Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Goin' on a picnic, leavin' right away...

...if it doesn't rain we'll stay all day! (one of my favorite kid's songs!)

I love to be outside just about as much as I love to be in the kitchen so when the opportunity rises for me to bring kitchen creations outside I'm on cloud 9. Tonight is such a night. This evening marks the final free summer concert at the Missouri Botanical Gardens here in St. Louis and I plan to be in attendance. This past Wednesday we went with friends and I toted along a few slices of that delicious peach pie I blogged about last week. This time around I plan on bringing an entire spread. Before I get started on a menu, however, there are some things to consider.

First and foremost we must keep food safety in mind. I expect a few rogue ants or mosquitos at my picnic (that's what repellant and citronella candles are for) but post-picnic stomach bugs are unwelcome. Check out this article on having a "No-Risk Picnic" to learn the best ways to pack all your picnic favorites safely! I heart, by the way.

Next, what to pack it all in? There are so many cute options out there these days: picnic baskets, picnic backpacks, coolers...the possibilities are endless! You might want to consider this packing checklist from Real Simple when selecting yours. Whatever you choose, make sure it is well insulated and has enough room (but not too much) for all of your delicious goodies and plenty of ice packs. A full cooler actually keeps contents chilled better than a loosely packed one with lots of room to spare, so be sure to choose one that is the right size for your picnic.

Ok now we are ready for the menu. In the past, I have tended to take the easy way out. Pick up a few pre-made sandwiches at Schnucks, a bag of chips, maybe some cookies, a few beverages and voila! a picnic. Definitely gets the job done, especially if you are pressed for time, but if you have some time, planning out and preparing a menu can be very rewarding. Here's what I chose for tonight's spread:

Homemade Gourmet Mock Spinach Dip with rye bread dippers
Picnic chicken
Sliced fresh peaches (yes I'm still working on the ones we picked at Eckert's)
Homemade Gourmet Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Potato Chips (Bring a bag if that's easier for you or try this recipe to make your own!)
Ultimate Brownies

Maybe Erin and Bob will bring the wine.... :)

Do you have a favorite recipe for picnic chicken? The above recipe is new to me but sounded interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. If you have a tried and true favorite, I'd love to hear about it!

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