November 2, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude: Keepin' It Real With Frosting

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

As claimed in the past, I am not much of a baker.  It really, really stresses me out and as such, I normally buy cupcakes for birthday parties.  Hands down, these Super Mario Brothers' cupcakes from Tabby's Treats that we bought for Arun's 5th birthday remain my favorite. They were awesome to look at and they were simply delicious (the original post is here.)

However, this year, Arun begged and begged for me to bake cupcakes at home.  And..... so I did.  I used a box cake mix but really wanted to try my hand at making the frosting from scratch.  Turns out?  Frosting from scratch is ridiculously easy and the result is creamy and amazing. AMAZING, I tell you.  I let Team Chaos lick the beaters and after the first lick, they were hugging my legs exclaiming "Thank you, Mama for making this.  THANK YOU!!!!"

Alrighty then.  Frosting from scratch it is.

How did I make it?  I just used the simple recipe on the back of the box of the confectioner's sugar.  In fact, I still have it memorized -- take 1 pound of confectioner's sugar, a stick of butter, 1/4 cup of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Then beat it with a mixer.  I just have a handheld - there's nothing fancy going on here, folks. 

And that was IT.  In less than 5 minutes, I had frosting from scratch.  Hand to Zeus, I will never, ever buy the canned stuff again.

I will probably do a few more of these "Keepin' It Real" posts.  For example,  I am adamant about finding a recipe for ranch dressing spices so that I can stop buying the Hidden Valley Ranch packets (they are so expensive and filled with tons of ingredients I cannot even pronounce).  I use those packets for roasting all sorts of veggies and it seems self-defeating to sprinkle that stuff on a healthy, fresh veggie, right?

And now, I am asking YOU for help.  What do YOU swear by when it comes to making things from scratch?  Challenge me!  I am up for it.


Amanda said...

For Hidden Valley Ranch--google knockoff recipes. There are plenty out there, but beware, some are not that great. I found bulk container of Ranch at Sam's, which is a whole lot cheaper than the packets, and I can make a little at a time as needed.

I just baked 30 cupcakes from scratch--batter and frosting. I would recommend that you start your cake baking by making chocolate cakes. I find they're easier to make than the white ones, and a chocolate cake from scratch is always a treat. Email me if you would like my Cold Water Chocolate Cake recipe. It always turns out moist.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Great ideas -- I will start hunting and pecking for the ranch ideas.

Chocolate cake? Um. Well. Nobody in my family likes chocolate cake -- nobody. Not even me. Yes, it is true.

Average Jane said...

I'll bet Penzey's sells a ranch dressing mix. Their stuff is all top quality.

MargieK said...

I found a ranch dressing mix recipe on Pinterest. I think we're following each other -- although I haven't been on Pinterest much lately.

We eat lots of fresh green salads, and lately I've been all about making homemade dressing. You can find all kinds of vinagrette recipes out there, but basically it's oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like. I generally do a more-or-less 50-50 mix of oil and vinegar (using part olive oil, part walnut oil and also varying/mixing the vinegars), and include some basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and maybe a bit of mustard powder. SO much cheaper than even your store-brand dressing, and better for you because it has "healthier" oils and no preservatives, additives, stabilizers. You could use fresh minced garlic or fresh herbs; I DO keep fresh garlic on hand (and use it regularly in cooking), but am usually in a hurry when throwing together the dressing, so thus the garlic powder.

Same thing with tacos. I used to buy the packets of seasonings. Now I just follow the recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook I got as a wedding gift years ago (salt, pepper, chili powder -- I might add a little cumin, and of course fresh garlic). I don't remember the ratios, but if this is something you make, you can probably find a recipe and adjust to your taste.

While I try to limit sweets, treats, and baked goods (my kids are adults now), I really don't like the store-bought kind. So if we have cake, brownies, pie, cookies, etc. -- they're home-made. A situation where laziness (i.e., not preparing sweets) is good for you!

kerry said...

My best "from scratch" discovery is hot cocoa...all it takes is some good quality cocoa powder, sugar, and milk (maybe some vanilla or cinnamon if you're feeling fancy), but by mixing it yourself you can can decide how sweet to make it. Turns out most premade mixes are actually sweeter than I want.

Anonymous said...

Salsa. I moved from a state with great mexican food to one with not so great mexican food. The grocery store salsa made me sad. Now I just make it whenever I want it. I do make it less than I would love to eat it because it is somewhat time consuming, but oh-so worth it. I make pico de gallo technically, not the soupy salsa (which has its place, don't get me wrong).
My recipe for one batch of salsa is 5 roma tomatoes (cut off top and scoop out insides), 1/2 a yellow onion, one bunch green onions, cilantro (leaves only, no stems, and I guesstimate how much to pick) and the chiles are as follows - for my husband's batch, I put in one jalapeno. For me, I put 2 jalapenos, four serranos, and 2 habaneros. You finish off the batch with 1/2 a fresh squeezed lemon and salt to taste. I do the chopping of all the ingredients in my cuisinart (except the green onions, I chop those by hand b/c I didn't like how they turned out in the cuisinart).

Melanie said...

I make all my icings from scratch and yes they are ridiculously easy... (the chocolate one on the back of the hersey's cocoa can is also yum).... and the ONLY choc cake I like is my scratch eggless version.