Cake Boss // A Naked Cake Tutorial + Box Cake Mix Hack

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

If I could I would spend all day in the kitchen.. cooking, baking, reorganizing. I seriously love every aspect of it. I'm always excited to try something new, especially when it's for a celebration.

Lots of my friends have been having birthdays recently and I was on the hunt to try something new. I like to go all out for a party and I think a fun cake screams Happy Birthday. I was inspired by Milk Bar NYC's naked cakes to recreate my own version down here in ole Tennessee.

It may not be as pretty yet, but I like the messy, homemade aspect of it and with my lil' box cake mix hack, no one will be able to tell this isn't a homemade cake!

It seems like a lot, but in reality it's all very easy and fun! The best part of being in the kitchen is trying something new, finding a new favorite and seeing the smiles on everyone faces. 

How to make any box cake mix taste homemade, bakery fresh:: 

So the rule for pimping up your box cake to a bakery delight is this--

Look at the required extras on the back of the box, add an extra one-two eggs depending on how rich you want it, replace the oil with melted butter and double the amount, replace water with milk and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. 

Here's how I did it per the back of our cake box (Hubby said this is the best cake I've  e v e r  made) 

1 Box of Cake Mix
1-2 Tubs of Icing (I used one full tub in between the layers & didn't use any on the top)
4 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Butter
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Combine all ingredients
2. Mix until well combined and batter has thickened, it took about 3 minutes in my mixer
3.  Bake according to instructions 

You can use this cake hack to make any cake but today I wanted to show you how I turned this into an adorable, fun naked cake

How to Make a Naked Cake:: 

This has become my go to for birthday cakes lately! It's fun and unique, everyone always love it but most of all - it looks super complicated while actually being more simple than a normal cake! Shhh! 

1 Box of Cake Mix
1-2 Tubs of Icing (I used one full tub in between the layers & didn't use any on the top)
4 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Butter
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Decorations: Sprinkles, Strawberries/Berries, Flowers, Iced Animal Crackers, Candy, Etc. 

1. Mix all ingredients together
2. On a greased cookie sheet (with a raised edge), pour your batter and use a spatula to spread batter evenly
3.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (It cooks faster on the cookie sheet, so check on it often to be sure it doesn't over cook)
4. Allow to cool completely in the fridge
5. Find a plate or bowl that is the size you want your cake rounds to be. The smaller the circle, the more layers you will have
6. Gently place your circles on the cake and trace around them with a knife, cutting down to the pan
7. Use a fork to remove excess cake and store in a tupperware container (I love snacking on this while decorating the cake!)
8. Carefully use a spatula to remove your first cake round, place on a cake stand/desired serving plate
9. Using a silicone spatula, ice the first later of cake. I like to add a lot of icing in between since there isn't going to be any on the outside*
10. Repeat for all layers
11. Once finished with your layers, decorate! You can also take a knife and trace around the outside of the cake to smooth everything out. I get a lot of question about how I put the sprinkles on the side-- I just put a cup full in my palm and quickly but gently smash it into the side of the cake. 

*I heat my icing in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds so that it is easier to spread! 

If you like this post, check out this post with Eight Easy Ways to Upgrade a Store Bought Cake!

This cake seems intimidating because there are a lot of steps, but I promise it's super easy! I wanted to be thorough explaining everything! If you have any questions about either tutorial, please comment below. I love, love, love baking for people, I wish I could mail each and every one of you a naked cake! xo

How to Grow Old in Friendship

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

While I'm going to admit, I'm far from 'Growing Old' but life is still changing and there is one thing that is increasingly harder to hold onto. As I've gotten older, gone through different life stages, I have found friendships are so different. Suddenly, we're getting new jobs, getting married, having babies and a girl's night out is far in between. 

It's sad but one of things I've learned is just a part of life. I'm so lucky to say I'm still surrounded by an incredible group of girls who have supported me, celebrated with me and loved me through so many different life stages. 

I have to toot my own horn for a moment and say that I think I'm pretty good at maintaining a friendship-relationship-work-life balance. Although I'm married, I can pretty positively say I talk to all my best friends at least once a week but usually more. 

It hasn't been easy though. There have been fights, lost friendships and struggles on the way but I wanted to share my tips on maintaining and growing old in friendship. 

I've been so emotional thinking about this post and rounding up all the pictures made it ten times worse!! I know I'm so blessed in life and the friendship section is overflowing. Looking at our adventures, fun times and memories makes me cry!! I had to include so many photos with the tips so I hope you enjoy this little (ok not so little) photo diary! 😉

-Communicate. I know this seems like a no brainer but one that is so important. I am the queen of taking on too many tasks and leaving me with 0 free time but I utilize every opportunity to catch up with friends.. phone calls in the car, grocery store or gym, texting during lunch breaks or downtime at night, watching snapchats, etc. Just stay up to date!! It helps especially with those long distance friendships. You could even schedule weekly phone calls so you have a 

-Spending Time Together. Ok, ok I know at this point you're thinking these are the most obvious tips ever but hear me out. It's easy to plan something on the weekend and go do it together but sometimes weeks can go by before I have a free weekend. My solution: call your bestie up to run errands together, hit the grocery store together, invite her over for wine while you fold laundry, meal prep together.. DO ALL THE BORING STUFF TOGETHER AND MAKE IT FUN! 

-Long Distance Lovers. Ok, I have so many tips for this one because one of my best friends lives 5 hours away yet I feel like I am more update on her life than some of my friends who live in town with me. In fact, we recently went SIX months without seeing each other but I was shocked when I did the math, it felt like no time had passed. First, we text non stop. Even if it's just stupid stuff, screenshots, dumb memes, we're always chatting, making each other laugh. We plan trips (more about this below) together, tell each other everything and never miss a beat. That way when we do get together, it doesn't feel like strangers because we literally know everything about each other. 

-Traditions. Another way to stay close is through traditions. I have one where we road trip together once a year. It could be a long road trip or a short day getaway, but knowing we have that time together each year is so special and builds so many memories. You could even make your tradition, going to your favorite restaurant every Tuesday for Taco Tuesday. 

-Obsess Over the Same Things. Right now, my long distance best friend and I are listening to the same podcast. This gives us something to talk about non stop. It's fun giving us something similar to talk about, exchange theories about and look forward to together. Another friend of mine and I are obsessed with Pretty Little Liars, we get together on Tuesdays to watch it and text each other our theories non stop. Maybe you're training for a race together, learning to cook together or just obsessed with a certain celeb.. it's fun having that special thing for just the two of you. 

-Travel Together. Some of my favorite memories are on girl's trips. Even if it's just an overnight stay in a near by city taking that time to explore somewhere new together is so important. I know money can be tight so search places like Groupon, Priceline and Kayak for travel deals! 

-Host Girl's Nights In. A fun night at home is both relaxing and fun. Throw together a cheese board, attempt a new recipe (like this DIY Pasta Party I hosted) or rent a scary movie and play games. The possibilities are endless and the budget can be cheap! 

-Gifts! It doesn't have to be anything big but just something to remind her you care! Mail her a hand written card, a little care package or even just Venmo her $5 for her next cup of coffee during a busy week. 

The most important thing is to be kind, show them you care and have fun together!! Remember it's the thought that counts and even the little things can make a huge impact. Let me know if you have any additional tips, I'm always looking for new ways to make a BFF feel special. 

Also, a huge thanks to my #Squad for everything you do for me and with me. The laughs and memories are something I'll cherish forever. I love you guys!! Thanks for always taking my blog pics, listening to my hypothetical jokes and trying all my new recipes xoxoxoxox 

Favorite Amazon Purchase #2

Monday, June 19, 2017

After my first Amazon Favorites Post, it's clear y'all are just as obsessed with Amazon as I am. Rejoice for #MiseryShopaholicsLoveCompany 😉 

The thing about Amazon is that it's so easy to order from and with Prime, it's here so quickly. This isn't sponsored by Amazon but boy I wish! I have seriously fallen so madly in love with their site, I wish I could order every single thing off there -- pretty soon I think I might be able to! 

Wax Melter -- This one seems too good to be true, I keep waiting for it to explode or something because for the price it's amazing y'all! This little cutie plugs in and melts small candles or wax squares producing the most incredible aroma. Since we're trying to sell our house, whenever someone comes over to look at it I will turn this on before I leave with the pups and it smells ahh-mazing. It's basically like an Anthropologie Candle on steroids AND I WILL TELL YOU THE BEST SECRET.. Walmart sells the wax squares 6 for $1 and the brown sugar pie smells incredible. 

Twinkle Face Razor -- These have been my babies for over a year now. I recently had to reorder them and realized I didn't include them in my last favorite's post! These not only get rid of any unwanted hair but also get rid of dead skin! Read the full post about them here

Face Steamer -- I am a huge, huge fan of face masks. I do one every other day, sometimes every day. I spoke with an esthetician about how much a steamer can open up your pores and make your mask so much more effective. Read my four favorite masks here

Pop Socket -- Everyone laughs at me for having this on my phone but it helps SO much. My phone was hurting my pinky and so hard to hold and this makes it a million times better. Only $5-10 each and so cute! It also makes a great stand if you are ever watching videos/tv/youtube tutorials on your phone. 

Sunglass Rack -- This is a hidden gem!! It's technically a nail polish holder but it works perfectly as a sunglass rack! I have struggled for years on how to store my sunnies and this was the absolute perfect solution and only $27!! It holds 18 pairs in total and is the perfect excuse to splurge on those new sunnies you've been eyeing! 

Silk Pillow Case -- I laugh because I tell people our dog is the only one I know who not only sleeps in the bed but also sleeps on a silk pillow case ha! Seriously though, these things are awesome. Not only do they feel great, they're better for you. Silk is hypoallergenic, lets your skin breathe, less breakage to your hair and more. Right now they're on sale for under $20, so treat yo self girl.   

I'm not going to lie, things got a little dangerous when writing this post for you and I ordered 4 more things off Amazon.. so it looks like part 3 won't be too far behind haha! Do you have any Ama-obsessions I need to add to my list?!

Easy Summer Get Together // Frosé & Whipped Feta Dip

Maybe it's totally #basic of me but there's three things this girl loves.. girl's night, rosé, & a beautiful charcuterie board combine all three and this little lady is in heaven y'all.

Over the past weekend, Toby Keith was in town. Every year we have a week long music festival in downtown Chattanooga called Riverbend. It's so fun and surprisingly cheap (Around $60 for the entire 10 day festival pass!) Friday night we had some friends over before we headed downtown. I knew the boys would spend the whole night on the back porch, so I whipped up some fun apps and drinks for the girls.

When we were in Florida earlier this year, we had poolside whipped feta dip and I was immediately in love. In fact, my Melmom was there before us and snapped a picture of it and it's all I could think about the whole way there. I decided to make it the star of an easy, elevated charcuterie board. The whipped feta is so, so easy and I paired it with some naan bread, grapes, walnuts, figs and small toast rounds. Charcuterie boards are such a great, easy & chic potluck aka perfect way to save money! Have each gf grab a different ingredient. If you wanted to make a meal out of it you could put out some mixed greens, grilled chicken breasts and have them use the board to make their customized salad!

Now I was in the party mood and I've been wanting to try frosé for so long. All you need is a bottle of rosé, light rum, sugar and strawberries --plus all your fun drink garnishes! If you're not a big lover of frozen, slushie-ish drinks you could easily make this a rosé sangria instead.

Everyone was obsessed and I was so excited to share the recipe with you!

W H I P P E D    F E T A    D  I  P
4 oz. Feta Cheese
1/2 Cup of Ricotta Cheese
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Local Honey (As much as your prefer, we used roughly 1/4 a cup) 
About 3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves (Chopped/Shredded)

1. In a blender or food processor combine the ricotta cheese, feta cheese and olive oil until well blended and 'fluffy' will take about 2 minutes *You can also add some basil in here too if you like!
2. Spoon onto your serving dish and use the back of your spoon to press a well into the cheese mixture
3.  Fill with honey & top with pepper and basil

**Although this is called a dip, it would be fantastic on top of grilled chicken, with veggies or however your cheese loving heart desires. Just beware it's addicting! 

F R O S E 
1 Bottle of Your Favorite Rosé
1 Cup of Light Rum
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Water
1 Cup of Sliced Strawberries + More for Garnishing

1. Pour your bottle of rosé into a bowl, Tupperware or cups for freezing
2. Freeze 6-8 Hours
3. In a pot, combine sugar, water and sliced strawberries over medium high heat, stirring occasionally
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes, let cool
5. In a blender combine frozen rosé, rum and strawberry simple syrup
6. Blend, garnish, enjoy! 

**If you wanted this as a sangria, skip the freezing step and combing in a glass. Add whole fresh strawberries and chill for at least 4 hours. 

I seriously cannot stop thinking about this dip, I feel like it would be the ultimate cure for the Mondays! #OhYesPlz 🙋 If you try either of these, you must let me know!! I promise you'll be hooked. I'm thinking of whipping up this week for grilled chicken salads. Enjoy your Monday, be sure to follow along for more yummy recipes and fun get togethers on Instagram (@YesPleaseDaily). 

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