Wednesday, December 23, 2015

'Tis the season to be foody

Hi guys, first of all, I am really sorry about the huge break that I took from my blog... Its been more than a month, since I have written a post. I was not even able to share the give away winner's and received so many messages on my social networking sites and mails to write posts on winter/Christmas/New year. Well the winner are V. Priya from Chennai and Debomitra from Kolkata, already send the giveaway gifts... :)

Christmas is just around the corner... to be true I was hoping to do lots of posts before Christmas but its better late then never. Yummy goodies yell Christmas as nothing else can do. Be it a Christmas party or even the New years eve, the most cherishing elements of the season are relishing homemade treats.

These palatable flavors are good in both ways, whether you serve them at a get-together or simply pack them into lovely gifts.

Christmas Tree Brownies: Use any kind of chocolate brownies to make the stem of the tree. Use Green frosting on the top of the brownies and give it a shape of a tree, by using side of a small fork. Decorate with small candies.


Christmas themed snacks: Mix some candy canes, Christmas cookies, candies or even popcorn in a bowl and you are done. Fill it in your gift boxes or keep it for the guests.



Christmas cookies: Buy some plain cookies or bake them in desired shapes. Use frosting to create Christmas symbols.. From trees to Santa, stars to bells, there are so many options... 



Hot Chocolate: Not a gift idea but certainly best for the season. Either melt the chocolate or buy a ready to made mixture, serve hot!



Christmas Cookie Bark: Break the Oreo biscuits in small pieces, cover them with white melted chocolate. Add sprinkles or small candies and let it cook. Later break the bark in small pieces. The bark is another good option as gift. 



The Grinch: Use strawberry, grape and banana. Add the fruits on the skewers or stick them using frosting. Either way the Grinch Fruit Salad would scream, MARRY CHRISTMAS :) (In picture a small marshmallow is used to make the hat top.)



'Tis the season to be foody... :) Have a happy holidays friends.. Will post more stuff soon! 

Mugdha 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Diwali 2015 - Recipes for a Sweet Diwali!

Happy Diwali to all my dear readers... :) Have a Happy and Sweet Diwali :)



Diwali is the festival of lights, crackers and sweets. Diwali can’t even be imagined without sweets and savories that are specially made at home. But those days were gone when the females of the family start preparing traditional delicacies for the family and friends, even days before the festivalWith having time consuming jobs and rush hours before the festivals people think it is rather easy to pick up something from the market rather than making it at home. 



Trend is yet again changing. Although no one wants to spend hours or days in the kitchen but people still look forward for making at least two or three dishes at home. Let me share some easy and quick dessert recipes for the diwali treat. In my last DIWALI - 2015 series I shared 6 recipes and other quick tips to make your diwali SWEET... :) 

The list of Diwali special sweets is exhaustive. Diwali cuisines also depend upon the culture and family traditions. From north to south and east to west India, several mouth watering delights are prepared in various manners depending upon the prevailing custom and taste of the family members. Here are few traditional mouth watering recipes...

The first three recipes are variants of each other, consisting almost the same ingredients. Others are also dairy based desserts but rather easy to make.. Choose any of these and Have a Sweet Diwali ahead!

Badam Phirni

Ingredients
12 nos. Almonds
4 tablespoons Rice flour
21/2 cups Milk
5 tablespoons Sugar
8 strands Saffron
1 teaspoon Cardamom powder

Method
Blanch and grind the almonds to a fine paste with 1/2 cup milk. Mix together the ground almond paste and rice flour and keep aside. Bring the milk to a boil. Add the sugar and stir till the sugar dissolves. Keep aside a tablespoon of hot milk and dissolve the saffron in it. Add the almond-rice mixture into the boiling milk along with the saffron.



Stir continuously for a few mintues till the milk thickens and attains a custard-like consistency. Sprinkle in the cardamom powder. Take off fire and cool to room temperature. Pour into individual bowls, garnish with almonds and pistachios and refrigerate.

Doodh Pak

Ingredients
1/2 cup Almonds
1 litre Milk
250 grams Sugar
1 teaspoon Cardamom powder
1 teaspoon Saffron
1 tablespoon Pistachios
11/2 tablespoon Raisins

Method
Soak the almonds in warm water for 1 hour. Peel and grind to a fine paste. Dissolve the saffron in 1 tablespoon of warm milk and keep aside.Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan, stirring constantly. Add the almond paste and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring regularly.



Add the saffron, sugar, pista and raisins. Cook on a very low flame till thick. Sprinkle cardamom powder. Serve hot or chilled.

Tip
You can use 1/2 cup rice instead of almonds. If using rice, soak it in warm water for 45 minutes and grind to a fine paste.

Kheer

Ingredients
1/4th cup Long grain Rice (washed and drained)
4-5 cups Milk
2-3 Cardamom Seeds (crushed)
2 tbsp. Almonds (blanched silvered)
A pinch of Saffron Threads, soaked in a little hot milk
1 tbsp Pistachio Nuts (skinned & chopped)
1 tbsp Raisins (optional)
2-3tbsp Sugar


Method
Put the rice, milk and cardamom in a pan, bring to boil and simmer gently until the rice is soft and the grains are starting to break up. Add almonds, pistachio, saffron and raisins and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and serve either warm or chilled.

Peda

Ingredients
1/2 kg. Soft white khoya
2 1/2 cups (approx.300gms) sugar powdered
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
1 tsp. cardamom seeds semi crushed
1 tbsp. slivered or crushed pistachios

Method
Grate khoya with a steel grater. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Put mixture in a large heavy or nonstick pan. Heat first on high for few minutes.The on slow till done. Make sure to stir continuously, while on heat.



When mixture thick and gooey, add cardamom. Mix well, and take off fire. Allow to cool. Use cookie moulds, or shape pedas with palms into patty rounds. Mix pistachios and cardamom seeds and press a bit on top of each.

Tip
Given above is the basic recipe. Any color (yellow, orange, green, cochineal), essence (pineapple, orange, pista, chocolate), topping (almonds, walnuts, cashews), can be added to the recipe. You can also add any of following for varied flavors: cashew powder 1/2 cup, cocoa 2 tbsp (then increase sugar by 1/2 cup), walnuts powdered 1/2 cup, etc.

Rasmalai

Ingredients
2 lbs Cows Milk or Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
32 oz half & half milk
A pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp crushed green pistachios

Method
Mix the cheese with sugar and little cardamom powder and spread out on a baking tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or wait till it sets. It should not get brown.
Remove from oven, cool at room temperature and cut into 2" squares. Place them in a dessert bowl.



Mix the other ingredients, except the pistachios well in a separate dish and pour over the squares. Decorate with pistachios, chill for 2-3 hours and then serve.

Fruit Cream

Ingredients
2 cup whipped cream, aerated
1/4 cup sugar
1 orange sliced
1/2 cup pineapple diced
1/4 cup strawberries sliced
1/4 cup grapes sliced
1/2 banana sliced
1 tablespoon crushed walnut
1 tablespoon sliced or chopped almonds
2 strawberry sliced for garnishing

Method
In a chilled bowl mix the cream and sugar. Fold all the fruits and nuts slowly into the cream. Garnish with strawberries.



Tips
Slice and add the banana just before serving so banana doesn’t brown. Cool Whip can be substituted with whipping cream or heavy cream. Whip the cream until its aerated like cool whip. I used my favorite fruits, you can you can your favorites. Other fruit that will go well are peaches, apples, nectarines, pairs, melons, kiwi etc.

These are the easiest recipes which can be made in even less then an hour. So do try at least one of these and let me know how they/it turned out! I am sharing another product of the give away :) 'Body Mist - Beautiful Day from Bath and Body'. Don't forget to take part! Read here to know more. 




Thanks for reading :) 

Mugdha


Monday, November 9, 2015

Diwali 2015 - Decoration Ideas

Hope you guys had a great and prosperous dhanteras. I am back with the Diwali 2015 series. All the posts are under #MSaysHappyDiwali series :) Will also share the item that are I am giving away. So keep reading!

Since Dussehra I was planning to decorate my home for Diwali. But while being busy with other jobs it is hard to take time for making unique items for the decor. Still I manage to made some DIY crafts apart from the regular customary decoration of paint on the wall and lights on the terrace.

Diwali is all about decoration then let’s do something different than others...

FLOUR DIYA: Instead of the usual plain brown ones or even the painted ones, you can make diyas of your choice by rolling out the dough and shaping it however you want. You can paint them or add glitter to create something different.



LAMP OUT OF PAPER CUPS: This DIY projects is quite simple. Be creative with old paper cups. Paint them and cut them out into floral shapes. Make a slit on the sides of cups so that you can insert bulb in the cup.



Now for making a vine of cups. Make holes at the bottom of the cups and use a rope that can be stuck the cups together. Tie the cup vine along with the light bulb vine and try to insert the light bulbs through the tiny slits. That way when you lit the vine, the cups would add more dimension to it. 

BOUQUET OF LIGHT: For the bouquet of light, you only need a vine of light bulb that already comes in with plastic floral leaves. Use the wire part to make the stem and use the bulb portion of the garland light chain in such a way that it form a bouquet. Place it in a vase to give an extra touch.



DIWALI TORAN: Hanging a toran outside the house is auspicious as well as decorative. Use different craft papers, beads, sequences or glitter to make colorful torans. You can make as long or as short as you want to match all the windows, doors, gates or balconies.



SEA SHELL CANDLES: If you love beaches or seas as much as I do, do try the sea shell candles decoration. Use any type of shell you like, color candle wax and a cotton wick. You need to melt the wax for that use any pan which is discarded from the kitchen. Place the cotton wick in the middle of the shell, if it is not in the middle then its ok, its just a home DIY project, important thing is, have fun.



Then pour the melted wax in the shells and let it dry for a while. Cut the extra wick and you are done. You can buy shells, wick and wax from any nearby stationary. You may also use fruit peels of orange or pineapple to have a beautiful candle.



POTPOURRI: Place bowls filled with potpourri all over the house to have it smell divine. They are readily available in many shops or can be created at home. I have saante's orange essential oil so I thought to make a potpourri which matches the scent.

I've always liked orange peel. I've keep it stored for making various items. So I tossed some of the peel in the bowl, freshly chopped apple, added few cloves, some lemon leaves, couple of cinnamon sticks and few drops of sweet orange oil (essential oil of orange). That't it. My home was started smelling fresh. 



But if you are not a fan of citrus fragrance, buy a bag of dried lavender or rose petals  and use these two essential oils for the floral potpourri, nuts can be used as well.. :) 

That's it for now. And well before saying good buy I want to share the little something that my readers would win in the GIVEAWAY. This cute Vintage Bracelet Watch (color may vary) is just one of the items. I have many more to share. Don't forget to participate in the GIVEAWAY. Read more here.



Thanks for reading :) And do share your decoration ideas with me, with the hashtag, #MSaysHappyDiwali :) 

Mugdha 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Diwali 2015 - Gift Ideas

Hi guys a giveaway is going on.. Keep Reading to know more :)

I am so excited for Diwali this year. The weather is changed a lot. The nip in the air came with a festive buzz. The festival of lights is at the corner so I thought to begin my #MSaysHappyDiwali series for you guys. I have so many decoration ideas and recipes post is queue and I am ready to throw all in the four days of pre-diwali preparations.


The season of spreading joy and happiness is almost here. In this post we will discussed how to give your friends or family members, a piece of happiness and make their Diwali, super festive. Exchanging gifts during Diwali is an age-old tradition but with each passing year, the nature of these gifts is also changing quite significantly.


The good old boxes of mithai is gone with the time and now one look forward for the exquisite home decor, gourmet food and electronic hampers! Here’s a list of the season’s best and unique gifts ideas...

1. Contemporary Desserts: This year go beyond ladoos and barfi and try some Donuts. Not a donuts fan, its ok gift a chocolate orange cake or vanila blue berry truffle. Yes these things are available at your nearby bakeries, you just have to look for them.


2. Homemade is good-made: I know some of you would say, no we wants to be all traditional this year or our grand parents would not prefer the donuts. Then don't buy the sweets rather make it at home and surprise them with the love filled kheer or gulab jamun. Recipe post is coming up :)


3. Hampers: Specially crafted gifts for the loved ones are always the best. If you hand picked the goodies and filled the basket for your friends or family that for sure bring the largest smile on their faces.


You may load the basket with delectable items like chocolates, dry fruits, organic honey, estate teas, fruit bars and cakes and decorate the basket with confetti and sparkles. That would enhance the festive feeling.

4. Deck The Halls: Not with holly but with traditional diyas. There are many decorative diyas, lanterns, candles are easily available in markets. You may put these things along with the food hampers or prepare a urban chic goodies bag in which you can gift puja thalis, silver coins, flower vines etc that would help the receiver a lot.



I suggest to give such gifts in a day advance so they can use the items... :) 

5. All time favorites: The fun hampers that featured colourful platters, napkin holders, coffee mugs and foodie cushion covers are always in. Even coffee maker, hand blenders and silverware can be a a good option as diwali gifts.


6. Female Zone: Traditional thinking is gift any Makeup kit, a colourful kurti or trendy hand bag and you are done. But this diwali you may try something different. Gift them a voucher from any beauty or health saloon. Surprise them with rejuvenating products, such as Strawberry Body Polish, Tea Tree Oil or Cocoa Butter Body Cream.


You may also pick some goodies boxes such as MSM box or Sugar Box which you may customized according to the taste of the person.

7. How to make a boy happy: Think beyond watches, play station or even a tool kit for the guys. You may gift them Diwali Munchies like how about a jars packed with caramelized hazelnuts. And if the are nothing but a gizmo freak, try these - fitness tracker, Kindle, Theta camera, Wireless pen-drive.


With gifts in you hands... SAY HAPPY DIWALI. Tag me at #MSaysHappyDiwali and share your ideas with me on any social networking site. Also leave in comments which one is your favorite gift idea.

The Yay!! GiveAway: This is probably the most unique giveaway for you guys. I am super excited for this one. Although the give away is already begin, I will reveal the products with each of my diwali post! Take sneak peak here :)

Thanks for reading guys :) Enjoy the festive season!

Mugdha

Friday, October 30, 2015

History behind Halloween

On 31 October, people don outfits, carve pumpkins, trick-or-treat - - but why? Well I wrote this previous post about Halloween Decorations and some people asked me what is Halloween. It appears so that I never did a post about the history of Halloween. So here it is what I found.


The post could appear a little biased but at least this post would give you guys a basic idea about Halloween, rituals, origin etc. ENJOY! 


What is the history behind Halloween?


The origin of the festival is sourced by both pagan and Christian practices that have evolved into what Halloween is like today. The word 'Halloween' probably came from 'Hallowed evening', and is the day before All Hallows Day - also known as All Saints' Day.

Some also believe that it originates from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning 'Summer's End' which celebrated the end of harvest season. Their ancestors believed that it was a time of the year when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through, come back to life on the day and damage their crops.


The origins of trick or treating and dressing up was also their in the 16th century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales where people went door-to-door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or song. Many dressed up as souls of the dead!


On the day places were set at the dinner table to appease and welcome the spirits. People also offer food and drink to the souls and light bonfires to ward off the evil spirits. The Christian origin of the holiday was set in the eighth century as well. They would honour saints and pray for souls who have not yet reached heaven, on Halloween.

Why do we dress up and go trick-or-treating?

Ancient people dressed up in white with blackened faces during the festival of Samhain to trick the evil spirits that they believed would be roaming the earth before All Saints' Day on 1 November.


By the 11th century, this practice had been adapted by the Church into a tradition called 'souling', which is the origin of current trick-or-treating. Children go door-to-door, asking for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of friends and relatives. They went dressed up as angels, demons or saints.


The soul cakes were sweet, with a cross marked on top; when eaten they represented a soul being freed from purgatory.In the 19th century, souling gave way to guising or mumming, when children would offer songs, poetry and jokes - instead of prayer - in exchange for fruit or money, while wearing costumes.

Adventurous Costumes 

In Victorian ages, they were influenced by gothic themes including bats and ghosts. Later, costumes became influenced by pop culture. Now you may see a costume of Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, The Vampire Diaries Costumes for the adults and ban 10, Alice in Wonderland, Hallow Kitty Costumes for the kids.


Why do we carve pumpkins?

The carving of pumpkins also seems to originates from the Samhain festival, difference is people use to carve turnips to ward off spirits and stop fairies from settling in houses. Now a days people carve pumpkins and lit candles or lights in these.


Jack O'Lantern is actually came from the folkloric story of Stingy Jack, who fooled the devil into buying him a drink. He was not let into heaven or hell - and when he died, the devil threw him a burning ember which he kept in a turnip.


Halloween Decorations

People decorate their houses with spooky and weird stuff that may include certain types of colors, lighting and material. The holiday is turning into a complete fun package for those who love to do spooky things or enjoy decorating their houses using uncanny imagination. For cute last minute ideas visit - Last minute decoration ideas for Halloween


Thanks for reading. Use #MSaysHalloween on any social media to tag me on your Halloween Posts. :) 

Mugdha 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Last minute decoration ideas for Halloween

Indians are yet to accept HALLOWEEN as much as they have accepted Valentines Day, Friendship Day, Mothers/Fathers/Daughters Day or even the fun loving side of Christmas. The reason could be that Halloween is associated with spooky and creepy looking objects while usually in the month of October and November we remain in the mood of Navratri, Dussehra and Diwali.

But all the communities have some rebels who exactly know, how to spread the craze of something new. Consider this post as a rebel. If you are just like me, we are good to go. 

So you just remembered Halloween is coming and you want something,  a little spooky around the house! You don't know how to create that something, specially because we don't have a hobby lobby or target, here in India and Indian Marts usually don't have such stuff in their shelves.

I have a list of Last-minute easy DIY Halloween Decorations ideas for inside and outside of your home that can easily be done within the next two days. 

Front Porch Spiderweb: Pretty self-explanatory! You need some white rope to create the web design. It can be hooked anywhere and easy to made. Start with a basic frame of one vertical length of rope and one horizontal on any wall. That should look like a +. Make a X on the previous frame and it should look like a X on top of +. 



After that start weaving the rope in loose circles and keep tying knots on each passing ropes that are plus and X framed. I started with the spirals closer together at the center and got farther apart as I made my way toward the edges. It doesn't need to be perfect and symmetrical. Natural spider webs aren't.

Ghost Silhouette Night Light: Take any LED Night Light and stick black craft paper on it. The trick is to stick craft paper in such shape that when you lit the light it shows silhouette of a face.



Take your scissor cut two square shape piece of paper for eyes and one in the shape of lemon slice. The shapes not have to be perfect and stick them on the LED light using light glue. You may also use a black tape. When you lit the LED light, facing any plain wall, the spooky silhouette will appear out of no where.. :) 

Ghost Lights: You are gonna need Cheesecloth or some solid yet semi transparent cloth. A light set (white cord preferred), black cloth or craft paper for Silhouette, glue and scissors.



Start with cutting the cloth in small square and rectangular pieces. Drape the cloth pieces on the light vine and check if the light is coming out perfectly. Then stick the pieces of black cloth or craft paper on the cheese cloth in the shape of a eyes and mouth. 

Drape the cloth pieces again on the light and stick it on the wire by using some glue and voila... you cute little ghost light is all set. Hang and enjoy!

Fun Halloween Balloons: I am literally not going to explain this one. Use your imagination and enjoy the creepy decor.. :)



Bloody Pillar Candle: It is such an easy DIY. The tricky part is to search desired colored candles. All you need are while pillar candles, preferably in a simple shape and a red waxed candle.



Lit the red one and let the wax drop on the white one. First cover the upper surface and later let the wax travel on the sides. Kids should take help of their parents. Let the red wax dry and lit the while one.. The creepy bloody candle will set the mood for Halloween.

Pumpkin Boo: In India we don't find the bright orange colored pumpkin but we do have stationary shops nearby our houses. So buy a pumpkin and paint it orange. Do at least two coats for better look and then either paint the word BOO on it or stick some pins or button on it for the 3-D look.



Remember this decor is rather less durable and you might want to put it on the balcony or near door so that your room don't smell like pumpkin after a while.

Many people spend days and even a small fortune to decorate their homes on Halloween. Use these ideas that would cost you quite less yet gives you a scary, Halloweeny look! Enjoy the day. 

Thanks for reading and use #MSaysHalloween on twitter/facebook/google plus or any of the other social media to tag me on your Halloween Posts. Do leave a comment below or on the social networking sites if you would use these idea. Share your pictures as well.



Happy Halloween!

Mugdha