As the holidays quickly approach, we want to help you prepare for the family gathering you’re required to host or annual neighborhood party that never disappoints. It’s the perfect time of year to prepare a big meal, light a roaring fire, and of course, gather your friends. Our picnic making tips and tricks will help you create the perfect spread – because long winter days beg for hearty laughter, rich red wine, and bountiful buffets.
One way we love to ‘wow’ our guests is by providing them with opportunities to taste the finest, local cuisine. Our team spends quality time in every destination before trips begin to run. We know the local flavors, we’re friends with baker down the street, and we’ve found the best-kept secrets in every region.
And if there’s one thing we’ve mastered throughout the years, it’s picnics. Over and over, guests are ‘wowed’ by their guides’ ability to provide a feast. I’m not just talking about a large meal, banquet, or lavish celebration. F.E.A.S.T. is actually a mnemonic device our guides use to help remember the five most important principles of creating a killer picnic: full, elegant, appetizing, selection, and timely.
The first and most important thing to do when preparing a picnic is to organize the grocery list. This will save time and reduce stress. Tip: Organize the menu by departments of a grocery store: produce, dry goods, condiments, bread, dairy, and deli. To provide the best possible selection, always choose regional specialties and locally produced brands. A picnic is only as good as the food on the table.
Next, providing food in a timely manner by prepping as much as possible in advance will minimize the risk of hangry (anger invoked by hunger) guests. Tip: Putting a napkin in a plastic bag with pre-cut food with help absorb moisture and keep things fresh.
When actually preparing a picnic, it’s crucial to make the table to look full, elegant and appetizing. This requires mastering the art of garnish. Tip: Use fresh leafy vegetables – parsley, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce – to spread throughout empty spaces. Or choose items you can eat at the next picnic – different colored onions, bell or hot peppers, garlic, lemons, limes – to add zest and color to the display.
When it comes to display, elevation is the key. Tip: Place cardboard Ziploc boxes, empty berry containers, or upside-down bowls under your tablecloth. Then set a bowl or platter of food on top, and a flat table will be transformed into a bountiful multi-level display. Tilting the food toward guests will allow for easy viewing and serving.
But what would a blog about picnic making be without sharing some of our favorite recipes. In today’s collection we will be featuring an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert from various regions across the globe. They are tried and true, and some of our favorites here at Trek Travel.
SOUTHWEST BEAN SALAD
This salad works well as an ingredient in tacos or as a topping on a green salad
Region: Bryce and Zion
Source: Rebecca Falls
1 can seasoned black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can salted garbanzo beans
1 can kidney beans
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red onion
2 roma tomatoes, with seeds removed and diced
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1. Mix the dressing ingredients and set aside.
2. Prepare all other salad ingredients and combine in a large bowl
3. Toss the salad mixture with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste
Fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients are the hallmarks of California coastal cuisine
Region: California Coast
Source: Tania Burke
2 cups packaged shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
¾ cup salsa
2 T. sour cream
1 lb. halibut, mahi mahi, or tilapia fillets
2 tsp. olive oil
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
1. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, ¼ cup salsa, and sour cream. Mix well and set aside
2. Cut fish into ½-inch think strips, Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fish is opaque in center.
3. Fill warm tortillas with fish, cheese, cabbage mixture and top with extra salsa. Serve with lime wedges if desired.
MAPLE SYRUP COOKIES
This is an old Vermont recipe described as “nice to come home to”
Source: Audrey Coty, Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm
1 cup maple syrup
½ cup of soft butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup milk
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1. Combine and sift dry ingredients
2. Beat syrup and butter to a cream
3. Add eggs, well beaten, and vanilla
4. Add milk alternately with flour mixture
5. You may roll these cookies out, or just drop them on a greased cookie sheet and flatten with a glass dipped in milk
6. Bake 10-12 min. at 400°F