Coca Cola Cake Recipe

Just the name “Coca Cola Cake” makes the kids say, “Oh boy!”  It is a family favorite.

Here is our tried and tested recipe.  It has been prepared in both our home and restaurant kitchens, with rave reviews.

The original Coca Cola cake recipe appeared during the Second World War, because of rationing.  Both sugar and cocoa were in short supply at times.  However, Coca Cola was still allowed to use sugar, parthly because it was so loved by our troops overseas.  Coca Cola cake became a popular dessert on the home front.  In the Fifties, with the advent of quick and easy cake mixes and prepared dinners, the recipe was a natural for the times.  It never went out of style.

This chocolate cake recipe makes a large moist cake!

Coca Cola Cake Ingredients and Directions:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoon cocoa (heaping)

Bring to a boil

1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup oil

1 cup coca cola

Pour oil mixture over dry ingredients and add:

1/2 cup sour milk

1 teaspoon soda

2 eggs, unbeaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until batter is smooth, then fold in 1 1/2 cup minature marshmallows. Bake in a greased 9 X 13 pan at 325 for 45 -50 minutes.

Icing for Coca Cola Cake:

1/2 cup margarine

4 tablespoon coca cola

4-5 tablespoon cocoa

1 cup chopped nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound icing sugar

1 cup coconut

     1. Bring the margarine, coca cola, cocoa to a boil. Remove from heat and add nuts, vanilla, icing sugar and coconut.

      2. If too stiff to spread, add a little milk – a teaspoon at a time until it easily spreads on the cake.

Reference:
1. Coca-Cola Cake Recipe: The Coca-Cola Company
2. Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake Recipe | MyRecipes.com


Cocktails Liquor

One of the easiest ways to make a mixed drink go from ordinary to gorgeous is to add a rim to the cocktail glass. This simple touch can go a long way in presenting a drink in an attractive way, and knowing the proper way to rim a cocktail glass is essential for any bartender, whether professional or hobbyist. This brief guide will help you know exactly how to rim a glass perfectly every time!

-Start by wetting the rim-
One mistake a lot of people make is using water to wet the rim. Don’t! This will cause the sugar or salt to dissolve! Instead, make sure the glass is dry, then use a wedge of lime or lemon to wet the rim. However, if you are using something powdery, like cocoa, nutmeg, or powdered sugar, use a liqueur featured in the cocktail (such as Kahlua or Grand Marnier). 

-Apply the rimmer-
Fill a wide, flat bowl or plate with the sugar or salt. Hold the glass parallel, dip it into the sugar or salt, and rotate it slowly to coat the outside of it. You may want to go through it twice to make sure that it is coated thoroughly. If you are using a powdery rimmer, do not go through twice – the powder may be too much if it is caked on! 

-Shake off the excess-
To make sure that the rimmer won’t fall off all over the drinker’s hands or be too much, gently shake off the excess to rid it from the glass. Be sure to do this over a sink or trash can. 

-Pour and serve!-
Carefully pour the cocktail in without disturbing the rim, then serve the gorgeous drink to the eagerly awaiting drinker! Congratulations – you now know how to beautifully rim a cocktail glass! 

Reference:
1. List of cocktails
2. Cocktail Recipes | Liquor.com


Chef Profiles Virgilio Martinez

Virgilio Martinez: 28 years old, Peruvian, a degree in law and a lot of trips all over the world. He’s the executive chef of “Astrid & Gaston”, a famous restaurant located in Lima, Bogota and Madrid.

His passion for cooking arose accidentally: he got his degree in law and then he decided to travel for some time, to make different experiences abroad. When he arrived in Canada, he first got a job as a cooker. His interest and fervor for that job increased so much that he thought he was determined to attend the Cordon Bleu School. And he managed to.

After that, he has continued his experiences in each corner of the planet: he studied and worked in France, in the Far East, in New York at the Lutece and then in the Astrid & Gaston of Lima. He believes that travels play a fundamental role in the life of chef: “it allows you to meet new ingredients and cuisine techniques, and to develop your creativity”.

Peruvian cooking like his way of cooking is the outcome of different gastronomic traditions, from Asia especially China and Japan but also from Africa and Inca populations. In Peru there’s a multicolor and lively kitchen, full of varieties, with an infinite range of products, which come from the 84 micro climates of that region, where sea, mountain and forest stay together. They use particular ingredients: Guinea pig’s meat, cow heart, quinoa, etc. Pepper is an ingredient always utilized in Peruvian dishes and in Virgilio’s dishes in every different variety: fresh, dried, sweet, spiced, hot, red, green… In Andes’ region it is prepared a paste of pepper used to marinate meat. But Virgilio’s favorite ingredient remain the ginger.
Their national drink is the Pisco, a distillate of Moscatel grapes, cultivated in the Andes. It is conserved in particular black bottles and it is used to prepare a famous cocktail, the Pisco Sour.

Virgilio has recently hired the direction of the last Astrid & Gaston, that of Madrid. Three restaurants in three countries which have differences, but a guideline in common: they try to adapt to the local contests, even if they try to maintain a Peruvian way of cooking. So, they use local products in Lima and Bogota, but they bring a lot of raw materials from central and south America to Spain, because in Madrid people expect to try an exotic cuisine.
The Peruvian dish that better represents Virgilio Martinez is the “Cebiche”, fish marinated with lime, chili peppers, coriander and served with orange sweet potatoes.

He’s going to be one of the celebrities of the next years in the world of cooking. Surely Virgilio doesn’t lack of talent.

Reference:
1. Virgilio Martínez Véliz
2. Meet Peru's best chef, Virgilio Martinez – CNN.com


Classic Christmas Drinks

Everyone accuses me of being a bit of a Christmas Ham. And I guess you could say that is true. I put up my downstairs Christmas tree on Oct 30th last year, my outdoor lights go up on November 1st of every year. In fact, I have still not taken down my lighted garland from my recreation room. If I had if my way the Christmas decor would stay up all year. I guess you can blame it all on my parents. They always made the holidays a big event. Who could ever forget the anticipation of Christmas eve, just waiting for Santa to come. Or the sleepless night waiting for that Christmas day sunrise.

Anyways when it comes to Christmas or any holiday for that matter I take the cake, and I want to share some of my favorite Christmas drinks, which have become a tradition in our family and a hit at our parties.

Gordos Baileys EggNog

Now its important for this drink, that you only purchase the best eggnog, unless you want to make it yourself (I don’t have a recipe for making it as it can be a real pain if you know what I mean)

You will need

6Oz’s of your favorite eggnog
1oz of Irish Cream
1/2 oz Spiced Rum
1oz of Chocolate Milk
sprinkle of Cinnamon
Whipped Cream
Small candy cane

Add ice first (this is most important)
Add Irish cream
Add Rum
Add EggNog and stir
Add chocolate milk (do not stir in)
Sprinkle with Cinnamon
Add whipped cream on top and garnish with the small Candy cane.

Boy oh Boy this is one good drink and I guarantee they will become a hit to your friends and family. OK so its a little fattening, big deal its Christmas time and you should be entitle. Most important is lot’s of Kenny G Christmas music to go with the drink.

Reference:
1. 14 Christmas Cocktails and Drinks – Holiday Drink Recipes – Esquire
2. Christmas Cocktails & Drinks | Food & Wine


Broccoli Pasta Quick Pasta Recipe Garlic Pasta

Fresh Garlic Broccoli Pasta

It is the season for fresh garlic!  Surprise your family at dinner with this robust pasta dish that is not only delicious but easy to make for a week night meal.  We are all busy during the week, but it’s nice to have a go-to meal that you can cook up and serve to your family within 30 minutes.  Looking for a quick romantic night meal?  Nothing better than great tasting pasta and a glass of wine without all the time.

Fresh Garlic Broccoli Pasta

Yields: 4 Servings

8 oz. Fettuccine (cooked and drained)

½ C. Butter

2 t. Dried Basil Leaves (crushed)

2 t. Lemon Juice

1 ¼ t. Chopped Fresh Garlic

¾ t. Seasoned Salt

1 ½ C. Broccoli Flowerettes (steamed until tender)

3 T. Chopped Walnuts

½ C. Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese (or combination of both)

1.  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add basil, lemon juice, garlic, and season salt; mix well.

2.  Add hot fettuccine, broccoli, walnuts and cheeses.  Toss to combine and lightly coat.  Do not continue to cook the pasta.

There you have it.  A quick, but delicious garlic pasta that your family will enjoy and only took you 30 minutes to create.  Go ahead, take all the credit, you worked hard and deserve a good meal.  Serve with a fresh spinach or romaine salad and enjoy!  This recipe goes great with parmesan bread sticks or even fresh garlic bread.  Enjoy with a glass of white wine for a romantic evening!

Not feeling fettuccine?  Swap out your fettuccine with penne, elbows, spaghetti, or even shells!  This recipe is versatile and can be changed out with just about any ingredient.  Don’t have fresh garlic?  Use garlic powder for the same result.  Just be sure to allow your garlic powder to fully dissolve in your butter before adding and tossing the pasta.  This will ensure you do not have granules of garlic powder coating your food.

Recipe found in Favorite Brand Name Pasta Collection, Publications International, Ltd, 1992.

Reference:
1. Garlic Oil Sauteed Pasta with Broccoli Recipe : Melissa d'Arabian …
2. Campbell's Broccoli & Garlic Penne Pasta Recipe


Bottoms up Richmond Review

When it comes to pizza, Bottom’s Up in Richmond, Virginia does it right and does it big. Not only is their pizza fresh and topped with only the best ingredients, but even just one slice will be more than enough to satisfy even the biggest appetites. Their food is fantastic, the atmosphere is a lot of fun, and it seems that just about every customer leaves with a great big smile on their faces. 

Located in the historic, trendy area of Shockoe Bottom, one of Richmond’s most beloved districts, Bottom’s Up has a unique look for a unique restaurant. The friendly staff greet customers with wide smiles and helpful attitudes, gladly answering questions about the menu and offering their own suggestions for first-time diners. 

Though Bottom’s Up offers a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, and pasta, it is their pizza that is the real standout. Enormous, thick slices of pizza with crisp crust, tons of cheese, fresh sauce, and perfectly applied toppings make their pizza incredibly delicious – it is easy to see what all of the fuss is about. It is hard to find a native Richmonder who doesn’t rave about the pizza at Bottom’s Up! 

Of particular note are the Steve’s Favorite pizza (red sauce with sliced chicken, caramelized onions, and roasted red pepper), the Greek pizza (white sauce, topped with spinach, tomatoes, onions, feta, black olives, and pepperoncini), and the Chesapeake pizza (white sauce, topped with fresh crab meat, sweet onions, and seasoned with Old Bay). All of the pizzas are fantastic and unique, of course, and there is also the option to create your own, but those three pizzas are especially good! 

Bottom’s Up is a great choice for those with dietary limitations, particularly for those who are forced to avoid gluten. They have a gluten-free pizza crust that can be applied to any of the signature pizza choices, and there is even a gluten-free thin crust option! For people on a restricted diet, Bottom’s Up allows them the freedom to enjoy the same foods as everyone else. 

With a full bar, huge menu, and excellent, reasonable prices, Bottom’s Up is one of Richmond’s finest restaurants. Take the opportunity to visit this gem in Shockoe Bottom the next time you are looking for a great place for a night out with friends and family, and especially when you are looking for a great slice of pizza! 

Reference:
1. Bottoms Up Pizza – 125 Photos & 333 Reviews – Pizza – Shockoe …
2. Bottoms Up Pizza


Cindys Spinach Lasagna

I love lasagna. I remember growing up and my mom always made this really awesome lasagna. It always made the house smell so good. This was a frequent request of mine. I came from a family of eaters. Everything we do revolves around food. If we are shopping we have to stop and eat. We go to the county fair for the food. For as long as I can remember my mom has been an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I converted from a full fledge carnivore (Yep, I ate it all even deer.) to an ovo-lacto vegetarian when I was 16. Now 25, two beautiful children, one bitter divorce, and now a wonderful engagement later, I use this recipe frequently. Even as meat eaters my children, my fiance, and his family love this lasagna.

1 box (16oz) lasagna noodles
2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce
1 box frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
1 large container ricotta cheese
8oz mozarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.

Cook lasagna noodles according to directions on package. Meanwhile thaw and drain spinach*. Mix thawed, drained spinach with ricotta cheese. Lightly grease a 13X9 pan with cooking spray. Layer noodles, sauce, cheese and spinach mixture, and mozarella cheese. Repeat layers until cheeses and sauce are gone finishing last layer with sauce and mozarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until cheeses are melted and lasagna is heated through. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

* I thaw spinach in the microwave according to package directions and squeeze it out in a clean dishtowel.

Reference:
1. Cindy's Lasagna – Recipe – Cooks.com
2. Artichoke & Spinach Lasagna – Cindy Nord


Butter Crumb Baked Chicken

Our family has a strange tradition when it comes to cooking.  We have certain meals that we only cook in the fall and winter months and this little gem is one of them.  Butter Crumb Chicken is a favorite fall recipe in our family.  It’s one of those meals that are perfect for a crisp fall day when all you are planning on doing after you eat is relaxing on the couch, watching some football.  The ingredients are very simple and basic so this meal is easy to throw together when your cupboards are mostly bare because you haven’t been grocery shopping lately.  Since it doesn’t take long to make, I can also put this together for a busy weeknight dinner. 

BUTTER CRUMB CHICKEN

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 box butter crackers, crushed with ½ teaspoon Garlic Salt

2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1 stick of butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with Canola Spray.

Using two shallow, wide bowls dip the chicken in the egg/water mix and then coat both sides of it with the crushed butter crackers.

Place chicken in the 9×13 pan, pour the rest of the cracker mix onto the chicken breasts and top each piece with a few pats of butter each.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown.

The butter crackers and butter keep this chicken very moist and tasty.  I usually serve this with mashed potatoes, corn, rolls and large glasses of milk.  Even the pickiest eater in our family loves this one and it is often chosen for birthday meals.  Everyone that has ever tried this meal has asked for the recipe.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! 

Reference:
1. Famous Butter Chicken Recipe – Allrecipes.com
2. Ritz Cracker Chicken – My Baking Addiction


Best Wines to Drink in the Spring

The season of Spring is alive with the fragrance of growing things and the heady aroma of the soil being warmed by the lengthening days.

As the sense of smell awakes to these sensations there are a number of fragrant wines that will walk hand in hand with this incredible season. 

*White Wines

There are a number of delicate white wines which evoke this time of year by the aromas that flood the senses.

Vernazzia from Tuscany has beautiful floral notes, with a honeysuckle quality.  As it is not considered a “great” wine, it is modestly priced at under $10 and is wonderful chilled, giving the impression of springtime in a glass.  It is a perfect starter for a meal when served with mild cheese and fruit. 

Vouvray, from the Loire valley area of France is redolent of apple blossom and green apples.  Though still a dry wine, it has an almost mystical sweetness on the palate.  This delicious wine pairs perfectly with cold cracked crab and is as refreshing as a Spring breeze.  Many nice examples can be found for $12-$15. 

Viognier, grown in the south of France, has taken root in California, and surprisingly enough, in Virginia.  It boasts aromas of peach and apricot combining an enticing tang with a silky finish.  Viognier pairs well with rich salads of goat cheese, fruit and toasted nuts.  It is complex enough for sipping on its own and enjoying all those intense ripe aromas.  Good Viognier tends to be more expensive, as good examples start at around $20.  Though Virginia doesn’t produce enough to widely export, such producers as Horton and Barboursville are worth looking for. 

The Chardonnays of Burgundy are remarkable for capturing the smells of the forest.  They are crisp wines with loads of mineral notes, with aromas of wood, moss and mushroom.  Unfortunately celebrated white wines from Mersault and Corton fetch extravagant prices.  But there are some bargains to be found from Macomb  and Cotes de Nuet.  Though considered less desirable areas, the Chardonnay wines there evoke many of the same characteristics of their pricey rivals.  Good wines from these two regions can easily be found for under$20.  As these wines are more hearty rather than fruity or floral, They are great with traditional Easter foods like ham, Turkey or smoked meat and fish.

*Sparkling Wine

If there ever was a season to celebrate, it is Spring, and what better wine to celebrate with than sparkling wine. 

Though many sparkling wines are commonly referred to  as champagne, only the sparkling wines of the Champagne region of France may legally be called “champagne”.  Of course, the great vintage champagnes from prestigious producers Like dom Perignon are an extravagant luxury, but there are good non-vintage wines from Moet and Mumm, that can be found in the $30 price range. They are still made in the traditional “method champagne” and are a regal treat for celebrations or intimate occasions. 

But the bubbly wine can be found in the $10-$20 range from Italy, Spain and California. 

The best Italian sparkling wine is Prosecco.  Though it is modestly priced, it is clean and crisp, without the unpleasant after-taste of many cheap sparkling wines.  There are many for around $10 that are worth a try. 

Spain’s sparkling wine is Cava.  There are many that even fit a college student’s budget, such as Frexinet and Cordon Negro, which are quite pleasant with salty snacks, even potato chips and popcorn. 

California produces great quantities of sparkling wine, but be sure to look for the naturally made “method champagne” examples.  Shrewsbury is an excellent choice,  in the $25 range, but the Korbel Natural “methode champagne” is surprisingly good for under $15. 

*Red Wines

Early Spring can still have some chill in the air and lighter red wines can be a comforting thing on a drizzly Spring day. 

The most fragrant and Piquant red wine for Spring might be pinot Noir.  This spicy, cherry-tinged wine is extremely tangy and aromatic.  Serve it slightly chilled in a tapered glass to focus all the wonderful aromas that belong to it. 

Pinot Noir reigns supreme in Burgundy, but fine examples are produced in the coastal regions of California, the river valleys of Oregon and Washington state, and Chile, which has soil and climate similar to the United States west coast. 

The prices of Pinot Noir vary incredibly, but good examples start around $20.  Cheaper examples, will tend to be rather harsh, except for the pinot Noir from Chile, where an excellent example is the Montez for around $15. 

This delightful red wine pairs beautifully with Easter foods, like ham, duck and lamb, especially with tangy fruit glazes

Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape, is always the lightest and most thirst-quenching red wine.  Young Beaujolais Nouveau, is modestly priced and can be a great sipping wine or paired with a remarkable array of foods.  Priced under $15, it is perfect at a buffet or pot luck as it literally tastes great with everything, especially in the Spring, when a heavier red wine will feel too dense.     The better Beaujolais wines will have the designation “Beaujolais Villages” which identify them as smaller production, hand-crafted wines.

All these above-mentioned wines will enhance the traditional foods of the season and awaken your senses like a stroll through a meadow. The joy of Spring can only be enhanced by these delicious Spring wines.    

Reference:
1. The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking | Recent …
2. Wines By Season | Biltmore


Best Tasting Absinthe

Searching for best tasting absinthe can be a very tedious and expensive task if you decide to do it by tasting many different brands. This is simply because there are too many brands of absinthe world-wide. However, there are several signs that will narrow down the options regardless of the place where you live. This is of course provided that absinthe is legal in your country.

Natural ingredients

The top quality absinthe can easily be distinguished by ingredients it is made of. Simply search the label. If there are artificial colorings and flavors then absinthe is not of highest quality and it will almost surely not be the best tasting one. Best taste is usually associated with best quality and the truth is that top quality absinthe is always made of natural herbal ingredients.

Price

Always check out how much does the bottle cost. If the price is too low compared to other brands and there is no obvious reason for it then absinthe is of low quality. Again, low quality always means worse taste. So, avoid these brands or at least cheap variants of their product. Though, be careful as higher price does not always mean better quality. That is why you should check the label for ingredients too.

Color

Another easy way of distinguishing high quality absinthe is its color. Artificially colored absinthe will usually have different colors than one made of herbs. Most quality absinthe has green color. Though, beware the ones with bright-green color. Such color is a result of artificial coloring. Anyway, quality absinthe can also be clear, orange or red. It all depends on ingredients as they may differ from product to product. However, never decide which bottle to buy only by its color. This sign of quality should rather serve to rule out the obvious “cheaters” so that you will not have to spend too much time reading labels.

Alcohol content

Usually, the high quality absinthe has high alcohol content. You will want to aim for products with alcohol content of between 45-68% if you want the best tasting absinthe. But, even higher percentage of alcohol can be acceptable. Though, you will probably have to dilute it with water before drinking as such high alcohol content has unpleasant effect on taste. Anyway, many people mix even the weaker absinthe with water for better taste and to weaken the strong effect of alcohol.

Location

The place where you live is sadly also one of the factors important for quality and taste of absinthe. This drink is illegal in some countries. In other countries, it can only be sold if it does not contain certain ingredients.

Way of consumption

The way in which you prepare your absinthe drink can also hold a secret to getting the best taste. Maybe the original undiluted absinthe is not your cup of tea. Diluting it with water, sweetening it or following some of many possible drinking rituals may enhance the taste of your chosen brand. Though, quality plays an important role anyway.

To conclude, to find best tasting absinthe, you should look for quality. While price, color and alcohol content can help you rule out the lower quality absinthe, checking the label for ingredients will usually do the rest. Keep in mind that best tasting absinthe is made of natural herbal ingredients only. Any added colorings and artificial flavors are sing of lower quality. Apart from that, your location will influence choices of brands you have. It is also a good idea to find your own favorite way of drinking absinthe as it may enhance the taste for you even more.

Reference:
1. Absinthe
2. 10 Absinthes You Should Be Drinking | Serious Eats