Thursday, August 6, 2009

No ants at our picnic...

As a follow up to yesterday's blog, I must say that last night's picnic was a huge success. We decided to scrap the dill dip (and looking back, that was a good choice cause we were all stuffed) but everything else was prepared, packed, and devoured! I'd like to review the menu briefly for you to give a few tips on preparation of the items, things I might change, and things I wouldn't dare alter!
Let's start with the chicken, shall we? It was amazing! I know I asked for picnic chicken recipes at the end of yesterday's post and I guess I'd still try others but wow, this chicken was just perfect. Who know instant potato flakes made good chicken breading? (I used Idahoan brand, btw) Added bonus to making this chicken: when you take it off the pan to pack and chill, it leaves behind some of the potato breading--which has now soaked up some of the butter and juice and kind of turned into crispy, seasoned potatoes. Instead of just washing the pan, I opted for a fork and ate up all that seasoned potato deliciousness before I washed. The chicken was a big hit with everyone, even my husband who had never had cold chicken and admittedly wasn't sure what he thought about eating it that way. I think he may have even taken a leftover piece for lunch today. One slight variation in the recipe I used: I have California Style onion powder which already contains some parsley so I cut back on the parsley the recipe called for just a bit. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing!! Chicken buying tip: if you're just cooking for two and aren't wanting leftovers (though I think you'd be crazy to not want leftovers) try buying your chicken straight from the meat/butcher counter so you get just the pieces you want. I bought my chicken at Schnucks and got the pre-packaged "Pick of the Chick" which included three breasts, three thighs, and three legs (strange looking chicken, eh?), all bone-in. It fed 4 people well with two breasts leftover! Take a peek!

Next I made the potato chips. While it wasn't too difficult to slice the potatoes thinly, it would have been much easier with a mandoline. I think I'll be in the market for one of those pretty soon. I particularly liked this mandoline I found on Amazon. Anyway, homemade chips can be tricky, as a colleague of mine, Tracy, pointed out. Slice them too thin, they stick to the pan. Slice them too thick, they are impossible to get crispy. My solution: slice them thin but put a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil on the pan before you bake. Also, make sure they are good and crispy before you try to remove them from the foil. This way, most of the starchy liquid has baked out and they release from the foil a lot easier. You also have to keep in mind that they aren't all going to bake at the same rate so it's ok to check on them periodically and remove the ones that are done cooking and put the rest back in the oven to continue crisping. Lastly, how you season is totally up to you. I chose seasoned salt but you might want to try sea salt, California Style onion powder, parmesan cheese, or a Homemade Gourmet seasoning mix. (perhaps Southwest Seasoning or Chicken Enchilada Soup) Sorry this picture isn't as good. I'd take another but there weren't any leftovers of these!!

The peaches were ripe and delicious. A nice sweet flavor to contrast the saltiness of the chips and chicken. Those, too, were pretty much annihilated. Tom and I will have to make a trip back to Eckert's to get some more. I'm pretty sure Lorings are ready for picking...maybe Crest Havens too!

Homemade Gourmet Mediterranean Pasta Salad was almost as big a hit as the chicken, with everyone (including myself) going back for seconds. I decided to stick with the basic recipe (there are optional add ins listed on the package but I didn't have any in the house so I skipped it). It was the easiest thing I made, too. Just boil the noodles and add a 1/2 cup mayo or evoo (extra vigin olive oil) and 2 Tbls. red wine or balsalmic vinegar to the seasoning packets. Chill. Enjoy. How can you not love that simplicity? Take a looksie at the finished product...

Time for dessert! We took a short hiatus after dinner but it wasn't long before the menfolk decided it was time for dessert. The ultimate brownies definitely delivered on the name. They were super fudgy; so much so that I had a really hard time getting them out of the pan. Regardless, I would absolutely make these again! One thing we may have missed out on was that 10 minutes you are supposed to spend beating the egg, sugar, and vanilla mixture. I don't have a stand mixer, just a handheld one, so standing there beating three ingredients for 10 minutes just wasn't happening. I'd say I gave it a good 2.5-3 minutes before giving up but I can only imagine what they would have been like had I toughed it out, or had a proper mixer.

So there you have it folks...the picnic dinner of champions! Hope you get a chance to enjoy it with your friends and family before summer is through!

No comments:

Post a Comment