Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cupcake crazy

Well, crazy for mini cupcakes. Never did like too much cake under my frosting, and minis are just my cup of tea -- or, er, cup of cake . . . or something. Anyway, using the Food Network's recipe online for these little sweeties, I tested my decorating chops, too. A couple of days before, I made the candied carrot curls -- really not too tricky if, after cooking them in a simple syrup, you twirl them around a wooden spoon handle before baking them in a low oven. And, oh they're so cute as well as easier to make than piped frosting carrots, which I've done before with those store-bought frosting decorators.
Almonds ground with the dry ingredients, as well as some almond extract in the frosting, along with lemon juice, gave these cakelets a little different spin from the usual.
The fun was trying out one of the large Wilton star tips and a 16-inch disposable pastry bag. I think I'm finally getting the hang of it: remembering to fold over the bag before putting the frosting into it, using the left hand to hold it and the right to squeeze, squeezing from the top instead of the bottom (at least I think that's right).
Have to say that my favorite mini cupcake still is vanilla. Who knows? Maybe I'll even try to make elegant petit fours one of these days.

Hooked on Roses

It took practically no time at all to make these little sweeties -- only two to go -- for a crocheted cushion cover from the Drops Design website. Before struggling with what looks to be a challenging job of sewing them very close together for a cozily squished up look, I thought I'd enjoy them just as they are now -- and how they may remain, as just another gewgaw for a tabletop if I give up on the sewing-together part.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Retro-Fitted '50s Tamale Pie

I'm not generally a lover of most casseroles, but this one is a '50s nostalgia trip. Every time my husband has it, he comments that he's always surprised that he actually likes it. Sophisticated, it's not, but it is good comfort food.

The recipe came from a Frito Corn Chips bag, circa 1953 or thereabouts. It was one of my mom's quick suppers that was super quick and easy to make. The original called for a 29-cent bag of Fritos, and when I first started making it I had no idea how many chips that was, so I simply put a generous layer of tortilla chips on a casserole dish that's about 9"x13". These days, my favorite chips are from Atlanta's Willie's Mexican Grill, so I use theirs which I deem superior to the supermarket varieties. The original also calls for a can of chile, but these days I simply use a container of my homemade vegetarian chile that I've frozen -- about 16 ounces. And, the old version may have called for American or cheddar cheese; I use a mix of sharp cheddar and jalapeno jack. Measurements really aren't that important with this no-brainer of a dish that I fall back on when I don't feel like really cooking.

Retro-Fitted '50s Tamale Pie

corn tortilla chips, enough to absorb most of the chile
12-ounce can chile with or without meat (or equivalent homemade chile)
8-ounce can tomato sauce
medium onion, chopped
green pepper, chopped
about 3/4 cup ripe olives, roughly chopped
grated cheese, about 1/2 cup each sharp cheddar and pepperjack
Spread chips in an oiled (for easy cleanup) casserole dish. Heat chile and tomato sauce together until they're simmering and spread over the chips. Top with onion, pepper, and olives. Bake at 350 for 15 minues or until bubbly, then top with cheeses and bake another 5 minute.

It couldn't be easier.