Month: December 2013

Oreo Balls

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For a holiday party tonight, I needed a quick, festive finger food to bring. I recalled seeing these Oreo “truffles” somewhere, did a quick online search, and found the recipe.

They require just three ingredients and come together in about 15 minutes of hands-on time with a food processor. They made a great addition to a communal snack table.

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Oreo Balls
From Kraft

Makes 2 dozen

18 Oreo cookies
4 oz. cream cheese
4-6 oz. semisweet chocolate

In a food processor, process Oreos into crumbs. Add cream cheese and process until smooth. Form into one-inch balls (I used a slightly smaller cookie scoop) and freeze for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. Working quickly,  roll the balls in chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined wIth waxed paper. (If decorating with sprinkles, sugars or cookie crumbs, add quickly before the chocolate sets.) Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve. 

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

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We’re a week out from Christmas, and everybody is in the spirit! After a lot of general interest in the Christmas tree, lights, and shiny decorations, Gatsby has settled back into his routine — although he loves taking naps under the Christmas tree.

Frosted sugar cookies are one of my two favorite Christmas treats (and really, holidays in general — there’s never a bad time to make them). Not fancy, but always a hit.

A few random musings about sugar cookies:

1. Santa prefers his cookie with a Diet Pepsi, and a carrot for Rudolph. He’s had enough milk, thankyouverymuch. Time for a late-night caffeine jolt.

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2. Don’t waste your time with royal icing. If you don’t care about eating the end product, just impressing people with fancy, pristine works of art, knock yourself out… but the reason these cookies are so popular is that the frosting actually tastes good.

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3. I make the frosting by feel, not precise measurements. Have plenty of powdered sugar and some extra milk on hand, and adjust accordingly.

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4. They freeze well. In fact, you might even prefer them that way.

A few years back, my brother asked me to bring sugar cookies home for Christmas. He picked me up at the airport, and on the drive home started munching on the cookies. When I asked how they were, he said, “They’re okay, but they’re not crunchy. Mom’s are crunchy.” He was clearly disappointed. He had no idea he’d been eating frozen cookies all these years, and the texture changed at room temperature.

5. The best-tasting cookie is either a star or a Christmas tree shape, decorated with rainbow nonpareils. End of discussion.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Cookies from Betty Crocker; frosting my own

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, if desired
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk (or more)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar (or more)

Food coloring, decorating sugars and sprinkles, as desired

In large bowl, mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until light brown. Let cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Allow pans to cool between batches.)

In a medium bowl, cream the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and spreadable, adding more milk or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency. If desired, tint with food color. Frost and decorate.

Pork Tenderloin with Date-Cilantro Relish

Pork tenderloin is a go-to for weeknight dinners — quick, lean, and versatile, and not a lot of leftovers (important when you’re cooking for 1 or 2 and get  bored easily).

Dates are something new for me, and after a few bites adjusting to the texture, this recipe won me over. My grocery store carries dates in bulk, allowing me to buy just the quantity I needed.

Serve the pork with green vegetables, and if you want a starch, try rice, potatoes, or polenta (sweet potatoes or winter squash will be overwhelmingly sweet).

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Pork Tenderloin with Date-Cilantro Relish

From Bon Appetit

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pork tenderloin (about 1½ lb.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 4 oz.), cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus leaves for serving

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 140°, 10–15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing; set aside pan drippings.

Toss dates, orange juice, reserved pan drippings, 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spoon relish over pork and top with cilantro leaves.