Marie Callender’s USO Kitchen Renovation Brings Comforts of Home to Troops in Germany

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Even the smallest things — like home-cooked meals — make a big difference when it comes to helping military families.

That’s why Marie Callender’s renovated the kitchen at the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, giving troops a spacious, state-of-the-art place to re-create the culinary comforts of home. In addition to featuring two ovens, the new kitchen is also equipped with more storage space and beverage coolers.

As part of its Comforts From Home Project, Marie Callender’s also brought its famous pot pies to wounded, ill, and injured troops at a special picnic at the USO Warrior Center.

You can watch videos of the USO kitchen renovation and behind the scene footage of Marie Callender’s picnic in Germany here.

But that’s not all.

Marie Callender’s also teamed up with Chef Robert Irvine and Gary Sinise to thank a hero in Hawaii and give him the homecoming he deserved. The event was showcased on Nov. 11 on Food Network, HGTV, DIY Network, Travel Channel, Great American Country and Cooking Channel’s special Veterans Day program, “A Hero’s Welcome.”

To top it all off, you can still support the Marie Callender’s Comforts From Home Project just by buying the products you already eat. Through Jan. 31, for every code* entered off specially marked packages at ComfortsFromHome.com, Marie Callender’s will donate 50 cents to USO2GO, a USO program that brings electronics, sports gear, books, games, and more to troops stationed in remote locations.

*For every entry by Jan. 31 of an 8-digit code found on participating products, Marie Callender’s will donate $.50 to the USO2GO program. Guaranteed minimum donation $100,000. Maximum donation $250,000. Limit five code entries per person/computer each day. Valid in U.S. Only.

–By Kate Vasko

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.