Mood Elevating Peanut Butter Biscuits

Hot from the oven!

When you loooooove chocolate and have always baked anything and everything with chocolate in it, it is tough to find a recipe that doesn’t have chocolate. But then again, maybe you keep looking for those recipes that have chocolate in them!

My aunt gave me a book titled ‘Best Ever Cookie Book’ by Hilarie Walden and I decided to try and find a recipe that did not have chocolate and needed only one egg since I only had one egg in the fridge. I opened the book and I found two recipes that looked exciting – snickerdoodle cookies and peanut butter cookies. I like peanut butter more for sure and decided to go ahead and bake the peanut butter cookies. Simple ingredients, all of which I had at home, and it just took me 20 minutes to get the dough ready.

These cookies will fill your house with a wonderful peanut butter/vanilla fragrance and that in itself are mood elevators! They are super buttery and melt in your mouth. They felt more like biscuits than cookies since they were quite crisp and I think that cookies are ALWAYS supposed to be chewy (and have chocolate in them!:)!) I thought they were perfect for my mood and were very quick to make!

Mood Elevating Peanut Butter Biscuits

   (Based on Hilarie Walden’s recipe)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes                          Refrigeration Time: Min. 30 minutes                          Baking Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (yields about 24 mid size biscuits)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour (I use whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I use vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg (at room temperature!)
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (I used smooth since that’s what I had at home)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (Takes me about 8 minutes using a hand held beater)
  3. Lightly beat the egg and vanilla in a separate bowl and slowly add the mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Next add the peanut butter to the wet mixture and mix it thoroughly.
  5. Incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and fold it in with a wooden spoon.
  6. If using peanuts, add them to the mix at this stage.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes to allow it to firm up.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
  9. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with parchment paper or butter and a sprinkling of flour
  10. Roll the dough into small balls and flatten gently with a fork. You should get a slightly raised lines pattern.
  11. Ensure biscuits are at least 2 inches apart.
  12. Bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Once done remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. After they have cooled slightly, gently transfer them to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

    Delishhh

That’s all! In about an hour and half you should be all ready with your delicious biscuits. I can tell you they taste great with coffee and definitely make you feel better!

Do let me know how they turned out for you!

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Shahi Paneer Recipe – The Low-Cal version!

I love paneer. It is a very common Indian farmer’s cheese in India and is often called ‘farmer’s cottage cheese’ in menu descriptions in restaurants across India. I decided to do some research and discovered  a few differences between paneer and cottage cheese:

  • Cottage cheese is salted while paneer is unsalted
  • Paneer is usually ‘pressed’ to give it a firm shape. Cottage cheese is not pressed and is left ‘chunky’
  • Cottage cheese is made using milk that has been curdled using ‘rennet’ while to make paneer, the milk is curdled using lemon/lime juice or some citric acid.

I can’t decide if the restaurants’ menu descriptions are right or wrong. What do you think?

Any ways, paneer is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and if it is made with low-fat milk and is not fried, it is a very healthy milk product. Nutritionists in India tend to recommend it to vegetarians to help improve their protein intake. It’s great for growing children and the taste is wonderful so they tend to lap it up. My brother and I love it and we have to order something which has paneer in it when we go to an Indian restaurant!

Since I started working, I have very little time to go out and eat and I tend to cook a few of my favorite foods at home like this Shahi Paneer. Shahi literally means royal and this dish, traditionally is made with cream, fried paneer pieces and exotic spices like bay leaves, cardamom, cashew nuts and some saffron. Now, if I did put all those ingredients in my version of the Shahi Paneer and I ate it 2 times a week, my nutritionist would throw me out of her office. Here is my low cal version of the same dish. All the delicious flavors, fewer calories and a lower fat content.

Shahi Paneer – The Low Cal Way

Ingredients:

  1. Paneer – 200 gms; cut in cubes
  2. Ginger – 1/2″ grated
  3. Garlic – 2 to 3 cloves, chopped finely
  4. 2 tomatoes – chopped
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to your tastes)
  7. 1 teaspoon cardamom (eliachi) powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  9. 1/2 teaspoon jeera (cumin seed) powder
  10. 1 teaspoon jeera (cumin) seeds
  11. 1-2 bay leaves
  12. a small pinch of nutmeg powder
  13. Salt, to taste
  14. 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  15. 1 cup yogurt, beaten
  16. 1/2 cup milk (slightly warmed)
  17. 2 teaspoons of oil (if using a non stick vessel)

Steps:

  • Heat the oil in a non stick wok on a medium flame for a minute and add the bay leaves. Once the leaves begin crackling, add the cumin and cardamom seeds to it. Wait for the seeds to start releasing their flavors, about 15 seconds if the oil is hot enough
  • Add the ginger and garlic and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes to the wok and mix them in well with the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, checking periodically on them. Add the tomato ketchup to the tomatoes and let it cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Once the tomatoes are nice and soft, add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, cumin seed powder and the nutmeg powder. Stir them all in. If the mixtures looks very dry, add half a cup of water and allow to cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Next add the yogurt to the tomato-masala mix and let it boil for 5-7 minutes.
  • Once the yogurt mixture has reduced, add the cubes of paneer. You can deep fry them if you like, but since I like to keep it low cal, I use the paneer raw.
  • Turn the heat off and add the milk. Stir and serve immediately.

Notes:

– I don’t eat onions (don’t like the taste) which is why I have omitted them in this recipe. You will not find onions in most of the recipes I will post. But feel free to use 1 onion, finely chopped and fried in the oil before adding the tomatoes. Allow the onions to turn transparent and then add the tomatoes.

– You can make a richer version of this dish by using 1/2 cup of cashew nut paste. Add it to the tomato mixture and use    water (1.5 cups) to dilute it. Reduce the quantity of yogurt to 1/2 cup of completely omit it.

– You can also add some cream instead of milk if you are making it for a special occasion or if you just want to indulge yourself! 🙂

Happy cooking and let me know how your Shahi Paneer turns out! 😀

No more chocolate for me!

I love chocolate. I have always loved chocolate.  I remember my mom telling me that when I was a few months old, I would grab candy bars from store counters and bite into them with the wrappers so that they would have to buy the chocolates for me! 😀 Every time I go to a restaurant/cafe and I am having dessert, it is always (no exceptions) a chocolate dessert. Coincidentally, the Marriott has an excellent chocolate cake/pastry called the Chocolate Marquise.  It is so rich, dense and full of chocolatey goodness! I literally feel like I am floating in heaven whenever I take a bite. I wonder when will I ever be able to make something that is as delicious….. Sigh….

Most of the desserts I make at home have some chocolate – chocolate chip cookies, nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies, peppermint and chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate brownies, triple chocolate brownies and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. (As I type this out, I realize that I may have a slight obsession for chocolate chip cookies as well!!)

Did you know, in India it is common to give up some food item in order to appease a God hoping that your wish will come true? Now, while I don’t really believe in superstitions, I have this one wish… One wish I wish gets fulfilled. I can’t tell you what it is because if I do, it probably won’t come true (another superstition!) I really, really, really want it to come true. I imagine  if it does come true it will change my life forever! I don’t know if it is going to happen and if it is really going to change my life, but I am willing to go all out and try to make it come true.

To please the Gods (any and all Gods) I decided to give up chocolate in any and all forms. I guess what I have actually given up is cacao beans! It’s been tough considering my brother just got a bunch of chocolates (peanut butter snickers, Lindt chocolates, M&S chocolate covered biscuits – all my faves) and they are simply lying around the house. But its amazing how powerful our mind is when we really want to achieve something.

Here’s what I have learnt – if you wanna give something up (bread, sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol etc…) just give it up then and there. Don’t tell yourself you’ll stop from tomorrow. It never works! Day 1 was hard. I had gotten so used to eating a bite of a chocolate as soon as I got back from work. I almost succumbed to the temptation. But then I remembered the reason why I had decided to give it up and I managed to control myself. If you can get through the first 7 days of resisting temptation, it’s all good. It’s hard to go to a coffee shop, to go to a restaurant and sometimes even to open the fridge and not eat anything which has chocolate in it. Friends and family wonder what’s wrong with you and keep pushing you to take ‘just a small bite’. I think that is in fact really difficult to overcome – the social pressure. But after 2 weeks of sticking to your guns, they usually do leave you alone. The only problem I have now is I don’t know what to order in restaurants! I end up not eating any desserts (my dietitian is probably going to be very happy to hear that!).

What about baking without chocolate? It’s going to be a challenge. I may just bake chocolate stuff for friends and family and I hope I have the strength to overcome the temptation to try it ‘just to make sure it’s edible!’ but other than that I am looking at a lot of recipes that have Cinnamon in it. I think this weekend I will make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting if I can help it or Cinnamon pull apart bread. I am already working on getting inspiration from the many food blogs I see online.

I leave you with this quote:

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins.”  ~Bob Moawad

Till Sunday then!