It’s time for a picnic, one of my favorite summer activities.
It can be as easy or as complex as you’d like it to be, and as informal or as upscale as you’d like it to be.
You can’t beat burgers and hot dogs, but there’s nothing wrong with classing it up a bit, either.
EASY PIZZA PINWHEELS
21⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
11⁄2 cups warm water 100-115 degrees F
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-31⁄2 cups bread or all-purpose flour divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1 cup marinara or pizza sauce
2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
40 slices pepperoni
1⁄2 teaspoon dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar, and warm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Let rest until mixture becomes foamy, about 3 minutes.
Add the oil, 3 cups of flour, salt, garlic powder, seasoning and Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Mix on medium speed until dough comes together in one ball, and then knead for another 3 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be just a little sticky.
Add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. The sticky dough is important to help the crust get a little lift as it cooks!
Lightly flour your countertop. Place the ball of dough on the counter, cover with a clean dish towel and let rest 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and brush a baking sheet with some of the melted better. Reserve remaining butter.
Roll the dough out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread 1⁄2-1 cup of marinara sauce, leaving a 1-inch″ border around the edge. Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce and cover with pepperoni.
Starting at the long edge, tightly roll up the dough, pinching the pepperoni slices into the roll if they try to escape as you go. Use the last 1-inch of clean dough to pinch and seal the dough. Cut evenly into 12 slices.
Arrange the pinwheels cut side up on the baking sheet and spread them out so they aren’t touching. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile, stir together the remaining butter, parsley and salt in a small bowl. Brush the tops and sides of the baked pinwheels with butter mixture and serve with additional marinara or Alfredo sauce, if desired.
THE ULTIMATE PICNIC SANDWICH
1 loaf crusty French bread
1⁄2 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
1⁄2 pound burrata or mozzarella cheese
10 good-sized basil leaves
10 roasted tomato halves
1⁄4 pound thinly sliced salami (optional)
8 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained
Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Spread the pesto on the bottom half of the loaf. Spread the burrata on top of the pesto. Arrange the basil leaves down the length of the loaf and put half a roasted tomato on top of each basil leaf. If you are using salami, layer the salami on top of the roasted tomatoes. Layer pieces of roasted pepper as the final layer.
Top the layers with the top half of the bread loaf and insert toothpicks down the length of the sandwich about 2-inch apart. The toothpicks will hold the layers together. Slice between the toothpicks and serve.
ASPARAGUS, SNAP PEA AND RADISH SALAD
2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
3 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, divided
3 tsp. pure honey, divided
1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese
8 oz. snap peas, sliced
1 bunch radishes, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook asparagus, in batches, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Run batches under cold water to cool; pat dry.
Whisk together lemon zest and juice, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons thyme, and 2 teaspoons honey in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Place feta in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with remaining teaspoon oil, remaining teaspoon thyme, and remaining teaspoon honey. Season with salt and pepper. Pull the foil up around the feta to create a pouch. Bake until warmed through, 14 to 16 minutes. Drain excess liquid and crumble with two forks.
Toss together snap peas, radishes, cooked asparagus, and vinaigrette. Serve immediately topped with warm feta.
GRAPE SALAD WITH TOASTED PECANS
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1⁄2 c. sour cream
1⁄4 tsp. Kosher salt
3 tbsp. packed light brown sugar, divided
3⁄4 c. toasted pecans
Halve half of the grapes.
Stir together cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add grapes and stir gently to coat.
Top with pecans and remaining brown sugar just before serving.
2 lbs baby red potatoes, halved
1 corn on the cob, husk on
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ancho chili pepper powder
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced + extra roughly chopped to garnish
Green onion, thinly sliced to garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss potatoes, bell peppers, cumin, ancho chili pepper, salt, pepper, minced dill, and olive oil until coated on a roasting pan. Spread the vegetables out into a single layer, leaving an empty space for the corn on the cob. Place the corn on the cob, husk still on, in the empty space.
Put the pan on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the corn on the cob and set aside. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
While vegetables continue to cook, remove the husk from the corn and slice off the kernels.
When the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a fork, remove the pan from the oven. Stir in the corn kernels and add the remaining fresh dill and green onion to garnish.
White bean puree:
11⁄2 cups cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the sandwiches:
8 slices of toasted whole wheat bread or rolls
4 butter lettuce leaves
3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 avocados, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh basil leaves
pinch of smoked paprika, optional
sprinkle of hemp seeds, optional
In a blender, puree the cannellini beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to use.
Assemble the sandwiches with the toasted bread, white bean puree, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, fresh basil, sea salt, pepper, a pinch of smoked paprika and a sprinkle of hemp seeds if desired.
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1⁄2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 pounds chicken legs and thighs
Place all ingredients except the olive oil, salt and pepper, and chicken into the bowl of a blender. Puree for 30 seconds on high.
With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour marinade over chicken and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator. In a 400 degree F oven, roast legs in a roasting pan or on a cookie sheet for 40-45 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Serve hot, room temp, or cold.
13⁄4 cups boiling water
1 cup oatmeal quick
1⁄2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
13⁄4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cocoa
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
12 oz chocolate chips divided
Chopped pecan or walnut pieces
Pour boiling water over butter and oatmeal. Let sit 10 minutes until butter is melted.
Add sugars and mix well with a spoon.
Add eggs and mix well.
Stir in dry ingredients and 1⁄2 of the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-by-13 pan.
Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips and nuts on top.
Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
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