Picnics- a meal outside, in the sunshine/shade and open breezes. Shoes off, legs stretched out, the feel of the beach of the sand or blades of grass underneath you. The images that come to mind are wicker baskets and slightly rumpled gingham blanket and a glass of wine and certainly for me, a cheese plate (of course).
It might be a special occasion like the concerts on the lawns I used to attend multiple times during my summers in Chicago- the orchestra filling the air with a symphony while you lie back on the blanket staring at the clouds. Or, it was on the 4th of July, with fireworks, and the buzz of people around you sharing that experience and joining in group “oooos” while you still have your own space.
It doesn’t have to be a special occasion though. It might be a matter of logistics on a long day hike. It might be a romantic getaway where you can focus on just the two of you. Or maybe, it’s just a celebration of a normal day and beautiful weather.
The last time I had a picnic, it was at Wildlife Safari in Winston, OR after walking with a cheetah, and it was a breakfast picnic that included soft doughy marionberry scones, fresh fruit, and fixings for mimosas on a safari printed tablecloth. Overall, it was a picnic recipe for fun!
For a July picnic with the Portland Bloggers group, I decided to go more out than the typical “gathering” of cheese plate and various deli items from stores with a few items I would put together at home. Here are my picnic recipes, geared towards being picnic recipes that are easy to prep, require little effort, travel and keep well, and can be healthy. They can easily be made for two, or a group.
First, I started out for myself with a Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Salad sandwich, and a Vegetarian Hummus Avocado Tomato and Greens Sandwich for F. I only made enough for one sandwich for F, but I made a larger yielding batch of the buffalo chicken so that I could eat more of the sandwiches all this week (or in some cases, just eat the buffalo chicken out of Tupperware).
For the group, I wasn’t sure how many people would be there and decided to lean on the generous side. Worst case scenario, I would have some to bring to work the next day. I like these because you can put these together while watching TV, they are relatively healthy and fresh, and they are easy to eat on the skewers/toothpicks and can be refreshing if it happens to be a hot day. Mine are all red, but if you got a mix of colors from heirloom tomatoes this would be so much prettier!
Vegetarian Hummus Avocado Tomato and Greens Sandwich
- 2 slices of your favorite bread
- 1/4 cup of hummus of your choice
- 1/2 large avocado
- 1 teaspoon of lime juice
- 1/2 cup microgreens (or you may choose 1/2 cup spinach, arugula, or whatever greens you would like)
- Tomatoes- I used grape tomatoes, but you can also use regular slices of tomatoes, or roasted tomatoes, or sun dried tomatoes. You want enough to be happy with your sandwich
- Spread the hummus on one side of the bread, and top with the microgreens
- In a bowl, mash up the avocado (for 1 sandwich you only need 1/2, but I mashed a whole one and used the other half for my sandwich below) and add 1 teaspoon for half the avocado, or in my case 2 teaspoons, of the lime juice. Mash and mix well, and then spread on the other slice of bread
Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Salad with Avocado and Greens Sandwich
Ingredients (yields 4 cups of chicken salad, I overload my sandwich with almost 1 cup each but you also just use 1/2 a cup and be sensible about it):
- 1 pound of skinless chicken breast (2 chicken breasts) for poaching
- 5 oz non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup Franks Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled blue cheese
- 4 slices of your favorite bread
- 1/2 cup microgreens (or you 1/2 cup chopped celery or whatever greens you would like)
- I started by poaching the chicken. Alternatively, you can also buy cooked chicken or reuse other leftover chicken of course to get you started a little faster. I like poaching in that it still keeps the chicken tender, and it lets me multitask as I’m cooking it low and slow with other kitchen prep. You can choose to poach it in just water, but that doesn’t add any flavor. So you can use the stock of your choice in the pot (I started with 2 cups, and then poured in a smidge more to cover the chicken by another inch) that I also added a tablespoon of chopped basil, a tablespoon of rosemary, and some ground pepper. But you can choose to also/instead add a little sherry, or wine, or fresh vegetables, whatever you want to add. After bringing the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to a bare simmer, partly cover the pot. Cook longer for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, leaving the chicken to finish cooking in your liquid of choice for 15 more minutes. Remove chicken, then shred it for the chicken salad.
- In bowl, whisk together the other ingredients: the yogurt, buffalo sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir in chicken, celery (if you are using it), and blue cheese.
- For my sandwich for the picnic, I decided to use some of the leftover avocado lime juice spread I still had for the other half of my sandwich (so half an avocado with 1 teaspoon of lime juice mashed together). I also added the radish microgreens, though again any of greens you enjoy would work here. And let’s say I forgot to add the blue cheese earlier so just decided to put it on top of my avocado (you can omit the blue cheese altogether if you are not a fan or want to make it optional for those eating the sandwich). Overall, of the buffalo chicken salad there was enough left for probably 4-5 more sandwiches for me to put away for the rest of the week. Refrigerate until serving or up to 5 days in the fridge.
- 4 pints (~40 oz) of cherry tomatoes
- 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella
- 2 ounces of fresh basil, which was about 6 stems for me, depending on how full each stem is of leaves
- olive oil (approximately 1/3 cup)
- balsamic vinegar (approximately 1/4 cup)
- Cutting: Cut all the cherry tomatoes in half. Also cut the mozzarella into small pieces about 1/3 inch squares. Also, remove the basil leaves from the steam, for the larger basil leaves you may want to cut them in half as well.
- Assembly: On each toothpick, in between the cherry halves add one piece of the mozzarella and one medium or 1/2 of a large basil leaf.
- After filling your first row (in case you decide to do a pile like I did), use a spoon or a pastry brush to carefully add a little drizzle line or light touch of olive oil, and then the balsamic.
F helped a friend moved, so the sandwich disappeared before any photo could be shot of the sandwich cut in half.The best I can show you from our afternoon picnic with the Portland Food Bloggers was our additional tray to accompany our sandwiches. I like to always bring cheeses, and this time went with two cheeses (Fiscalini Hopscotch Cheddar a cheddar soaked in Devil’s Canyon Scotch Ale and Mariposa’s Chubut a mild Argentiean cheese).
I also like a little protein, and I picked a Chop Butchery & Charcuterie farmhouse pate (not shown, on another board to separate from the vegetarian options, and I think the best pate in Portland). I rounded out this picnic with hummus, and organic seedless green grapes (anything you eat the skin on be it fruits, vegetables, potatoes I believe are worth buying organic), cut up some artisan seedy bread and Mary’s Gone Crackers. This part of the picnic recipe is easy- just a matter of gathering some good individual ingredients together.
Thank you Portland Bloggers group for making me put together a Family Picnic, and setting up this event! It was very laid back with no agenda other then just a little chatting to see the people we read online in person, and the new Portland Bloggers logo was also unveiled. Check out the twitter hashtag #portlandbloggers for more photos from this event. I’m sure there will be posts coming soon too, and I’m excited to read all about all the other perspectives!