The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 2, 2013

Cheryle Finley: Consider alternative to canned frosting

By Cheryle Finley
From The Associated Press

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, 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!

Classic guacamole

4 large ripe avocados, pitted and peeled

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tomato, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 drops hot pepper sauce

Using a fork, coarsely mash avocados in a bowl with lemon juice and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 8 servings.

Cheddar risotto

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped yellow onions

2 cups arborio rice

5 cups hot water

1 chicken bouillon cube

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp or mild cheddar cheese

1/2 cup ham cut into 1/4-inch cubes

4 to 6 cups lightly packed fresh spinach or whole baby leaves, coarsely chopped

Black pepper

In a 4-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook until butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in onions and rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add hot water, bouillon cube, salt and nutmeg. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and ham, then spinach. Serve immediately, sprinkled with pepper. Makes 8 servings.

Apple cheddar pizza

1 (12-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough

3 large Fuji or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Lightly coat 14-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Press dough into the pan. Place apples and apple juice in a saucepan and simmer until tender. Drain off juice and reserve. Spread apple slices over dough. Return reserved juice to the saucepan and stir in cornstarch, cinnamon and honey. Cook over medium heat until clear. Spread sauce over apples. Sprinkle pecans over apples, then top with cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Makes 8 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.