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 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.



 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy 2015!

"The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.  Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom." ~James Allen


"They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure." ~James Allen


 


 



 
 

      We were finally blessed with a few inches of snow on Christmas morning.  The snow has stayed and allowed my son and grandsons a little bit of fun on sleds in the back yard.  This quilt with the black background is one that I stitched a few years ago as a block of the month.  I was finally able to finish it up with black binding.  Thanks to my friend, Marta who did the beautiful machine quilting on it.








     New Years Eve was pretty low key this year.  We put together a puzzle or two and had some good treats to eat.  One of the two grandsons stayed awake for the grand entry of the new year.  My daughter made some delicious olive cheese bread.  She found the recipe on Pinterest and found it was from The Pioneer Woman.




Olive Cheese Loaf
1 loaf French bread                                                    ½ cup butter, softened
6 ounces pimiento stuffed green olives                  ½ cup mayonnaise
6 ounces black olives                                                  ¾ pounds Monterey Jack cheese, grated
2 green onions
Roughly chop both pimiento-stuffed green olives and black olives.  Slice green onions into thin slices.
Combine butter mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions in a mixing bowl.  Stir together until thoroughly combined.  Spread mixture onto French bread that has been sliced lengthwise.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.  You may wish to put it under the broiler for a few seconds to brown it nicely.
 
     This next recipe was given to me by a neighbor girl.  But I do remember eating this dip when I was young.  I made a few changes to suit our family's taste.
 
 
 
 
 
New Year’s Eve Dip
                  1 16 oz. container cottage cheese                  ¼ tsp. seasoning salt
                  1 cup sour cream                                               ¼ tsp. celery salt
                  1 Tbsp. dried minced onions                            ½ tsp. lemon juice
                  ½ tsp. dill weed                                                   dash of cayenne pepper
                  ¼ tsp. garlic powder                                           3 grinds of freshly ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.  Serve with raw vegetables, potato chips, tortilla chips or crackers.
 
     As part of the New Year's resolutions I try to read a self-help book in January.  This year's book was As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.  It's a short book filled with some very interesting things for me to think about.
 


     I love this little porch lantern that my daughter and son-in-law made for me for Christmas.  You can even put a tea light candle in it to light up the night.
 

 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Best Gifts

"How much better the world would be if we all gave gifts of understanding and compassion, of service and friendship, of kindness and gentleness." ~Thomas S. Monson


     I was privileged to attend the Tooele County Quilt Guild Christmas luncheon.  Along with an amazing meal we also were honored with a visit from Kris from My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe in Logan, Utah and her twin sister, Kim from Kimberbell patterns.  They shared their story and showed us some of their amazing quilts. They are such sweet ladies and an extra bonus is they are Utah State Alumni!
 I have included pictures of guild member's quilts who were challenged to make a quilt using a stack of charm squares from a certain line of fabric.  I think they turned out so cute and so different from each other.













    
     This is the veggie tray I made for the ladies luncheon for all the ladies in our community that are over the age of 70.  I love those ladies!




     I needed to use up some very ripe bananas and came across this recipe.  It turned out so delicious!








Hawaiian Pineapple Banana Bread

3 eggs                                                                       3 cups flour
1 cup canola oil                                                      2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla                                                            1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups mashed ripe banana                                  1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained                       1 tsp. salt
(reserve 4 tsp. juice for glaze)       ½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped (optional)
½ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 8x4” loaf pans with cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine eggs, oil, vanilla, bananas, and pineapple.  Mix well. 
In a separate large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Stir together dry ingredients and add chopped nuts. 
Mix dry ingredients with wet mixture and stir just until all ingredients are moistened.  Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
Bake 55-70 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 15 minutes and then remove from pans and let cool on wire racks. 
In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and reserved pineapple juice.  Drizzle over cooled loaves of bread.
 

    
     Have you ever made chocolate bark for Christmas?  This is my first time.  There are so many great combinations to use.  The top picture shows a red/green combination with white chocolate, craisins and pistachios.  The second picture shows a milk chocolate combination using chopped cashews and toffee chips.  So easy and so yummy!
 



     This is the book our family has been reading together for the month of December.  It is helping us focus more on Jesus Christ this Christmas season.  The version I bought came with a wooden nativity set.




     Each year I usually make some Christmas ornaments for our tree.  This year I just didn't have the energy to even come up with an idea.  Bless my daughter's heart!  She showed up one day with slices of a tree branch cut from a tree in her yard and some paint.  She helped me paint these cute snowflake ornaments for the tree.  So simple yet so beautiful.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Smell of Christmas

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." ~Charles Dickens 





     I was able to finish up a new Christmas quilt with weeks to spare before Christmas.  It's a real Christmas miracle!  This quilt pattern is by Coach House Designs and is called Christmas in the Country.




     The nicest thing about this Christmas tradition is the smell.  I love the smell of gingerbread that permeates through the house.  I had fun with the kids and grandkids when we made these gingerbread houses last week.



Here are a couple of excellent recipes to make on Christmas Eve to make that family dinner together extra special and the nice part is they're easy!






Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

                    6 potatoes, sliced or cubed                               3 T. flour

                    1 onion, chopped                                              1 tsp. salt

                    salt and pepper to taste                                     2 cups milk

                    3 T. butter                                    1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

 
            Preheat oven to 400°.  Butter a casserole dish.  Layer the potatoes and onions and salt and pepper in the casserole dish.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Mix in the flour and salt and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute.  Stir in the milk.  Cook until mixture has thickened.  Stir in the cheese and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds.  Pour cheese mixture over the potatoes.  Mix together and cover dish with foil.  Bake 1 ½ hours.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.



 
Breaded Pork Chops
                    6-9 boneless pork chops
                    salt and pepper
                    garlic powder
                    2 Tbsp. olive oil
                    1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
                    ½ cup parmesan cheese
                    1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In flat dish mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and parsley.
Heat oil in large frying pan.  Salt and pepper each pork chop.  Sprinkle each pork chop with garlic powder.  Dip each pork chop in bread crumb mixture, pressing bread crumbs to coat chops liberally.  Brown pork chops about 5 minutes on each side in frying pan.  Place pork chops in a large baking dish and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees..




Spritz Cookies

3 ½ cups flour                                      1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder                            1 egg

1 ½ cups butter                                    1 tsp. vanilla    

                                                                        ½ tsp. almond extract

Stir together flour and baking powder.  Beat butter for 30 seconds; add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add egg, vanilla and almond extract.  Beat well.  Gradually add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating until well-combined.  Divide dough in half and mix in red food coloring in one half and green food coloring in the other half.  Add enough food coloring to get the desired color.  Push dough through a cookie press onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  If desired sprinkle with colored sugar or small sprinkles.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.
 
 
 

 
     This was a good book about a woman named Eliza Spooner whose husband went off to fight in the Civil War.  She makes a quilt to send to him for Christmas. It's also the story about the women in her quilting group and how their lives are affected by war.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Give a Little Thanks!


"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving." ~H.U. Westermayer


     The Tooele Quilt Guild displayed some of it's member's quilts at the Nuttal's Bernina shop in South Jordan.  Customers were allowed to come and view the quilts and vote on their favorite.  Here are a few that I liked.
















     The Thanksgiving Holiday is well on it's way.  Here is a recipe that will help use up that leftover turkey (use turkey in place of chicken).  Your family will love it!



Chicken Broccoli Stuffing Casserole

1 package chicken stuffing mix
2-3 cups cooked chicken
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (10 ¾ oz.)can cheddar or cream of chicken soup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions, using 1 ¼ cups water.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, broccoli and soup.  Transfer to a greased 11x7” baking dish.  Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and top with prepared stuffing.  Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10-15 additional minutes.  Makes 6 servings.




    
        This cookie recipe works well for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It's quick and easy.



Jam Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup butter                                                    2 ½ cups flour
2/3 cup sugar                                                  ½ cup jam
1 egg
½ tsp. almond extract

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together in medium bowl until smooth.  Mix in egg and almond extract.  Mix in flour until dough is formed.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make a small dent in the center of each ball using your thumb or a small round measuring spoon.  Fill each hole with your favorite jam ( about ½ tsp.).  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Let cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet.  Makes about 3 dozen. 

(You can also roll each ball in finely chopped nuts for a crunchy variation.  Or you can make a glaze to drizzle over the cookies  after baking by mixing together ½ cup powdered sugar, ¾ tsp. almond extract and 1 tsp. milk.

 



     I enjoyed reading this book by Mitch Albom.  We should all have a little more faith no matter what religion we are.  We should also have a lot more tolerance and understanding of all religions.