Grasshopper Poke Cake

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One of Ryan Barrett Walkush's absolute favorite things is mint. So, when I happened upon this recipe, I knew that the right thing to do was to stash it away and test it out on his birthday. It was the right thing to do.

This cake is layers of chocolate and mint yummi-ness. Hard to go wrong. And while we used it as a birthday cake, this would also make the perfect dessert to bring to any upcoming Summer and holiday cookouts.


Grasshopper Poke Cake


1 box of devil's food cake mix
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


14.5 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12.8 oz jar hot fudge sauce
10 oz package Keebler Grasshopper Mint & Fudge Cookies, crushed
16 oz container Cool Whip 
2 capfuls peppermint flavoring
4.67 oz package Andes Mints, chopped
green food coloring (if desired)



  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11 x 13 pan. Set aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute until ingredients are incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more. The batter should look well blended.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 28 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  4. Use the bottom of a wooden spoon to poke holes evenly across the entire cake (about 24 holes). Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the cake, making sure to fill the holes.
  5. Heat the hot fudge sauce in a small bowl in the microwave to soften, about 15 seconds.
  6. Mix half of the crumbled cookies into the hot fudge sauce. Spread the cookie/fudge sauce over the cake, making sure to fill the holes.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together 2 capfuls of peppermint flavoring and the Cool Whip. If desired, add green food coloring until desired color is achieved. Spread the whipped topping over the fudge layer.
  8. Spread the remaining cookie crumbs over top of the Cool Whip. Sprinkle the chopped Andes Mint over top.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.



Notes: 

If an even easier version of this recipe is desired, prepare the boxed cake mix according to package directions. Directions given are for a Doctored Devil's Food Cake and this same cake can be paired with your favorite frosting in lieu of making as a poke cake.

If you are interested in other Doctored Cake Mix Recipes, give these a looksee:



Memorial Day Weekend in Pictures: May 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It's been a little while since I last did a "My Week in Pictures" post, and while this isn't really a full week's worth of pictures- just those from the long holiday weekend, I thought it might be fun to share.  And no, we didn't go anywhere special, but we did manage to cram a lot of stuff into a few short days.  So here's a look at how we spent our time.

We started our weekend on Friday night at a cool little barbeque spot in Nashville.  We dined outside on the patio.  The weather was perfect!


And here's Lexi enjoying her favorite entree, the menu.  She's a connoisseur- only the finest for her.  


After dinner, we walked around and stopped for popcicles at another favorite spot, Las Palates.  Yum yum.  


And then before heading home, we spied this cool bench that read "Vintage" so Lexi and I stopped for a photo.  It sat right outside a little vintage clothing store that I also strolled through.  The owner says they are never open at night but she had a lot of inventory to work through so her doors were still open.  Lucky for me!  I didn't make any purchases, but I do love taking a peek at vintage clothes. 


On Saturday morning, we headed over to the Nashville Flea Market where we scored the green hanging basket pictured behind Lexi in the photo below. 



But my find of the day was this 1967 Fisher Price Tuggy Tooter toy.  It has special meaning to my husband's family.  When I saw it, I could hardly believe my eyes.  It's in perfect condition too- the foot pedal still works and it still toots right along.   



I loved these signs.  The Flamingo Motel and Mayberry Feed and Seed are my favorites.  But they didn't come home with us.  Sometimes it just fun to window shop too!



Saturday night was our neighborhood party.  It was a low country boil of crawfish and shrimp, with every side dish you can imagine.  Here's a street view as we started setting up.  The tent to the far left is our yard.  


The guys cooked the main fare.  Here's a look at it before everyone dug in.  




And here are me and some of my neighbors at the party.  It was such a fun night!  We dined in the street as the music and the kids played.  Lexi took a little nap in her stroller as I chatted with the neighbors.  Good times!



Sunday brought a few projects.  John handily recovered our coffee table, which has been in need of some attention lately.  


And Lexi started testing it out immediately.


I decided to gussy up the front yard for Memorial Day with these little flags.  I wish I had done it a day earlier for the block party, but alas I was a day late (for that- but still a day early for the holiday).


I couldn't help but notice how our roses are taking off this spring.  They are just so lovely I had to share.


We purchased these ground cover roses at the Flea Market on Saturday and got them in the ground over the weekend too. 





...As well as this Don Juan climbing rose.  This variety is old, old, old.  It's a traditional rose like you rarely see anymore.  The petals are like red velvet.  We planted it at the base of my dinner bell so it can climb right on up. 



And I finally planted my hen and chicks.  Now that was a chore.  No wonder I've been putting it off. Funny story, these pots were free (there are 3 of them).  John found them on the curb on trash day and brought them home.  I guess someone else was tired of planting these buggers too. But you can't beat the price and I do love how they turned out. 


I laughed so hard when I saw this sitting in my flower bed.  Looks like John has been doing some pest control again.  Although all I can think is Elmer Fudd.  Silly husband.


 I clipped quite a few roses from the garden and brought them in. 


I wish you could smell these.  They are heaven.



Then it was time for a break at the pool.  Dang that water was cold.  I had planned to get in but didn't once I did a quick temperature check.  Lexi winced upon entry but didn't cry, thank goodness.












Once she got warmed up, she was good to go!



It was off to the races.  This girl is a little guppy- kick, kick, splash, splash...  She loves the water!


After a while it was time to warm up again.  Mama brought lots of big fluffy beach towels.


Snuggle, snuggle little one.  



It was a rainy Memorial Day for us.  But that didn't really stop our plans.   


We drove down to Bell Buckle, TN for some country cooking and a little antiquing. First stop was lunch at the Bell Buckle Cafe.




And here was my lunch- pinto beans, fried okra, sliced tomatoes, green beans, cornbread and sweet tea.  Need I say more?


This cafe is just so cute.  Take a look at how they decorated their front porch.



And I'd be willing to bet that most people don't know that Bell Buckle is home to the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival each summer.  Oh, and they are proud of their roots.





We bought a couple moon pies to take home.  John ate his.  Mine is still glaring at me from the kitchen counter.  I just can't bring myself to eat it.  Marshmellow fan I am not.



John found the train parked in the center of town and stopped for a picture. 


Then Lexi had to take a spin too, of course.


Last stop was at the local ice cream shop.  Lexi has discovered her love of ice cream, as you can see here.  


Then it was a rainy drive back home to end the weekend.  I did a quick peek out the back door to be sure we hadn't left anything out in the yard that shouldn't get wet, and this is what I found.  That's one of Izzie's babies floating in her waterlogged frisbee.  It appears to be doing the backstroke.  No worries.  I've seen worse.


So that was it.  A fine weekend indeed.  Lots of fun- even if we just stayed home.  I hope your's was just as good.  It's the moments between the moments where memories happen.  It's all important and all good.  Here's to a good (short) week ahead!

Get Ready for Summer with Our Sun Safety Tips

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Now that summer is upon us and our minds wander to thoughts of long days lounging by the pool or maybe a WEEK (or more if you're lucky) of lazily kicking back at the beach, we need to be reminded to exercise caution while being exposed to all that extra sunshine. 

UV radiation is the cause. Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, although we are certainly exposed to it more frequently during the warmer months. 

UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy days, as well as sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like cement (poolside!), sand, water (beach!), and snow (not just in summer months!). 

Did you know that it’s as easy as sitting in the shade or wearing sunglasses and a hat to reduce the rate of skin cancer?

With this in mind, we've put together a top ten list of sun safety tips:



1. Wherever you are, seek out shade. Don’t sit in direct sunlight. Large trees, a large Southern porch, or a beach umbrella provide the perfect solution.



2. When you think of sun protective clothing, consider a long sleeved chambray shirt or a crisp linen shirt. Because these cover your arms, they are perfect for sun protection. 


If using as a beach cover up, keep in mind that a wet shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.

3. Pack sunglasses wherever you go. Leave a spare pair in your car and carry extras in your purse. 



As a BONUS tip, opt for unisex styles that can be worn by anyone in your family! Aviators are the perfect style to swap if someone forgets a pair. You can buy stylish designs at lower prices at places like TJ Maxx, so you won't feel bad about purchasing multiple pairs! Of course, my boys will wear ANY sunglasses they happen to find - even the "girly" ones!



If you already WEAR glasses to correct your vision (like some of the Harris Sisters) then buy a pair of prescription sunglasses from your optometrist when you go for your annual checkup. I have worn prescription sunglasses since 2013.


4. Put a lid on it! A wide brimmed hat protects your scalp, your whole face, your ears, and the nape of your neck when poolside or at the beach. Consider a ball cap for all that extra time in the bleachers and/or on the sidelines at kids' sporting events.




5. Put on broad spectrum sunscreen with AT LEAST SPF 15 before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. For children, aim for AT LEAST SPF 30. Remember to check the sunscreen’s expiration date before using it. 

Put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin before you get dressed (which makes it easier not to "miss a spot"). Remember that exposed skin includes often forgotten areas such as ears, neck, toes, and scalp (if you have a part in your hair and are not wearing a hat). Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back.


Don't forget that sunscreen wears off. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

6. Did you know that insect repellents reduce sunscreen’s SPF by up to 1/3? To avoid getting burned and being attacked by bugs, choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF to counteract the reduction in effectiveness. 


7. Our family loves the being outside in the summer, but we try to consider the times of day that we are outside during these months. The sun is most aggressive between the hours of 10 AM - 4 PM. So with keeping that in mind, you can visit the pool or beach in the early morning and evening hours and plan other activities during those peak sun hours. Remember, you'll never be able to enjoy beautiful sunrises or sunsets, if you're only out in the sun during the middle of the day! ;-)


8. Fake it till you make it! We Harris Sisters are fans of the fake tan and NEVER tan any other way than from a bottle. This is our review of the best products on the market for a perfect faux tan.


9. Don’t underestimate a cloudy day. Just because the clouds are out, doesn't mean the sun isn't out. Always remember your sun safety tips even if it doesn't seem all that sunny.


10. The BEST way to ensure you are sun protected is to use a combination of all the tips listed above. You can never be too cautious when it comes to sun protection.