Thursday 22 December 2011

This blog has been shut down by Public Health!

OK, maybe not. But would anyone be surprised?

Truthfully, this caker is a little cakered out. I need some time for my arteries to unclog. But fear not. I'll be back with a whole new year of recipes starting in January.

In the meantime, I've put together a list of my favourite recipes from 2011. Granted, it was hard narrowing things down. I mean, choosing between Cheesy Cruncharoni casserole and Taco Salad casserole was like asking which Kardashian sister was my favourite. But I persevered.

If I didn't include a recipe you liked, feel free to comment.

Happy Holidays!


My Top 5 Caker Recipes of 2011

1) Mock Apple Pie
You have to make it to believe it.

2) Pineapple Cream Cake
Let this baby ferment for a week or so.

3) Mars Bars
The bars that give Rice Krispies Squares an inferiority complex.

4) Taco Salad Casserole
This is, like, a national dish in Mexico!

5) Porcupine Meatballs
Well worth the lingering stinkiness.

Monday 19 December 2011

Caker Christmas 2011

I’ve got a fridge full of congealing leftovers, the curtains smell all ground beefy and I’ve passed enough wind today to power a turbine. That can only mean one thing, folks – another Caker Christmas has come and gone.

This year saw some caker culinary highs. And, sadly, some new lows. Here’s a rundown of what was made, what was enjoyed and what met the trashcan.

Pickle Puffs
Who doesn’t love a hot pickle? These were a hit.

¼ cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup sharp grated cheese
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
24 small pickles, stuffed olives, onions or nuts

Blend cheese with butter. Stir in salt, flour, and paprika. Place dough on square of waxed paper and form into 6” roll. Dry pickles. Slice roll into ¼” slices and wrap around pickle covering completely. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet. Store in refrigerator until party. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes. May be frozen before cooking.

Source: Favourite Recipes, Bloordale United Church

Confetti Sandwiches
The bad news? These sandwiches had maraschino cherries and gherkins. The good news? They were strangely tasty.

1 ½ pound package Philadelphia cream cheese
12 red and 12 green cherries
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
1 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons Miracle Whip
½ teaspoon dry mustard

Cream cheese and add Miracle Whip and mustard. Combine with rest of ingredients and add 3 or 4 chopped gherkins. Spread on bread and cut to desired size.

Source: Fredericton Christ Church Cathedral Ladies Group

Hot Cheese in Pastry
The recipe called for Gouda. I couldn’t find any at the No Frills. So I got Brie – a decision that would prove to be the night’s biggest controversy. “How is Brie caker?” the Italians wanted to know. I pointed out it was wrapped in crescent dough. They refused to budge. Italians were telling a caker what was caker. I couldn't tell if this was one of the proudest or saddest moments of my life.

1 small round Gouda cheese
1 package Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough

Peel the Gouda and centre it on the rolled dough. Wrap the cheese in the dough. Follow the baking instructions for the crescent rolls. You may want to lower your temperature a bit and increase the baking time to make sure all the cheese is melted. Serve hot. Let people cut their own wedges and serve with or without crackers. Decadently delicious and delightfully easy.

Source: Our Favourite Recipes Cookbook, C.F.B. Winnipeg Ceramic Club

Salmon Cheese Casserole
No one, not even the person who made this, had high expectations for this. But aside from some “bone issues,” most were pleasantly surprised.

1 tin salmon, undrained
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5-6 bread slices
5 cheese slices, cut to form 10 triangles
2 large eggs
½ cup milk

Heat oven to 350°. Mix undrained salmon, onion, pepper, pimento, mayonnaise and seasoning together. Line baking dish with bread (or cube it and mix into mixture). Spread salmon mixture over bread. Beat eggs and milk and pour over all. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Arrange cheese slices on top and bake for 10 minutes without foil.

Source: "Let's Break Bread Together," The United Churches in Canada

French Fry SPAM Casserole
Nothing says Christmas like cubed SPAM. All in all, a solid, cornflake-topped, soup-based caker classic. No shame in the SPAM, friends.

1 (20 ounce) bag frozen French fry potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can SPAM Classic, cut into cubes
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup finely crushed cornflakes

Heat oven to 350°. In large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, sour cream and soup. Stir in SPAM Classic, bell pepper and onions. Spoon into 9x13” pan. Sprinkle with cornflakes. Bake casserole 30 to 40 minutes or until heated thoroughly.


Copper Pennies
Some people balked at the sweetness of this dish, while others argued it was the tastiest dish of the night. OK, one person did.

2 pounds fresh carrots
2 medium onions
1 medium green pepper
1 can tomato soup
¾ cup vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon salt

Slice carrots in ¼ inch rounds. Cook until just tender. Drain carrots and add sliced onion and green pepper. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables. Combine and marinate for several hours or overnight. Drain marinade before serving.

Source: Our Favourite Recipes St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Woman’s League

Cheesy Cruncharoni
Velveeta. Fried onions. And not one, but two cans of soup. The hands-down winner of “Best Dish of Caker Christmas 2011.” I can only imagine how hollow that victory must be for an Italian.

2 cups macaroni
1 can tomato soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (3 ounce) can fried onions
2 cups Velveeta cheese
1 pound hamburger
½ cup green pepper
¼ cup chopped pimento

Heat over to 350°. Cook macaroni. Drain. Brown hamburger and drain fat. Add soups, green pepper, pimento and macaroni. Place half the mixture in a greased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with half the cheese and half the onions. Top with remaining macaroni mixture and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining onions and bake for 5 minutes longer. Serves 8.

Source: The recipe book is from Wisconsin, but doesn't have a cover, so I've christened it "Coverless Wisconsin Cookbook."

Pizza in a Tunnel
This one tanked. Big time. Call me old-fashioned, but the only thing that should be made in a Bundt pan is a Bundt. Speaking of Bundts…

3 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 package slice pepperoni
1 (14 ounce) jar pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Grease 10” fluted pan. For crust: in a large mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, milk, eggs and butter. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With back of spoon, spread 2/3 of dough on bottom and up sides of pan. Layer mushrooms, pepperoni, sauce and 1½ cups of cheese. Spread remaining dough over cheese top layer. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Top with remaining cheese. Return to oven for 2 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: High Park Elementary School Cookbook

Black Forest Cake
Ugh. Made by yours truly, this was a dud of a dessert. There was cake powder throughout. Even the dollop of Cool Whip on the side couldn’t save it. If I were you, I'd pass on this one and enjoy a good Dump instead.

¾ package miniature marshmallows
1 chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling

In a 9x13” pan (spray lightly with Pam), line with miniature marshmallows. Put cake mix on top of marshmallows. Cherry pie filling on top. Bake at 325° to 350° till cake is done. (Marshmallows will come to the top.) Cut in squares. Top with whipping cream.

Source: Paterson Memorial Presbyterian Church 75th Anniversary Cookbook

Sweet Marie Bars
Peanuts. Chocolate. Peanut butter. That Marie's a classy broad. Everyone's sweet on her.

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups peanuts
6 ounces chocolate chips plus 1 teaspoon butter

Melt together peanut butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in double boiler until it becomes warm. Add peanuts. Mix well. Spread in 8x8” pan. Melt chocolate chips and butter and cover top of squares.

Source: A.R.C. Industries Cookbook

Some guests brought squares previously featured on Caker Cooking, including Quick and Easy Skor Bars. Another person brought Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares, but didn’t know what “butterscotch chips” were. (She’s Greek.) Instead, she melted Werther’s candy. The result? Well, let me put it this way. There’s a lot to be said for good intentions.

Speaking of Greeks...

Saturday 17 December 2011

Do you hear what I hear?

It's the sound of a can opening!

Tonight is my annual Caker Christmas party! Aside from having to listen to the unsolicited commentary by my Italian partner ("Those lights better not scratch the wall!" "I can't believe there's a half a cup of oil in this!"), everything is running as smoothly as melted Velveeta.

I've got the carrots marinating in tomato soup, I'm just about to make my three-ingredient Black Forest Cake and I'm on my third rum and Coke.

Watch for Monday's post. I'll include a complete rundown of the event, including photos of the dishes and all the recipes. (I've also got a spy cam set up to capture all the Italians going back for second helpings.)

Until then, hang tight!

Friday 16 December 2011

No Bake Fruitcake

If you’re anything like me (and my condolences if you are), you’ve had a fruitcake fermenting in the garage since October and you're simply dizzy in anticipation to unveil it at Caker Christmas. (Mind you, this "unveiling" will produce a reaction in your guests not unlike the sound of paint drying.)

If you’re nothing like me (yay for you!), you just read this and thought, “Crap. I forgot to make a fruitcake.”

Luckily for you, the women of the Runnymede United Church offer up a simple, no fuss, no bake, marshmallow-laden fruitcake that only takes one week to age.  I've said it before and I'll say it again – church ladies will save your ass every time.

48 marshmallows (see note)
1/3 cup apple juice
¾ cup Carnation evaporated milk
1 ½ cups crushed gingersnaps
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup halved candied cherries
4 ¾ cup crushed vanilla wafers
2 cups broken pecans
1 cup mixed candied fruit

Cut marshmallows into quarters and pour Carnation milk and apple juice over and let stand for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Mix crushed vanilla wafers and gingersnaps, nuts, raisins, fruit and cherries in a large bowl. Add marshmallow mixture and mix well. Pack into foil lined loaf pan. Cover top with foil and leave in fridge for 3-4 days before cutting. It is best to leave a week or so or more to age. Keep stored, covered in fridge.

Note: One 400g bag has enough large-sized marshmallows in it. And no, I have no idea why it has to be 48 marshmallows. Those of you living on the edge can try using 47 or 49, but don't come crying to me if your fruitcake flops.

Source: Centennial Plus One Cook Book

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Clove-Studded Orange Candle Holder Thingies

Here’s a great Caker Christmas craft that even kids can do.

Come to think of it, all caker crafts are easy enough for kids. Hmm. I’m not sure of the equation here, but if I were smarter, I’d definitely make a connection.

In any case, all you need are some oranges, some cloves and this little ditty playing in the background.

1. Cut the tops off oranges and scoop out enough so that a tea light can fit inside snugly
2. Pierce the orange skin with a skewer in a design of your choice
3. Push clove stems into the holes
4. Light the candles
5. Hug yourself

Monday 12 December 2011

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Should you be so lucky to stumble across a caker dessert platter this holiday season (and how gracefully you stumble upon it depends on how many rum and Cokes you’ve had), you’ll find these Peanut Butter Marshmallow squares nestled between the Chocolate Haystacks, Cheerio Chews and the Hello Dolly squares.

I don't know what it is about these squares, but they rank among my favourites. It could be the marshmallows. Or the maple-y scent of the butterscotch chips. Or the peanut butter.

On second thought, it's probably the rum and Cokeses.

½ cup butter
1 (11 ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 cup peanut butter (smooth)
3 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

In the lower pot of a double boiler, add water halfway to top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. In top of boiler, heat butter, butterscotch chips and peanut butter until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows. Pour into buttered 8x8” pan. Refrigerate and cut into squares.

Source: No idea. I stole it from my mom. Where she got it is anyone’s guess. Including hers.

UPDATE: My sister saw this and said I didn't do these squares correctly. She said you spread the peanut butter/butter/butterscotch chip mixture in the pan and then sprinkle the marshmallows on top. This creates a "smooth, creamy base." (Her words). I said I'm following the recipe that Mom wrote down. Needless to say, there's some controversy over this and I intend to resolve it.  (BTW: My sister also said you can microwave everything instead of using a double boiler.)

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: So my sister and I brought thi
s up with the Grand Dame of Caker Cooking herself (in other words, my mom) as we sat around the holiday table eating JELL-O with mandarins and Cool Whip. As much as I hate to say this, my mom agreed with my sister. Pour out the peanut butter mixture and sprinkle the marshmallows on top. Whatever. I'm so over this controversy.

Friday 9 December 2011

Holiday Caker Baker Cereal Boxes

This Caker Christmas, why not surprise that special someone on your list with a nicely decorated cereal box?

Caker Baker Cereal Boxes are an elegant – and economical – way to transport your baked goods this holiday season. For detailed instructions on how to make your own, click here.

I wrapped this Life cereal box in some old holiday paper I found in the garage. There’s simply no better way to say, "I care about you, but not enough to purchase a tin."

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Novelty Dancing Snowballs

We’ve all been there – that awkward 15 minute pause in the conversation at a holiday party. These dancing snowballs are a great way to keep people entertained while they think of the next thing to discuss.

The only downside? The decidedly un-festive smell of mothballs. But hey – that just might get the ol’ conversation wheel rolling again.

"My god, those balls stink."
"Speaking of stinky balls, that reminds me of the time..."

1 tablespoon citric acid
1 pint water
2 tablespoons baking soda

Add acid to water and soda. Add food colouring and mothballs. Balls will dance for 3 hours. A dash of soda and citric acid will start the balls rolling. This makes a lovely Christmas decoration.

Note: 1 pint equals 2 cups. I filled up a couple of vases and adjusted the quantities accordingly. Don't scream like I did when you add the citric acid. I was convinced I was about to blow up the kitchen.

Source: St. Mary's C.W.L. Grafton Cookbook

Monday 5 December 2011

Holly Cookies

Here’s a great way to share the wonder of Caker Christmas with the young’uns in your life. These Holly cookies are easy for kids to make and they taste great. Just like a Rice Krispies Square. Only they’re made with corn flakes…and they’re, uh, green. But aside from that, totally like Rice Krispies Squares.

½ cup butter or margarine
2 packages marshmallows (see Note #1)
1½ teaspoons vanilla
green food colouring
7½ cups corn flakes

Melt margarine and marshmallows. Add vanilla and food colouring. Pour over corn flakes. Fold to mix. Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheets. Add cinnamon candies or cherries for decoration. (See Note #2)

Note #1: I found 250g bags of marshmallows and 400g bags. I opted to go with two 250g bags, although you could try getting away with a single 400g bag.

Note #2: I can't put those cinnamon hearts on anything if it isn't Februray. I'm sorry. I guess I'm a purist. I opted for red M&Ms which gave a nice hit of chocolate. Plus I think they look nicer. Remember to place them "m" side down.

Source: With Hearts that Care and Hands that Serve, Outlook, Saskatchewan

Friday 2 December 2011

Tips on throwing a Caker Christmas party

Pictured (counter-clockwise) are Delicious Corn Bake, Peanut Butter Cauliflower Casseorole, Popcorn Salad, Caker Lasagna and Polynesian Rice Salad

The date has been set, the invites are being prepared and the menu is being finalized. My annual Caker Christmas party is only a few weeks away! 

Non-Cakers may think it’s a snap, but hosting a Caker Christmas party is a lot of work. I mean, there are all those cans to open. But with a little preparation, patience and electrical tape, you’ll be a Caker Christmas pro in no time. 

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.

1) Be prepared
Have an assortment of caker recipes ready for when the panicked procrastinators call the day before. If you’ve invited Italians, you’ll have to clarify the concept of “pot luck.” The idea of going to someone’s house for dinner and bringing a dish can be difficult for them to comprehend.

2) Approve ALL dishes ahead of time
I’ve had guests show up with some of the most inedible crap. People still talk about the year someone came with a bridge loaf iced with green cream cheese. It sat on the table like a satanic Yule Log. Then there was the Special K meatless pot roast. Remember: If you’re scared to eat it, don’t bring it.

3) Sharing is caring
I always ask guests to gather around the table and tell us a little bit about their dish. It makes everyone accountable.

4) Stock up on water
One word: sodium.

5) Decorate the shit out of everything
Wrap garland around banisters, curtain rods and pets.
Lay sheets of cotton batten over every bare surface to create snow-covered landscapes.
Divide your windows into smaller panes using electrician’s tape. Then spray snow in a sweeping motion to give the illusion of a winter wonderland.
Hang your holiday cards on a string. It’s like a laundry line of love.
Don’t forget the bathroom. A Santa toilet seat cover and some pine-scented Avon soaps can add that special touch while someone is dry-heaving.

Coming up Monday: Holly Cookies!

Thursday 1 December 2011

It's the most mangiacake time of the year!

It’s December and that can only mean one thing: Caker Christmas is just around the corner!

For those of you familiar with this blog, you know that Christmas is what started the caker ball a’rollin’. If anyone wants to read about my annual party, click here.

While I’d like nothing more than to invite you all to my house to partake in the festivities, I only have so many plastic forks.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t join the fun. Throughout the month, I'll post caker holiday recipes, holiday crafts and tips about how you can throw your own Caker Christmas bash.

Grab your electrician’s tape, Santa toilet seat cover and green food colouring. It’s going to be the cakiest Christmas ever.

Monday 28 November 2011

Ranch House Casserole

What the hell is going on with Kraft Dinner these days?

When I was growing up, there were two kinds: original and spiral. Nowadays, you can get Extra Creamy, White Cheddar, Whole Wheat, Flax Omega-3, High Fibre, Three Cheese, Alfredo, and even KD made from cauliflower.

If there's one thing cakers don't deal well with, it's variety. So don’t even think about making this dish with anything other than KD original. As my grandmother once said, “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

True dat, granny.

1 package Kraft Dinner
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
¼ cup milk
½ cup canned sliced mushrooms (I used the whole can)
1 cup hot, cooked peas

Heat over to 350°. Prepare Kraft Dinner as directed on package. Add soup and milk and combine thoroughly. Fold in mushrooms and peas. Place in casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

Source: Church of the Hosannas Centennial Cookbook, Hyde Park, ON

Monday 21 November 2011

Chicken Crescent Squares

If the Italians have tomato sauce and the Urkranians have borscht, then cakers can claim Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough as one of the fundamental building blocks of our culinary heritage.

Cakers use it for everything. We top potpies with it. We wrap it around weiners. We stick a marshmallow in it and call it dessert. Heck, I’ve even used it a few times to repair dry wall.

These Chicken Crescent Squares pack a punch with a rich buttery exterior juxtaposed with a creamy, savoury interior. And who said croutons are just for iceberg salads? Play on, player.

1 8 ounce package Pillsbury crescent rolls
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons melted butter or margarine
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
crumbled croutons or stuffing mix, combined with a little butter

Heat oven to 350°. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. In bowl, mix cream cheese, margarine or butter, chicken, seasoning, milk and onion. Divide crescent rolls into 4 large squares. Fill each square with the chicken mixture and fold the square up over the filling. Seal well, making sure there are no leaks. Sprinkle tops with croutons. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

(Note: The dough is perforated and more rectangular than square, so it can be a little finicky to work with. But you'll do just fine. I know it.)

Source: The Best of Enbridge

Monday 14 November 2011

No Bake Chocolate Haystacks

I don’t know what your idea of heaven is, but for me, it’s a church bazaar. And with Christmas around the corner, there are more church bazaars going on now than you can shake a cabbage roll at.

I’m talking individual turkey potpies in foil pie plates, mammoth aluminum coffee percolators, and craft tables offering up knitted slippers with pom poms and tea cozies.

Without a doubt, you’ll find these chocolate haystacks on a bake table, arranged on a Styrofoam meat tray – washed, of course (cakers aren’t fond of E. coli) – lovingly made by a Christian woman in open-toe sandals. Mark my words: they will taste like the work of an angel.

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
½ cup milk
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine butter, sugar and milk in saucepan. Boil for exactly 3 minutes and add remaining ingredients. Blend lightly and drop by teaspoon on waxed paper. Chill.

(Note: The mixture got a little dry, especially towards the end. You may need to mold some with your hands.)

Source: Culinary Creations Down the Line, Interprovincial Pipeline Company

Monday 31 October 2011

Reader Recipe: Tater Tot Casserole

I’m always happy to hear from fellow cakers (it’s therapeutic), so when Bob from Baltimore emailed to share his recipe for Tater Tot Casserole, I grabbed my can opener and gave it a try.

I’m thrilled to report that Bob’s Tater Tot Casserole is not only delicious, but it also has green beans. And that makes this caker recipe unique in two ways: 1) the vegetable isn't broccoli and 2) it probably has vitamins.

Have you got a caker recipe you want to share with the world the people who read this blog? Email cakercooking at gmail dot com. I'd love to hear from you.

Here’s Bob’s recipe in his own words:

Brown 1 pound of ground beef with a big chopped onion.  Drain.
Mix with 1 can Cream of Celery soup and 1 can Cream of Chicken soup.
Add 1 cup cut green beans, salt (go easy) and pepper to taste, and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder.  (Yes, 1/8 teaspoon. Heaven forbid this should have any flavor.)
Pour into a greased flat baking dish and cover with Tater Tots (the original recipe called for 4 cups of them, but I’ve never measured Tater Tots in my life and have no intention of starting now.  Cover the whole dish with ‘em.)
Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes, or until the Tots are crispy.
I usually up the amount of green beans considerably, and sometimes throw some grated cheese on top.  Because we like cheese.

Source: Caker Bob. Check out Bob's blog, The Fondue.

Monday 24 October 2011

JELL-O Popcorn Balls

As a young’un, I remember diving headfirst into a pile of leaves in our backyard and hearing the sound of my dad’s voice trailing behind me:

“Watch out for the dog poooooppppp…”

I haven’t been able to look at a pile of leaves with the same reckless abandon since.

These popcorn balls remind me of that time. Rest assured, there’s no dog shit or leaves in the recipe. Cakers can be cheap when it comes to ingredients, but not that cheap, for God’s sake. That said, there is a dog shit equivalent in popcorn balls: unpopped kernels.

All I can say is don’t start chowing down on these balls before stopping to consider what could be lurking beneath the surface. New teeth ain’t cheap, after all.

6 tablespoons butter
3 cups mini marshmallows or 24 large
3 tablespoons JELL-O powder (pick a colour for different occasions)
3 quarts popcorn or ¾ cup kernels

Melt butter and marshmallows. Blend in JELL-O powder. Mix with popcorn. Butter hands and shape into balls.

Source: Our 20th Anniversary Cookbook, Lambeth Co-operative Playschool Inc.

Monday 17 October 2011

Nuts and Bolts

When it came to entertaining, my folks knew how to live it up. They’d dust off the half-empty bottles of Captain Morgan Rum and Canadian Club, bring out the Petro Canada 1984 Olympic tumblers, push a “Country Gold” 8-track tape into the stereo and let the good times roll, baby.

A heaping bowl of homemade Nuts and Bolts is as essential to caker parties as a shrimp ring, forced laughter and the cloying smell of Charlie perfume. But be warned: this recipe makes a lot. Like, a bucket. So unless you want to be like me and find yourself three pounds heavier in a week's time, I’d hold off making it until you’re entertaining a crowd.

2 cups oil (see note)
2 packages onion soup mix
1 tablespoon garlic salt (No Frills didn’t have any, so I went with garlic powder)
1 box Crispix
¾ box Cheerios
1 large bag hickory sticks (or 3 small bags)
1 can mixed nuts
1 large bag pretzels (I bought the twisted, but recommend the sticks)

Heat oven to 250°. Mix all ingredients well in a large roaster. Bake for 2 ½ hours, stirring every ½ hour. Cool.

Note: I mixed the oil, soup mix and garlic powder together first, then poured it over the mixture. This seemed like an easy way to distribute.

Source: With Hearts that Care and Hands that Serve, Outlook and District Volunteer Services, Outlook, Saskatchewan

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Creamy Fantasy Fudge

I often think of fudge as the black hole of candy. There simply isn’t any other confectionary that comes close to its sugar density. If sweetness could be quantified by weight, a cube of fudge would be so heavy, it would be impossible to pick it up. You'd have to get down on all fours and nibble on it like a rat does cheese.

But something tells me that wouldn't go over too well with the ladies at Auxiliary Branch 133.

While I don't consider fudge itself caker – although it’s about as Anglo Saxon as you can get – there’s a magical ingredient in this recipe which gives it the Caker Seal of Approval. Can you tell which one it is?

Here's a clue: if you get it in your hair while making this, you’re screwed.

3 cups sugar
¾ cup margarine (I used butter)
6 ounce can evaporated milk (about 1/2 of a large can)
12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
7 ounce jar Kraft Marshmallow Cream (I used Fluff brand)
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar and margarine with milk. Bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly (mixture scorches easily). Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour into greased pan and cool. Cut into squares.

Source: Cooking Favorites of Cobourg, Ladies Auxiliary Branch 133

Sunday 9 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you every joy of a Caker Thanksgiving, minus the indigestion.

Here's what we enjoyed at my family Thanksgiving dinner: JELL-O with suspended mandarin slices courtesy of my mom.

See? Cakers really do consider JELL-O a side dish. Pass the gravy!

Monday 3 October 2011

Low Calorie Salad

There was a dark period in caker history (and by “period,” I’m referring to the ‘80s) when cottage cheese was viewed as a dieter’s dream food. Cakers looking to shed a few pounds were gobbling it up (and washing it down with a TAB) in between their Jane Fonda LP workouts and moussing their bangs.

But moderation is everything in life. So while cottage cheese might have been light in calories, it didn’t do much for the waistline when paired with Cool Whip.

Needless to say, this salad doesn’t live up to its name. When I added things up, it came in at a hefty 1843 calories. Time to dust off that leotard. Your session with Jane starts now.

1 small can crushed pineapple
1 small box strawberry JELL-O
1 medium carton cottage cheese
1 large carton of Cool Whip

Bring crushed pineapple and jelly powder to boil. Let cool, then fold in cottage cheese, then Cool Whip. Store in fridge. Serve.

Source: St. Mary’s C.W.L. Grafton Cookbook

Monday 26 September 2011

Broccoli Casserole

While most cakers tend to shy away from vegetables—unless you consider the grey bits in Cream of Mushroom soup vegetables—there’s one that has found its way into the hearts of cakers everywhere. And that lucky vegetable is broccoli. 

It’s not really surprising when you stop to consider it. Broccoli is cheap. It doesn’t require a lot of chopping (especially if you buy it frozen). There's nothing to peel. And, best of all, it’s sturdy enough to withhold a smothering of cream-based soup, margarine and melted cheese. It’s like Mother Nature invented broccoli just for us cakers.

Having said that, this also explains why cakers don't linger around the table following a meal. Everyone bolts before the "broccoli backwind" kicks in.  (You know what I'm talking about.)

½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
1/3 stick butter
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ can water (more if needed)
1 8 ounce jar Cheese Whiz (about a cup)
1 10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, heated and drained
1 cup Minute Rice

Heat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Source: The Best of Enbridge

Monday 19 September 2011

Tomato Soup Cake Challenge: Vera vs. Gwen

Recently, I came across not one, but two recipes for the caker classic Tomato Soup Cake. Both recipes were on the same page in the same cookbook, From Our...Kitchens…To Yours, produced by the Melfort Block Parents Association. (The ellipses are a little weird, but bear with me.)

One recipe was credited to a woman named Vera. The other to a woman named Gwen. Did both of these women know one another? (Melfort, Saskatchewan has a population of 6000 according to its website, so it’s likely.) Were Vera and Gwen aware that they submitted the same recipe? If not, were they hurt/angry/embarrassed? I couldn't help but imagine a confrontation following the book's release.

“You said you were doing a zucchini cake, Gwen!”

“Well, it's not like you own the copyright to Tomato Soup Cake, Vera!”

I had to figure out which recipe produced the best cake. So, after making both, I conducted a taste test among my colleagues. Which woman would reign supreme?

In the end, it was pretty close with only a few votes separating the winner from the loser. Vera ultimately walked away the champ. Tasters found her moister and softer, with just the right amount of nuts. Gwen, on the other hand, was a little drier and denser, although some found her a little spicier.

I’m posting each recipe because, when it comes to Tomato Soup Cake, there are no losers.

First Place: Vera’s Tomato Soup Cake
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 can tomato soup
1 teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

Heat oven to 350°. Cream sugar and margarine or butter. Add lightly beaten egg and beat well. Add soup and soda. Combine raisins and nuts to sifted dry ingredients and add in small amounts. Bake for 35-45 minutes.

Second Place: Gwen’s Tomato Soup Cake
2 cups flour
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 can tomato soup
1 cup raisins
½ cup walnuts
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 375°. Cream butter and add sugar. Dissolve the baking soda in the tomato soup. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and add alternately with the tomato soup to the creamed mixture. Add raisins and walnuts. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Source: From Our...Kitchens…To Yours, Melfort Block Parents Association, Melfort, Saskatchewan (I'm sorry, but the illustration of the kid creeps me out. He looks like a mini Michael Myers.)