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!

Peachy white sangria!

I am going to preface this post by saying that I really didn’t take any “glamor shots” of the finished product of this recipe because we loaded it into a cooler, dragged it to a local park for an early 4th of July fireworks celebration, and drank it out of red solo cups.  BUT, despite the lack of pretty pictures, please give this recipe a try, especially if you like peaches.  I think it was one of my best sangrias yet!

1.5L bottle pinot grigio

4 cups Ocean Spray White Cran-Peach juice

1/4 cup white brandy

1 or 2 sliced peaches

4 cups of Sprite

I think the most important detail about this recipe is that we started it the day prior to when we needed it.  It had a good 24 hours for the flavors to meld.  I firmly believe that this makes all the difference!

Slice the peaches and place into the pitcher or jug.  I estimated two, but one would have been fine.  My mother-in-law and I snacked on peach slices while we put the sangria together, so no harm no foul.

Pour the wine into the jug over the peaches, then add the juice and brandy.  Stir everything well and refrigerate several hours, or as I suggest, overnight!  Patience, people!  It’s so important when it comes to crafting fine sangria…

Just before serving, add the Sprite, and enjoy!  The flavor is slightly sweet, very peachy, and extremely refreshing on a hot summer day!

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

Green Monster Smoothie

Tadd and I have been trying different “green monster” smoothie recipes lately, and after some trial and error, I believe we have finally found the perfect blend!  If you are unfamiliar with green monster smoothies, the addition of spinach might throw you off, but trust me when I say you really can’t taste it at all.

Green Monster Smoothie:


2 sliced bananas

1/3 cup of peanut butter

1 single-serve container of greek yogurt (we used strawberry this time)

1/2 cup soy milk

2 handfuls of spinach

1 1/2 cups crushed ice

Blend well & serve.   Mmmmmmmm…

Instagram Link Party: Don Draper’s Favorite, The Old Fashioned

So, who else enjoyed the premiere of Mad Men last night?  I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch yet, but I must say I loved it!  I wish every episode was 2 hours like the premiere.  I’m so glad my show is back!

To celebrate, we decided to make our own swanky Mad Men-inspired cocktails.  We chose Don Draper’s personal favorite, the Old Fashioned, made, of course, with his favorite Canadian Club whiskey (which incidentally made a brief cameo in last night’s episode during the birthday party scene!).

Don Draper’s “Old Fashioned” Cocktail

  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • small amt of club soda
  • a tsp of sugar
  • a few dashes of angostura bitters
  • 2.5 oz of Canadian Club whiskey

Muddle the orange slice, cherry, sugar, bitters, and club soda together to make a fruity paste.  Add the whiskey and serve over rocks.  Enjoy!

Linking up with the weekly Instagram link party over at a {little} dash of ash!

Sewing Projects: A reusable produce bag

The exciting news for this weekend is that there is no exciting news.  For the first time in a long, long, LONG time, we have no plans at all for this weekend!  Normally that would make me sad, but we have been so busy lately, that it’s actually really nice to have a few days with no obligations.  We plan to use it to relax and get stuff done around the house.

I decided to find a new sewing tutorial to try, so I turned to my “Sewing Projects” pinboard on Pinterest.  I knew I wanted to make something with only what I already had on hand.  I came across this tutorial for a reusable produce bag, which was perfect.  It only required one fat quarter of fabric, nothing more and nothing less, and I had recently bought a bunch of fat quarters on sale at Joann’s.  The instructions couldn’t have been more clear or easy to follow.

Before I knew it, I had finished my produce bag!  The design is a little different.  One handle is long, and the other is short.  When you place your produce (or whatever else you are carrying) into the bag, you loop the long handle through the short one to cinch it.  When you are not using it, you can fold the bag into thirds, then roll it up, wrap the long handle around it, and pull it through the small handle.  This makes it very compact and easy to take along in your purse to use at the farmers market or grocery store.


Instagram Link Party: The Cranberry Bog

Time for another Instagram Link Party over at a {little} dash of ash!

Tadd and I met some friends at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival on Saturday.  It is one of our favorite annual events in Orlando and something we try to go to every year.

This year, one of the new additions to the festival is an actual cranberry bog, sponsored by Ocean Spray.  Throughout the day, they had someone in the bog raking the cranberries and answering questions about how they are harvested.

I’m sure most people have an idea of how it works, but if you don’t; the cranberries aren’t actually grown in water.  At harvest time, the fields are flooded and a special machine separates the berries from the plant.  The ripe berries will then float in the water, which makes gathering them easy.

The bog is a very cool addition to this year’s festival!  I always enjoy when they incorporate new and creative ideas and exhibits like this one.

Tuesday’s Tip: Diana’s Banana Babies

I know it has been a few weeks since my last Tuesday’s Tip, but I have something new I have found that I just love and wanted to share; Diana’s Banana Babies!

It’s simply half a frozen banana, dipped in dark chocolate, and it is delicious.  When frozen, the banana’s texture becomes very very close to ice cream.  It’s like eating a chocolate-covered banana-flavored ice cream bar.  I had never had a frozen banana before, and I guess I had no idea what I was missing out on.

I got 2 boxes of dark chocolate Banana Babies a few weeks ago when they were BOGO at Publix, but I will now be a loyal customer because they are so good.  They are also available in milk chocolate, and milk chocolate & peanut (which I would love to try, but my Publix didn’t have any available).  The dark chocolate variety are 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 3 Weight Watchers points each.

Check out their website for more info:  You can also follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

Disclaimer: Thoughts are my own.  I am not being paid to make the aforementioned
statements.  Simply reviewing products and providing tips of items that I love,
to share with my readers.

Tuesday’s Tip: MiO Liquid Water Enhancer

Sorry I’m getting this posted so late!  Busy, busy, busy getting ready for my trip, both at home and at work.  Why are vacations so stressful!?!  Anyways, better late than never, I suppose.

I like drinking water, because I really like how I feel when I know I am well-hydrated.  But I think most of us can agree that water can get boring after awhile.  Because of that, my water intake tends to fluctuate day-to-day depending on how motivated and focused I am in drinking the 64+ oz recommended by experts.  Anything to make drinking water more interesting is ok with me.  I used to use those Archer Farm (Target brand) powdered water flavoring packets (usually the strawberry lemonade flavor), which were ok, but after awhile I got tired of the chalkiness that you could sometimes taste as you drank it.  Crystal Light has a similar product, which I haven’t tried, but I imagine the same complaints would apply.

I had heard about MiO Liquid Water Enhancers before, but the $4 price kept me away until our trip to the grocery store last Friday.  While Tadd was getting his 2 liters of soda in the drink aisle, I happened to notice that they were on sale for $3.79 and there was a tearpad of $1 off coupons.  I thought $2.79 was a much more reasonable price than $4, so I decided to give it a try.  I chose the Berry Pomegranate flavor.

I have to say that I really like this stuff!  I put two squirts into my 20 oz water bottle, and it is the perfect amount of flavor!  It doesn’t taste like sickly-sweet Kool-Aid, but also not boring like plain water.  And since it’s already liquid, there’s no chalkiness.  And I love anything pomegranate, so this flavor works great for me.  Although I must say that now I am curious about the peach tea flavor.  It makes my water-drinking experience much more enjoyable.  I also love that each squirt is portioned, but if you want more flavor, you can just add another squirt.  Very easy to customize the flavor intensity that you want.

If you can get your hands on one of those $1 off coupons, this is definitely worth a try!

Disclaimer: Thoughts are my own.  I am not being paid to make the aforementioned
statements.  Simply reviewing products and providing tips of items that I love,
to share with my readers.

Tuesday’s Tip: Whole Fruit coconut fruit bars

Ok, this will be a short and sweet Tuesday’s Tip, but a good one!

I am not usually a big fan of Popsicles or Freeze Pops or other fruity-flavored frozen novelties. I would much rather have ice cream or frozen yogurt. However, THESE are a totally different story (sorry the pic is so small, it’s the best one I found):

Whole Fruit Coconut fruit bars

If you like both the flavor and the texture of coconut, then this is the summer treat for you.  They are creamy and taste like pure true coconut – NOT artificial at all, and NOT overly sweet.  And they are full of little bits of coconut as well.  Yes, they may be a little more fattening than the other flavors, but I think it’s worth it for the creamy texture, flavor, and the bits of real coconut.

Here’s a link to their website for more info on this and the other flavors they carry.  The lime and strawberry flavors are good too, and I want to try both the pineapple and peach flavors soon.  Unfortunately, when choosing flavors, it’s hard for me to pass up the coconut because I just love it so much.

What is your favorite frozen novelty or summer treat?

Disclaimer: Thoughts are my own.  I am not being paid to make the aforementioned
statements.  Simply reviewing products and providing tips of items that I love,
to share with my readers.