Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pineapple Better Than Sex Cake

I don't really like the name of this cake, but that's the name it had when I found it and I can't think of a better one.  So it sticks.
It is really good though!  Better than sex? Hubby says it's a super delicious cake, but the name goes a little too far. :)
I actually made a dessert last summer called Hawaiian Dessert that is similar to this.  However, I think this one is easier and tastes better.
It's made in much the same way as the original Better Than Sex cake that you might be familiar with.  I found the recipe on Mom's Who Think.  I followed it pretty closely, and WOOHOO was it good!!!!!

Pineapple Better Than Sex Cake

Ingredients:

1 Package yellow cake mix (and ingredients it calls for)
2/3 C sugar
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
1 (6 oz) package vanilla pudding mix (and milk to mix)
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip
flaked or shredded coconut

Directions:

1. Grease and flour 9x13 cake pan and bake cake according to package directions.
2. Let cake cool slightly and poke holes in the top using handle of a wooden spoon.
3. Mix pineapple and sugar, pour over cake.
4. Mix pudding and pour over cake.
5. Chill cake in refrigerator.
6. Spread Cool Whip on cake and top with coconut.
7. Keep refrigerated.

Pretty easy and YUMMMYYYYY!  I used the handle of a wooden spoon to make the holes in the cake though so the pudding could really get down in there.   Also, the recipe says "cook" the pudding, but I used instant and it was just fine.  I didn't allow the pudding much time to totally set up so it poured easily over the cake.  I poured the pineapple/sugar mixture and the pudding over the cake while it was still a little warm. Then I refrigerated it until it was completely cooled.  After cooling, you can put the Cool Whip on top.
This cake is fairly light and not extremely rich or filling.  That means you can eat a rather large slice if you are so inclined! :)


Oh my goodness this is making me hungry!!!!  Try this the next time you're in the mood for a lighter dessert (and I don't mean lighter on calories!).  

Enjoy!

~Dawn



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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions

If you have been following my blog since it began last year, you may remember when I ambitiously decided to sew my own replacement cushions for my backyard swing.  I actually did a pretty good job and had an entire season with beautiful new cushions.  Here they are all shiny and new:


I was especially impressed that I managed to get the stripes to match up! 


However, in one short year, they turned completely disgusting!


This picture doesn't even do it justice. They were gray with dirt and looked moldy.  I wasn't really thinking about how hard the white color would be to keep clean when I purchased the fabric, obviously.  I was going to just through them out but decided I had to try to save them.  After spending so much time and energy on making them I couldn't stand to just through them in the trash yet.  So, I turned to my go to source for everything these days...Pinterest.  

I found some tips over at Bee Interiors that looked easy enough.  She used Clorox Cleanup with bleach to clean her cushions.  As she says on her blog, it does contain bleach which could potentially ruin the colors in my cushions, but what did I have to lose?  I followed her directions pretty closely with one exception. She uses a pressure washer to rinse hers, but honestly, I was just too damn lazy to drag that thing out so I simply used our garden hose with the nozzle set on the highest pressure.  I spread the cushion out flat on the picnic table, hosed it down until it was completely soaked, sprayed the Clorox Cleanup generously over the entire cushion and walked away.  I came back in about 5 minutes and rinsed it well.  It wasn't totally clean, but I could see an improvement so I tried it again.  After the second rinsing, it was even cleaner and I was getting excited so I thought, "What if I used a scrub brush on this?!!!"  After applying some more Clorox and scrubbing the fabric a little, it looked great!!!!!! I probably ended up doing about 4 applications and using the scrub brush on all sides of the cushions and pillows.  Sometimes I did let the Clorox sit for up to 15 minutes and it didn't harm the fabric at all (I would recommend testing your own cushions first though!).  Want to see how clean they are now?


Here's the before again so you can see the difference:

Again, these pictures don't even do this project justice.  It's not perfect, but it's sooooo much better!  The difference is much more impressive in person.  If you have some dirty outdoor cushions, give it a try.  The bleach doesn't seem to fade the colors at all in the fabric and does wonders on the lighter colors!

Cushions saved for another year!

~Dawn




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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bedroom Redecorating

I'm so excited! This is my 100th post!!!!!!!!!!!!  And probably within a couple of weeks I will reach my 50,000th pageview!  Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading my little blog.  I do enjoy it and hope to keep it up.  I know I didn't blog as much this summer as I planned, but there were so many things calling my name that it was hard to work everything in.  Hopefully I will get back to a more regular routine soon.

One of the things I did accomplish this summer was to redecorate my bedroom.  It was just in need of a little spruce up.  I didn't do anything too extreme, just some fresh paint, new curtains and bedspread, a little rearranging and other minor fixes.  Here are a few before pictures:

Bathroom first...this is our master bath in our bedroom.




On to the bedroom... 





I have entirely too much stuff in my bedroom!  Unfortunately, there isn't a lot I can do about it.  I have no other place for the treadmill, we each have a dresser, nightstand, etc.  As you will see later though, I did a little rearranging and I think it helps.  I also have such a hodge podge of different woods and furniture colors!  Unfortunately, I don't have the money to replace everything so it all stays.  Our two dressers are both family heirlooms, so they stay.  I know I could paint other furniture, but that wasn't in the plan this time.  I just wanted a quick redecorate and I think I accomplished that.

Bathroom first...It was a green color, and I painted it a darker blue.  Same color swatch as the bedroom, just 2 shades darker.  The curtains that frame the shower are actually the curtains that match my bedspread (curtains and bedspread were purchased at Bergner's).  I installed an actual curtain rod above the shower for the curtains and valance.  The white shower curtain liner in the center is hanging on a shower rod.  Lance now calls the shower "The Shrine."  :)  If you are planning a bathroom remodel, here's some advice...put in a white toilet and tub!  When we did this about 13 years ago, the off white stuff was in.  However, it doesn't go with much of anything!  White pretty much matches everything.  Lesson learned.  


I haven't put anything on the wall above the toilet yet until I figure out what I want.  I could use more storage so I thought about a cabinet, but I don't know.  I want to think on it some more before making a decision.  


Also, I considered either painting or adding a darker stain to the vanity.  In the end, I got lazy and changed my mind.  However it still needed some attention.  To spruce up the vanity a bit (because it was getting faded and worn), I mixed a similar colored wood stain with water in approximately a 2:1 ration (stain:water) and brushed it on.  After it sat for a few minutes, I rubbed it down with a rag.  I did two coats over the entire vanity.  I also added one coat of a polyurethane sealer and let it all dry.  It stayed a little tacky for a few days, but it eventually completely dried. I tried to take comparison pictures of the before and after but none really showed the difference very well.  It did, however, make quite a bit of difference.  The vanity looks like new wood again!  

You didn't get a good look at this wall below in the before pictures.  If you had, you would have noticed that the towel bar was black (it actually matches the toilet paper holder in the before pictures).  I didn't want to purchase all new hardware for the bathroom, so I just bought a can of brushed nickel spray paint instead.  I repainted this towel bar, the toilet paper holder, the light bar, and the knobs on the vanity and medicine cabinet.  


I plan to purchase a new faucet sometime this fall in the same brushed nickel style.  For now though, it's still brass.  I thought about painting it, but I didn't really want to take it all apart.  Another lesson learned.  Brass is so outdated!!!!! Yuck! :(


I do love how the light fixture turned out though!


And now on to the bedroom!!!!!!  I painted it a shade of blue called Rain by Sherwin Williams.  It is supposed to look more blue green, but it mostly looks blue.  It depends on the time of day.  It's not exactly perfect, but it's close enough.  Someday I'll learn to paint on a sample first like all the experts say.  I don't have the patience for that.  When I'm ready to paint, I'm ready to paint!  I bought the tan curtains at Shopko. I couldn't find the exact link for which style the curtains are.  They're basically just a tan, sheer fabric.  

You might notice the absence of a dog bed in the first pictures.  There's my new dog Lucy making her first appearance on the blog!  I should do a post about her soon!!!!  This is where she sleeps every night.  She loves her bed!



I got the 3 pieces of art above the bed at Shopko, too.  I think they were about $50 for the set.  I just loved how they incorporated all the colors in the room...blue, tan, brown, green.


As you can tell, I rearranged a little bit.  By moving the large brown dresser to the corner, it really opened up the space on my side of the bed!


I moved the treadmill over to the side which also gives me, and Lucy, a lot more room on that side of the bed.  


                                      

See that picture frame above my dresser in the last picture?  It does double duty...

Yep, it's a jewelry box inside.  

Unfortunately, it has become a mess because I have so much stinkin' jewelry!  It's a sickness, I know.  So, I decided to fix that problem.  It occurred to me that there is a lot of wasted space on the inside of my dresser door.

                                                

Tadaaaaa!  I put some small Command hooks inside and hung the longer necklaces in there.  The bad part is that it made a lot of noise when I opened the door so I had to come up with another genius solution.  I added two pieces of white craft foam to muffle the noise.  I adhered it with double sided tape.  It worked like a charm!

Here's a close up of the hooks.  



Did you notice the outdated ceiling fan in the before pictures?  The ugly glass and brass combo?  I'm going to do an entire post on the fan redo sometime, but here's an after shot...


I took it all apart, painted the brass with brushed nickel spray paint and covered the blades with fabric.  I'll show you how I did it all in a later post.  

That's about it.  It really only took a few days work and I think I spent around $300-$400.  Most of that was the bedspread and curtains.  I really like how it turned out.  It's nothing too fancy, but I think it looks better.  

Have you tackled any redecorating projects this summer?

~Dawn 






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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cucumber Salad

Summer is just flying by!  It's going so fast that I realized the other day that I haven't done a blog post for about 3 weeks!  I hope you all haven't forgotten about me.  :(
It's been a laid back and relaxing summer break for me.  I have been taking two grad classes, but I have managed to work in plenty of R and R, too!  I also got to watch the President of the United States fly over my house last week on his way to make a speech in my town!  It's a pretty cool day when the President visits...even if you don't always agree with thim. :)
Yep, that's him in Marine 1 right over my house!

 
 
Today is my mom's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!  I LOVE YOU!) and yesterday we were able to get some family together for a cookout.  Mom even got a 4 wheeler ride for her birthday!



I thought this would be the perfect time to try out a new recipe for Cucumber Salad that I pinned ages ago and have been waiting to try.  The original recipe credit goes to the Jo and Sue blog

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp light sour cream
1 tsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
 
If you go to the orignal recipe on the Jo and Sue blog, you will see that the directions call for you to slice the cucumber, salt it and let it sit to draw the moisture out.  However, I found this method to leave the cucumbers a little soft.  I like them much crunchier!  So, the next time I make this, I would mix together the sour cream, onion, dill, vinegar and sugar and let it chill for a couple of hours in the frig.  Then, I would wait and slice the cucumber until right before I want to serve it.  It doesn't take long to slice if you have a slicer.  If not, you can slice it ahead of time, as the original recipe suggests, but just know that the cucumber will get soft.  When you are ready to serve the salad, just toss the cucumber in the dressing and it's ready to go.  It's really very easy!
When I peel the cucumbers (I trippled the recipe for the cookout), I don't take all the skin off.  I like to leave some for color. 
 
The dressing is so simple to whip up!  I used regular sour cream instead of light, but stick with the light if you want to cut calories.  

 
You can tell the cucumbers look a little soft already in this picture.  I definitely want to try this again without letting the cucumbers sit to see if they turn out crispier.  It still tasted delicioius!  I really think if the cucumbers had been crispier, I would have absolutely loved this salad!  And if you use the light sour cream, it really wouldn't have that many calories.  

 
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
 
~Dawn
 
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Strawberry Banana Slushy

I have been on a quest to find a smoothie recipe I like.  I'm not a big yogurt fan and so many of the recipes I've found contain yogurt.  I stumbled upon this recipe from Stilletos and Legos (not sure about that combo!).  The recipe is actually for a slushy, not a smoothie but I thought it sounded pretty good and gave it a try.  I have a new favorite summer drink!  I love it!  I've created my own version of this recipe and I don't really measure so I can give you approximates.

Strawberry Banana Slushy:

1 medium banana
1/2 cup strawberries
1 cup ice
1/4 cup diet 7 Up

Put it all in a blender and mix.  That's it!  She calls this a zero calorie slushy on her blog because she never counts calories for fruit.  However, after looking up the calories, this is less than 200 calories depending on how much fruit you add.  She uses 2 bananas and I only use one and I use less strawberries.
Look yummy?



I've gotten into a routine of drinking one of these slushies after I finish my workout for the day.  I like getting the protein from the banana right after a workout and the slushy really cools you off after being all hot and sweaty.  The way I mix it makes about 2 cups of slushy.  This is enough to feel like you really got a treat!  I like to use fairly ripe bananas so they make the drink sweeter.  You can also use other fruit, too.  I've added watermelon and peaches and they both taste great.  I always add the banana though for the protein.

This slushy is my reward for working hard and sweating my butt off during the workout!  However, if you're not into working out, you can still drink this for a cool summer drink.  Add a little rum and you can have yourself a cocktail. :)  Either way, I'm addicted to this slushy!  It's such a low calorie treat that I just can't stop making them!

~Dawn Pin It

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches

I was looking for something different to do with chicken in the crock pot besides cooking and shredding it for casseroles when I happened upon this little gem from Food Family & Finds. Cat Davis has a wonderful blog full of great recipes and a ton of other stuff!  Check it out if you have time.  I love Philly style sandwiches and this recipe was so easy to put together in the crock pot and tastes delicious!  Here is my adaptation of the original recipe:

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
3 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 can beer
McCormick's Grill Mates Backyard Brew Marinade
sliced Provolone cheese
hoagie rolls

Instructions
Spray a 3 – 4 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and turn to LOW heat.
Add butter, onions and green peppers.
Toss chicken with steak seasoning, salt and pepper, then add to slow cooker.
Cover and cook for 5 hours.

Serve on hoagies with a slice of cheese melted on top.

Here are the ingredients I used...simple!  Yep, Old Milwaukee Light in this house folks.  I don't drink beer at all, so this is what hubby prefers.  He's drank this since I've known him!  You'll notice that there is no beer mentioned in her recipe if you went to the website. I couldn't find that Dales' Steak Seasoning that she had listed in her recipe so I opted for a packet of McCormick Backyard Brew.  It calls for marinating the meat in a mixture of beer and the seasoning. I think it worked out great!


The chicken breasts I used were particularly thick so first I sliced them lengthwise to thin them out.


Then, I cut them into strips.


And finally, I put them in a large bowl and with the beer and marinade mix.  


While I let the chicken marinate for a bit, I sliced up the vegetables and added them to the crock pot.  You can barely see the butter melting on the bottom underneath the sliced onion.


This is two large green peppers, sliced.  


Using tongs, I removed the marinated chicken from the bowl and placed it on top of the peppers.  I did pour some of the marinade over the top as well (maybe one cup - I forgot to measure so use your best judgement).  I put the crock pot on low and cooked it for about 6 hours.  Now, let me tell you that this had a super strong smell as it was cooking!  I don't know if it was the marinade, onions, or a combination of both, but I was seriously worried that I had screwed this up and it was going to be way too seasoned and spicy!


This is what it looked like after cooking for about 6 hours.   I stirred it once around 4 hours to get everything mixed and make sure all the flavors blended.    


I just bought brawt style buns in the bakery, but you could use any hoagie type of bun that you prefer.  To serve the meat, I used tongs to remove it one serving at a time from the crock pot and placed on the bun.  Her recipe also calls for mozzarella cheese, but I had Provolone on hand already and that worked out just fine.  My cheese isn't nice and melted in this picture like hers is on the website, but let me tell you how delicious this turned out!  Everyone in my house decided this should make into our regular rotation.  It is so tasty and so easy!  I really can't wait to make them again!   It makes fabulous leftovers, too!


~Dawn

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Chocolate Lasagna

I love chocolate and I love lasagna so I figured I couldn't go wrong with this recipe!  I have to give credit to the Center Cut Cook for the recipe.  I've also seen this floating around Facebook lately, too.  Whoever invented this is just a genius!  It's so easy to make.  It's my turn to take dessert to my book club next month and I'm thinking this is just the dessert for a summer girl's night out!

Chocolate Lasagna

INGREDIENTS
1 package regular Oreo cookies (Not Double Stuff) – about 36 cookies
6 Tablespoon butter, melted
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cold milk
1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
2 – 3.9 ounce packages Chocolate Instant Pudding.
3 1/4 cups cold milk
1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS
Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. I used my food processor for this, but you could also place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.
Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.
In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

I followed the directions exactly except for I used my food processor to chop up the Oreos.  It so easy that it really doesn't need any further explanation.  But you should see some pictures!


The first piece I took out of the pan looks more like a blob, but I assure you, it tastes just as delicious!  You can't really see the actual layers though.  


Here you can see the layers on the outside of the dish.  Looks like chocolate lasagna to me! 


I can't stress how easy this was and how delicious.  It only lasted a couple of days in this house!   The best part is that it really isn't too rich so you can eat a large piece and not feel like it's too much! :)  I think this is one of my new favorite desserts!

~Dawn 
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stawberry Sauce

'Tis the season for fresh strawberries from the garden!  I'm not a huge fan of just eating strawberries on their own, but I love them in recipes.  I have a small strawberry patch in my MIL's garden and was able to pick a bunch the other day.  Don't they look delicious????


My two favorite things to make with strawberries are freezer jam and ice cream sauce.  I decided to make strawberry ice cream sauce with this batch since I really didn't have enough for jam.  If you happen to be one of my Facebook friends, then you know that I LOVE ice cream!  I eat way more than I should and it's extra delicious smothered in this strawberry sauce.  

I've been using a Martha Stewart recipe for quite some time now that I really like.  I sort of follow the recipe but not down to the letter.  
I start by heating 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan on high heat and bringing it to a boil.  Then I reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  This only takes a few minutes.  Next, remove from heat and allow to cool.  So far, all of these steps follow the recipe exactly.  However, this is where I deviate.  After I have cleaned and removed the stems from the strawberries, I just cut them in half (or into quarters if they are large) and put about 1 to 1 1/2 pints into the sugar mixture.  Then I just take my potato masher and mash them up in the liquid.  No need to puree in the blender like the recipe states.  That's just an unnecessary extra step.  This way you can also have it chunkier or smoother depending on how you like it.  I leave some larger pieces of strawberry in the sauce, but it all depends on your taste.  


This sauce is so sweet and delicious!  You can also add more strawberries if you like a product that's more strawberry and less sauce.  
Now I really want a bowl of ice cream with strawberry sauce! But it's only 9 a.m.!!!!!!

~Dawn

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cookie Bouquet

A couple of weeks ago, we had a graduation party for my son.  I thought it would be fun to have a couple of cookie bouquets on the cake table.  I have seen pictures of them and they always look so neat!  I've never made them before, but figured they couldn't be that hard.  After a quick internet search for instructions, I gave it try.  I can't give any one person or blog credit for how to make them since I basically read a half dozen or so tutorials and then just dove right in.  It's actually very easy!

Just choose your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out whatever shapes you want to use.  I would suggest using a fairly good sized cookie and not one with a delicate shape.  I used stars and circles.  The smallest was probably 2 inches across and the largest about 4 inches.  After cutting out the shape, place it face down on your cookie sheet.  Next, lay a cookie stick on top of the cookie (sticks sold at JoAnn Fabrics or where ever you might buy Wilton supplies. **note:  They also sell candy sticks.  Make sure you don't accidentally buy those because they aren't as sturdy).  Now take a small piece of cookie dough and gently press it over the back of the cookie, sandwiching the stick in between cookie layers. My stick goes about half way up the back of the cookie.



Next, carefully flip the cookie and stick over to bake.  You might notice a small tear in the dough on the front side (see below) after you flip it.  I just gently pushed the dough back together.


Bake your cookies per your recipe directions.  When they are done, the back will look similar to this:


This is the front of two after baking:


These came out surprisingly sturdy.  I mean, I was careful with them, but they weren't as fragile as I thought they might be.  Just frost and decorate as you normally would.  If a stick does come loose, just dip the tip of the stick in frosting and slide it back in the cookie.  That should hold it.  I did use a couple of different lengths of sticks to create the bouquet - 6 and 8 inch.

To make the bouquet, I bought a cheap metal vase and cut floral foam to fit inside.  Then I covered the vase with black tissue paper and topped it off with a handful of metallic shreds.  All of those supplies were purchased at Dollar Tree for $1 each!  The sticks cost a few dollars per package (20 per pkg).  So I made 2 cookie bouquets for probably less than $10.  I also didn't use all the tissue paper, shreds, foam and sticks so really if you break it down by pieces I probably spent about $5 for the two because I have supplies left over.  Either way, I think they turned out pretty darn good!  Please excuse the background.  I totally forgot to take some better pictures before the party!


I think they look best with an odd number of cookies in the bouquet.  You could add more if you would like to make a larger bouquet.  I seriously couldn't believe how easy they were to make!  I'd really like to get into making and decorating cookies more.  I really enjoy the decorating part!  Also, these bouquets sat out, uncovered, overnight and they did not get stale.  They are obviously more for show, but I just couldn't resist eating one after they party and they were still fresh! :)

I really want to make more of these bouquets because I enjoyed the process!  Maybe I can talk my SIL into letting me make some for my niece's next birthday party. :)

~Dawn
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