Forget fast-paced days. Instead, opt for a laid back, impromptu picnic. Pick wild flowers, skip through the countryside and sing the hills are alive with music. After you’ve tired yourself out from those crazy activities, find a sunny spot, lay out the spread and chow down on the yummy portable grub that you made.
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Pack that in your basket:
A red-checkered tablecloth.
A small garbage bag.
Napkins, utensils and wet paper towels.
Insect repellent. Remember to keep the buggers away from you and your food (shoo-fly).
Frisbee (or other toy).
Even though they’re transportable feasts, don’t bring too much. It is supposed to be fun, not back breaking and formal.
Spicy Black Bean & Barley Salad
This salad is made up of hearty barley, spicy cilantro and crunchy bell pepper. The result is a nutritious, slightly chewy and yummy salad. This dish is perfect for picnic fare – it can be served cold or at room temperature.
2/3 cups barley (look for it in the ‘rice & grain’ aisle)
3 ½ cups water
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup white-wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 cayenne pepper
Boil water. Once water boils, add barley and stir. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 40 – 45 minutes, or until barley is tender. Remove from heat. Place in colander and rinse in cold water. Leave in colander to drain.
In a large bowl, combine black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper.
Once barley is cooked and cooled, add to the vegetable mixture. Stir together. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Hero hoagies step aside for their stylish sister sandwich, the shero wrap. Wraps are your own masterpiece – throw in a little of this and a lot of that. I’ve put together a veggie wrap, but feel free to throw in some real or faux sliced turkey, chicken, roast beef or any other lunch-meat-longing. Wrap it up, and take it!
Four 8-inch spinach tortillas*
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ pound Muenster cheese or favorite soy cheese, thinly sliced
4 red leaf lettuce leaves, cleaned
1 ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
8 thin tomato slices
8 thin red onion slices
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
salt and pepper
Lay tortillas shells on counter. Divide ingredients into fourths.
Spread the center of tortillas with mayonnaise and Dijon, leaving the outer inch of the tortilla plain. Evenly place Muenster cheese, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, onions and alfalfa sprouts on tortillas.
Season wraps with salt and pepper.
Wrap ‘em up. Gently but firmly roll up tortilla to form cylinder.
Wrap each shero with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until chow time.
* There are so many yummy flavored tortillas out there. They all work well with this recipe. Try:
Jalapeno & cilantro
Pesto & garlic
Sun-dried tomato & basil
Mild chili & peppers
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Makes: 4 tortillas. May want to make 2 wraps per picnicker
Wickedly-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sweet, salty, buttery, chocolaty… No, you didn’t die and go to heaven (but close)!
1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup Heath or Scorn bars, chopped (look for milk chocolate toffee bits in the baking aisle)
¼ cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper*.
Sift (or stir) together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream butter for one minute, until light and fluffy.
Add brown sugar and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces (and pecans, if using).
Drop rounded Tablespoons of dough on baking sheet. Space two inches apart.
Bake for 10 – 11 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.
* I bake one batch/baking sheet at a time – it ensures that they bake and brown evenly, and have consistent results. The recipe yields two batches.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 10 minutes (per batch)
Serves: 19 cookies
Can be made up to three days ahead. These freeze well.