  Like shortbread cookies.  Now, I don’t really know why this is, and I’ve even looked into it--but can’t find a good reason for it.  I’m assuming it’s something about the butter?  Maybe the Butter Gods shine their golden buttery light down on buttery baked goods and demand they get better with each day that passes.  Same thing with the Bacon Gods, I assume--except they demand that you eat all of the bacon in one damn sitting.  But don’t quote me on that.

Anyway, you could make this in the next couple of days, and it would be perfect to serve for Christmas.  In fact, I made mine on December 13th, and we’re still enjoying it this week, seven days later!  Just keep it covered, on the counter.  Unless your kitchen is super warm--mine’s on the cool side this time of year, so it’s ok.  In warmer climates, store it in the fridge.  The Butter Gods don’t approve of warm weather.


Cherry Nut Pound Cake

makes one 10 inch round cake

1/2 pound (2 sticks) of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (totally optional)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, stems removed! (I used one 10 oz. jar, plus half of another to get the 1 cup chopped cherries)

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease 10 inch round cake pan, set aside.

In a standing mixer, or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and blend well.

Add the yogurt (or sour cream), vanilla, vanilla powder (if using), flour and baking powder.  Blend just until moist.

Fold in the walnuts and cherries.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for one hour--cake tester should come out clean. 

Cool in the pan, on a cooling rack.  Run a knife around the edge, and remove the cake: plate inverted on top of the cake pan, turn the cake out on to the plate, then flip it right side up on to your serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Cherry Nut Pound Cake


Seneca Crisp Onion Turkey Sliders

Crispy snacks.  Onions.  Football.  Burgers.  I love all of these.  If you added them up, what would you come up with? 


For me, it was simple.  Sliders!  We  used to make them all the time until we drastically cut back on meat.  So when we do have them now, they’re a huge treat.  In a small package.  Ha!  

Have you guys ever tried Seneca Crisp Onions?  They’re completely addictive.  Crispy and thin, slightly sweet, tasting sort of like onion rings.  You can toss them on salads, have them in sandwiches and wraps (Remember putting potato chips in your ham sandwiches when you were a kid?  Or--maybe, like me--you still do.), or straight out of the bag.  You can crush them up and use them in cooking.  Adding these to some breadcrumbs would make an amazing breading for fish or chicken!  Oh, and in meatloaf!  

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah they’re good--they’re probably deep fried and bad for me!”  NO, they’re not bad for you.  Check out the nutritional info.  (Just click on that big arrow on the page.)   See?  No weird ingredients, no high fat content--just a crispy tasty snack you can feel good about eating. 

Seneca tweeted me a few weeks back and asked me if I’d like to participate in their Gridiron Challenge.  Yes, unlike some companies, they have a real, honest to goodness person tweeting for them, not some Bot.  The challenge was easy--develop a recipe that would be enjoyed at football parties, tailgating, or just for when you’re hanging out at home watching the game.  Again, I love food, and I love football, so yeah!  I was all for it.

UPDATE: My slider recipe won the Grand Prize in the Seneca Gridiron Challenge. Woohoo!

These sliders are super easy!  Just take some of the Seneca Crisp Onions, pop them in your food processor, and whiz them up into crumbs.  Add the crumbs to your ground turkey (or beef, if you prefer) with just one more ingredient, and you’ll be pigging out on sliders in no time.  Oink!  That’s right--these slider patties have only three ingredients!  Toppings are up to you, but I’ll list what I used.


Seneca Crisp Onion Game-time Turkey Sliders

These sliders get their signature onion flavor from Seneca Crisp Onions.  A bit more sophisticated than burgers seasoned with dry onion soup mix, and no hidden chemicals or extra salt in Seneca's Onions!  The onion flavor comes through beautifully--so delicious! 

1 pound of ground turkey, approx. (this package was 1.3 pounds)
1 1/2 cups Seneca Crisp Onions
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Your favorite mayo
Your favorite hot sauce (we used Cholula-lime)
Sliced Banana Pepper Rings
Sliced Colby Jack Cheese
Slider sized buns

Place the Seneca Crisp Onions in a food processor and process them until you have fine crumbs.

Place the ground turkey, Seneca Crisp Onion crumbs, and Old Bay Seasoning in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Shape into small patties (or regular sized if you don't want small sliders.)  Set aside while you make the "very complicated" mayo.

In a small bowl, mix mayo and hot sauce.  Amounts are up to you--how hot do you like it?

Grill your patties until done.  Serve on toasted buns with Colby jack cheese, spicy mayo, and sliced banana pepper rings.  You can also add some of the whole Seneca Crispy Onions to your sliders!

  -Servings depend on the size of your patties.

  • These patties are loaded with flavor, and will have your guests wondering why your onion burgers are so much better than theirs.
  • If you don’t have Old Bay in your pantry, run out and get some right now! It’s not just for shrimp and crab boils.  It’ll soon be your go-to when you’re looking for that extra oomph in your recipes.  There.  Now I’ve gone and given you two “secret ingredients.” 

Turkey Sliders with Seneca Onions


Asian Style Mash Up Hot Wings

Asian Style Hot wings

Welcome to another edition of #GoJunkFood!  You may remember the last two--we did BLT’s and Loaded Fries.  We’ve got some fun plans on the horizon, too--so stay tuned for those!

This all started because one day, my husband said he was craving loaded fries.  You can guess what happened next.  Yes.  I was craving them, too!  He wasn’t in the mood anymore, but I still was.  Chris, at Blog Well Done, tweeted to me “So what’s stopping you?”  And you know what?  Nothing was!   #GoJunkFood was born.

Anyone is welcome to join, too.  We usually formulate our plans on Twitter, so if you’re there, give us a follow and stay up to date on the junk food goodness!

This time, we’re tackling Hot Wings.  Oh, how I love hot wings!  I decided to go an Asian style route, and grabbed a bunch of things from the fridge and pantry, and set to work.  The sauce looks like it has a long list of things, I know.  So feel free to use it as is--and it’s damn good (!), or take it and use it as a guideline for ideas. 

I also think the sauce could use more heat.  I was adding Sriracha like nobody’s business, and it still wasn’t very hot.  I have a cold, though, and figured I’d better stop, thinking my taste was off kilter.  Nope--they were tame enough for my 15 year old--she loved these!  Maybe it’s time for a new bottle of Rooster Sauce.


Asian Style Mash Up Hot Wings

3.5 lbs wings (approx)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 tsp salt

1/3 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup Black Bean Garlic Sauce
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp agave1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup canola
Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste

-Mix the flour, 5 spice and salt in a large, gallon size zip top bag.  Drop about half the wings into the bag, seal it, and shake it all up to coat them.  Remove the wings to a baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the wings.  Set the pan of coated wings in the fridge to set the flour, for about 40 minutes or so.

-In the meantime, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside, and heat the oven to 400.

-Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment.  Take each wing and drop it in the sauce, gently turning it to coat it completely with sauce.  Place it on the baking sheet.  Don't overcrowd the sheet--use two if you have to.  Bake for 45 minutes, turning the wings over after the first 25 minutes.

-I like to turn the oven to broil after 45 minutes, and get the tops darker and crispier.  Just a few minutes, and keep an eye on them.  Remove from oven.  Transfer the wings from the pan to a cooling rack--cool for a few minutes and serve.

  • The only complaint from the taste testers was that I didn’t make enough of these babies.
  • Feel free to go ahead and fry these, if you like. 
  • With the Sriracha…it’s usually really spicy--a lot.  So be careful if you don’t like things too hot, and start with small amounts.  You can always add more.

Check out the other #GoJunkFood participants for all hot wing goodness you could ever imagine!

Heather, Chris, Renee, Paula, and Judy

 Asian Style Hot wings


Fig Nut Bars

Fig Nut Bars

Date bars are one of my all time favorite treats.  Some of you may remember when I posted my grandmother’s date nut bar recipe.  If not, have a look.  I’d do anything, or drop whatever I was doing to have some of those when I was a kid.  Come to think of it, I still would--but now I’m the one that makes them. 

So I still have a huge amount of dried figs hanging around, and although eating them straight from the bag is one of the best ways to enjoy them, I felt like I needed to do something else with them.  Yep, you can see where I’m going with this.  Fig Nut Bars!  They adapted beautifully to the date bar recipe, and are insanely good! 

I have yet to find a date nut bar (or fig, for that matter) recipe that can stand up to my grandmother’s recipe.  And trust me when I say this--I’ve tried a lot.  If someone’s got them on the menu, I’m trying them.  I’m always disappointed.  They’re usually hard (maybe they sit around too long?), very dry, too sweet--whatever--just gross.  These bars won’t disappoint.  They’re tender, not overly sweet, slightly salty in the crust, and perfect.  Yes, I’ll go as far as to say these are perfect!  I had to play around with the filling a bit to adapt it to the figs, but I made it work.  For you guys.  Oh, the things I do for this blog. Haha!

Fig  Nut Bars

Fig Nut Bars

makes one 9x13 pan

For the Figgy Filling:
1 lb dried Black Mission figs, stems removed and chopped (I used kitchen shears)
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1  tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Make the filling: Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10
Note:  You want the final fig mixture to be thick, not leaky--and spreadable, because you have to layer it over the bottom crust.   Also, I chopped the figs into quarters.  They didn't break down as much as I'd hoped, so before stirring the vanilla and pecans in, I ran the fig mixture through the food processor, just enough to break them up--you still want a few chunks in there.

Add 1 TBSP butter, the vanilla, and the walnuts, and set the filling aside to cool a bit.

Prepare the crust: Combine all dry ingredients with the melted butter.  Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.

Carefully spread the filling evenly over the bottom crust, to within about a half inch of the edges--a rubber spatula works great for this.  Sprinkle remaining crust over the filling, and again, press firmly--but be gentle at the same time.  Press just enough to give it a good hold on the filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, and I'm serious when I say this, no longer than 25 minutes!  As long as your oven is running at the correct temperature, that's all the time these need.  Cut into squares when cool, and store in an airtight container.

  • Note:  I always get impatient and cut a little corner out to try while they’re still warm. That’s ok!  But it’s so important that you let the bars cool before you cut them, or they’ll probably fall apart.  You need to let that bottom crust cool and set up.

Fig Nut Bars


It’s a Fig-a-palooza!

Photo by Gudlyf

Who doesn’t love figs?  I know we do.  LOVE.  If, like me, your only exposure to figs while growing up was in Fig Newtons, then you need to get yourself some fresh figs, STAT.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Fig Newtons--I still love those cookies to this day.  Fresh figs are completely different.  Slightly sweet, so fresh tasting--like summer!  I say get some STAT,  because the fresh fig season is so short, sadly.  Seems they appear in the markets as quickly as they disappear.  You need to jump on them when you see them, or you may not get any.

So when Cristina from the California Fig Advisory Board contacted me about trying some fresh figs*, I nearly jumped through my laptop--all the way to California--to say “Yes, please!”  

Fig Ice Cream

I was expecting maybe a pound or two?  No.  It was so funny when I opened the door.  There were two giant boxes waiting for me.  They were both filled almost to the brim with figs!  There were five flats of fresh figs that had 36 in each--and all different varieties.  Plus--two bags full of dried figs, that were each weighing in at four pounds!  I didn’t get any photos of them because honestly, it was incredibly hot the day they arrived, and my first priority was to get the flats broken down and the delicate figs stored somewhere cool.  My friend Kathy at A Good Appetite got some beautiful photos of what exactly was included, and I’m sure you’ll want to see them.  Figs are just gorgeous, inside and out!

So let’s add that up, ok?  Five flats of 36 each--that’s 15 dozen fresh figs!  And 4 pounds of dried figs!  We’re in fig heaven, I’m telling you.  What have we done with them?  Well, besides eating a ton of them as they are, I made a fig jam and fig ice cream.  There were so many of them, and they’re pretty fragile, so we ended up freezing some of them for winter use.  I’ll be looking forward to that!

The Fig Ice Cream can be found at Vanilla Garlic.  It’s creamy, figgy and wonderful!  Also--easy, but it can be time consuming when it comes to cooking the figs down.

Fig Jam 

The Fig Jam--well, I just read a few recipes and winged it.  The result is a thick, chunky fig jam that is delicious anywhere you’d use any other jam.  It would also be amazing with a nice aged cheese, which I’m all out of!  Damn.

Fig Jam
makes about 2 cups

14-15 fresh figs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
small splash of lime juice

Rinse the figs and quarter them.  Add them to a medium saucepan with only the water left on them from rinsing.
Cook them down over medium heat, and kind of smush them with a wooden spoon to help them along.  Cook them down for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the sugar, increase heat a bit, and let the figs cook more.  Stir occasionally.
It'll be hot, so be careful!  (A splatter screen comes in very handy here.)
Cook the figs and sugar until it's thickened and almost burnt smelling, as if you were caramelizing sugar.Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and lime juice.
Let cool, and then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

I also used some figs in my Summer Harvest Salad.  They’re a great addition to your summer salads!

Summer Harvest Salad

The California Fig Advisory Board has also generously offered to give one of you the SAME PACKAGE I received.  (Remember, you can see photos of the entire thing at A Good Appetite.)  This one is open to US residents only because of shipping.

One winner will receive the same five flats of fresh figs, and two bags of dried figs.  That’s a lot of figgy goodness!   Two huge boxes worth!

Because the shipping season for figs is so short, this has to be a quickie giveaway.  The winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, August 28th.

1.  Just leave a comment here telling me what you’d like to make with figs.

2.  You can retweet this twice a day on Twitter, if you like, and get an additional comment entry with each tweet.  Please leave the timestamp of your tweets in your comment. Retweet this tweet:

It’s a Fig-a-palooza! HUGE fig prize package! Visit @elleskitchen for more details.

Be sure to leave a valid email where you can be reached!

That’s it!  Easy, right?  Good luck! 



Number 12 is...SMITH BITES

Congratulations to our winner, and thank you to everyone for entering! 


*The California Fig Advisory Board generously gave me the fresh and dried figs to try, as well as the same package to give away to one of my readers.  I was not compensated to write this article and give my opinions.