Here's the basic recipe:
2 1/2 cups masa harina (masa flour, NOT corn flour)
2 3/4 cups hot water
1 tsp salt
Combine the hot water and the salt until the salt has dissolved. Then add the masa until it comes together. You basically want it to just come together where you can handle it. Not thin like cornbread batter but not as thick as, say, biscuit dough. If it's too thin you won't be able to shape it. If it's too thick it'll be tough on the inside. If it's too thin then add more masa as needed. If it's too thick then add more water-- but taste the dough first! If it's not salty enough then you'll want to add salt to the hot water and then mix it with the dough.
Okay, so the dough is mixed. Roll them into balls and flatten them out. Then poke small holes in the center. There are basically 3 ways (that I know of) to cook them. Bake them at 350 until golden. Cook them on a griddle until golden. Or (my favorite way) fry them until golden. The outside will be crunchy and the inside will be soft. Mmmm!!
You can eat them just as they are or add whatever you want to them. You can slice them open and make a sandwich out of them with corned beef, pulled pork, ham and cheese... whatever! Or you can top them with chili or black beans or make a sort of tostada with them. The options are endless!
Michael isn't overly excited about beans and corn bread (he's crazy, right??) so I do black beans and fried arepas instead. And I add guacamole, sour cream and cheese.
Oh, and you can even cook things in the dough. You can chop some ham, onions, cheese, etc and mix it straight into the dough before you cook it.