Monday, November 25, 2013

Mini Cheese Cups

Mini cheese cups are a super easy appetizer you can get absolutely creative to suit your taste buds. We have shared one of the most basic and simple still so yummy that it will vanish off in a jiffy.

Prep Time: 20 mins

*Mini Phyllo shells: 1 box (contains 15 shells)
Sour cream: 2 tablespoons
Cream cheese (preferably flavored): 2 tablespoons
Mozzarella cheese (shredded): 4 tablespoons
Onions (chopped): 1/4 cup
Corn kernels: 2 tablespoons
Chopped spinach: 2 tablespoons
Garlic (chopped): 1 pod
Salt and pepper to taste
*Jalapenos (chopped): 1 teaspoon

* Athens brand Mini phyllo shells are most commonly available and can be found in the frozen dessert section in the  regular American groceries.

* This is a basic recipe for the filling. You can vary it with ingredients of your choice and things available in your pantry. Get creative. Sometimes we like to add the sun-dried tomatoes to this mixture. You could even add some chicken/mushroom/bell peppers to the spinach and corn. 

* Fresh/canned/pickled Jalapenos or just plain green chillies could be used . 

*Note that the cream cheese is already salted, so keep a check on the salt.

In a pan, heat little oil. Saute the onion and garlic with little salt and pepper. If you have the sun dried tomatoes, add it at this stage. Add jalapenos, spinach and saute till the spinach gets soft and cooked. Add the corn kernels and then turn off the gas. In another bowl using a spoon mix the cream cheese and sour cream. Once the veggie mix has cooled off slightly, add it to the cream cheese mix. Finally add the mozzarella and mix well.

Preheat the oven at 350 F. while the oven is getting preheated, place the thawed empty shells in a muffin tray. This is to just slightly toast the shells. When the oven is ready, fill the shells with the mixture and bake for another 10 mins or more until the cheese melts fully.

Serve hot.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Aloo Methi

Aloo methi is a great combination of potatoes and fenugreek leaves stir fried with the Indian masala. Methi which are fresh fenugreek leaves is supposedly known to have anti diabetic effects along with increasing metabolism. Though they are slightly bitter on their own they taste good in this combo.

Prep Time: 20 mins
Potato (cubed): 3  medium 
Methi Leaves: 1 bunch 
Onion (chopped): 1/2 a big onion
Ginger (chopped): 1 teaspoon
Green Chili (chopped): 2
Chili Powder: 1 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder: 1 1/2 teaspoon
Jeera: 1 teaspoon
Kasoori Methi (crushed): 1 teaspoon
Chaat masala (optional): 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add jeera, ginger, green chillies and onions and saute until they get a little translucent. Add salt and turmeric.  Add the methi leaves and saute for 2 mins. Now add the cubed potatoes. Cover for 10 mins until the potatoes are cooked. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder and saute well. Add the crushed kasuri methi and chat masala. Mix everything well on low heat. Adjust the salt. 

Aloo methi is ready to be served with hot phulkas. Note if you have leftovers of this sabzi/dish, mash them up a little more and stuff between your chapatti dough and make paranthas.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Baklava is known to have turkish roots and is developed on their tradition of layered breads. Its a rich sweet pastry made of phyllo/filo sheets filled with assorted nuts and sweetened with honey or sugar syrup. 

This recipe is shared by a dear friend who inspired us to make some of these desserts we thought could never be homemade. So go and get these ingredients and you'll be surprised how easily this mouthwatering pastry can be made in your own little kitchen.

Prep Time : 1 hr + soaking time

Phyllo pastry sheets: 1 box
Butter (melted):  1 cup

Nuts (chopped): 2 1/2 cups in total
* You can use different combination of your favorite nuts (Walnuts/Pistachios/Hazelnuts /Almonds)

We used the below

Walnuts (chopped): 1 cup
Pistachios (shelled & chopped): 1 cup
Almonds (though not common, we used it in our mix): 1/2 cup
Ground clove (based on taste): 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon
Ground cinnamon (based on taste): 1-2 teaspoons
Cardamom pods (ground): 2
Powdered sugar :1/4 cup or less 

Water: 1 cup
Sugar: 1 cup 
Honey: 1/2 cup 
Cinnamon stick: 1

* 1 phyllo box contains 2 rolls. These sheets are enough to make about 30 pieces in a 9 x 13 inches baking dish.

Boil the syrup ingredients on low heat until thick and syrupy. Turn off the gas and let it cool.

Chop the nuts together in the food processor. Add the powdered cinnamon, clove, cardamom and sugar until mixed well.  Do a taste check. It should just be slightly sweet. Set aside.  

Grease a 9 x 13 in baking dish with butter.

Phyllo dough sheets can be tough to work with. Be gentle while you peel them as it tears off easily.

Layer each phyllo dough sheet and brush with melted 
butter. Do not saturate, only lightly brush. If you overdo the butter, the baklava might get soggy. Continue the process till you have used 1/3rd of the total sheets.  Layer half the nut mix. Continue layering the sheets.  At 2/3rd of the sheets, layer the second half of the nut mix, but set aside a small portion for decorating the top. Finish layering with the remaining sheets. 

Cut the sheets diagonally to make diamond shapes with a sharp knife before you bake. Else it will become too crispy and will crumble when you cut after baking. Do not put the nuts to garnish until the baking is done else the nuts on top will get burnt.

Bake at 350 F degrees until the baklava is golden brown. Take it out and garnish with the remaining nuts. Let it cool and then pour the sugar-honey syrup all over. Let it sit for at least 4 hours so that the syrup soaks in completely. 



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