Showing posts with label picnicking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label picnicking. Show all posts

09 July 2014

Picnic Season! Hooray!

We had our Independence Day picnic on Saturday which turned out to be The Best Idea Ever as it rained (and thundered and lightning-ed) most of Friday. I hung out around the house, making food for Saturday, and catching up on my Giant Pile of Library Books. (If I'm not "supposed to" put twenty books on hold, then the system shouldn't let me put twenty items on hold ... it's not as if I am capable of practicing restraint in the presence of free books, after all).

When I was planning the menu for our picnic, I knew I wanted old-fashioned, traditional picnic foods. No yogurt for mayonnaise. No quinoa for pasta. So I made three salads that, if they weren't quite my aunts' or grandmothers' picnic salads, were pretty darn close. And it only took 1½ jars of Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise to accomplish this. And I thought "Oh, my cake, we have no green vegetables! I should marinate some cucumbers or something!" and then I thought about all the things I could be doing if I stopped cooking ... and I went off and did them and there were no green vegetables.

Wait! We had sliced cucumbers and peppers with onion dip! Those are vegetables! And cucumbers are green! Huzzah!

The potato and pasta salad recipes I used were both from Mr. Food because I still have a soft spot for the man, having spent many childhood summers watching his short cooking segments during the noon news, and his picnic salad recipes are pretty darn traditional.

"Basic Macaroni Salad" -- elbow macaroni, hard-cooked eggs, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, black pepper. The pasta salad was fine. Just your basic no-frills deli pasta salad. Utterly innocous. I would probably make it again, as it kept well in the fridge, but would add some flaked canned tuna and thawed frozen peas and serve it over shredded lettuce as a light lunch or supper.

"Presto Potato Salad" -- potatoes, mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, red onion, celery, prepared yellow mustard, salt, black pepper, white vinegar, sweet relish, paprika. I bought a bottle of French's Classic Yellow Mustard specifically for this recipe as we don't usually consume yellow mustard. I did not expect the mustard to pack much of a kick and thus was completely taken aback by The Husband's reaction to his first forkful. As he said, the mustard's heat it was "a bit of a surprise!" But it was also delicious and he ate quite a lot of potato salad over the following days, so I take that as a sign to make this potato salad again.

The cole slaw I made -- my very first mayonnaise-based slaw, by the way -- was a hodgepodge of recipes I cobbled together based on memories of my mother's coleslaw and my own taste preferences:
1 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground celery seed [Penzeys Ground Indian Celery Seed]
1 tsp ground mustard [Penzeys Regular Canadian Mustard Powder]
½ tsp paprika [Penzeys Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika]
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp pepper
14 oz bag shredded coleslaw mix
It was a bit spicy! Perhaps, too spicy? My mother, who generally enjoys spicy dishes, actually had to stop eating it for a bit and switch over to the potato salad! And that in itself was amusing, because the potato salad had a bit of a kick! Not really sure about the coleslaw -- beside being too spicy for my mother, it was a little too mayonnaise-y for me. Reducing the mayonnaise and cutting it with some buttermilk might fix that.

01 June 2014

Picnic Time: Pasta Salad

While trying to push beyond our comfort zone and learn to socialize like "real adults do," we recently attended a picnic thrown by one of my coworkers. Because I didn't feel comfortable showing up empty-handed, I asked if I could bring a pasta salad (it turned out everyone felt the same way, anyway, and also brought something). Since I wasn't sure how hot it would be that day or what the food storage situation would be like (didn't want to poison anyone), I made "Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables" from The Best Light Recipe by the detail-driven folk at Cook's Illustrated.

This is a flavorful mayonnaise-free pasta salad I've made several times now. Every time I make it, I mean to experiment and try one of the variations provided, but I always end up sticking with the tried-and-true. The basic version is delicious, so why mess with a sure thing?

Ingredients: penne, green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrot, red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, basil, parsley, Dijon, red pepper flakes, Parmesan, salt, black pepper.

I used Ronzoni SmartTaste penne to keep the salad looking "normal" while somewhat improving its nutritional values. Not that it's an unhealthy salad to begin with, what with all those beans and tomatoes!

28 May 2011

Lazy Picnic Food

We're going to a Memorial Day picnic tomorrow and I was told to bring pasta salad and dessert. Because I'm feeling awfully lazy, I just whipped up a batch of King Arthur Flour's sugar free brownies and tarted up a box of Betty Crocker's "classic" Suddenly Salad with lots of extra vegetables and parsley from my container garden. While I do not think I will win any prizes for originality or skill, I don't expect to bring home much in the way of leftovers, either.

Chopped Vegetables

08 September 2010

Labor Day Pickled Beets

Made pickled beets for our Labor Day picnic using a new (to me) recipe from Favorite Recipes From Quilters (Good Books, 1992). It was a very simple recipe -- just bring ¼ cups of sugar, water, and white vinegar to boil with a little ground pepper and a thinly sliced red onion. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour into a storage container with one can undrained low-sodium sliced beets. Let cool. Refrigerate overnight. Eat.

For a tasty twist, add a cinnamon stick to the simmering vinegar-sugar mixture. Also, if you were so minded, you could use Splenda instead of sugar.

While I am decidedly partial to my mother's tongue-twistingly sour pickled beets, these made a nice change and I'm sure the recipe will make it into my regular beet repertoire.

Easy-Peasy Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

My mom brought corn to our Labor Day picnic and showed me an easy way to roast it:
Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove any loose outer leaves and as much of the tassel as possible.
Lay on a jelly roll pan and roast for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and eat.
My mother's corn came out so tasty and sweet -- it needed very little butter and no salt or pepper to make it perfect. Can't wait to try this method again.

06 September 2010

Labor Day Picnic Menu

~ Potato Salad ~

~ Pickled Beets ~

~ Corn on the Cob ~

~ Marinated Tomatoes ~

~ Cheeseburgers & Hot Dogs ~

We had my parents up for a Labor Day picnic and dominoes tournament. Mom's oven-roasted corn on the cob were pretty awesome, as was the new pickled beets recipe I tried and I will blog about them later -- when I am fully recovered from my stunning victory in our last domino game (The Husband was so certain he was going to win again, but no).

23 June 2010

Chicken & Egg

Lunch for The Husband -- grilled chicken leftover from Sunday's picnic on artisan bread from the Price Chopper bakery with Bibb lettuce & Stonewall Kitchen's Blue Cheese Herb Mustard. Because I love him so, I also gave him the last devilled egg.

Sunday's grilled chicken was based on Betty Crocker's recipe for "Grilled Proven├žal Chicken Breasts" and came out rather nice -- tender and moist with really good flavor. Of course, I modified the recipe a bit, based on the ingredients I had on hand and the number of people I needed to feed ...
Proven├žal Greek Chicken Breasts
¼ cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Penzeys Greek Seasoning
⅛ tsp pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Place chicken in a storage container with a tight-sealing lid. Whisk together first three ingredients, pour over chicken. Seal container. Shake. Refrigerate overnight. Heat grill. Cook chicken for about 10 minutes on each side or until beautifully browned and cooked through.

[Interesting lemon tip: Jacques Pepin, on either Disc 1 or 2 of More Fast Food My Way, says you can get more juice out of a hard citrus by microwaving it for a few seconds. I usually just roll mine around the countertop.]
Sunday's devilled eggs were also from Betty Crocker. I used the recipe for "Chive 'n Onion Deviled Eggs," but got a little confused while making them -- put the paprika and chives in with the yolks, used mustard powder where the recipe called for "yellow mustard" -- and mucked them up a bit:
Confused Chive 'n Onion Eggs
6 eggs
¼ cup chives-and-onion cream cheese spread (from 8-oz container)
1 tsp milk
1 tsp yellow mustard powder
⅛ tsp Penzeys Hungarian Sweet Kulonleges Paprika
2 tsp chopped fresh chives

Hard-cook eggs using your preferred method, cool, shell, and halve.

Place yolks in a bowl and add cream cheese spread, salt, milk, mustard, paprika, and chives; mash with fork until smooth. If making ahead, store yolk filling and eggs separately in the fridge until needed. Pipe yolk mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle with additional paprika. Serve.

[You want to use eggs with bright, golden yolks for these. I used Farmer's Cow eggs which have buttercup-gold yolks.]

22 June 2010

Veggies & Dip

Is there anything better than fresh veggies and dip? Why, yes! Leftover veggies and dip!

To make Knorr's® French Onion Dip you mix together:

16 oz. container Breakstone's® sour cream
½ cup Hellmann's® light mayonnaise
1 envelope Knorr® French Onion soup mix

Refrigerate for as long as possible, so that all the flavors melt together. Mix and serve.

I prefer to eat this dip with pretzels, but The Husband likes it with everything.

To make Betty Crocker's® Creamy Salsa Dip mix together:

½ cup Breakstone's® sour cream
½ cup Hellmann's® light mayonnaise
¾ cup Green Mountain Gringo® Roasted Garlic salsa
1 Tbsp Penzeys® dried cilantro

Again, refrigerate for as long as possible, so that all the flavors get a good chance to mingle. Mix and serve.

While I think this dip is best with sliced orange or yellow bell pepper, it is also good with cucumber rounds, grape tomatoes, pretzels, bagel chips, fingers, and whathaveyou.

(Yes, that is a lot of ®s ... when it comes to making dips, I am a complete brand whore).

21 June 2010

Double Dad's Day

This year, we celebrated my Dad's birthday and Father's Day together!

Double Dad's Day Picnic, 2010

~ French Onion Dip  ~

~ Creamy Salsa Dip ~

~ Assorted Vegetable Dippers ~

~ Low-Sodium Chips & Pretzels ~

vegetable dipperschive & onion devilled eggs


~ Grilled Provencal Greek Chicken Breasts  ~

~ Tossed Salad ~

~ Chive 'n Onion Devilled Eggs ~

Chicken breasts marinated with Greek seasoningpotato salad with chives & celery


~ Strawberry Duet Cake ~


05 July 2009

Hooray for Fireworks!

Independence Day, 2009


~ Hamburgers & Hot Dogs ~

~ Mom's Devilled Eggs ~

~ Pickled Beets ~

~ Cucumber Salad ~

~ Creamy Italian Suddenly Salad® ~
(w/ added veggies)


~ Mom's Strawberry-Walnut Bread ~

Mom’s pickled beets

In a bowl, layer two un-drained cans low sodium sliced beets and one thinly sliced onion (white or red depending on preference or availability). Pour in one cup white vinegar. Refrigerate overnight. The longer this sits, the better it is.
Cucumber salad

Halve one English/burpless cucumber and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Thinly slice & put in a colander with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. Rinse cukes and squeeze in a tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Put in bowl with minced red onion, dill weed (fresh from the garden!), a splash of white vinegar, a few twists of pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar. Do not make more than a few hours before serving -- will not keep well overnight!
Fancied-up Suddenly Salad®

Open two boxes of Creamy Italian Suddenly Salad®. Combine pasta packets and cook pasta in boiling water for 13 minutes or until of desired chewiness. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine seasoning packets with ½ cup light mayonnaise and ½ cup 1% Greek yoghurt or light sour cream. Thin with a little milk as desired. To bowl: add one minced small red onion, two minced celery stacks, and two handfuls of quartered cherry tomatoes. Drain pasta well and toss, still hot, with sauce and vegetables. Refrigerate until needed.

24 May 2009

Memorial Day Picnic Recipes

I brought two salads and dessert to our family's Memorial Day picnic. I'd originally planned to bring a big green salad, but the idea of hauling around all those salad dressing bottles annoyed me so I thought I'd go with something simpler. But nothing milk-based, in case it was left out in the sun or our cooler malfunctioned ...

Eventually, I settled Crisco's "Corn Relish Salad" and a simple cucumber salad:
Cucumber Salad
Slice an English (burpless) cucumber thinly and set aside.
Quarter a punnet of grape tomatoes and set aside.
Chop half a red onion into small pieces and set aside.
Layer vegetables in a serving bowl.
Whisk desired amounts of red wine vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and dill together and pour over vegetables (no more than two hours before serving or they get soggy).
Corn Relish Salad
Combine a scant ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup vegetable oil, ¼ cup white vinegar, ½ tsp. celery seed and ¼ tsp. mustard seed; cook over low, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Set aside. In a serving bowl, combine one can of corn, drained, with one similarly sized can of sauerkraut, drained, ½ cup diced red onion, and one small diced green pepper. Pour dressing over, mix well, and refrigerate overnight. Drain well before serving.
This is the second time I've made "Corn Relish Salad" and even though I reduced the amount of sugar both times, it is still a tad too sweet. Next time, I will try reducing the sugar to two tablespoons and see if that is better. As it stands, the salad was very good gobbed on hot dogs with spicy mustard.

What was dessert? My portable standby -- KAF sugar-free brownies with diced strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Nom!

09 August 2008

Cookery Catch-Up, Picnic Edition

We had my parents up for a little picnic last weekend. We played croquet and ate cheeseburgers with:

Marinated Cucumbers & Red Onion
Halve 1 English/burpless cucumber and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Thinly slice & put in a colander with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. Rinse cukes and squeeze in a tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Put in bowl with minced red onion, dill weed, a splash of white vinegar, a few twists of pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar.

Cucumber & Red Onion Salad

Used-to-Was-Mom’s Potato Salad
While still warm (but not hot) toss 1 ½ pounds unpeeled whole tiny gold/yellow potatoes with dried parsley, chopped hard cooked egg and dressing made from light mayonnaise mixed with low fat milk and McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning. (This is a complete bastardization of my mother's recipe).

Mom’s Pickled Beets
In a bowl, layer two undrained cans low sodium sliced beets and one thinly sliced onion (white or red depending on preference or availability). Pour in 1 cup white vinegar. Refrigerate overnight. The longer this sits, the better it is.

Croquet score? Visitors: 2 | Home: 0

I also managed to make dinner once this week ...

Roasted Chicken Thighs & Summer Vegetables

Place boneless skinless chicked thighs in a lubricated baking dish with chunked pattypan squash, red onion, and quartered ping pong ball-sized tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning. Spray with a little cooking spray. Roast until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender. Served with brown rice and green salad.

25 May 2008

Picnic Pasta Salad, Pronto

We had our regular Memorial Day picnic (three years running) today with my parents at Gillette's Castle. We arrived early enough to secure a very nice table under some trees by the pond. As always, we grilled on the public barbecue, walked in the woods, played cards, made snide remarks about other picnickers, and generally had a nice time.

I brought pasta and fruit salads. My attitude (and my father's -- The Husband does not care where the food comes from as long as it is delicious) is that we are picnicking and, by god, deli salads are good enough. Last year, I tried to stage a coup and brought three small containers of deli potato salad (sweet, German, and "normal") rather than the one I was supposed to make. My mother was not very pleased. Not at all.

So, like a good daughter, this year I made my salads from scratch. I couldn't be bothered with cookbooks, so I made my instant pasta salad -- it's dead easy to slap together and is so forgiving about what goes into it.
Fast & Dirty Pasta Salad

Run cold water over frozen peas and corn until thawed. Drain and toss in a large bowl with a generous amount of dried parsley (fresh will do if you have it), minced red onions (spring onions scallions will also do), shredded carrot, and a generous shake of McCormick Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning (or generous amounts of powdered garlic, salt, and pepper). Set aside. In another bowl, mix together light mayonnaise and light Italian dressing. Add a splash of milk to loosen. Set aside. Cook desired amount of pasta until desired level of doneness is reached. Drain the pasta and give the pasta a quick rinse with cold water, but do not allow the pasta to go cold. Toss the warm pasta with the vegetables and seasonings. Pour in dressing/mayo mix and stir. Refrigerate overnight. If it looks too dry the next day, make up a little more sauce and stir it in just before serving.

Amounts for all ingredients vary depending on preference and availability.

In the summer, I frequently stir in flaked tuna or chopped hard cooked eggs and serve it on lettuce leaves with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes on the side as a nice light supper.
I also made fruit salad from McCormick Cooking With Flavor using cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple chunks tossed with confectionery sugar and a little vanilla extract. I halved the amount of sugar called for, but I don't think anyone noticed. It was a nice light dessert and I expect to be making it a lot this summer as different fruits come into season.