Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Coca-Cola Dinner

 Today's post is not exactly about FREE stuff, but it does chronicle some pretty cheap delicious fun!

My husband, Mark, is a great appreciator and collector of the Coca-Cola logo and Coca-Cola memorabilia.  For his birthday this year, I was short on money but wanted to make a bigger impact than last year (when I was also short on money and also on creativity), so I had my radar on for ideas.

Within a few days of launching my search for ideas, my ex-husband, Matt, came across a reproduction Coca-Cola bottle opener for free in a box of junk that he was transporting to be donated by a friend.  Matt knew that Mark likes Coke stuff, so he snagged the bottle opener and gave it to me for Mark.  Isn't that mind-twisting?  My ex-husband finding a gift for my current husband?  Will wonders never cease? (I hope not!)

I feel it is my cosmic duty at this juncture to expound of the virtues of friendly divorces.  I insisted from the beginning and repeated ad infinitum that we were going to have a pleasant divorce.  It didn't start out to be the least bit pleasant but, eventually, I think I managed to brainwash everyone involved to my way of thinking.  The Coke bottle opener is just proof that it worked!

So there's this Coca-Cola bottle opener and suddenly it was paired in my mind with a brainstorm:  what if we had a whole dinner of dishes made with Coke?  Emily makes a killer Coca-Cola chocolate cake and Mark's sister and neice are famous for their divine Cherry Coke Jello Salad and I knew there were more Coca-Cola recipes out there (because people are just weird that way!)  Perfect! 

The girls and I took all the Coke memorabilia we had around the house and decorated the dining room in red and Coke bottle green and Coke stuff.  I had to restrain myself from running out and buying a whole matching set of Coke glasses and I knew there are Coca-Cola dishes out there but I decided my regular white ones would do and, perhaps, prevent over-kill (I don't really believe that, but that's how I convinced myself not to hunt for and buy the dishes!). 

When the table cloth I had planned didn't work out, I remembered a green and white quilt that I found last year at a flea market for a mere $25.  It was perfect!  A little red added in here and there (red bandana napkins, a red wicker silverware holder, a old wire milk-bottle carrier painted red) and the table was all Coke-ed up!

I searched the internet for Coca-Cola recipes, trying to find a large enough variety to complete a whole dinner.  Vegetable recipes involving Coke seemed unlikely but I found some! 

Honestly, the combination of ingredients in most of the recipes sounded awful but I picked the ones that sounded the least disgusting and decided it would just be one big happy experiment whether it tasted good or not! 

Here is the menu I came up with (recipes are listed at the end of this post):


Cherry Coke Jello Salad
Coca-Cola Marinated Pork Roast
Grecian Coca-Cola Green Beans
Diet Cherry Coke Lentils
Coca-Cola Morning Glory Muffins
Chocolate Coke Cake with Chocolate Coke Icing
Coca-Cola (in old-fashioned glass bottles)

Mark and I don't get to be together much due to work needs that require us to live in different states most of the time, so we didn't get to celebrate his November 19th birthday until Christmas Eve, but that made it doubly festive!

I was quite nervous that the Coca-Cola dinner would be more fun than delicious but it actually turned out to be quite delicious!  Mark says it was one of the best dinners he's ever had (but then, he's pretty talented with the compliments!).  I DO now find myself craving the Coca-Cola Marinated Pork Shoulder and the Cherry-Coke Jello Salad anytime they cross my mind so that says something!

We've decided to make the Coke dinner an annual tradition for Mark's birthday and we're open to other excuses as well!  For starters, we're planning to re-create the whole dinner for Mark's mother so she can try it too!  It might also be good for summer holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day as well.  Or just make up an excuse!

Below are recipies and photos.  I regret that I just snapped a few quick photos of the dishes for documentation as they went on the table and didn't do the whole pseudo-professional photo shoot!  These photos are definitely not Gourmet magazine-worthy but oh well!  By the time it all came together it was almost 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and we were HUNGRY!
Not pretty in this photo but this is the most amazing, melt-in-your-mouth tender pork you've ever eaten!  And the sauce, though a weird mixture of ingredients, is wonderful and perfect!


pork roast
1 small bottle ketchup
1 can Coca-Cola
1 envelope onion soup mix

Cover pork roast with a mixture of the other ingredients.  Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.  Bake until done.



2 cans green beans (drained)
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar

Combine ingredients.  Marinate overnight.  Serve hot or cold.



1 pound lentils
6 to 8 cups water
2 cups diced ham (optional)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 oz. Diet Cherry Coke

Wash and sort lentils. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce. Heat to a simmer.
Add ham (if desired) and onion. Simmer for 40-50 minutes. Add Diet Cherry Coke. (This will
produce a lot of foam.) Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes or until lentils are


These muffins are delicious and very healthy!  They contain oats, whole wheat flour, applesauce,raisins, nuts, carrots, and zuchini... and Coke (but we can be in denial about that part, right?).
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 T. canola oil
3/4 cup Coca-Cola®
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix the oats, both kinds of flour and the salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, Coca Cola®, and vanilla. together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the grated carrrots and grated zucchini. Stir in the raisins and nuts, enough to distrubute evenly through the batter, but do not over mix. Spoon the batter into a non-stick muffin tin (makes about 9 or 10 muffins) . Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 20 minutes.

Here I am completely violating my mother's rule that dishes such as this (and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving) must be well garnished with lots of fresh parsley!  But this jello ring has a divine velvety texture and is massively yummy!  I prefer not to have to share it with anyone else in the future!  I want it all to myself!


1 can cherry pie filling
2 sm. boxes cherry Jello
1 cup water
1 can Coca-Cola
1/2 c. nuts, chopped

Cook jello, water, and coke over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves.  Add cherry pie filling and nuts.  Pour into jello mold or 9x9 pan.  Refrigerate until firm.



1 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat.

Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir in butter mixture. Add eggs, and stir until blended. Stir in milk or buttermilk and vanilla.

Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350º for 25 to 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup Coca-Cola
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar, vanilla, and pecans. Spoon immediately over warm cake.

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