Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

Confession time: I get obsessed very easily. TV shows, internet sites, activities - I get very easily addicted. I can lose hours browsing Pinterest or solving puzzles. I may or may not have watched first four seasons of True Blood in just a few short weeks... Ummm... Anyway...

I also get addicted to books. Which, in my mind, as far as addictions go is not a bad one to have. I find an author that I like and keep reading everything created by him/her. I've always loved reading; anything from Orwell's 1984 to Rowling's Harry Potter, Stendahl, Dumas, Atwood and many more. If I find a series I like, then it's even better, and with my discovery of online libraries there's really no excuse not to read. 

Have you heard of online libraries? It's really simple, you get your regular library card, then login online using computer, iPhone or iPad, download a couple of applications for reading and start browsing online catalogue. Once you find a book you'd like to borrow, it's done only with a few clicks and it's available on your system for up to three weeks. When you finish the book, it's another couple of clicks to return it. No time to travel to the library to pick the book up, no time to travel to return it, no late fees, no hassle. A-ma-zing!!! 

Delicious, sweet and crunchy Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

So, my current obsession is Joanne Fluke who writes very light murder mysteries that are investigated by a baker. Books are peppered with food descriptions and recipes. Some concoctions are too sweet for my taste (really, there's no need for three cups of sugar in a cookie recipe!), but some are quite nice and interesting. This recipe is from one of the books by Joanne, but with a few changes that happened by accident. Original recipe was for about six dozens of cookies, so I decided to half all the ingredients except I forgot about it in the middle of mixing the dough. Well, resulting cookies were still yummy and delicious, crunchy, peanut-ey (is this a word?) and with a hint of molasses flavour.

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

makes 3 dozens

Melted butter - 1 stick
White sugar - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
Molasses - 2 tablespoons
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoons
Peanut butter - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 1 large
Flour - 1 1/4 cup
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Pour melted butter into a large bowl, add sugars, vanilla, molasses and mix.
  • Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and mix well.
  • Add peanut butter and mix.
  • Add the egg and mix well until smooth.
  • Add flour and mix until flour disappears and all the ingredients are blended.
  • Scoop the dough using either really small ice-cream scoop or shape the dough into walnut sized balls.
  • Place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper leaving about two inches of space between.
  • Flatten the dough with a fork in a traditional crisscross pattern.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes* (Please see note) or until edges start to turn golden.
  • Cool on a cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Comments
My oven needed about 15-18 minutes for cookies, so check the cookies after 10-12 minutes.
- I love this recipe because it doesn't need softened butter. I don't have microwave, so it's a lot easier to melt butter than to soften it.

Delicious, sweet and crunchy Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies
Posted on May 21, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Meatballs with Rice aka Hedgehogs

The very first time I told my husband that we'd be having hedgehogs for dinner he looked at me funny. I bet he thought that I finally had a breakdown and need to take a few days (weeks, months) to stay home and get better. Well, I had to promise him that I was, in fact, totally fine and I did not go on a rampage hunting hedgehogs in the middle of the night.

So, before I begin, let me state here that no hedgehogs have been harmed during cooking of this recipe!!

Hedgehogs - what are they? Well, they are simply meatballs with rice. My guess is that when meat cooks and shrinks, the rice pops out of the meat and the resulting meatballs resemble spiky hedgehogs. This is just a guess, but never mind the name. These are really delicious and a great way to use up some leftover rice as well as make something different.

Meatballs with Rice - super easy meatballs baked in the oven

Traditionally these meatballs are panfried, but I prefer baking them for a few reasons. One, I use less oil this way. Two, it's a lot easier to just place a whole tray of meatballs in the oven and forget about them instead of panfrying them in batches, turning them, checking for doneness etc. Oven - convenient, stove - not so much. Whenever I can, I like using the oven for cooking!!

These meatballs are very simple, yet delicious and filling because of the rice. Serve them with a simple salad or steamed vegetables. I had them last time with my Easy Tomato Sauce and the combination was scrumptious!!

Meatballs with Rice aka Hedgehogs

Ground meat - 750g *
Cooked rice - 300g (1.5 cups)
Spices to taste... I used Mrs. Dash No Salt Original Blend - 2 teaspoons
Garlic salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Onion, very finely minced - 1/2 medium - 1.5 teaspoons
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together ground meat, rice, seasoning and very finely diced onion.
  • Shape the mixture into little oval shaped balls similar in shape and size to small kiwi. Flatten them a little bit.
  • Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until they are cooked through.
  • Serve hot with Easy Tomato Sauce.

Comments
* I use different ground meat usually. This time it was a mix of pork and beef. Most times I mis pork and chicken or turkey.
- I don't use a lot of salt in my cooking, so you may need to increase the amount of salt in this recipe.

Meatballs with Rice - super easy meatballs baked in the oven
Posted on May 19, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Bean and Pecan Salad

We don't usually appreciate things until they are gone or broken... No, this is not a philosophical post about living life, enjoying every moment etc. I mean, yes, live life to the fullest, of course. I'm not denying that at all. But this is about a more trivial thing, such as a car starter. I didn't appreciate a working car starter until it began to intermittently not working. In fact, I did not even know that there is such a thing as a car starter up until a few weeks ago.

Life with a faulty starter is exciting. You never know if the car is going to start or not. It's like a Russian roulette every time you put the key into ignition. Will it or won't it? Fun! (Not!) After some reflection and a few calls to my mechanic, I figured that the problem happens (intermittently) if the car was driving for 20+ minutes and got hot (like me driving it from work) and then it was stopped for 10-15 minutes (like me running an errand) and then the car got started again (like me finally trying to get home). Then it gets fun!

Bean and Pecan Salad - super easy, fast, delicious, healthy and filling meal with minimum ingredients

Eventually I stopped running errands, which doesn't sound that bad except that most of my after work errands usually include going to local grocery store and buying food. Because food is sort of kind of a little bit essential to, you know, being alive!

Not being able to go grocery shopping actually wasn't as bad. We have a lot of leftovers from the Mother's Day brunch and lots in the pantry. This salad is a staple in my little family for when I have no energy to cook. It comes together in a matter of minutes and requires almost no ingredients. It reminds me of an old Russian joke about what can a woman make out of nothing? Out of nothing a woman can make a hat, a drama and a salad.

Bean and Pecan Salad - super easy, fast, delicious, healthy and filling meal with minimum ingredients

The roots of this delicious and filling salad are Georgian. In Georgian cuisine (which is very popular in Russia) beans and nuts are essential. There are endless variations on Bean and Nut salads and they are usually called Lobio. I can't say enough good things about this salad! It's super easy to make, you just drain a can of kidney beans, crush some pecans, add some chopped onion and herbs, some lemon, oil and voilร , it's done. It's really filling as beans and nuts provide a lot of protein. It's healthy, it's fresh, it's vegan! It's cheap to make! Shall I go on?

Bean and Pecan Salad

2 large meal size portions or 4 small appetizer portions

Red kidney beans - 1 can (540 ml)
Pecan halves - 1/2 cup
Red onion - 20 g (it's about 1/16 of a large onion)
Dill - about 3 sprigs
Parsley - about 3 sprigs
Lemon juice from 1/4 of lemon
Olive oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt, pepper to taste
  • Drain and rinse kidney beans. I use no salt added beans by PC.
  • Place the beans into a large bowl and crumble pecans on top. You can chop the nuts as well, but I find that chopping them is quite messy as they usually try to escape, so I just use my hands to break them into smaller pieces.
  • Very finely chop the onion, it'll be about 1/4 cup of chopped onion, maybe a little bit less. 
  • Finely mince dill and parsley. You'll get about 2 tablespoons of each herb.
  • Add onion and herbs to the bean and nut mixture.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice and add a tablespoon of oil. Add seasoning to taste and mix.

Comments
- This goes very well with cilantro, but I know that many people don't eat cilantro and my husband is one of them, so I use other herbs.
- You can use walnuts instead of pecans too. I find that pecans provide a milder flavour than walnuts which I like more.
- I use very little salt in my cooking and I find that lemon juice gives enough flavour and seasoning to the salad. I only used a tiny pinch of salt for this, so I can't say how much would work for you.
- If you are making this in advance or big batch, then dress the salad right before serving as oil and lemon absorb into the beans and nuts and salad gets a bit dry the next day.

Bean and Pecan Salad - super easy, fast, delicious, healthy and filling meal with minimum ingredients
Posted on May 14, 2015 .