Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Felt Envelope

It was Aseem's friend's birthday and I ran out of wrapping paper. This forced me to come up with an alternative - it had to be presentable and ready within half an hour's time. My sufficient stock of felt was the best option I had and this is what I came up with.

All that I needed was a felt sheet, some thick white thread (I used the crochet thread), two wooden buttons and adhesive Velcro patches. Within half an hour's time this envelope was ready.

This felt project is a quick DIY gift packaging stuff which has the advantage of being re-usable. How about making it yourself?

You need:

Felt sheet - size depends upon your requirement
Thread - this can be of the felt colour or a contrast
Needle - as per the thickness of the thread
Velcro patches - adhesive ones are easy to use. If you do not get them you can stitch them on.

Make it:
Fold the felt sheet a little away from the middle so that you have a portion left to make the overlapping cover.

Pin the sheet in place so that it is easy to stitch the sides.

Using running stitch stitch along both sides of the felt.

Stitch the buttons in place.

Attach one side of the Velcro patches just under the buttons. The other side will be attached on the back of the envelope so as to make both sides meet.

And your envelope is ready!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Urad dal Kachori

Hot, crispy and mouth-watering! The spicy flavour of these fresh homemade kachoris is unbeatable. Make it as an afternoon snack, for festivals or for treating guests – they are always received with delight.

You need:
For the filling-

Crispy Kachori
  1. Urad dal (white) – 150gm
  2. Cumin seeds (jeera) – 2tsp
  3. Turmeric (haldi) powder – 1 tsp
  4. Asafoetida (hing) powder – ½ tsp
  5. Coriander (dhania) powder – 2tsp
  6. Red chilli (mirch) powder – 1 ½ tsp (this could be more or less depending upon your taste buds)
  7. Garam masala powder – ½ tsp
  8. Salt as per taste
  9. Chopped coriander – ½ cup
  10. Oil – 6tbsp (for cooking the dal)

For the covering-
  1. Refined flour (maida) – 500gm
  2. Ghee – 6tbsp
  3. Salt as per taste
  4. Oil for frying the kachoris

Make it:
  • Wash and soak the urad dal in water for 2 hours.
  • Drain the dal and coarsely grind in batches.
  • Heat 6tbsp of oil in a wok or kadai.
  • Add the jeera, hing and haldi to the hot oil.
  • As soon as the jeera splutters add all the masala powders immediately followed by the ground dal. Take care to see that the powders do not burn in the oil.
  • Add the salt.
  • Stir at regular intervals because now the dal tends to stick to the vessel. It is a little tough over here but the taste pays off.
  • Keep stirring for about 15 mins till you feel that the dal is well cooked.
  • Add the chopped coriander and stir for another 5mins.
  • Allow to cool.

While the filling cools prepare the covering.
  • Mix salt and ghee to the maida and mix well. It should give a crumbled texture and when held in a hand the maida should form a loose ball.
  • Add enough warm water and kneed into a soft dough (not too soft). Cover and set aside.
  • Heat enough oil in a wok or kadai to deep fry kachoris.
  • Make small lemon sized balls of the dough. Give each ball a cup shape and fill it with the prepared filling. Seal the open side and form a ball. Here you can leave it as a ball or flatten it a bit.
  • Check to see if the oil is hot enough for deep frying. To do so you can drop a small piece of dough in to the oil.
  • Deep fry all kachoris on medium heat till golden brown on both sides.

Drain on absorbent paper and take in the freshly fried smell of homemade kachoris.
Finally dig your teeth into it and relish the taste. Have it with a cup of hot tea and spicy chutney.            

Multipurpose pouch

This is a small, cute, multipurpose and very easy to make pouch. Hardly takes time to give shape to it and before you know it you have a multipurpose DIY pouch ready for you. Use it as a mobile pouch and at the same time carry a little money as well as your keys, it all fits in pretty well.
This one here is black in color but would like to try out one with a little more splash of color.

Mobile pouch
Simple clutch

Multipurpose pouch
Tried out a similar pouch but this one is a case for my external hard disk. Have made two sections inside it to allow different spaces for the disk and the connecting cable.

The sad part is that my colours went the other way. Made a mistake while stitching and what should have been inside became the outer portion while the outer one went inside. Must say did not go as expected but its ok since my disk is going to be safe in it
Snugly external hard disk pouch

Two separate sections for the disk and the cable

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cake Balls

Cake balls or cake pops - whatever we call them their awesome taste does not change. Had heard of them and seen many recipes but never ever got the time or opportunity to try them. What gave me the opportunity was my anniversary cake that went wrong.
Chocolate cake balls
Yes, I kind of over cooked my marriage anniversary cake. No doubt the taste was good but the texture had a problem. It was a bit too dry. Being a fairly large cake I did not know how to finish it when the idea of trying out these cake balls occurred  and I am glad I tried them. They prove to be a perfect gift for any occasion. With only a little bit of effort simple cakes can be transformed into mouth watering, great looking delicacies.

Let us make them now.

You need:

  • One 10cm round chocolate cake or an equivalent size in any other shape
  • 3 Tbsp Ganache or chocolate frosting
  • Good quality dark cooking chocolate - not giving any specific amount here as there has to be enough to comfortably dip the balls completely. Once done there is bound to be left over chocolate which can be used for some other recipe.

Make it:
Break the cake into small pieces and crumble all of it. Some people prefer to whiz it in the mixer but it is perfectly fine if crumbled by hand. I have done it by hand.
Cake crumbs

With all lumps removed it is time to add the ganache or frosting, whichever one you are using. Mix very well to end up getting a cake dough. Something like this:
Chocolate dough

Now is the time to make the balls. Take small chunks of the dough and roll between palms to make small balls. The size is completely upon you as to what you prefer. Place the prepared balls on a parchment paper and leave in the fridge to cool a bit.
Cake balls without the chocolate coating

Once cool the balls are ready to be dipped in melted chocolate. One by one dip each ball in the melted chocolate and return to the parchment paper to solidify. When set you can decorate as desired. In this recipe  I have decorated with white chocolate piping poured from a piping bag.
Cake balls ready with decoration 

Similarly I have made cake pops by placing the balls on lolly sticks. The size is a bit smaller and there is an additional step of inserting the stick. This has to be done before the coating chocolate layer is applied. Follow the steps given here to make the pops.

  • Make holes with the lolly sticks in all the cake balls.
  • Dip each stick in melted chocolate and insert in the balls. 
  • Place upside down on a parchment paper and allow the sticks to get firm in the balls. You can keep them in the fridge for some time.
  • Once the sticks are firmly set dip each lolly one by one in the melted chocolate. Make sure to allow all the excess chocolate to drip off the balls.
  • When you see the chocolate setting on the ball with no more dripping fix each stick on a thermacol or styrofoam sheet and allow to dry. Decoration with white chocolate can be done after the balls have set. If using any kind of sprinkles do it when the chocolate is not completely set. It will stick better.

Cake pop bouquet

Friday, 16 November 2012

Felt Key Chain

Lolly Key Chain
Just finished with this super-easy and quick felt project.  This cute little felt key chain is a fun project that is very kids friendly with a little bit of help needed towards the end – the stitching part. I sure did enjoy making this key chain and have now got my car keys smartly hanging in it. The material required is also very simple and minimal making this felt activity all the more easier. The only thing that might require some searching is the key ring or hook. But if you have old key chains lying around they can be put to good use here. Besides, you will be a proud owner of a self-made key chain.  It hardly takes half an hour to complete it.

You need:
  • Felt pieces -  these can be small left over pieces that you may have   from other projects. Get creative and choose the colours you like.
  • A key ring or hook
  • Thread – colour depends upon the felt colour
  • Scissors
  • Needle

 Here I have shown pictures of the ‘Lolly Key Chain’.

Make it:
Draw the desired shape on the felt. For the Lolly here I took the base as orange and drew the entire shape with the lolly and lolly-stick on it. The purple felt is only for the lolly. (It would be a good idea to draw a template on a piece of paper and tracing that on to the felt.)
Cut along the drawn shape.
Insert the ring half-way through the base felt (orange).
Fold the felt in half to get the lolly shape.
Place both the purple lolly shapes on both sides of the orange felt.
Sew all along the purple felt using a running stitch. I have used the purple colour here since the lolly is purple in colour. You can also use a different colour to add a sparkle to it.
Your Lolly key chain is ready!
Similarly I have made the Car Key Chain using blue and yellow felt.

Car Key Chain and Lolly Key Chain

Oreo Lollies

This was an absolutely fun activity. The all-popular Oreo biscuits were transformed into cute looking lollies. Not only did I enjoy doing this but my son gave his inputs as well. In fact most of the faces on these lollies were designed by him. This is a holiday activity for kids and adults to be done together. You could also make these as delicious Christmas gifts.

My Army of Oreo Lollies
The ingredients and measurements are not perfect but broadly you would need:
Brilliant combination of white and brown

  • Oreo biscuits
  • Melted dark chocolate
  • Melted white compound (optional)
  • Lolly sticks
  • Styrofoam sheet

Make it:

  • Separate the sides of all Oreo biscuits with the cream on one side and the other side blank.
  • Drop a little bit of melted dark chocolate on the blank side. 
  • Pick the cream layer (complete circle) on the chocolate.
  • Press the lolly stick on to the cream.
  • Cover the cream and stick with a little more chocolate.
  • Place the other side of the biscuit on the chocolate and press firmly but not too firmly or else the biscuit will break. 
  • Place on a flat surface and allow to set. Repeat with all other biscuits.
  • It would be a good idea to place them in the fridge so that the biscuits become cold. This helps in the next step.
  • Once set and cold take a lolly and dip in the melted chocolate. Allow all the excess to drip. Once you are certain that no more will drip and the chocolate is setting fix the stick on the styrofoam sheet and allow the chocolate to set until firm.
  • If you wish you can do the decoration now with the white chocolate mix using a piping bag. 
With or without the decoration the taste is great. This is a great recipe for school fairs, festive gifts, birthday parties or to pep up a simple occasion. The great tasting Oreo goes to an all new level and the smile of the face of kids is unbeatable.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Whole Wheat Marble Muffin

With the given ingredients this recipe will yield six decent sized muffins which will surely leave you satiated for some time. The fact that they are whole wheat takes away the guilt of this sweet indulgence. Besides it is a healthy snack for the kids as well.

Whole wheat marble muffin

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup sunflower oil (canola oil can also be used)
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla essence


Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Sift the wheat flour and the baking powder together to ensure complete incorporation of the two ingredients. Set aside

Line six muffin cups with baking paper cups. Set aside.

In a large bowl add egg whites and sugar. Using an electric beater beat the mixture to get a smooth and frothy mix. It should start forming peaks and have lots of air bubbles trapped inside. This is an important step as it ensures the muffins being light and fluffy.

Add the oil to the beaten egg whites and sugar. Beat again for another five minutes by gradually increasing the speed of the beater. The oil should be well mixed.

Add vanilla essence and beat a little.

Add egg yolks one at a time, beating for half a minute in the intervals.

Fold in the flour in the mix in two batches. Make sure not to beat. What you need to do in fold it into the mixture to ensure no air bubbles escape. Beating the flour too much may result in a flat muffin.

Divide the batter into two bowls. In one bowl add the cocoa powder and mix well.

Now to prepare the marble muffins – pour one tbsp of the chocolate batter followed by one tbsp. of the vanilla. Last of all, top with half a tablespoon of the chocolate batter. Repeat with all muffin cups.

To create the marble effect, run a skewer in a circular motion through each muffin. Take care not to tear the paper cup at the base as it becomes way too soft by the batter.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. The muffins should rise and be springy to the touch. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.

Remove from muffin cups and enjoy!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Cute Little Phone Pouch

Phone pouch

This cute little thing should have been ready in a breeze but because of a few measurement mistakes it took me a whole lot of time trying to get it right. Anyways I was trying out this one for myself so as to get an idea about how to go about it. I have to make one for my husband and would like that to be near to perfect. The best way to do it was by trial and error. I guess there is no better way.

This one turned out fine for my personal use but I need to work on it a lot more to give it that professional look. But for now I am using this little one in which my Samsung Galaxy fits in pretty comfortably.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Whole Wheat Jam Sponge Cake

Whole Wheat Jam Sponge Cake

Whole Wheat Jam Sponge 


For the cake:
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
½ cup sunflower oil
1 tsp baking pd
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the jam filling:
3 tbsp mixed fruit jam
1 tsp lemon juice

  • Mix and flour and baking powder and pass through a sieve. Set aside.
  • Grease a 15cm round cake tin and set aside.
  • Set the oven to heat at 180 degree centigrade.
  • Beat the egg whites and sugar till light and frothy. Try to beat in as much air as possible. This is crucial to give the cake a puffed and well risen effect.
  • Add the oil and vanilla essence and beat again.
  • Add the egg yolks and beat for a minute.
  • Fold the flour into the egg/sugar/oil mixture. There is no need to beat the mixture at this stage. The flour has to be only folded into it. Make sure to do it moving the spoon or spatula only in one direction.
  • Pour the mixture into the greased tin. Tap it slightly on the countertop to release trapped air bubbles.
  • Put the tin in the oven and allow to bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The time may vary slightly. Check towards the end. If the top is brown and the cake springs back it is ready.
  • Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to cool for half an hour.

  • While the cake cools prepare the jam. Mix the jam and lemon juice and heat moderately. Once the jam starts melting stir and prepare a smooth jam spread. Make sure to remove all lumps. Allow to cool.

  • Slice the cooled cake into two horizontally. Do not cut the hot cake as it may break.
  • Using a spatula spread the prepared jam mix evenly across the bottom half of the cake. Top with the other half. If you wish to, you can dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar. To make it further flavorful add mix powdered sugar with cinnamon powder and dust the cake top.

  • Enjoy!

Friday, 7 September 2012

From the sewing machine

My latest hobby - 
stitching. And this is what I have created. It is fun and exciting to see something take shape before your eyes. Besides there is always a thrill in creating something all by yourself.
Got the instructions from a wonderful website that talks all about bags and pouches -

The next one has turned out to be even better - at least I think so.