Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cake Balls

Thanks to my friend Holli for teaching me to make these delightful little balls! Truly, they are SIMPLE! Some recipes will tell you to bake the cake the day before, but Holli must know what a slacker I am, 'cuz her recipe is even easier! For this batch-o-balls I used Strawberry cake mix and store-bought strawberry frosting.

Step 1. - Bake 9"x13" cake according to cake mix directions. Let cool just enough to touch, but not completely cooled.

Step 2. - While cake is still warm, empty into large mixing bowl. Add 1 tub frosting and mix well until frosting has "melted" into cake mix. (At this point I usually place in refrigerator to let "set" a little while I clean up and prepare my baking sheets for the next step.)

Step 3. - Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, form cake into approximately 24 - 2" balls. Place on cookie sheets lined with waxed or parchment paper. Place in freezer and freeze at least 1 hour. *I have actually left a batch in the freezer for 2 weeks and they were just fine.

Step 4. - Melt 1 lb. bakers/dipping chocolate. Using fork or candy sticks, dip balls into melted chocolate, using a spoon to help as needed. Remember the "flat" side of the balls as they chilled on the paper? Return the dipped balls to the paper, again on that flat side. Let chocolate set up.

Step 5. - (optional) Decorate dipped cake balls as desired.

Helpful hints:

* If you desire to bake the cake a day or two beforehand, that is fine. However, when mixing in the frosting, it will take a bit more work. I recommend using 2 forks to really get everything combined well.

* Using the chocolate baking "discs" from Orson Gygi's, Michael's, or Robert's is probably much cheaper than buying the baker's chocolate from the grocery store and you will have a lot more colors to choose from.

* For my "double broiler" I simply place a glass bowl over my pot of boiling water. It fits right in the top half of my pot perfectly!

* You can use any cake mix and frosting flavors you desire. I have even used German Chocolate Cake and German Chocolate Frosting and those were some of my children's favorite cake balls!

* Look at some other cool ideas for holidays or parties -- (I googled "Cake Balls" under the Image tab). Get inspired and get your balls on! :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mexican Casserole

A few weeks back I was in a pinch, needing something easy and "quick" (meaning, didn't need thawing) for dinner. I had almost all of the fixings for tacos, but no shells. Then I noticed about a half bag of tortilla chips in the pantry, and THIS recipe is what came to life. My kids absolutely loved this. I loved it so much I secretly hoped for leftovers so I could take it to work for lunch the next day. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! I will definitely make this again!

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 C Sour Cream (or can substitute 2 Tbsp milk if preferred)
3-4 C Tortilla Chips (can use Frito's Corn Chips)
1 Jar Salsa
2-3 C shredded cheese

In skillet brown ground beef, draining fat. Add taco seasonings according to packet directions. Mix in cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Combine well and set aside. In 9x13 pan or casserole dish start with layer of slightly crushed chips. Spoon salsa over chips. Spread layer of creamy mixture over salsa and top with half the cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake @ 350 F about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10-15 until cheese is melted. Serve warm with additional sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc., if desired.

Since we still had plenty of chips left, we served this over crushed tortilla chips for some added crunch!