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Thoughts, Ideas, Recipes, Tips….

Jungle theme party for Avi June 3, 2013

For Avishi’s 3rd Birthday party I had decided to call all her play-school friends and make it a fun-filled day for her. It was fun planning her birthday party this year, because she understood the concept of birthdays and also how a party would mean getting many many gifts 🙂

So for her 3rd year party, I decided to do a jungle safari theme. I started planning the party almost a month in advance (hehe I know that early, 😛 can’t help it!! I like being organized :D).  I’m writing this blog to help people know the 4 key factors for a successful party.

  1. THE BIRTHDAY CAKE
  2. THE DÉCOR
  3. THE FOOD
  4. ENTERTAINMENT

THE BIRTHDAY CAKE

Firstly, I needed a jungle theme cake and I wanted to bake it myself (which I usually do). I am no professional in baking, but I do a pretty decent job in baking cakes. But this time, I also wanted to ice the cake and have a jungle theme running all over it. Thanks to my sis Varsh, I had some sugar wild animals by culpit in my closet. Although they are meant to decorate cupcakes, I used them to ice the main cake. Since the theme was jungle, I decided to bake a marble cake (u know tiger prints or giraffe prints). I figured it would suit the theme. Here is a pic of the cake before the frosting and after the frosting (I know its imperfect!!)

Avi's bday

THE DÉCOR

Now for the décor, I ordered some animal cutouts, jungle theme glasses and paper plates online from mybabykart.com. The remaining décor I made at home. I bought some green crepe paper, some green and brown construction paper, and some brown paper. I made a tree with the construction paper. I used the brown paper to make some vines. I used the green crepe paper to cover the backdrop of the center table. Here are some pics.

Avi's bday2

THE FOOD

Since the party was at 5 in the evening, we served an assortment of snacks that the kids would love. I served:-

  • Hippo pops – Popcorn ( I made these cups with the plain white styrofoam cups, stuck purple construction paper and googley eyes to make it look like hippos)
  • Safari pizza – mini pizzas
  • Junglee pasta – tri-color pasta made in white sauce
  • Zebra Bites – Oreos
  • Giraffe nibbles – potato wafers
  • Monkey smiles – smileys
  • Corn and cheese nuggets
  • Cupcakes (in shades of the LION)

Since most kids were in the age group of 3-4, I was expecting parents to linger around. So I also made some puris with potato sabzi and idli with chutney.

I created labels for all the animal themed snacks and placed it on the table. Some pics of how the table looked like…

Avi's bday1

Finally the entertainment….

I made some binoculars with the help of Styrofoam cups and cellophane sheets (before hand). In the party, I got the kids to decorate their binoculars with color and an assortment of stickers. This activity was a hit. All the kids thoroughly enjoyed the activity.

Styrofoam binoculars

I made a jungle room. I used my store room for it. I used the green crepe paper to cover the wardrobes. I hid animal cutouts behind the green streamers. I filled the room with green balloons (floor), to give it a green look.  I also made a camp using my dupattas. After we were done with the binoculars, we went to the jungle to find all the animals. The kids were excited to see all the animals through their binoculars. All of them kept shouting out the animal names as and when they spotted. Then all the girls went into their camp and were chit-chatting (I don’t know about what!)

Avi's bday3

After the cake cutting and feeding the kids, I made them dance to boogie-woogie. They then started demanding all the rhymes they know and I was happy to be their dj 😀 (thank god I had all the rhymes on my laptop).

The kids really had a lot of fun. None of them wanted to go back home and few even went away crying. Avishi enjoyed the party to the hilt and oh, she loved the “yellow animal cake”.

For the return gifts, I really found these cute animal bags by chance. I filled them up with toffees and chocolates. Giraffe, lion, tiger, bear, monkey, leopard were some varieties of the goodie bags.

Collages1

 

Christmas Fruit Cake (Plum Cake) December 16, 2012

Filed under: Random Recipes — jkomal @ 4:46 pm
Tags: ,

Christmas is a time, when your kitchen is filled with lovely aromas. This year I REALLY wanted to bake a plum cake at home and wanted to do a non-alcoholic version of fruit cake. So here it is, Christmas cake without alcohol  Did it turn out yum? Well, the guests in my party completely cleaned the plate 🙂

Christmas Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

  • Light brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Hot water – 1 cup
  • Salted butter – 4 tbsps
  • Ground cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
  • Ground cloves – 1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Cardomom powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 pinch
  • Black Raisins – 1 cup
  • Chopped nuts (cashew and almonds) – 1 cup
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • Normal sized Eggs – 3, lightly beaten
  • All purpose flour – 1 + 1/2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Baking powder = 1 tsp
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Method:

  • Butter your cake tin with butter.
  • Cut a piece of parchment/wax paper to fit the bottom of the cake tin and place it in the tin.
  • Mix light brown sugar, water, butter,spices, raisins, nuts and rind in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  • Let it boil for 5 minutes.
  • Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degree C.
  • Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract into the fruit mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Sieve flour, baking powder, baking soda in a seperate bowl.
  • Add the fruit mixture to the flour mixture
  • Pour this mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let it cool on a wire rack.
  • When it cools down completely, wrap the cake using plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 2 days.
 

Chicken Dimsums/Momos November 22, 2012

Filed under: Random Recipes — jkomal @ 9:11 pm

The other we went to a mall and ordered some dimsums. They were so tiny and they served only 6 in a plate. We paid more than its worth and we were left craving for more. I then decided to make some dimsums at home and make use of the steamer that I had recently purchased. I made about 30 dimsums and we all enjoyed eating them. Oh and we ate to our heart’s content 😀

Here is the recipe

Ingredients

For the Filling

1/2 kg chicken mince

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp vinegar

1 tbsp oil

1 medium sized onion finely chopped

1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic

1 tbsp coriander (optional)

Salt to taste

For the momos

250 gm maida (all purpose flour)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Water to bring the dough together

Method

  • First mix all the ingredients of the momos and make a fine dough. Let it sit aside for 30 min.
  • In the mean while, mix all the ingredients of filling.
  • Make small balls of the dough. Roll each ball into flat sheets (small has your palm size.
  • Fill in the mince and wrap it with the dough in desired shape.
  • Grease the steamer and place the momo in the steamer.
  • Steam for 20 min.
  • Yummy dimsums ready.

 

 

Mom’s who want to get back to work. September 21, 2012

For a career-oriented woman, having a baby brings their professional life to stand still. Often I meet women who face depression post prenancy. When Avi was born, since she was my first born, I had given up my fulltime job to look after her. But after a while, I found myself anxious all the time. By the time she was 3 months old, I started feeling like a cow :P. One fine day, I just decided to get in touch with the company that I worked fulltime with prior to my pregancy, and I asked them if I could work from home. I was lucky in a way, because they let me. Although I couldn’t enjoy the perks and responsibilities I achieved when I was a fulltime employee, I still enjoyed accomplishing goals everyday. It made me feel a lot useful and happier and I could at the same time look after Avishi, watch her grow and not feel guilty about being away from her.

The whole arrangement just suited me very well, and after doing that for over 2 yrs, I decided to get back to work fulltime. I felt Avishi, was old enough to be away from me for a couple of hours. Since she anyways started going to pre-school, for 3 hrs everyday and was actually enjoying it thoroughly, I thought I could stretch it for a couple of more hours and get back to work. So after settling down with a fulltime job, I looked for a preschool and a daycare (that had both in the same premises). Also chose one that is just a 2 min walk from my workplace.

Our routine nowadays – I drop her to school, go to work while she has fun in her preschool, eats her healthy meals (Her school is just great), sleeps for a couple of hours, plays and Voila! mommy is back to collect her from school. This arrangement has been working out for us quite well, while avi is making new friends and having a gala time with them, I get to achieve my goals at work. 🙂

Image

Just a pointer for moms who want to get back to work-

  • You will need to be with your child during the early years. They depend on you for everything. So look for a work from home option, or flexi- work (like work on sat & sun). You can look up http://fleximoms.in/  for convenient job oppurtunities.
  • If you have a hobby, then pursue that. This lets you be sane and happy and avoids any kind of guilt factor.
  • You can also consider becoming an entreuprener. Maybe you could convert your hobby into a career!!
  • Once your child is over 2 yrs, you can consider taking up a fulltime job. But keep in mind to choose a good daycare, preferably in the same premises of the preschool and also a place that is close to your office.
  • Initially you might face seperation anxiety, (I did too), but trust me the child will be alright. We (mothers) are the ones who get more anxious, they actually enjoy being in the company of other children.
  • Once at work, try to ensure you leave on time and not stretch it! You have to maintain a work-life balance. If the company you work for doesn’t offer flexibility, quit!! Choose an employer who understands your situation and offers you flexibility. If you have to take a paycut, do so!

If you are in Gurgaon, and are looking out for a pre-school/daycare, consider choosing Intellitots. It is a great place for your child for their overall development and they really look after your child.

 

Stuffed Shimla Mirch June 22, 2012

Filed under: Random Recipes — jkomal @ 1:43 pm
Tags: , ,

A few days back, my hubby calls me and tells me that a friend is coming over for dinner, who is a vegetarian. I was like ok!! I went and browsed through the contents of my fridge and I found these small shimla mirch and I thought I should do something special with these. So I made these stuffed shimla mirch, which is quite easy and tasty too! Guess what our guest thoroughly enjoyed these and I wished I had made some more….

Ingredients

4 small sized shimla mirch

1 large potato

½ cup peas

1 small onion finely chopped

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp Kanda masala – red chilli, onion and garlic (or just use red chilli powder)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp lime juice.

Oil

Method

  • First boil the potato with its skin. Then peel of the skin and mash the potato with the help of a fork.
  • In a skillet, heat some oil, and then add the chopped onion and fry till golden brown.
  • Then add the peas and let it cook.
  • Now add the garam masala, salt and turmeric. Saute for a min.
  • Then add the mashed potatoes and mix well. Sprinkle some kanda masala. Fry for a minute or two.
  • Then add the lime juice. This mixture is for the stuffing of the shimla mirch.
  • Now cut the top of the shimla mirch and deseed it.
  • Coat each shimla (from the inside) with some salt.
  • Now stuff the shimla mirch with the potato mixture. Spray some oil on each shimla mirch.
  • Now bake the shimla mirch at 180 degrees C for about 15 minutes.
  • Ready to Serve!!

 

 

Red Velvet Cup Cakes June 6, 2012

Filed under: Random Recipes — jkomal @ 11:37 pm

Image

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cups sugar

2 heaped tbsp baking cocoa (powdered)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks/200 gms salted butter at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk (see note at bottom)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon red food coloring

Method

  • Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl.  Sift dry ingredients three times.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each egg.
  • Add alternatively the flour mixture and buttermilk to the  sugar-butter creamed mixture. Keep mixing till you get a smooth batter. Make sure you start and end with the dry mixture.
  • Now mix in vanilla and food coloring.
  • Fill lined cupcake pans 1/2 full of red velvet batter.  Bake in a preheated 180 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note:- For the buttermilk, just add a tbsp of lemon juice to a cup of milk. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Your buttermilk is ready.

 Image

For the cream frosting

Beat 200 gms butter with icing sugar. Add a tsp of vanilla essence and some food color to get that pink touch. You can also add some strawberry pulp to give it a strawberry flavor.

 

Basa Fish Fillet with Fried Rice April 24, 2012

It has been such a long time since I made an entry on my blog. Today, after such a long halt I’ve decided to upload a recipe that I tried today. I had some basa fish ( a Vietnamese catfish) lying in the freezer. And I thought I should try a new recipe with it, which is both healthy and delicious. Here is the recipe.

Basa Fish with Fried Rice

Ingredients

For the fish

1 fillet of basa fish

2 tbsp of low butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

½ tsp chopped garlic

Chilli flakes to taste

Salt to taste

Lemon

Coriander leaves (for garnish)

For the Rice

3 cups of cooked white or brown rice

Vegetables of your choice

2 tbsp of onion

1 tsp of garlic

Dry Red Chilli (chopped)

1 ½ tbsp of Soy Souce

1 maggi cube

Method

First, let’s prepare the fried rice.

  • In a wok, take some oil and add the onions and garlic. Sauté till slightly pink.
  • Now add the red chillis and sauté for 2 min.
  • Then add the veggies and toss for a while till it is cooked.
  • Now add the soy sauce and maggi cube. Then stir in the cooked rice and mix slowly to ensure the rice doesn’t break.

Fried rice is ready. Now let’s make the fish

  • Mix the butter, olive oil, pepper, chilli flakes, garlic and salt.
  • Now add the basa fish and coat both sides with the butter mix.
  • Leave it for an hour in the fridge.
  • Then place the fish on a baking tray and cover the baking dish with foil paper. Bake the fish for 10 min.
  • Remove it and squeeze some lemon juice on it.

Now on a serving plate, place some rice. On top of the rice, place the fish. Garnish with coriander leaves and some chilli flakes 😀