Strawberry Cream Cake

Hi there– It’s birthday season in our family.  Three birthdays together at the start of May and three more at the end.  So I’ve got birthday cakes on my mind.  This will probably show up at a birthday party or two!!

The biggest bash is for my father-in-law Stu.  He’s turning 90!  –and is so beloved by everyone who knows him.  You’ve never met a kinder more gracious man.  Family is coming from far and wide to celebrate with our “Grandpa Stu”.

Hope you have some happy family birthdays on your horizon.  And that they include cake, lots of cake.

STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

Cake:
1 cup strawberries, cut to small bits
1 strawberry  cake mix
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup water
3 eggs

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

To make the cake, cut the strawberries fine.  If they are still damp from cleaning, pat them dry.

Make the strawberry cake according to the directions on the box. (mine used 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water & 3 eggs).  Pour it into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or a 10″ springform pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until it is lightly browned and comes out firm to the touch.  Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!

To make the topping, cut the strawberries to small bits.  Set them aside.  Whip together the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixer until it is stiff (the whisk attachment works best for this).

Stir in the strawberries and then pile it all onto the cooled cake.  You can serve it right away, but it’s better to set the cake in the fridge for an hour or more to let the topping completely set.  Enjoy!!

Blueberry Broccoli Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Ranch Dressing

Hi all– Should I apologize for the extra long title of this salad??– I just wanted you to know the yummy components and plus also the lovely dressing on top!

Took this salad along to my brother’s house for our Easter dinner.  And liked it so much we had it again last night!  It’s bright and fresh and I can say it works well with Easter ham or a slice of mushroom pizza!

BLUEBERRY BROCCOLI AVOCADO  SALAD

Salad:
5 cups of your favorite salad greens
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Poppyseed Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Layer the salad ingredients in a pretty bowl.

Then stir together the ingredients  for the dressing until they are thoroughly blended.  It makes more dressing than we needed on our salad, so there’s more in the fridge for another day.

Day in L.A.

 

Hi friends– Tomorrow is our anniversary– #42!  (Yikes! Where did all those years go?)  We celebrated last weekend with a 14 hour vacay- a little art, a walk along the beach and of course, breakfast, lunch & dinner!  Here’s our day:

Breakfast at my new favorite restaurant–Republique

    

Spent a tranquil morning at LACMA– (wonderful Reformation special exhibit from 3 German museums)

    

Lunch at Joan’s on Third–deli & market

There was an afternoon walk along the beach at Santa Monica.

And a stop for gelato on a stick  before we headed up to West Hollywood for dinner at Shake Shack.

Thank you Larry for walking through all the ups and downs of 42 years together.  It’s been grand–   looking forward to all we have ahead…

Italian Chopped Salad

 

img_7764

Hello all-  Took this salad to dinner with a table full of friends on Valentines Day.  A big Italian feast.  Jill made us all wear large heart name tags (ala Julia Child) and Tim was ready with the go ’round questions after dinner–
What’s the most romantic things your spouse has ever done??
What about you, most annoys your husband/wife??
If your spouse were famous, what would he/she be known for??

It was a a delightful evening, 12 old friends, most of us married around 40 years, and I appreciated my Larry all the more by the time the evening was over.

And– we had this bright salad–full of a lot of my favorite tastes.  It’s hearty enough to be dinner on its own– or just part of a big festive dinner with friends!

ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD

Salad:
6 cups chopped green leaf lettuce*
1/4 pound hard salami, thickly sliced & chopped
3 oz. feta with herbs, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup good mixed cured olives

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. white balsamic**
1 tsp. honey
3 tab. parmesan romano
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

img_7775

Spread the greens in a large salad bowl and top with the other salad ingredients.

In a container with a closed lid, shake together the dressing ingredients until they are thoroughly blended.  Pour over the salad just before you are ready to serve and do just a bit of tossing to coat all the salad.  (This amount makes 6 servings)  Enjoy!

img_7760

Valentines Day

img_7030

Happy Valentines Day All– It’s around the corner and I’m thinking it’s big fun to make cheery cards for kids and grand-kids.  (maybe it’s the old elementary school teacher in me –Valentines cut & paste crafts!!)   But who doesn’t like to pass out candy and little heart shaped notes to people they adore??!

And to help celebrate the day here’s a favorite little love poem:

Because we do all things together,
All things improve, even weather.
Our daily bread and meat taste better,
Grass is geener, rain is wetter.
–anonymus

Hope your Valentines Day includes a little chocolate, a lot of hugs and time with  people you love.  xox

img_7029

Bittersweet Thanksgiving

img_4439

Hello friends– I’m wondering about your Thanksgiving.  Was the turkey tender, the cranberries tart?  Did you eat too much pie and was there a baby or two to pass from lap to lap?

We had a sweet day with our kids in San Francisco and all our son-in-law’s extended family –with a new baby, some memorable pecan pie and an after dinner walk up the hill to see the sunset over the ocean.

But this week we also had an alarming health scare in the family.  Hospital stays, anxious nights and prayers for God’s love and mercy.  The difficult side of life.  I’m hopeful for a good recovery and thankful to be back home with my mom tonight.

Here’s a few of my favorite memories of the week up north (grand-kids, grandparents and that pie!) :
img_4302

img_4413     img_4581

img_4461     img_4417

img_4547
Thankful Ani & Brian for the days with you and that baby Lois.

The Wonder of Thanksgiving

d99090“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
–G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British writer, poet, philosopher)

I’m hoping to lose myself in wonder this Thanksgiving, recounting all the tender blessings of God in my life.  I wonder that he calls me his child, at the blessing of our much loved family and dear trusted friends that surround us.  I wonder at the beauty of the maple trees in the yard and the tin hands of baby Lois.  And I wonder at new friends, who read here and start conversations back and forth.   Lost in the wonder of God’s goodness– so thankful.

and thanks to silhouette design store for the graphic.