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.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Scrap Happy!

"When life gives you scraps, make a quilt."

"Quilting is a scrap of happiness."

     We learned several different methods of making scrappy quilts at quilt guild last week.  I am so inspired to try one of these techniques.

     We're in the middle of painting a bedroom and I was motivated to redo one of our old kitchen chairs to match the new bedroom.  Here are the before and after photos.


     April is winding down and May is on it's way.  Here are two recipes that could be used for Cinco de Mayo.  Crystal brought this salsa recipe to quilt guild in March.  It's so good!

Cowboy Caviar Salsa

2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can black eyed peas
1 can black beans
1 can corn
(Drain all cans.)
green onions
cilantro, diced
2 avocados, chunked
8 oz. Italian dressing

Mix and enjoy with chips.
(Place one avocado pit in mixture and they won't turn brown.)

Pork Tacos

4-5 boneless pork loin chops                          8 small corn or whole grain tortillas
2 Tbsp. olive oil                                               1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 Tbsp. lime juice                                            red onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp. oregano                                                cilantro
1 Tbsp. soy sauce                                            pico de gallo or salsa
½ tsp. smoky paprika                                      sour cream
½ tsp. chili powder                                          sliced olives
½ tsp. garlic powder                                       sliced radishes
¼ tsp. salt                                                         grated cheese

     Thinly slice pork chops into strips.  Whisk next 8 ingredients together and add pork strips to marinate for 20 minutes.  Spray frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and saute pork for 4 or 5 minutes or until no longer pink.  Fill warm tortillas with pork mixture, romaine lettuce, red onions, pico de gallo, sour cream, sliced olives, sliced radishes and grated cheese.  Serves 4.

      Here's a sweet little adventure/romance story, The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Winds of Change

"Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it." ~ Winston Churchhill

     Some of the most fun days in early Spring are those spent flying kites with the kids and grandkids.

     We are making a Mystery Quilt in Quilt Guild.  Each person that wants to participate is required to choose three different fabrics. . . a focus fabric, an accent fabric and a background fabric.  These are the three fabrics that I have chosen.  I can't wait to see how it all turns out. Too bad, I will have to wait because the quilts are not expected to be completed until August.  I'll try to post some pictures between now and then to keep the interest going.

Lemon is one of my favorite flavors of Spring.  Here are a couple of recipes that utilize that great flavor, ones that my family loves.

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

(From Our Best Bites)

12 oz. bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortellini            
4 strips bacon                                                       1 ½ tsp. dry basil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced                            ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes                                    
2 T flour                                                              1 medium lemon      
2 cups milk                                                           2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
¾ tsp. salt                                                              ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/8 tsp. pepper                                                     ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook tortellini according to package directions. Cook bacon until crisp in a medium skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and cook garlic in pan drippings for about 1 minute.  Add flour to pan and whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes.  Bring sauce to a simmer.

Add 2 tsp. lemon zest and 1 T lemon juice to sauce. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Put drained tortellini back in pot it was cooked in. Add crumbled and cooked bacon to pasta except for 1 T. Add spinach, ½ cup mozzarella and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Add sauce and gently stir to combine. Place pasta in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish and top with remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more or until cheese on top is melted and pasta is bubbly throughout. Serves 4-6.

 Lemon Bars
This recipe comes from Ina Garten and the Food Network
Yield: 20 squares
For the crust:
·         2 sticks butter, softened
·         1/2 cup granulated sugar
·         2 cups flour
·         1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

·         6 extra-large eggs
·         3 cups granulated sugar
·         2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
·         1 cup lemon juice
·         1 cup flour
·         Powdered Sugar, for dusting
1.      Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2.      Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment, and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
3.      Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the flour and salt until dough forms.
4.      Press the dough into the pan, building up 1/2 inch crust on all sides.
5.      Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Chill.
6.      Whisk together all of the remaining ingredients (except the powdered sugar), and pour into the cooled crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set. Let cool to room temperature or chill overnight.
7.      Dust with powdered sugar before cutting and serving.

           We read this book, The Cedar Post  by Jack R. Rose for Book Club last month and found it interesting.  It's about a boy growing up in Declo, Idaho and how he finds inspiration and motivation from an old blind and deaf man in a wheel chair.