Cupcake Wars!

Soldiers at the Pat Tillman Memorial Center in Bagram, Afghanistan, enjoy field-expedient Soda Cupcakes during the USO birthday celebration in February, 2012.

Cupcakes have become the Hollywood starlet of sugary snacks.

From “D.C. Cupcake,” to “Cupcake Wars,” to the scores of mom-and-pop shops springing up on every hipster city block, there’s no question cupcakes have put the “in” in “binge.”

If it’s hip and it’s Hollywood, you know the USO has to get our fingers in it.

On Sunday, July 1, Food Network’s reality program “Cupcake Wars” will be “Saluting the USO” at 8 p.m. EST as competitors battle for sweet supremacy with a shot at having their confections featured during last October’s USO Gala in Washington, D.C.

And in the spirit of competition, we at USO Arlington found a way to have a little cupcake war of our own.

While supporting the men and women of the U.S. Military, there’s often little time and few supplies with which to make a batch of cupcakes at our USO Centers. So what do we do? We adapt, overcome and improvise, of course! We find ways to bake field expedient cupcakes!

Cathe Ganley—Duty Manager at USO Bagram—developed a method for making cupcakes in the microwave with only cake mix and a soda. Now that’s creative!

Other USO Centers stateside have developed a microwavable method of their own using classic ingredients like flour, eggs, milk, and sugar.

Yesterday we pit the two recipes against each other in a Field-Expedient Cupcake Battle Royale.

Who was the winner? I’m not telling.

Instead, I’m going to give you the directions and ingredients to make both cakes in your own microwave and let you be the judge. Invite some friends over to watch “Cupcake Wars” Sunday night and whip these quick snacks together to feed your guests. Then tell us what you think!

After they beg you for the recipe, you can let them know they are eating battle-tested 5-minute recipes enjoyed every day by the men and women protecting their freedom.

Soda Cupcake

Ingredients:

1 Box of “Yellow” Cake Mix
1 Can of Sprite**
10 ten-ounce paper cups (or Dixie Cups)

**Substitute root beer for Sprite when making chocolate cupcakes.

Directions: In a large bowl, mix entire box of cake mix with the full can of Sprite. Fill 10 oz cups 1/3 of the way full with batter, then microwave three at a time for three minutes. Adjust cooking time and batter consistency as necessary to compensate for altitude.

Cake in a Mug

Ingredients:

1 Coffee Mug
4 Tbs Flour
4 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tbs Milk
3 Tbs Oil
3 Tbs Chocolate Chips
Splash of Vanilla Extract

Directions: Mix dry ingredients well in coffee mug then stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix well then microwave on high for three minutes. Don’t be alarmed. The cake will rise at least two inches over the top of the mug while cooking. As soon as it is done, however, it will retract back inside the mug. — By Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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USO Naples’ “Got Talent,” a Visit from the Mobile Canteen, and a Chili Dinner at the Warrior Center!

On February 26, USO Naples – with support from United Airlines – hosted a talent show – and did the talent come out in force!  The winners received two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the US.  Check out the coverage from AFN:

USO Kaiserslautern was at the Ramstein Commissary on Saturday March 20 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm with the Mobile canteen to support the commissary’s “March Madness Club Pack Sale” and show appreciation to the Kaiserslautern Military Community.  Thanks to the generosity of DeCA and other sponsors, USO Kaiserslautern gave out free hot dogs, chips, popcorn, drinks, cookies, books and magazines to more than 800 loyal customers. USO volunteers and staff handed out children’s DVDs and small toys to each child that was present. The event was very successful with smiling faces and donations to support the Troops.

Learn more about our USO Mobile Program!

Military families line up at the USO Mobile canteen for snacks, courtesy of USO Kaiserslautern.

On March 21, the USO Warrior Center hosted three amazing chefs from the States. Blake Powers from Soldiers’ Angels and the ladies from Yellow Bowl Bakery, Molly Greenwood and Katy Gunderson (Manager of Operations/Founder of Bakers without Borders) prepared an awesome Chili and Dessert Dinner for 125 wounded warriors.

The wounded warriors were very impressed by the spread the chefs prepared.  One wounded warrior asked the chefs who cooked the desserts, when Molly and Katy replied that they both made them he said, “I know that it’s illegal, but I would love to marry both of you!”

This was an awesome night with wonderful food and great company.  The USO Warrior Center would like to give a very special thank you to Blake, Molly, and Katy for coming out and cooking for the wounded.

(L to R) Chefs Blake "Laughing Wolf" Powers, Katy Gunerson, and Molly Greenwood show of their certificates with Melissa Parkins of the USO Warrior Center