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, January 31, 2016

Winter Work

"All life demands struggle.  Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of life.  The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today." ~ Pope Paul VI

 
     There is a brand new quilt shop in Midway, Utah and I was lucky enough to go to the grand opening on February 23.  My husband drove me, my friend and her husband there last Saturday.  The four of us were very impressed with the second My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe.  The original store is in Logan, Utah.  It was very obvious that there was a lot of work involved in creating this new store.  Carmen Geddes, from Ten Sisters, was the guest demonstrator.  MGQS is famous for taking good care of the men that come through their doors.  Our husbands received "a man bag" when they entered which included a Mr. Goodbar candy bar and a water bottle.  My friend and I enjoyed the mini cupcakes, the hot chocolate bar and the cute make and take scissor holder.
 













Kris and Kim








 
     I found a very easy recipe for pork chops.  It requires just a few ingredients and is very tasty.  Perfect for those days when you just want to sit and quilt and not fuss with cooking.

 

Ranch Crock Pot Pork Chops
6 boneless pork chops
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
2 (10. 75 oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with a 1-ounce package of ranch dressing mix. Place pork chops in slow cooker, top with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup mixed with ½ can of water. Cover and cook on low setting 5 to 6 hours. Serve pork chops with mushroom gravy.
To create an all-in-one dish add 6 medium potatoes that have been peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes. 
 

 
These cookies come from laurenslatest.com.  They have a light fresh lemony taste; so good.

Lemon Crinkles

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla Extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup  flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar into a small bowl. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
 
 
    
 
     This book by David McCullough was very informative and inspiring to me.  I learned so much about the Wright brothers and the history of the first flying machines.  Orville and Wilbur had such an incredible work ethic.  They dedicated their whole lives to their work and never doubted that they could invent a flying machine.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Thaw

"No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it."~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf



     My niece was married way back in May and guess what? I finally finished the quilt I made for her.  She requested one that was blue and white.  I found a kit that I purchased a few years ago that was blue and white.  The only trouble was, it was only 40" square and my niece wanted a quilt that was bigger than that.  I finished that part and added a few more borders including a flying geese border.  I hope she'll like it!








 
 
The weather here is still cold and so I'm still making soup.  Here's a soup recipe that turned out pretty darn good!
 
 



 
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 “ chunks
Salt and pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1 diced onion
3 peeled and diced carrots
2 stalks diced celery
½ tsp. dried thyme
5 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta
½ tsp. rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. dried parsley

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken to stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to the stockpot.  Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in thyme and cook about 1 minute.  Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water, bring to a boil.  Stir in orzo, rosemary and chicken; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender; about 10-12 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.  Makes about 6 servings.


 
 
 
    This is the sweetest little book that I have read in a long time.  We read  A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett for Book Club in December.  I loved it!
 
 


 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

There's No People Like Snow People!

"All of us every single year, we're a different person.  I don't think we're the same person all our lives."~ Steven Spielberg
 
 
 
Can I just say that I love winter?  And I love snow.  I find snow people very enchanting.  Here are two snowmen that my daughter and I came across in our neighborhood.  The second snowman was built around a mailbox and seemed so whimsical when the mailbox lid was opened; as if he wanted to tell us something or spit out the bills. 

 

 
 
 
I found a snowman panel and a snowman border print in my stash that I remember buying last year.  I used the border print and a 60 degree triangular ruler to make a cute table runner.  I added two borders to the snowman panel to make a cute snowman wall hanging.
 
 








 
 



           I've said it before that I love a good soup recipe.  Soup is the ultimate comfort food for winter.  I was looking for the perfect recipe for corn chowder.  I found several and combined ingredients from all of them to come up with this one.  I think it turned out pretty good.




Corn Chowder with Ham
2 Tbsp. butter
½ onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1/3 cup green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup carrots, diced
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced potatoes
1 (15 oz.) can creamed corn
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
2 cups diced ham
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. sage
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. parsley
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
4 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large pot.  Add onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and carrots and saute’ until tender.  Add diced potatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil. Turn to low and cover with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add corn and ham and seasonings.  Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in medium saucepan.  Add flour and stir for one minute. Add half and half and cook until thickened.  Add this mixture to the large pot and stir.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serves 8-10.  Optional garnishes: bacon crumbles, shredded cheese, fresh parsley, paprika.
 




Before each new year, I try to read a good self-help book to inspire me to make good resolutions for the coming year and to help me do better.  My niece brought this book on tape to me one day and I listened to the author read it.  I have to admit that it was very inspiring.
 
 

The best gifts are homemade gifts.  I love this homemade snowman that my daughter and son-in-law made from slices of a thick tree branch.  He looks at home on our porch.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Home for the Holidays

"Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home."~Perry Como



Well, I didn't get half the things done that I had planned for the month of December but I've had time to be with my husband, my kids and my grandkids and that counts for a lot. 

We had our annual Christmas party for Quilt Guild and this year it was a brunch with yummy peach French toast, ham and an egg casserole that I loved.  The theme was Home for the Holidays.  We were challenged to make a quilt with a home on it somewhere and of course I couldn't fit that into my schedule.  Our famous visitor this year was Amber Johnson, the creator of Gigi's Thimble patterns.  She brought a nice trunk show with bright colored quilts.
































     I am including two recipes this time that would be perfect to include in a nice family Christmas dinner and of course I always pick recipes that are relatively quick and easy to prepare because we always have better things to do during the holidays than spend a ton of time in the kitchen,





Easy Shrimp Linguine
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
16 oz. linguine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chicken broth
Parmesan cheese
1 tomato, chopped
Salt
Black pepper

Boil the pasta in salted water until done.  Drain well.

While pasta is cooking, zest and juice lemons.  Saute’ the onions, mushrooms, garlic and shrimp in a little olive oil. Add the lemon rind and pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add basil, salt, pepper and chicken broth and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add lemon juice.  Adjust seasonings to your taste.  Add pasta to the sauce and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped tomato.




This salad is so good but be warned, it doesn't do well as left overs. So eat it all up in one day.

Tossed Pear Salad
(allrecipes.com)
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ cup pecans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 pears, 1 red, 1 bartlett and 1 d’anjou, cored and thinly sliced
5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup thinly sliced green onions

Combine sugar and pecans in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar has melted and pecans caramelize, about 6-7 minutes.  Cool on wax paper.
Whisk together oil, vinegar remaining 1 ½ tsp. sugar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl or shake together in small jar with a lid.
Layer lettuce, pears, cheese, avocado, and green onions in a large serving bowl.  Just before serving, pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans and toss.



 
 
This is the perfect book to read to your grandchildren on Christmas Eve.  It's a sweet little story by the famous author, Leo Tolstoy.
 
 



     I did find time to make some Christmas pillowcases for my grandkids to go with the books that I love to give.