Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Treat: Easy Chicken Pot Pie

I love pies... whether sweet or savory.
...piping hot with a crunchy buttery crust that just melts in your mouth.
Whether they are full of the seasonal fruits like apples (Apple Cobbler) or bananas (Banofee pie)
or filled with vegetables or chicken like I will be showing you today!
Its a fantastic one-dish meal or a part of a fantastic continental dinner that will wow your guests!
Now in my version, there is no readymade cream of chicken soup, or crescent roll or ready made rotrisse (pre cooked) chicken... (though you can use them if you like)
Its a Chicken Pot-Pie recipe where everything is made from scratch, with readily available stuff.

For the short crust pastry:
(everything should be cold, but NOT frozen and not at room temp.)
2 cups maida
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
pinch of nutmeg
100 gms/1 cup butter
2 spoons of water or milk to combine (mix well) do not kneed

Directions for the pastry:
1- Mix the dry ingr. given above and then mix in the cold butter, then add bit by bit of cold water to combine all the flour into a ball,(DON'T KNEED)
2- Keep the dough covered in a cling film in the fridge for a couple of hours.
3- Cut out a cling film or a parchment paper , (it should be bigger than the pie dish) and spread it on the counter-top.
Take the ball of dough out of the fridge, divide it into two balls. And lay one ball on the cling film... and roll it out like a chapati/tortilla- it should be slightly bigger than the pie dish.
Do the same with the other ball as well.
4- Lift one chapati/tortilla along with cling film base, and invert it over the greased pie dish. (the cling film helps in lifting the rolled out dough without breaking.)
5- Press it into the dish with fingers, all along the side edges as well. It should be slightly higher the the side because on cooking it tends to shrink.
6- Pierce the pie base with fork and blind-bake for 20 minutes at 160 C or till it becomes slightly brown. Keep aside.

The POT-PIE Filling:

Chicken breast- 400 gms (or two breasts) cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper.
2 cups of mixed veggies- peas+carrots+cauliflower+beans+capsicum (all 1/2 inch pieces-steamed)
1 onion cubed small
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp refined flour (maida)
1/2 cup cheese
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste

1- Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan, saute onion till translucent but not browned.
2- Add the chicken pieces and cook covered on low heat till cooked through (about 15 minutes)
3- Remove the chicken pieces and keep aside.
4- Keep the chicken drippings in the pan (the oil and juices of the chicken) and add the garlic. Saute till fragrant.
5- Add the maida and stir till light brown, then pour in the milk and chicken stock.
6- Keep cooking on low heat till it thickens slightly and starts coating the back of the spoon.
7- Now add the steamed vegetables, chicken, cheese and stir to combine.
8- Check the seasoning and add the salt and pepper as per your taste.

9- Pour this veggie+chicken sauce into the blind-baked  pie dish with the crust.
10- Now take the other short crust pastry the you rolled out on a cling film, and invert it over the chicken filling..... pinching the edges like shown in the picture below with your fingers or with a fork. Also cut little vents on the top to let the steam escape when baking.

11- Whip up an egg white and give the top of the pie a wash with it.
12- Bake at 200C for 20 minutes or till golden brown on the top.
13- Enjoy it piping hot, straight from the oven! 

This is such a scrumptious single dish dinner that you don't even need a side dish accompaniment!

P.S.  You can even make it a vegetarian Pot-Pie by omitting chicken (and adding more veggies instead or even some cottage cheese- paneer cubes) and instead of using chicken stock, you can use vegetable stock or even plain water.

here is a version that you can pin on Pinterest. :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to throw a Fantastic Monster themed Birthday Party!

Another fun-filled Birthday idea for you all...
This time my little one insisted on having a Monster themed Birthday party, and as we hadn't had a Halloween party last October, I jumped at the chance of playing monsters and vampires and witches... I had a ball doing up the place with cute little Monster goodies and decorations and fun games and eats!
I scoured the net for all kinds of ideas... and I will be putting up all those ideas for you... even some that I had no time for!
So you can throw yourself a fantabulous, roaring monster Party with just a little effort and lots of help from Google Uncle and Pinterest Aunty!

So, to throw a party for little monsters, the theme has to be cute... and you should have yourself a few party props (you can make some), a nice costume (my little one was a Vampire while the older one didnt want to make too much of an effort- just painted his face into Frankentstien green...)
some handy scissors and glue and poster paints, some face paint and voila... you are party ready!

Here is one of the easiest ways to make a three-eyed monster card that the kiddos will love!

1- Take colorful cardstock papers or old chart papers and fold them over, making one side a little bigger than the other.
2- Then cut out loads of googly eyes out of white paper... now I don't like to waste anything, so I used the plain side of old printouts for the eyes and pasted them...they worked just as well. Just added the black dots on the circles.
3- Cut out jagged teeth like shown and paste them on the underside of the smaller side of the fold.
You have the card ready...
I just pasted the invite on the inside of the card.

So the card was given out and done with...

Next we move onto the return gifts and I used the same kinda paper googly eyes and pasted them on small giftbags of neon colored paper... the brighter, the better!
In fact I would suggest that you make as many different sized googly monster eyes as you can and paste them every where... whether balloons or on yr table decor or even on your game decor...
Like this monster I created with a carton covered with neon glaze paper... cut- out the huge gaping mouth and pasted googly eyes on top with sharp teeth around the mouth... this was used as a prop for the game of "Aiming to throw the ball inside"...

here the kiddos are trying very hard to get at least one ball in!!

Googly monster eyes are everywhere... on balloons


and lamps...

or maybe Bubble wands gifts made with those plastic googly eyes and a marker!


and small monster tins to hold the cutlery


or monster tissue boxes to hold the plastic spoons and forks.


the decor can have an monster backdrop like shown here with a colorful sheet, white bunting as teeth and disposable plates as eyes... very creative!

or if its goes dark.. one can have these mummy lights, and ghostly pumpkin lamps to light up the night.

We played pinning the evil eye on the one-eyed monster...

or  monster cans bowling?

-or even playing passing the parcel with a some soft toy monster maybe?

-or a spoon race with a "Monster Eye" would be a big hit with the kids?

You can even give away Monster Making kit...


or a Monster Coloring kit....



I also had a lot of fun making the photo booth accessories... the more cutely monsterish they were the more fun the kids had... from three-eyes to the vampire teeth to the bloodshot single eye.

And then we moved onto the snacks and eatables... the highlight of any children's party...
one can have monster burgers, with tomato sauce blood dripping!

Or a fruit vomiting zombie?

or monster googly-eyed colorful cupcakes (the white chocolate googly eyes I had made the night before).... forgot to take pictures in proper light, hence the photo is a little grainy!

and they were soooooo many chocolate googly eyes that I used half of them for my monster cake as well!

And the to end the party with a big BANG.... have a monster pinata filled with monster cookies and candies and chocolates!


If interested in throwing a full fledged Halloween Party, a complete fun post along with FREE printables is here

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Gyan: Tips for Work At Home Moms!

So, to be really interested in this article, you should be belonging to any one of these categories given below….
You are highly qualified and had a fantastic job, but you had to give it up because:
A-    You got married and shifted to a small town with little or no job opportunities.
B-    You had to give up a hard-earned career because you decided to start a family, and now that the little one is going to school, you have a few hours to spare.
C-    You  fell in love and gave up your job, as you thought lets give domestication a chance, but now being “just a housewife” tag doesn’t seem to suit you.
D-   You decided to marry a nomad in combat boots, or in other words you have married an Army man, and teaching is not your forte, so you are looking for other avenues while you follow your man around the countryside.
E-    Your kiddos have grown up and don’t need you any more, but now its too late to start the corporate climb all over again, because lets face it, you’ve been out of the rat-race for far too long.

OR you don’t have such big degrees (like an MBA, Phd or Software Engineering) under your belt, but maybe you write well? Or have a great hand for drawing and painting? Or you know 2-3 international languages and would love to explore options like a translator? Or you have a hidden talent for crafts , DIY and want to start selling/ telling people about it? Or you have a penchant for selling things, and want to set up a shop online?
Whatever be your background, point is, now you want to take your life into your own hands and start working… but from home.
So that  you are home when you little ones come back from school, you are around when your maid comes knocking, and admit it, you like your quiet morning cuppa tea without the rush of going to office!
Working from home has its advantages:
1-    You can work at your own pace, and time schedule.
2-    You are your own boss! You can close shop whenever you want without taking anyone’s permissions and saving up for leave. (by far the best part)
3-    You can work till late at night, or early in the mornings… whatever suits your mojo.
4-    You can work in your pjs and no one is going to comment.
5-    You can listen to loud music, dance along with whatever office/creative work that you are doing, take a longish tea break while you watch the rerun of last night’s Blacklist that you missed. Who is going to ask?
6-    You can enjoy the “mommee I am home” moment when your kids come rushing from school, feed them, put them down for the afternoon nap and be back at your desk. Because that’s basically why you gave up your job isnt’t it? To relish these moments before they are gone forever.

But how to get the MOST out of the few hours that you want to work?
Because its very easy to slip into the break moment when no one is watching you… when the TV time or Facebook scrolling time goes on from half an hour to two hours maybe? And before you know it, the kids are home, the husband’s  home and the day is gone…. (believe me, I’ve been there)
And you realise that you have done next to nothing, the whole day!
So to buckle up and get cracking, and manage to get some work done along with all the distractions… here are a few tips.
1-    Stick to a schedule: Maybe make a timetable and also chalk in the times when you want to take a break, go to the gymn, make lunch and even half an hour of Facebook time! Stick to the work time that suits you best- my best output is in the mornings, because evenings with the kids and husband home… homework is to be done, quality time with your spouse and maybe going out… all have to be factored in.
2-    Get ready in the mornings as though you are going to work. Believe me it works, because no matter how much you value the freedom of working in your PJs, if you are dressed to work, you will work!!
Maybe even put on a dash of lipstick-what say?
3-    Zone out all the distractions… whether they are chitchatting with your neighbours, prolonging your breakfast/tea break, watching your favourite soaps, or constantly checking your Facebook and emails- even professional ones…. Maybe set your email checking/replying time to mid-day when your work output is slowing down.
Or like me- I even shut the internet down for a few hours so I can work.
4-    Let people know: that this is the time that you will be working, so that there are no distractions of family calls or commitments. Its easier said than done, because to convince people that you are home BUT you are working-is difficult….but one can try. So that you manage at least 2-3 hours of uninterrupted work.
5-    Take short breaks after every two hours to stretch your legs, or to do neck exercises. But don’t extend them!
6-    Don’t become complacent …. It’s a BIG huge online world out there… There are thousands of people who are better then you are… so why cant you be like them, or even better… research, research on who is doing what… and how? Push the boundaries! Give yourself challenges, esp. public ones so that you know there are people out there who will wait for your next move, whether its your latest designer item or a daily drawing (like me) and that will make you work harder!!
Because believe me its easy to get stuck in a rut if there is no accountability… esp. more so when you are working from home and you are your own boss. There is no one to crack the whip… you have to do it yourself!
7-    Have a website or a blog… from a free domain to start with, so that there is a web-domain that is completely yours, where you can post your art or your writings or anything crafty that you do… its your corner and you can do whatever you want on it… and also, it will be a web address that you can direct you potential clients/ followers to. With time you can work on it and make it better and bigger as you grow.
8-    Network and I don’t mean go out and meet people… you might not have the time for that. But network socially, on the internet… Join groups of like minded people, maybe on Facebook or any other internet platform. Join bloggers, artists, designers, writers forums…
If you are a writer- join a few writer’s groups, if you are an illustrator/Artist- join an Artist group.
They keep having those weekly competitions and topics that you can write/draw on… it will build up a group of supportive friends who can do critique of your work, or offer suggestions..
Because working from home can get quite lonely.
And it will also help you in building up a proper portfolio with a little push in the right direction.
So now that you have all the tips (up my kitty) on how to start working from home or maybe you already are, but you are not being able to give your best… I hope these tips help you get streamlined and motivate you to put your best foot forward and become successful, while working from home!
Which will not happen overnight, but slowly and steadily with a lot of hard work and a tiny bit of discipline.
         And if you want more wisdom and gyan on HOW to start working online, (my next post) or tips on how to draw and illustrate and even how to cook yummy innovative food in easy steps… do subscribe to my posts, so that they come straight to your inbox.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Desktop Calendar: April 2016... Not my Zoo!

Here is something that I had made for my "Monday-Moment with my boys", but unfortunately no internet the whole of yesterday.
and then I realised that uh oh!! Its already the 5th and the calendar is nowhere in sight!
Hence this month's calendar for you all... celebrate my Monday moment with the boys...
a thought that I am sure crosses most mommies' minds, who have boys that think the world is thier destructive playground... and you want to zone yourself out...

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Fun Drink: Miami Beach- an easy Mocktail

Its getting warmer and warmer every day... and its just the first day of April!
I am seriously dreading the onslaught of a reaally HOT summer in the days to come.
And believe me, the sun is relentless here in the deserts.
Oh well, as we cant really run away from where we are living for the moment, we try to make our lives easier in other ways.
So we have already moved onto cold coffees, shakes and smoothies, iced tea and lemonade...
And of course this really pretty drink when you want to throw a party and WOW the guests!
This was a showstopper in our Sea-Themed Party that we had last year and I had promised to put up the drink recipe on my blog ASAP.
well here it is.

Now this is the recipe for just one glass, so its easier to understand.
1 tall glass
1/2 a cup pine apple juice
1 cup (appr.) lemon flavored fizzy drink-Sprite and Limca
a dash of Blue Caracao
Lots of ice
a sprig of mint, a curl of lemon peel, or a slice of fresh pineapple for garnishing

1- Fill the tall glass with ice
2- Pour the pineapple juice
3- Pour in the lemon drink so it fills the glass.
4- Add a dash of (approx 1 tbsp) of Blue Caracao
and let the Blue Caracao float all the way to the bottom, leaving a beautiful gradient behind.
5- Dont stir it, just garnish with fruits, or lemon peel, slice of lemon and mint and serve at once.

Now for links to more pretty+healthy drinks on my blog do visit this page: (Foodie)
or go to these links:

Fresh Watermelon Lemonade

Zesty Virgin Mojito

Cucumber Lemon Cooler

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