No Bake Banana Split Cake

Hope you had a fabulous weekend!  And a belated happy Easter to those who celebrate.

We had a busy day, starting with exchanging Easter baskets with Tadd…

Followed by a trip over to my Great Aunt’s house for a big family gathering, then a trip to a local park to hang out with some friends.  It was a lovely day.  Gorgeous weather too.

As usual, I contributed one of the desserts to the family Easter meal.  This time I decided to make something that my mom used to make when I was growing up.  She passed the recipe onto me, and whenever I make it, it’s always a HUGE hit.  It’s a great warm weather recipe, because it doesn’t require use of the oven.

No Bake Banana Split Cake

12-oz box vanilla wafers (ignore the fact that there are 2 boxes in this pic)

2 sticks butter

1 brick cream cheese

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

20-oz can of crushed pineapples

5 or 6 bananas

1 tub of whipped topping

a handful or two of chopped walnuts

12 or so maraschino cherries

The first step is Tadd’s favorite part…Crush the vanilla wafers (click the link for an amazing demonstration of this important step)!  Melt the butter and combine with the crushed wafers.  Press evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Mix the cream cheese and sugar until it has a creamy, frosting-like consistency.  Spread over the vanilla wafer crust.

Drain the pineapples and spoon in an even layer over the cream cheese.   Slice the bananas and place on top of the pineapple layer.

Spread the whipped topping over the bananas, and then sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and top with cherries.  Viola!

When I say it was a hit…Some people had seconds and I know of at least one person who had thirds.  I have zero leftovers.  People just love this stuff.  Give it a try!

Advertisements

Top 5 Projects of 2012

Can you believe that 2012 is almost over?  It seems like it has flown!  Tadd and I are ready for 2013.  If it’s anything like the past year has been, then we are in for some good stuff.  Can’t wait to find out!

Instead of a typical year in review post, I thought I would share my top 5 most popular project posts of the past year.  I always find it interesting to see what posts people like to read the most.  And it’s always fun to reflect on all I have done in the past year!

5. REUSABLE PRODUCE BAG

This reusable produce bag was one of the first sewing projects I completed at the beginning of this year.  I believe it was the first time I boxed a corner!  And it was one of the first projects that seemed to go really smoothly from start to finish.  Successes like these are what encouraged me to keep going with teaching myself how to sew this past year.  And on top of that, it’s just plain cute!

4. PINK SANGRIA

I love a good sangria recipe.  And although I do love this very popular pink sangria recipe that I made last May, I think my all-time favorite version is the peach sangria I made over 4th of July weekend!  It’s my new go-to summer drink of choice.

3. FALL TABLE RUNNER

If you know me, you know that fall is my favorite season.  When I saw this adorable fall fabric at JoAnn Fabrics, I knew I had to think of a project to make with it.  This lead to this reversible fall table runner, which was my very first ever sewing project where I made something just based on what I wanted, as opposed to following someone else’s tutorial.  It was also the first time I used a decorative stitch.  It obviously wasn’t anything super complicated, but I was still so pleased with how it turned out.

2. CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESECAKE

My chocolate chip cheesecake post from last spring has REALLY taken off in the past several weeks.  As I mentioned previously, this recipe has been pinned and repinned a TON of times now.  It’s super easy and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients.  I not only made it for Easter 2012 dessert, but made it again last week for our family’s Christmas dinner dessert!  It’s always a big hit.

1. TERRACOTTA POT SAUCER COASTERS

This is, no question, the most popular post EVER on my blog.  It’s the closest thing I have gotten to going viral and it still gets a ton of hits almost every single day.  As a matter of fact, this post has gotten more pageviews than my blog’s regular main page!  Everyone loves these terracotta pot saucer coasters.  I’m glad everyone loved this project as much as I did, although I certainly did not come up with the idea.  I was inspired by this great post from the Joy Is At Home blog, and she was inspired by someone else and so on.

What were your favorite projects that you completed in 2012?  Any goals or ideas for 2013 projects?

Pretzel turtles and a bow wristlet!

Wanted to share two quick last-minute Christmas projects with you before I return to my pre-holiday to-do list!

This idea can be found in about five zillion versions on five zillion blogs and Pinterest pins.  I used this version from thehungryhousewife.com.  All you need are mini preztels (the waffle shapes or the traditional twists), Rolo candies, and halved pecans.

Toast the pecans for 7 minutes in a 350F oven.  In the meantime, lay out your pretzels on a foil-lined baking sheet and top them with the Rolos.  Stick the Rolo-topped pretzels in the oven for 5 or so minutes, then smoosh a pecan half on top of each melty Rolo.  Viola!

I was worried that they would stick to the foil, but I put them in the fridge to firm up overnight, and this morning, they popped right off of the baking sheet.

Can’t get much more effortless than that.  I have seen other versions using Hershey Kisses (the white chocolate candy cane ones work great) topped with red and green M&Ms.

Second project is a sewing project.  I wanted to make something special for a relative that will be in town for Christmas, so I decided to make her a wristlet.  But I wanted to do something different from the wristlets I have done in the past.  I found this tutorial from elmstreetlife.com, and decided to make it my own by using natural linen for the body, and one of my favorite quilting cotton fat quarters (beefed up with some medium-weight interfacing) to give a two-toned look.  I really love the size of this wristlet.  I might have to make one for myself.  I hope she likes her gift.

And with that, I am signing off until later this week.  Off to make my cheesecake and finish cleaning the house!

White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge

I am hosting Christmas Eve for my family this year, and have been looking for some good finger-food style desserts to serve.  I ran across this post from CentsationalGirl.com with a great recipe for white chocolate mint fudge inspired me to give it a try with one small tweak…I decided to use crushed candy canes instead of the green icing.  I thought it came out great.  I love holiday treats that look as festive as they taste!  This will definitely be made for my family holiday gathering.

White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge

2.5 bags 11 oz. white chocolate chips

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

6 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

6 crushed  mini candy canes

nonstick spray

Pour the white chocolate chips into a double boiler (heatsafe glass bowl over a saucepan with a little water in it works fine).  The water should come to a boil, and then turn the heat to low.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously to combine as the chips melt.  Add cream cheese, sugar, and peppermint extract.  Keep stirring 8-10 mins until everything is melted together and has a frosting-like consistency.  Pour into an 8×8 pan, top with crushed candy canes, and allow to cool and solidify for 6 hours or overnight.  Slice into cubes and enjoy!

A Jumble of Thoughts and Goings-On…Brought to you by Hurricane Sandy

It’s a very quiet day around here today.  At work, most of our clients and colleagues are based in NYC, so many of them are quite understandably spending the day preparing for Hurricane Sandy and not concentrating on sending me stuff to do.  Nice change of pace for the day, but it can get a bit boring.  However, I am definitely thinking about all of my many family, friends, and colleagues who are dealing with this Frankenstorm.  Please stay safe, all you North-easterners!  Having been through the Florida hurricane-palooza of 2004 (Charlie/Frances/Ivan/Jeanne), I know it can be scary!

We were not planning on dressing up for Halloween this year, which would have been kind of sad.  But a friend of ours put together a last-minute party about a week in advance, so we had to scramble to figure out costumes!  We decided to do the reverse of what we did 5 years ago.  In 2007, I was an angel and Tadd was a devil.  This year, I got to be the devil!  And Tadd was an angel (although let’s be honest, he’s no angel…ha!).  I reused his pitchfork and the red cape from my Little Red Riding Hood costume from last year and found a $5 set of horns, bow tie, and tail.

Here we are in 2007:

And here we were last Saturday (sorry about the poor quality…as you can see from my friend’s reflection behind us, it was taken with a phone in dim lighting):

Tadd and I went on a date night to one of our favorite Park Avenue dinner spots last night, but beforehand I was able to convince him to take me to JoAnn Fabrics!  I spent way more than I should have, but I got all kinds of stuff to make a few Christmas presents, and what I hope will be a Thanksgiving wreath.  So stay tuned!

I did get started on a new sewing project last night, but something in my sewing machine malfunctioned and it just was not working correctly.  Tadd is going to try to fix it tonight.  I hope so, because I was almost finished with what I was working on.  It was frustrating to be so close to finishing without being able to finish.

And in the spirit of Halloween, I will leave you with this:  At work, one of the executives’ wives is an amazing baker.  Their family had a Halloween party over the weekend and the leftovers were brought to our company breakroom for us to share.  Incredible!  There is a brownie graveyard, a haunted castle cake, a huge cauldron of candy, adorable cupcakes, etc.  I know I shouldn’t have, but I took one of the cupcakes and a chocolate oreo kitty.  How cute are these?  That little knife in the “bloody” cupcake is actually a tiny cookie!

Halloween Marshmallow Truffles

When they mentioned we were having a Halloween potluck at work, I decided to try something new, marshmallow truffles.  The concept is fairly simple: dip marshmallows in chocolate and then into any number of toppings.

I used small wooden skewers to make dipping and serving a bit easier.  I also found some Halloween-themed sprinkles at Target, that I thought made my truffles look pretty festive.  You could also use chopped nuts, crumbled cookies, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, whatever you want!

Each tub of dipping chocolate covered about a dozen marshmallows.  I think if I were to do it again, I would just buy a big bag of chocolate morsels or bar chocolate.  I thought I was going to get more mileage out of the tubs (this was my first time using them).

I ended up not using the orange sugar on the left…It just kind of melted into the dark chocolate and looked terrible.  You definitely want toppings that are not too small and not too big.  The other three types of sprinkles worked great.

This is exactly the type of recipe (if you even really want to call it a recipe) that I love.  Few ingredients, simple, and lots of ways to customize it.  My only issue is that it was quite messy and I felt like I got chocolate everywhere.  But that’s pretty much always going to be the case when you deal with melted chocolate.

What treats are you whipping up for Halloween?

Home Stories A2Z

shabby creek cottage

Maxine’s On Shine

I meant to post about this earlier in the week.  I wanted to share a restaurant review for a new-to-us place that we tried last Sunday night.  However, I am excited to share that I have been promoted at work!  And in preparing for my new role, time and energy has been scarce lately.

Tadd and I actually went to Maxine’s On Shine Sunday  night to celebrate said promotion.  It’s a cute little bistro on Shine Avenue tucked away in an adorable residential neighborhood just north of downtown Orlando.  The food seems to focus on Italian and Greek cuisine, kind of a Mediterranean blend, but I wouldn’t really categorize it strongly that way.  The food is just really good.  That’s all you need to know!   Although the menu is not large, I’m sure anyone would be able to find something they like.

Source: Maxine’s On Shine’s Facebook Page

We ate on the patio, as the weather was lovely that night.  Not too hot or humid, with a slight coolish breeze, which is becoming less and less common in Central Florida this time of year.  We started with a couple of beers, Shipyard Applehead for me (LOVE!), and Magic Hat #9 for Tadd.  We found their beer & wine list to be impressive.  It’s always nice to see lesser-known craft brews on a menu.  Tadd had originally tried to order a Blackened Voodoo, which is one of his favorite more obscure beers.  He was impressed to see it on the menu, but it turns out they were out of it that night.

We found out that they have a Sunday night special called Magical Mystery Tour.  For $25, you get a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree, and dessert) chosen by the chef, and a your choice of a draught beer or glass of wine.  Tadd was feeling adventurous, so he chose that option.  I am way too much of a picky eater to leave that much to chance, but there really isn’t that much that Tadd won’t eat (olives and raisins are really the only two biggies), so he went for it.  While we waited for his first course to come out, I also ordered a cup of their soup of the day, butternut squash and apple soup.  Mmmmmmm, so good!  I only wished it was fall, because these are flavors that I usually associate with that season.

Soon enough, they brought out Tadd’s appetizer of stuffed grape leaves.  I tried one and thought they were ok, though not really my taste.  Tadd, however, inhaled them.

For entrees, I got the spinach ravioli with ratatouille.  And looking back at the pic, I realize this doesn’t look super appetizing, but I really really loved it.  The mountain of roasted veggies were SO good.  There were mushrooms and artichokes and summer squash and spinach and even beets, which I don’t typically care for.  All really really good.

Tadd lucked out and was presented with something he is STILL raving about; Gnocchi con Pollo Sorrentina, which is gnocchi and chicken served with prosciutto and veggies in a wine/butter sauce.  He was soooooo happy, and cleaned his plate.  I thought he might have licked it afterward if he thought he could have gotten away with it!

Tadd’s mystery dessert was an interesting concoction of what seemed like house-made vanilla ice cream, house-made butterscotch sauce, strawberries, and blueberries.  No idea what this dessert was called, but I think it was just right to end Tadd’s meal.  I had a few bites, and LOVED the ice cream.  Especially combined with the butterscotch and berries.  Nothing complicated or fussy, just really good.

Towards the end of our meal, the owner approached and asked us about our experience.  He was warm, friendly, and welcoming.  Service throughout the meal was great too.  We had Mary as our server, and she was sweet and cheerful.  Loved her.  We walked back to our car vowing to come back soon and bring friends.  Tadd’s office is nearby, so he would love to come back someday for lunch, and I have heard their weekend brunch is great as well.

If you live in Central Florida and are looking for a place to dine near downtown Orlando, check it out!

Maxine’s On Shine

337 N Shine Ave

Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 674-6841

Instagram Link Party: Easter Recap

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  I thought I would share some of the Instagram pics I took over Easter.  As mentioned previously, Tadd and I exchanged baskets, then went to my parents’ house for a big family dinner.  I brought my chocolate chip cheesecake to serve for dessert (which was a hit!).  My mom also put together a little basket for all the “kids”, including a very cute UCF necklace for me (and a UF necklace for my sister)!

Linking up with the weekly Instagram Link Party at a {little} dash of ash!

Easter Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Tadd and I exchanged Easter baskets this morning, and it turns out the Easter Bunny knows I like Starbucks!  He brought me a giftcard in my basket.  Score!  I also got a personal mist sprayer that I can bring with me to the theme parks on a hot day, a cute card, and lots of candy!  Tadd also got a personal mist sprayer, some new earbuds, a grill brush, and even more candy.

I always bring dessert to our family holiday gatherings.  The last couple years for Easter I have either brought a creamy banana-chocolate pie or some kind of toasted coconut pie.  I decided to do something different this year.    I swear I came up with the idea on my own, but then discovered kraftfoods.com had pretty much the same recipe already on their website.  So I will (reluctantly!) give them credit…Ha ha!  It’s basically my regular cheesecake recipe with some mini chocolate chips thrown in!  Super easy!

Start with your ingredients:

  • 2 bricks of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (plus a handful extra for the top)
  • graham cracker pie crust

Start with the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla…

Mix with a hand mixer until it resembles cream cheese frosting.

Add the eggs…

Again, mix with the hand mixer.  It will very quickly get creamy and batter-like.

Add the 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Pour into your crust, and sprinkle an extra handful of chocolate chips on top, if desired.  Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

If you want to be fancy and perfect, you could probably bake it in a water bath like the pros to prevent cracks, but honestly, the cracks don’t really bother me.  You will want to allow it to cool, then store in the fridge for several hours to allow it to firm up.  I try to make it the night before, because the texture is always better the 2nd day.

I wish I could cut a piece to show you the final product, but that will have to wait until later today.  It would be poor form to bring a dessert to Easter dinner that had already been dug into!

Hope you and your family have a great day!

Linking up with the Tutorials & Tips Party at Home Stories A 2 Z!

Home Stories A2Z

More from my semi-productive weekend.

The weekend is almost over.  It seemed so much shorter than normal, even though it’s only technically shorter by one hour.  I don’t know about you, but daylight savings time always takes several days for me to get used to.  I am a much bigger fan of “Fall Back” than “Spring Forward”.

We have continued our weekend of doing not much of anything.  We did get out and run some errands this morning, which was nice.  I get cabin fever if I am cooped up in the house too long.  One of our stops was at JoAnn Fabrics, where I certainly bought some stuff.

I think I am starting to develop an addiction to fabric.  It’s terrible…I go into the quilting section, and immediately want to buy everything I see.  All told though, everything pictured (about 3 yards of fabric total) cost about $10 thanks to sales and coupons.  Not everything here has a purpose yet, but I’m sure I will find ways to use all of it.  For my next new project, I intend to try making a simple apron, so at least one of these fabrics will be used for that.  Also, can you tell I love graphic florals?  I need to start branching out into some polka dots and stripes.

Last night, I decided to try an idea I found on Pinterest.  My husband loves peanut butter anything, especially when combined with chocolate, so I knew it would be a big hit.  Just take canned crescent rolls, spread with peanut butter, and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Roll up, bake at 375F for 11 minutes.  The result: YUM!  The peanut butter and chocolate get all melty and warm.  I had a very happy husband.

Oh, and at my husband’s request, I finally made him his very own manly coffee sleeve.  He had been requesting one for himself since I made the first one about six weeks ago.  Took me long enough to get around to it!  I hope he likes it.  I know it looks huge on the small coffee cup, but it was the only thing I had on hand to serve as a “model”.  It’s really the same size as the other ones I have made.