The Perfect Family Picnic
By: Jennifer Low
Get out of the egg-salad rut and try this relaxed picnic menu. We’ve included one kid-friendly recipe and the rest is so simple, you just assemble it! Remember, a cooler is indispensable for keeping food fresh. If you use freezer packs, don’t forget to add a bag of ice. The cubes not only keep the cooler chilled, they can be popped into drinks later.
Bake chicken fingers a day ahead and chill. Slide each one onto a wooden skewer, wrap in a bunch and chill. Kids love the fun of eating off the sticks! Don’t forget to pack a small container of ketchup or honey-mustard for dipping. Alphabet Pasta Salad is delicious and fun. Make it extra special by using the alphabet pasta that comes in assorted vegetable colors. The small pasta soaks up the flavors of the easy dressing.
Parents can treat themselves to a sandwich that’s a little out of the ordinary. Slice open and butter a French baguette bread. Spread with butter and Dijon mustard, then layer thin slices of fresh figs available in supermarket produce sections, fresh whole basil leaves, prosciutto (Italian cured ham) and slices of Brie or Camembert cheese. Wrap sandwiches tightly in plastic. They can be chilled overnight before packing to go.
Save these for the picnic spot or bring them out as unexpected treats during the car ride: Bug Jars. Fill small jars with trail mix, dried fruit, small cookies or crackers, gummi worms and a toy store plastic bug. Give one to each child. They’ll have fun eating their way down to find the bug. The resealable jars are especially handy for road trips. Bug Jars will keep ‘em happy for miles!
Try this mix-and-go snack for summer tomatoes: Sun-Ripened Tomato Salsa and Chips. Add a couple ripe, juicy diced tomatoes and a squeeze of lime juice to jarred salsa and serve with tortilla chips. Or make your own mixture from diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper. It takes just minutes to make and packs perfect in a plastic container. Open up the chips at the picnic and watch the salsa disappear!
No picnic is complete without cool, refreshing lemonade. For an old-style lemony hit, it’s worth making from scratch, if you have time. Dissolve one cup sugar in one-half cup water in a pot set on low heat. Cool and stir in juice from six lemons. Add enough cold water to make lemonade to taste (you’ll have enough for about six servings). Be sure to leave lemonade potent to allow for adding ice later. A twist? Add a little fizz by bringing club soda or a clear cola. Pour a splash into the cups of lemonade. A real thirst-quencher on a sizzling day.
Lemony iced tea or iced coffee make picnics extra special for the adults. Either chill your own tea or coffee or try packaged mixes. For best taste, brew the beverages a little on the strong side, without adding any ice. Add lemon juice and sugar to the cold tea – and a few sprigs of mint if you’re adventurous. Stir in sugar, milk or cream to the cold coffee. Keep the drinks in a thermos or other beverage container and add lots of ice just before serving.
For a delicious dessert to take on the road, try Roly-Poly Strawberry Shortcakes. Slice a pint of strawberries into a plastic container, sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and gently mix. Bring along a pack of mini jellyrolls from the bakery aisle. When you’re ready to serve dessert, cut jellyrolls into 1-inch (2.5-cm) sections and serve with sliced strawberries. An easy serving suggestion: put a couple sections of cake and a couple spoons of sweetened berries into cups to eat with spoons. For an extra special touch: If you’re lucky enough to find an ice cream shop near your picnic spot, pick up a pint of vanilla ice cream to serve on top.
Related Recipes & Features:
- Spring Recipes
- Salad Recipes
- Barbecue Recipes
- Chicken Salad Recipes
- Pasta Salad Recipes
- Delicious Summer Drinks