Monday, October 31, 2016

The quick Halloween treat

Halloween is here and got no time for decorating your house to arranging spooky dresses. But for one thing I can help you… I can give you three easy breezy recipes that will make your Halloween party perfect..

You’ve run out of time to make Halloween-themed food, so it will be better if most of the items for cooking can be used from your current pantry. So here you got cocktails, sweet treats and some savory ideas, too. Now go and enjoy your Halloween…

Candy Corn Pretzel
Ingredients:
Pretzels
Candy corn
White/regular chocolate


Directions:

Preheat oven to 250F degrees. Line baking sheet and align pretzels on the sheet. Place small pieces of chocolate on each pretzel. Stick in the oven until it begins to melt down.
When it melts and starts covering the pretzel, take out the tray and quickly put the candy corn on it. If the pieces as not sticking together, remove the candy and place the pretzel back in the oven for 30 more seconds.
Put the candy again and let the pretzel cool completely. Chocolate will set in about 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
Note: Chocolate chips can also be used instead of bars

Spooky Fingers
Ingredients:
Chocolate sticks
White and regular chocolate


Directions:
Melt the white chocolate. Dip the chocolate sticks in liquid chocolate. Make fake nails out of regular chocolate place it on the stick. Let it set.

Melt the regular chocolate and dip the base part of stick in the regular chocolate liquid. Put the finished product in a glass or make it look like hand. Can it be more scary?

Halloween Candy Bark
Ingredients:
Chocolate to melt
Candies
Pretzels
M&M


Directions:

Melt your chocolate in the over. USE your imagination. Dump all of that leftover candy in to the melted chocolate. Let it set and after it hardens, break it into pieces.


To know more recipes... please visit.. Tis the season to be foody

It’s a combo post for the readers… go and check the Lastminute decoration ideas for Halloween too... thank me later :)

If you are struggling to guess, what Halloween is all about, check 'Halloween Special'

Thank you all for reading


Mugdha 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

India illuminated with Diwali festivities

India is celebrating Diwali, the biggest and the brightest festival in the country with utmost enthusiasm. Lights, colours, flowers, rangolis, crackers, traditional sweets, friends, family and get togethers are some of the fun activities that every Indian family will do on the occasion.



Diwali, Deepawali or Deepavali as it is popularly known in India, is a Hindu festival that is celebrated every year in autumn across the nation. It is considered a very auspicious occasion not only in India but also in Fiji, Guyana, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal and other countries.


Spiritually, it signifies the victory of light over darkness and of good over evil. Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali to celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, after 14 years in exile.



To honour the return and illuminate their path, villagers had then lit up diyas (earthen lamps) to welcome them and since then every year, people follow the same. The celebrations include decorating homes, temples, offices and residential societies with lights, diyas, flowers and rangolis; wearing new clothes and participating in family prayers.


After the prayers, from little children to the elders, everyone enjoys fireworks, following a family feast and an exchange of gifts. However, the festival is not only a day-long affair, the Diwali festivities extend over a five-day period.

Festivities start with Dhanteras, where people worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, followed by Naraka Chaturdasi. According to Hinduism, demon Narakasura was killed on this day by Lord Krishna.

Diwali is celebrated on the third day and then Padva is observed the next day dedicated to the husband-wife relationship and the festivities end with Bhai Dooj, dedicated to the sister-brother bond, on the fifth day.

On the day when Hindus celebrate Diwali, the Sikh community in India celebrates Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from the prison.

While in the eastern regions, people worship goddess Kali instead of Lakshmi and call the festival Kali Puja, in other regions, Govardhan Puja is celebrated with hundreds of different cuisines prepared and offered to Lord Krishna.



Not only in India, but Diwali is now a very popular festival in foreign countries as well. Many people have started celebrating the festival. They burst crackers and also decorate their houses.


So wish you all, A very happy and prosperous Diwali. I wish that you'll always shine as bright as Diwali Diyas and remain as sweet as Diwali Deserts!

Thank you for reading

Mugdha 
                                                                                                                                                                                      (Image Courtesy: Internet)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Delectable Diwali Desserts

Diwali is most happening time of the year in India. It doesn’t matter if you Punjabi or Bihari, Bengali or Maharashtrian, you must be fond of desi mithai – the delicious desserts that you’ll made or buy from local sweet shop.


As a kid I use to love the edible toys made by sugar that we used to call ‘Khilone’. They are made by sugar syrup and often mold in various shapes such as horse, camels, elephants etc. As I grew up ‘Khoya’ become a center ingredient of my traditional desserts.


Melt-in-your-mouth khoya barfi, scrumptious halwas and mouthwatering pedas over other meticulously made, fancier mithai are my weaknesses. And don’t judge me when I tell you that my birthdays never saw dark chocolate cakes or fondant laced customized bakes but a big a box of kaju katli.

Today I am going to share the tiny packets of sweetness that cheered me up without being failed. With time, the veil of ignorance gave way but my love for those simple treats grew greater.

Khoya is a magic ingredient. To Make Khoya from Scratch, all you need is full cream milk and a kadhai (wok). Bring the milk to a boil and let it simmer on low flame. Keep stirring. Milk will eventually thicken and start collecting into a solid mass. And it’s done.


Now you have mastered the art of making khoya at home (or buy from shop), it is about time to learn some dreamy desserts. Also share your recipes in the comment section so I can learn something from you guys. Enjoy!

1. Khoye Ki Barfi

The all-time favourite khoya barfi has a unique taste and it slowly melt in the mouth.

Prep Time: 51-60 minutes
Cook Time: 41-50 minutes
Serve: 4

Ingredients for Burfi Recipe
Khoya/mawa: 375 grams
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Liquid glucose: 1 teaspoon
Green cardamom powder
Pista to decorate


Method
Cook the khoya and sugar together in a large thick-bottomed non-stick kadai on low heat, stirring continuously, till the sugar dissolves and the khoya starts to melt.

Add the liquid glucose and continue to cook, stirring continuously, for twenty minutes, or till the mixture thickens and begins to leave the sides of the kadai. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a greased six-by-eight-inch aluminum tray and spread evenly. Set aside to cool to room temperature and set. Cut into twenty squares or diamonds and serve. Use grated pista to decorate.

2. Peda
Simple ingredients go into making this old favourite of Uttar Pradesh. Click here to know how to make peda


3. Mawa Cake

This melt-in-your-mouth, Rajasthani dessert is a must try
Prep Time: 26-30 minutes
Cook Time: 31-40 minutes
Serve: 4

Ingredients for Mawa Cake Recipe
Refined flour (maida): 1 1/2 cups
Mawa (khoya) crumbled: 1 1/2 teaspoons
Butter softened: 3/4 cup
Powdered sugar: 3/4 cup
Milk powder: 5 tablespoons
Corn flour/ corn starch: 2 tablespoons
Baking powder: 1 teaspoon
Soda bicarbonate: 1 teaspoon
Green cardamom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
Buttermilk: 1/4 cup
Milk: 2 tablespoons


Method
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease moulds or paper cups. Take butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon till light. Add milk powder into the bowl and continue to mix. Add mawa and mix again.

Add refined flour, corn flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and green cardamom powder into the bowl and mix. Add buttermilk to correct the consistency. If the batter is still thick add a little milk and mix.

Pour into the greased moulds or paper cups. Tap the moulds lightly to even the batter. Place them in the preheated oven and bake at 170°C for thirty minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool before demoulding. Serve warm or cold.

4. Gulab Jamun

Who wouldn't love to have a super treat to satisfy their sweet tooth? The great Indian dessert that needs no introduction; read the recipe here


5. Gujiya

This one is a hit during Holi festivities and a delightful treat all-round the year.

Prep Time: 31-40 minutes
Cook Time: 11-15 minutes
Serve: 4

Ingredients for Gujiya Recipe
Khoya crumbled: 2/3 cup
Refined Flour: 1 cup
Ghee: 3 teaspoons
Oil to deep fry
Dried figs chopped: 1/2 cup
Seedless dates chopped: 1/2 cup
Cashew nuts chopped: 10
Almonds chopped: 10
Walnuts chopped: 10


Method
For the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the ghee with your fingertips till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add one-fourth cup and one tablespoon of cold water and knead into stiff dough.

Cover with piece of damp soft cloth and set aside for fifteen minutes. For the filling, heat a non-stick pan; add the khoya and sauté for three minutes or till the fat separates. Set aside to cool.

Add the figs, dates, cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts, and mix well. Divide into twelve equal portions. Divide the dough into twelve equal portions and shape into balls. Roll out each ball into a puri.

Place one portion of the stuffing on one half of the puri, lightly moisten the edges, fold the other half over the stuffing and press the edges to seal. Pinch the edges to make a design.

Heat sufficient oil in a non-stick kadai; gently slide in a few gujiya at a time, and deep-fry for five to six minutes or till golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and store in an airtight container when completely cold.

Send these sweet gifts to your loved ones and enjoy the festival of lights!


There you go, you have recipes of five awesome desserts that will make your Diwali sweet. If you are looking for some other recipes… read my last year’s post… Diwali 2015

Thank you for reading

Mugdha

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pumpkins are back - Fall 2016

I feel the color of the month for October should be orange. The leaves turned orange, the apples have golden orange hues and on top of all the PUMPKINS. The centre of fall décor also has colors that go well with orange. Today I am going to share few ideas of decor that you can create using pumpkins. 

Not all the houses have the kind of color theme or enough space which enhances the charisma of pumpkin, so I tried to pair up the ORANGE PUMPKINS with different other items that would glam up the festive décor.

Wall that do not spell FALL

If you have kind of wall color that do not compliment the orange color of the pumpkin then use some props to create a abyss between your pumpkins and wall. Use big black colors plant pots and put pumpkin on it or by the side of it. The pot and nude black color will drag the attention from the wall.


FALL in the Hall

Use pumpkins combos with various decorative items. For example use small pumpkins in flower vase, use them as paper weight, put them around candle holders and create the center pieces for dining table or coffee table.





Pumpkin Porch

So you have an awesome porch and searching for decorating ideas using pumpkins. I say go for combos this year. Add pumpkins, gourds, squashes and create beautiful festive porch. Adding autumn leaves will boost the spirit.






Pumpkin Patch

For a lovely fall scene in your garden, why don’t you create your own pumpkin patch? Well thinking about growing pumpkin won’t help this year but you can create a patch by using freshly picked or artificial pumpkins in the garden. (Leave a comment, if you want me to do a post on how to use pumpkins after you done decorating with them.)






Now we have many ideas on how to use pumpkins to decorate for fall but how to prolong the life of decorative pumpkins. When you have pumpkins inside your house then you do have a full control on them. You can tell if they are still fresh or not. People don’t come and vandalized them but if you have decorated surrounding of your house then you must know how to protect them.

Decorating for the season is exciting whether you grow your own or purchase pumpkins, gourds and squash at market. These are some preservation steps to make your autumn ornaments last longer.

Harvest the best

Well-developed fruit and dead vines are good indicators. Hasty harvest leaves scratches on the pumpkin which causes them to rot prematurely.

Buy or cut the pumpkins and gourds with 3 to 4-inch stems. If your fruit don’t have stem, it will attract more fruit-flies.


Wash

Wash your pumpkin well to remove any bacteria that also cause the early decaying.  

Position

Put your pumpkins in the areas where the temperature remains balanced. Porches are good shelters, if you are putting them near doorway without shelters, try to cover them to avoid snow or rains. Put some decorative curtains near pumpkins to protect them from direct sun light.
Polish and paint

Use polishes or paints on pumpkins, squash and gourds before displaying them. Wax brings the sheen on the fruits and gives them the ornament look. Painting a coat of varnish will keep birds and insects away from the pumpkins.

Note: If you plan to eat pumpkin and squash after they’ve done their decorative duty, skip the polish and paint.

Keep’em caged

Yes you read it correct. People often share that stray animals ruined their pumpkins that they put on display. Some pumpkins also got stolen purposefully by bullies.

However, more vandalism insurance claims are filled from Halloween than any other day of the year. Simplisafe, a wireless home security company started the #ProtectThePumpkins campaign to raise awareness towards seasonal theft and damage. Whether your pumpkins have been eaten by wildlife, or purposefully stolen by bullies, plan ahead and educate yourself with some more information on home security.


Now what you can do is use some beautiful metallic cages and put your best pumpkins in it. This edgy decorative theme will certainly protect your pumpkins and give a whole new meaning for quirky decoration.





You may also use less expensive and slightly rotten pumpkins or guards as part of your decoration. In farmers market you’ll find such pieces in less cost.

Happy Fall everyone :) 

Thanks for Reading

Mugdha 
(Picture Courtesy Pinterest)


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Traveling hacks for Women - in India

Since I’ve travelled almost all the parts of the mainland in India, women mostly ask me what should we wear and keep in our traveling bags while visiting different states within India.



Now, I am not a fashion Guru or something but people tend to ask me this question because of my multiple visits in South, series of voyages in north and less frequent but considerable journeys in different cities of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab etc.



Their concerns are genuine too because in India we have so much diversity that most of the women ends up stuck with at least 2-3 bags whenever they are going out for holidays. Sightseeing, finding nice accommodations, safety etc are something they ask later. 

What to pack is somewhat of a dilemma for us ladies. So here are few hacks that may reduce most of your concerns. 

1) Majority of the country is hot and humid so you need clothes that will keep you cool. Choose clothes with fabric like cotton

2) It’s also a conservative country and it isn’t safe for women to be wearing skimpy clothing. Argh, I know it sounds stupid but it’s true for most of the places 

3) If can’t stand those ‘traveller pants’ that come in khaki colours and have eight pockets on each leg then try to use comfy leggings. They are good to go with long tops, short dresses, kurtas

4) Pairs of loose, thin trousers that come in patterns and different colors would work too. Buy both kind, plain and with patterns and match one pair with multiple blouses/tops

5) Try to purchase trousers and leggings in dark colours because the streets of India are often dusty and your clothes are nearly always filthy by lunch time

6) Instead of fancy blouses choose plain t-shirts. They’ll keep you cool and good to go



7) If you are Indian keep one piece of Indian outfit, if you are foreigner keep a long black cotton dress which can be pair with shrugs and scarves, in case you’ll visit some religious place where trousers will not look good. Dress should reach the ankles


8) Cover ups/shirts/shrugs along with scarves or small duppatas will help you. It will protect from direct sun light, cold breeze (in case you traveling in winters). It will give you ease in pretty much all the monuments, religious places, market areas.  Some kind of kimono/poncho style top or a loose shirt will work perfectly

9) Flip flops and pair of Converse cause heals won’t work on Indian streets. Comfy floaters will help you too. Just keep in mind, in India you may not found underpasses and foot over bridges and you have to cross the roads between traffic.  You may keep a pair of nice sandals for evenings



10) Thin cardigan, in case you are living in a hotel which is fully air conditioned and you feel shivers while eating dinner. If you are going on mountain areas such as Manali, keep 3-4 warm clothes along with shawls. Black cardigan and white stole matched most of the outfits



11) Cotton scarves can be the biggest lifesaver while you’re travelling in India. You can use it to cover your arms, your chest, your head and your shoulders and there will be times when you’ll want to wrap your whole upper body in it to stop people staring

12) Keep small, over-the-shoulder bag, don’t carry much stuff. Debit card, some cash, especially for small markets, ID cards and mobile. Huge bags are always fussy



13) Use small accessories like artificial jewelry that looks artificial. You don’t want to attract pickpockets. Accessories can be funky and cheap like decorative bangle or something similar


14) Carry three important things… external charger, some kind of protection device like pepper spray and small water bottle

That’s it girls… these are my travel essentials while traveling in India. Let me know if I skipped something. Grab your bags and go for a trip..

(PS: Looking for a place to visit.. read my previous posts for ideas… Ooty, GoaDwaraka, Udaipur, Sarnath, Kashmir, Mumbai, Gangotri, Chennai... You may click on travel tag from the labels and find more cities and my experience while visiting those cities.)

Thank you for reading :)

Mugdha