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Friday, August 23, 2013

August is Go on a Picnic Month

Ideas and Recipes to Make Your Picnic A Success

What's the most important part of prepping for a picnic? Packing it up! Choosing delicious recipes that are suitable for packing up and eating outdoors is crucial to creating a good picnic spread, but knowing how to best tote your dishes to your favorite spot is just as important. Luckily, we've got a slew of divine recipes suited for outdoor dining and the tips you need to create a lovely picnic experience.

FIRST, Choose a scenic spot for for your outdoor meal. Nearby parks, rooftops, beaches or farm house etc. are ideal choices. As a general rule there should be some flat unobstructed area that you can sit on and picnic.

Next, choose what foods you would like to take on your picnic. We have some good ideas here.

Appetizer Recipes:

Fruit Salad

A simple fruit salad is always a hit. Strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, grapes, cantaloupe... or any fruits you may like. 

Choosy Crab Dip

What are you gonna be saying about our Choosy Crab Dip? "Ooh, very classy! Ooh, very easy! Ooh, very Chesapeake tasty!" 
Serves: 12 
Cooking Time: 30 min 
What You'll Need: 
12 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1 cup (1/2 pint) sour cream 
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided 
2 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1 teaspoon prepared mustard 
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
Garlic powder to taste 
1 pound canned crabmeat

What To Do: 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.   In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except crabmeat and 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Fold in crabmeat. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish.   Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and bake 5 more minutes.


Chicken Macaroni Salad

Chicken Macaroni Salad is a bit of a twist on an old favorite, and the chicken makes it substantial enough to be a complete meal. In fact, it is! 
Serves: 12 
Cooking Time: 15 min 
What You'll Need: 
1 pound elbow macaroni 
6 large eggs, hard-boiled and chopped 
1 cup chopped celery 
2 cups mayonnaise 
1 Large can chunked canned chicken 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper

What To Do: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni to desired doneness; drain and cool.   Drain canned chicken meat. 
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients and serve or chill until ready to serve.  
Notes You may want to moisten this with additional mayonnaise before serving, if you've chilled it first. For a different taste variation, try adding 1 teaspoon dried dillweed or dried basil, or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed.

"Blue" Ribbon Potato Salad

Blue cheese potato salad?! Sure! With always-good Wisconsin dairy products, you could make almost anything into a dairy dish. And this one is both rich and mellow ... a real picnic hero-maker! 
Serves: 6 
Cooking Time: 5 min 
What You'll Need: 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (2 to 3 large potatoes), cooked and cut into 3/4-inch cubes to yield 
4 cups 1 cup diced celery 
1/2 cup sliced scallions 
1 1/4 cups sour cream 
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley 
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

What To Do: In a large bowl, combine the potato cubes, celery, and scallions; set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sour cream, parsley, vinegar, celery seed, salt, and pepper; mix well. Stir in the blue cheese. Pour over the potato mixture and toss lightly. Chill and serve. 

Crisp Cucumber Salad

Enjoy the tastes of summer year-round with this fresh-tasting crisp cucumber salad. its got a touch of sweetness that really complements the tangy vinegar. 
Serves: 4 
What You'll Need: 
2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (see Tip) 
4 scallions, thinly sliced 
1/2 small red pepper, chopped 
1/4 cup sour cream 
2 tablespoons white vinegar 
2 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/4 teaspoons salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

What To Do: In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, scallions, and red pepper.   In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumber mixture. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before tossing and serving. 
Tip We like to peel the cucumbers for this salad, but you can also use them unpeeled, or run a fork down them before slicing to give them a fancy, ridged look.

Chicken and Slaw Wraps

Rotisserie chicken is so handy! Use it to make these Chicken and Slaw Wraps, and you'll have a hearty chicken sandwich ready for lunch, dinner or a nutritious snack in minutes. 
Serves: 4 
Preparation Time: 15 min 
What You'll Need: 
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked rotisserie chicken 
1 1/2 cups shredded coleslaw mix with carrots 
1/3 cup ranch dressing 
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish 
8 slices deli-style white Cheddar cheese slices 
4 sun-dried tomato basil wraps

What To Do: In a large bowl, stir together first 4 ingredients.   Place 2 cheese slices in a single layer on 1 side of each wrap; top each evenly with about 3/4 cup chicken mixture. Roll up jellyroll-style; wrap in plastic wrap, twisting ends of wrap to seal. Chill up to 8 hours, if desired. Cut in half to serve.

Croissant Club Sandwiches

There is something fun about taking an old standby recipe and fancying it up a bit. Here we took our favorite club sandwich and teamed it with a French croissant. Voila! 
Serves: 8 
What You'll Need: 
1 cup mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons real bacon bits 
8 large croissants, split 
8 romaine lettuce leaves 
1 pound thinly sliced deli turkey 
1 large tomato, cut into 8 slices (see Notes)

What To Do: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and bacon bits; mix well and spread equally over the croissant halves.   Layer the lettuce, turkey, and tomato equally over the bottom croissant halves; replace the tops of the croissants and serve. 

Notes Preparation Tip: Cut each slice of tomato in half so the slices will fit on the croissant.   

Option: It's a nice change of pace to use croissants for our sandwiches. Don't forget to try other nontraditional breads like tortillas for making sandwich wraps, pitas for making stuffed sandwiches, and English muffins for making toasted sandwiches.

Ham and Pepper Stack

For an easy crowd-pleasing recipe that really stacks up, try our Ham and Pepper Stack. An Italian bread loaf loaded with layers of a honey-mustard and cream cheese spread, deli ham, Swiss cheese and more, it'll score you big entertaining points! 
Serves: 6 
What You'll Need: 
1 (16-ounce) round Italian bread loaf 
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 
3 tablespoons honey mustard 
1 tablespoon mayonnaise 
2 scallions (green onions) sliced 
1 pound deli ham, thinly sliced 
1/4 cup sliced banana peppers, drained 
6 to 8 slices Swiss cheese 
3 to 4 leaves romaine lettuce 
1 tomato, sliced

What To Do: Cut off top 1/3 of bread loaf and reserve top. Scoop out soft center of bottom part of bread loaf, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell.   In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, honey mustard, mayonnaise, and scallions; mix well then spread in bottom of bread shell and on cut side of bread top.   Layer ham and remaining ingredients over cream cheese mixture; cover with bread top. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.   
Notes  We've got lots of great ideas for feeding the gang! How 'bout our Saucy White Chili and our Black Bean Chipotle Hummus for starters?! 


Lemonade Cranberry Cooler

Quench your thirst with flavor-packed floating Cranberry ice cubes that turn ordinary lemonade into a Lemonade Cranberry Cooler, which is one sensational summertime sipper. 
Serves: 2 
What You'll Need:
1 1/4 cups cranberry juice 
14 mint leaves, washed and stems removed 
1 cup lemonade 
1 cup lemon-lime soda

What To Do: Fill an ice cube tray with cranberry juice and place a mint leaf in each cube. Place in freezer until frozen, about 6 hours, or until ready to use.   Place 1/2 cup each of lemonade and soda in two tall glasses. Add 2 to 3 cranberry mint cubes to each glass, stir, and serve.


New York Cheesecake Squares

These cheesecake squares could be stars on Broadway...and on your kitchen table, too. Cooking Time: 45 min 
What You'll Need: 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup butter, softened 
1/3 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 tablespoons milk 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 
1 egg

What To Do: Preheat oven to 350 degree F.   In a large bowl, combine flour, butter, and brown sugar; beat about 3 minutes; stir in walnuts then measure out 1 cup of the flour mixture and set aside.   Press remaining flour mixture into an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan to form a crust. Bake 12 minutes, or until light brown.   In the same bowl, combine remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour cream cheese mixture over baked crust and sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup flour mixture.   Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm in center. Let cool on a baking rack then cut into 2-inch squares.   Makes 16 squares.  

Notes Why not top each square with a dollop of your favorite pie filling before serving?

Prepare the food. Classic picnic foods are (but not limited to): sandwiches, fruits, salads, chips, cookies, hot dogs, pies, vegetables, fruit punch, lemonade, soda, and bottled water. Finger foods are the most comfortable to eat and serve. Remember you can be creative and make your picnic memorable. Try exotic foods such as tapas (bread and dips), olives and cheeses. Visit your local supermarket to get ideas.

Pack your picnic basket. Ice chests are very handy in storing foods. Remember to pack a picnic blanket, paper or plastic cups and plates, forks, knives and spoons, trash bags, and anything else you will need. Paper napkins are a must. Some people even have portable folding picnic chairs and tables.

Set up. Go to your location and set up your area.  Use a blanket on the ground or a picnic table cloth.  

Enjoy your picnic!!!