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!


Apple & Blueberry Cake

adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple 

(underlined parts are the changes – not many really)

Serve 8-10


Continue reading “Fast, Fresh, Simple: Apple & Blueberry Cake”

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)



  • 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


  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.



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

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


  • 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


  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