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, October 12, 2014

Falling for Quilts!

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.  Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."~Rumi


     This past week was very busy, but I did manage to slip in going to a few quilt shops for the Beehive Shop Hop here in Utah.   I saw some amazing things.  This year's theme was "Somewhere in Time".  I do believe that the growing trend is mini quilts.



























     Now on to some fall favorite recipes.  The first one comes from my friend, Patti.  She changed it to suit her tastes and I changed it again to suit my family.



Slow Cooker Enchiladas

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
6 flour or corn tortillas

In a skillet, brown the ground beef, onions and green pepper until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain.  Add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and seasonings; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Coat the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick spray; layer 1 cup of beef mixture on the bottom.  Cover with tortilla, sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.  Repeat layers until all ingredients are gone.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.  Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream, if desired.

 
     Next comes a new recipe that just might become a family tradition.  We had a lot of fun making these doughnuts.







Applesauce Doughnuts

4 cups flour                                                     2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 ½ tsp. baking powder                                   ½ cup sugar
½ tsp. baking soda                                          ¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. salt                                                       1 cup applesauce
½  tsp. cinnamon                                             ¼ cup milk
½ tsp. nutmeg                                                 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cloves                                                   cinnamon sugar

            Oil for deep fat frying

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  In a medium bowl mix together melted butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Add eggs and beat.  Stir in applesauce, milk and vanilla and mix until combined.  Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Stir until a soft dough is formed. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and add enough flour to be able to roll dough to ¾ to 1 inch thickness.  Using a doughnut cutter, cut doughnuts and doughnut holes, dipping cutter in flour each time.
 Carefully drop doughnuts and doughnut holes in hot oil.  Fry turning once with tongs.  Cook until golden brown on each side.  Remove from oil using tongs and put on paper towels to drain.  You may want to dip the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar to coat.



     It's been a while since I read this book; Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.  I enjoyed the southern tale of Will, a boy growing up in the town of Cold Sassy, Georgia.




    

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Harvest Time




 
 
     A month or so ago I got to visit the Corn Wagon Quilt Co. Quilt Shop in Springville, Utah with my friend, Patti.  They had so many gorgeous displays and I loved the quilt rack they had on the wall near the front of the store.

 
 
 
 
 







Here are a couple of good harvest time recipes.  I am so glad that soup season is here.  We love our soup!




Chunky Lentil Soup
(adapted from a recipe from Budget Bytes)

2 Tbsp. olive oil                                                           1 tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced                                               1 tsp. oregano
1 medium onion, diced                                               ½ tsp. paprika
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced                         1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 ribs celery, sliced                                                1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained                            4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup brown lentils                                                     ½ tsp. salt

Cook garlic and onion in olive oil in a large pot until tender.  Add celery and carrots and saute’ for 5  minutes.  Add black beans, dry lentils, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper.  Add diced tomatoes and broth and stir to combine.
Bring soup to a boil. Turn down to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Salt to taste.  Serves 8.
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Buttermilk Cornbread
½ cup butter, melted                                                   ½ tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup sugar                                                               1 cup cornmeal
2 eggs                                                                            1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk                                                         ½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Stir together butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs and stir until well-blended.  Mix in buttermilk, baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Serves 9.
Different versions of cornbread may include additional ingredients such as: bacon, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, cheese, onion, creamed corn, sour cream or even blueberries. 
 

     This is a really good book, a true story in fact, of a native American boy and his life growing up.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. ~Simone Signoret

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life." ~Rita Rudner



     This week will mark the 31st wedding anniversary for my husband and me.  I brought a quilt out of storage that my mother and grandmother made for us so many years ago.  It's made up of embroidered blocks that have the state flowers on them; each block lovingly embroidered by my mom and grandmother.  At the time I didn't appreciate all the time that went into making this quilt.  I so adore this quilt now because I know the sacrifice of time and talent that was put into it for me. 





 
This recipe comes from the book of my husband's relative.  It's an easy to make recipe and tastes great.  I plan on making it this week for my husband. 
 



 
Poppy Seed Chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup                          1 cellophane sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 ½ cups sour cream                                        1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
3 cups cooked chicken, diced                         4 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together soup and sour cream until well blended.  Stir in diced chicken.  Spread creamy chicken mixture into a 9x9” baking dish.  Add poppy seeds to crushed crackers in a medium bowl.  Stir in melted butter.  Sprinkle cracker mixture over chicken.  Bake at for 30 minutes.  Serve over cooked rice.  Serves 4-6.


 
 
Ingredients:
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-2/3 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup, butter softened
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 cup milk
-1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
Directions:
1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl.
2. Beat white sugar and melted butter together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
3. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth and then add vanilla extract.
4. Combine flour and baking powder together into a bowl and then mix into sugar mixture, mix until combined.
5. Add milk into batter and mix until batter is smooth.
6. Grease loaf pan and lightly flour.
7. Pour half of the batter into the loaf pan.
8. Sprinkle half the apples and then half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture onto batter in pan and pat lightly into batter.
9. Pour remaining batter on top.
10. Sprinkle remaining apples and cinnamon/brown sugar mixture onto top of batter and lightly pat apples down and then swirl the cinnamon sugar mixture around on top.
11. Bake at 350 for 40-55 minutes, until a fork comes out clean.
 
    
This is a sweet, gentle love story.  At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon is a wonderful book about a minister in a small North Carolina town.
 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cheese and Chocolate

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."~ Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss Psychologist

     We had a nice, relaxing Labor Day weekend at home.  But my husband and I went to Midway, Utah Friday night for a couple of hours to check out Swiss Days.  It's celebrated the first weekend in September every year.  We enjoyed our time there looking at crafter's booths, listening to live music and eating bratwurst sandwiches.  My husband was even willing to go into the quilt shop in Midway, Seasons of Home, and do a little looking around.  Next door is a bakery that has a lot of little goodies.
We ran into Eric Dowdle, a famous Utah artist whose artwork is made into fun puzzles that our family adores.  Check out his website to see some of his amazing work.   We also listened to the group, Joshua Creek, sing.  They are a country group that sings some down home, feel good songs.  My favorite was called The First Mechanics Church of Abilene.
















 
 
 While in Midway, we sampled some Swiss cookies called Bratzeli.  They are paper-thin cookies made on a little cookie press.  I was wishing that someone had a Bratzeli press to sell so I could make some at home.  Anyway, I found the recipe just in case I ever find a press.
 
 

BRATZELI COOKIES

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon or almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:


Cream together butter, sugars, and eggs, add cream.
Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture.
You may need to add additional flour to make a soft dough that you can form into a ball. Refrigerate overnight.
Form into balls about the size of walnuts and press in either a Bratzeli, Krumkake, or Pizzelle iron.
Follow directions of your iron.

Makes about 60 cookies.
Serve them plain or with ice cream.
You could also make them into a cookie bowl by placing over a cup when they are hot.
When the cookie is cool remove from cup and you have a cookie bowl perfect for ice cream or fresh fruit.
Note:
These are the cookies they sell at Midway, Utah - Swiss Days Celebration held the
Friday and Saturday before Labor Day. They are delicious, paper thin, Swiss cookies.

 
When you think of Switzerland, you think of chocolate and cheese.  Did you know that fondue originated in Switzerland?  Here are easy versions for cheese and chocolate fondue.
 

Fondue  (recipe from Food.com) 

Dipping options

  • tiny boiled new potato
  • cooked pasta (corkscrew, bowtie, "wagon wheels", etc.)
  • bread cubes (French, whole wheat, multigrain, etc.)
  • lightly steamed broccoli spears, zucchini, celery, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots or snap peas, cucumber, etc
  • sliced apples or pear

Directions:


  1. Heat the milk and the garlic in a saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Toss the cheese and flour together in a bowl until the shreds are nicely floured.
  3. Whisk the cheese mixture into the milk a handful at a time, waiting until each handful melts before adding more. Whisk until cheese is completely melted and mixture is smooth and velvety.
  4. Holding the food with a fondue fork or a regular fork, dip one or several of the options into the pot and swirl to coat with the cheese.
  5. I added a light sprinkle of dried parsley to the top of the fondue.


Easy Chocolate Fondue 
          (adapted from recipe from Allrecipes.com)   
         
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
                 
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)                                                   
2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                         
                Directions
  1. In heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt chocolate chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk and water. Cook and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla.
  2. Serve warm as a fruit and cookie/cracker dipping sauce or drizzle over ice cream or cake. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator. 


         The first book that comes to mind when thinking about stories that take place in Switzerland is the book Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.  It's one of the one hundred children's books that every person should read.