Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

I made this for the first time, last night. It was amazing, straight up! Ha I’m so modest, but seriously you will want make this over and over again, I even finished my bowl before my husband. I was in “can’t talk must eat” mode – it was that good!

The ultimate chicken pasta bake
The best Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked diced chicken (BBQ chicken, grilled, steamed)

1 onion diced

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

2 garlic cloves

600ml cream

200g sliced mushrooms

250g chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)

250g cream cheese

250g pasta

1/2 cup grated cheese
METHOD

1. Boil water and cook pasta to your liking.

2. In a large fry pan – melt butter, oil  and cook spinach (if frozen).

3. Add diced onion, garlic, mushrooms and spinach (if fresh).

Chicken and spinach pasta bake
The spinach, mushroom, garlic and onion cooking.

4. Add cream cheese and cream, bring to boil and then turn down to low.

chicken and spinach pasta bake
Add cream to spinach and mushrooms.

5. Stir through chicken and keep on low.

6. Drain pasta and add to sauce.

7. Pour pasta into casserole dish and top with grated cheese.

8. Bake at 180 degrees for 10 -15 mins until cheese is melted.

9. Enjoy !

Chicken and spinach pasta bake
Baked and ready to eat!

Chocolate Flake Cheesecake

no bake chocolate cheesecake recipe
Chocolate flake cheesecake recipe

This chocolate cheesecake recipe is amazing! Rich and decadent but not so much that you’re unable to eat the whole piece (or maybe thats just me!)  Great dessert to make the night before and not have to do anything else to, in my books a winner all round!  The chocolate base is the perfect match to the smooth creamy filling with flake in the filling and of course on top as well!  Perfect with fresh strawberries or alone – this cheesecake is so good you don’t need anything to serve with it!

Ingredients

2 pks of chocolate ripple biscuits
200 g butter
1 large lemon
500 g cream cheese
400 ml condensed milk
250 ml thickened cream                                                                                              teaspoon of chocolate essence or vanilla essence
5 flake chocolate bars

Chocolate cheesecake
Perfect when served with fresh berries

Method
1. Crush biscuits in a food processor or blender until fine crumbs
2. Melt butter, and mix into the crushed biscuits, press into spring form tin.  Fill bottom first and around the edges of tin as well
3. Put into fridge to set while making filling
4. Beat the cream until forms soft peaks
5. In a separate bowl beat together cream cheese and condensed milk until it becomes thick and smooth
6. Juice lemon and stir through the mixture
7. Carefully fold through the cream and essence into the cream cheese
8. Carefully crumble 4 flake bars into the mixture and stir to even distribute
9. Pour over crust, sprinkle last flake on top and allow to set for 3-4 hours

the perfect slice of chocolate cheesecake
perfect slice

 

chocolate flake cheesecake recipe
Chocolate flake cheesecake recipe

2016

 

I have said to before but I’ll say it again, I love the beginning of a year.  I know I’m a dreamer and if you wanted change you can make it any day, but a new year aways makes me hopeful and inspired – even at age 33 – anything is possible!

I always make resolutions and try to stick to them – I always like to blog about them to make me more accountable.  At first I would like to say 2015 resolutions did not go as planned! ha

But I tried and I truly believe that that is the main thing.  You can read about my resolutions here – I managed to be successful most of year, but not enough sewing, so I still have a ton of fabric!

Resolution 1
NY Resolution – drink more water

Resolution 1 – is still the same from last year and to drink more water.   I am a coke addict – truly.  I give it up, but somehow it always manages to get me back!  So drinking more water is two fold  for my health, more water! yay and less coke!

Resolution 2
NY resolution – to have better organisation

Resolution 2 – I have pretty terrible organisation. At school I like to think I am super organised but in my personal life – not so much!  I am always late and pretty unorganised.  I have got more organised since having Paddy but I have a long way to go.  First up is my house to be organised and I will work my way around my life this year.

What are your resolutions?  Do you find it better to tell people and get motivation or keep your resolutions to yourself?  I would love to know what your resolutions are or you a “i don’t need a resolution” kind of person?

xx

The story of 2015

I love this time of year, makes me so hopeful for the new year and I love looking back at the last 12 months. 2015 has been a big year for me.  As most of you know we had a baby in September and since then, rightly so – life has not been the same.  But heading into 2015 it was a different story.  I started the year as a sad sack.

Christmas lunch at The Boathouse in Central Park
Christmas lunch at The Boathouse in Central Park

Sick of trying for a baby and emotionally drained from the experience, 2014 was full of disappointment.  I started off 2014 naive.  We started trying at christmas 2013 in NYC so I assumed first go we would get a home run and I would fall pregnant, i even waited until after Disney World so I could go on the rides – I shouldn’t of bothered waiting! Fast forward to NYE 2014 and we had been trying for over 12 months – which I know for some is a short amount of time but when you are trying it feels like everyone and their dog is pregnant instead of you.  Some people struggle for years to fall pregnant and to them I salute your ongoing determination to keep going.  Every period you get it is like reminder is painful, physically and emotionally that once again (in my case) your body has failed to do what it was suppose to.

For us, I had the problems.  My obstetrician discovered that I had PCOS and so I hardly ever (never) ovulated.  So I tried Clomid and was told after 6 months if that didn’t work I would need to have my tubes cleaned out – tempting!

So NYE 2014/2015, we stayed at home and I got all teary (as a do) that we should of had a baby by now.  Cameron being the amazing husband he is promised by NYE 2015/2016 we would have a ‘little one to love.’  4 days later we drove 12 hours to pick up Penny our beagle puppy.  Penny was going to take my mind of things, i had resigned to the fact that Clomid wasn’t working and I would have to have my tubes cleaned out around Easter.  Cameron then started planning our trip to Iceland in September another thing to take my mind off the no baby situation.  Penny surely did take my mind off things for those first couple of sleepless, peeing of the floor, nights.  So much so that when my period was due but it hadn’t arrived, we decided that it must of been the Clomid and lack of sleep.  Cue a week later and it’s Cameron’s birthday.  I did a test by myself I didn’t want to him to get bad news on his birthday so kept it to myself.  I did the test it came back positive – I ran to show Cameron and was actually speechless!

Penny being adorable.
Penny being adorable.

So within a week we got 2 little ones to love – Penny and Paddy!  So 2015 was really a great year – even with Penny turing out to be a tad more rambunctious than we had hoped and the morning sickness sticking around a little longer than I would like (17 weeks)  we had a lot of things to be blessed for.

Paddy as a newborn
The day Paddy was born

2015 definitely had some downs with the death of many wonderful people in our lives, and me not really being the natural at motherhood that I would of thought!  But overall a great year, and a lot of experiences that make the future bright!

2016
2016

 

 

Summer Pavlova Recipe

If I had to name a dessert that was my favourite it would be a pavlova.  I detest bought ones – the middle all gooey and eggy is not my thing at all – there has to be soft centre but the crunchy crust is the best part! I believe pavlova is the perfect summer dessert.  Easy to make the day before and leave the dressing until serving.  I think it is probably the dessert that I get asked to make the most – seconded only by my rocky road.

summer pavlova recipe
Summer pavlova recipe

 

I got this recipe from my recipe book – Everyday Cooking. If you ever see this book I suggest you buy it, it is by Helen Bunney and was a recipe book used by Home Ec departments – so many great recipes (mine was published in 1979 so I doubt it is still in print). Its a great basic recipe that I have made single, 1 1/2 and double batches of and it works every time. My tip is to bake it directly on the serving plate. A pavlova is notoriously hard to change from baking tray to serving tray without cracking – so cut that step out and find a serving plate that is oven safe. I had a wonderful white serving platter I used for years as my pavlova plate but in my new house it doesn’t fit in my oven!

Ingredients

4 Egg whites

pinch salt

1 cup castor sugar

2 teaspoons corn flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

  1. Brush tray lightly with water if it is your serving tray – if you are baking pavlova on a different tray to serving spray water onto baking paper.  The water creates a steam so to crisp up the bottom for easy transfer.
  2. Beat egg whites and salt until firm peaks are formed. (meaning when you lift the beaters out of the mix, the egg whites keep their shape)
  3. Keep beating and add sugar gradually, keep beating after each sugar is added.  continue to beat until sugar is dissolved. (to test if the sugar is dissolved rub some between two fingers and check there are no grains left)
  4. Lightly fold in sifted cornflour and lemon juice.
  5. Turn mixture onto baking plate and use a spoon to create a circle of approx 20 cms.  Or into 6 miniature pavs.
  6. Bake at 120 degrees for an hour or until pavlova is dry to touch.
  7. Leave pavlova to cool completely and then dress with whipped cream and strawberries, banana, passionfruit or sprinkle with chocolate.
  8. TIPS I often leave the pavlova in the oven over night with the door slightly ajar to cool.  The slower the pavlova cools the better chance you have of it not cracking. If you baked the pavlova on a different tray to serving tray get someone to help you can left two edges of the baking paper each and transfer onto your serving tray.
summer pavolva
summer pav!

5 must have Christmas Treats

In our family I am in charge of Christmas Treats – it’s my thing and I love it!  So this is my list of the treats that must be on your christmas table this year, they have been always winners. Perfect for the bring a plate to the never ending list of events, perfect for a gift and perfect on a platter for an easy dessert!  All the christmas treats you need – all in one place!

5 Of The Best Christmas Treats - what you need on your christmas table
5 Of The Best Christmas Treats – what you need on your christmas table

1. Rocky Road – hand down always a winner – easy to prepare ahead of time and always a winner. Have a look at the best rocky road recipe here.

Rocky Road Recipe
Rocky Road Recipe

2. Chocolate Fudge – Im a massive fudge lover from wayyyy back.  Like make my husband pull over if I see a fresh fudge sign! love it!  I like making it but try and limit it to Christmas because you know – I have no self control.  And for this recipe you need self control, it only has four ingredients. Head over to Fat Mum Slim to check out her fudge recipe here

Chocolate Fudge
Fat Mum Slim’s Chocolate Fudge

3. Rum Balls – the classic christmas must have!  I must confess i have been making these for years.  When I was 12 I started my own christmas treat business with my bestie, these were on the list! And only about 2 years ago had I ever tasted one! So now i can honestly say that they are great because i actually know!  To mix up these bad boys, don’t be afraid to use gingernuts or chocolate ripple biscuits!  Check out the recipe http://monaandolive.com/2014/12/22/rum-balls/

Rum Balls
Traditional Rum Balls

4. Cherry Ripe Balls – if rum balls aren’t your thing or you have kids around try these guys out!  From the organised housewife these guys are bound to be awesome!  Check them out here

Organised Housewife Cherry Ripe Balls
Organised Housewife Cherry Ripe Balls

5. The final and by no means least the chocolate spider.  You know how much I love chocolate spiders, I love them.  I want them to be at all parties not just christmas!  But a must a Christmas!!! Check them out here

Chocolate Haystacks
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Spider Recipe

What did I forget?  Anything that is a must on your christmas list?

Madonna xx

Christmas 2015 – teacher gift list

Christmas 2015 - teacher gift list

Christmas 2015 – teacher gifts!

Pretty much everyone has a teacher to buy for – sometimes a lot a teachers to buy for, to thank them for their hard work during the year.  This range of gifts has a priced gift for every giver – and not a coffee cup or a box of chocolates in sight!  Teachers spend A LOT of their own money on making their classroom  prettier/better/more interesting for your kids so sometimes it is nice to buy something like the light box or pen holders to help out and save their own money.  But sometimes it is nice also to give them something for themselves – candles, movie tickets, vouchers, even a christmas ham! That helps them and their families celebrate! And if in doubt (from a teacher) wine, always wine!

Christmas 2015 – teacher gift list by monaandolive featuring metal stud earrings

Kitchen gadgets tool
14 AUD – cottonon.com

Home decor
28 AUD – cottonon.com

Home decor
kmart.com.au

Home decor
kmart.com.au

Floral Fragrances | Glasshouse Fragrances
60 AUD – glasshousefragrances.com

Typo | Cotton On | Stocking Fillers
18 AUD – cottonon.com

Metal Lantern Green
kmart.com.au

Our Adventure Awaits themed Nursery

Before we got pregnant we knew we wanted a blue nursery with clouds, it was set in stone. Planes for boys, hot air balloons for girls – Done! So that part was easy setting it up was the hard part – considering the planes and balloons we liked we saw in New Orleans…

This was our vision

boy nursery
Our baby boy adventure awaits nursery mood board

We had a lot of work to do to make it meet our vision, but we both are pretty happy with the end result, Paddy hasn’t really told us yet if he likes it! But all the other little people in our lives seem to think that he does!

We painted the room ourselves and CJ’s mum painted the clouds – you can see how she did that here

baby boy nursery
Paddy’s adventure themed room

Paddy grown so much he has started this week sleeping in his cot in his room! He no longer fits in the bassinet in our room, he is 8 weeks old so I had a good run (I did contemplate moving his cot into our room.) But Paddy loves his room so much he sleeps better in there, so there he will stay ;-(

adventure themed nursery
adventure themed nursery

Our cot, drawers and cubes are from IKEA

Our plane and hot air balloon are AUTHENTIC MODELS HERE

Map, cloud cushion, cloud light and aqua baskets are KMART

Dream big cushion is from TARGET

Artwork above change tables from big cousins <3

Paddy loves his cloud onesie
Paddy loves it when his onesie matches his walls!

 

Chocolate Spiders Recipe

When  I was about 37 weeks pregnant I bought a range of ingredients that may or may not of been for the sole purpose of chocolate spiders.  However my need to have peanut butter and chocolate in my mouth was out weighed by my desire to sleep 20 hours a day.  So call it willpower or call it laziness but no chocolate spiders were made.  This week I tidied up my pantry (found 4 packets of M&M’S?!?!?!?!) and found the magical ingredients to realise my dream of chocolate spiders! So in celebration of the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, I celebrated with chocolate and peanut butter!

Chocolate Haystacks
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Spider Recipe

If you haven’t made chocolate spiders – you’re missing out.  If you have made chocolate spiders but not recently – you’re missing out.  They are often left to the realm of children’s parties and christmas, when really they are just simple and delicious treats for every chocolate and peanut butter addict!  And the ingredients have a long shelf life if you have a strong will power – so they are a great stand by because its bring a plate day tomorrow at school/work/life and you forgot (again)!

 

chocolate haystack
Chocolate haystack recipe

 

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE SPIDER RECIPE

200 – 250 grams of melting chocolate

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

1 packet of fried egg noodles

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir.

Add peanut butter, microwave again for 30 seconds, stir.

Keep putting in microwave in 30 second bursts until smooth.  (I normally find 1 1/2 minutes)

Stir in egg noodles, place in little haystacks or spiders on a tray with baking paper.

Refrigerate until had normally 2 hours in enough.

Store in the fridge!

chocolate haystacks
chocolate spiders ingredients
Chocolate Spiders
Chocolate Spiders

The last 6 weeks

So 6 weeks ago on Friday something interesting happened – I had a Baby!!! So something more than interesting – amazing, beautiful, life changing. So i apologise if i have been off line.  Having a baby kind of trumps my little blog.  And I’m not going to lie having a new born isn’t easy!

Anyway introducing our beautiful Paddy

Paddy as a newborn
The day Paddy was born, back in our room

After being told he was a whopper and measuring 42 weeks at 34 weeks, he was only 6 pounds 13 ounces, or 3 kg.  But adorable, and now i just spend my days looking at him and feeding him and trying to make bargains with him about having a day time nap! (I may of already promised Disneyland!)

baby paddy
Paddy is our gift!

But he has been is worth all the pee, vomit and poo on me (which is daily) and then when he snuggles in like a little koala with that sweet baby smell and all is forgotten!  The last 6 weeks have been a blur, but it is totally with it, it just takes a while for the anxiety to calm down and you believe that you actually can take care of the littlest human you have ever seen that is totally dependant on you!

Paddy and his teddy
Paddy doing his ‘Blue Steel’
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