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 15, 2015

Irish Greetings!

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."~ Thomas S. Monson


     Here are a variety of pictures taken to help get us in the mood for St. Patrick's Day.  First, is a pillow I made a few years back that has a place on my entry way bench in March.  Next comes my leprechaun candy dish that is filled with treats for the grandkids to enjoy.







     I got to spend a fun day with my daughter, her husband and my two grandsons on Saturday.  We went to the Winter Farmer's Market in Salt Lake City and then went to the Lego Americana Roadshow Display at the Fashion Place Mall.  We saw the White House, the U. S. Capital Building, the Lincoln Memorial, The Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument and more. . . . all made out of Legos.  The boys loved it.





 







      We are always searching for creative ways to get the family to eat more veggies.  My daughter came up with a unique way to display the Irish Flag----build it out of vegetables!





     Here is a perfect dessert to make for St. Patrick's Day.  It's green and it's easy to make!




 
 

Pistachio Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1( 3.4 oz.) package instant pistachio pudding mix
4 eggs
1 ¼ cups water
 ¼ cup oil
½ tsp. almond extract
3 drops green food coloring (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and the pudding mix.  Add the eggs, water, oil,  almond extract and food coloring.  Blend ingredients then beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
 

 
This was a sweet book to read about a little Irish girl named Nory Ryan.  It takes place during the potato famine and shows the resilience of the Irish people during that difficult time.
 
 
 

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.