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, February 28, 2016

Leap Year!

     Well, tomorrow is February 29th.  It comes around only every four years.  We can say we made it another four years.  We can also say we have been blessed with an extra 24 hours to get caught up on everything.  I am still working on my pink and brown quilt but I found a quilt I finished a few years back.  It's a pattern from Quilt Soup Pattern Company called Ladybug Hug. 

Even though it has warmed up here considerably,  I still think it's weather fit for soup.  Here's one that we tried a week or so ago and the family loved it.

Cheeseburger Soup
1 lb. ground beef
¾ cup chopped onion
¾ cup carrots, diced small
¾ cup celery, diced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
3 Tbsp. butter
¼ cup flour
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup sour cream

Brown the ground beef in large pot.  Drain.  Add onion, carrots, parsley, basil and celery.  Saute’ until tender.  Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  In a saucepan, melt butter and add the flour, salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes.  Slowly add the milk and stir until thickened.  Add shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Combine cheese mixture with the vegetable soup mixture.  Stir until combined.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  (This soup is very good served with dill bread.)


Banana Oat Muffins
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¼ cup oil
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly.  Stir in the milk, oil and vanilla.  Add the mashed banana and stir together.  Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.  Divide the batter among a muffin tin that has been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with paper baking cups.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

My neighbor gave me this book to read a while back and I finally got a chance to read it.  It was a good read with lots of action and a little romance.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Heart

"I know in my heart that man is good.  That what is right will eventually triumph.  And there's purpose and worth to each and every life."~Ronald Reagan

     Happy Valentine's Day today and President's Day tomorrow.  What a weekend of holidays!  Not to mention that the Chinese New Year started on February 8th.  It's the Year of the Monkey!  I have been working on a two block pink and brown quilt but I've been going very slowly at it.  So I'll just share a picture of my heart wall hanging.

     In honor of all the holidays going on all at once I've dedicated a recipe to cover each one.  The first is Egg Drop Soup in honor of the Chinese New Year.  I got this recipe from my friend, Dana.  It's a keeper!

Egg Drop Soup
2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced onion
2 shredded carrots
4 stalks celery, chopped
8-12 cups chicken broth
8 oz. spinach leaves
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz. angel hair pasta
1 tsp. dry parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Place first 6 ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Add parsley and spinach leaves and bring to a boil again.  While boiling slowly pour beaten eggs in and stir around.  Add pasta at the end and cook until tender.  Serves 8-10.
     Next comes sugar cookies in honor of Valentine's Day.  Nothing says Valentine like pink frosted sugar cookies.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe given to me by my good friend, Sally,  who was killed in a car accident nearly 27 years ago.

Sugar Cookies
3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  In mixing bowl beat together butter, shortening and sugar.  Add eggs, sour cream, vanilla and almond extract and mix.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough out to 1/3 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour each time.  Bake for 6-10 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Remove from oven when still soft.  Let cool and frost with Vanilla Frosting.  Makes about 20 to 30 cookies depending on size.

Vanilla Frosting
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla
3-4 Tbsp. milk
Food coloring
Combine frosting ingredients and beat with electric mixer until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

     And last of all comes President's Day.  I have a recipe for President Reagan's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese.  My friend, Patti, led me to this great comfort food recipe.

Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 tsp. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup milk
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Boil macaroni and drain thoroughly.  Stir in butter and egg.  Mix salt and mustard with 1 Tbsp. hot water and add to the milk.  Pour macaroni mixture into a buttered casserole dish.  Add 2 ½ cups cheese and the milk mixture.  Stir together.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until top is crusty.  Makes 6-8 servings.
     I'm throwing in an extra recipe for the Super Bowl here.  My daughter gave me this recipe and we became addicted.

Sausage Cream Cheese Dip
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1 cup sour cream
Tortilla chips
Brown sausage until it is completely cooked.  Drain grease.  Add cream cheese and tomatoes and heat until cream cheese is completely melted.  Stir in sour cream and heat through.  Serve with tortilla chips or your favorite chips.


This is a great romance.  I just have to say that I hated the first part of this book.  The main character was such a spoiled brat.  But through a serious hardship in her life she changed and was able to find compassion and love.
     My kitchen is beginning to look like a cookie factory.  My daughter has been earning money for a trip to New York with her high school concert choir group.  She has had great success baking cookies and selling them to the neighbors.  This is a picture of her valentine cookie sampler box.