Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On My Nightstand

I know it's been awhile, but it's time for another issue of "On My Nightstand!"  Here lately I have really been into following a book series.  Not necessarily a series where you have to read one before you go to the next, but my favorites are where the character(s) are the same in each book, but each book's story is independent of the other.  Am I making any sense?! 

For example, have you seen the movie The Lincoln Lawyer?  Well, that movie was actually based on a book by Michael Connelly.  The main character in that movie, Mickey Haller (played by Matthew McConaughey), is actually the main character in 4 other books.  While each book is independent of the others, I like the fact that you feel like you really know the characters and you learn more about them in each book.  I try to read the series in order and, while it's not necessary to understand the stories, I feel like it helps when something is happening with the character's personal life to have some background information.

Anywho....on to the real point of this post.  The series I want to introduce you guys to today is written by Janet Evanovich, and it is referred to as the Stephanie Plum Series.  There are 17 main books and  4 "Between-the-Numbers" books.  The titles of the main books are all number related (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, etc.) and the titles of the other books are not number related (thus, they are referred to as "Between-the-Numbers").  These 4 books are also shorter books--kind of like mini stories.

The main character of these books is Stephanie Plum.  She's a 30-something, single woman who lives in New Jersey.  Stephanie has a bit of bad luck when it comes to holding down a job and, in a fit of desperation, decides to try her hand at bounty hunting.  All of these books center around her job as a bounty hunter and the shenanigans she gets herself into.

These books are action-packed, and extremely hilarious at the same time.  Stephanie has a meddling mother, a crazy grandmother, and smoking hot boyfriend that all seem to work their way into the craziness that is her professional life.  Each book has a mystery tied into it so they are definitely page turners, but in the midst of all this you will likely find yourself laughing hysterically throughout the book.

You definitely don't have to read them in order, but I recommend it because it will help you follow the small side stories about her personal life a little better. Below is a list of the books in chronological order. Keep in mind that the first several books were written awhile ago so don't be surprised when Stephanie has to pull over to use a pay phone because cell phones are something that only the super-rich have!

One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Seven Up
Hard Eight
Visions of Sugar Plums
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Plum Lovin'
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky
Fearless Fourteen
Plum Spooky
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen

Hope you guys try some of these books out--I think you'll become as addicted as I am!  Number 18 is coming out this fall, and I'm already thinking about pre-ordering it on my Kindle because I'm so excited......yes, I'm that much of a nerd!

Talk to you soon!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Oreo Truffle Recipe

I absolutely love Oreo truffles...or, as the hubs likes to call them, Oreo balls.  Literally, I could eat an entire batch by myself.  They are always a hit, and my friends love them!  I helped throw a baby shower for a sweet friend of mine, and the mom-to-be actually requested that the only dessert was Oreo truffles.  So, of course, I obliged making several different flavors, and they were devoured.  I think my favorite thing about them is that they are so easy.

I know there are tons or recipes out there and you can probably Google this and you would get 234932847528 hits. BUT, here's my recipe along with pictures.

**Note: the pictures in this post show that I used peanut butter Oreos which shows that you can use all the variations of Oreos, but my all-time favorite is truffles made with the regular Oreos.

Oreo Truffles
1 bag of Oreos
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese, softened
Almond bark (amount varies, depending on how thick you coat)

Place the Oreos in your food processor, and pulse until the cookies are crushed into a fine powder.
(At the time, I didn't have a large food processor, but have since upgraded!)

(Here's the consistency that you should have after pulsing in the food processor.)

Using a mixer, combine the cookie crumbs and the softened cream cheese.  Mix until well combined--the mixture should be kind of shiny (almost wet looking) and form a large ball. 
(I use my stand mixer which I LOOOOOOOVE.  It was one of my favorite wedding gifts and I use it all the time!)
(This is what the mixture should look like after mixing.)

Once well combined, pinch off small amounts and form into about 1 inch balls.  I've seen them made bigger, but I like to keep them small and bite-sized. 

(I use my small cookie scoop to get uniform sizes.)
(Sorry this is such a bad picture--I didn't realize the ball was blending in with my black stovetop!
But, you can still see the size here.)

Place the balls onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  You don't want them to be frozen solid, but you want them to be very chilled and firm because you will be tossing them in hot, melted chocolate and you don't want them to lose their shape.

Melt your almond bark in a small, deep bowl.  Almond bark can burn very easily so I warm it in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring inbetween.

Drop the Oreo balls into the almond bark, one at a time.  I like to use two forks to toss the ball around in the melted almond bark to get them well coated.  Once coated, place them back on the wax paper-lined cookie sheet to cool/harden.  IMPORTANT:  do not place in the freezer or the refrigerator--this will cause the truffles to sweat and condensation will form on the outside.  They will harden fairly quickly even at room temperature.

And, of course, my ever-present kitchen helper was right there hoping I would drop something assisting.

Finally, every good cook knows that you must sample your treats before you serve them---I just wanted to make sure they were edible!  =)

Hope you enjoy.  However, I must warn you--this are HIGHLY addicting!