Friday, February 22, 2013

Confetti Salad (frogeyes)

Confetti (frogeye) Salad

     This recipe is seriously simple, with a lot of steps. While it is pretty hard to mess up, it is easy to get lost in the steps of it, so as usual, read through beforehand! 
For this recipe you will need:

Acini de Pepe
Whipping cream
vanilla extract
powdered sugar
food coloring of your choice (optional)
cans of pineapple (tidbits or chunks)
can of crushed pineapple (optional)
cans of mandarin oranges
package of instant vanilla pudding

Ok, a few notes before starting. Notice that it is called Confetti salad? No I am not trying to be clever, I have found that when making this for little kids who come over to play, they will not eat something called frog eye salad with little bits of pasta that look like frog eyes, no matter how many times you tell them they are not actually frog eyes. I remedied this by simply coloring the pasta and renaming it confetti salad. Suddenly, though it tastes exactly the same, they will eat it. Whatever works, right?

I am all for saving money but there are certain instances when it just isn't going to work. If I was making rice krispy treats, I would get the cheap store brand marshmallows. Obviously in this recipe I am not, so I get the brand name so that I know they are not going to stick together and have a chunk of marshmallow in my salad. Store brand pineapple is not cut well and has parts of the core in it, and store brand mandarin oranges are notorious for having seeds! Other than that, there really is no problem getting the cheaper versions of the other ingredients. 

MAKE YOUR OWN WHIPPED CREAM! It is possible to use that freezer gunk, but honestly the only positive that came out of that for me was I had disposable dishes to put the salad in when I was done. Whipped cream is so simple, that the freezer gunk is just not worth it. Heavy whipping cream, and a little vanilla and powdered sugar. Now whip. Yes, it is really that simple.

Since I generally make this recipe for clients, I use #10 cans of fruit also. This is why I make my own "crushed" pineapple. If you decide to use an actual can of crushed pineapple that is fine but a cheaper can and a blender works great for me.

To make your own "crushed" pineapple, just use your blender or food processor and put some of the pineapple in, with a little of the juice and use the lowest setting. All done! That was easy!

Let's start on the base. First goes the package of vanilla pudding. 

Next pour in some milk. DO NOT follow the directions on the box of pudding, we are only using the mix.

Next, pour in some of the pineapple juice. I also like to add in a little bit of the juice from the oranges, but that is optional as well. 

Mix those up really well so that it is still liquid but you can tell it is starting to set.

Next pour in your crushed pineapple and mix up. This will be the last step you need a whisk for, so go ahead and put it in the dishwasher or sink. You can use it for the whole recipe if you want, but personally I don't like shaking fruit out of my whisks and taking twice as long to finish.

I cannot tell you how long it took me to realize this. You don't need to drain the fruit from the cans like most people do. Pour it all in the colander!!! Amazing, right? Oh just wait, my favorite trick is coming up.

Add all the drained fruit in. Obviously you can add in more fruit or different fruit, but the pineapple and oranges are a must for the flavor. This is also the step where you would add in coconut. I cannot stand coconut. I hate it so much that I don't ever even use extract.

Let's talk about your pasta. You would think this would be simple, but it's kind of different for every recipe. First of all, there are different types of Acini de Pepe. Today I used the type that looks like tiny little beads. This type cooks very fast. Normally I use the type that is just a solid tiny little ball, but this takes a lot longer to cook. This is why I make the base first, since the cooking times on your pasta will vary. "NOW WAIT!" you may be saying. "How did the pasta already get pink?" This is actually very simple. Just add the food coloring into the water when you cook the pasta. This makes the pasta colored, but it doesn't bleed out into the salad and the whipped cream gets to stay white!  

If you have read my other posts with pasta in the recipe, you know that I NEVER leave hot pasta in the colander. This makes the pasta keep cooking! This is especially dangerous for this recipe, as the frog eyes will clump together in big clumps and then it literally ruins then entire salad! But unlike other recipes, this will not be using hot pasta. We are going to shock it. Whoa! Don't get your tasers out just yet! This is my favorite part to do with the kids! They think it is magical. The first step is draining your hot pasta in the colander.

Now fill your pot about half way with ice!

Pour the hot pasta back into the pot with ice, and start stirring. This will make sure the frog eyes don't stick together while cooling it down at the same time. Yes I am aware your mother probably taught you to just rinse it all off with running cold water. First of all, what a waste! Secondly, it doesn't cool these off fast enough and you could still end up with yucky clumps. Finally, if you rinse it with cold water, you will miss the kids magic trick. 

You may be asking yourself, "Well great. They are cooled down, but I would really rather not reach in there and pick out all the ice cubes that didn't melt." Well hold on cause here comes the magic trick!

Put your pot in the sink and start slowly running HOT water into the pot. Yes I said hot, no I did not say enough that it will overflow or start cooking the pasta again. This may be a "DUH" moment to you but you would be surprised the people that don't understand this concept. Stir your pasta one or two times while the HOT water is running in. Seeing the magic yet?

You guessed it! All that ice has now floated to the surface and you can now just scoop it out with either your hand or a slotted spoon.

This leaves just the water and the pasta! Now go ahead and drain it in the colander. You may want to shake it around a little to get as much of the water as humanly possible out of it.

Add your pasta, or confetti, into the base.

Stir it up really well, using a rubber spatula so it doesn't crush any of the pasta, and doesn't get stuck in the whisk. Again, unless you like that kind of thing.

Now you will stir in your marshmallows. How many you use is a personal preference, but remember the more you use, the more juice they will suck up and the salad could get kind of dry and look old if you use too much.

Now you add in your whipped cream or whipped topping gunk from the freezer, obviously not frozen. This is why we add the marshmallows first, if you add the marshmallows last like some recipes do, it is difficult to tell where they are and how well you have mixed it.

I prefer to serve this as soon as possible after making it, but it will keep ok for a week or so. 

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