Monday 27 June 2011

Taco Salad Casserole

Ah, the caker casserole.

There's nothing more iconic in my culture than a dish brimming with ground beef, melted cheese, wilted vegetables and a binding agent. It's like a neighbourhood of different foods coming together for one magical block party.

This Taco Salad Casserole includes Monterey Jack cheese, iceberg lettuce and--what else?--Doritos! And since Doritos are made from corn, they qualify as vegetables.

Caution! This casserole is very, very good. If you find yourself going back for thirds, don't say I didn't warn you.

1 medium package nacho Doritos, crushed (see note below)
1 pound ground beef, browned
1 package taco seasoning (I used half the package)
¼ to ½ head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped (I cooked this with the beef)
1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
¼ cup milk
6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (two cups)

Heat oven to 350°. Mix the first 6 ingredients. Heat the soup and milk together in a saucepan. Pour over the first ingredients and put everything into a 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve.

About the Doritos: I don't know what consitutes a "medium" bag of Doritos, especially given that this recipe is from an American cookbook printed in the '70s. Just buy a regular sized bag and eat your way through until you feel you've reached a "medium."

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

Next week! July is Gelatin Month on Caker Cooking. Bring on the jiggly!

Saturday 25 June 2011

Caker Candy Trees

With the school year soon ending, some parents may be frantically searching for that perfect teacher gift. Folks, your search ends here.

Caker Candy Trees are pretty, thoughtful and dirt cheap to make. I can't tell you how many I made for my grade school teachers over the years, but let's just say the company that manufactures those green and white striped candies owes me. Big time.

You can customize your Caker Candy Tree by using any wrapped candy you want. Go for monochromatic chic or multi-coloured spectacle. The choice is yours. And for those diabetic teachers on your list, you can always go sugar-free.

You’ll need:

- 4 or 5 inch Styrofoam ball
- 1 wine glass
- 100 wrapped candies (approx.)
- 100 bobby pins (approx.)

Place your Styrofoam ball on the wine glass and mark the line where the lip of the glass meets the ball.

Give one end of the wrapped candy a twist to make sure it's good and tight. Then thread the end through a bobby pin.

Using your drawn line as your starting point, insert the bobby pins with candies all the way up the Styrofoam ball in rows. You might need a butter knife or something with a flat surface to help push the bobby pins all the way in.

The finished tree. Is this a work of art or what?

Monday 20 June 2011

Quick and Easy Skor Bars

If there’s one thing cakers do well, it’s steal. When we taste something we like, we immediately try to duplicate it at home. In the coming weeks, I’ll post homemade recipes for an Orange Julius, Nuts n’ Bolts, and a few more. 

In most of these copycat recipes, cakers will take extreme and sometimes unusual shortcuts when it comes to ingredients. This makes us feel superior to the people the recipe originated from.  "Ha, ha, pilgrim woman," our internal caker voices say. "Look at you cutting up all those apples for your pie when you could've used Ritz crackers." (Not that pilgrims had Ritz crackers back then, but you get the point.)

Quick and Easy Skor Bars are another example of a copycat recipe that involves some weird stuff. In theory, Saltine crackers shouldn't end up tasting like Skor bars.  But, oh. They do. The woman or man who invented these deserves a Caker Honour of Distinction. 

1 column saltine crackers (I used a few more)
½ pound butter (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
1 package chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)

Heat oven to 400°. Lay saltine crackers in rows on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Boil butter and sugar for 3 minutes, stirring occassionally. Pour over crackers. Bake for 6 minutes. Sprinkle pan with chocolate chips immediately after taking it from oven, spreading chips as they melt. Cool in fridge. Peel off foil and cut into pieces.

Source: The Best of Enbridge

Saturday 18 June 2011

July is Gelatin Month

I don’t know about you, but when summer hits, the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove. So I’ve decided to "chill out" by making July “Gelatin Month” here on Caker Cooking.

Each week throughout July, I’ll post a new gelatinous creation, ranging from garden salads to tuna mousses to towers of chocolately delight. The recipes will come from Knox On-Camera Recipes: A completely new guide to Gel-Cookery.  (I guess it was important for the Knox folks to differentiate this book from the completely old guide to Gel-Cookery.)

I’ve got my molds. I’ve got my Knox. Join me on a joyous gelatin journey. Watch for it in the coming weeks.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Delicious Corn Bake

In my Caker FAQ section, I noted that one of the three defining characteristics of caker food is “ease.” Cakers don’t do complicated food. Our lives are complicated enough.

Take, for example, this Delicious Corn Bake. (I was itching to rename it “Caker Corn Bake,” but the purist in me needs to stay true to the original recipes.) Never before has “ease” been so well defined than in this medley of Cheez Whiz, macaroni and not one but two types of corn.

The best part? You don’t even have to cook the macaroni. The water from the undrained can of corn does all the work. Just because you’re not complicated doesn’t mean you're not clever.

1 can kernel corn, undrained
1 can creamed corn
1 cup uncooked macaroni
1 cup Cheez Whiz

Heat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Place into a two quart casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until macaroni is done.

Comments? Questions? Recipe requests? Feel free to leave them.

Source: The Best of Enbridge

Saturday 11 June 2011

Caker Baker Cereal Box Containers

It's a dilema all of us have faced at one time or another.  You’ve been asked to contribute to a bake sale, but you’ll be damned if yet another one of your Tupperware containers goes missing in the process.

Caker Baker Cereal Box Containers are a practical, cheap and environmentally-friendly solution.

Take an empty cereal box and tape down any open flaps.
Use an X-Acto knife to cut along both sides, leaving 1” at the top and along the edge.
Continue to cut halfway down the short edge of the box and cut across the short edge
to join the two cuts on either side.
Lift up the lid, line the inside with waxed paper et voila!  
Close it up and you're on your way!

      Who gives a shit if you never see this again? For those of you with a creative flair, accent your box with sequins, scrap felt or even feathers. This is your chance to outshine all those boring paper plates and soon-to-be-missing Tupperware containers.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Rice Krispies Golf Balls

Cakers tend to be a philosophical bunch. You’ll often catch us sitting under a tree, contemplating the state of humanity, the pillaging of Mother Earth and, more importantly, what’s the best part of a Rice Krispies square – the Krispies or the marshmallow?

When it comes to these golf balls, the marshmallow definitely reigns supreme, especially when it takes a dip in a warm pool of melted toffee, butter and sweetened condensed milk before the Krispies are added.

I brought a batch into the office last week and got glowing reviews. One woman (a non-caker, I might add), asked for the recipe. A couple of days ago, she gave me two golf balls that she had made. It gave me the warm fuzzies. That’s the power of caker cooking, folks.

½ cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup butter or margarine
3 toffee bars (see note below!)
1 bag large marshmallows
Rice Krispies

Melt toffee bars, milk and butter in a medium sized bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip marshmallows into mixture (I used a skewer) and then roll in Rice Krispies. Put on wax paper. Once they cool off a little, you can reshape any that are a little wonky. If the dipping mixture gets too thick, add a little more condensed milk.

A note about toffee: Say goodbye to those fond childhood memories of breaking a Mackintosh toffee bar against the curb or your little brother’s head. Nestle doesn’t make them anymore. They do, however, make bags of individual candies. One 170 gram bag replaces the three bars in the recipe.

Update: Freeze your balls! I forgot to mention that some people prefer their golf balls frozen. Simply place them on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. After they firm up, place them in a bag or container and keep them in the freezer for a refreshing treat anytime. (And, no. The cold won't shrink your balls.)

Update 2: I just made these again, only I used a bag of soft Werthers candies instead of the Mackintosh candies and they turned out great. Some people felt they tasted even better. 

Source: Favourite Recipes from Skudesnes Lutheran