Friday, August 5, 2011

Frosting for the Cause: Pineapple Dump Cake

I don't know if you know about Frosting for the Cause but, it's amazing. It's a truly amazing group of food bloggers- organized by one REALLY amazing food blogger- Paula. I did this post, the following post for her site and wanted to share it here on my page as well. I waited a month before doing so in order to not steal the thunder of Frosting for the Cause by sharing the recipe here. I hope you guys enjoy it and will go join Frosting yourselves. Love to you all:

I had several options to choose from while writing this post as to an inspirational person in my life who suffered through cancer as I have had several loved ones go through the very particular horrors of the disease. While most were surviving, not all were so lucky. As I sat down to begin outlining this post, I found myself struggling to pick the story of just one, a single person I love, a single person who fought what always seems like the losing battle, just one person who won, or who lost, who inspired me.

As I am sure many of you know, choosing one story can be difficult. Especially if you are so deeply entrenched in the lives of so many amazing survivors or loved so many who are no longer with us. This was my exact pondering as I scribbled in a notebook a little over a month ago trying to come up with the story I wanted to tell. Oh yeah, and a recipe to go along with it.

You guys all make it look so easy ;)

However, I was seriously struggling. I had a lot of stories to tell but, none stuck out in that moment. Couldn’t I just tell them all? Write a novel for each one? That’s what my Grandpa Moylan, Aunt Karen, Aunt Peggy, Kendal, Kara, and John deserved. So, I sat. Scribbling in a notebook on the DC metro. (Read, drawing comics aimlessly and worrying about what to write). On my way to some dinner thing my coworker helped put together. A benefit, you know the type. An auction and fancy cocktails followed by some speakers with a dinner.  

At the time, this meant I had worn a dress to work and that I had to wear my work heels for approximately 4 more hours than I normally like to. Little did I know that what it would come to be the inspiration for my post that I had been searching for.

The benefit was a sponsored Camp Kesem event. I had never heard of it either, no worries. George Washington students organized the “Camp Kesem GW’s 2011 Share the Magic Benefit Dinner” and raised $11,000 in just that one evening auction and meal as they told one of the most inspiring stories I had ever heard.


Just to be clear, these are students, guys. I was a student not to long ago. While in undergrad, I worked two jobs, worked toward my two hard earned degrees, did a LOT of goofing off, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, did Relay for Life committees each year, and probably spent 1/3 of my life on Facebook. Things I never, ever, even kind of did? Threw benefits. Organized expensive events. Wrote to speakers for their time. Got donations. Organized, marketed, publicized, and budgeted entire summer camps.

If you ever want to feel like a slacker, talk to these students at GW and so many other campuses who are a part of the Camp Kesem Summer Program.These GW Students worked so hard on this event and SO MANY OTHERS to raise money to have a summer camp for the children of cancer patients.

Did I mention? It’s for free. A week long summer camp, entirely free to the families and child. $0.  For as many kids they can get to sign up. I mean, that’s insane. That’s a LOT of fundraising. Not to mention work. And yet, this students work like dogs throughout the entire school year to provide a week of summer paradise to children they don’t even know but who are dealing with cancer in their family.

Cue inspiration flowing freely through my notebook.


I found myself moved to tears as a young camper who’s camp nickname was “Pasta” described what it meant to her to have that week every summer with kids who were all going through the same things. Kids who understood. What it meant to have some time to be a kid and goof off at a camp, away from the hospitals and worry for her parent, but also a place where she could talk about those exact fears and have a group who understood and could laugh with her,  pray with her, for her, and above all be there for her.

As the program described one parent saying “[My son] felt as though he had his own little club… a sense of belonging to a group who made him stronger. Thank you!!”

Camp Kesem, I found out throughout the course of the night, was started in 2001 by four college students at Standford University, hosting 37 campers that summer. It has since expanded and evolved into several campuses throughout the states, hosting over 1200 campers at 23 camps this summer. Not only the GW branch that I had come to know, but across the country, benefits and fundraisers such as this were being had by students truly driven to the cause.

What made me decide to write about this camp rather than about my own friends and family? Well, for one thing, choosing just one loved one was (as described) daunting. However, the real reason was, I had honestly never given a thought to these kids. For my loved ones children, I had made them casseroles and cookies. Given them hugs. Words of comfort. But at the end of the day, I didn’t think of THEIR struggle, I thought of their parent/siblings struggle. I never once considered how this affected their childhood, not really. And Camp Kesem had.

So, while I could have easily told you a story of someone I loved surviving, I realized instead that perhaps some of you guys had also never considered those who support the surviving and the fighting. And those stories need telling too.

Congresswomen Deggie Wasserman Schultz and Eleanor Holmes Norton both spoke and praised this campus for doing just that. As a cancer survivor AND mother herself, the congresswoman was quick to point out how Camp Kesem had done exactly what she had been craving to do herself: gave her child a week of fun, away from the worries of home.

In honor of summer camp, in honor of these survivors, and in honor of the students who break their backs every year to make this week of pure, summer joy happen for these amazing kids! I present Summer Pineapple Dump Cake.

This cake is summer on a plate. Making it brought hope and sunshine into my thoughts. Hopefully you guys will have similar reactions J

For more information on Camp Kesem, click here.

Tropical Summer Cake
-1 Yellow cake mix
-4 eggs,
-1 ¼ cup oil
-1 small can mandarin oranges (with juice)
Blend well in a large mixing bowl. I used my hand mixer. Pour into an ungreased 9 by 13. Bake at 350 for 25-30. (I made mine in shortcake pans, greasing the sides to make sure they would show the shape. If you do this/make cupcakes/use other funky pans, adjust your timing accordingly. Hint for Clutzy Cooks like me: Less time = better.)
Cool entirely (I'd recommend you put it in the fridge for an hour), and then spoon on topping. ALL of it. It’s the best part.
Topping: 8 oz cool whip, 1 small box vanilla instant pudding, 1 15oz can of crushed pineapple (with the juice)
Once you've added the topping, serve as you like! It keeps for a good chunk of time in the fridge so, feel free to savor. Or inhale, as is my inclination. Enjoy :)
Oh, and P.S. For those of you interested, the topping on the cakes are Dried Pineapple Flowers. I found the tutorial online and it was pretty easy! Even for a Clutz human like me! Thanks to Annie Eats for the easy guide! Click here if you are interested in making the flowers yourself! 


  1. Thank you for the sunshine, Meg. I loved reading this post. It really was so touching because I know exactly what you're talking about. It is obviously tough to deal with cancer regardless of the friend or family member who is suffering from it, but seeing children affected by it is a whole other story. I had a friend in college who had been battling leukemia for many years, since she was an adolescent. Let's just say, she lost her fight. Thank you for bringing to light people like these students who do so much for children dealing with cancer, and of course their families.

  2. What a beautiful post! Not to mention your yummy desserts!


  3. What yummy little cakes! And the pineapple garnishes are beautiful. As is your that students across the land and putting time and effort into giving the children of cancer a week of solace. xo

  4. how very cute perfect little desserts for summer

  5. Beautiful on so many levels, Meaghan. Thank you for sharing this!