When Raajas turned Three! | Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party

Every year I keep waiting for the month of December because that’s the only time when I get to plan, like really plan, a birthday party and bake like there is no tomorrow. 20th December 2014 was no different. Raajas turned three and this time he was actually able to tell what was his favorite cartoon character – Mickey Mouse of course! With the theme sorted, I was poring over various ideas on Pinterest pinning about 100 ideas and things to do. Like always, I also ended up facing some epic fails with pinterest inspirations but whatever we did manage to do turned out good. :) This birthday was special; more because we had many more friends of Raajas’ age thanks to the nursery school and park times and the birthday boy (unlike the previous years) was actually half (!)- excited about the birthday party. Of course he did start howling when we got all teenage-y and wished him happy birthday at midnight.. but well..

I have to share with you all the stuff I got to make, especially the birthday party menu and the buffet. Go ahead, take a look.

The mickey mouse cake

The mickey mouse cake

I used the recipe for the Chocolate Orange Cake to make this mickey mouse cake with orange whipped cream frosting.

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Inspired by Pinterest wall hangings, but not having that amount of patience I ended up just hanging mickey cutouts from the ceilings. But the kids and Raajas were thrilled to see ‘soo many Mickey Mouse’. :)

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Red Velvet Cupcakes. Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking.

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These chocolate spoons were a big hit as the kids were given these spoons to eat the chocolate mousse. I have to thank my friend Preeti of IsingCakes for this fab idea and the spoon moulds.

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This was a simple chocolate cake covered with a vanilla bean whipped cream frosting. This number 3 cake went to his school for the birthday celebration.

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The buffet table – Chicken and Veggie burgers (homemade of course), Quiche florentine, chicken and veggie samosas, bow tie baked pasta, red velvet cupcakes, chocolate mousse, cheese balls, chips and fruit juice.

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Beautiful ideas on Pinterest for the party door signs, but with my limited drawing ability, I could only manage this!

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And finally I proudly present the handpainted Mickey no. 3 tee shirt, my first time painting on fabric, and oh yes, the birthday boy! ;)

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Healthy Recipe | Kande Pohe

Kanda Poha

Kanda Poha

In Maharashtrian households, Kande pohe is a staple breakfast or teatime snack made from beaten rice and onions with a tempering of mustard and chillies. It is also a popular snack when eating out in Maharashtra. Each part of Maharashtra makes it in a slightly different way- while in nagpur they add plenty green chillies, in Pune they add sev (bhujia) and grated coconut, in Mumbai it is often served with a garnish of coriander and a wedge of lemon whereas in Kolhapur it is served with ‘kat’ a spicy watery curry made from red chillies, onions, garlic and dried coconut. Whatever the version, it continues to be a healthy snack which is made fresh and served hot.

Kanda Poha are also the original gluten free snack that also come with a good amount of iron, carbohydrates, some protein and fibre. The addition of lime juice on kande pohe makes the iron absorption easier. Flattened rice digests slowly and hence keeps you feeling fuller for longer. And whats more, it takes only as much time to make as any instant noodles but is way way healthier and does not contain ANY additives!

To people who are familiar with this dish, it might seem like a very mundane recipe; but if not made right it can be dry, oily, soggy, difficult to swallow. A good ‘kanda poha’ is supposed to be fluffy, moist and not oily. So here you go!

You will need:

2 cups flattened rice, thick variety (jaada poha/jaade pohe)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, cut into halves

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida) powder

2 tsp oil (I used sunflower oil)

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

Method:

Take the poha in a strainer and wash it under running water for about 10 seconds. Keep it aside in the strainer. Do not drain out the water thoroughly, it is alright if some water remains and its not drained dry! :)

In a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds to it. Once the seeds start sputtering, add in the hing, turmeric and green chillies. Now add the chopped onion, salt and stir well. The salt will ‘sweat’ the onions and will draw the moisture out, which will in turn keep the poha moist too.

Once the onions are pink, add the washed poha and mix well. It might seem that the turmeric is less, but mix it thoroughly breaking lumps if any and it should be fine. If you prefer more yellow poha, then add a little more turmeric powder. Caution : addition of too much turmeric powder will make the poha bitter!

Sprinkle 2 tbsp water over the poha and the sugar, give it a quick stir and cover the pan, keep the heat low. After a minute, check the seasoning (salt) and serve hot with a garnish of coriander and a wedge of lemon.

NOTE: Washed poha make for a tasty breakfast cereal option when had with warm milk and a bit of jaggery or sugar.

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How to make ‘ghee’ (clarified butter) at home | Recipe

Saajuk Toop

Saajuk Toop

1. Collect the clotted cream (malai) for a week or ten days depending on how much milk you heat up everyday.
2. To the cream at a starter culture of curd, 1 tsp to 250 ml (approx) of cream. Make sure that the curd that you add in is NOT the thick commercial (Amul, danone, nestle) kind as it will give you a sticky sour cream and the ghee will smell different. Ask your local dairy to give you some dahi to set your own and use that.
3. Mix the starter dahi and the cream well and leave it overnight (or a little longer, in cold weather). You would now get sour cream (which can also be used in baking, dips etc.).
4. Churn the sour cream using a ‘ravi’ to make it a little grainy and then add some water (about 1/4 cup) and churn again. Once the butter begins to separate and float up, add more water (about 1 cup) and churn again.
5. You would now have the butter floating on top and buttermilk at the bottom. Remove the butter ( I do this by hand) and keep in a thick bottomed non reactive utensil or kadhai. Use the buttermilk to make kadhi or pancakes.
6. Now, heat the butter on a low heat and stir occasionally. Do not keep the heat high as the butter will froth up and ruin your kitchen counter.
7. The butter will first become all liquid, then frothy and then after continuous boiling turn into clear yellow ghee. You know the ghee is done when the solid residue at the bottom turns light brown.
8. Once cooled, strain (or decant) the ghee into a clean jar and store at room temperature. If the ghee is not going to be consumed within a month, store it in the refrigerator.
9. The solid residue can be mixed with sugar and eaten with a hot fulka.

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Real Vanilla Infused Strawberry Jam | Easy Recipe

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I love making jams and marmalade as you already know from here and here. Seeing the strawberry jam post from Aparna, I realized that the strawberry season about to get over and I had yet not made any! In this recipe I have used 500 g strawberries, one medium sized apple and six vanilla beans which were leftover from my homemade vanilla extract. You can skip the vanilla if you don’t have the beans or a real vanilla extract but please do not add in any synthetic vanilla essence. :)

Recipe loosely adapted from ‘Very yummy strawberry jam‘ of My Diverse Kitchen.

You will need:

500 g strawberries, washed, hulled, halved
1 medium sized apple, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
2 and half cups of granulated sugar
1 tsp citric acid (or 2 tsp lemon juice)
Six vanilla beans left over from vanilla extract OR 2 shiny plump, unused vanilla beans or 2 tsp real vanilla extract
2 tbsp water to help pureeing the fruit

Method:
– Make a chunky or smooth puree out of the strawberries and apples in a blender. You can add a little water to help with the blending.
– In a thick bottomed pan, add the fruit puree, sugar and vanilla beans and keep it on low to medium heat. Keep stirring intermittently. Do not put it on a high flame as that can cause the sugar to scorch and burn the jam. Plus there is a danger of getting a hot sugar burn!
– Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the citric acid and stir well.
– Keep a saucer in the freezer ready to test the jam for doneness.
– When the jam starts to thicken a bit, drop a couple of drops on the chilled saucer and let it cool. If the jam is still liquid, runny then it needs more cooking. If it seems a little set then try pushing the drop of cooled jam with your finger, if any crinkles appear on the jam then it is done and ready to be bottled.Remove the vanilla beans from the jam. This jam is to be poured into hot sterilized bottles (if the bottle is cold then it will crack).
– This jam will keep for 4-6 months when stored in the refrigerator and not contaminated with unclean/used spoons.

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Recipe | Pita Bread

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

Finally, I have joined the brigade of bloggers putting up quick updates and short posts from their phone. A couple of days back I posted this photo on my Facebook page and a lot of people asked for its recipe. Considering that I already have about 50 (!) pending posts, this would have gone down the queue; but thanks to wanting to try out the WordPress app… Guess I should just give the recipe without further rambling. :)

Recipe adapted from the pita bread recipe on myjhola.com

You will need :
1 and half cup all purpose flour (you can also use 1 cup APF and half cup whole meal flour)
1/2 cup or more lukewarm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 and half tbsp instant yeast ( you can decrease the amount of yeast to 1 tbsp in warmer weather)
1 tsp oil

Method:
In a cup, take the sugar, lukewarm water and yeast, mix it well and keep it aside for 10 minutes till the yeast is a little frothy on top.
In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar and then add in the water and bind a soft but supple dough. The consistency of the dough should be similar to that of dough used to make phulkas. Add the oil in the end and knead to get a smooth dough.
Cover this bowl with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm spot for about an hour or till the dough doubles up.
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Knock the risen dough back, knead it again a bit and the. Divide it into three balls.
Roll out each ball into a circle about 10 cm in diameter. Its okay of the circle is not of a perfect shape, pita breads are supposed to be rustic!
Place each rolled out pita on a tray lined with parchment or silpat and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Towards the end of the ten minutes you will see the bread begin to puff up, lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees and put it on a toast mode (with both the top and bottom heating elements on).
The pita will puff up and have a beautiful browning on top. Take it out of the oven and serve hot with some hummus or make pita pockets out of it and use it to make sandwiches.

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Easy Recipe | Snow Capped Strawberries

snow capped strawberries

snow capped strawberries

These pretty looking strawberries make for a great festive table edible decoration. Deceptively simple that this recipe is, the best part is that it can be made hours in advance and still looks as great. Dust with some icing sugar and dress the plate up with some fresh mint leaves for a more christmas-y effect.

You will need:

1 cup of Heavy whipping cream
12 pieces of Fresh medium sized strawberries
3 tablespoons of Castor Sugar
Method:

Wash and dry all the strawberries thoroughly.

Slightly cut the leafy hull part to form a flat base.

Make a cross mark from the pointy end till halfway down the strawberry so that it opens up like a petal.

In a clean bowl whisk together the cream with the sugar to form slightly stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip the cream.

Fill the whipped cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle (wilton 1 M) and fill each strawberry with the cream.

Serve cold. The very British strawberries and cream presented in a modern way.

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Blogging Resolutions for the new year | 2015

It took me a mail from WordPress to realize that this year I posted ONLY eight posts on this blog. 365 days and I could utilize only eight of those for blogging, which is something I really like – why and how did that happen? Its not that I was cooking any less or not working on nutrition, still… Guess one should only dwell as much on what one did not do. Which is why, I am listing out my blogging resolutions or more like a things to do list out here so that I am compelled and motivated to complete it. If you think there is something that I am missing out on and should do for the blog, please drop in a comment and I will try and do that too.

Here we go:

  1. Make a recipe index for this blog – top priority.
  2. Combine the two english blogs Healthy Feasts and The Complete Foodie Paradise – easier to update one blog than two, right?
  3. POST, POST, POST all of the 26 drafts onto the blog.
  4. Share my favorite, most used recipes like pesto, ghee, hummus, lasoon chutney, cinnamon rolls, the very soft vanilla cake, homemade hot chocolate mix, appams, dosa, etc.
  5. Make cream cheese at home
  6. Make mascarpone cheese at home
  7. Make my aai’s keshari bhaat.
  8. Write about my experiences with kitchen gardening
  9. update a list of ‘where to buy what ingredients in pune’
  10. Write about my baking/cooking classes – did you know that this year I took five baking/cooking classes?

This seems like a fair to-do list to begin with. Please remind me to finish what I have set out to do. Wish you all a very happy new year full of love, luck and good health!

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