Posts for picnic

Summer Potluck-y

Potluck - Jennifer - July 21, 2011

When my oldest was a baby, I joined a moms’ group that met at our local library. I can’t believe that I’ve known most of these women for less than ten years because they are my best buds, and I can barely remember life before them! Anyway, one of the things that binds us so tightly together is our love of food. If we’re not at a restaurant for a “Moms’ Night Out,” then we’re gathering at someone’s house for a potluck, with or without children.

Five years back, in our desperate attempt to find ways to burn daylight with our little kids, we decided to have a weekly traveling summer potluck. We started with seven families, designated Thursday as our day, and made up a schedule. The kids dubbed our weekly gatherings “Thursday Lunch Bunch,” and although some participants have come and gone, the core group has remained together. Here are the rules:

1. The host family provides the main course and the beverages (yes, alcohol is involved, for the mothers, of course).
2. The guest families bring a variety of sides and desserts.
3. The host family is allowed to invite whomever else they want to, which depends greatly on the size of their yard/house and available entertainment options covering a variety of ages. (Our oldest “kid” just turned 18, and the youngest is four, although many of the bigger kids have begun opting out recently. We don’t really care though, because these gatherings are more for us than for them!)

Some of our houses have pools (not mine), and others of us have to get a little more creative, but the general idea is we play outside, unplugged, and old school. Today was the hottest day I can remember in recent Chicago history. I mean it was pure misery, and the host home was one of those pool-less ones. So we broke out the Slip & Slide, and the moms sat with our feet in the wading pool. Then there was a big sidewalk chalk session, where the kids made the longest hopscotch I’ve ever seen. When they got too hot doing that, they kicked the moms out of the baby pool and had a rousing game of “Hot Potato” using an uneaten hot dog for the potato. And of course, there was food. Here’s today’s spread:

It’s pretty modest because we were missing some families and, my God it was so hot no one wanted to cook! (See my “Patrick Mousse” there at the front of the table? No actual “cooking” going on with that one!) But that’s the beauty of a potluck with kids: they’re generally happy with a simple sandwich or a hot dog, and they’d rather graze and wait for dessert anyway. Which leads me to one of the perils of having a regular potluck: we don’t always check in with each other, and sometimes we end up with five fruit dishes or no dessert (which is what happened today, when dessert consisted of popsicles!). But no one ultimately cared because DID I MENTION HOW FREAKIN’ HOT IT WAS? And also because the kids can’t wait for Thursdays, no matter where we end up or what they eat. We’re so lucky!

Keepin’ cool in our fancy pool!

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Pink & Delightful Summer Dessert with Just a Hint of the Macabre

Desserts, Salad - Jennifer - May 31, 2011

It’s a tactic I learned from my aunt when I was a kid and she fooled me with it: re-naming foods to get kids to eat them. I wouldn’t touch tomato soup with a ten-foot pole, but I just loooved her “Cream of Red.” My brother would run ten miles in the opposite direction of anything with tuna, but when Aunt Ronni crumbled some Jays over it and called it “Potato Chip Casserole,” he couldn’t get enough.

With my own kids, broccoli soup has become “Cream of Green” (thanks Aunt R.), and sloppy joes are “Dog Food on a Hamburger Bun” (from my oldest son’s long-ago Clifford obsession). So should it have surprised me when the kids re-named my favorite summer fruit salad “Patrick Mousse” because of its lovely pink Patrick Star hue? I didn’t even blink. And we receive many requests for contributions of Patrick Mousse to summer potlucks. It’s super easy and super yummy:


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can pineapple chunks
2 cans cherry pie filling (we’ve also used blueberry and raspberry)
1 lg. tub Lite Cool Whip

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving. Can’t get much easier than that, huh?

Is this what Patrick would look like if he lost a battle with my Magic Bullet? You decide!

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Picnic Perfection

Today Is a beautiful day! So I am headed to one of my favorite places with my two favorite little friends! An outing to the lake with my boys sounds just about right! But what to bring for lunch??????

In my search to spice up the picnic basket I came across some really great articles & recipes that should help you have an amazing picnic of your own.

In my Basket

  • Juice boxes for the kids
  • Club sandwiches
  • Pretzels
  • Wheat Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • My sisters home made canned Bruichito
  • Spring Water for me
  • Grapes
  • Napkins & Baby Wipes
  • Blanky
  • Portable radio
  • Favorite Books
  • Ball & Glove

Mix all these together with the ones you love and enjoy! I try to keep it simple and focus more energy on the time and the people than the meal. I found after many failed attempts to create the perfect picnic scene that the best days will unfold with little planning on your part. AS long as there is a little something for everyone and a fun activity help them work up their appetite you can ensure a wonderful picnic!

From Some Others Baskets


Michael Smith

Courtesy of
Michael Smith
Chef at Home

On Next

Monday, July 26, 10:00AM/7:00AM et/pt

Asian Chicken Salad From The Food Network Canada

Asian Chicken Salad Wrapped in Rice Paper


The Dressing

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Dash sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

The Salad

  • 1 small bundle of rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked
  • 4 large rice paper wrappers, soaked until soft



The Dressing

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together until they form a smooth dressing.

The Salad

  1. Cover the noodles with boiling water.
  2. Soak until noodles are softened. Drain noodles well.
  3. Place shredded chicken into a large bowl, add noodles, peas, carrot and cilantro leaves.
  4. Add dressing and toss well.
  5. Place a softened rice paper wrapper onto a kitchen towel and blot dry.
  6. Carefully transfer it to a flat work surface and place a large spoonful of the chicken salad at the edge closest to you.
  7. Fold edge over the filling, and then fold in the two ends.
  8. Continue to roll up, securing loose edges so that it is sealed. Repeat for other three rolls.

NY Times 101 Picnic Dishes

I copied a few for you but check the link for all the rest! There were tons


1 BEET SALAD Peel beets and grate them (a food processor will keep the juice contained). Add pistachios or hazelnuts; dress with orange zest and juice, and olive oil. Add bits of goat cheese and chopped parsley.

2 PESTO CHICKEN ROLLS Season and grill chicken cutlets. Brush lavash or any other wrap-type bread with pesto; layer with the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula; roll up and cut on the bias.

3 CURRIED EGG SALAD Make egg salad with hard-cooked eggs, mayo, curry powder, Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, red onion and, if you like, diced apple.

4 TOMATOES AND PEACHES Toss together sliced seeded tomatoes and peaches, along with thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5 ROAST BEEF AND BLUE Start with whole-grain rolls. Smear blue cheese on one side and prepared horseradish on the other. Add red onion and thin-sliced roast beef, pork or lamb. Pack! lettuce and tomato on the side. Potato chips are mandatory.

So whether you are headed to the high country or the beach I hope you have a wonderful day and you enjoy the people & your food as much as I do!

 Picnic Blessings

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