"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Friday, May 10, 2013

From Carie's Kitchen: Coca Cola Cake, Taco Pie, & Fun With Magnets

Carie's Kitchen / Dog Kennel
(Today we focus on the kitchen portion.)

Ever since I quit my job, I have found that I have a lot more time on my hands.  Thankfully, I have put 90% of that newfound time to good use.  I write.  I clean.  I spoil my pets (husband included).  And I have learned how to cook. 

"Learned" doesn't seem like the right word.  It's not like I took a class or anything.  And it's not that I was a bad cook before and now I am a good one.  I just wasn't a cook before.  I was physically and mentally and emotionally incapable of teaching all day, driving an hour to get home, and then making dinner.  My stomach couldn't wait that long to eat, and spending even a few minutes to cook something seemed like a "waste of time" when I had all those papers to grade waiting for me as soon as I scarfed down my food.  But let's not take this blog post in that negative direction.

Suffice to say, I ate a lot of take-out and pasta and cereal for dinner (not at the same time, ew) and we also went out to eat a lot.  (Too much.)  To his credit, Mark sometimes made dinner for us, but he had a full-time job and an hour commute too, so he wasn't too inclined to take on that task either.  Once in a while on a Sunday, I would cook, and it usually turned out ok, and I still baked cookies from scratch now and then (which were often delicious if I do say so myself) but I could not under any circumstances be called a "cook".

Now though... things are different. 

One of my fabulous
greenroom notebooks.
These days, Mark and I rarely go out to dinner more than once a week, sometimes not even that often.  And while those cereal or sandwich nights still exist (sometimes that's just what we want—Mark in particular really enjoys his PB&J with goldfish crackers on the side) I do cook.  At least three nights a week, I make dinner, and 9 times out of 10 it turns out pretty good. 

I enjoy my new hobby and am proud of it, and I would like to start sharing some of my favorite home-cooked meals and desserts.  So… here are a couple of recipes from Carie's Kitchen.  I hope you like them!

Recipe for Coca Cola Double Chocolate Cake:

This one has been going around on Facebook.  That's where I saw it at least.  There are many versions of this, but I am posting the actual recipe I used here.  However, I found that the cake needed to be baked a lot longer than 20 minutes.  I used a Pyrex dish and left it in for 30-35 minutes.  (I think it was actually 33.)

Coca Cola Double Chocolate Cake
(Mark is only fake-smiling because 
he hasn't tried it yet.)
Cake Ingredients:
1 cup Coca Cola (real thing, not diet)
½ cup oil
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons cream or milk (I used 2% milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ¾ cups confectioners sugar

In a saucepan, mix Coca Cola, oil, butter, and cocoa and bring to a boil.  In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt.  Pour the boiling Coca Cola mixture over the flour mixture and beat well.  Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 (or in my case 30-35) minutes.  Remove pan.  Cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.

In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and milk.  Heat until the butter melts.  Beat in the remaining ingredients and spread on the cake while it is still warm.

Mark was extremely skeptical about this cake for some reason.  The cup of Coke in the ingredients baffled him.  He helped me make it, but was doubtful about the final product the whole time.  In the end?  He LOVED it.  This recipe makes a BIG cake.  We baked it for his mom's visit, and the three of us ate a slice every day for the five days she was in town, but when she went home, there was still a lot of cake left.  I helped Mark with it for a couple of days, but after that he was on his own.  He finished it.  It became sort of an obsession by the end.  He would lie in bed at night thinking about the cake.  And when it was finally gone, he immediately started begging for another one.  His devotion reminded me of this scene with Homer Simpson and his sandwich.

So, I recommend the Coca Cola Double Chocolate Cake.  It is very tasty.  Just know that it takes a while to bake and may cause addiction.

Oh, and Mark wondered aloud yesterday if there is such a thing as a Mountain Dew cake.  All I can say is... dear God, I hope not.

Recipe for Taco Pie:

This has been a favorite in my family for more than twenty-five years.  My mom tore the recipe out of a magazine when I was in elementary school I think.  I still make it, but I replace the ground beef with veggie meat.  

This is my favorite brand.

1 deep dish pie crust shell
1 pound ground beef (or veggie meat)
1 small chopped onion
1 package Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix (or other favorite taco seasoning)
1 can refried beans (16 oz.)
1/3 cup picante sauce
2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 400 degrees.  Thaw pie crust 10 minutes.   Prick bottom and sides of crust thoroughly with fork.  Bake pie crust on pre-heated cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  In skillet, cook onion and ground beef until meat is browned.  Drain excess fat.  Add taco seasoning mix according to directions on package.  In a small bowl, combine refried beans and picante sauce and mix well.  Layer half of bean mixture in bottom of pie crust.  Top with half of meat & onions and half of the cheese.  Then repeat layers.  Bake on cookie sheet 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with lettuce & tomato (optional.)  Serve with rice and slices of fresh avocado.

It’s all the deliciousness of Tex-Mex in a pie crust.  What’s not to love?

Recipe for Fun:

As I said before, I have put 90% of my new-found time to good use, buut there is still that other 10%.

When Mark and I got married, our family and friends decorated our get-away car.  Almost three years later, those "JUST MARRIED" magnets are still on our refrigerator.  Sometimes, when I am bored or procrastinating on a writing task or waiting for water to bowl, I rearrange them into new messages for Mark to see when he comes home.  It's not really that weird—lots of people have poetry magnets on their fridge.  It's just that ours are huge and limited to only eleven letters, one of which is the annoying "J". 

Here are some of my favorite “Just Married” concoctions:

This one is on our fridge most of the time.  :) 

This one rarely gets used, luckily.

So there you have it—dinner, dessert, and something to do when you're bored this weekend.  Feel free to post your own favorite “Just Married” anagrams in the comments.  But keep it fairly clean, please.  :)


  1. I only have Mt. Dew cake and crab juice cake...

    Uch! Ewwwww! I'll take the crab juice cake!