Russian Bites: chocolate kartoshka (“potato” chocolate truffles)

The one beauty of working (on my own business!) from home is that I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Every week I have a set of things I want to accomplish, but since I’m my own boss – I get to choose exactly what day and time I want to do them. The problem with that? Sometimes too much flexibility leaves a little too much wiggle room… which in turn accomplishes less.

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Want an example? Let’s do something easy, like working out (I have a feeling a lot of you could relate!). I plan on working out daily (actually 6 times a week) but sometimes I don’t feel like doing it at the convenient time… or I start getting nervous about all those pull-ups P90X loves so much, so I tell myself I’m hungry and should eat first. Of course that follows my the need to digest before I can get to it. I tell myself I have the whole day to do it. And then 6/7/8pm rolls around and I’m too tired to work out. Too much wiggle room and a whole lot of nothing gets accomplished! Embarrassed smile

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So I realized on Monday that I need to whip my ass into shape and get organized! Because besides all the things my business requires, I have a personal life too… with responsibilities and a social life, all of which require some juggling. Smile On the personal front, my 30th birthday is coming up and that means it was time to revisit my 30 by 30 list. On this lovely list, I saw the goal of making and blogging about 25 new Russian recipes. And since I’m still 15 recipes short (with the last Russian recipe posted over 2 months ago!), I’ve got some serious catching up to do!! On the calendar a new weekly Russian recipe went immediately. It’s now an appointment I must keep.

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There was no way around it. I had to whip something delicious (and Russian) right away – a treat I used to enjoy as a kid – shokoladnaya karthoshka (translation: chocolate potato… yeah). I’ve written about this before but Russian have this weird obsession with trying to shape foods into strange things (examples include chocolate sausage, black poodle cake, little hill cake… and now potatoes!). I suppose out of those examples, potatoes seem almost normal. But have no fear, they always taste amazing.

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These babies are made of milk, sugar, butter, cacao and crushed cookies and walnuts, creating fudgy little balls of goodness…which you can choose to shape into mini potatoes, or not. I actually kind of got into it and thought it was fun to make little potato sprouts out of pine nuts. Smile

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Make the batter, refrigerate overnight, then shape into potatoes (or just balls) and toss in cacao/sugar mixture.

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I Red heart Russian treats! Open-mouthed smile

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See the resemblance?

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How about NOW?

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Oh yeah. Smile with tongue out

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Or you can just go the plain non-potatoey route.

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Soft fudgy goodness

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ARRR (<—sound of me biting into one! :lol: )

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Printable recipe here

How do you organize yourself? Have you ever shaped foods into something non-traditional? Would you like to try one of these potato truffles? Yes, I’m full of questions today and I want answers! Winking smile

P.S. The Dahlicious lassi giveaway winner is Lily. Congrats!! Please email me your address to elina@healthyandsane.com

Homemade gifts: peanut butter oatmeal jar cookies

Hola! How’s life, blog friends? I know I’ve been blogging less frequently lately but life has been too hectic (yes, even without a full time job). So I come today with amazing cookies to make your life a little sweeter. Can you taste them through the screen?

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No? Ok, then you should definitely make them. These babies were incredible!!

What, you’re still trying to keep cookies out of your house as part of your New Years resolution to lose a few pounds? I have 2 things to say about that.

1. Are there really people out there that still remember their New Year’s resolutions on January 30? I’m serious. Are there? I can’t seem to remember mine. Sad truth.

2. If you make these cookies, you can taste 1 or 2… and then gift them. Trust me – the recipient will very happy. Very very happy. And making your friends even better friends this year is a really good thing to add to your resolutions.

See? Win-win Open-mouthed smile

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A few weeks ago it was my friend Katy’s birthday and I was trying to figure out the perfect gift for her. She’s a doctor so the girl is pretty much living in the hospital. I wanted to give her something that would relax her on some especially exhausting day. Since my mind always goes to food, I thought that maybe baking cookies would be a nice activity for such a day (truth be told, on days like that I prefer to mindlessly shove cookies into my mouth until I pass out. Slowing down and actually baking some is a way better approach. I think Katy agreed!). Katy rarely has time to go grocery shopping so I thought a cookie mix would be a good compromise – homemade cookies, homemade taste – a lot less measuring and planning necessary. Again, win-win.

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So I researched and researched. And I found this guide to oatmeal peanut butter jar cookies. They looked perfect!

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Of course I wanted to bake a test batch and also to give some to Katy together with the mix so she wouldn’t need to work for her cookies right away. Smile

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[Side note: I tried baking them on an ungreased cookie sheet and on a silpat. The results were identical!]

They came out even better than expected!! They were soft and a little gooey on the inside, yet hearty with the addition of oat). And of course the mini peanut butter cups (from Trade Joe’s) made these guys extra special. Everything is better with chocolate! Red heart

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I made another batch of the mix for Katy…

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… and completed the gift with a peanut butter jar (since you have to add pb to the mix), a cookie scoop, and some pretty tags. Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. The gift turned out SO CUTE!!

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Don’t wait for the holidays to shower your friends with homemade gifts. Or to eat cookies.

Are you into DIY gifts? I’d love to hear some new ideas… I’m really digging them these days Smile

Miracle berry sweetened dinner

Any Top Chef fans out there? Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when the chefs had to study up on Modernist Cuisine and then cook a quickfire meal with modernist techniques? Chris Jones started his meal with a miracle berry tablet, which reminded me I got these babies in my Christmas stocking last year (from Adam of course)!!!

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Have you heard of miracle berries before? Wikipedia tells me it’s also called synsepalum dulcificum (way harder to pronounce!) which is a plant with a berry that makes sour things taste sweet. The tablets are basically ground up miracle berries – all natural Smile

Last night we had our friends Jim and Liz over for dinner to experiment with this “mysterious fruit tab.” We started the dinner by dissolving a tablet on our tongues and then dove into lemons, limes and grapefruit. Not gonna lie, it was a little scary to take the first bite! Would it really work?

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Action shots!

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Wow, guys. This was crazy. Seriously insane. Everything was SO SWEET – I honestly had no idea how sweet they’d be (and started getting a little nervous that our whole dinner will taste like pure sugar). Biting into a lime and being overwhelmed by its sweetness was surreal (the limes were the sweetest – almost inedible at first because of how sweet they were).

We calmed our palettes for a minute with these clover rolls, which had nothing to do with our experiment but delicious nonetheless. Definitely a must-make again recipe!

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Aside from the rolls which were a last minute decision (a brilliant last minute decision!), the rest of the dinner all centered around citrus. I looked for recipes that utilized oranges (already sweet) but used lemons and grapefruit instead, knowing they would be made sweeter because of the tablets.

Grapefruit and avocado salad with a citrus dressing (here is the base recipes, I subbed grapefruit for oranges in everything)

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Jalapeno citrus salmon (based on this recipe, I used half grapefruit, half lemon juice for the glaze)

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My plate:

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My beverage of choice for the night – it had citrus notes which turned sweet. The beer tasted kind of like a beer cocktail as a result. I liked it Smile

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The effect lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours and over the course of dinner we definitely felt it fade. The citrus still tasted very sweet but we could start slowly also tasting mild sour notes. Luckily non-citrusy components made the meal a real dinner – salmon, avocado, jalapenos all stayed true to themselves Smile

Of course we had to finish the meal with some lemon sherbet. This particular brand was super creamy – the perfect ending to a sweet citrus meal!

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This was super fun!! Apparently hot sauce and radishes should have been part of our experiment too. I may just have to keep playing around with this stuff. It’s sort of trippy in a good way Winking smile

Would you want to try this stuff? What would you make? I may use these for nights when my sweet tooth won’t stop nagging. A wedge of lemon would totally do the trick!

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