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!

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Apple & Blueberry Cake

adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh, Simple 

(underlined parts are the changes – not many really)

Serve 8-10

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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

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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)

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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!

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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)

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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?

Green Eggs and Ham: Reinvented

I was feeling a bit under the weather this past weekend due to lack of sleep and the cold weather so my mum being my mum put together a little something she picked up from her work colleagues that would make any egg-crazy girl happy… and she let me take photos too :).

Green Eggs and Ham: Reinvented

I googled Green Eggs and Ham and most have spinach or pesto but nothing with avocado hence ‘reinvented’…

Ingredients

  • 9 eggs
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • mayonnaise (as much you want really)
  • salt and pepper
  • toasted bread
  • shaved honey leg ham

Recipe

  1. Boil the eggs til hard-boiled.  Let them cool, run under cold water to loosen the egg-shell from the egg.
  2. Mash the eggs in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in the mayonnaise.
  4. Cut avocados up and mash in with egg mixture.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread generously over toasted bread.  Top with ham and munch!
Step 2
Step 4
Voila! There was another larger container as well...
Green eggs...
... and ham!

Not the greatest looking dish but it sure was yummy!  Loved the creamy mixture and so simple too!  Perfect to eat while revisiting the old Dr. Suess classic ;).

Hope you are enjoying the week so far and staying warm!

Q: What’s a simple and yummy dish that you’ve made lately?

♥ Ames