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, 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.

      Sunday, August 17, 2014

      No TV Weekend!

         “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” ~  Mark Twain


        Each August we try to take a family camping trip with the kids and grandkids.  This past week end we went to Potter's Ponds in central Utah.  We did a little fishing, a little canoeing, and a little dutch oven cooking and had a lot of fun.  I saw a huge beaver that was the size of a small bear.  My husband and son saw a big moose not far from our tents.  It was so nice to spend time together and no TV.


       
       














           I was able to attend the quilt show again this year at the Springville Museum of Art and as usual I was not disappointed.  Here are some of my favorite quilts that were displayed.












           Zucchini season is still hanging on so here is a recipe that I tried for the first time and I loved it!  I got the original recipe from Becky Low on Studio 5 and adapted it a little to fit the veggies that I had on hand at the time.





      Veggie Stack
      (adapted from recipe from Studio 5)

      4  to 6 kinds of vegetables, sliced thin
      (I used potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini squash, eggplant, onion and tomatoes. You can also use mushrooms and/or sweet potatoes.)
      2 Tbsp. butter, melted
      garlic powder to taste
      salt to taste
      fresh ground pepper to taste
      1 tsp. Italian seasoning
      1 cup shredded cheese
      Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray shallow baking dish with cooking spray.  Alternately layer vegetables in baking dish.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is light golden brown.

       

       
           Here's another nice recipe for summer.


      Cottage Cheese Jello Salad
      1-3 oz. package jello, any flavor                          1 can mandarin oranges, drained
      1 can crushed pineapple, undrained                  1 can tropical fruit, drained
      1-16 oz. container cottage cheese                      1-8 oz. container cool whip

      Add dry jello to pineapple in large bowl.  Mix and allow time to dissolve jello.  Add cottage cheese and remaining fruit.  Fold in cool whip.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.


       
       
      Another great book!  This one is a little intense in places but very good.  It's based on a true story.