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Volume III
May 24, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Seven Tasty Recipes to Spruce up Your Picnic

By Whitney Saupan

Spring has arrived! It's time to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. What better way than by packing up some delicious food and enjoying a picnic with your loved ones. When I think of the picnics I had as a child I remember the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the potato salad, cookies and juice boxes. As much as I enjoy those foods, I'm grown up now and I want a picnic that is a bit more sophisticated so I've found some good recipes that can take your picnic from bland to grand.

Try these two recipes as a main dish.

Avocado and Ham Sandwiches

So you still want to have a traditional picnic food. No problem use this recipe to give your taste buds a break from the classic Pb and j sandwiches.

Serving size: 6
Calories per serving: 325

2 loaves French bread (about 18 inches each). Regular sandwich bread would work just as well.
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper
3/4 pound Virginia ham, sliced
3 large avocados, peeled and sliced

Step 1: Cut each loaf into 3 equal pieces, and split each horizontally along one side, leaving the other side intact. Open the pieces so they lie flat.
Step 2: Stir the butter, mustard, and pepper together until smooth, and spread on both sides of the bread. Layer with the ham and avocado, and sprinkle with the sea salt.
Step 3: Wrap the sandwiches with parchment, and tie with a string to secure. Keep chilled and serve within 3 hours.

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Southern Fried Chicken

If you're looking for something a bit fancier than sandwiches, then give this fried chicken recipe a try; it's sure to be a crowd pleaser.

1 3-pound whole chicken, cut into pieces (buy pre-cut chicken breasts would work as well)
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Step 1: Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and paprika. Roll in flour.
Step 2: Add 1/2 to 3/4 inch oil to a large, heavy skillet. Heat to approximately 365 degrees. Place chicken pieces in hot oil. Cover, and fry until golden, turning once (15 to 20 minutes). Drain on paper towels.

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Every meal needs something to wash it down with. Try the recipe below.

Rhubarb Lemonade

Yield: 6 drinks

Serving size: 6
Calories per serving: 217

2 or 3 stalks rhubarb, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 cups water
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and crushed
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 5 large lemons

Note: This recipe yields six servings, but it can easily be doubled.

Step 1: Bring rhubarb, sugar, and water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries. Let steep and cool for 30 minutes
Step 2: Strain mixture through a fine sieve, discarding solids, and refrigerate to chill. Stir in lemon juice. Serve over ice.

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Don't forget the sides. Get creative! Maybe use one of the recipes below.

Broccoli Pasta Salad

Leave the potato salad at home! Give this light salad that can be served both warm and cold a try.

Serving size: 6
Calories per serving: 261

1 (8-ounce) package linguine pasta
1 (12-ounce) bag broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces (or you could chop your fresh broccoli)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/2 cup finely shredded Romano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

Step 1: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook the linguine at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, (about 11 minutes), drain and return to a pot.
Step 2: Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, cover, and steam until tender (3 to 5 minutes).
Step 3: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir garlic and red pepper flakes until garlic is fragrant (1 to 3 minutes). Add garlic mixture and broccoli to linguine; gently toss to coat. Add Romano cheese, parsley, black pepper, and salt; toss to combine.

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Bell Pepper Slaw

This side is a perfect combination of spicy and cool and will heat up your picnic.

Serving size: 7
Calories per serving: 176

3 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
freshly ground pepper
6 red, orange, or green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 scallion s, chopped
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon style mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Step 1: Whisk the sugar and 2 teaspoons salt with the vinegar in a large bowl until dissolved.
Step 2: Add the celery seeds, mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the bell peppers, celery, scallions and cabbage, and toss to combine.
Step 3: Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop
Step 4: Add the mustard and mayonnaise to the slaw and toss to coat.
Step 5: Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Finally no picnic is complete without a little dessert. Give the recipes below a try.

Tiny Fudge Tarts

These mini desserts are easy to pack and easy to eat.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen tarts

Serving size: 15
Calories per serving: 141

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until only small lumps remain.
Step 2: Sprinkle the water and 1 teaspoon vanilla over the mixture and mix well using a fork. Set aside.
Step 3: In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup butter, egg yolk, and sugar until smooth.
Step 4: Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla, cocoa and coconut until smooth. Set aside.
Step 5: Use 1/2 of the dough at a time. On a cloth-covered board, dusted generously with sugar, roll dough out to 1/16 inch thick.
Step 6: Cut the dough into 2 1/2 inch squares. Spread 1 teaspoon of filling onto each square, bring the corners to the center, and press lightly to seal.
Step 7: Place the squares onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden.
Step 8: Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

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Strawberry Hand Pies

Although this dessert may take a bit more time, this is the perfect dessert for a picnic. It’s a pie you eat with your hands! What could be better?

Yield: 6 pies

Serving size: 6
Calories per serving: 382

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (you might need a little more for dusting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 pound strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
1 tablespoon sanding sugar

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand. Add 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup chilled water, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, mix until just combined. (If dough is dry or crumbly and doesn’t stay together, add up to 3 tablespoons more chilled water.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until dough comes together. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Step 2: Meanwhile making filing: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, confectioners’ sugar and jam, plus remaining flour, vanilla, and salt. Set aside.
Step 3: In a small bowl, beat remaining yolk and 1 tablespoon water for egg wash; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter cut dough into 6 rounds.
Step 4: Roll 1 round into a 6 inch circle. Spoon a heaping 2 tablespoons filling onto half of circle, leaving 1/2 inch border. Brush the edges with egg wash, and then fold dough over filling. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal hand pie. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
Step 5: Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each pie. Brush with remaining egg wash and sprinkle each pie with 1/2 teaspoon sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Whitney Saupan
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2013

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