The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

January 2, 2013

Cheryle Finley: Consider alternative to canned frosting

JOPLIN, Mo. — Frosting and icing -- is there a difference? Yes, there is a difference, but not everyone knows it.

The National Cookie Network tells us the difference. Frosting is thicker and can be used to create different shapes and decorations such as rosettes. It has a richer, creamy taste and can be applied thicker than icing. Icing is thinner and hardens when it dries. It contains much more liquid than frosting and is great for cookies but not so much for decorating. So much for the saying "that's the icing on the cake." I'm looking for the frosting on the cake, which would be more substantial.

While looking for a dessert to take to a gathering held by my husband's sister, Pam Roets, and her husband, Mike, I decided to bake cupcakes and give the new frosting creations a try. You can buy a flavor packet and a can of Duncan Hines frosting creations starter. It's a can of white frosting that's not as full as regular frosting cans, so you can mix the flavor packet into it without a mess.

I chose an orange supreme cake and the orange creme flavor mix. I found the finished product to be quite nice and better than adding extracts for flavor. There's not too much orange flavor, and the frosting was super creamy -- even more so than the whipped canned frosting. It's a little more pricey than the regular canned frosting, coming in at around $2.40, but I will try some of the other flavors because I was so happy with the orange.

Going all out as usual, Pam and Mike made sure there was something for everyone at the gathering. I was expecting simple tacos, but they served up chili, tamales, fajita chicken and peppers, refried beans and Mexican rice as well as every condiment you can imagine. Pam made some tasty guacamole and put the avocado pit in the bottom of the batch, because she was told that it prevents the guacamole from turning brown. We ate the dip a couple of hours after she made it, and it still looked like she had just made it. But it might not have been enough time to know if the trick truly worked.

According to ask.com, the most important step to take to avoid brown guacamole is to keep out the air. As soon as you make a batch, cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap all the way down on top. For storage, the lid of the container should be resting on the plastic wrap. A topping of sour cream or refried beans spread evenly on top of the dip will also make a seal to keep out air, as will a squirt of lemon or lime juice. Even if you put the pit in the dip, keeping out the air is the most important step to keeping the guacamole green.

Looking for the perfect steak? Order the K.C. strip at Mythos and you will be thanking me for weeks to come. At a recent dinner with almost 20 others, everyone but one of us ordered the steak, and we were all glad we did. It was cooked perfectly -- so tender. Cooking that many steaks at once couldn't have been easy, but they did it perfectly. I can't say enough about how excellent the steaks were.

If you want to try the pit-in-the-dip idea, I offer a classic guacamole recipe today. Add the hot sauce sparingly so you don't overdo it, but you can certainly add more if you wish. The cheddar risotto should be very creamy and the rice should be al dente. Cooking times will vary slightly due to cookware and stovetops, so watch it closely. The recipe says smoked salmon can be substituted for the ham, but it's yummy either way. The apple cheddar pizza is a tasty dessert that I think would also be good for breakfast or brunch.

All these recipes are from "Cooking with Style the Costco Way." Have a wonderful first week to the new year and happy eating!

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