Cheese Sticks with Za’atar (A Middle Eastern Spice Mixture)

I love baking. I think it’s so much easier than cooking. And if the baking has to do something with molding and being creative, I love it even more. Here’s a regular cheese sticks recipe, with my take on the flavors/filling. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Since I’m in Dubai at the moment, I decided to incorporate my favorite local spice. Za’atar is a Herb Mixture, which is very flavorful as it’s a combination of many herbs from Mint leaves to Sage. Every household has their own variation of the herbs mix. In the Middle Eastern Cuisine Za’atar is used for Marinating Meat, in Dips and Seasoning of Bread and Rice.

Cheese Sticks with Za’atar

Ingredients:

1 Pack Filo Pastry (Sheets can be either Big or Small)

1 Cup Za’atar 

2 Cups Shredded Cheese

Method:cs

Dust your counter with some flour before you start. Place a pastry sheet on the counter and spread out a spoonful of za’atar and cheese evenly (Make sure you don’t overuse za’atar as the taste may overpower the cheese). Now cover the base with another pastry sheet over it and lightly pressed them together like a sandwich.

Next make 4 partitions of 1 inch each and move them apart. Here comes the hard but fun part of twisting the strips. First start by pressing the top and bottom ends of the strips so that it’s locked from both ends. Then hold the ends with both your hands and twist simultaneously. You can go about 2 – 3 turns and place them on your greased baking tray.
Do the same for the rest of the pastry strips and bake them for about 20 minutes until they turn crisply and brown.

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Note: If you may not have Za’atar with you, try using the below fillings along with Cheese following the same method:

  • A mix of 2 or 3 types of Cheese
  • Thai Sauce (Sweet and Spicy)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Minced Chicken seasoned with pepper, salt and mayonnaise (spread a thin layer of this smooth paste)
  • Honey, if you like them sweet

~ Shahana

Tropical Coconut Cooler

Ola! I am back home, in Dubai for a few weeks… It’s great to be back and spend time with Famalia again Yay! And hence, I won’t (at least try not to) complain about the weather here. For the Readers who aren’t sure of Dubai’s weather ATM – It’s flaming hot!! Close to 50 degrees some days. But however I’m so happy to be home and have decided that I will enjoy this humid, dusty, warm and sweaty weather without whining 🙂

With that intro and for the sake of survival I came across the trend of using Coconut water to avoid dehydration. Surely, some of us don’t like the raw ‘tasteless’ taste of Coconut water, but it has a 1000 benefits and is super refreshing. I have listed some of its benefits, so you don’t have to Google right away (or some of you maybe already know) –

#1 Prevents Dehydration

#2 Natural Energy Drink

#3 Highly Nutritious

#4 Reduces risk of Kidney Stones

#5 Facilitates Digestion

#6 Reduces Blood Pressure

#7 Suppresses Appetite – Aids Weight Loss

And hence, I decided to make a drink with Coconut water yet tweaking the taste a little. It was an experiment that turned out really well. So here goes:

The Tropical Coconut Cooler: 20150620_190402 (2)

Ingredients-

  • A Jar full of Coconut water (Can be fresh or canned/bottled)
  • 1 Bowl of Mango Cuts (Bite size/ or thinly sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice
  • Handful of Mint (Chopped or used as is)
  • Sugar (If needed)

Note: Make sure you don’t use higher quantity of Mint than Mango. Let the drink be Mango flavored.

Method-

Mix in all the ingredients well. Sugar can be added if you like the drink sweeter. And if you’re adding Sugar stir until it dissolves. To let all the ingredients give out their respective flavors, leave the jar in the fridge for an hour or more before serving.

Serve the drink cold after giving it another stir once out. You can either drain the mint or let it float. The portion can serve up to 6-7 short glasses.

Hope you’ll enjoy the drink. It’s super easy to make and is an instant refresher. Happy Summer! 🙂

~ Shahana

Edinburgh City, Scotland

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On Campus Lake

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Sight from my room..

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From Calton Hill

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Feeding them birds at Holyrood Park

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Scotland – Bird Eye View

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Scenic Nature on Campus

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Princess Street

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Walk to Edinburgh Castle

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No Description Needed hehe

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Edinburgh Country Side

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Gorgie Street

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Beautiful Paddy Fields

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Around Holyrood Park

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From Calton Hill

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Arthur’s Seat

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Edinburgh Castle

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Holyrood Palace

Welcoming Change… Edinburgh City!

So it’s been quite a long time since my last post. I have been through a lot of changes in life since then. And it took me a while to sink in all of the amazing things around me. So to start with I am finally in EDINBURGH…Woohhoooo!! This place is beyond beautiful.. Especially me coming in from a Middle Eastern Desert life I can go on and on about how overwhelmingly scenic the country side is. My photo gallery was overloaded with more than 1500 pictures just in the first 10 days. I have no complaints from this change I totally lovvee it! Yet just 2% unhappy with ‘the weather’ here. Its soo unpredictable really, like 4 seasons in a day! When I am in I see a tiny bit of sunshine and when I go out, it’s raining! Okay so I come back and get my antique umbrella (that I bought 100 years ago but thanks to Dubai’s forever summer climate never got a chance to use it, hence the antique tag) and guess what? Its sunny again.. I am just like okay wait what?! And how can I not mention the cold here. It basically freezes my face and I just have no connection between what I am talking and my facial expressions! But when I see that rainbow right above me, I would blindly agree to all the terms and conditions of surviving the Scottish weather.

This is my first time staying alone without my family or anyone that I know. But happy I managed to make a few friends. They are not as fun as I thought yet they indirectly made me realize and change a lot of things in my carefree rather careless life. And that’s what an MBA feels like, if you’re not organized you lose out. I am so lucky and thankful to have the sweetest, most caring parents ever who take part in my many adventures always. My friends back in Dubai and my bff/co-blogger/soulsista, my life would be so boring without them. Living alone gives you a chance to appreciate the many things you take easy in life, the people, their care, the ‘pet’ and 90% the food! I am really glad this happened in my life, a lot of things have changed for me and I am so so thankful. Just finished my exam yesterday and it wasn’t as easy but there is a lot more to be happy about than the results worry. I feel the best thing that can happen to anyone is the chance to live alone all by yourself in a completely unknown but a beautiful country and just explore the place, the people, the culture, their way of life and most importantly yourself. You finally will be able to weight all that exposure you had learned all your life. #bestdaysever

Guess this will be a pretty emotional yet from the heart post of the love I have for this place and the people in my life. I am off to do my laundry now ha! I will have some chosen beautiful pictures up on the blog for you all to checkout or rather picturize my awe for Edinburgh!

Toodaloo.

~Shahana