Archive for March, 2015

Oatmeal N’ Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake

Oatmeal N’ Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake is so yummy you don’t have to frost it.

We are all looking for convenience and believe me this cake is convenient. 

It sorta has the flavor of a oatmeal cookie and for some people’s taste, they will think there is coconut in this sheet cake.  

It does not have coconut, altho you could certainly add it if you wanted.

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I have quite a collection of sheet cakes and use them frequently.

They are great because it usually takes only 30 minutes from start to finish so it is a great cake to have when company or your children decide it is time for cake.

And let us face it….a nice cup of hot tea or coffee…. and a piece of warm sheet cake is like a Calgon, take me away moment.

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Do you remember those commercials for Calgon water/bath treatments where the tired/stressed out woman sinks into a silky tub of bubbles and the voice over is saying…. “Calgon, take me away”?

Well, maybe I am dating myself but I certainly do remember, and that is why I feel so good relaxing with a piece of sheet cake loaded with walnuts and chocolate chips…it is my “take me away” moment!

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That and the beautiful flowers and trees of Spring.

I have always loved Batchelor Buttons and used to play in the wheat fields where the little buttons grew in every color imaginable…. in and among the golden strands of wheat. Soft pinks, blues, lavenders and white.

(Of course the wheat farmer didn’t share my enthusium) ;(

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And I love the way the yellow daffodils and Jonquils welcome in the Morning.

And we must not forget the beautiful red bud trees…..which do happen to grow in Florida, just not in SW Florida! I am in Zone 10….:(  

Are you, my dear readers seeing signs of Spring at your home?

This printable sheet cake recipe below would be a great addition to your Spring Flower Celebrations!

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Oatmeal N' Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake
This is another recipe for a sheet cake which is my "go to" cakes if company is coming...or if company is not coming. Simply Yummy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  2. 1 cup rolled oats
  3. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  4. 1 cup white sugar
  5. 1/2 cup butter (cut into cubes and slightly softened)
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  12. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pour boiling water into a medium sized mixing bowl and add the oatmeal. Set aside for about 10 minutes, softening the oats.
  3. Once the oats are softened....add the softened butter and mix well.
  4. Add sugar, brown sugar, and eggs, mixing until completely blended.
  5. Add flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt
  6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured sheet pan (10 x 17 x 1 inch)...or whatever sized sheet pan you have (1/2 sheet cake pan is the one I use)
  7. Top with lots of chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. This sheet cake does not need icing...it is moist and delicious and the chocolate chips (and walnuts) on top give it an icing flavor...however, if you would like to ice the cake....you could use a white powdered sugar icing, a chocolate powdered sugar icing or a cream cheese icing. Recipes are in my recipe file under sheet cakes.
  2. If you would like to have chocolate chips in your cake and on top of your cake, ...just put half (or more) of the chocolate chips in with the flour...that way they won't sink to the bottom of your cake when baking.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg!

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg!

It is that age old question isn’t it?

I love eggs and I love chickens….to not only raise, but to eat.

Chicken Salad is one of my most favorite salads!

I love almost any kind of chicken, whether it be baked, broiled, bar-b-qued, fried, deep fried, chicken pot pie…well, you get the idea.

I grew up eating chicken every Sunday after church.

Well, sometimes it would be Pot Roast…but most Sundays…it was chicken, and fried was the method my Mother used most often.

A lot of that had to do with the fact that on the farm, we raised chickens. …so we always had fresh eggs for breakfast too.

I carried on that tradition when I married and we lived on the Ranch in N.M. and when we lived on the Farm in Missouri.

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I have an old, tin pic on my counter top of a Plymouth Rock hen sitting on eggs that tells the story of my love of chickens and eggs.

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And I really like the “heavy” breeds like Plymouth Rock (above) and the Buff Orpington (below) !

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I would still be raising chickens if the city would allow me, but here in Cape Coral, Florida…there are lots of restrictions.  

(I would love to sneak in one hen and hide her in the corner of my Secret Garden just to be able to have fresh eggs every day,…but alas, I have to obey the rules)

However, I am still searching for a farmer across the bridge who is willing to sell eggs ….but that is another story. ;(

You know there is nothing like a fresh egg…if you have ever tasted fresh eggs, you will know what I mean. The pic below shows a store bought egg on the left and a freshly laid egg from a farm on the right.

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The yolk is darker, larger and richer tasting than the store bought egg.

Enough about eggs and chickens….how about a recipe for chicken salad using dried cranberries? 

Below is the recipe using left over chicken or you can use one of those rotisserie chickens at your supermarket. 

Chicken Salad is soooooo good! So is egg salad!

Do you, my dear readers like to buy your eggs and chickens from the super market or from a local farmer?

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Chicken Salad For Lunch
Who doesn't love chicken salad? And if you are using a rotisserie chicken from your supermarket deli...you can whip this up in no time..
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup miracle whip or you can use mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 sour cream
  3. 1 tablespoon of finely chopped sweet pickle or you can use pickle relish.
  4. 1/2 cup of celery, sliced thin
  5. 1/4 cup of finely minced red onion
  6. 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  7. 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
  8. 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (you could also use dried cherries)
  9. 2 cups of chopped, shredded chicken (I use a Rotisserie chicken from my Supermarket Deli)
  10. sliced green onions for garnish on the top
  11. Lettuce "shells"
Instructions
  1. Mix the Miracle Whip and sour cream together in a medium sized bowl
  2. Add the pickles, celery, red onion, and garlic powder, stirring well to distribute evenly
  3. Add the dried cranberries and the chopped chicken.
  4. Scoop the chicken salad onto a large lettuce leaf and top with green onion slices.
Notes
  1. You can also use this recipe for chicken salad sandwiches....simply yummy!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Why Not Re-Paint?

Why Not Re-Paint?

Many years ago, ….I purchased a little beige Bistro Table with two chairs.

Our first deck at our house in Kansas City was small… We had lattice sides on the deck that I intertwined ivy (fake) and then I added outdoor sheer curtains… because I liked the privacy and the romance of it. Luckily, we had no neighbors behind our home. πŸ™‚

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So this small table and chairs was perfect.

Then the Captain and I moved to a bigger house….and the little table and chairs followed us to that deck which was a little larger. This house has a greenspace behind us which I really love….I loved sitting on the deck watching deer and wild turkey walk through the yard.

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When Boeing transferred me to Seattle, we took the table and chairs with us and added an umbrella. If you look behind the car, you can see the blue umbrella hovering over the table and chairs. (sorry, I didn’t have a good pic of the table)

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Yes, we lived for two years in our RV while living in Seattle. ….and yes, I had to make it look like home, so I bought baskets of flowers and 3 potted evergreen trees, which I later donated to our gated community when we moved to Florida.

The Captain and I looked upon this as an adventure….and we loved it.

Finally, the little Bistro table and chairs landed with us here in Florida.  

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I put the set in an area in the front of the house, which is mainly a vignette. (we have so many areas to sit outside that it became more of a “setting”….staged, so to speak.)

The years have started taking a toll and the chairs and table were beginning to show rust. 

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But I just couldn’t toss it out…so I decided to give it new life by painting it.  I think that is my finger in the bottom of the picture….at least I hope it is my finger. πŸ™‚

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I lightly sanded the rust spots….I wasn’t sure if I could actually get some of the rust out, but what I didn’t get out…the paint covered. 

I used a paint plus primer so I didn’t have to paint the set twice. 

I just love modern technology. 

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I just put newspaper under each piece as I painted….made it as simple as possible.

I am very pleased that the Bistro Table and Chairs are looking so pretty in their turquoise blue and I think the set is thanking me.

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 OK…I told you I am a bit weird. πŸ™‚

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Do you have anything, my dear readers… that needs a refreshing new lease on life?

Grab a can of spray paint.

Have a great week-end! πŸ˜‰

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Herb Gardens….

Herb Gardens….

I love cooking with Herbs and I sorta like growing them.

The reason I said sorta like is because sometimes, Florida is not Herb Friendly!  

And I don’t mean my neighbor Herb. πŸ™‚ OK, sorry bad joke!

When we moved into this house, there was a huge mound of rosemary that made the whole garden smell like…well, kinda like licorice. (And Rosemary from across the street, I am not speaking about you either) πŸ˜‰

Sorry, I just happen to have wonderful neighbors who happen to have Herb names.

But I digress.

I found a way to grow herbs with a special grow light that is supposed to be fool proof.

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I am sure you have heard of hydroponic systems which are used to grow plants …and now herbs.

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 The herbs come in little containers that you place into the nutrient and water solution and then you set it and forget it and in a few weeks you are supposed to come away with abundant herbs.

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 The grow light (which can be raised and lowered) is on a timer….on for 16 hours, off for 9 hours.  

I will keep you posted on how these herbs do in my utility room. πŸ˜‰ You can see the progress they have made so far.

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I currently have herbs growing outside…in the ground….chives, rosemary, cilantro, peppermint, basil and sage and they seem to be doing ok. I just love going to my Secret Garden and snipping off fresh herbs while I am cooking.

Picture this…..a pot of pasta water gently boiling on the stove. Me, in my flowered apron with a pair of scissors in the Secret Garden snipping basil for pesto, all the while strains of Pavarotti singing  “La Boheme” drifting through the quiet morning.  

See, I seem to find romance and day dreams while I am cooking for my Captain. 

I also found this beautiful basket of Herbs at the Nursery last week and I absolutely love it.  

I just couldn’t resist buying it and placing it on one of the stone benches in my Secret Garden! 1133[1]

The wire basket with handle is filled with Parsley, Thyme, Garlic Chives, Basil, Cilantro, Spearmint, and oregano….and has a metal “Herbs” label on the side of the basket.

Do you my dear readers like growing Herbs in little pots on your window sills?

I think it is time for ravioli…recipe to follow soon. πŸ™‚

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No In-State Rivalry Here

No In-State Rivalry Here….by that I mean, don’t believe all the hype the media spouts.

We are talking College Basketball here.

Particularly Kansas Jayhawks and Wichita State Shockers.

There is definitely in-state rivalry between Kansas University Jayhawks (KU) and Kansas State University Wildcats (KSU)….but no rivalry exists between Wichita State and KU …or KSU!

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Wichita State is not included in any pre-season games for anyone in the Big 12 Conference. 
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However, here is an interesting tidbit.

In February 2013, Kansas state senator Michael O’Donnell introduced a bill requiring Kansas and Kansas State to schedule Wichita State.

It hasn’t happened and most likely will not happen, no matter the outcome of the Kansas University/Wichita State Shocker game last Sunday evening. 

Being a true fan means sharing losses as well as cheering wins.

Sunday evening was a sad day in this household.

The Jayhawks, who I support, win or lose…did lose…. to the Wichita State Shockers.  BUT no in-state rivalry by this fan or by KU!

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In the above pics of the Wichita State Coach, Gregg Marshall….(these pics were taken just after the game ended and the Coaches and Teams form a line to shake hands)…I have to admit that I have never seen a winning coach clapping and smiling over a win as he is meeting the opposing coach.

Most Coaches are serious and humbled….win or lose. 

Perhaps the win meant a little more to Wichita State.

Just sayin’

A little Background on these 3 Kansas teams. 

There are three (2 Major and 1 Mid Major) college basketball teams in the state of Kansas…Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats (we call them K-State) and Wichita State Shockers. The two Kansas teams, KU and KSU are in the Big 12 Conference….and considered to be the “Big Dogs” for lack of a better term.

The Shockers are in the Missouri Valley Conference which had two teams who made it to the NCAA Tournament, Northern Iowa and the Shockers.

The Big 12 conference sent 7 teams out of the 10 teams making up the conference….to the NCAA Tournament, which is quite an accomplishment.

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However, there are only two teams remaining in the NCAA tournament from our conference…Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Wichita State has always been considered the “puppy dog wanting to play with the Big Dogs” (Kansas and K-State) and frankly they were never considered a “good” basketball program.  

However, in the last couple years they have been able to recruit some great players, acquired a great coach and have made themselves known by being invited to the NCAA Tournament.  

You can imagine their excitement at the opportunity to play one of the “Big Dogs” and even more exciting …being able to win. 

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 The Jayhawks played the first half of the game with the Shockers pretty well….up by 8….and then in the second half, the Shockers came back with a vengeance and played very good basketball while the Jayhawks struggled, resulting in a loss and the end of the season for KU.

But that is ok…we have young guys (mostly freshmen) on our team and many said KU would not be very good this year. However, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 Championship for the 11th straight year.  Unheard of in other conferences.

So now, we give credit to the Wichita State Shockers who brought their best Seniors and their desire to beat the Big Dogs.  

The old saying “If you can’t play with the Big Dogs, stay off the porch” no longer applies.  They proved they could play with the Big Dogs and all power to them.  

I wish them well as they continue on their NCAA Tourney journey.  

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Meanwhile, it is still Rock Chalk Jayhawk for me….win or lose! I can’t wait until next Season!

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Cinderella!

Cinderella!

I love fairy tales…..I love Disney movies and I really liked this latest version of Cinderella!

Cinderella is played by Lily James, and perhaps you might remember her from the English drama, Downton Abbey, where she played the part of  Lady Rose MacClare.

The movie stays true to the original cartoon movie, but the prologue opening explains how Cinderella was placed into such a deplorable household.

“Ella” spent the first 10 years of her life in absolute bliss, with a loving mother and father. Ella loved animals and actually talked to them and played with them…of course, the animals did not talk back as in some Disney movies.

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Then tragedy strikes and Ella loses her mother to illness and many years later, her father marries the imperious stepmother, played by Cate Blanchett.

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Yes, when her father travels to earn a living, Lady Termaine and her two indolent daughters make Cinderella a “slave” of sorts, which Ella allows, because her mother taught her to “have courage and be kind”.  Ella’s life is turned completely upside down when her father dies on his travels. 

Of course we all know how Ella’s name became Cinderella, ….she would sleep by the fireplace in the kitchen for warmth and her face would have smudges of ashes…hence the step sisters named her “Cinderella” in mocked derision.

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Then there is the famous Ball to which all are invited to meet the Prince… who is seeking a wife from all the eligible maidens in the Kingdom.

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and then there is the Fairy Godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, who provides Cinderella with the most amazing blue dress…it is just magical.

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The second meeting of the Prince, played by Richard Madden, (who played Rob Stark in Game of Thrones), sends Cinderella into the magical world of happily ever after stories….

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Ella never dares to dream she might be the one chosen by the Prince.

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And Don’t forget those glass slippers…..uh huh! πŸ™‚

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And the clock striking midnight!

But I don’t want to spoil the story for you, you will just have to go see it yourself and see how it ends! πŸ˜‰

I like when I go away from a movie smiling….and this movie made me smile.

A fairy tale?  Yes, but what is wrong with believing in fairy tales?

Have a great day, my dear readers!

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Jesse James is ready to hit the open road!

Jesse James is ready to hit the open road!!

Our little Pom who doesn’t realize that he is not “people”.

Having ‘Jesse James’ around, brightens my day just watching his antics.

Many times his expressions speak louder than words!

When he came to live with us almost 7 years ago…we decided to name him ‘Jesse James’ because he was just so darn cute…. and he stole our hearts, like a little bandit.

We do spoil him and he thinks he is a “people”…..not a…a….a dog! 

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He loves to ride in my convertible….in his car seat! 

Yes, Jesse has a car seat.

After all, he needs to be able to see where he is going and he needs to be ‘safe’, with a seatbelt!

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All I have to say is “do you want to go for a ride?” and he is front and center immediately!

But as with most things…..there can be drawbacks, such as sun and wind in his eyes.

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So after I bought the car seat, the next thing I bought him was his Ball Cap.

There were so many Ball Caps that were girly or pink or purple and I just couldn’t see him in one of those, so because he is patriotic (he follows me to the flag pole and sits patiently while I tend to the American Flag)…I bought him the ole’ red, white and blue!

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Then next progressions was sunglasses! (I never go anywhere without sunglasses, and now neither does Jesse)

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Aren’t they cool with their “manly” racing stripes? The side pieces protect the sides of his eyes from the wind while I am whizzing down the road at about 30 mph!

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Jesse is asking…are we going or what?

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You said lets go for a ride……so lets get with it!

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So what is the hold-up here?  

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Let’s get our sunglasses and Ball Caps and hit the road….. 

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OK…we are set! 

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Do I look cute?  I think I got it goin’ on, don’t I?

The open road is callin’ me!

Kitty Kitty has to get her 2 cents in…..

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 Why does he always get to go and all I get to do is stay home and lay by the pool?

You know I think Kitty Kitty needs sunglasses and a hat too! Perhaps for her birthday when she turns a year old.:)

He is your friend, your partner, your defender,  your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader.

He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last

beat of his heart.

  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

Author Unknown

Do you my dear readers have a “people” pet?

Enjoy this beautiful day after Spring!

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Pineapple Sheet Cake

Pineapple Sheet Cake!

If you have followed my Blog, you will see recipes for different varieties of sheet cakes.

I love the ease of making these sheet cakes and have been making them for years.

The baking pan does make a difference in how you want your sheet cake to turn out.

Sheet pans come in 1/4 size, 1/2 size, 3/4 size, 1/8 size and full size sheet pan…altho, the full size pans require a very large oven and are usually used by commercial bakers. So be sure to measure your oven before purchasing a full size sheet pan. πŸ™‚

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You can buy most of these sheet pans at most department stores…Wal-Mart carries the 1/4 and 1/2.  If you want the 3/4 or full sized sheet pans, you might have to go to a “Kitchen Store”.

I prefer to use the 13 x 18 x 1 inch size sheet pan for all my sheet cakes…..the half-sized sheet pan.

I have about 5 or 6 of these half-sized sheet pans, because I also use them for cookie baking….especially at Christmas Cookie baking time…I can have a sheet pan in the oven, a sheet pan cooling, a sheet pan loaded with cookies and perhaps another waiting in the wings!

So sheet pans are a good investment.

Now, back to this recipe for sheet cake.

The pineapple makes the cake moist and by putting the cream cheese frosting on the warm cake from the oven….well, it just makes this sheet cake outstanding and delish!

Of course you can take any sheet cake recipe and make cupcakes and frost in the same way as you would the sheet cake (putting the icing on a warm cupcake)…that is the great thing about the Icing recipes.

Or, you could choose a different icing, but would most likely have to wait until the cupcakes cooled.

If you are a lover of sheet cakes…check out my recipes for Thin Cocoa Cake, Peanut Butter Cake, White Sheet Cake, and Pumpkin Sheet Cake just to name a few.

The printable recipe is below for the Pineapple Sheet Cake.

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Pineapple Sheet Cake
I have said many times that I love sheet cakes and this is another recipe for a 30 minute cake...baked and frosted. The pineapple makes this cake so moist and delicious!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 cups white sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
Icing
  1. 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  2. 1/2 cup butter
  3. 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour, sugar and baking soda in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla and crushed pineapple (do not drain the pineapple)
  3. Blend together until all ingredients are incorporated
  4. Pour batter into a greased and floured sheet pan (13 X 18 X 1)
  5. Bake at 350 degree preheated oven for about 30 minutes
  6. You can insert a toothpick into the cake to test for doneness but sometimes you will insert into pineapple and it still looks wet (if you use a smaller baking pan...8 x 10...the cake will take about 15 minutes longer to bake
  7. 5 Minutes before cake is done, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla using a hand mixer in a medium bowl
  8. Beat until the icing is nice and creamy and then spread the icing on the warm cake
  9. Sprinkle the top with pecans if desired
Notes
  1. If you like quick and easy sheet cakes, check out my recipes for Thin Cocoa Cake, White Sheet Cake, Peanut Butter Sheet Cake, Pumpkin Sheet Cake and Strawberry Sheet Cake! Yummy!!!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Our St. Patrick’s Day Celebration!

Our St. Patrick’s Day Celebration….yesterday!

“Top O’ the Mornin’ to yee”….and your response back might be….”And the rest O’ the day to yourself”! 

I am sure if you were in an office atmosphere or just greeting friends, you heard many attempts at Irish accents.

It is that time of year when everyone becomes “Irish”….and perhaps they dance a jig while wearin’ leprechaun hats and shoes.

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It’s Here….the Ides of March!

It’s Here….the Ides of March!

March Madness!

Tourney Time!

Bracketology at it’s best!

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 College Basketball Tourney that is…and yes, my continual support of the Kansas Jayhawks!

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I am sure for those of you who are not sports fans….have decided I am off my rocker to be to excited and “into” College Basketball Tournaments.

For the next three week-ends (beginning on Thursday)…I will be living eating and breathing Basketball.

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I will not miss a game….I will be cheering and jeering and the usual “fan” stuff.

I will be checking my brackets, (I have filled out two) hoping my chosen teams will win…but then I have never been able to pick all the winners.

I have come close…but never, have I picked all the winners. πŸ™

First there are 68 teams….16 teams in each of the Midwest, East, South and West Regions.

Below is the Midwest part of the Bracket and Kansas, ranked #2 paired with New Mexico State ranked #15 towards the bottom of the bracket. (Do you catch the irony in that pairing?…..we lived in New Mexico for years)

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You might say, why haven’t you been able to pick all the winners…since you intently study and watch the games?

Simple reasoning.

Human predictability!

It is very difficult to determine how college basketball players will play on any given day.

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If they have played a rough game the night before…they can either be too tired for the next game or they can play even better because they played the night before and are all “revved” up. 

Sometimes there are exceptional players who play un-exceptional. Perhaps they are not feeling good or they have received sad news or they are just tired.

Perhaps they have lost their confidence because their last 3 attempted baskets have been air-balls.

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Perhaps they will play too tough and hard and end up fouling out of the game at a critical moment.

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Bottom line, it is a team sport. It takes all five of the players and the bench and the Coach to all be on the same page at the same time.

Human predictability!

It doesn’t always happen.

That is what makes watching the games so exciting!

The term “Cinderella Team” was coined as the least likely team to be invited to the “Dance” of March Madness, AND the team to win games well into the bracket. The Cinderella Team is the X-Factor…the most unpredictable of teams.

Yes, there are many factors that keep the heart pumping and the synergy flowing through all the games of the tournament.

However, there is one thing that could zap the energy and send one into a downward spiral…..losing early in the tournament.

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Yep!…that is when one usually packs away the team jerseys, the pom poms, the team banners and the Cheese Puffs! 

Zealous fans will still watch the tournament, (usually)…. but without all the adrenalin and anxiety. 

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That is when they wait a couple weeks and then start planning for the next year.

Not that it has ever happened to me.

OK….there was that one time……:)

Have a great Day and if you are into March Madness…may your team advance to the finals….unless they play the Kansas Jayhawks. πŸ™‚

Excuse me please, I have to submit one of my brackets, this could be the year that I get them all right.

“NOT” πŸ™‚

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