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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Hello lovely people!


How’s the new year treating you’ll?


Have you made the resolutions you aren’t going to keep? :)


Isn’t it funny (and wonderful) how we make them every year anyway?


Here are mine:


*Get fitter (this includes regular exercise and attempting to eat healthier)
*Give my blog more love
*Spend more time with the people who are important to me
*Start playing the guitar again (this will be done with my very cool guitarist friend Aditi’s help)
*Learn to take better photographs
*Keep believing that the best is yet to come


I think the last one is the hardest. It’s difficult to believe that good things will come when you’ve had a spate of bad things. It’s hard to have faith in people, believing that there’s good inside them, even when they’ve let you down. It’s even harder believing that God has plans for you – the best plans.


But this year, I’m staying positive, and happy, and bright. Because good things will come. I know it. I just need to remember it :)
Will you remind me if I forget?


Here’s a look at some good things that happened over December when I was home. Each one is a blessing.


Dinner with my oldest friends in one of our favourite restaurants.


Old friends and dinner


This gorgeous flower that bloomed on our balcony.


Red flower


A funky new-age Christmas tree my brother put together.


new age Christmas tree


The freshest, greenest, tastiest lettuce ever – from my aunt’s garden.


Lettuce


A massive projector set up by my Dad and brother in our living room, so we could watch movies huddling together under blankets while sipping hot tea.


Projector


And this puppy soaking up the sun, who brings us all such joy.


Puppy in the sun


In the midst of some terribly sad things that happened, us cousins got together and decided we needed to make something sweet.


The result was this stunning Strawberry Pavlova.


Pavlova 1


Everyone helped.


Here’s my brother whisking the egg whites.


Whisking away


Baby cousin washed the strawberries.


Cleaning strawberries


Another added sugar and smiles.


Sugar and smiles


And this pretty one cut up the strawberries.


Cutting strawberries


Even the littlest one contributed. He kept the puppy busy :)


Puppy and baby


This dessert is show-stopper. Expect everyone to drop their plates and stare at it in all its wonder.


Just look at it.


Pavlova 2


And it’s the easiest thing to make. Have a go!


Strawberry pavlova


Largely adapted from: Step by step Baking


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 80 mins
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


6 egg whites
pinch of salt
350 g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp lemon juice
300ml heavy cream
200 g strawberries


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line a baking tray with parchment. Draw a 20cm circle on the parchment and turn it over, so the pencil mark is facing downwards.
2. Put the egg whites and salt in a large, clean bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Mix in the cornflour and lemon juice as well.
3. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment, making sure you stay within the drawn-out circle. Flatten the centre slightly and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160º C and bake for 75 minutes. Leave it to cool completely in the oven.
4. In the meantime, whip the cream until it thickens. Wash and clean the strawberries, then roughly chop them into halves.
5. Remove the cooled pavlova from the oven and take off the parchment. Place on a serving plate and crack the top slightly with a spoon. Spread the cream over and top with the strawberries. Serve in rough wedges.


Pavlova 3


Sorry I can’t offer you some pavlova, but here’s something fun!


*GIVEAWAY TIME*


CupoNation India, a website offering discount coupons for a number of leading online retailers in India like flipkart, snapdeal, homeshop18 and many more, wants to give one of you lucky readers a Flipkart voucher worth 500 INR. All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me which offer you love the most on CupoNation India


I’ll choose one winner through a random draw and announce it in my next post. Comment away!


And have a wonderful, wonderful year ahead! Lots of love!


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It’s one month to Christmas. Welcome to what I call my looney-with-excitement month.


Here’s a taste of some of the Christmas craziness in my life:


- Last Saturday Mom and I bought (wait for it), 10 kilos of dry fruit. Yes, 10.
We got raisins in all colours, shapes, and sizes which will be mixed with walnuts and other stuff and then baked into some deadly good cakes by Dad.


- I’ve done some preliminary gift scouting and 2 3 5 lists have been made. I always struggle with present ideas for men – dad, brothers, uncles, friends. What do you buy the men in your life? Tell me please!


- Mom and I are discussing Christmas party menus every time we talk. Seriously. Every. Single. Conversation. Let me tell you now, some fantastic ideas have been born. If you’re invited to my home for Christmas, you’re in for a treat.


- I’ve changed my ring tone to Baby it’s cold outside. I ADORE Christmasy music. I asked a friend the other day if it was too early for Christmas music and I was laughed at. It isn’t too early, is it? Come on!


- My Christmas madness is totally understood by some adorable friends of mine. I’m discussing gift options with Abhik and decorations with Varun who has already put up his tree! They’re fabulous btw and totally looney about Christmas like me. You should say hello to them on Twitter!


- I bought some sparkly metallic red and green cupcake wrappers. So pretty and perfect for this season! Festive cupcakes shall be made.


What I’m saying is, this is a wonderful time. The build-up to a time with family and friends and celebration. A time of joy and warmth and sharing.


I wish everyone would get into the spirit already!


I know, I know. You’re tired and grumpy and lazy and it’s cold and you just want to curl up and sleep, but if you have 12 minutes and 3 ingredients, I can show you a shortcut way to feeling wonderful.


Make these Nutella brownie bites.



All you need is flour, eggs, and the food of the Gods: Nutella. Everyone has flour and eggs at home. Oh you have jar of Nutella too? You may be my soulmate.


These little bites are fudgy, full of that rich hazelnut chocolate flavour we all love, and delicious both warm from the oven or at room temperature.



Could there BE a simpler way to eat something yummy and ring in the festivities? (Yeah, I totally said that like Chandler :P)



3-ingredient Nutella brownie bites
Recipe adapted from: Laura’s Sweet Spot


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Makes: approx. 30 mini bites



Ingredients:


2 eggs
1 jar (350g) Nutella, at room temperature
10 tbsp plain flour


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line mini cupcake trays with mini cupcake paper cases. I used about 30.
2. Mix the eggs and Nutella together. Then stir in the flour until everything is well combined. The batter is quite thick and sticky. Don’t worry- it’s supposed to be like that. Spoon about 1 heaped teaspoon full into each paper case and bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and eat!



Happy pre-Christmas my lovelies :)

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Easy Mulled wine

The first time I drank mulled wine I was with my friend Shriya in London. It was cold outside and the spice-laden, sweetened wine warmed our insides and made us smile. It tasted like Christmas and old friendships and gave us inexplicable comfort although we were far away from home.


I made some last night, and I could taste those things all over again.



When something bad happens to us, don’t we often ask “Why me”? I’ve figured out the answer to that question.


It’s so that I can be reminded of the blessings in my life. The ones I forget so often and so easily.


Why me? Because I need to be reminded of how my family will always be my rock – no matter where I go or what I do.


Why me? Because it’s an opportunity to be grateful for the friends who love me, laugh with me, and cry with me because they can see through to my soul, the ones who are far away but make me feel like they’re right next to me with a single phone call or text, and the ones you know are yours forever.


Why me? Because I believe God wants to show me how strong he made me.


Painful things, difficult things, hard things, happen to the best of us. But what I’ve come to realize is that good things come out of it.


I will never stop being amazed at how my family and friends rally around me whenever I encounter anything difficult in life.
They shield me and hold me up, giving me an extraordinary strength.
The kind I never knew I was capable of. But it seems I am.
And that is an awesome thing.


So this is a thank you note. Just to say you’re wonderful. And my life wouldn’t be the same without you.
You all know who you are. Thank you for building me up. You give me strength every day.


I’m ready for anything the universe throws at me, because I know you’re there, always.


And while we’re here, in this moment, will you join me for a glass of mulled wine?
I know, you thought I’d never ask :)



Easy Mulled wine


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes: 2 glasses


Ingredients:


30g brown sugar
375ml red wine (I used Four Seasons Shiraz*)
4-5 pieces cinnamon bark, plus a few long pieces for the glass
generous sprinkling of nutmeg
1 orange, sliced on the round



Method:


1. Place a large pan over low heat and put in the brown sugar. Add about 1/5th of the wine and mix well.
2. Throw in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and a few pieces of orange (reserve 2 perfect rounds for the glasses). Mix everything well until the sugar melts. Let this mixture reduce over a low heat- it is your flavour base.
3. After about 10 minutes, the wine mixture will be thicker. Now pour in the rest of the wine and stir well. Mix for 2-3 minutes and then take off the heat. (Longer and you’ll burn off all the alcohol- we don’t want that!)
4. Pour into heatproof glasses, add the orange rounds and cinnamon sticks, and serve.


*Thank you Four Seasons for the lovely wine.


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Dad’s Christmas cake

My Dad is the Christmas cake king.

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Every year he makes more than a 100 cakes to give to everyone from friends and relatives to our grocery guy and fish monger.

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He spends weeks researching recipes and experimenting.

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The goal is to always better last year’s cake.

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Raisins are dried and sultanas are soaked in rum.

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Walnuts are chopped and blackcurrants are washed.

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The funny thing is- I don’t like Christmas cake.

(He always makes a special walnut cake just for me.)

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But this year, one bite of the cake and I was a convert.

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Every bite gives you something new in your mouth.

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Here is what happened with my most recent slice:

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A juicy rum-soaked sultana.
Crunchy, crunchy walnut.
Snappy ginger peel.
Shiny, sour blackcurrant.
Warm spicy hit of cinnamon.
Plump, dark raisin.

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See what I mean?

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This recipe is infinitely adaptable.

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Use more walnuts or less.
Don’t use blackcurrants if you don’t want to.
Add more sultanas if you’re a fan.

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Do your own thing.

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The main ingredient (like Dad says) is love :)
You can’t go wrong with that.

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Have a wonderful Christmas, friends!

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Oh and here’s a little look at our tree.

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Dad’s Christmas Cake

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Prep time: 25 mins (plus overnight if you’re soaking fruits)
Cook time: 1 – 1 and a half hours
Serves: 12

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Ingredients:

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3 large eggs

50 g white sugar

50 g brown sugar

100 g butter (salted is fine, but softened)

100 g flour, sifted

100 g mixed dried fruit, chopped or fruit soaked in rum (choose from raisins, sultanas, blackcurrants, ginger peel, glazed cherries, mixed peel, candied fruits like murabba)

50 g walnuts, chopped

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

2 tbsp dark caramel or treacle

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Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160º C. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until stiff. Keep aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat both the sugars with the butter. Add the yolks and beat again.
3. Now add the flour and mix well. Next, add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
4. Fold the egg whites into this mixture gently, and pour into a tin lined with parchment paper. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Check by inserting a skewer; it should come out clean. If not bake for a few more minutes.
5. Remove, and cool on a wire rack before eating.

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