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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Has Almost Sprung!

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

     I think this Easter quilt is adorable.  My friend, MaryAnn made it.  I love the bright, cheerful colors.  It almost makes you feel like Spring will eventually get here. The pattern comes from Pie Plate Patterns-Seasons Gone Pie- the Spring edition.

     Are you ready for Easter?  Here are a few recipes that I think are perfect for the holiday.

Asparagus Ham Roll-Ups

24 fresh asparagus spears                             ½ tsp. onion powder
8 thin slices fully cooked ham                                    ¼ tsp. basil
3 Tbsp. butter                                                  ¾ tsp. dry mustard                             
¼ cup flour                                                      1 ½ cups milk
½ tsp. salt                                                       ½ cup shredded cheese
¼ tsp. pepper

Roll up three asparagus spears in each slice of ham.  Place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. 
Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, onion powder, basil and dry mustard.  Gradually whisk in milk and stir until mixture comes to a boil.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Pour sauce over ham and asparagus in baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Funeral Potatoes
2 cups sour cream                                        2 cups cheese, shredded
1-10 oz. can cream of chicken soup          1-28 oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes
2 Tbsp. green onions, sliced                        1 cup cornflakes, crushed
¾ tsp. salt                                                        2 Tbsp. butter, melted
¼ tsp. pepper

In a large bowl, mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup.  Add green onions, salt, pepper and cheese.  Gently fold in frozen potatoes.  Put in a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Combine melted butter and corn flake crumbs.  Sprinkle on potato mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, covered.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.  (Sometimes I add an extra can of cream of chicken soup and less sour cream.) (To make this a main dish instead of a side dish, I sometimes add cubed ham.)

                                              This recipe comes from The Lion House Cookbook.

Sarah’s Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce                                       ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese, or
 3 strips bacon                                                         2 ½ oz. cut in strips
½ 10-ounce pkg. frozen peas                            2/3 cup chopped green onion
¼ tsp. sugar                                                      ¼ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. salt                                                         ¼ cup salad dressing
¼ tsp. pepper                                                  

            Wash and drain lettuce.  Dry thoroughly.  Dice bacon and saute until crisp; drain on paper towels.  Run hot water over frozen peas and drain.  Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces into salad bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.  Add peas, cheese, onion, mayonnaise and salad dressing.  (These ingredients may be layered, if desired, with the mayonnaise spread on last.  Cover tightly and refrigerate over night.)  Chill.  Toss when ready to serve and garnish with bacon.  Makes 8 servings.


     Last in this list of recipes is a recipe from my neighbor, Pam.  I fondly remember eating these with her as a teenager.  Her mom made the best Hello Dollys.

Hello Dolly Cookie Bars
½ cup butter                                                      1 cup coconut
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs                  1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips                                      1 (15 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and mix with graham cracker crumbs.  Place in a 9x13 baking pan and pat down.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on followed by coconut and chopped nuts.  Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the top.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly browned.  Cool and cut into bars.


     Last weekend, My husband and I went to Logan for our nephew's wedding and our son's birthday.  I love Logan.  We took a little jaunt over to Gossner Foods while we were there.  Had to get some cheese curds--my son likes the smokey flavor,  I like the jerky flavor and my husband likes the regular the best.  We also picked up a case of boxed milk.  These are wonderful to put in 72 hour emergency kits or to take on trips in the car.  They come in lots of different flavors-chocolate, root beer, strawberry, mango, orange cream and vanilla.  They let you mix and match when you buy a case.

    While I was in Logan, My husband was good enough to take me to My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe.  Here are a couple of cheerful, springy quilts they had hanging in their shop.

     There was also a quilt display upstairs showing some beautiful traditonal quilts.  There is a story behind each quilt.  I loved seeing the quilts and hearing the stories.

 I am reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare again after many years.  I forgot how good it was.  I find the reoccuring theme of love being more powerful than hate very moving. Love has a greater capacity for change in people than hate does.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lucky Me!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing

"What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four leaf clover?  A rash of good luck!" -unknown

     Here's another month block from Art to Heart.  The cute wire quilt holders come from Ackfeld Wire. 

     Check out this quilt.  It was made from a panel from a line called Garden Song from Benartex.  The pattern has a border made from tulip blocks.

     I thought it would be fun to post some green recipes to help celebrate this month.  Not a lot of people care for split pea soup but I really like it so it gets included.

Split Pea Soup With Ham
2 ¼  cups (1 lb.) dry green split peas              ¼ tsp. pepper
8 cups cold water                                            ¼ tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
3 tsp. chicken bouillon granules                      ½ tsp. smoked paprika
2 cups diced ham                                            2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped                              2 medium carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced                                    1 bay leaf
½ tsp. Italian seasoning                                   seasoned croutons
pinch of thyme                                               
            Rinse dry green split peas.  In a large heavy pan, combine peas, water, bouillon, ham, onion, Italian seasoning, thyme, pepper, dried marjoram, paprika and bay leaf.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover; simmer for 1 hour.  Stir occasionally.   Stir in carrots and celery.  Cover; simmer 30 minutes more.  Season to taste with salt if desired.   Top with seasoned croutons when serving.  Serves  8-10.  You can also put all ingredients (except croutons) in crockpot and cook on high for 6-8 hours or until soup has thickened to desired consistency and peas are cooked.

     This salad was served at a Women's function in our area.  It was so good I had to ask for the recipe.

Spinach Bow Tie Pasta Salad

1 (12 oz.) pkg. bow tie pasta
3 chicken breasts, cooked and seasoned, diced
1 bag fresh spinach
1 can mandarin oranges, drained

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
3 Tbspn. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Gently toss salad ingredients together and pour dressing on before serving.  Use as many almonds, craisins and dressing as desired.

     Last of all, here is a delicious green cake recipe.  It comes from Taste of Home.
Wearing O' Green Cake Recipe

One bite of this moist, colorful cake and you'll think you've found the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow. It's the perfect dessert to round out your St. Patrick's Day feast. —Marge Nicol, Shannon, Illinois
Wearing O' Green Cake Recipe
  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling
  • Yield: 12-15 Servings
  • 1 package white cake mix (regular size)
  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) lime gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • Green sprinkles
  • Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water; stir in cold water and set aside.
  • With a meat fork or wooden skewer, poke holes about 2 in. apart into cooled cake. Slowly pour gelatin over cake. Cover and refrigerate.
  • In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes (mixture will be thick). Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cake. Decorate with sprinkles. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Originally published as Wearing O' Green Cake in Taste of Home February/March 2005, p21

     Since everyone is so interested in finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow this month, I thought I would post a little bit about the book called Mama's Bank Account.  This is a fun little book about a family whose parents came from Norway and settled in San Francisco.  It tells of all their little secrets of how they saved and earned money.  The "Mama" in the book is a delightful character who you just can't help but admire. 

We had a fun family outing to the bowling alley.  And I tried something new-- the boys talked me into playing laser tag.  It was really fun.  I'd do it again in a minute.