Month: July 2013

No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake1
Yesterday was a National Cheesecake Day and this is my 50th post on the blog! So let’s combine this two very important occasions of my life and celebrate! With cheesecake!! Now you’re talking! 😉
I have a confession to make! I made this cheesecake more than a month ago and totally forgot to blog about them.. Yesterday when National Cheesecake Day tweet was doing rounds, this is the cheesecake which came to my mind instantly… and this too! Sincere apologies for forgetting such an important thing.
Now that this is off my chest let’s move on..
So let’s talk about cheesecake! Cheesecake!! You want it! Really really crave it and then you think of all the extra calories eating one slice or half slice of it entail and then you either eat it anyway and feel guilty or don’t eat it and deprive yourself from this decadence.
No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake3
I say you can not be making such appalling sacrifices. It’s against the law, you see! So being a smart one here always presenting you guys with skinny treats, I have a solution. Simple… Make mini-cheesecake!!! I’m on a mini-dessert frenzy nowadays… I simply adore them. One thing they are too cute and another is the amazing portion-control you get without making yourself or others feeling culpable for the indulgence.
No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake2
So here I present you today kiwi cheesecake with Oreo crust… I have tried and kept the sugar as less as possible. The cream used here is not full-fat whipping cream instead I have used medium fat cream. So I have done my best to bring you a slightly low-cal version.
No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake4
No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake5
Hubby & I got to eat cheesecake for 3 days in a row. So we were a happy bunch! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
No-Bake Kiwi Cheesecake with Oreo Crust
Yields: 6 mini cheesecakes
Ingredients:
For Oreo crust:
  • 6-7 Chocolate Oreos
  • 1 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
For the cheesecake:
  • 1/3 cup fresh cream (medium fat 40%), chilled
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 kiwi, peeled and diced
For kiwi jelly:
  • 1 Tbsp agar agar
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and smoothly pureed
  • 1 Tbsp caster sugar
For garnishing: Sliced or diced fresh Kiwi fruit
Directions:
  1. Blend Oreos and melted butter in a food processor till fine crumbs form. Place 1 Tbsp of crumb at the base of the each shot glasses and press down firmly. Place glasses in refrigerator till you prepare cheesecake filling.
  2. Whip cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract till soft peaks form. Whip the cream in  a separate bowl till the soft peaks form. Fold in together gently.
  3. Remove shot glasses from the refrigerator. Equally divide cheesecake filling in all the glasses throwing in 2-3 pieces of diced kiwi in between the layers. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the water for 30 seconds and add agar agar to it. Mix thoroughly till agar agar dissolves completely. Add sugar and kiwi puree. Whisk till a thick paste forms. Top the shot glasses with approximately 1 Tbsp of jelly mixture and chill again for 2-3 hours or till jelly has set completely.
  5. Serve chilled, each glass garnished with sliced or 2-3 diced cubes of fresh kiwi.

 

Skinny Potato & Leek Soup

Potato & Leek Soup1

I want to make a confession. This is a very simple and classic soup. There… I said it! I am not bringing you some fancy-schmancy recipe today. Just an old classic… Flavored as per my liking and made skinny of course! I didn’t even want to post this recipe for its sheer simplicity. But the flavors were so bang on that I had to bring it forward to you guys!

This soup is so hearty that it is a complete meal in itself. Make this on a cloudy, rainy, grey, cold evening, have it curled up under a blanket and it won’t disappoint you! The aroma of the soup will soothe your mind and soul. It will love you back! (Really!!!) I made this on one such rainy Saturday afternoon and it did hug me back! 🙂

This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver‘s book Ministry Of Food. He says that this soup is also surprisingly delicious eaten fridge-cold on a summer’s day with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of natural yogurt. I would love to try it this way too! But I might have to wait for the next summer to arrive…

All the ingredients used in this soup are very earthy… just like rain. Leek is a dominant flavor in here.  While celery adds a nice boost of flavor, carrot adds a touch of sweetness and potatoes give it a creamy texture. I would recommend not skipping onion powder and thyme for a complete experience.

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Make this soup and bask in the serenity of warmth the soup surrounds you with!

Skinny Potato & Leek Soup

Serves: 2-3 | Prep time: 5-7 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot, peeled & sliced
  • 1 stick celery with leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 600 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled & diced
  • salt & pepper, as per taste

Directions:

*Preparing Leek : Cut the ends off leek and discard. Quarter the leek lengthwise, wash under running water to remove all the grit and cut them into slices. Save a 2-inch piece from the end of leek and julienne it for garnishing.

  1. Heat a deep sauce pan on a high heat and add olive oil to it. Add garlic, leek, carrot and celery to the pan and sauté for around 5 minutes with the lid askew on a medium heat.
  2. Add onion powder, thyme and vegetable stock to the pan. Let it simmer on high heat till the stock has come to a boil.
  3. Add potatoes and give the soup a good stir with wooden spoon. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes with the lid on. At this point the potatoes would be just cooked and soft. Do not overcook them.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Pulse until smooth using a hand blender. Adjust the seasoning and consistency as per your liking. Serve garnished with julienned leek.

Brownie Bombs

Brownie Bombs3

I personally adore cake pops. They are pretty, deceptive and delicious little things. They look easy to make… In fact they are easy to make. Just a wee-bit time-consuming but easy.

This is my first post writing about them so I would like to be more elaborate. If we talk structurally, cake pops are nothing but the crumbled cake mixed with frosting that can be rolled into balls or formed into any imaginable different shapes. They are then placed on a lollipop stick or wooden skewers, dipped in chocolate and topped with decoration of choice.

Cake pops rage is still catching up in my part of the world and quickly! I have gobbled up plenty of chocolate cake balls in my lifetime while growing up (I mean it!) and they are my favorite till now. Now cake pop is something very similar to cake ball concept sans the outer chocolate layer. I can totally relate to them.

Brownie Bombs2

I instantly fell in love with the idea of making a bite-sized cake, decorated for individuals which is mess-free and gives complete portion-control! They’re perfect for parties. I had one such potluck to attend last Sunday and I was asked to bring a dessert for obvious reasons! I immediately knew cake pops would be perfect for that as it’s something which can be made ahead and I wanted an excuse try them at home anyway!

I didn’t have to do much of a research as in what type of cake-pop to make as I had a professional help. I recently bought a book  from The Australian Women’s Weekly ~ Cute Cake Pops. What an amazing little book! It had plenty of inspiration and fantastic ideas for making cake pops for every occasion! I wanted a crowd-pleasing chocolate and something simple for my first attempt hence I chose to make these brownie bombs from scratch. Yes, no cake-mix involved here. So I made some brownies and turned them into gorgeous cake-pops! Simple, no?!

Brownie Bombs1
Just after dipping and decorating

I had some extra melted chocolate after all the cake-pops were done dipping. Wanna know how I used the left-overs? That’s going to be a post for another day.. Stay tuned! 😉 Meanwhile enjoy these!

Brownie Bombs

Recipe adapted from Cute Cake Pops

Yields: 25-30 cake pops

Ingredients:

  • 75 gm butter, chopped coarsely
  • 100 gm dark eating (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 1/3 cup (75 gm) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup (100 gm) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum (I omitted it)
  • 200 gm dark chocolate melts
  • 30 lollipop stick or toothpicks with sharp edges trimmed
  • Chocolate sprinkles, to decorate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.  Grease a deep 7-8 inch square cake pan; line base and sides with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt butter and chopped chocolate in a microwave for about 1 minute stirring after 30 seconds. Stir till smooth and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir sugar, egg and flour into chocolate mixture. Spread into a cake pan; bake about 20 minutes. Cool in pan.
  4. Once cool, cut cake into large pieces; using a food processor, process cake with rum (if using) until mixture just comes together. You can do this step with hand also. Shape rounded teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Place on a baking paper-lined tray. Freeze for 1 hour or refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, until firm.
  5. Stir chocolate melts in a medium heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water until smooth (don’t let water touch base of bowl).
  6. Dip the end of one stick into the chocolate, then push it about halfway into a ball of brownie. Return to tray. Repeat with remaining sticks and balls of brownie. Freeze for about 5 minutes to set.
  7. Dip one cake pop into the melted chocolate or with the help of a spoon coat a cake pop, rocking back and forth to coat; do not swirl the pop, or it may break. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into bowl. Stand on a baking paper-lined oven tray; sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles before chocolate sets. Repeat with remaining cake pops and sprinkles. Stand at room temperature until set. Serve.

*Store cake pops in an airtight container at a cool room temperature until ready to serve. They will keep for up to a week.

Microwave Chocolate-Nutella Mug-Cake

Microwave Chocolate-Nutella Mug-Cake1

It was a conscious decision to stay-away from this dangerous mug-cake only because of its sheer convenience. I did not need a confirmation that I can make this cake whenever chocolate-cravings hit me.

As all our resolutions come to an end sooner or later, on a particularly depressing morning, I caved in! And it definitely lifted my spirits up instantly! Yaay for broken resolutions! I’m totally hooked to this one and will be definitely trying different versions! 😛

I know there are infinite versions of mug-cakes floating on the web since 2-3 years and I did check out many of them. But I had a few things in mind about how I wanted this cake to be so I ended up making my own version of this sinful dessert. For one wanted this cake to be eggless and a wee-bit healthier so that I don’t feel too much guilty about gobbling it up.

Another criteria was a perfectly soft, moist and fluffy cake. I can’t tolerate dry crumbs. But microwave especially has a tendency to snatch away moisture and make everything dry. So timing here is a key. Do not over-cook it. Check it after 1 minute + 10 seconds. If not done then cook for another 10 to 20 seconds.

It will take you more time to assemble all the ingredients than for it to actually cook! Perfect for unusual cravings or unexpected company! It would be ready in a jiffy! For it to look more posh, make it in a fancy tea-cups/Ramekins and serve it with ice-cream or whipped cream with fresh fruits. Add anything else you want in the batter like chopped nuts, dark/white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, dried fruits, M & Ms, sprinkles… Tini-tiny pieces of delicious surprise in every bite! Pure happiness!

Microwave Chocolate-Nutella Mug-Cake2

Mouth-watering? Read on to find out how it’s done. Be warned ~ it’s addictive!

Microwave Chocolate-Nutella Mug-Cake

Serves: 1 | Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook Time: 1 to 1 1/2 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp powder sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp Nutella
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • M & Ms for topping or 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized microwave-safe mug/ramekin add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk with fork until combined.
  2. Add oil, milk, Nutella, vanilla extract and mix with a fork until no lumps remain in the batter.
  3. Sprinkle top of batter with M & Ms or chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Mine was done in 1 minute + 10 seconds so check at that mark and if it is not cooked through then let cook for another 10 to 20 seconds. Be careful as you don’t want a dry cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Mediterranean Couscous1

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

This salad is just that. Simple yet flavorful. Hearty yet sophisticated. Perfect lunch/dinner for those lazy, laid back days. Even better when you have only 15-20 minutes to put up a dinner and have scarce produce in your pantry. You just need couscous and throw in as many or as less veggies you have and you’re all set!

You know I’m a sucker for those lazy, quick recipes and this one here ticks all the boxes for me. And ignore my reflection in a spoon in a pic below.. Thank you! 😛

Mediterranean Couscous2

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Serves: 2 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 5 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup couscous (I used Barilla Cous Cous)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped or 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sliced black olives (If using canned, drain and wash)
  • 2 Tbsp grated cottage cheese (can be substituted with Feta)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

For dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Make couscous according to the package instruction. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add onion, tomato, cucumber, olives, cottage cheese and cilantro.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for dressing. Season it with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the couscous salad and toss until well combined. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

*This salad can be made in advance and will keep fresh in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*You can make this salad vegan by replacing cottage cheese with tofu or simply omit it.

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