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, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Party

"A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween." ~Erma Bombeck

"There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch." ~Robert Brault

     I was able to finish my Spooky Quilt just in time for the Halloween season.  This pattern is in a book called So Many Choices by Abbey Lane Quilts.  It was the first time I have ever made a stack and wack quilt.  I thought the whole process was really fun.  I used Halloween fat quarters that I purchased last year during shop hop when they were all on sale.

     We took the grandkids to the Pumpkin Walk at the Benson Grist Mill in Stansbury Park last Saturday.  There were pumpkins for sale, a maze made out of bales of hay, snow cones, corn dogs, booths with merchandise, live music, trick or treating, pony rides and lots of fun.



     Here are a couple of very yummy recipes perfect for a nice Fall/Halloween dinner.

                                             I love this soup!  It's chock full of vegetables.

Minestrone Soup

  6 slices bacon                                                          1(15 oz.) can green beans, drained
  3 cloves garlic, minced                                          2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  1 large onion, chopped                                         1 medium to large zucchini, cubed
  2 cups celery, chopped                                         1 tsp. dry oregano
  5 carrots, sliced                                                      2 tsp. dry basil
  4 cups chicken broth                                             1 cup shell pasta
  1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce                                   salt and pepper to taste
  1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained           parmesan cheese

In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove to a plate to drain.  Cook onion and garlic in bacon grease for 4-5 minutes.  Add carrots and celery and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add chicken broth and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Add kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, oregano, basil and shell pasta.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is done.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add bacon that has been crumbled.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Makes 8 servings.

Superb Herb Bread

(adapted from Taste of Home recipe)

                 1 cup water                                                  1 ½ tsp. poppy seeds
                 1 Tbsp. powdered milk                              1 ½ tsp. dried minced onions
                 1 egg                                                             1 tsp. sage
     1½ Tbsp. butter                                          ¼ cup parmesan cheese
     2 Tbsp. sugar                                              2 cups flour
     1 tsp. salt                                                     1 cup whole wheat flour
     2 tsp. caraway seeds                                 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed.  Select dough setting.  When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a floured surface.  Punch down; shape into a loaf.  Place into a 9x5” loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan, spread butter on loaf and let cool on wire rack. 

     Did you ever have a wish to be invisible?  I have; that is until I read this classic book by H. G. Wells. 

     Here are some cute little pretzel pumpkins.  They are so easy to make and very tasty.  Just take small pretzels and dip them in melted orange candy melts: add a mini green m&m for the stem.  Wait for them to harden and then you have a yummy snack.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Falling for Quilts!

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.  Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."~Rumi

     This past week was very busy, but I did manage to slip in going to a few quilt shops for the Beehive Shop Hop here in Utah.   I saw some amazing things.  This year's theme was "Somewhere in Time".  I do believe that the growing trend is mini quilts.

     Now on to some fall favorite recipes.  The first one comes from my friend, Patti.  She changed it to suit her tastes and I changed it again to suit my family.

Slow Cooker Enchiladas

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
6 flour or corn tortillas

In a skillet, brown the ground beef, onions and green pepper until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain.  Add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and seasonings; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Coat the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick spray; layer 1 cup of beef mixture on the bottom.  Cover with tortilla, sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.  Repeat layers until all ingredients are gone.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.  Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream, if desired.

     Next comes a new recipe that just might become a family tradition.  We had a lot of fun making these doughnuts.

Applesauce Doughnuts

4 cups flour                                                     2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 ½ tsp. baking powder                                   ½ cup sugar
½ tsp. baking soda                                          ¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. salt                                                       1 cup applesauce
½  tsp. cinnamon                                             ¼ cup milk
½ tsp. nutmeg                                                 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cloves                                                   cinnamon sugar

            Oil for deep fat frying

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  In a medium bowl mix together melted butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Add eggs and beat.  Stir in applesauce, milk and vanilla and mix until combined.  Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Stir until a soft dough is formed. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and add enough flour to be able to roll dough to ¾ to 1 inch thickness.  Using a doughnut cutter, cut doughnuts and doughnut holes, dipping cutter in flour each time.
 Carefully drop doughnuts and doughnut holes in hot oil.  Fry turning once with tongs.  Cook until golden brown on each side.  Remove from oil using tongs and put on paper towels to drain.  You may want to dip the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar to coat.

     It's been a while since I read this book; Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.  I enjoyed the southern tale of Will, a boy growing up in the town of Cold Sassy, Georgia.