Dec 22, 2014

Oreo Cookie Balls

Rich with chocolate and cream cheese, these little cookie balls are pretty, delicious, and festive. I make them small enough to serve in mini muffin liners- they're just the right size for about two luscious bites!

Oreo Cookie Balls  Print
Makes about 2.5 dozen, 1" cookie balls

1 (14.3 oz.) package oreos, any flavor (about 39 cookies)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)
2 to 4 teaspoons vegetable shortening
toppings of choice, such as cookie crumbs or crushed candy canes

parchment paper or waxed paper

1. Process the cookies in a food processor until finely and evenly ground. Remove a tablespoon or two of crumbs for topping, if desired.
2. Pour crumbs into a large bowl. Stir cream cheese into crumbs until completely combined. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or up to overnight (cover if leaving overnight).
3. While dough chills, set toppings out. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of shortening into melted chocolate and stir until completely melted and smoothly combined. This keeps the chocolate from getting thick and gloppy.
4. Form chilled dough into scant 1" balls or preferred size. Working in batches (keep the rest in the fridge or freezer while you work), dip each ball into melted chocolate. Let some of the excess chocolate drip off back into bowl, then set ball onto parchment paper. Sprinkle lightly with desired toppings before chocolate sets. If you are planning to drizzle with a contrasting chocolate, do allow dipped cookie to set first. Keep finished cookie balls refrigerated.

On melting the chocolate: I melt about half a package of chips (about 6 oz.) at a time in the microwave (f
ollowing package directions), using the crock insert of a small crock pot. After the chocolate melts, I set the crock liner back into the crock pot and set it on low. This keeps the chocolate warm while I dip the dough balls. I use 1 to 2 teaspoons of shortening per 6 oz. of chocolate. If you want to use shortening, add a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

On dipping the balls: Everyone seems to have their preferred method- toothpicks, forks, etc. What works for me is to use a large slotted spoon. Dip the ball briefly, cover completely in chocolate, then let drip through the slotted spoon while tapping lightly on side of crock/bowl. Roll gently onto parchment paper.

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Dec 20, 2014

Christmas Cookies!

One of the best things about the holidays is Christmas cookies. There are so many different kinds, and we've seen some of the very best at Treasure Box Tuesday!

We hope you enjoy this delicious collection. 
Merry Christmas and love from JoyWanda Ann, and Treasure Box Tuesday!

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Dec 19, 2014

Smoky Pecan Pimento Cheese

A Southern staple, you'll see Pimento Cheese prepared in almost every variation possible. It goes with ease from the simplest lunch table to the most elegant party.

I made this smoky version for a recent family get-together, and it was a big hit. Those people know pimento cheese, y'all, so I know it was good.

Smoky Pecan Pimento Cheese  Print

16 oz. block (ungrated) cheddar cheese (I used 8 oz. mild, 8 oz. medium)

Generous 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 small (2 oz.) jar chopped pimentos, drained
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/8 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't need any salt; the cheese and mayo are pretty salty)

1. Grate cheese into a large bowl, then add pecans. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and all the rest of the ingredients until very well combined.
3. Stir mayonnaise mixture into cheese and pecans and mix well.
4. Cover tightly and refrigerate several hours or (preferably) overnight. Setting it out of the refrigerator for a few minutes before serving will make it more spreadable. Refrigerate leftovers.

Cook's Notes:
  • You can use packaged pre-grated cheese, but the texture of the finished product won't be as smooth. Pre-grated cheese is coated with stuff to keep it from clumping up and sticking to itself, so it won't blend quite as nicely. 
  • If you let the block cheese sit out of the fridge for a few minutes before grating, it grates faster and more easily. 
  • The 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder called for doesn't give any heat, just adds another layer of smoky flavor. Increase amount for more heat. 
  • Pimento cheese makes delicious sandwiches of all kinds: grilled cheese, sliders, excellent on homemade biscuits.
  • To make basic pimento cheese, just mix the cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise (a little less, about 3/4 cup), then salt and pepper to taste. Some people add in a little onion or other things. My grandmother always added a chopped hard boiled egg.

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Dec 12, 2014

Rich Holiday Fruit Bread

Many thanks to Red Star Yeast for bringing you this delicious Holiday Fruit Bread~

Every Christmas Eve, my mom would make Christmas Bread. It was so good right out of the oven, and it might have been even better the next day for Christmas breakfast. When I saw this recipe on the Red Star Yeast website, I hoped it might taste a little like my mom's. It tasted exactly like my mom's.

Rich Holiday Fruit Bread is slightly sweet, with just the right amount of candied fruit bits, currants, and raisins. As it bakes, it fills your home with the cinnamon-rich aroma of the holidays. It's wonderful plain, and even more festive with a snowy glaze drizzled on top.

The recipe makes two loaves, and you'll be glad it does. I chose to braid one loaf, and baked the other one in a regular loaf pan.

I'll be making this again on Christmas Eve. What are some of your holiday baking traditions?

Please visit Red Star Yeast for the complete recipe for Rich Fruit Bread, detailed instructions, and handy baking tips.

Browse their huge collection of of tried, tested and true recipes for the best homemade breads, including a whole section of holiday recipes!

Find Red Star Yeast on your favorite social media:

Cooks Notes: It's not difficult to braid bread. After the first rise, just divide the dough for one loaf into three equal portions. Form the portions into long thin rolls or ropes, each about 15 inches long. Lay the three ropes on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, all in a row, side by side, touching. Pinch the three ropes together at one end and tuck the pinched edge under to secure. Braid the ropes, then pinch the ends together and tuck under the loaf. Cover and let rise a second time, then pop it in the oven to bake. I brushed mine with an egg wash before baking to give it a warm sheen: whisk one egg with 2 teaspoons of water until completely combined. Brush loaf lightly with egg mixture right before baking.

Rich Holiday Fruit Bread may have been taken to some of these fun parties, including Metamorphosis Monday!

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