RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG
Grab your sun hat and head for the country, this seasons garden-fresh bounty turns into fine fare for a healthy impromptu picnic. Summer picnics are just ripe for picking with all of your favorite garden-fresh vegetables and fruits. Easy to make recipes utilizing homegrown ingredients is the perfect way to reap the benefits of your summer-time gardening efforts.
If your backyard isn’t brimming with rows of fresh produce, a nearby farmers market will offer everything you need for this summer-time picnic. Fresh peaches, blueberries, melons, sweet corn-on-the-cob, juicy ripe tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, squash, zucchini, peppers, onions and cucumbers—with ingredients like these at their best, picnics can’t help but be delicious.
Whether you dine by a lake on a blanket or roll out a wheel barrel under your favorite tree, these picnic recipes will please every palate. An appetizer made with fresh herbs, basil, parsley, and arugula leaves makes a peppery pesto crostini. A vegetable spread is chock full of home-grown diced vegetables made with cucumbers, radishes, green onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes. Every bite is crunchy and delicious in a roast beef pocket sandwich.
Cut carrots, celery, and cucumber sticks with cherry tomatoes are served up sassy in small containers with flavored olive oils for dipping. Individual desserts are half-pint peach and blueberry cobblers baked ahead for ease and travel. Better bake extra cobblers, with only a ½ cup serving with each jar they won’t last long! Last but not least, a summer picnic would not be the same without our southern sweet tea served in ice cold mason jars.
Packing a safe picnic lunch is important so here are a few safety tips when planning your meal:
“For a worry-free picnic, place perishable foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, macaroni, potato salads, anything mayonnaise-cream cheese based food, in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. They need to be kept cold. Avoid leaving foods in the sun and do not cross contaminate cooking utensils when grilling raw meats.” Check out this website for more important picnic safety tips.
For an impromptu picnic setting, a quilt or blanket provides the perfect soft spot for a hard ground. To keep your quilt from being soiled, place a plastic tablecloth on the ground then add the quilt, or cover a picnic table with your tablecloth and quilt. Large pillows for lounging is always fun and of course a well-packed picnic basket. The basket should include your eating utensils, glasses and plates- paper or melamine, napkins, needed serving containers and utensils, trash bags, baggies, paper towels, wet naps, breads and non-refrigerated items.
Add a mason jar full of white hydrangea, zinnias, Queen Ann’s lace, and other wonderful summer flowers for a simple centerpiece. A bowl of apples and fresh fruit can also be a great centerpiece.
Dining or picnicking alfresco is one of summer’s delights. Call your friends and family and get the picnic going. A garden fresh picnic is a perfect way to celebrate nature’s bounty and a summer afternoon.
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com
6 half pint canning jars
3 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup blueberries-fresh
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup self rising flour
½ cup melted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup milk
Peel, pit and dice peaches. In bottom of each canning jar, place a teaspoon of dark brown sugar. Add diced peaches and blueberries on top of brown sugar. Mix together flour, butter, sugar and milk, pour over fruit in jar. Leave ½ inch space at the top, so batter will not run over. Place filled canning jars on a double layered baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with mini vanilla ice cream scoops. Dessert can be frozen after baked and cooled.
Yield: 6 half-pint mini cobblers
Deli Beef Pockets with Garden Vegetable Spread
6-2” slices French bread
¼ pound thinly sliced roast beef
1 cup arugula or other small leaf lettuce
Garden Vegetable Spread – recipe follows
Cut French Bread into 6- 2” wide slices. Hollow one side of bread to create a pocket for the filling. Spread Garden Vegetable mixture inside the pocket and up the sides of the crusty bread shell. Fill the pocket with 1-1/2 slices of roast beef. Garnish with the arugula leaves if desired. Wrap sandwich with plastic wrap and keep cold for picnic.
Yield: 6 sandwiches
1-4 ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons Hellmans mayonnaise
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/8 cup diced carrots, green onions, radish, cucumber, and yellow squash
red, orange and green bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, arugula leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt and white pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place cream cheese, mayo, and horseradish in a large mixing bowl.
Add diced vegetables and seasonings. Mix to combine. Serve spread with Roast Beef Pockets or crostini.
Yield: 1-1/2 cups
½ cup baby arugula leaves
¼ cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 – 4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper- optional
20- ¼ “sliced crusty bread loaf for crostini
8-10 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
Brush crostini slices with olive oil and grill or toast in oven until golden brown. In food processor, pulse walnuts one or two times, add arugula leaves, basil, parsley, 2 tablespoons cheese and garlic, pulse until smooth. Scrape down sides and add softened butter and olive oil. Pulse mixture until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper if desired to taste. Spread small amount of pesto on crostini, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, top with sliced tomato.
Yield: 20 crostini or 1 cup of pesto