August 16, 2011

I'm MOVIN.....

I know, I have been blathering on and hinting about doing something different for way too long. I think I maybe lost some of you in the mumbo jumbo. Huh, wah? What's she doin? Why? I've recieved a few emails wondering why I was not going to blog anymore....."did I say that"? I could tell by the reception I recieved by some when tellling them, they were confused as to why I would want to leave Strawberry CAKE behind and completely change things up.

Here's why:

Although I love me some Strawberry Cake, and I do make a good one. LuvStrawberryCAKE did not say anything about who I am. I found out, that a gagillion people have the same Strawberry Cake recipe, it's not exclusively a secret family recipe....I thought it was, but it's not. Shot through the heart. MmmHmmm, so "I'm not so spacial after all".....!

It also seemed that people thought I was a baking blog. I like to bake, but that is not what I am all about either.

The look of my blog, although I loved it at first, really doesn't reflect my style.

I was getting antsy. I wanted people at a glance, because that's what most people do is just glance at your blog and NEVER come back, to know more about me. I still really like my old tag line "one moms recipe for enjoying life" does say what my blog is for me, it's my way of doing what I love writing about things I, food, and just plain being a nutball!

At lunch one day my good friend Dee asked me "what's your passion?" It only took me a few seconds to spew out what my passion is. Getting family and friends around the table together. It is extremely important to our family, and a ritual Ken and I believe is essential to successful family life. "Then that is what your new site should reflect right away when people stop by", she said. Hmmmmm but what to name it......

OH GOOD GOLLY! I started writing down every thought or word that came into my head, filling pages with blog names. One day in the car I had my third child writing things down like a mad man, as I rifled names and sayings out at him. (The car is my thinking place. Often I wish I had a machine that would record my thoughts for writing as I drive, I do jot things down, but it never seems as good as when I initially thought it on the road.)

Eat 2gather seemed to stick. It related my passion, eating together with others, inspiring others to also gather together around their tables. And the idea that we gather not just to eat, but for the greater purpose of enjoying each others company sharing food, laughter, and fellowship with those we love. We are not just eating together, but we are eating to gather.....get it? Even though our world has become so fast paced and non-relational it is more important than ever for us to gather around the table with our family and friends and break bread. So my play on words with 2gather is a nod to our societies quick responses to each other through texting, facebook, twitter, and the like!

I want to thank Luke from Codify who was crazy patient with me through this process, and Robin from Smith Design for her keen creative eye and great design work. And Andrea! I can't forget Andrea from La Vita e' Belle Photography for gazillion pictures she had to take to get one half way decent picture of my mug. Kenny, you know I love ya, thanks for being so supportive of my hobby.

So this is it. The LAST post on Strawberry CAKE. Oh did I tell you ALL my content from here is there too! Yes so you can find everything at

I LUV ya all 2 MUCH!

Hope to see you on the other side....

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July 01, 2011

Not your everyday FRUIT Salads.

Hopefully, I'm not too late for your weekend menu planning. I want to share with you a couple quick salads that include fruit, and a few links to some salads that I've shared in the past, to help with this weekends menu.

When someone says "fruit salad" do you automatically think of that mushy stuff with maraschino cherries in it, that was served on our lunch trays? Fruit Cocktail. My grandma tried to pass it off as dessert on occasion. Us kids, we weren't buying it, Yuck! I do appreciate a nice bowl of fresh fruit, cut up and tossed together, with nothing but their natural juices. But that's not what I'm talking about either.

The blue is hiding in this picture, but this salad is perfect for Independance Day because it's Red/White and Blue! It will look perfectly patriotic on your table!

I have shared a very similar salad with you before. This time I threw in some blueberries. Apple chunks also work well in this salad. This salad is terribly easy, and is always a hit. I know some of you have a goat cheese aversion, so to you I say GET OVER IT! Goat Cheese rocks. Sorry...what I really meant to say was, you can also use Feta Cheese if you prefer. Please and thank you .

Red White and Blue Salad

1 large head Red Romaine
1 pint Strawberries, sliced
2 cups Blueberries
1/2 Red Onion, sliced thin
1 cup Caramelized Pecans (How to caramelize pecans can be found here.)
5 ounces Goat Cheese
1 bottle Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

Clean lettuce and tear into bite sized pieces, place in shallow salad dish. Layer sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced onion, pecans, and crumbled goat cheese over lettuce. Serve with dressing on the side.

The colors in this next salad aren't quite as patriotic, but I promise you will be whistling Dixie after you have your first bite!

My sister served us this salad last week. It is so simple and so perfectly scrumptious! I wanted to push my burger aside and eat only it.

Clean and pit peaches. Then slice into thin wedges.

Peach Salad

4 Peaches, sliced thin
1/4 of a Red Onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup Basil, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Course Salt
fresh cracked Pepper, to taste

After slicing peaches, slice onion very thin, chop basil, toss together with juice of one lemon, olive oil, coarse salt, and cracked pepper. Voila! Easy peasy scrump-dilly-icious Peach Salad!

The following are just a few of my tried and true favorites. I have served them over and over again, and they never get old.

Sheesh after all this talk about salad I'm raring to get choppin'!!! I hope you are too.

Do you have a favorite salad you bring to picnics?

I would love for you to share it. If you have a blog post on it, leave the link in the comments. You can also find some other great Red White and Blue inspirations at Add a Pinch, go check it out!

Have a great weekend!

Drive safe and don't burn your fingers with the Sparklers!

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June 23, 2011

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

I told you I had a few things that I would throw at you before I move. Guacamole has to be one of the most frequently requested recipes that I make. I have posted a guacamole recipe or two, but I have never put this simple, fresh, limey, and I guess I could also say traditional guacamole to the page. There is a can't make guacamole with out first making pico de gallo. Did I hear someone say "yes you can"? Well, whatever...this momma say, "you can't". Not if you want yourself some really good guacamole. And hey a little pico on the side never hurt anyone did it?

Get out your best choppin' up knife, a cutting board, and get prepared to chop.

It's best for the chip and for distribution of the flavors if you are careful to chop all your vegetables small. Not chunky. Small. Not minced. Just small...itsy bitsy.

Same for the tomatoes. First cut in half.

Then slice through again lengthwise, then slice into thin strips, all the while keeping the tomato together. This takes a sharp knife. Dull knifes are the DEVIL. Then slice the tomato through again crosswise and there you have it perfect, itsy bitsy diced tomaters!

Traditionally pico de gallo or fresh salsa is simply tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro and lime, but I have this love affair with red bell peppers that I cannot shake. I love him. Red Bell pepper come to momma....I know I'm playing with fire. Let's let this be our secret. I'm going to use just half of him this time. Slice in half, remove the white foamy membrane and seeds, cut in long thin strips and then cut again crosswise for those itsy bitsy pepper pieces.

Now for the hot one. Jalapeno. I use one whole jalapeno pepper, if you like less heat only use a half, if you like more heat then bring it on brother, use more!

Chop off the stem.

You may want to wear plastic gloves while working with jalapenos or any pepper with heat. If you choose not to wear some sort of cooking glove, then I suggested not rubbing your eyes or picking your nose at any time during or after the jalapeno chopping process. I would actually suggest that you refrain from nose picking entirely while cooking, but that's just my opinion. (I've got a funny booger recipe that I will have to share with you is not the time, but I promise someday I will share.)

Slice in half, revealing the seeds.

Using your sharp knife, run the tip of the knife underneath the seeds. Removing them and the white membrane in one quick slice.


Now for the mincing. Slice pepper into very thin strips, then take knife and chop like a maniac. Chop, chop, chop, chop don't stop until you have very tiny micro bits of jalapeno pepper.

You will need some of this. Morton Nature's Seasoning is my favorite seasoning....I think I've said that before. I use it everyday. It's a perfect salty seasoning blend. Get yourself some.

As you chop your vegetables place them in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning salt.

The most tedious task of this whole recipe, for me anyway, is the cleaning and de-stemming of the cilantro. Run your Cilantro through a salad spinner, getting it nice and clean. Or if you don't have one of those doo-hickeys then run cilantro under cold water and lay out on paper towels to dry. Remove leaves from stems. You will need a good handful or approximately 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped.

Let it get all cozy with the other ingredients, give the cilantro a toss.

That looks fabulous, does it not??? But there is one more ingredient that is not to be forgotten.


Roll, roll, roll your lime...gently on the table...give it a squish with your palm, and cut through the.....


Ah the songs of my youth! Seriously if you roll the lime along the counter with some pressure, it will loosen the juices on the inside and make it easer to juice. If you have a juicer well then great, if not you can join me in my fork juicing method.

Fork juicing method 101: After rolling, and cutting in half, hold one half of the citrus in the palm of your less dominant hand, ram the fork into the middle of the citrus....

Squeeze hard while twisting the fork. Squeeze, twist....squeeze, twist....the juice will run flow freely from the citrus. It's marvelously simple.

Toss the chopped vegetables with the lime juice. Take tortilla chip in a pincer grip, scoop some pico on the chip, and enjoy!

Oh but you need to make Guacamole! Have you ever heard this song? It makes me giggle.

Look at that. It takes my breath away. The color. I really need to paint a room in my house this color. I'll get right on that one...NOT. I hate to paint walls. I leave that up to the professionals.

Slice avocado in half. Whack your very sharp knife into the pit, and give a tiny twist to remove.

Now cut vertically and horizontally, like so, using the tip of your knife, with out cutting through the skin.

If you are civilized you can take a spoon and gracefully scoop out the flesh of the avocado, or if you are sufficiently uncivilized like myself you can give the avocado half a squeeze and squish it's innards out into a bowl.

Repeat the roll, roll, roll of the lime. Squeeze one entire lime into the avocados. I think that more lime is better, so feel free to add another half of a lime, or more. Always taste as you go. As they say the proof is in the puddin' or in this case the quac.

Mash the lime into the avocados with the back of a fork.

Add 1 cup of the pico de gallo that you just made.

Give it a stir. There you have it heaven in a bowl.

Pico de Gallo & Guacamole

4 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 medium sweet Onion, diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
1 hand full fresh Cilantro leaves rough chopped, or 1/3 cup chopped
1 teaspoon Mortons Nature's Seasoning Salt
1 Lime, juiced

4 ripe Avacodos
1 Lime, juiced
1 cup Pico de Gallo

What's the saying? "It ain't over till the fat lady sings." No that's not it. "All is fair in love an war." "A monkey in silk is a monkey no less." "Great minds think alike." No that's not it either. Hmmm..."what's good for the goose is good for the gander". OO OO OO I got it....

"It's not a party with out some GuacaMoleee, bay-beh."!

Alls well that ends well,

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June 20, 2011

Hello....tap tap..helloooo anyone still out there?

I am still alive. I haven't gone anywhere. In case anyone wondered.

Did anyone wonder?


HellloooOOO? tap tap tap.....anybody out there?

I've just been taking a little break. I'm still cooking, and making many lists of things I want to write about. Working out more...yes I said working out. As in excersicing....goodness I can't even spelled the dam word!

I may just come back with more than a whole new blog, maybe I'll come back a minus a donut around my middle. (I doubt it.....last night I was watchin' Toddlers and Tiara's with my arm up to my elbow in the XXL bag of M&M's my son won from his piano teacher.)

There has been alot going on in our home; in our life; in our family. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed for a little while, but I think I'm back on track.

This just may be my last Strawberry CAKE post,....but maybe not, before I make the transition to my new blog site.

I feel like I'm starting a new relationship, and I really can't or shouldn't go back to the old one. It feels kind of like when your senior year of high school is coming to a close, you need to move on, say good-bye to your first love. It's a weird. You keep coming back, but you know it needs to be over, you have to move on. He will always be a part of you but, you can never return to the way things were. Just friends....

Strawberry CAKE I love you. You will always be apart of me. Sniff...snot...snort....scuse me, a minute............

Pah-pa-pa-pa-pa-pah (that's my bottom lip quivering).

I do need to go through my queue and clean it up...there might be a few things to throw at you yet before I move on.

I thought you might like to relive my Strawberry Cake adventure with a few favorite posts, in no particular order. Chicken Caesar Wrap my daughters favorite lunch! Thursdays Ramblings on Friday came about when I decided I just needed to clear my mind, to write just to write with no real direction, you all seemed to like it. Remember these two Rascally Pilgrims they are regulars at our Thanksgiving dinner table. Then there's these scrumptious morsels Pumpkin Spice Donut Muffins! Never say Never, something I wish I'd learned earlier in life. Then there were all the PW posts, lots and lots of P-doob posts, 46 to be exact...stalker. This post received the most comments of any of my posts! Saturday Morning Tradition seemed to be a favorite also. Here are a couple of my personal favorites, Boys, Paczki! & Hairballs, and Chicken Divan. Oh and this interview was unforgettable....I know kinda random, but hey what more would you expect.

Do you have a favorite post? A favorite post that I wrote....not trying to put you on the spot or anything...just wondering.

Feedback is always good.....chirp, chirp. Flippin crickets!

Ok on that note here is some more randomness in the form of photos. Hope you enjoy!

My sweet Seestor and I at my first Cowgirl Dinner Party.

Aren't they fun?! This was on one of your road trip adventures.

Isn't he lovely...dreamy...that's my man.

Pie Crust polka dot period

I love this, my husband hates it. I see kids having fun, he sees kids not taking care of their stuff.

The beach at Lake Michigan.

My third child zipping through life. Smiling all the while.

My second child. Ever the creative one.

This is my fourth child, she's a fire cracker!!

She loves heading off early in the morning to the Farmers Market with me.

Then I found this picture of her....precious chubby cheeked brown baby.

And this picture of the day we brought her home. Look at the look on her sisters face, "Yeh well she's not all that." Priceless.

I love flowers.

My firstborn. Dare Devil. Extremely competitive, won't stop until it's perfect. I think he ended up jumping 14 skateboards this day. Wacky. I couldn't watch. I had to have another parent take this photo. Thank you Rob.

The hero hairball, donut eating numb skull of an ever lovin' canine.

Three kinds of pie, because who can eat just one kind of pie?

This is my monkey, sometimes he can be found on my back while cooking.

This is Bessy. The weird squirrel that runs around in our backyard. We think she was in a freak nut transporting accident and her tail was blown off. She is a nutty squirrel. No pun intended.

Braces, now goggles.

She the wind. I think she must have been switched at birth. Me no run. Only to the pantry.

This is what I need to do today...pick me some berries.

The Johnsons LOVE the 4th of July! It is a day for parades, basketball tournaments, eating, swimming, eating, games, fireworks, and enjoying friends. I HEART Independence Day!! Very thankful for where I live.

Red, White, and Blue ah-oo ah-oo ah-00...

One of the most relaxing weekends of my life.

The Pee-doob girls. I luv you ladies!

Thanks for stopping by. Ya'll come back now ya hear!


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