Isn’t the very idea of a picnic just ROMANTIC AS HELL?? You know, in your mind, the picnic happens on a grassy knoll under a 200-year-old oak tree; a perfectly pointy blue-gray mountain range on one side and a huge crystal lake on the other (don’t worry; Jason is a thousand miles away in our scenario) the sun is shining and there’s a light breeze that blows your hair ”just so” to delicately frame your face in the most BEAUTIFUL HAIR-DO EVERRRRRR.
But seriously, folks. Let’s get our heads out of those perfectly rounded clouds that hug the tips of the mountains like marshmallow halos. In reality (I’m talking actual reality — IRL?) it’s rarely so well-designed. It’s often slightly too hot, or slightly too cool, or slightly too wet, or the ground is littered with glass shards or the tree is full of hornets.
Suddenly, you kinda just wanna get the fuggouttathere.
To speed your escape, I think it’s a good idea to plan on bringing only foods that can be eaten out of hand with no utensils or plates needed (unless you count your lap as a plate and in that case, you’re my hero). Goes for drinks, too. Cold beers fit the bill, but maybe you’re more into wine. Fortunately, you can actually buy decent “personal wine boxes” which fit perfectly in purses and pockets and aren’t just great for picnics but also make any drudgery-filled obligation that requires sitting in one place a long time (think: your friend’s play, your friend’s performance art piece, an office meeting) a whole lot better. And here’s a super-cute insulated picnic basket I found on Amazon, too. I don’t have one, I just want one. It’s got a lifetime warranty, ferpetessake!
But about that food.
Here’s the most finger-friendly bites I could come up with, excluding the obvious-yet-perfect menu of cheese chunks, meat chunks, olives and crackers.
Sandwiches, dude. When in doubt, make a damn sandwich.
- I like this take on a muffaletta, simplified and lightened. Same great taste, less than 10 pounds of saturated fat. (Still working on the tag line for this bad mother.)
- You could also make your own bahn mi sandwiches! My girl Mary Helen at MaryMakesDinner has a great tutorial on doing just that, including how to make all the fancy condiments, y’all!
- On that note, how’s about some healthy, cool spring rolls? They’re kinda like a sandwich. You can make these up to a few hours beforehand and fill them with pretty much whatever vegetables or proteins you want.
- Of course it is no secret that I also love the shit out of a pimiento cheese sandwich because, duh, I got that long-strand, Redneck DNA in mah blood and what’s not to love about Cheddar and cream cheese and pimientos and pickled jalapenos, which is how I make my pimiento cheese.
- AND…. duh, der! “Lettuce” not forget the great WRAP! Wrap sandwiches not only excel at being very neat and tidy to eat, they are also great for carb-counters. Try this Ah-may-zin’ Buffalo chicken wrap from Sara at Average Betty. You could even leave out the bread entirely and make lettuce or napa cabbage rolls with the chicken.
- If you need a good gluten-free sandwich bread which to slather with butter or soft cheese or jam or anything else that slathers, look no further than Kate Payne’s site, HipGirlsHome.
Also, fried stuff is good for picnics…
- Some Fried Apple Pies? These stay remarkably delicious even several hours after cooking. And as a bonus, you can bake them instead of frying thus avoiding the dreaded “FRY SMELL” that lingers everafter frying stuff in the kitchen. Just place formed pies on a baking sheet and cook at 425 F for 10-15 minutes. (BIG thanks to Shane for telling me how to do that in the comments section!)
- Picnic Fried Chicken! There’s a reason fried chicken is seen at family reunion potlucks all over the ding-dang old country and that reason – actually two reasons – is that it’s easy as hell to make and tastes great hot, cold, or at room temperature. The best way to pack it for serving cool is to allow it to cool on a rack at room temperature, then move into a container that’s been lined with a cloth and a paper towel. Cover the chicken with another paper towel and wrap the cloth over it. Great presentation and the paper and cloth absorb any steam that might make the chicken soggy.
- This frittata recipe is a little healthier, dudes. I’m telling you, cooled, sliced frittatas are a brilliant way to feed several people easily. Add some fruit and you have a Tuscan retreat right in your own backyard, or whatever place you’ve thrown your blanket down.
- If you added some half-pint mason jars filled with cold, fresh gazpacho from TheAimlessCook you would REALLY be poppin’ and lockin’ on that picnic blanket, boy-ee!
- Oh. Also you need cookies. Cookies are a MUST at any and all picnics, gatherings, meals, and bedtime. I love these oatmeal shortbread cookies.
- Homemade fig bars would also be great! What’s better than a little fruit with your cookie?
I also want to share this comprehensive post about picnic spots in Austin from my friend Kathryn at AustinGastronomist.com. Not only are there reviews and photos of picnic spots in town, she also offers several picnic menus.
Shoot. I really want to take my ass out on a picnic now, dudes! I hope you’re feeling as inspired. Leave your favorite picnic spots, ideas and recipes below!
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