Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The unoffical theme of Christmas: Balls

Balls are an essential (and perhaps under-appreciated) part of Christmas.  There's the colorful balls you hang on the tree.  The balls made of snow that you get to throw at unsuspecting and unprepared family members.  And the balls that make their appearances at holiday parties: cheese balls, meatballs, rum balls...

But I have for you today, my friends, the best holiday balls of all: Oreo Balls.  I'm not sure where this recipe originated, though I'm sure someone claims credit (and, to whoever that person might be, I am not at all greatly apologetic for not giving you your due).  My sister taught me to make them years ago; her roommate showed get the idea.

This recipe contains three ingredients.  That's right, THREE. It also requires no measuring.  And, these tasty little buggers blow people away every time I bring them to a party.  Though, when I bring them to a party, I usually try to class it up a little bit and call them something like "Oreo truffles" or "Oreo cheesecake bites."

The truth is...they're balls.  Cheap, easy, fast.  But, oh, so delicious.  (And, also, perfect for any time of year.  Though if I allowed myself to make them year-round, they would be a staple in my diet, and my waist would not thank me.)

Here's what you need: Oreos, cream cheese, and almond bark (you buy it in the same place you buy the chocolate chips).  If you want to get fancy, you can also buy white chocolate almond bark for decorating.

Put the whole package of Oreos in a bowl and mash them up.  I used a potato masher (mostly because it made for a better picture than a spoon).  They can still be pretty chunky...the goal is just to not have any whole cookies left.

Next, add a whole block of cream cheese.

Then, mix the cookies and the cream cheese with a hand mixer.  At first, you're going to say, "What the heck is she talking about?!? This was a terrible idea! There's no way the hand mixer is going to do anything except cause cookie bits and cream cheese to fly about my kitchen!!"  But, keep going.  Eventually, they will combine.  I promise.  Also, you should have used a bigger bowl (I make this mistake every time, and don't realize it until I am at this step).

You'll know you're done when you have this horrid looking brown goo.  It's ok if there are still some chunks of cookie, as long as they're not THAT big.
Now, you take the brown goo and roll it into balls the size of walnuts.  Roughly.  I put mine on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Now, put them in the freezer for an hour or two.  (Full disclosure: I never do this because I'm usually running late and don't have the time to do this before I'm supposed to be at the party.  It works fine anyway.)

After the balls get nice and hard (in the freezer...what did you think I was talking about??), melt some almond bark in a bowl.  I usually use six cubes at once, and melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, so that I don't scorch the chocolate.  Lesson learned the hard way.

Dip each ball in the chocolate, coating it thoroughly (or mostly).  I use two forks to finagle the chocolate-coated ball onto a new sheet of wax paper to dry without messing up too much of the chocolate shell.

I'm not very careful about how I dip the balls, so they usually end up with these goofy little wingy things attached to the bottoms.  I just break those off once they're dry.  And voila - nice looking Oreo balls.

You could stop here, unless you want to be the super-impressive, over-achieving potluck attendee whose food contribution puts everyone else to shame (of course!). 

 In that case, melt some white chocolate almond bark, and put it in a plastic baggie with the tip of the corner cut off. (Don't melt the chocolate in the baggie....again, lesson learned the hard way).

Drizzle and swirl to your heart's content to pretty up your balls.  When you're done, you'll be so sad that the drizzling is ending, that you'll want to doodle smiley faces and write "I love you" in chocolate on your wax paper.  What's that?  That's just me?   So be it...

Once they dry, put them on a pretty platter, and you're done!  Now eat one.  Seriously.  You won't regret it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Special Special is ready to go

Each morning, I wake up and instead of lounging lazily, snuggling with my baby, we rush out of bed and into the bathroom. (And here I thought potty training would make my life easier...) Even before he's done peeing, it starts: "Go, go go! Toot, toot! Go, go, go!"

He's incessant.  He pushes on my legs, leans his whole 25 pound mass against me, and urges me, "Go, go, go!"  He isn't satisfied until I've set up all three of his train tracks, and put the appropriate battery-powered engine on each track.  Then, he sits back and sighs in relief because all is right with the world. 

For the next twelve hours, those little engines will chug around their tracks dutifully.  Throughout the day, he'll go back to them and play for a bit, then he'll wander off.  But if I dare to turn them off, even for a few minutes, he's right back at it, "Go, go, go!  Toot, toot!"

I made the unfortunate mistake of buying a "Talking Thomas" train engine the other day.  Now, the soundtrack of my day consists of, "I'm Thomas, the number one blue engine!" and "Cinders and ashes!"  Then there's this one: "My Special Special is ready to go!"

Perhaps if I'd ever watched Thomas the Tank Engine, I would know why he says such a thing.  But I haven't, and I don't.  Instead, I can only wonder what on earth a "Special Special" is.  And, it could be that I'm slowly losing my mind as a result of the never-ending train noises in my house (or as a result of the anxiety attacks I feel coming on hourly as a result of my completely unresponsive real estate agent...but that's a story for another day), but every time I hear, "My Special Special is ready to go," I can't help but hear some kind of weird, sexual innuendo.  But, on the bright side, it makes me giggle every time!

P.S. Sorry for my long absence, friends.  Life has gotten the best of me these past few weeks, but I'm back.  Hopefully for good!

P.P.S. Thanks to aforementioned trains, we now go through four batteries a day.  A day!  I'll give you one guess what the only thing on my list for Santa will be this year...