Essentials for the perfect summer picnic
Nothing inspires a family to get out of the kitchen more than a sweltering hot day.
Especially if you’re without air conditioning, or your units can’t keep up with the heat – it’s not a bad idea to find a cool spot next to a river or lake. And a picnic is a must.
If you’re planning to catch the fireworks on the Fourth, many parks and venues will let you tote in your own food. The secret? Keep it simple but classy. A small cooler filled with chicken salad sandwiches, a bag of gourmet chips, veggies and dip to munch on, and you have yourself mighty fine fare.
We suggest the Food Network’s chicken salad recipe
- 4 cups diced poached chicken (poach 3 pounds of chicken breast with a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, 1 onion, 1 halved carrot and 5 cups chicken broth. Poach for 20 minutes after boiling and lowering heat to very low, covered. Chop cooled chickn.)
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a dash of ground black pepper
- In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions and herbs. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cook’s Note: Serve on a bed of lettuce with sliced tomatoes, in half an avocado or in a chicken club sandwich made with great bread, crispy smoked bacon, vine-ripened tomatoes and lettuce.
Now that you have the main meal, find a great cooler, a picnic basket, and mix up some berries and a bit of sugar to top off the dessert. A picnic is the one time chocolate doesn’t work out too well.
Patriotic or bust
We’re going to steer you away from plastic and suggest a sturdy cloth tablecloth, easy to toss in the wash after any picnic. We love the patriotic red and white checked pattern on Barwil’s oversized cloth, made of a cotton, polyester blend. Bardwil Cafe Check 60″ x 102″ Tablecloth, $22 (plus 5% Cash Back), macy’s.com
Make it an art form
If the picnic is an art form for you, invest in the very best. A Moka picnic basket is built with romance in mind. It sports two plate, two wine glasses (hand-blown), silverware, tablecloth, and anything else you could imagine for something that is less than your usual casual affair. Picnic Time Barrel Picnic Basket, $119.99 (plus 1% Cash Back), target.com
Add some heat
If cold food isn’t what you’re craving, fire up the grill. If that sounds like a hassle, consider a the handy Picnic Time X Grill, which folds flat for easy transportation. Don’t forget the charcoal! Picnic Time X-Grill Portable Grill, $55.99 (plus 4% Cash Back), kohls.com
The finishing touch
And who could forget the most essential of all “ingredients” for a successful picnic? The blanket. We like the Ascot Picnic Blanket with enclosed case, which won’t take up a whole lot of room, and is easy to fold up and tote (it even has a handle). Picnic At Ascot Picnic Blanket with Attached Case in London Plaid, $37.99 (plus 3% Cash Back), walmart.com