Summertime and picnics go together like peanut butter and jam, or graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows to a bonfire, or maybe like fried chicken and potato salad… you get the picture.
We’re into the sixth week of school holidays and the kids usually begin to get a little restless and even bored at this stage of summer. It’s the perfect time to get them involved in helping prepare a picnic basket and heading out to the beach or Polson Park.
Or if you can’t leave home, take a picnic blanket and a pretty table cloth and spread the table cloth on the blanket in the shade in your own backyard. Little kids especially love this.
Bring along some activities to your picnic, like a frisbee or ball and gloves, maybe a crochet set or perhaps a bocci ball game; something age appropriate. It is always a good idea to include a craft for a quieter activity as well.
It’s important that the kids help in the preparations as they’ll learn an appreciation for the effort required and some skills in food prep. They can help choose the menu, cut out fancy sandwiches, or even simply help wash the vegetables and fruit.
Picnic foods can be as simple or as complex as you wish, anything from peanut butter and jam sandwiches and a piece of fruit, to chicken and potato salad. Just use your imagination, keeping in mind who it’s for.
Today’s recipes are all good for picnics because modern picnic baskets contain cooling abilities unheard of in our parents’ day.
“Dill-icious” Corn & Potato Salad
(courtesy Kraft Foods)
1/2 cup Miracle Whip Calorie-Wise Spread
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp. white vinegar
3 ears corn on the cob, cooked, cooled
1-1/2 lb. (675 g) new potatoes, quartered, cooked and cooled
2 cups cut fresh green beans (one-inch lengths), blanched
Mix first three ingredients in large bowl. Cut kernels from corn ears. Add to Miracle Whip mixture with remaining ingredients; mix lightly.
Mom’s Potato Salad
6 red potatoes
Place potatoes in a pot. Cover with water and put the lid on. Boil for about 30- 45 minutes or until tender. Test with a fork or knife to see if it pierces easily. Pour off the hot water and replace with cold water. Let the potatoes cool before cutting into chunks and proceed with the dressing.
Use your own judgment to decide if this is enough dressing for your potato salad. Naturally, a lot will depend on the size of your potatoes. I usually use a ratio of about two parts oil to one part vinegar, or sometimes three parts oil to one part vinegar. You decide what’s best for you and your family.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Handful of minced parsley
Blend all of the above together with a fork or a whisk and mix into the potatoes. Toss in the parsley and mix well.
Spicy Baked Picnic Chicken
1 cup buttermilk
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix, divided
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or equivalent amount of chicken fillets
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Whisk buttermilk, 1 teaspoon taco seasoning, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Mix remaining taco seasoning, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, flour, onion powder, salt, and black pepper together in a separate bowl.
Dip chicken into buttermilk mixture; coat with bread crumbs mixture. Place coated chicken in broiler pan. Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is no longer pink in the centre and coating is crispy, 30 to 35 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the centre should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Cool completely.
Easy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Eclair Dessert
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O vanilla instant pudding
1-3/4 cups cold milk
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping
45 Honey Maid graham wafers
6 squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
3 tbsp. butter
Beat pudding mix and milk in large bowl with whisk for two minutes. Add peanut butter; mix well. Stir in Cool Whip. Layer 1/3 of the wafers and half the pudding mixture in 13×9-inch dish, breaking wafers as necessary to fit.
Repeat layers. Top with remaining wafers.
Microwave chocolate and butter in microwaveable bowl on medium for 1-1/2 min. or until butter is melted, stirring after one minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Spread over wafers.
Refrigerate eight hours.
Tips: Substitute peanut butter for Nutella spread, or omit altogether. Can be made with chocolate instant pudding as well.
–– Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s food and recipe columnist. Her column, Kitchen Wit and Wisdom, appears every Wednesday.