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.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry December!

"Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace." --Buddha

     Christmas is getting closer and hopefully my list of things to do is getting shorter.  December is always the busiest month of the year.  It's probably a good thing, otherwise we'd be either really bored or really depressed. 


 I read a good book last year.  It's the real story of the Trapp family singers.  What an amazing family with a tremendous amount of faith and reliance on God.  I was surprised though that the names of the children in real life are not the same names of the children in the movie.

In December, I am always in the mood for something warm and something easy to fix to eat for dinner.  Chicken Tetrazzini is one of my favorite meals and it is both warm and easy to fix.  It's one of those nice one pot meals.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Melt 3 T. margarine in large skillet.  Saute 1 chopped onion and 1 stalk chopped celery until vegetables are clear.  Layer 2 C. of cooked chicken, cut in strips, over vegetables.  Layer 6 oz. (1 ½ C.) uncooked spaghetti (broken in shorter pieces) over chicken.  Combine 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, 1 can cream of chicken soup and 2 ½ C. chicken broth and pour over spaghetti moistening all.  Place 1 can sliced mushrooms on top.  Sprinkle ½ C. grated parmesan cheese on top.  Sprinkle a little paprika on top of the cheese.  Cover and simmer.  Check after 20 minutes.  May need 10 minutes more to cook spaghetti.  Keep heat low.

This quilt is called "The Stockings Were Hung".  It's from the book called 'Tis the Season by Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks.  It was a fun quilt with mostly patchwork and a little applique and a few red button embellishments for the holly berries.  I used up a lot of my stash of green scraps.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

"You can't stumble when you are on your knees." --Amish Proverb

Thanksgiving is just a couple days away.  It will be nice to have the family all here for the big day.  There really is so much to be thankful for.  We are so blessed.

I read a book called These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner.  It's an inspiring book about a woman who traveled in a wagon train with her family and settled in Arizona before it became a state.  It is in journal format and shows Sarah's words from the time she was young and almost illiterate to the time when she became self-educated and a hard working business woman.  This is a book that goes through the many trials that she and others faced.  It is true to the history of the time and roughly based on a true to life person.  I couldn't believe how hard everyone worked to survive.  We are very blessed to live at the present time.

November is one of the best months for soup because that's when there is a real chill in the air.  This is one of our family's favorite soup recipes.  It's called Cheddar Potato Chowder with Ham  but we just call it Ham Chowder.

Cheddar Potato Chowder with Ham

2 cups water                                                     ¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups diced unpeeled red potatoes                  ¼ cup flour
1 cup diced carrots                                           2 cups 2% milk
½ cup diced celery                                           2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped onion                                       1 cup cubed fully cooked ham
1 tsp. salt

            In a large heavy pan, combine the first seven ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. 
Meanwhile, place flour in a large saucepan; gradually whisk in milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Add cheese; stir until melted.  Stir the ham and the cheese sauce into undrained vegetables; stir until combined.  Yield: 7 servings.

This is a little table runner that I made last year.  It came in a kit that I got from SewN'Save in Clearfield.

This is a quilt that I made for my sister for her 50th birthday.  I got the pattern from a quilting magazine.  It's another quilt that has minky as the backing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Let it Snow!

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." --Audrey Hepburn

Run, little deer!

Payson Lakes

Utah Lake Overlook

Last weekend was one of those that we actually didn't have a ton of stuff to do so we took my mom on a drive up around the Nebo Loop.  There were a lot of hunters out scoping the area for deer.  We got to see a doe and I shot her with my camera (the only way I like to shoot a deer).  We drove by Payson Lakes and made a quick stop at the Utah Lake Overlook.  It seemed as though you could see forever.  We kept going and came across an area called Devil's Kitchen.  It reminded my daughter of a mini Bryce Canyon.

Devil's Kitchen

We had lunch at Dalton's in Payson.  The French Dip Sandwiches were great as well as the halibut sandwich.  The battered fries and onion rings were so good!  The mud pie in the deli case looked so good but we were all too full to try it.

Dalton's restaurant in Payson

A couple of weeks ago I bought a mini donut maker on a whim and we've had so much fun with that thing.  I've discovered that you can use just about any muffin recipe and make fun little donuts.  On-line I've read that people also use cake mixes.  So far, we've made chocolate donuts with chocolate frosting and little sprinkles, pumpkin spice donuts dipped in cinnamon sugar, applesauce donuts dipped in powdered sugar and today we made lemon poppyseed donuts dipped in lemon glaze.  They disappear really fast around here.

Here are a couple of little quilts that I finished in October.  The turkey quilt pattern is from Briarwood Cottage out of Idaho Falls and the scarecrow quilt pattern comes from Ashby's Attic.  It's fun to make smaller quilts when you find you don't have a lot of time on your hands to get the big one's finished.

I read an interesting book.  It's called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.  The author was challenged to show gratitude for 1000 things in her life and tells how accepting that challenge enriched her life.  I found the book intriguing even though there was a lot of repetition and the last chapter included some very strange stuff.  Overall, I found myself wanting to show more gratitude in my life for even the small things.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October: A very full month!

"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted."   --Albert Einstein

Four little monkeys
Look at this cute little fella! Yes, I got a new little grandson this month.  Actually he wasn't that little.  He weighed 9 lbs. 3 oz.  I finally got his quilt finished.  The pattern is by Blue Meadow Designs and is called Monkey Business.  I put brown minky on the back so it will be really soft.

With all the excitement around here I haven't had a chance to finish the book I'm currently reading.  So I'll just let you know about one of my all-time favorite books.  It's called  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  It's the story of two sisters in a concentration camp during WWII.  It's a story of charity and forgiveness.

What is one of the best things to have for breakfast in the fall?  It's got to be apple pancakes with cinnamon syrup drizzled on them.  Just add apples to your favorite pancake recipe and here's the recipe for the syrup.

Cinnamon Syrup

Bring to a full boil stirring constantly:

1 cup Karo syrup                                 ½ cup water
2 cups sugar                                        2 tsp. cinnamon

Continue stirring and boiling 2 minutes longer.  Cool 5 minutes and stir in 1 cup evaporated milk.  Makes 3 ½ cups.  Refrigerate leftovers.

If you stir in 1 cup chopped apples this is a good combination.

Syrup is also good warm or cold on ice cream.

 In the fall we always enjoy a nice drive in Middle Canyon.

This year it was a little different because the snow came and weighed the trees down before the leaves could fully change colors.

But no matter what the circumstances the scenery is always beautiful.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ready for October?

"Death is no more than passing from one room into another.  But there's a difference for me, you know.  Because in that other room I shall be able to see." --Helen Keller

This book has been one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read.  Unbroken gave me a whole new appreciation for servicemen and the true sacrifice they give when they are protecting our country.  This is the story of an olympian turned soldier and his long stay in a Japanese POW camp during WWII.  His story and the overcoming of his hardships is truly amazing.

This quilt is called Happy Jack.  The pattern comes from Pieces From My Heart pattern company.  It's an easy quilt to make and can be completed in an afternoon.

Do you need a recipe to use up some of that pumpkin from that huge can you opened up?  These rolls are light and moist and very pretty.  When I made this batch, I cut the recipe in half and put the ingredients in my bread machine and put the setting on dough.  I still got to play with the dough and the rolls turned out just as nice.

Pumpkin Knot Rolls

2 pkgs. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast                                  3 eggs
1 cup warm milk                                                                   1 ½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened                                    5 ½ to 6 cups flour
½ cup sugar                                                                          1 T. cold water
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin                                          sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk.  Add the butter, sugar, pumpkin, 2 eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Shape each portion into 12 balls.  Roll each ball into a 10 inch rope; tie into a knot and tuck ends under.  Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, beat water and remaining egg.  Brush over rolls.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks.  Yield: 2 dozen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall is in the Air!

"Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them." -Abraham Lincoln

I am one of those people who really don't enjoy canning; but once the work is done I enjoy looking at the end product.  I was able to put up about 23 pints of salsa and thanks to my food storage and my brother's plentiful garden the only thing I had to purchase was the fresh cilantro.

Here is a recipe that is really easy, super tasty and helps use up any leftover salsa that may still be hanging around in the refrigerator.

Pronto Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef                                             1 cup uncooked spiral pasta
1 med. onion, chopped                                   1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced                                    1 tsp. chili powder
2 cans beef broth (14.5 oz. each)                    1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained                    shredded cheddar cheese and
1 ½ cups picante sauce (salsa)             tortilla chips

In a large saucepan, cook beef, onion, and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Add the broth, tomatoes, picante sauce, pasta, green pepper, chili powder and parsley.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is tender.  Serve with cheese and tortilla chips.  Makes 8 servings.

Since we're in the thick of tomato season and green peppers are adorning our countertops at the moment, this is one of the recipes I use a lot this time of year.

Pepper Steak with Rice

1 lb. lean beef round steak                  2 T. cornstarch
2 T. butter or margarine                      ½ C. water
2 cloves garlic, minced                        ¼ C. soy sauce
1 ½ C. beef broth                                2 large, fresh tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 C. sliced green onions                      3 C. hot, cooked rice
2 green peppers, cut in strips

            Pound steak to ¼” thick.  Cut into ¼ “ wide strips.  Melt butter or margarine in large skillet, and brown meat until all pink is gone.  Add garlic and beef broth; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in onions and green peppers.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Blend corn starch, water and soy sauce, and stir into meat mixture.  Cook, stirring until clear and thickened—about 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and heat until they are hot through.  Serve over hot rice. 

I made this quilt a couple of years ago and it has found a home on my favorite rocking chair.  It's called High Country Pinwheels and comes from Lynette Jensen's Thimbleberries New Collection of Classic Quilts Book.  I so love Thimbleberries Quilts.  They are so homey and remind me of days gone by.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Busy Day!

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."    --Mother Teresa

I am so, so, so excited because I found out that one of my favorite authors has her new book out!  Josi Kilpack has just released Pumpkin Roll.    It is the sixth in her series of culinary murder mysteries.  I went right out and purchased it on my kindle; so now I get to start reading it!  I will show her books in order so you'll know which one to start reading first.







 My daughter brought me some peaches yesterday so I thought I would make some Peachy Pretzel Dessert.  It seems to be a hit with the whole family.

Peachy Pretzel Dessert

Crust:                                                              Topping:
2 ½ cups pretzels, crushed                              8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter                                                    3 T. milk
3 T. sugar                                                        1 cup powdered sugar
                                                                        2 cups cool whip
2 cups water                1-3 oz. package peach jello
2 T. cornstarch            4-5 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar (or less)
Mix together crust ingredients and reserve ½ cup.  Press remainder in 9x13 pan.  Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.  Cool.  For filling, mix water, cornstarch and sugar in saucepan.  Cook until thickened; remove from heat.  Stir in peach jello, let cool slightly.  Add sliced peaches.  Spread mixture over pretzel crust.  For topping, mix cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar.  Mix well and fold in cool whip.  Spread on peach layer and sprinkle with reserved pretzel crumbs.  Let chill for 2 hours or more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An apple a day. . . .

"A perfect parent is a person with excellent child-rearing theories and no actual children." --Dave Barry

wooded area near Silver Lake

Silver Lake

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend we took a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  We were hoping for some fishing and some peace and quiet.  We got neither, but the scenery was beautiful.

This quilt was so much fun to make.  It is from a pattern by Out on a Limb.  The designer did hers in red, yellow and green.  I went with all blue and white.  I love the flowers in the opposite corners.  It is the perfect size to use on a table or as a wall hanging.

Stealing Jake is a good book.  I guess you could call it a western, Christian, romance.  That is if you consider Illinois the west.  None the less, I enjoyed it.

Are you ready for apple season?  This recipe is so great.  You can use it as a dip for apples, topping for ice cream, or poured over popcorn for carmel corn.  Thanks to my friend, Dana, for sharing this with me.

(From my friend Dana Cooper)

2 cups brown sugar                             1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cube butter                                       2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup white Karo syrup

Bring brown sugar, butter and syrup to a boil; remove from heat and add condensed milk.  Boil 3 minutes (a boil that cannot be stirred down).  Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir.  Serve warm over sliced apples or dip whole apples and make caramel apples.  You can also boil the carmel until it reaches the softball stage and make regular caramels.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September Already?

"Learn from the mistakes of others.  You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."  --Eleanor Roosevelt

During the summer I read a good book on the recommendation of a friend.  It is called Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It's a historical fiction book set in France during World War II. 

Here is the recipe for the fresh pear bundt cake that was shown in a previous post.

After going to a viewing in Holladay one Friday evening, my hubby and I were advised to check out the Normandie restaurant and bakery nearby.  Wow, it was really good!  The french onion soup was the best we'd ever had.  The day we went they also had a special--two full meals for $25.  It was an incredible bargain because even the dessert was included; and the chocolate caramel cake was divine!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

School is Back in Session!

Always do right.  This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. --Mark Twain

The kids have been back in school for a few days now which means we are getting back into a routine after a somewhat lazy summer. This leaves the day open for a little quiet time for me and I've had a chance to sit down and read a book.  I just finished reading Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and his wife Sonja. It is an amazing read that left me doing a lot of thinking. 

I happened to come across a box of Bartlett pears and they were so juicy and delicious.  We couldn't eat them all so I dried a few of them. I just cored and sliced them and soaked them in pineapple juice for a few minutes and put them in the dehydrator.  24 hours later this is what I ended up with.  They taste like candy!

I still had some pears left over so I made this bundt pear cake.  My family doesn't really care for the normal sheet cake but there's something about a bundt cake that makes them want to eat it all.  And that's just what they did.