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

Easy Peasy Shepherd’s Pie


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)


  • 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


  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