Let's Picnic!
July 25, 2018

Let's Picnic!

Summer is a time for family, friends, and frivolity!  With the days being longer, what better way to enjoy it, but with a picnic!  There are many choices out there to create a fun and relaxing picnic without doing too much work!  After all, summer is short and who wants to spend hours planning a picnic?  I know I don’t.  I want to be able to lie down in the sun or under an umbrella (so as not to get sunburned, as that would just ruin the day) eat some good food, have some libations and have good times with family and friends!

Did you know that picnics began in the mid-1600s and were primarily hosted by the uber-wealthy to impress their guests of their great power and wealth? These picnics would go on for days at a time!  Glad the picnics of today are not that long!!!

To help inspire your next picnic soiree, I will be discussing ideas on what you should bring with you on a picnic and some fun picnic destinations!   Of course I will suggest some food and drink options, as summertime heeds lively libations and yummy cuisine.

Whether you are planning a traditional picnic or a more modern take on a picnic, the options are endless.  The three I have chosen to write about are having picnics beach side, a vineyard/meadow and the tried and true, at a park.

When choosing a picnic basket, there are so many choices today that it can be overwhelming!  There are traditional wicker baskets, totes and coolers.  I tend to choose wicker baskets as it reminds me of how life use to be before the explosion of technology, where life was simpler and people didn’t run around like chickens with their heads cut off!  Most picnic baskets that you purchase will come with plates, napkins, cutlery, cups, cutting board and corkscrew!

Beach Picnic

Beach picnics are perfect in summer with these picnic essentials.

Put on your sunscreen, grab your sunglasses and let’s have some fun in the sun beginning with a picnic on the beach!  Picnics on a beach can be quite lovely!  Bring along some comfy throw pillows, an umbrella for shade, your picnic basket, a straw mat and plop yourself down at the site of your choosing. I went with a nautical theme for this particular set-up, pun intended…. I like blues and whites as those colors really give the picnic a fresh summer look and feel.   I like to use a straw mat to use as my “table”, as they tend to keep sand off and will help ensure that you aren’t crunching on a mouthful of sand when munching on your favourite veggie dip.

Small mason jars work wonderfully when planning a picnic as they can be used in any setting.  They are easy to transport, keeps food and drinks fresh!  Mason jars are inexpensive, re-usable and a fun throw back to a simpler time.

For the menu, I like to serve finger foods, think of veggie spears, such as different colors of bell peppers, carrots, celery or asparagus. Olives, cheese and crackers also work well and cleanup will be a breeze!  For dessert serve fresh fruit on a skewer with a nice light yogurt dip.   I like orange juice and lemonades, as they provide a great source of vitamin C and will help keep you hydrated under the hot sun.

One note to remember when choosing a location at the beach for you picnic, is to choose a spot that is not too close to the water’s edge, those tides can sneak up on you and ruin a perfectly good outing, be a little messy and sometimes bring in sea life that you didn’t invite to your party.

Vineyard /Meadow Picnic

Vineyard picnic essentials can be found at Williams Food Equipment.

One of my fave picnic destinations is one where I can uncork a nice bottle of merlot and relax with my favourite guy!  If you aren’t close to a vineyard, a lush meadow will do nicely.  After all it’s about the company and of course the wine!  Spread out a nice soft blanket, breakout the wine and enjoy!  Please make sure to bring your cork screw, trying to dig it out with a knife or pocket knife is no fun and too much of the cork will settle into the wine ruining a great bottle!

I like to serve an assortment of cheeses, breads, crackers, grapes, a salad and dessert.  Cheese pairs nicely with red wine and the types of cheese I choose run the gamut from a soft brie to gouda to manchego.   Choose a water cracker, or French bread, (tip: quick bake french bread before you leave and wrap in foil; will still be warm when you serve) and add some grapes and you have the perfect wine picnic!  For dessert, dark chocolate always enriches the wine and brings out flavors you wouldn’t normally expect.

I generally like using a traditional stemmed wine glass as it does add aesthetics to the overall wine experience, however, they aren’t very stable on grass.  If you are still inclined to use the stemmed wine glass, may I suggest an acrylic glass.

When sitting in the middle of a meadow or vineyard ants may be a concern. Try placing some dryer sheets strategically around you, or under the blanket, this will help ward them off!  After all, we want this to be a happy memory!

Park Picnic

Get your park picnic essentials at Williams Food Equipment.

If the above picnic destinations aren’t your style, never fear, you can still have the perfect picnic at a traditional spot…the park!  Select a spot under a nice big shade tree, throw down your blanket, breakout the lunch and begin to enjoy the day!

Start with some sandwiches that include all of your must-have fixin’s!  Bring along your favourite condiments in handy air-tight mason jars or leak proof glass jars from Cuisipro! These tight fitting jars are sure to keep your condiments fresh.

Make sure to bring along chips, desserts and fruit.  If traditional desserts aren’t your style, head to the local bakery and pick up some mini-tarts to add some panache to your setting!  Another festive dessert is creating a healthy treat with vanilla yogurt, layered with fruit and granola!  These treats can be made ahead of time so all you have to do is throw them in the picnic basket.  If you are feeling extra creative, make your own yogurt using the Cuisipro Collapsible Yogurt Maker! It is collapsible for easy storage and clean-up is a breeze!  The Cuisipro is an easy nutritious way to make healthy snacks, smoothies, dips and dressings!

I also like to bring an assortment of kid-friendly drinks and always include an adult beverage to keep spirits up while the kids are at play!

With the ideas above, make sure to bring along pop-up mesh food tents to protect food from uninvited pesky critters!  These pop-up food tents are amazing and come in different sizes, colors and styles!  These pop-up food tents are definitely a conversation starter and will have your guests wanting to know where you got them!

Make sure to have a picnic check list, the last thing you don’t want to do is to forget something, this is not a time to be stressed out, it is a time for joy!

Here are my top 20 items to bring on a picnic:

  1. Food & drinks
  2. Condiments, salt & pepper
  3. Sunscreens
  4. Bug spray
  5. Hats
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Plates
  8. Silverware/utensils
  9. Cups/glasses
  10. Napkins
  11. Corkscrew
  12. Ice
  13. Blankets
  14. Water
  15. Trash bag
  16. Paper towels
  17. Kitchen towel
  18. First aid kit
  19. Toilet paper
  20. Wireless speaker for music

As mentioned before, there are so many wonderful fun ways to have picnics these days.  The options are boundless!  Let your imagination run wild!  Be inspired, creative, have fun and most importantly enjoy the time spent with family and friends and remember….

“A picnic is a state of mind and can be made anywhere”

                                                Robert Caston 

Need some recipes to get your creative juices flowing?  Here are 3 of my favourites!  The theme to these recipes are quick and easy!

The best recipe I have found for fruit, is this yogurt dip, it is creamy, low-fat, scrumptious and best of all, only has 2 ingredients and takes 2 minutes to make!

Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip

2 Ingredient Yogurt Fruit Dip

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (1 container) lite whipped topping, thawed
  • 8 ounces (1 container) low-fat fruit yogurt, any flavor

Directions:

  1. Allow the frozen lite whipped topping to thaw in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight.
  2. Put the lite whipped topping and low-fat yogurt in a bowl. Gently blend together and serve with fruit.

Recipe Tip:

An flavor low-fat yogurt can be used for this delicious dip. We used strawberry low-fat yogurt and it was amazing!

Recipe by Heather Carter @ MySweetMission.com

Here is a fun, colorful, thirst quenching Picnic Fruit Punch that can be enjoyed by adults and the youngsters!  Some may even call this a pink cooler!

And if the “bad boy” in you so desires, from a time of spiking fruit punch at school dances, by all means, spike away and enjoy, just make sure that it doesn’t get mixed up with the kiddos’ drinks!

Picnic Fruit Punch

Fruit punch for your Summer picnics.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cranberry juice
  • 3 cups pineapple juice
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 litre ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 medium navel orange, sliced

Directions:

  • In a large container, combine juices; refrigerate. Just before serving, transfer to a punch bowl; stir in ginger ale and orange slices.

Recipe Tip:

You can add any type of fruit to this punch to kick it up a notch, such as, blueberries, watermelon, lemon, apples, the sky is the limit!  I would suggest not adding raspberries, as they tend to get mushy.

Thank you to Taste of Home magazine for the recipe.

Now it’s time for an adult beverage!  This next concoction adds a new twist to an age old, very traditional southern cocktail, the mojito.  Introducing the Fresh Blueberry Mojito!  This recipe is easy, quick, yummy and refreshing!  Perfect for a summer afternoon at the beach or the park!

Fresh Blueberry Mojito

Blueberry mojitos make a grand entrance for any Summer festive picnic.

An easy and refreshing recipe for blueberry mojitos with fresh blueberries, mint and lime. Feel free to use fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries for this, both work like a charm.

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 8 blueberries (fresh or frozen and thawed), plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) white rum
  • Ice
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) club soda
  • Lime slice for serving

Directions:

  1. Add blueberries, lime juice, sugar and eight mint leaves to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Use the end of a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler to bash (or muddle) the mint into the lime juice and sugar. (This releases oils from the mint, breaks up the blueberries and helps the sugar dissolve into the lime juice).
  3. Add rum, stir well then pour into a glass filled with ice, leaving about an inch of room from the top. Top off with club soda.
  4. Garnish with extra blueberries, mint leaves and a lime slice.

Recipe Tip

To make enough for four people follow these amounts: 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 3 tablespoons sugar, 32 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish, 1 cup white rum, 4 cups ice, 1/2 cup club soda, and 4 lime slices for garnish.

Recipe by InspiredTastes.net

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