Life really can be a picnic!

Everyone loves a picnic! This blog is about some of the things I love the most, and the term "picnic" just about covers them all. First of all, a picnic has to include food; simple food that is easy to fix. Next, you need someplace fun or different to visit; a nice, peaceful location. And of course, you always need to take along a good book to read and a well-used quilt to spread everything out on. So, there you have it! Easy recipes, good books, fun quilts along with some interesting, down-to-earth places to visit. You can even take your family or a friend or two if you want.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marching in Like a Lion

"A day without laughter is a day wasted." ~Charlie Chaplin

"In all of living, have much fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." ~Gordon B. Hinckley


     The month of February has been unseasonably warm and dry. In fact my daffodils have started to bloom before they normally do.  March has snuck in with colder temperatures and cloudy weather.  I have been working on a quilt that I call Daffodilly.  I got to experiment with the Kanzashi flower maker and make some dimensional daffodils to add to this quilt.














     Our family, including the grandkids, took a little field trip to the Hill Aerospace Museum in Layton, Utah.  Everyone loved seeing all the jets and other items related to flying.  The best part for me was that it was free admission.























     Here's a nice recipe for a chilly March day-White Bean Chicken Chili.  It's pretty tasty, too.  This recipe comes from Our Best Bytes.





White Chicken Chili
Recipe by Our Best Bites
I call this a chili, but it’s really a soup consistency.
If you want it thicker, just reduce the amount of broth.
1 T Extra virgin Olive Oil
1 lb boneless chicken, cubed (about 3-4 boneless, skinless breasts)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Great Northern Beans
1 3.5 oz can green chilies
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t dried oregano leaves
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 lime
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1 32oz box chicken broth
Condiments: (in addition to measurements above)
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Pepperjack or Jack cheese, shredded
Avocado
Tortilla Chips
In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes- just until it starts to become translucent. While onions are cooking, drain beans and rinse with cold water and set aside. Sprinkle chopped chicken with a little salt and pepper and add to pot. Add garlic as well. Cook until there’s no more visible pink on the chicken, probably 3-4 minutes. Then add green chills- along with all of the juices in the can. Add beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and a few turns of fresh cracked pepper. Stir to combine and then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the juice from one lime and the 1/2 C chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream. Serve with condiments. If you don’t have all those condiments- at least have sour cream! But honestly, it’s best with everything.
Makes about 8 cups of soup.
 
 

     I loved reading this book this past month.  It's a great murder mystery.  The main character, Molly Murphy, is full of spunk and determination.
 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wedding Bliss

"Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile and a grateful heart."~Zig Ziglar


 
 
 

     Two of my nieces announced they are getting married.  I went to one bridal shower and gave a quilt I had promised my niece long ago.  So happy for her.


     My husband and I are trying to exercise and eat a little healthier.  So the Valentine treats I gave to friends and family were a little lighter this time.  I gave some homemade granola to some of my friends and some muffins and rice crispie treats to my sisters.







Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats                               1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut                                  ½ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup nuts                                                          1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ cup canola oil or butter                               1 cup dried fruit
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine oats, coconut and nuts.  In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, oil ( or butter), honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and toss to coat.  Spread on a large baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes.  Stir granola  every  5-8 minutes or so until evenly browned.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Stir in dried fruit and any other seeds that you desire.  Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Note: You can use whole wheat flour and/or wheat germ along with the oats.  You can use any combination of sweetner.  You may wish to cut out the brown sugar and use more honey.  You can use maple syrup.   Any type of dried fruit can be used such as cranberries, apples, bananas, pears, cherries, raisins, etc.  Any type of nuts can be used such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.  A variety of seeds can also be used such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.






 Healthy Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour                                        2 eggs
1 cup oatmeal                                                             ¼ cup canola oil

2 tsp. baking powder                                                  ¼ cup honey
½ tsp. salt                                                                    1 cup plain yogurt
½ tsp. cinnamon                                                          2 tsp. grated orange zest
¼ tsp. nutmeg                                                             ½ cup orange juice
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries                        1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners.  In a food processor, process oatmeal into flour.  Combine oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Add cranberries to flour mixture and stir.  In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, honey, yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Add egg mixture to dry ingredients.  Stir gently to combine.  Fill muffin tins ¾ full with batter.  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Makes 1 dozen.
 

 


     In honor of all the weddings coming up, here is a nice, healthy recipe for Italian Wedding Soup.  This recipe was adapted from one at Taste of Home.




Italian Wedding Soup

2 eggs, lightly beaten                                                 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese                               4 medium carrots, chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs                                           4 celery ribs, chopped
2 tsp. dried parsley                                                     2 small onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. milk                                                                 6 garlic cloves, minced
4 garlic cloves , minced                                              2 quarts chicken broth
4 tsp. grated onion                                                      1 tsp. salt
 1 tsp. salt                                                                     1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. pepper                                                               1 ½ cups acini di pepe pasta
½ tsp. grated lemon peel                                            2-4 cups fresh spinach or kale
1 ½ lbs. ground turkey or chicken

In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients.  Add chicken or turkey; mix lightly and shape into 1-inch balls.
For soup, in a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, celery and onions; cook and stir 6-8 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Drop meatballs into soup and cook uncovered 10 minutes.  Stir in pasta and cook 10-12 minutes longer or until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is tender.  Stir in spinach or kale.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese.  Makes 12 servings.
 
 

     This is the last book in the series of Josi Kilpack's culinary mystery books.  I was sad to find out that this one was the last because I've really enjoyed each one. 




 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Freedom to Choose!

"I champion the right to be myself.
Dare to be different and set my own pattern.
Live my life and follow my own star."~Wilford Peterson


"The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances."~Viktor E. Frankl





     Isn't it great that we can make our own choices and make our own quilts.  This table runner is one that I designed and made to use up some scraps and buttons that I've had for a long time.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!










     I was happy to find out that Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday this year.  It'll be perfect for  sleeping in and then a nice breakfast.  Here are a few recipes great for a Valentine brunch.





Oatmeal Apple Pancakes

1 cup old-fashioned oats                                            2 eggs, beaten
½ cup whole wheat flour                                            1 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. sugar                                                              ½ cup low fat milk
1 Tbsp. baking powder                                                1 Tbsp. canola oil
½ tsp. salt                                                                   1 cup shredded apple
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg

In a food processor, process oats into flour.  In a large bowl, combine oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs, yogurt, milk and canola oil.  Chop the apple into small pieces in a food processor.  Stir apples into flour mixture.  Fold egg mixture into flour mixture and stir until ingredients are combined.  Pour ½ cup of batter for each pancake onto heated griddle that has been coated lightly with canola oil.  Cook until browned and flip pancake over and continue to cook until browned.  Serve warm.  Makes about 10 pancakes.  This is delicious with buttermilk syrup.
 
 



Buttermilk Syrup
     1 cup butter                                                  2 Tbsp. corn syrup
     2 cups sugar                                                  2 tsp. baking soda
     1 cup buttermilk                                           1 ½ tsp. vanilla

In a large pot, combine butter, sugar, buttermilk and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil and let continue to boil for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add baking soda and allow it to bubble up.  Add the vanilla and stir.  Mixture will thicken as it cools.  Serve on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, etc.




Individual Egg Frittatas

3 pieces whole wheat bread, toasted                          1 dozen large eggs
Two green onions, diced                                                salt and pepper                                  
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled                           1 roma tomato, cut in 6 slices
    or ½  cup ham, cooked and diced                              1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese      1 tsp. dried parsley or basil                 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin with cooking spray.
Tear toast into small pieces and layer in bottom of each muffin cup.  Sprinkle diced green onions on top of toast crumbs.  Layer crumbled bacon or diced ham on next.  Sprinkle cheddar or mozzarella cheese on next.
 In a large bowl with a pouring lip beat eggs.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture slowly into each muffin cup until ¾ full.  Top with a slice of roma tomato and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  You can add a little dried parsley or basil on top for a little color.
 Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 2-3 minutes.  Serve hot.  Makes 6 servings.
 



     This is one of my all time favorite books.  I love the thoughts and life of Viktor Frankl.    We are the benefactors and can gain from the hardships of his life.  His sufferings were not in vain.




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Family Time!

"Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out."~Art Linkletter
    



     Here's the table runner I made during the holidays.  I thought it turned out cute.



 
     On the third Sunday of the month we try to get together with all the kids and grandkids and have a dinner together.  Tonight we played some games together.  These just happen to be some of our favorites---Apples to Apples, Snake Oil and Rollick.






     This dish is one of our family favorites.  Perfect choice for one of those third Sunday dinners.




Creamy Crock Pot Chicken


              6 chicken breasts                                             1 can cream of chicken soup

              1 packet chicken gravy mix                            1 cup chicken broth

              1( 8 oz.) cream cheese

Place chicken in crock pot.  Mix together gravy mix, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.  Pour soup mixture over chicken.  Cook in crock pot for 6-8 hours.  For the last 30 minutes, remove chicken and add cream cheese to the crock pot mixture.  Cook until blended and hot.  Serve over hot rice, cooked noodles or mashed potatoes.



     Here's a side dish to go along with the chicken.

 

 Green Beans with Bacon and Onion

               3 strips bacon                                                           1 cup chicken broth
               ½ onion, diced                                                          salt and pepper to taste
               1 lb. fresh green beans

Cook bacon in large frying pan until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and set aside.  Cook onion in bacon fat until transparent.  Add green beans and chicken broth to the pan.  Bring to a boil; cover with a lid, turn down heat and simmer for about 5-8 minutes.  Crumble bacon and add to the green beans.  Salt and pepper to taste.
 
 
     I just finished reading this book.  It was so good.  I even cried in a couple places.  It's about a 5th grade boy, August, who was born with facial differences and how he learns to deal with it.  I was so impressed with what fantastic parents he had.