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 30, 2012

The Colors of Fall

"All my life through, the new sights of nature made me rejoice like a child." --Marie Curie

     Last weekend we took a beautiful fall drive up Middle Canyon and went all the way to the top to the Kennecott Overlook. 



This past month in our book club we read the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Lee.  It was a very sweet story of a Chinese boy who falls in love with a Japanese girl in the United States in 1942.  I was so impressed by the boy's selflessness.
Isn't this the cutest little kitchen towel.  My friend, Pam, made it for me.  I hate to wipe my hands on it because I don't want to get it messed up.
My family has had so many recipes made with pumpkin in the last few weeks but they haven't complained.  I tried this recipe for Pumpkin Waffles and it was a hit!  I adapted it from a recipe from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine.

Pumpkin Waffles
¾ cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour                                            2 eggs
2 Tbsp. brown sugar                                  1 ¼ cups buttermilk  (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. baking powder                                                              with 1 ¼ cups milk)
¼ tsp. baking soda                                                       ½ cup fresh or canned pumpkin
¼ tsp. salt                                                                    2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves

Combine the first nine ingredients in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin and melted butter.  Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.

Bake in a preheated waffle iron until golden brown.  Serve with maple syrup.  Apricot jam is also really good.  Recipe makes 4 large waffles.
Here is pumpkin recipe number 2.  I found this recipe when I was doing a search for pumpkin cheesecake.  I love the gingersnap crust.  It didn't last long around this house.  Look forward to more pumpkin recipes on the next post.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust
Adapted from Kicked Up Cookie Recipes
Makes about 24 bars
2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (about 30 cookies)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan.
Combine crushed gingersnaps and melted butter in a small bowl. Press mixture into bottom of the prepared baking pan. Even out with the flat bottom of a glass, if needed.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until crust is firm. Set aside to cool.
While the crust is cooling, stir together pumpkin, flour, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl.
In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate completely after each addition.
Stir 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese batter into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour the remaining cream cheese batter over cooled crust.
Spoon the pumpkin batter over top of cream cheese batter and using a butter knife, gently spread evenly over the cheesecake mixture.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. Cool at room temperature for about an hour, then chill in the refrigerator before cutting into bars

I made this quilt a few years ago.  I found the pattern in a quilting magazine.  It was called Leaves and Log Cabins.  I changed the pattern slightly by enlarging each block.


Monday, September 17, 2012

September Days

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."--Desmond Tutu

     Last Monday evening we attended the State Fair.  As always there was a wide variety of things to look at and grab our attention.  My favorites are the animals, the home arts (which has to include the quilts) and of course since I am a member of a family of ice cream lovers, we loved the tent sponsored by the Utah Dairy Council.  We were able to go and have all the ice cream we wanted for $3 each.

Lemurland of Madagascar
Dairy Farmers of Utah Butter Cow-sculpture of butter
wood carved fish
Chili is one of my favorite meals in the fall when the days start to cool off a little.


1 lb. lean ground beef                                   1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes                       
1 medium onion, diced                                               1 ½ Tbsp. chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced                                               1 tsp. cumin
½ cup green pepper, diced                                         ½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup celery, diced                                                     1 tsp. salt
1-4 oz. can diced green chiles                                    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2-15 oz. cans red kidney beans , drained                 1 cup tomato juice or beef broth
1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a medium skillet.  Add green pepper and celery and cook for 2 more minutes.  Put beef mixture in crock pot and add all other ingredients.  Cook on medium for 4-6 hours.  You can also cook chili in a heavy pot covered, on low heat on the stove for 2 – 3 hours stirring every 15 minutes.  If you like your chili a little spicier, add more chili powder, cumin and black pepper.

     Out of all the things that are made in my kitchen, my family requests cinnamon rolls the most.   The secret ingredient is instant potato flakes.  I make the dough in my bread machine but it can be made with a bread mixer just as easily.  I use dental floss when cutting the individual rolls.
Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls
1 ¾ cups water                                                ½ cup sugar
1 egg                                                                ¼ cup margarine
4 ½ cups flour                                                 1 tsp. salt
½ cup powdered milk                                      1 Tbsp. yeast
½ cup potato flakes
Combine and mix ingredients in bread mixer.  Let dough rest on an oiled counter for 15 minutes.  Punch down and roll out to 18” by 15”.  Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up and cut int 12 to 18 rolls.  Place on a large jelly roll pan (greased or lined with parchment paper).  Let rise for 30-45 minutes.  Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool for 3-5 minutes before frosting.
2 cups powdered sugar                         3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 tsp. vanilla                                      1-2 Tbsp. cream or milk
Fresh pear salad is really tasty this time of year.  I just layered the following ingredients:
seven lettuce mix
sliced pears
feta cheese
bacon crumbles
chopped pecans

Top it off with a little raspberry vinaigrette.
  I just finished reading this book.  From what I hear, it's a little different from most of David Baldacci's other books.  It mostly takes place in a small mining town in Virginia.  I enjoyed the strong characters, especially that of Lou.