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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Source of All Blessings

"God is the source of all positive energy, and prayer is the best way to tap in to His power." ~Immaculee Ilibagiza

     We had a very nice Thanksgiving with all my children present along with various other family members.  I feel an immense amount of gratitude for these people in my life.

     My sister, my friend, Dana and I went to the Holiday Quilt Show held at The Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.  This quilt show also includes an auction that is a fundraiser for medical research for Intermountain Health Care.  Each quilt includes a card that tells a little history and a few interesting details about the quilt.  We noticed that one quilt had sold for 25 thousand dollars in a previous year and the purchaser had redonated it this year to be auctioned off again.  Wow!

     Here are some of the quilts we admired that day.






                               This is a side dish that we enjoy for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunshine Carrots

                   5 medium carrots                                                          ¼ tsp. salt

                   1 T. sugar                                                                     ¼ cup orange juice

                   1 tsp. cornstarch                                                           2 T. butter

                  ¼ tsp. ground ginger

Cut carrots on the bias in 1-inch chunks.  Cook, covered, in boiling water until just tender, about 20 minutes; drain.  In saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and salt.  Add juice; cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Boil 1 minute.  Stir in butter.  Toss with carrots.  Serves 4.

                   Here is a recipe to help you use up some of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey-Cheese Macaroni Bake

                   1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni                          ¼ tsp. pepper

                ¼ cup finely chopped onion                                 1/8 tsp. dried thyme

                2 T. butter or margarine                                        2 cups milk

                ¼ cup flour                                                            2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast

                ½ tsp. salt                                                              1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 T. butter, melted, 1 tsp. parsley

                Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, saute the onion in butter.  Add the flour, salt, pepper, and thyme; stir until blended.  Gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.  Drain macaroni; add the white sauce, turkey and cheese.  Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.

                Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over casserole.  Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.  Place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes 6 servings.

                           Here's a recipe for a nice November treat.  This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker's Cookbook.


                                      1 cup brown sugar                              1 tsp. cinnamon

                                     ¾ cup butter                                        1 tsp. ginger

                                     ¼ cup molasses                                   ½ tsp. cloves

                                     1 egg                                                   ¼ tsp. salt

                                     2 ¼ cups flour                                      granulated sugar

                                     2 tsp. baking soda

Mix brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg.  Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Dip tops into granulated sugar and place 3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake cookies just until set, 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes about 3 dozen.

     We read the book  Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza last month for Book Club.  I cannot even say how much I learned from reading this book.  In this book, the author tells her story of surviving the Rwandan genocide.  I was so impressed with her faith and her complete reliance on God's help in her life; such a powerful book.

This is one of the little turkey favors my daughters helped me make to place at each person's plate for the big dinner this year.  We made orange jello popcorn balls.  We used nutter butter cookies, fudge striped cookies, sixlets, corn candies and fruit leather to fashion each edible turkey. 

Jello Popcorn Balls

1 6 oz. pkg. Jello                                              1 C. white Karo syrup

1 C. sugar

            Mix ingredients well in a medium saucepan and bring to boiling point.  Cook until sugar is dissolved.  Cool slightly and pour over 4 to 6 quarts of popped popcorn.  Stir quickly until well mixed.  Form into balls quickly, using butter on hands in order to handle the hot mixture more easily.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Count Your Blessings!

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel." ~Author Unknown

 Last year we had practically no fall at all and winter just barged in before autumn had a chance.  This year, however, fall just goes on and on and is more incredibly beautiful than I ever remember.  Added to that comes gorgeous sunsets night after night.  We are so blessed. 

     This is a simple pumpkin quilt from Thimbleberries. It works well as either a wall hanging or a table topper.  I call it Pumpkin Fence.  It worked up fast and easy.

Tater Tot Casserole is one of our Fall favorites.  It's easy to throw together which is nice because our schedules start to get a little on the busy side this time of year.

Tater Tot Casserole

               1 lb. lean ground beef                                  1/8 tsp. pepper

               2 stalks celery, diced                                   1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

              1/2 onion, diced                                            1 16 oz. pkg. frozen tater tots

               ½ tsp. salt                                                     ½ C. milk

               ½ tsp. seasoning salt                                    ½ C. grated cheese

            In a large skillet, brown ground beef.  Drain.  Add celery, onion and seasonings.  Cook until celery and onion are crisp tender. Add soup, seasonings and milk and stir until mixed.  Pour meat mixture into a casserole dish.  Top with grated cheese.  Place tater tots end -side-up to fill dish completely.  Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until tater tots are browned.

            This is good as a main dish or side dish.  One can of tuna may also be used instead of hamburger.

Here are a couple of pumpkin recipes that I am throwing in just for fun.  The Pumpkin Cheese Bread recipe comes from and the Pumpkin Spice Cake recipe comes from my friend, Julee.

Pumpkin Cheese Bread

1 (8oz.) package cream cheese                                            ½ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup white sugar                                                                ½ tsp. ground cloves

1 T. flour                                                                               ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 egg                                                                                       1 cup pumpkin puree

1 T. orange zest                                                                     ½ cup oil

1 2/3 cups flour                                                                     2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda                                                                 1 ½ cups white sugar

½ tsp. salt                                                                              chopped pecans, if desired

                Preheat oven to 325°.  Lightly grease 2 8x4” loaf pans.  In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, 1T. flour, 1 egg and orange zest; beat until smooth.  Set aside.  Sift together 1 2/3 cup flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.  Place pumpkin, vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 ½ cups sugar in a large bowl; beat well.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.  Fold in the pecans if desired.  Pour ½ of the pumpkin batter into the loaf pans.  Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of this layer and then pour on the remaining batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

                                    1 box spice cake mix                           large cool whip

                                    1 large can pumpkin                            caramel topping

                                    4 eggs

Combine first three ingredients and spread on a greased and floured jelly roll pan.  Bake according to directions on cake mix.  Allow to cool.  Before serving, top with a large container of cool whip and drizzle with caramel topping.

     I love scarecrows!  I went to The Wood Connection and picked up a couple scarecrow kits and my friend, Patti and I had fun painting and gluing.  We thought they turned out cute.

     One of my favorite classics is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.  I wish authors still wrote books like that.