Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prepare for Picnic Season

Picnics are one of our favorite family times during summer. Whether it’s a short hike with a backpack full of trail snacks and bottled water or a concert at the lake with a hamper full of delectable home cooked goodies, it’s all fun. There’s something romantic and magical about throwing a blanket on the grass, slipping off your shoes and enjoying the fresh air and good food while the kids giggle and frolic in the background. Chris and I usually bring along a good book and just relax in the sun while the kids explore. And if there’s a creek nearby, that’s even better.

The movies like to tell us that a whole pie requiring slicing, cutlery, plates and cleanup is an ideal picnic food but that’s really not the case. The key to a good picnic is easily portable foods that you can eat with your hands and have very little cleanup. And something out of the ordinary makes it a much more exciting experience. So here are some ideas to bring a little excitement to your summer picnic.

Spicy Beef Rollups

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 lb. thin sliced roast beef
  • 2 (6 ounce) packages deli-style sharp cheddar cheese slices
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 tomato thinly sliced

Stir together first 6 ingredients until blended. Spread evenly on one side of each tortilla; top with 3 beef slices and, 2 cheese slices. Sprinkle evenly with shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes if using. Roll up tortillas tightly; wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill until ready to eat.

Strawberry Hand Pies


  • 4 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Mix strawberries with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt.

Pastry Dough (or buy premade at the grocery store)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk

Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons water

Preheat the oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or mix it in with your hands until it is crumbly.

Add the milk all at once and mix in with a spatula until it begins to come together.

Lightly flour your hands and the countertop and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead the dough ball, folding over 10 to 20 times.

Using a rolling pin roll the dough to 1/3 to 1/2-inch thickness then cut into rounds using a 2 1/4-inch ring. Roll each round as thinly as possible or to 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling onto the dough, brush the edges of half of the dough lightly with the egg wash, fold over and seal the edges together with the tines of a fork, dipping it into flour as needed. Gently press down to flatten and evenly distribute the filling and snip or cut 3 slits in the top of the pie.

Brush a little bit of egg wash on the outside of the pie and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

Place finished pies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Jamaican Wraps
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger

· Salt and pepper

  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 bell pepper seeded and sliced in strips
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 4 flat bread

Cilantro Cream Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Mix sauce ingredients together and refrigerate. In a nonstick skillet over moderate heat warm each flat bread on both sides until warm and soft. Remove from pan, cover with foil and place under a kitchen towel to keep warm. Mix ginger, paprika and garlic powder together, adding salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Drizzle a little olive oil on the breasts and rub with the spice mixture. Slice each breast into strips and sauté until browned and thoroughly cooked. Add a little oil if needed to prevent sticking. Remove chicken from pan or push to the sides, away from hottest part of pan. Add onions and bell peppers to pan and cook just until crisp tender. Spread cream sauce on a warm flat bread. Add chicken strips, peppers, onions and tomato. Top with additional cream sauce, and a squirt of fresh lime. Fold in half and wrap up with plastic wrap for portability.

Kid Friendly Trail Mix

  • 1 cup Cheerios
  • 1 cup goldfish crackers
  • 1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, strawberries)
  • 1 cup cashews or other nuts
  • 1 cup M & M’s
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup miniature pretzel twists

Throw everything together in a sealed container.


gina said...

Strawberry Hand Pies? Oh my! I'm making these! Sounds delicious!

We're getting a little burned out on taking lunch every day and I think these are great ideas for "work picnics" (better known as lunchtime on the dog chain!) LOL.

Thanks for posting! They look wonderful!


Robert said...

My greatest tip for always being prepared for a picnic is:

Pack the car every week with drinks, pretzels or chips, and one jar of applesause, some spoons and a tablecloth.

Then stop by Subway pick up $5.00 subs or KFC for chicken breast or a burger place for some hamburgers

You are ready to picnic!