*Don’t miss the $100 Harris Teeter Gift Card giveaway at the end of the post!*
My mother got on my case the other night about not sharing the same experiences with my second son that I have with the first. Awesome. I needed some more mom-guilt in my life, but she was right. In year’s past, every Sunday night in June I packed an amazing picnic for my family, and we listened to free symphony concerts in the park.
See, my oldest son was a relaxed toddler; my youngest is more of a destroyer. Classy outdoor concerts and my two-year-old do not go hand in hand. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t introduce him to the wonderful world of dining in the grass. I felt a challenge coming on… So, I shook out my picnic blanket and hit up my local Harris Teeter to put together the Perfect Picnic. Let’s just say Harris Teeter can hook a momma up.
Fried chicken? Check.
Amazing prepared foods? Double check.
All my supplies to make setup and cleanup a breeze? You betcha.
The only downside? I had to drive to our picnic destination with the aromatic fried chicken wafting through my car. “Yes, officer, I was speeding. Can you blame me? Take a look at these legs!” Not mine. The fried chicken. Head outta the gutter, y’all. Possible speeding infraction aside, pulling off a fantastic picnic with Harris Teeter is easy peasy…
Six Steps to the Perfect Picnic
Step 1: Stake out your favorite picnic destination. Whether your backyard, a local park, or a great beach getaway, consider what kind of seating and eating surfaces you’ll have and what bathroom facilities are available.
Step 2: Make a few awesome dishes to pack and take. In my book, no picnic is complete without a homemade pasta salad, blondies, and pink lemonade. I freeze pink lemonade in a container overnight, then pull it out the morning of the picnic to thaw and keep everything cool in the basket until eating time.
Step 3: Pack up your basket and head to Harris Teeter for the rest of your supplies. Pictured above: 1) Big ol’ Picnic Basket 2) Plastic Tumblers 3) Serveware 4) Comfy Blanket 5) Portable chairs – such as the pictured Oniva Seat 6) Portable Containers
Step 4: Use one of your kids’ burp cloths to wipe up your drool after staring at the prepared food case, then make your selections. I picked out some hot fried chicken and great sides including Edamame Salad, Black Bean and Corn Salad, and Broccoli Salad with Berries and Pecans. Not to mention the most incredible bright red strawberries I’ve ever seen.
Step 5: On the way to your picnic destination remember to brake when you see that police officer. The chicken will surely stay warm the extra 30 seconds it takes to not get a speeding ticket.
Step 6: Set up shop and bon appetit! Oh, and you know that saying , “Like taking candy from a baby?” Yeah, it works for chicken too.
And now, dear readers, here are a few recipes to set you on your way:
Stoplight Pasta Salad with Charred Scallion Vinaigrette
For the Vinaigrette
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 bunch of scallions, white ends separated from greens
1 clove of chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Pasta Salad
16 oz. of your favorite pasta shape
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 package of stoplight peppers (red, yellow & green), seeded and diced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Sprig of basil (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add red onion and sugar. Toss occasionally and cook until the onion turns a slight golden color.
On a baking sheet, toss white ends of the scallions with remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Put in preheated broiler and cook until softened and slightly charred, then remove and allow to cool slightly.
In a food processor or blender, mix together white and green portions of the scallions, olive oil, garlic, vinegar and mustard and process until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and gently mix in sour cream and mayonnaise and season to taste.
Once cooked, drain pasta in colander and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, mix cooked pasta with caramelized red onions, diced peppers, and dressing. Top with a sprig of basil, if desired.
Toffee Chocolate Chip Blondies
3/4 cup room temperature butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces room temperature light cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup chocolate chunks
1/3 cup toffee chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric hand mixer until fluffy, then add the brown sugar. Beat for three minutes, then add the egg and vanilla and combine well.
In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir until just incorporated. Fold in the cream cheese, then the nuts, coconut, chocolate and toffee chips. Spread into a greased 8×8 glass dish and bake 22-25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.
Store in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze.
What are you most excited to try? Let us know and enter our giveaway for a $100 Harris Teeter gift card!
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*Harris Teeter provided me with the supplies for the picnic and compensated me for my time. All opinions are my own.1 Yum