Monday 23 December 2013

Caker Christmas 2013

They were calling for an ice storm the night of my Caker Christmas party, my annual shindig where I invite my Italian in-laws and friends to make caker dishes. Either my guests don’t watch The Weather Network or they love caker food too much. It was a full house. In fact, many felt this was one of the tastiest Caker Christmases ever. Which really isn’t saying much.

Anyways, I’m having a hard time typing on account of my sodium-swollen fingers, so please excuse any typpos.

Come journey through a landscape of beige – otherwise known as the Caker Christmas spread.

Imperial Cheese Cookies
This recipe is one of the most searched recipes on my blog. These savoury cookies didn’t win over any Italian fans, though. I think Italians struggle with the idea of eating cookies as appetizers. Thankfully, I don't share that struggle.

The recipe is here. I added an extra cup of Rice Krispies on the advice of a Caker Cooking reader.

Artichoke Dip
I was told by an Italian guest that this wasn’t a caker dish. “What’s not caker about it?" I asked. “There are three ingredients.” This dip was delicious, so I have suspicions that some Italians consider any food that tastes good “non-caker.”

1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese
8-ounce can artichokes (I used a 14-ounce can and it was fine)

Drain artichokes and cut up. Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan together with artichokes and put in a quiche dish. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes.

Source: Our Family Favourites, Stirling Primary/Junior School

Corn Casserole
Many Italians were surprised by how much they liked this, but I wasn’t. Hello?!? It has creamed corn. Which, in some caker circles, is also known as “crack corn.” This had a nice, subtle sweetness.

2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup milk
2 – 14-oz cans creamed corn
2 ¼ cup crushed soda crackers
½ cup celery, finely diced
¼ cup onion, finely diced
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ tsp paprika, divided

To begin, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish or shallow casserole dish, and set it aside. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, reserving half of the paprika. Pour all of it into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining paprika over the top. Bake for about 1 hour, or until golden on top, and the centre is firm, no longer jiggly.

Source: Something called “Pinterest.”

Chinese Food Casserole
Shout out to China! This dish, made by yours truly, was voted “Worst Tasting Dish” of the night. Whatever. We cakers have thick skin. BTW – this called for three cans of soup. I used only two. Even I have my limits.

1 pound ground beef
1 cup Minute Rice, cooked
1 can Chinese bean sprouts (I couldn’t find a can, so I used fresh and poured boiling water over them, which what the package said to do.)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced onion
½ can Chinese noodles (I’m assuming this meant the deep-fried Chow Mein kind. I used more than a half-can. Which you can likely tell from the picture.)
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Prepare rice and set aside. Brown meat and set aside. Fry celery and onion. Mix all ingredients together except noodles. Place in large casserole and top with noodles. Bake in oven at 350° for 1 hour.

Source: Casserole Cook Book, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian

Hash Brown Casserole
My Greek friend made this and won the coveted title of the night’s “Best Tasting Dish” – for the second year in a row. I think the Italians are starting to feel threatened. Heck, I’m starting to feel threatened. I’m not inviting her next year.

1 cup onion, diced
1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter, thinly sliced
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Kraft Cracker Barrel sharp cheese
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 (2 lb.) bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 to 1 cup potato chips or corn flakes

Stir together well the diced onion, sour cream or yogurt, grated cheese, thinly sliced butter, and Cream of Chicken soup. Add the hash browns and mix well. Spread this mixture evenly in a casserole dish and top with crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake at 350° 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Source: Something called the “internet.”

Mexican Meatloaf
Shout out to Mexico! If you’ve ever wondered what the secret ingredient is in a Mexican meatloaf, it’s nacho chips. Oh, and brown sugar. Sorry the picture is a little blurry. I was a little drunk distracted.

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 crushed garlic cloves
Fine dry bread crumbs
Finely ground nacho chips
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 large eggs
½ cup chunky salsa
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into ¼” cubes
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
¼ cup chili sauce

Combine beef, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, nacho chips, chili powder and jalapeno peppers. Add eggs and salsa. Stir. Add cheese. Mix well. Press evenly into an ungreased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Combine brown sugar, chili sauce and mustard in a small bowl. Mix well. Spread over beef mixture. Bake uncovered at 350° for about 90 minutes until firm. Drain any excess drippings from pan. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Celebration Cooking, The Canadian Bible Society

Spanish Rice Casserole
Shout out to Spain! This recipe called for canned tomatoes. The woman who made it used homemade tomato sauce instead (hence the colour.) When her mother saw this, she said, “You’re wasting good sauce in that?” Everyone's a critic.

1 pound hamburger
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
½ cup uncooked rice
1 20-ounce tin tomatoes

Saute onion in greased frying pan. Add hamburger and brown. Add uncooked rice and tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally. May be made ahead of time. Put in casserole dish and reheat at 350.

Source: The New Y Cook Book

Tortellini Casserole
Shout out to Italy! The chicken coop was squawking over this one. “How can this be caker? There’s tortellini in it!” I pointed out the tortellini was covered with cheddar cheese. That seemed to shut everyone up.

¼ cup butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
½ teaspoon each dried thyme, basil and oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 pound tortellini, fresh or frozen
2 cups grated cheese – marble or cheddar
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large saucepan; add garlic and onion. Cook until tender. Sprinkle with flour and cook 3-4 minutes – do not brown. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook tortellini in boiling salted water for 13 minutes. Drain well. Combine tortellini mixture with sauce. Add cheese and transfer to a 3 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until hot and brown.

Source: Celebration Cookbook, The Canadian Bible Society

No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Pots
These were delicious! Only downside? You have to go out and buy the jars. I say forget that and just use your leftover soup cans. Make sure you wash them out first. Cheesecake + grey bits of mushrooms = bad holiday season.

1 ½ 8-oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 graham crackers, ground (about 1 cup)
12 ounces fresh raspberries
½ cup raspberry jam
1 8-oz glass jars

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the heavy cream. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick and stiff, about 2 minutes. Beat in lemon juice. Spoon graham cracker crumbs into the jars. Top with cheesecake batter, raspberries and jam, alternating red layers with cheesecake batter. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Source: Woman’s Day

Smores Cake
This party guest said she got the recipe when she bought her slow cooker. I don’t have the recipe, but it looks like you bake a cake in a slow cooker (Why would anyone want to bake a cake as slowly as possible?), toss some marshmallows and graham crackers on top and drizzle with melted chocolate. I had s’more for breakfast.

Cool Whip Melba
You make this and then use the container as the mold. If there’s a better example of caker resourcefulness, I’d like to see it. Many people found this “tastefully refreshing.”

2 ½ cups Cool Whip
1 ½ cups finely chopped fresh peaches (about 5 medium). Or use one can (29 oz.) sliced peaches, drained and finely chopped
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 empty 9-oz. Cool Whip container

Tint Cool Whip to desired peach shade with food colouring (approximately 3 drops red; 7 drops yellow.) Thoroughly drain peaches, saving 3 tablespoons juice. Combine peaches, juice and sugar, stir into Cool Whip until well blended. Spoon ¼ of the peach mixture into buttered Cool Whip container; drop 1 tablespoon jam, by half teaspoonfuls, over mixture. Repeat twice. Top with remaining peach mixture. Freeze until firm – at least 8 hours or overnight. Unmold. Garnish with peach slices and additional raspberry jam, if desired.

Source: magazine clipping

And that’s it! 
Another Caker Christmas has come and gone. (Although, for most, it keeps repeating the day after.) Come back next Monday, December 29 when I post my best – and worst – recipes of 2013.

From my garishly-decorated house to yours, all the best for the holiday season!


Still hungry? Check out Caker Christmas from 2012 and 2011!


  1. Brian, the spread this year looks more delicious than ever! In the holiday spirit, I made a delicious appetizer yesterday that you really must try, as it is decidedly caker. Very simple, although it does take a while to bake, but trust me it's worth it. Here's what you do: Take some saltines and lay them out on a baking tray. Sprinkle the top of each with about a teaspoon of parmesan cheese. Wrap 1/2 piece of bacon around each cracker. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours. You can also do this recipe with brown sugar instead of parmesan. Try it, you'll love it, and Merry Christmas!

    1. Two hours?? Good lord, that's a long time. I'll have to put on Steel Magnolias while they bake. Thanks for the recipe. These sound very intriguing. I have a feeling I might have to post these. I'll let you know when I do. Merry Christmas to you, too!

    2. Oh god, don't do it. They put the crack in cracker. Waaaay to addicting.

    3. Now you've really peaked my interest.

    4. Go for it Brian. And p.s., put these on a baking rack placed on top a cookie sheet to bake. This way the bacon grease drips away. Don't worry though, the crackers still absorb enough of the bacon grease to be truly delicious and crunchy.

    5. All right. Consider me sold. I'll add these to my "caker do" list.

  2. What a wonderful spread! But it seems to be missing one food group. Jell-O.

    Wish I was there! I'll cry into my Vegetarian Dinner Roast tomorrow night.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. JELL-O made an appearance with my candle. Needless to say, my guests were speechless when I set it on the table.
      Enjoy your vegetarian dinner. I can only hope your roast isn't made of Special K.

    2. I have a GREAT recipe for Special K loaf that is in that cookbook I told you about. I think you need to give it another try. Special K loaf is a staple food!

    3. Tell you what. Email me the recipe at cakercooking at gmail dot com and I'll have a look. Maybe it's time to do a Special K Loaf investigative report.

  3. We finally dug into the Pineapple Cake after letting it sit since Sunday. How it survived until tonight, (mostly intact), with four kids under 11 is still, in my mind, proof of miracles existing. It was delicious, and my hips are cursing your name for it. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Don't thank me. Thank the good women of St. Mary's Catholic Women's League. I believe that's where the recipe came from. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Your "tribute to beige food" actually had lots of golden munchy in it -- well done! Your Greek friend seems to be a closet foodie -- I'd be suspicious too. It has been a pleasure walking down memory lane with your menu -- I grew up in the 60s, and there is a whole lot of cooking with canned cream soup that I recall with great fondness! I look forward to lots of new/old things in 2014. Carry on!

    1. Thank you. I need all the encouragment I can get in this sodium-laden world we cakers live in.

  5. O my. It just looks And utterly delicious! I'm feeling a little bloated just reading about it.

    And I hereby nominate "Chinese Food Casserole" as the best recipe name ever. Think I'm going to have to try that one.

    1. I thought it tasted pretty good. My mom used to make it all the time. And I turned out okay. I think.

  6. The Hash Brown Casserole looks and sounds a lot like Mormon Funeral Potatoes, which definitely needs to be featured on your blog. I'm so going to make that artichoke dip.

    1. I remember another commenter referring to Hash Brown Casserole as Mormon Funeral Potatoes, which, in my opinion, is a heck of a funner name. Make the artichoke dip. You won't regret it. Well, you will, but you know what I mean.