Healthy Start – Granola Mix

More than 6 months ago, I bought Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals Cookbook and despite the fact that the meals should only take 15 minutes to prepare, they are Jamie Oliver (JO) minutes and at the moment, Amy minutes = 10 x JO minutes or there abouts haha.

Anyhow, enter annual leave and it doesn’t matter how long a task takes so I thought I’d give his homemade granola a go after falling in love with the granola at Henry and the Fox (go try it – divine!).

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Fast, Fresh, Simple: Apple & Blueberry Cake

Long weekends are such a blessing.  No need to rush around.   Time to share with friends and time to bake :).

I was planning to bake a cake to bring to a gathering with the old high school crew but by the time I had it in the oven, it was already time to go :(.  No huge issues though when you have some Honey Joys ready to go haha ;).

Anyhow, I left some instructions for my dear mother and when I returned home, the cake had come out beautifully :). Great team effort!

IMG_7165

Apple & Blueberry Cake

adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple 

(underlined parts are the changes – not many really)

Serve 8-10

IMG_7159

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Yummy Frozen Blueberry Smoothie

About a month ago, one of the lovely ladies from church helped stock up our fridge and freezer with goods so that my mum wouldn’t have to do as much grocery shopping while my dad was overseas.  How kind :).  However, a few days ago, we had a dilemma.

There wasn’t enough room in the freezer! #firstworldproblems

One of the things she had bought for us was a 1 kg pack of blueberries that we hadn’t really had a chance to open up yet so while the blueberries were thawing in the fridge below, I posted up a question on Facebook where I was given a number of suggestions as to what to do with them:

blueberries_fb

As the title of this posts suggests, I made myself a blueberry smoothie! :)

Very simple and a great energy booster after a long day at work!

Frozen Blueberry Smoothie

adapted from Taste.com.au

Serve = 1 glass

IMG_6440-2

Continue reading “Yummy Frozen Blueberry Smoothie”

NYE reflections and final recipe of 2012!

Is it just me or has the end of 2012 caught anyone else by surprise?

I guess this feeling must be due to the year being really jam-packed all the way up until the very end.  So much so, that I feel like I need a few days to just ease into 2013 because I haven’t fully recovered from the flurry of activity that I jumped into straight after exams haha.

Having said that, it’s always good to sit back and reflect on just how much was achieved in these last 12 months.  The ones that come to mind (and I’m sure you’d be familiar with them if you’ve been reading this blog recently so please bear with me):

…and that’s only off the top of my head :P

the kids creativity over the Christmas weekend :)
the kids creativity over the Christmas weekend :)

It has been a massive year and I’ve been supremely blessed to share it with some amazing people.  At least on the foodie blog circuit, it’s been great to graduate from “comment-buddies” to “real-life-friends” with a few folks like Winston, Vien, Daisy and Sophie ;).

As to resolutions, I know one will be to cook more often and bring lunch to work at least 3 out of 5 days (hopefully).  I think I’ve definitely been in the kitchen a lot more this year and here are my top three favourites that have made it onto the blog:

So on that note, I’d like to share one final recipe before the year is out.  It’s one I think I’ll be cooking a few more times in 2013 because it’s so simple, delicious and a crowd-pleaser!

Chicken with haloumi and honey

adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast Fresh and Simple

Serves 2 (I made this for 3 so just I just added an extra half of these measurements)

IMG_5753

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed
  • 150 g haloumi, cut into thick eatable slices
  • 1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
  • 6 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • rocket, cherry tomatoes and walnut salad, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Place the chicken haloumi, zest and lemon thyme in a ceramic baking dish.
  2. Combine the oil and honey and pour over.
  3. Bake for 18-20 mins or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve with rocket, cherry tomatoes and walnut salad.

Enjoy!

IMG_5759

Kitchen notes:

  • Next time, I’d probably make sure that the chicken breast fillets were all the same size so that cooked more evenly – had to put a few slices in the microwave to just make sure it was cooked completely!
  • DH suggested a fig and rocket salad but I could not find fresh figs and any at all the stores I went to so substituted cherry tomatoes instead – still very good!

That’s a wrap, folks!  I’m still toying with the idea of taking a break from blogging in January – there’s just a lot of things to do to get real-life in order at the moment.  While not posting for a while, I’ll try to build up some new content ready to go when I do come around these parts again.  For now, take care and HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE!!

Random Question: What are your new year’s resolutions for 2013?

♥ Ames

Getting into the Christmas spirit with Gingerbread!

Hi guys! As you all know (or would have worked out by now), I’ve been overseas for the last two weeks. I got back last Weds morning but real life doesn’t wait for anyone so its been a bit hectic the last few days with graduations, a Christmas service, my end of year piano students’ concert, Christmas carolling, life group reunion, wedding rehearsals, baptisms… December is definitely a busy month this year!

Anyway, that was just a more-info-than-necessary way of letting you know why I haven’t been fully present on the blogging circuit yet…until now!

I would love to share some reflections of my first solo overseas trip but it’s hard to know where to begin!

One of the things I loved about my trip was how at ‘home’ I felt at the different churches/life groups I attended while I was away. Even though I was only meeting some people for the first time or it was the first time that we’d ever spent any extended period of time together, there is an instant feeling of ease when being amongst people of the same faith.  I guess that’s why they call it the family of God :).

With Angel's friends :)
With Angel’s friends :)
With YI friends :)
With YI friends :)

I guess it’s like the feeling you have when you meet a food blogger in person for the first time. You are a bit apprehensive because you have never met them before but soon you realise that because the love of food is something share in common, it’s like you’ve known them forever :P

Anyhow, at one of the gatherings I was invited to in Singapore, the ‘mission’ at the end of the night was to learn how to make gingerbread!  Though I didn’t get to eat any of it in the end (I left mine in the fridge before I left *sadface*), I was inspired to make some as a Christmas gift for my students to distribute at our end of year concert.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finished them in time :(.  All’s well that ends well though as one set of siblings (with help from their mum of course) gave me a gingerbread house so I’m glad I didn’t end up giving them my first attempt at making gingerbread!

Gingerbread recipe

(adapted from an old Women’s Weekly recipe book according to Jono)

IMG_5394

Ingredients

  • 100g butter, roughly cut into cubes (leave at room temperature)
  • 100g sugar
  • 200g molasses or golden syrup (I used molasses – see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarb soda
  • 1 egg
  • 500g+ plain flour, sifted
  • smarties and other sweet stuff for decorating

Note: I decided to use molasses because I’d never used it before.  For those uninformed like yours truly until I had the product in my hands, molasses is the sugar extracted from sugarcane.  It is actually a lot darker and has a bit of a bitter aftertaste (IMO) and hence my gingerbread turned out with similar qualities.  I’m going to use golden syrup next time!

Method

  1. Place chopped butter cubes into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, bring sugar, molasses/golden syrup and spices to boil.
  3. Mix in the bicarb soda and let it froth a bit before pouring it over the butter in the mixing bowl.  Stir until butter is melted.
  4. Beat in the egg and slowly mix in the flour (may need more than 500g; just add more flour until the dough isn’t sticky anymore – may be quite stiff by the end).
  5. Sprinkle a chopping board or bench top with flour and then begin to roll out the dough (I separated the dough into manageable portions for this step).
  6. Use cookie cutters to cut out different shapes and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Bake at 170 degrees for 10-15 mins (watch it because your 2nd batch will probably cook faster than your first…
  8. Cool on wire rack and then decorate!
these spices definitely smell like Christmas!
these spices definitely smell like Christmas!
chemical reaction!
chemical reaction!
should probably add more flour...
should probably add more flour…
ta-da! (2nd batch as the first one was burnt lol)
ta-da! (2nd batch as the first one was burnt lol)
make sure you leave enough space in between the shapes or this will happen...
make sure you leave enough space in between the shapes or this will happen…
12 little Christmas trees...
12 little Christmas trees…
:))
:))
Decorating time! I used the royal icing recipe from Taste.com.au (click on photo; I used less 1 cup of icing sugar instead) with some assistance from Jono
Decorating time! I used the royal icing recipe from Taste.com.au (click on photo; I used 1 cup of icing sugar instead) with some assistance from Jono
I think I got a bit carried away hehe
I think I got a bit carried away hehe
This batch made 16 gingerbread 16 stars, 26 Christmas trees, 6 candy canes and 5 angels + a burnt batch.
This batch made 16 gingerbread stars, 26 Christmas trees, 6 candy canes., 5 angels + a burnt batch.

I brought these along to church yesterday and they were a big hit with the kiddies hehe I think it was the icing ;).

I’m going to attempt them again this weekend with golden syrup and hopefully will get an even better result :D.  Hope you give it a go this Christmas!

Thanks Jono for sharing the recipe and all the YI friends for giving me the opportunity to join you that night of gingerbread baking :).

Have a lovely week everyone!

♥ Ames

Question: What food (savoury or sweet) get you into the Christmas spirit?

Guest Post #1: Banana and Muesli Loaf

My bags are packed, the camera is charged, passport is safely tucked away, I’m up to date with all my photo uploads… all my affairs are in order so now, it’s time to finally get started with these guest posts! :D

First up, I’d like to introduce you to the lovely Sophie Wang of Edible Posts!

It’s a bit of a funny story of how I met Sophie in person for the first time.  It was after 5pm on a Friday night (or maybe it was a Wednesday…?) and I was taking the lift down from my placement when I felt a pair of eyes peer at me curiously.  I gave the person a sideway glance and honestly couldn’t recognise her so I looked away and then willed the lift to hurry and get to the ground floor so that I could be released from her stare…

However, when the doors opened and I began to walk away with a sigh of relief, I heard a voice say, “Amy!”  There was no escape! (lol, I know this is probably more dramatised than reality but go along with me, ok?)

I turned around and gave her a sheepish grin… she introduced herself, saying that we had a mutual friend in MostStrange and said she recognised me from my Facebook profile photo that had come up on comments etc.  The world is too small!  I’d been working in the same building as her for the past year and had never bumped into her… anyway, since then we’ve had a proper lunch date and exchanged food and it’s been grand :).  Enough talk from me, over to Sophie!

**************************************

Hi all! It’s Sophie here, usually blogging away on EdiblePosts.com about restaurants, recipes and food in general, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to contribute to A Melbourne Girl at Heart!

This is my first time doing a guest post, and I’m excited to be sharing this slightly-odd creation with you all, thanks to the delightful Amy. She’s always so happy and it’s hard to read her blog without a smile on your face. (Nawwww, thanks dear!)  I want to carry along that message, so here’s my attempt at a make-you-happy post. Her brief was ‘something food related’, so seeing as I spend what seems like half my time eating/reading/dreaming about food, then surely I could come up with something.

A spur-of-the-moment urge to bake with only limited resources available, led me to this cake-bread hybrid which I’ll just call a loaf as a compromise. The recipe is simple and fast and easily adaptable. There’s a random assortment of ingredients in here based on what I found ransacking the pantry (Michael decided to pitch in too) but as long as the proportion of wet-and-dry ingredients are right, you could pretty much substitute in anything you want. It’s pretty healthy if you follow my recipe, but be warned that this isn’t a sweet cake. Of course, you can add more sugar (or even fruit) to make it sweeter, but I liked it just the way it was.

Essentially what you need for a loaf are 2 bananas, 2 cups of dry ingredients, 1 cup of liquid, one egg, a little bit of oil and then flavours and the usual leavening agents. Then it’s just as simple as mixing together the dry ingredients, mixing together the wet ingredients, then mixing the dry and wet mixtures together and adding whatever extras you feel like.

Loaf Batter

55-60 minutes in the oven at 160°C works its magic, and you’re left with a beautiful, healthy, happiness-inducing loaf that’s perfect with some jam spread over the top.

Banana and Muesli Loaf

Banana and Muesli Loaf

Makes 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup muesli
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup goji berries

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line an 8×4-inch loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Whisk together muesli, coconut, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and sugar, then add in milk, oil and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Stir in mashed bananas and goji berries.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
  6. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Voila!

Thanks for sharing such a lovely and healthy recipe, Soph!  I love anything with banana so I’ll love to give this a go once I’m back in the kitchen :).  Please check out Edible Posts for more delicious recipes, lots of interesting product and restaurant reviews and give Soph some blog love ^^.

Stay tuned for the next guest post coming out next week!  In the meantime, next up is a photography post :).

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

♥ Ames

P.S. I won’t have ready access to a laptop in the next two weeks so I do apologies if I’m less active than I would prefer coming back from a hiatus!  *mwah*

RMFFA: Kookaberry Syrups on 10-Minute Pancakes + GIVEAWAY!

During the primary/secondary school term, Saturday mornings are a bit of a rush for me because my first piano student comes at 9:30am.  Generally, I throw back an Up-and-Go to last me until 12pm but last week, I was feeling a tad ambitious :P.  There was probably about 20 mins before the first lesson was to begin but I thought I would challenge myself to make pancakes from scratch in 10 minutes!  Why?

I needed a reason to open up another two products from the RMFFA package :D.

Sweet Preserves

Kookaberry – Victoria (Kookaberry Raspberry and Boysenberry Syrup)

Category: SYRUPS AND CORDIALS – Bronze prize

The Kookaberry Strawberry Farm is a family run business, having grown gorgeous berries for 33 years including Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Boysenberries & Logonberries :D.  I’m a bit of a berry-kind of girl so they definitely have my interest, especially since Kookaberry products are 100% Australian grown and made with no preservatives, additives or artificial colours *big thumbs up*.

So how did these fare on the 10-minute pancakes?

Boysenberry (top) and Raspberry (bottom) syrup

What I loved about these syrups were that they weren’t sickly sweet which is always my slight aversion towards syrups in general.  I think the only thing that would have made them better was if I had a scope of ice-cream to go with it :D.

My favourite of the two just came down to a personal preference of boysenberry over raspberry.  Boysenberry used to be my favourite ice-cream flavour when I was growing up (I’ve since branched out to mint, coffee and pandan lol) so the taste brought back fond memories :).

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the 10-minute pancakes that I learnt from my friend, R :).

10-minute Pancakes

As I was on the clock, no photos were taken of the process… but enjoy the photos of the end product :D.

Makes 12 medium-sized pancakes (see below for reference)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml of milk
  • oil (I used rice bran oil)
Method
  1. Combine sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the middle of the mixture.
  2.  Crack the two eggs into the well, pour in the milk and mix well with a spoon/spatula (good workout for the arm).
  3. Place a medium frying pan on medium heat, lightly coat the pan with oil.
  4. Pour out enough pancake batter to cover the pan and watch for bubbles to rise before flipping.
  5. Top pancakes with whatever you’d like :D.
Look how fluffy those pancakes are! Delish :D

I didn’t get beyond putting together the pancake batter before my first student arrived but after the teaching block was over, I made myself a peanut butter and banana pancake sandwich topped with raspberry syrup…. amazing!

Another photo coz I can ;).

You can find out where these syrups and other Kookaberry products are sold via the Kookaberry website or head down and pick them up at the Royal Melbourne Show starting tomorrow!

Ames tried these products courtesy of the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards and WrightsPR.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

As part of the Royal Melbourne Show, there will be a new Tastes of Victoria Pavilion, celebrating all things fresh, local, seasonal and delicious!  This is the destination for speciality produce :D.  The Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli will also be located there where visitors can sample and purchase award-winning roasted espresso coffee, wine, cured meats, relishes, preserves and cheeses!

Are you excited? If not continue reading…

Find yourself starstruck at the main stage with a chance to meet a range of Australia’s best chefs and TV personalities. Visit the Tastes of Victoria Stage to see half-hour cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs and industry professionals. This year, we are thrilled to announce Guy Grossi in our stage line up along with some favourite’s from Masterchef, including Chris Badenoch, Dani Venn and from the latest series Alice Zaslavsky.

Also on Stage will be some of Victoria’s hottest chefs; Matt Wilkinson from Pope Joan, Nicky Riemer from Union Dining, Jerry Mai from Dandelion, Scott Eddington from Mamasita, Travis McAuley from Hellenic Republic and Michael Patrick from San Telmo.

– see more info here

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the preview event but the guys at WrightsPR were kind enough to provide me with a double pass to go visit another time… and you know what?  You, dear readers get a chance to win a double pass as well!

So, how do you score yourself two tickets to check out the Tastes of Victoria Pavilion and other food offerings??

Simply follow yours truly on Twitter or Facebook (if you haven’t already) and answer the question below:

What topping or filling do you like to have with your pancakes?

You can leave a different answer to this question as many times throughout the competition to increase your chances of winning but max once per day.
  • Competition ends: 8pm, 24th September (Mon) – NOW CLOSED
  • Open to Australian residents only (well, Victorians really unless you are willing to fly in for the Melbourne Show!).
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified by email and on this post!
Best wishes for the giveaway!  If you don’t want to enter the giveaway but want to leave a comment, that’s ok too (just say so in the comment hehe).
Have a fantastic weekend!  Maybe you can try these 10-minute pancakes sometime ^^

♥ Ames

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway is…… SOPHIE of Edible Posts!! :D

Will email you to get your postal details to send the tickets to you :).  Thanks for entering everyone!

Momofuku Compost Cookies feat. Snickers 3 Nuts!

Last winter I got the opportunity to spend a few weeks in a law firm learning about a whole new area of law and experiencing what life’s like as a lawyer.  I had a great time, mainly due to the team that I was placed with.  Just a lovely bunch of people :).  So when my supervisor casually mentioned that the last person who had been in their group had baked them some muffins before he rotated through to another team, I took that as an open invitation to try to bake and bring in some Momofuku Compost Cookies in my last week with the workgroup! :D

Even though they have been around for a while, the first time I ever heard of Momofuku Compost Cookies was via Vien’s blog and after that, I’d been itching to give them a go!

Cookie Tower, anyone? ;)

The main and fun decision to make when it comes to these cookies is your choice of salty and sweet goodies to throw into the mix!  After checking to see if anyone on the team had any allergies, I decided to use these ingredients for my first attempt:

also had some white choc chips in the fridge that I added…

I wanted something a bit crunchy so when I saw the new range of Snickers bars that had peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts, I had to pick them!  Measurement-wise, I counted them as half sweet, half salty (hope that makes sense…).

I had fun chopping them up!

Note: I doubled the traditional amount because I was optimistic that they would turn out so well that I would could bring a batch on the weekend to church as well hehe!  Thankfully they were well-received :).

OK, enough talk!  On with the recipe!

Momofuku Compost Cookies

(adapted from We Dare Food)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup & 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of your sweet goodies (chocolate, caramel and white chips)
  • 1 cup of your salty goodies (pretzels & potato chips)
  • 1 cup of chopped Snickers 3 Nuts bars (1/2 sweet, 1/2 salty)

Method

  1. Cream the butter, both sugars and honey with an electric mixer on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and run mixer for 10 full minutes. During this time the sugar granules will dissolve, the mixture will become lighter in colour and mixture will double in size.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. By hand or using lowest speed of mixer, stir in the flour mixture – don’t beat it in or the cookies won’t be as tender. Stir in sweet and salty things.
  5. Once well combined, wrap a the cookie dough into a number of logs (see photos below).  Chill for a few hours or until ready to bake.       ***DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.
  6. Heat the oven to 180C. Roll chilled cookie dough into small balls and place on a baking paper lined baking tray.  Make sure that there is a fair amount of space between each ball (see below).
  7. Bake 10-14 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will spread- a lot! (All ovens are different so watch the cookies, specifically the edges).
  8. Cool the cookies completely on the baking tray before transferring.
Step 1
Step 2
Step 4a
Step 4b – so cool right? :)
Step 5 – doesn’t really matter what size you roll the logs into…
Step 6 – make sure there is enough space…

This was probably the main difference from other Momofuku recipes… usually people scoop them with an ice-cream scooper and then place it in the fridge.  We didn’t have any room so I just placed them in as logs and then rolled them into balls after they had chilled for a few hours.

Voila! :D

The cookies were definitely a hit, both at the workplace and at church with many people asking for the recipe :D.  They came out just the way I like my cookies – a little bit crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside :).

Enjoy!

Have a productive week everyone!  I better hit the books :D.

Random Question: If you were going to bake Compost Cookies, what salty or sweet goodies would you use?

♥ Ames

Fast, Fresh, Simple: Baked Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

Donna Hay is a lady after my own heart.  I knew she was a cook and people loved her, but I was not wooed until I watched an episode of her television series, “Fast, Fresh, Simple”.

Credits: Boutique Hotel Management

Those three words pretty much sums up my cooking philosophy.  Something that’s quick, made with fresh ingredients and is as easy as can be!  As much as I loved watching MasterChef this season, there were things there that I knew I would not have the patience or time to ever try – I’d rather pay for someone else to do it! :P  However, Donna Hay’s approach to food in her television series really resonated with me, so when Book Depository had one of their sales a while back, I just had to purchase her book of the same title:

Instagrammed on the happy day that it arrived of course ;)

Sadly, I haven’t had as much time to cook from it yet but as I was home a lot more this week due to the sprained ankle (thanks for all the well-wishes btw ^^), I made an executive decision that we’d be making a dish that we’ve had on a number of occasions, even prior to purchasing the book!  It is seriously simple and sooo delicious that I had it again for lunch AND dinner the day after :D.

This will be the first of what I hope to be a series of posts as I cook through my favourites from this cook book (hence the FFS label lol).

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

from Donna Hay’s ‘fast, fresh, simple.’ 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 800g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1.25 litres (5 cups) of chicken stock
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 30g butter
  • 40g finely grated parmesan
  • extra finely grated parmesan and fried sage leaves, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. Heat a large ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the sage and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice, pumpkin and stock and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bake for 30 minutes. The risotto will be quite liquid.
  4. Stir through the salt, pepper, butter and parmesan and stir for 2 minutes until the risotto thickens slightly.
  5. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and fried sage leaves to serve.
Step 3 (before oven bake)
Step 3 (post over bake)
Step 5
Risotto was served with chicken fillets marinated overnight with salt, pepper, sugar and garlic :)

Kitchen notes: 

  • My mum being my mum insisted that we wash the arborio rice before using it which resulted in there being too much liquid… I think that may have been why the pumpkin pieces didn’t keep their shape and the risotto turned out more orange-y than expected. ANYHOW, in future, if I was to wash the arborio rice, I’d use one less cup of chicken stock.
  • We fried the sage leaves used for garnish after the risotto went into the oven :).
  • The first few times I made it, we couldn’t find sage in the grocery store so I used thyme instead – different flavour of course but still pretty good!

So there you have it!  Simple, right?  Perfect for the last of these wintery cold Melbourne nights :).

Have a great weekend everyone ^^

Random Question: If you had to describe your cooking/food philosophy in three words, what would they be?

♥ Ames

Easy Peasy Shepherd’s Pie

Whoa.

What a full week!  First week back at uni and it feels like I’ve been back for ages lol  It is definitely going to be a jam-packed semester with two placement based subjects and after one seminar on Family Law, it’s clear that the 100% exam will not be a walk in the park (though law exams never are).  That means that blogging will once again have to take a backseat to RL.  *sigh* Cooking will sadly have to as well but I did do a fair bit of it over the break having been inspired by MasterChef (#TEAMANDY!).  It was the first time that I’d followed the series as closely as I did – possibly due to exam procrastination ahem.

we need lots of garlic for this recipe…

Anyhow, there are a number of dishes I cooked (and documented) however, I’ve decided to skip ahead to something I made earlier this week for my Student Alpha group.  Why skip ahead instead of going in chronological order of making the dishes?  I thought you’d never ask ;).

lots of onions… and tears.

1. It’s a recipe connected with fond memories from my childhood as it was one of the first recipes that I properly learnt from one of friend’s mother back in primary school.

Three key ingredients…

2. I spontaneously made an Instagram game out of the cooking process (Guess what’s cooking? – start here).  Congrats to Lianne from Food Made With Love for guessing correctly :D.

butter and lots of it for browning the onion and garlic…

3. It is always so well received whenever we cook it for potluck at church or bring it to dinner parties.

lots of colour :)

4. Though it seems like there are a lot of steps, it’s really easy-peasy.

Need I give you anymore reasons?

Ready to give it a try?

Easy-Peasy Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4

all photos taken on phone (Samsung Galaxy SII)

Ingredients:

  • ½ kg of mince beef
  • 3-5 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2-4 clovers of garlic, finely chopped
  • A bag of frozen corn, peas and carrots
  • Butter
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tomato sauce (for colour and to taste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Flour
  • ½ kg of potatoes, cut into quarters

Method:

  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan or pot.  Let the butter melt and when the saucepan is hot, add the onions.  When onions are soft and tender, add the garlic.
  2. When the garlic and onions have become a golden brown colour, add the mince meat.  Stir around until the combination is mixed through and until the meat has changed to a brown colour.
  3.  Add the cup of water and mix around for a minute.  Then add the flour to thicken the mixture.  Add tomato sauce until the mixture has enough colour.
  4.  Next pour in the amount of corns, peas and carrots to your liking.  Stir.  Add salt to your taste and add more tomato sauce if you require.
  5.  Set aside.  Boil some hot water and then add the potatoes with 2 sprinkles of salt.  When the potatoes have softened, drain all the water away.  While waiting, preheat oven to 180⁰C.
  6.  Put the potatoes in a large bowl (used to mash the potatoes).  Add two tablespoons of butter and mash the potatoes together.  Add the shredded cheese (to your liking but usually about 2 handfuls) and mix.  Slowly pour in the warm milk while you are still mixing the potatoes.
  7. Now, spoon in the mince beef mixture into the bottom of a medium sized baking dish so that it has a flat top.  Next, add the potato mixture on top and smooth out the top as well.
  8. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top begins to become a golden brown colour.  When it is ready, take it out of the oven to cool for about 10 minutes and then it is ready to be served.

 Additional notes:

  • Suggestion is to serve it with a fresh green salad like my Avocado and Apple Salad so it’s not too heavy.
  • As you’ll see in the ingredients, a lot of it is just to taste so sorry that I can’t give exact measurements.  A bit of trial and error never hurt anyway ;).
  • The tray I used wasn’t big enough for all the filling so I made a few mini ones:
mini pies!

I may have had two for dinner tonight… ;).

Well, hope you enjoy making your own easy-peasy shepherd’s pie!  Let me know how it goes :).

Have a great weekend everybody!

Random Question: What was the first dish that you ever learnt to cook?

♥ Ames