Lemon Squares For Tomorrow’s Picnic! Tart with just the right amount of sweet. I love making cookie squares for picnics. They’re easy to take along in the picnic basket.
Romantic Valentine’s Day Date Ideas For Busy Parents
Ohhhh the pressure of Valentine’s Day. Romance doesn’t die when you become a parent. You just have to be creative by using what you have and, above all, appreciating each other. Romance for parents today is a bit different. Make the most out of what really matters and show your love as loving parents do.
In the day of the smartphone, webcams and computers, there is no reason why you can’t text, video message or email your spouse with messages of love. Don’t just do it on Valentine’s Day. Do it when it’s least expected.
Get A Sitter
Parents appreciate the neighborhood teenagers who can drop by every now and then to give them some uninterrupted conversation.
Rent A Video And Order In
The time spent together enjoying each other in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to reserve the extravagant nights for extra-special occasions.
Think Beyond Dinner
Dinner is always great, but so is an afternoon or daytime adventure and this year the holiday falls on a Saturday. Are you and your sweetie the outdoor types? Try a hike and bring a picnic (complete with wine, of course). Or, book a couples massage at your favorite local day spa. Your honey might claim that he (or she) is not the massage type, but I don’t know anyone who can resist 50 minutes of bliss.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen
Labor Day Weekend is the perfect weekend for a picnic. To celebrate the end of summer I’ve organized a feast of some of America’s favorites – from fried chicken to chocolate cake, cheeseburgers to homemade strawberry ice cream.
Parsley Potato Salad
Mushroom Artichoke Salad
Chile-Spiced Bean Salad
Crusty Parmesan Chicken Breasts
Chocolate Buttercream Cake
Strawberry Ice Cream
Packing the picnic: The salads can be prepared a day in advance. It’s probably not necessary to double the recipes unless you have a large crowd to feed. Be sure to include a serving spoon for each salad. The Crusty Parmesan Chicken Breasts can be served either cold or warm. Either bake it a day ahead, refrigerate it, and carry it in a cooler; or pop it in the oven about an hour before you leave and transport it hot. The deviled eggs can be made from your favorite recipes or one from Tiny New York Kitchen. They will need several hours to chill and must be packed in a cooler, along with the assortment of vegetables (each in a plastic container). Take along a basket or platter for the chicken, a tray for the eggs, and serving forks.
All of the barbecue equipment can travel in a sturdy cardboard box, if there’s room, lay the buns and cheese on top so they don’t get squished. The hamburgers and condiments should be packed in a cooler.
You can bake the cake and prepare the frosting well in advance; both can be stored in the freezer. After thawing, the frosting should be beaten for a few minutes with an electric mixer. A round plastic serving plate with a high, tight-fitting cover is ideal for transporting the cake; remember to carry along a knife and a cake server.
In a cooler, pack the ice cream custard, berry mixture, and ice, each in its own container. Take a hammer and large, heavy dishtowel for crushing the ice cubes, and rock salt for the ice cream freezer (which would be a non-electric one). Pack the fragile ice cream cones and berries for garnish last.
Keep the beer in the cooler. For the lemonade and coffee, you will need a couple of thermoses. Preheat the one for the coffee; don’t forget to take cream (kept cold) and sugar. Pre-chill the other thermos and fill it with cold lemonade.
At the site: Assemble the ice cream freezer and begin hand-cranking, taking turns so that everyone can participate. If the ice cream is ready before it’s time for dessert, remove the dasher, cover the container, and let it stay in the freezer to ripen; don’t forget to dump out the salty water and pack the freezer with fresh ice.
Fire up the barbecue about 30 minutes before you want to begin cooking. Grill the cheeseburgers when the coals are gray. Arrange the chicken in a basket, set out the rest of the food, and dig in.
I love going on picnics, which take on many different forms for me. When I am in Europe on holiday I always find a local cheese shop and fill a basket with crusty bread, cheese, fruit, an assortment of sweets and sparkling water. I’ve been known to pull over while driving the English countryside and have a little picnic right there on the side of the road. However and wherever you decide to have a picnic it’s important to be Picnic Savvy.
Picnic Paraphernalia: Picnic equipment can be as simple as paper plates in a brown bag, or as elegant as a wicker hamper specially fitted with flatware and china. Picnic enthusiasts tend to accumulate equipment over a period of time, and to collect the supplies that suit the kind of picnicking they do most often. Let’s consider the paraphernalia you can use to transport, insulate, cook, and eat your picnic feast – whether it’s a backpacker’s basic lunch for two or a feast for eight.
For Transporting Food: If you’re not traveling far and your provisions aren’t perishable, you can carry your picnic in a brown grocery bag – that’s part of the casual spirit of picnicking. Buy why rough it, if that’s not your style? Other options offer you more packing space, easier carrying, better insulation, or simply more charm than any paper bag ever could.
Baskets: Import stores, gourmet shops, hardware stores, and gift emporiums carry baskets of straw, wicker, bamboo, woven rope, and even vinyl-covered steel wire. These baskets may be open or have hinged lids, and they may be lined with gingham or other brightly colored fabric. They may come empty or be outfitted with removable trays and/or picnic gear such as plastic plates, cups, flatware, and cloth napkins. The ultimate is an English picnic hamper – a large, costly wicker chest, its inside surfaces fitted with straps that hold a complete table service for several people.
When you’re shopping for a picnic basket, look for a sturdy, roomy one. If it has handles, they should be strong and durable, especially on larger models. Whether or not the basket should have a lid is a matter of personal preference. A lid can provide a handy cutting or serving surface, but food can be covered just as well in an open basket if you line the basket with a pretty tablecloth and then fold it over the contents when the basket is full. Try this technique, too, with a brightly colored plastic laundry basket and a tablecloth in harmonizing colors.
Coolers: For perishable picnic foods, a cooler (ice chest) is a better choice than a basket. Foods that spoil quickly, such as meats, fish, mayonnaise, and most dairy products, must be kept cool to prevent bacterial growth and the possibility of food poisoning. Even inexpensive Styrofoam coolers can keep foods fresh and cool for hours, though they’re less durable than insulated metal or heavy-duty plastic models.
When purchasing a cooler, look for sturdiness; strong, easy-to-hold handles; and tight lids that lock in place. Many coolers have lids that are hinged so they don’t blow away or get lost, or that they are indented to hold glasses. Some contain trays that keep food away from melting ice. Another useful feature is a leak-proof drain.
Besides the large chest style coolers, you’ll find newer, lighter models that are carried by one handle at the top, and smaller versions that you can carry with a strap.
Bags: Designed especially for carrying foods and beverages and keeping them cool, “refrigerator bags” are usually insulated with fiberglass, covered and lined with vinyl, and fitted with wraparound handles and a zipper that allows the flat top to be opened on three sides. I’ve also seen refrigerator bags with canvas exteriors rather than plastic.
You can use refrigerator bags for hot foods, too as they will maintain a given temperature for several hours. If hot food is in a very hot container – particularly glass or metal – you would be wise to protect the vinyl bag from heat by wrapping the container in newspaper first.
Nylon or canvas duffle bags used for sailing and for carrying athletic equipment also make good picnic carryalls. They are roomy and strong, with sturdy straps and reinforced bottoms. Fishing tackle bags are useful too.
You might also think about using old luggage for picnic toting. Anything from a small carry-on airplane bag to a large, lightweight suitcase may do beautifully. Backpacks are convenient carriers, too. A light day-pack works well for small meals, a larger frame pack for more ambitions picnic projects.
Any kind of cloth, straw, or woven bag may also fill your needs. Or you can simply wrap your picnic in a tablecloth or other ground cover, bring the corners together, and knot them, like a Japanese furoshiki. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2suAPvcm6I. You can also use this technique with oversize cloth napkins for individual picnic meals.
Salt, spray, sea air, and warm sand underfoot are all the pleasant sensations of a day at the beach which stir cravings for good and hearty food. A perfect refreshment is a traditional beach-blanket banquet, complete with charcoal-grilled corn on the cob. You can prepare this picnic to feed a crowd or simply the family on any summertime trip to the beach. For a small group, you may want to take only half of the salad and leave the rest at home for a midweek supper.
Crunchy Egg Dip
Red Onion Slices
Barbecued Corn on the Cob
Mixed Bean & Artichoke Salad
Honey Applesauce Cupcakes
Beverages of Your Choice
Bake the cupcakes on the day of the picnic or bake them ahead of time and then freeze them. If they are frozen then let them thaw to room temperature on the morning of the outing. Frost them after they have thawed (if you are frosting them). Prepare the bean salad a day ahead and refrigerate it so the vegetables have time to marinate. Hard-cook the eggs for the salad garnish and the egg dip at the same time. On the morning of departure, slice the onions and tomatoes, and prepare the lettuce leaves; seal them in individual plastic bags or in small containers. Then prepare the egg dip and get the corn ready. Refrigerate the food that needs to be kept cold before packing it in the cooler. Have ready one or more large bags of potato chips and enough hamburger patties and French rolls for your picnicking party. You’ll also need a portable barbecue; potholders, a spatula, and tongs; and charcoal, charcoal starter, and fireplace matches.
Packing Your Picnic: Place the chilled beverages in the bottom of a roomy cooler. On top, pack the ears of corn and the egg dip. Tuck in the parcels containing the hamburger patties, garnishes for the salad, hamburger condiments, and butter for the corn. Carry all of the barbecue equipment in a sturdy box. In a roomy basket, pack the unbreakable items first, including serving spoons for the salad, a bottle opener, salt and pepper, and a knife for the rolls (unless they’re presliced). Fit in the cupcakes and the salad. Place the rolls and potato chips on top. For a sandy picnic, it’s always wise to carry extra paper plates, napkins, and pre-moistened towelettes.
At the Site: Start the charcoal about half an hour before you want to begin cooking; wait until the coals turn gray before grilling the meat and corn. Meanwhile, spread the blanket and let people nibble on potato chips and dip. If your site is very sandy or some of your guests are quite young, you may prefer to wait until the hamburgers and corn are almost ready before you unpack the rest of the food. Before serving the salad, stir it well; then garnish it with the egg slices, if desired, and artichokes.
My Birthday Present! I have wanted a decked out picnic basket for years! One of my favorite things to do is travel around the U.S. and Europe packing little picnics. Now I can do it in style!
Today is Labor Day and I am going on a picnic with my new picnic basket.
The menu is:
Boston Baked Beans
Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad
Fresh Blueberry & Mango Cake
Fourth of July
Today Americans will be celebrating our glorious national holiday, Independence Day. On the anniversary of the birth of our nation we are grateful for our forefather’s aspirations for freedom and thank the American signers of the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. We give thanks that the American spirit lives on.
The Fourth of July is celebrated in every city and town in the United States by patriotic gatherings, parades and speechmaking. The national anthem and other songs are sung, the voices of free people singing a free song. The knowledge that freedom had been defended in the past and might have to be defended again on nights far from peaceful and with weapons far from harmless. For me it produces an emotion that is humbling and sentimental.
Independence Day food it most often of the picnic and/or grilling variety which is correct for a holiday that is usually spent outside. There are traditional dishes originating in George Washington’s Virginia. One such is a breakfast specialty called Rice Waffles. Another traditional dish of the day is poached salmon with egg and caper sauce that is served with green peas and mashed potatoes. It was traditional to serve the first salmon of the season, but we know that this menu of soft foods was prepared for George Washington because of the discomfort caused him by his ill-fitting set of false teeth. The traditional July 4th desserts were Watermelon Pickle and the Independence Day Cake, which is a yeast cake covered in white frosting gilded with boxwood leaves.
For the July 4th holiday I like to make my Blueberry Crisp. It is always a big hit and everyone seems to want the recipe. Whatever you’re making today have a wonderful and safe day.
Nothing says grilling season like a hot & juicy burger. You can enjoy an American favorite that is new and improved by giving your burger a healthy twist without skimping on flavor. Here are some things that you can do to create a better burger.
Choose Your Patty: For a classic burger it is important to choose the leanest ground beef available. Purists will tell you to use the fattiest ground beef, but if you are trying to cut down on fat and create a healthier burger try using lean meat. I like to use ground sirloin. You also might try: Ground Turkey Breast (usually 99% fat free); Ground Buffalo/Bison (naturally sweet & lean); Veggie Burgers (usually has one seventh the saturated fat of traditional burgers); Fish Burgers; Salmon Burgers (rich in omega-3); Mushroom Burgers (made from large grilled Portobello mushrooms).
Jazz Up Your Burgers: Spices and condiments are key here. Mix in or season your burgers with salt free or low sodium spices. You can get creative here to suit your tastes or mood. I like to use Cajun spices, Italian spices and sometimes a touch of curry spices. You can get a fiber boost and add texture by adding chopped or grated vegetables or herbs.
To Bun Or Not To Bun: Who says a burger must be served on a traditional white bun? Feel free to serve your burgers on 100% whole grain buns or pita pockets. If you are going for a totally bunless burger you might want to try sturdy lettuce or cabbage leaves.
Accessorize: The tasty trimming options are endless, but here are a few ideas. Choose condiments that are low in fat, sodium and sugar. Read the labels on varieties of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish and salsa. Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties of cheese. The white cheeses tend to be lower in fat such as Swiss or provolone. Top your burger with grilled onions and sliced tomatoes. Instead of using iceberg lettuce try radicchio, arugula or romaine. While you’re at it add cucumber slices, radish slices or red pepper rings for some extra crunch.