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 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!