Category Archives: Picnics

Breakfast Picnic on the Beach

Picnic
Breakfast on the Beach

When we think of picnics, we most often think of lunch time or dinner events. Rarely, do we think of a breakfast picnic and yet it’s probably one of the easiest picnic meals to pack!

Breakfast Picnic on the Beach
Breakfast Picnic on the Beach

Recently, I suggested we pack up a continental breakfast and head to the beach for a morning picnic.  We had just been to a nearby blueberry U-pick so, naturally, blueberries were included in the picnic.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

The menu was simple.  Orange juice, Greek yogurt topped with homemade granola and fresh blueberries, homemade muffins, peaches, and coffee.

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast Picnic Fare

I love these little multi-purpose jelly jars.  They are perfect for yogurt parfaits!

Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

A breadboard makes an easily transportable platform upon which to set the food. I find, with beach picnics and an uneven sand base, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep the food from tipping over and spilling. However, the breadboard provides a stable, level surface eliminating the problem.

Breakfast Picnic
Continental Breakfast at the Beach

All that needs to be added is the quintessential coffee!  I have a small thermos/coffee butler that holds exactly two cups of coffee and is great for these types of events.

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast Picnic at the Beach

I love my wicker picnic baskets and this one came equipped with the plates, mugs, and cutlery.

Picnic Basket
Wicker Picnic Basket

Let’s take a peek inside the picnic basket!

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast in a Basket

A good book for one and the morning newspaper for the other found their way to the picnic, too! No need to take along lawn chairs – an old blanket and a couple of comfy pillows will suffice.

Breakfast on the Beach
Breakfast is Read!

Our summers are short here in Prince Edward Island so we make the most of the lovely fine days and our close proximity to the beach. What better way to savour the last days of summer than to pack a breakfast picnic and head to the beach to enjoy breakfast with a view like this! Self-imposed time-outs can be a good thing!

Beach
PEI Beach

 

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Picnic Lunch in the Gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

We thoroughly enjoy our home province of Prince Edward Island! Our special Island is small enough that we can get to know all parts of it quite well.  In summer, especially, we do a lot of day trips all around the Island.  Most times, for our day excursions, I pack a picnic lunch and we head off for the day.  Sometimes, I have a particular picnic destination in mind and have a good idea if there will be a park nearby that would be suitable for a picnic and, other times, it’s totally by chance where we land at picnic time. Apart from the opportunity to dine outdoors in our all-too-short summer season here on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, transporting our own meal means we can eat wherever we are whenever we are hungry without having to try and be at a certain location where there is a restaurant which may, or may not, be able to accommodate dietary needs.

Our recent day trip took us to the north shore area of the eastern part of the Island.  I love PEI lighthouses – the iconic red and white structures are dotted here and there all around the coast of the Island.  I had been searching to find the St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse for some time and was determined to find it this year.  So, this was our primary destination on this particular day trip.

St. Peter's Harbour Lighthouse, PEI
St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse, PEI

It wasn’t particularly easy to find this elusive lighthouse  but, with assistance of an acquaintance who provided directions, I was able to locate it.  Access is via a single lane red clay road with a canopy of trees.  The adventure was indeed worth it!

Lighthouse Road, Morell, PEI
Lighthouse Road, Morell, PEI

After we enjoyed the vista surrounding the lighthouse, not to mention the beautiful beach, we decided it was time to find a place to set out our picnic.

PEI North Shore Beach
Beach by St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse, Morell, PEI

I knew of the small park by the water in nearby St. Peter’s Bay where I had had a picnic before (click here to view those photos).  What I didn’t recall was the lovely gazebo at this site. This find was a blessing since the temperature had soared to 28C by this time and it was way too hot to eat out in the open with no shelter!

Gazebo at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Gazebo at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

When we arrived, we found the large gazebo unoccupied so immediately went about setting out our picnic lunch.  Someone had planted beautiful flowers in boxes around the gazebo and that formed a ready backdrop that I could not have planned or hoped for. Bonus! See how gorgeous the flowers look in the photo below and how they fortuitously match my color scheme and complement the color of the lemonade!

Picnic in a Gazebo
Picnic in a Gazebo

The color theme of my picnic was turquoise, always a summery color. The burst of hot pink in the drink certainly adds a punch of color!

Picnic Salad Bowls
Picnic Salad Bowls

I found the bowls, matching small salad dressing containers, and rectangular dishes at Walmart.  Not only are they all color-coordinated in turquoise blue but the dishes come with the needed cutlery built in, a real bonus because there is no need to remember to bring cutlery separately.

Turquoise-themed Picnic
Turquoise-themed Picnic

The bowls match my insulated picnic basket.  A blue-checked tablecloth and checkered napkins, already part of my picnic arsenal, were found to match as well.

Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details
Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details

A small model sailboat in matching colors and a collection of shells formed the centerpiece for my tablescape. I figure if I am going to dine outside, I might as well go all the way and set the table attractively! It makes for a more fun and memorable picnic.

Sailboat and Shells Tablescape
Sailboat and Shells Tablescape

For lunch, I prepared my version of a picnic buddha bowl, ensuring it contained contents that would travel.  There is no one right way to make a buddha bowl but, typically, they contain some kind of grain (preferably high fibre), veggies and fruit, a protein source, and greens.  I began by layering the bowl with lettuce from our garden. Our garden has been a good producer this year so the cherry tomatoes, celery (it’s there but it’s hiding in the photo), and carrots are garden-fresh. The grain I chose to use was a tri-colored quinoa. To make the meal more substantial and to add some protein, I included a half hard boiled egg in each bowl. The addition of the red onion gives a flavor and color boost. I love how colorful and healthy this salad is!

Main Meal Picnic Salad
Main Meal Picnic Salad

I often brine and roast boneless skinless chicken breasts for various uses and they are perfect sliced for a main meal salad or as added protein in a buddah bowl.

Picnic Salad
Picnic Salad

Some freshly picked blueberries from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick added a bit of color, texture, and sweetness to the salad.  A simple balsamic dressing was all that was needed to finish the salad.  This type of meal is great for a picnic.  The meal is completely prepped at home and contained in a bowl with the dressing added at the time of serving.  The meal travels well – I use several ice packs in my insulated picnic basket to keep the food good and cold.  At meal time, it is simply a matter of removing the cover from each diner’s bowl and the meal is ready to go. Clean-up is super easy because the covers pop back on to the bowls and the utensils fit inside the bowls so there are no messy plates and utensils.

I love the little bottles in the photo below.  When I made the rhubarb lemonade earlier in the summer, I froze some in these bottles to have it ready for picnics.  The bottles help to keep the food cool as we travel and they quickly finish thawing completely when removed from the cooler as the picnic is being laid out. This is a super tasty (and colorful) summer drink – you can access my recipe by clicking here.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

These high bush blueberries are great snacking berries and I often pack them in my picnic basket when the berries are in season.  Today, their blue color matches my color scheme, too!

High Bush Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Peanut butter cookies are always a great stand-by picnic treat.  They are easy to make, easy to transport, and satisfy the sweet tooth.  For my recipe, click here.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

Peaches are also a great fruit to take along on picnics. I love to incorporate the flavors of summer into my picnic menus.

Peaches and Cookies
Peaches and Cookies

I hope you have enjoyed a peek into my picnic in the gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI! The Island has many picturesque places suitable for picnics and each comes with its own unique view.

Picnic in St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

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Picnic in St. Peter's Bay
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay

For other picnic inspiration from My Island Bistro Kitchen, check out these:

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI
Sliders and Salad Sunday Picnic
A PEI Picnic in the Park
Casual Summer Picnic
A Canada Day Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI
A Casual Summer Afternoon Picnic
A Beach-Themed Picnic
A Pretty Pink Picnic
Canada Day Picnic
Oh Canada! A Picnic to Celebrate Canada Day
Labour Day Picnic by the PEI Seaside with Lobster Croissants on the Menu
A Plaid Picnic on the Verandah
Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016
Late Summer Charcuterie Picnic
Sunday Afternoon Wine and Cheese Picnic
Old Country Rose Afternoon Tea Picnic

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI

A PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge

Picnics are a favorite summertime activity for us. We like to do a lot of daytripping around our province discovering and revisiting all that our wonderful Island has to offer.  Prince Edward Island has many great locations that are suitable for picnics.  Our picnic last weekend took us to a scenic location near the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton.

Bridge between PEI and New Brunswick
Confederation Bridge

This bridge transcends the Northumberland Strait linking PEI with New Brunswick. At 12.9km (8 miles) in length, the bridge is the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. Our Island winters can be quite harsh and the Strait is covered in thick ice for several months of the year. Building a bridge to withstand these conditions was no easy feat.

Before the bridge opened to traffic on May 31, 1997, the only ways on and off PEI were by ferry or air.  Ferry service does still operate seasonally in the Eastern part of the Province at Wood Islands where ferries transport vehicular traffic between PEI and Nova Scotia.

The Confederation Bridge curves partway across the Strait and has a high navigational span that allows large ships to pass under the bridge.  It’s pretty cool to see the large cruise ships going under the bridge!

Because the Confederation Bridge is an iconic element of PEI, it makes a fitting backdrop for a summertime Island picnic.

Summer Picnic in PEI
Bridge View

So, now that the stage has been set for the location, back to the picnic……I have chosen to go with a black and white theme and I’m a big fan of checkered fabric – checks just seem to speak of picnics. I have chosen to use my plain black dinner napkins and have wrapped the cutlery inside the napkins. This is easy to do before leaving home and it keeps the items together.  To give the classy black napkins a more casual look for a picnic, I have tied each napkin with narrow twine.

To add a punch of color to the table, I selected small bright yellow sunflowers paired with Bells of Ireland.  Whether I am setting the table for an event at home or on the road, I like to see a well set table! These flowers were locally grown at Island Meadow Farm in York, PEI.  They grow the most amazing array of flowers and I like to use them in my summer tablesettings.

Summer Flowers
Sunflowers and Bells of Ireland

Picnics are meant to be casual fare so, while I always try to have a main, a side, some fruit, something sweet, and a beverage, I often like to include some finger/snacking foods as I have done today.  Let’s start with the PEI mussels in the shell. These are steamed mussels to which I have added some red and orange pepper, celery, and red onion. A light dressing of a red wine vinaigrette makes these tasty little morsels.

Mussels
PEI Mussels

Cold cuts, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber are always good nibbling foods (and they add great color to the table).

Cold Cut Tray
The Nibbling Tray

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I wrapped peach wedges inside basil leaves and prosciutto (seen in the photo below). These little picnic hors d’oeuvres add color, texture, and flavor to the menu. They go particularly well with Gouda cheese.

Picnic Hors d'oeuvres
Peaches in Prosciutto

I have chosen small tomato quiches for the main in today’s picnic. The great thing about quiches is that they can be served, hot, warm, or cold and, when cold, are great travelers for the picnic basket.

Quiche
Tomato Quiche

And, for a side, I opted for a quinoa salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. To the quinoa I added peppers, corn, celery, red onion, and kale from our garden. Packing the salad into small Mason jars is an easy way to transport salads on a picnic.

Salad in a Mason Jar
Quinoa Salad

Plates are not always necessary for picnics.  Here, I have used small breadboards which work equally well and they are easy to pack.

Picnic
The Picnic Lunch

I popped by the Tryon Blueberries U-Pick in North Tryon on my way and picked a box of these amazing high-bush blueberries.  I live on these berries when they are in season on the Island!

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

And, for the sweet tooth, I took along some of my homemade snickerdoodle cookies.

Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies

And, as an extra special treat, we enjoyed Belgian chocolates that we brought home from a wonderful visit to Brugge, Belgium. If you ever have the chance to visit Brugge, I highly recommend it. You can view photos of my visit to Brugge over on my travel blog, Island Shore Traveler, by clicking here.

Chocolates
Belgian Chocolates

I like to choose foods and elements to the picnic that are colorful and that blend well together.

Picnic Time
A PEI Summer Picnic

I hope you have enjoyed a little “taste” of my picnic by the bridge.

PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Bridge

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PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge, PEI

Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016

Summer Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst, PEI

As I write this post on July 30th, I am celebrating Food Day Canada with a picnic featuring local Prince Edward Island food products.  Food Day Canada is a day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful foods that we, as Canadians, enjoy.

For today’s picnic location, I have chosen the iconic Fort Amherst site, just across the harbour from Charlottetown. The building in the background of the photo above is known as the Blockhouse Point Lighthouse. The beacon for sailors was established in 1851 and is the second oldest lighthouse on the Island. Automated in 1962, no one lives in the lighthouse anymore but it was built with a two-story dwelling attached for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

We like to travel the Island in the summer and often pack a picnic lunch.

Picnic
Picnic Lunch

I like to sometimes pack individual picnic boxes or baskets, as I have done today.  Each basket is like a personalized gift and it’s great fun to see picnic guests unpacking their baskets and discovering what surprises await them. It’s also a great way to customize the baskets to accommodate those with special dietary needs and food preferences since their lunch basket can be prepared especially for them. Nothing makes a guest feel more special than when the host/hostess plans and prepares for their special food needs!

The only downside to this style of picnic is that the baskets are obviously not insulated so, for travel purposes, I recommend they be transported inside a large insulated cooler with ice packs.

I have named this picnic the Locovore’s Picnic since I have selected Island products for the basket contents. Here’s the menu:

Locovore’s Picnic

Main

Sandwich – Larkin’s smoked chicken breast with Schurman Family Farm organic tomatoes and lettuce from the garden all on bread from Mary’s Bake Shoppe

Side

Tossed green salad with lettuce freshly picked from our garden and peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from Schurman Family Farm

Beverage

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Sweet Ending

Anne of Green Gables Island-made chocolate

Here’s a closer peek into the lunch baskets, each of which is lined with a white cloth napkin.  I had just poured the lemon-lime soda into the rhubarb cordial (recipe here) before this photo was taken so it is still quite fizzy!

Picnic Basket Lunches
Individual Picnic Baskets

And, here’s a closer look….

Chicken Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I love packing the salads in these little glass jars. I have separate small containers for the vinaigrette which, of course, should only be added to the salad at the time of serving.

Salad
Salad in a Jar

Choosing a good quality bread will help the sandwich to hold together, especially if adding a number of ingredients as I have done here. Mary’s Bake Shoppe in Kensington, just outside Summerside, makes great bread and a number of different kinds. The one in the photograph below is oatbran bread, one of my all-time favorites.

Picnic Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper secured with twine. This helps to keep it intact.

Sandwich Basket
Sandwich Basket Contents

I have used a turquoise color theme for today’s picnic – it has a real summery feel to it!

Color-themed Picnic
Turquoise Summer Time Picnic

The flowers were picked from our own garden. It’s the little touches that make the event more special!

Summer Bouquet
Summer Flower Picnic Bouquet

Time to stop photographing and eat lunch!

Picnic Lunch
Let’s Eat Lunch!

Curious to know what’s in that tiny white box with the pretty turquoise ribbon?

Chocolates
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates

These chocolates are hand-made right here on Prince Edward Island and they are quite divine!

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
Handmade PEI Chocolates

So, there you have it! This is how I spent Food Day Canada 2016!

Picnic
The Locovore’s Picnic Basket

Great food with a lovely view! A perfect PEI summer day!

Prince Edward Island Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst PEI

Thanks for coming along on my picnic this afternoon!

PEI Picnic
Picnic at PEI’s Fort Amherst

Late Summer Charcuterie Picnic

Summer is reluctant to leave Prince Edward Island this year and I’m perfectly fine with that.  Today (September 19, 2015), the temperature soared to almost the 30C mark! We’re not accustomed to these kinds of temperatures in mid-September here on the Island ….but we’ll take them!

Just as summer may not be in a hurry to leave us, I’m equally reluctant to put away my picnic basket.  When temperatures are still delightfully summer-like, I want to continue with my picnics.

A Charcuterie board is a wonderful and easy way to prepare a light meal, whether indoors or in the great outdoors.  It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. I’ve opted to prepare a fairly substantial board for our meal this evening because I’m not cooking a dinner this evening (it’s simply too warm – how great is it to be able to say that!). So, here’s our early evening charcuterie-plus board fare.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s on the board. Quiches are great additions to picnic fare since they can be eaten cold or served slightly warm and they can be prepared ahead of time.  This is my asparagus quiche and you can get my recipe here.

Asparagus Quiche
Asparagus Quiche

I’ve included devilled eggs on the menu since they are classic picnic fare. Besides their wonderful flavor, they also add color and texture to the board. Those are three elements I like to keep in mind when preparing a charcuterie board.

Add any cold cuts you like to the board. I’ve included salami and Tuscan ham on my board today.

I’ve only included one cheese on the board – a good quality Gouda. If I hadn’t included the quiche, I would have added more cheese and meat varieties. Adding some garden-fresh cherry or grape tomatoes adds a bright pop of color to the board. These are fresh from our garden. We have a bountiful supply of fresh herbs in the garden and they make great “fillers” to close in space on charcuterie boards.

Slices from a long baguette are suitable bases for the cold cuts and cheese.

My rhubarb relish is a tasty condiment to this type of meal.

Green grapes and blueberries round out the fruit component. The blueberries are fresh picked from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick. We are lucky to have them not far away as they have late season varieties of blueberries so we have fresh local berries through September.

My staple of oatcakes can be used as either a savory or sweet aspect to the meal. Spread an oatcake with a bit of rhubarb relish and add some meat and/or cheese, and you have a savory bite. Or, eat them plain as cookies.  They’re good either way.

My wine pairing today is Rossignol Little Sands White Wine produced in eastern PEI.

And, there you have all the components of my colorful and tasty late summer charcuterie picnic!

Perfect for easy, relaxed casual dining anytime, anyplace.

I’m just not going to pack away that picnic basket just yet!

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Charcuterie Picnic
Charcuterie Picnic

 

 

Sliders and Salad Sunday Picnic

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I so love a good picnic!  My color theme for today’s picnic is lime green, one of my favorite summertime colors.

The dishes, cutlery, and napkins are all simply dollar store specials! If you are a regular follower to my blog, you will have heard me say before that you don’t need expensive dishes for lovely outdoor dining. Check out your local dollar stores but do so early in the season as these do tend to be items that get snatched up quickly. Unbreakable, these are great picnic basket staples and they are so much more sturdy (and classy) than paper plates.

Even though this table is set for two, it is very easy to prepare this setup for multiple settings.

Glasses are simply Mason jars into which I have placed the napkins and plastic cutlery – a good idea if you are setting the table and it’s a bit breezy – this keeps everything in its place.

I found this lime-green colored beverage and knew it would fit in with one of my summertime picnics! Sometimes I draw my color theme inspiration for a picnic from just one simple item like this drink.

I grow a lot of herbs every summer and, this year, grew several in pots.  This terracotta trio is another dollar store find.  I think they look very Tuscan with their tinge of moss green color that has appeared over the summer as they’ve ‘aged’ out in the weather.  This was all that was needed for a table centerpiece for an impromptu picnic.

I had made a batch of pan rolls and shaped them suitably so they could be used for slider buns for the grilled hamburgers.

I used my new blueberry barbeque sauce on the slider burgers.

Blueberry Barbeque Sauce on Burgers
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce on Burgers

These are as tasty as they are colorful!

The menu for today’s picnic was simple and tasty.  Slider cheeseburgers, homemade potato salad, and a green salad. 

I most often mash the potatoes for my potato salad because the salad is easy to scoop and it plates well as the salad stays in perfect mounds on the plate.  However, for casual picnic fare, I often like a slightly more rustic, jagged look to my salad so have cubed the potatoes and eggs. The salad mounds actually stayed in place quite well when plated.

I love slider burgers! Today’s burgers have a lime green lettuce leaf, ADL Cheddar Cheese, fresh Island tomato, a red onion ring, and the usual burger condiments. When adding tomatoes to slider burgers, try to find smaller sized tomatoes so the slices don’t have to be cut or don’t overpower the burger. For sliders, everything should be proportionately balanced.  To dress up the burgers, I’ve topped each burger with a cherry tomato half along with a sprig of oregano from our garden. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a lot to take a burger from plain to dressy!

One of my favorite summertime green salads starts with a mix of salad greens topped with cubed watermelon, fresh PEI high bush blueberries, and red onion rings drizzled with a blueberry vinaigrette.

A colorful and tasty summertime picnic!

Are picnics part of your summer?

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Casual Summer Picnic

 

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There are so many options for picnics that can range from very impromptu casual style to more elaborate events.  Today, it was about 30C on Prince Edward Island so the theme for the day was casual….very casual.

I had made a batch of pan rolls yesterday and shaped them into the perfect size and shape for slider sandwiches.  These are so easy to pull together and they are very tasty.  Essentially, for each one, all I used was some black forest ham, a slice of tomato, some JJ Stewart beer mustard sauce, slices of cheddar and havarti cheese, and lettuce from our own garden.

Ham, Cheese, and Tomato Sliders
Ham, Cheese, and Tomato Sliders

 

Of course, a bowl of the quintessential all-time favorite picnic salad – potato salad – provided a great side dish to the sliders and it’s always a hit. Just make sure to keep this salad refrigerated.

Potato Salad
Potato Salad

A tall pitcher of cold, refreshing lemonade proved to be a thirst-quenching drink on this hot afternoon.

Lemonade
Lemonade

Dessert was simply colorful marshmallow squares.  Nice and summery as well as yummy!

Marshmallow Squares
Marshmallow Squares

And, juicy watermelon always goes great on a hot summer day and it adds such a splash of color to the table.

When it is so hot, I like to keep meal prep to the minimum and go with very simplistic foods and ones that can be prepared early in the day and refrigerated until use. This picnic menu is so easy to set up buffet style whether it is for 3-4 people or several more.

While picnics don’t necessarily require table centerpieces, they can take a picnic from mundane to wow with very little effort.  Today, I simply walked to the nearest flowerbed and picked some daisies which, with their yellow centers, fit in with my summery yellow color theme. I think daisies go very well with wicker picnic baskets!

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A Canada Day Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

Picnic at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

One of our usual Canada Day traditions is to go on a red-themed picnic. This year, we headed East to the Greenwich National Park, not far from St. Peter’s Bay. I have been to this park several times before and am always awestruck by its natural beauty.  Before I share photos of our Canada Day picnic, I thought you might like to see photos of the beauty that is Greenwich.

Greenwich National Park, PEI
Greenwich National Park, PEI (Blue Heron in Foreground)

From the parking lot, the trek on the path through the fields and woods and out over the floating boardwalk to the magnificent beach and back is about 5 km. It’s mostly flat terrain (except for a very short jaunt through the woods) and, for the most part, easy walking.

Boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI

The only hitch is that you have to share nature with the mosquitoes on the walk on the trail through the field and the woods to reach the boardwalk so, if you head to Greenwich, be sure to bring along some insect repellent to make the experience more enjoyable. Depending on the weather, some sunscreen is also advised.  It’s also a good idea to bring along some water to stay hydrated.

The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, PEI
The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, PEI

The photo you see above is a typical scene along the floating boardwalk at Greenwich National Park.  The pink sand dune in the background is all the work of Mother Nature. At the end of the boardwalk, you arrive at the magnificent beach shown in the photos below.

Entering the beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Entering the beach from the end of the floating boardwalk at Greenwich National Park, PEI

You won’t find a finer beach anywhere than this one at Greenwich. I always refer to it as the perfect, unblemished jewel amongst our system of national parks on the Island.

Beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Beach at Greenwich National Park, PEI

During lobster fishing season, and from the vantage of this beautiful beach, it’s not uncommon to see the fishing boats returning from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the nearby harbour with their catch of the day.

Fishing boat returning to port with the day's catch
Fishing boat returning to port with the day’s catch

Apart from the scenery, one of the wonderful aspects of Greenwich National Park is the variety of wildlife and birds. Some, like the Common Tern below, are quite willing to pose for photos!

The little Sandpiper below chose a lovely natural backdrop for its portrait!

Blue herons, common to PEI, are often seen in and around the waters between the sand dunes at Greenwich.

Blue Heron at Greenwich National Park, PEI
Blue Heron at Greenwich National Park, PEI

These are but a few of the many different kinds of birds often sighted at Greenwich so a leisurely walk on the boardwalk between the dunes offers a great opportunity for bird enthusiasts.

By the time we had finished our morning hike through Greenwich, we had worked up an appetite. I had packed a simple picnic lunch and made sure it was stowed in an insulated cooler with lots of ice packs because temperatures soared to 28°C on Wednesday. I use my traditional non-insulated picnic basket (shown in the photo below) to transport non-perishables.

On the way to Greenwich through St. Peter’s Bay, I had noticed a small park with picnic tables by the water. I thought, even though the lighting for photography may not have been the best, this would be a good spot for our picnic.

My picnic menu was not elaborate and was quick and easy to pull together. Ham sandwiches on oat bran bread were the main feature accompanied by salad on a stick with small individual containers of vinaigrette for dipping the vegetables.

Any combination of vegetables and cheese can be selected for threading on to the skewers. This is a simple way to serve salad ingredients and can be prepared before leaving home. It also cuts down on the number of containers of ingredients that need to be transported to the picnic site as well as dirty salad bowls to have to bring back home. I try to pack as minimally and efficiently as I can because I’m never certain how far I might be parked from the picnic table site.

I had just made a fresh batch of rhubarb cordial so that was our red beverage which I served in these cute little glass milk bottles along with red and white straws.

I brought along some fresh strawberries for a light dessert (are you seeing the red theme I have going on here!)

I had stopped at Jewel’s Country Market on my way East and picked up this gorgeous red geranium which made a great centerpiece, especially when decked with mini Canada flags. I had taken along one of my small potted herbs which could also be used as a centerpiece because I wasn’t certain I would be able to find a red geranium. Yes, even on a picnic, I like to see a nicely set table.  🙂

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I like small pots of herbs because I can use them in many ways and, while we do have a small in-ground herb garden, I also keep a number growing in pots over the summer. The benefit of having some herbs in pots is that they can be transported to wherever they are needed. I often use them as table centerpieces because, as well as being decorative, they can also be clipped and used to flavour food. In the case of our picnic, the basil was used to flavour the vinaigrette.

This was how we celebrated Canada Day 2015.  I hope you have enjoyed this brief photo tour of PEI’s Greenwich National Park, a unique natural treasure we Islanders are lucky to have in our midst.  If you live on PEI, or have the opportunity to visit the Island, I hope you will travel to Greenwich and experience its beauty for yourself.

To view previous postings of our Canada Day celebrations in years past, click on the following links:  2012, 2013, and 2014.

If you enjoyed this posting, please share it on your social media sites.

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A Casual Summer Afternoon Picnic

Are you like me, favoring more casual dining in the summer – particularly on weekends?  I’m a great fan of picnics.  They lend themselves well to casual menus.

Today, on the picnic menu, I have focaccia rolls filled with slices of rotisserie chicken, Havarti cheese, tomato, and lettuce (recipe follows at end of post).

I added some sour cream and onion kettle chips, a blood orange lemonade, homemade chocolate chip cookies and oatcakes, and some fresh fruit and the menu was complete.  This menu follows my standard template for a picnic:  A main (the sandwich); snacks (kettle chips); a drink (the sparkling blood orange lemonade); dessert (cookies); and fruit (peaches, pears, and watermelon).

Whether I am dining inside or out, I still like to set a pretty table.  My color theme for today’s picnic is primarily orange with lime green as the secondary color.  I often use the fresh fruit as part of the centerpiece as I have done here.

I picked the bouquet of wildflowers along the PEI roadside on my way to my picnic destination – daisies, orange day lilies, mauve matrimony, and the last of the season’s purple lupins – pulling the colors from the plaid tablecloth.

Because I was just a short way from my picnic site, I didn’t need a cooler so I simply gathered everything together and put it in a large wicker basket.  However, if you are traveling a distance or if it is going to be awhile before you eat, be sure to use a well-insulated cooler with ice packs to keep the perishable food and drinks cold.

I like to do as much prep work at home as possible so the food is ready to eat when I get to my picnic site.  This also means I have less tools and equipment to take with me to do food prep work onsite.

Today’s picnic was comprised of all finger food so no utensils were required.   I used my white plastic picnic plates and kept the setting simple and casual.

I wrapped each sandwich in brown parchment paper and tied it with string and a sprig of fresh thyme from our herb garden.

The brown parchment gives the country look and also functions as a convenient holder for the sandwich to keep the ingredients in place while eating.

The blood orange lemonade adds a nice rich color to the table as well as being a tasty beverage.

When choosing a color scheme, I recommend thinking of the colors in the food being served so that the whole setting is pleasing to the eye – like the green lettuce and napkins, the orange drink and tomato in the sandwiches and the colors of the tablecloth.

Dessert for a picnic does not need to be elaborate.  Cookies are a traditional item on many picnics and are very easy to pack.  Here I have packaged them in glassine bags.

Watermelon is always a hit at picnics (and it matched my color scheme, as a bonus)!

Tasty fare!

This was a very easy picnic to pull together on a warm summer’s day.

Chicken, Cheese, and Tomato Focaccia Rolls

2 Focaccia rolls
1 Rotisserie Chicken Breast (white meat), thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced
2 slices Havarti cheese
Lettuce
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp basil pesto
½ tsp. balsamic vinaigrette
Butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Slice Focaccia rolls in half, horizontally. Butter both sides of each roll.

In bowl, mix mayonnaise with pesto. Spread on both sides of each roll.

Lay a bed of lettuce on bottom half of each roll. Add a layer of sliced chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Add one slice Havarti to each roll, then 1-2 slices of tomato. Drizzle a small amount (⅛ – ¼ tsp) balsamic vinaigrette over tomato slices.

Top with another layer of lettuce and place tops of each roll on the sandwiches. Leave sandwiches whole or slice diagonally, as desired.

Yield: 2 servings

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Oh Canada! A Picnic to Celebrate Canada Day

Happy Birthday, Canada!

The Canada Flag flies at Province House in Charlottetown, PEI
The Canada Flag flies at Province House in Charlottetown, PEI

On PEI, Canada Day heralds the true beginning of the summer season. Once Canada Day celebrations are underway, Islanders are in summer mode.

Once again, this year, we are celebrating Canada Day with a picnic. I have chosen a beach location on the Island’s south shore. Beaches on the south side of the PEI commonly have more red sand than those on the north side which tend to have sand in a more pale pink color.

Canada Day Picnic on the Beach
Canada Day Picnic on the Beach

Picnics are a great way to engage in casual dining. However, that doesn’t mean a pleasing setting can’t happen.

In honor of the colors of the Canadian flag, I have chosen a red and white theme for today’s picnic. Yes, my choice of foods is even red!

On today’s picnic menu:

  • Lobster rolls featuring PEI lobster mixed with pineapple and avocado complimented by a citrus aioli
  • Sides of creamy coleslaw and potato chips
  • Rhubarb and strawberry hand pies

I love my antique picnic basket with its red and white gingham liner. A red and white checked cloth sets the stage for the picnic lunch.

One of the things I like to do in preparation for a picnic is to wrap the utensils and drinking straws inside the napkins and place them in the glasses. They are quick and easy to pull out of the picnic basket and I’m sure not to forget utensils and napkins when I do this prep work before leaving the house.

Non-breakable dinnerware has come a long way. The white plates have the china look but are really just lightweight, unbreakable dinnerware from a dollar store. Regardless the venue, food always looks appetizing on white plates.

While I normally like my lobster rolls with little else but the lobster and mayonnaise and maybe some celery, I did jazz these up a bit. I added pineapple and avocado and used a citrus aioli to hold the ingredients together.

The rolls came from Mary’s Bake Shoppe in Kensington, PEI. For these rolls, I wanted ones that would hold together and had a nice texture and flavour. These certainly met the challenge on that front. I sprinkled each roll with a few sprigs of microgreens we’ve been growing along with some fresh chives from our herb garden. A tasty coleslaw and some potato chips rounded out the main course.

Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll

For dessert, I was looking for something that was easily portable and tasty.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Hand Pies
Rhubarb-Strawberry Hand Pies

Hand pies are a common picnic food because they hold together and pack well and you don’t need plates or utensils for them. These tasty treats combine two complimentary flavors – rhubarb and strawberry – encased in a flaky pastry. Add some fresh fruit, such as apples, and your favorite beverage, and the picnic fare is complete.

And this was the view from our dining spot on the beach.

Better eat our lobster rolls before these guys decide to fly on over and join us for our picnic!

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our Canada Day picnic in PEI.

Labour Day Picnic by the PEI Seaside with Lobster Croissants on the Menu

I’ve had a great summer of picnics this year!  Haven’t gone on this many picnics in many years.  I had forgotten how much fun and relaxed al fresco dining can be.  This posting will feature my Labour Day Weekend Picnic but, first, a little trip down memory lane.

One of my favorite summertime memories involves a picnic.  I was visiting a neighbour playmate and we were probably about 8 or 9 years old.  We took a notion one hot summer day that we would have a picnic by the little stream across the road from my friend’s place.  The two of us stood by the friend’s mother at the kitchen counter as she whipped up some gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, placed them in an old tin school lunchbox, filled a thermos with Kool-aid (anybody remember Kool-aid?), and sent us off on our big adventure to the picnic by the stream.  Off we went across the little country road, down through the cow pasture to a little stream which, at its deepest point was probably all of 4″ or 5″ deep.  We situated ourselves, had our picnic, and probably returned to the house all in the span of about 15 minutes, no doubt ready for another activity!  Yet, we had been on a picnic adventure and made a memory.  That was back in the days when kids played outside all day and found numerous ways to amuse themselves and none of them involved cell phones or computers.

I will admit my picnic adventures have progressed and become a bit more sophisticated.  There are so many options for picnic foods, particularly when it comes to sandwiches – there are traditional sandwiches with any number of different kinds of breads as options, wraps, baguettes, different kinds of rolls, bagels, etc.  For my picnic by the sea today, I have chosen croissants.  They are tasty and have a nice, soft texture.  Because I live near the water and close to a small fishing village that has a fresh seafood market open daily in the summer, lobster was a logical choice for a croissant filling.  The late summer fishing season has opened in Victoria-by-the-Sea on the south shore of PEI so buying lobster at the seafood market means the lobster is really, really fresh.  Take a look at this 1 1/2+ pound lobster that I took home with me to make the filling for the croissants!

I don’t really have a defined recipe for lobster filling for sandwiches or croissants.  I chop the lobster meat into fairly large chunks as I like to see good-sized pieces of lobster in a lobster roll or croissant — no mashed-up or shredded pieces of lobster meat will do for me!

I add a bit of celery, some pepper, some fresh chopped chives, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and some homemade mayonnaise – just enough to hold the meat together and give it flavour.  That’s it, nothing more as I don’t like anything that detracts from that rich lobster flavour.

I buttered the croissants, added a bed of fresh lettuce from our garden and then heaped on the lobster filling.  Yes, it was very yummy!

A little closer look….

And, this is what I mean about wanting to see nice big pieces of lobster in the sandwich.  Isn’t it mouthwatering and colorful!

Add some potato chips and picnic fare doesn’t get much better than this, particularly when the picnic location is beside the water.  With something as special as lobster, the menu does not have to be extensive.  Let the lobster star all on its own!

Croissants are so easy to handle and eat…particularly when filled with lobster 🙂

My August Cookie of the Month was the chocolate drop cookie.  They were dessert.

I added some fresh fruit – this time, some green grapes – and the picnic basket was ready to go.

I always like to take along some props to dress up the picnic spread, regardless whether it is at a picnic table or on the ground as is the case here by the beach.  It doesn’t matter whether I am in my dining room setting a formal table or outside, I like to think of setting the stage for a feast for the eye as well as for the stomach.  A few props really can make an ordinary picnic a bit more special.

For my seaside picnic, all it took was a blue-checked cloth, a stylish matching wicker picnic basket, a lantern with a blue candle, and some seashells and starfish, to dress up the dining experience.

I love the patterns in the pink-red sandbars on PEI.  Our Island beaches are extraordinary – on the south side, they tend to be more the pink-red color you see in the photo below while, on the north side, the sand is more of a soft pink color.  This is definitely a dining room with a water view!

However, the sky began to look somewhat ominous so we thought we had better hurry up and eat in case a rain shower came along and spoiled the picnic.

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I hope you have enjoyed some of the scenes from our seaside picnic that featured PEI lobster.  Enjoy your Labour Day weekend.

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A Pretty Pink Picnic

Summer is starting to close in on PEI.  The days are noticeably shorter and the daytime temperatures are sometimes dropping to the high teens/low twenties (Celsius).  Before everything starts up again in September, the days all of a sudden get more hectic, and everybody tends to go their own way with a multitude of activities and commitments, I thought I would host a girls’ relaxing day out picnic.

The inspiration for this picnic theme came from the old-fashioned picnic box lunches.  Each guest gets her own box with her individual picnic lunch packed inside.

Here are the elements of my updated classic picnic box luncheon:

The pretty decorated lunch boxes….   Why go plain when I can turn the picnic into an event by presenting the picnic boxes as gifts!  All it took to create the look were basic white bakery boxes and a spool of pretty hot pink ribbon (you have probably figured out the color theme by now!)…

a pretty summer tablecloth (I so love Waverly fabrics!)…

some lovely pink carnations enhanced by Queen Anne’s Lace that grows so prolifically along PEI roadsides this time of the year…

and fancy china tea cups and saucers to go with a china tea pot.  I guess you could say this event is a cross between a picnic and an afternoon tea (but tea does taste ever so much better out of china cup and saucer, wouldn’t you say!)

Part of the fun and charm of a picnic box lunch is opening the box to discover what culinary treasures await.  So, let’s open one of the picnic boxes to see what the picnic menu is for today.

Each box, lined with hot pink tissue paper, contains a Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwich on Marbled Rye.  Packaged in parchment paper and slipped into a tiny gift bag, this sandwich is as much a treat for the eye as it is for the tummy!

Some munchy trail mix will make a tasty (yet somewhat uncommon) accompaniment to the sandwich.  I sometimes like to use different meal accompaniments rather than always the usual potato chips, pickles, salad or traditional coleslaw (although they are always good and tasty options, too).

This marbled rye bread is a good, thick density type bread that holds together well so it makes an ideal picnic sandwich bread.  It does not need to be thickly sliced – in fact, it is best if sliced rather thinly.

As a bonus, this bread gets high marks for presentation.  I like to use unique and different breads and rolls for picnic sandwiches because it steps up the presentation factor a notch!  If you have been following my blog entries about picnics this summer, you will find that I have used different breads, rolls, or wraps, each time.  You will also notice that, even though this is a picnic box event, I have included some plates and cutlery for the sake of guest comfort and convenience – the sandwich cuts easier with a knife and on a plate and the tart is less messy when eaten with a fork!

The Waldorf Salad Sandwich is very easy to make.  I used chopped cooked chicken and added some sliced green onion, golden raisins, chopped celery, finely diced Granny Smith apple, salt and pepper to taste, and enough mayonnaise to hold the sandwich filling together.

Blueberries are in season right now on PEI so I have chosen blueberry tarts for dessert.  These are easy to pack in some small plastic containers I have on hand (which just happened to have hot pink-colored covers that match today’s picnic color scheme).  Desserts like this are somewhat fragile so need to be packaged carefully, particularly if travel to a picnic venue is involved.

A nice red summer pear will finish off the meal.

I have also included an individually-sized bottle of Hardys Stamp of Australia Chardonnay Semillon in each box.  I love how Hardys have included the convenience of a wine glass right on the little bottle!  These small bottles of wine fit perfectly into the picnic boxes.

Add a colorful matching napkin and this picnic lunch can be eaten anywhere, with or without a table.

Preparing picnic lunch boxes is a fun and creative way to serve picnic fare.  They can be simple or elaborate, themed, and used for any age group by simply varying the menu contents.  There are so many ways to prepare and host picnics so that guests enjoy the al fresco dining experience.

1-page 2 Time to re-package my picnic box and get ready for the guests to arrive on this beautiful sunny late summer PEI day!

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my pretty pink picnic today.  Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

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Sunday Afternoon Wine and Cheese Picnic

My Sunday afternoon picnic today is a simple one.  Not every picnic needs to be elaborate and involve a lot of food.  This one would be considered a light refreshment type picnic, not a “full meal deal”.

Really, all that is needed for this picnic is a good quality baguette, some cold cuts, tasty cheese of your favorite variety, grapes, and a good wine.  I also brought along some fresh peaches because they are so vine-fresh and tasty this time of the year.

You don’t even need a table for this kind of picnic.  Here, an old rustic wooden bench serves the purpose.  Of course, a couple of cloth placemats and napkins will always dress up any table….even if it is just an old wooden bench!

I chose a black current wine produced by Happy Knight Wines in Hatfield Pt., New Brunswick.  I discovered this fine wine at PEI’s New Festival of Wines this past spring.  We have a growing number of small wineries that are producing some mighty fine quality wines in the Maritime provinces.

I love the configuration of this large picnic basket.  In the center are three slots which easily hold the bread, the bottle of wine, rolled placemats and napkins, and a posy of wild flowers.  There are two covered side holders for the food, dishes, cutlery, and glasses.

The manufacturers of this basket knew what they were doing when they designed it!

Find a nice quiet, relaxing spot on a warm summer late afternoon for the picnic.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my Sunday afternoon picnic today.

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A Plaid Picnic on the Verandah

Those of you who follow my blog regularly may recall that I mentioned in my last posting about picnics that you don’t have to leave home to have a picnic.  To prove this point, I decided to have a picnic supper this evening out on the front verandah.

There are advantages to having a picnic at home — for example, you can use regular dinnerware, glassware, and cutlery (not that you can’t when you pack a picnic basket but most of us tend to use the unbreakables for offsite picnics).  You are handy to the fridge and cupboard so don’t need to worry about forgetting to pack something when going off on a picnic.  The menu can be more extensive…particularly if part of the meal involves cooking and hot foods.  And, of course, a picnic at home can be spur-of-the-moment with no advance planning — so long as the weather is cooperative, a picnic on the verandah or back deck is do-able.

To start, I decided I would go with a bistro theme, using one of my favorite plaid tablecloths and then choosing the coordinating colors from it — the yellow flowers, the peaches, and so forth.

For the main course of the picnic, I chose chicken and veggie wraps (recipe follows) and a garden salad which I paired with flipflop Pinot Grigio wine.  And, for dessert, ginger cookies and for fresh fruits, in-season peaches and sweet cherries.  Nice, easy, and tasty Saturday evening summer meal.

I love all the fresh veggies available this time of the year….and how colorful they make a plate!

Ginger cookies are always good, no matter what time of the year it is!

I always try to include fresh seasonal fruit in my picnic menus.

Peaches and cherries make a lovely pairing.

Chicken and Vegetable Wraps

2 Tomato-Basil Tortillas

1 chicken breast, chopped, marinated, and stir-fried

Cream cheese (your favorite flavor – I used Herb & Garlic)

Red and green pepper, chopped

Tomato, chopped

Grated carrot

Red Onion, chopped

Chopped Cheese slices (e.g., Provolone, Monteray Jack, Cheddar, Havarti)

Leafy lettuce

Method:

Chop one small-medium sized chicken breast.  Marinate in your favorite marinade for 3-4 hours (I use soya sauce, oil, brown sugar, garlic, and chopped onion).  Remove chicken from marinade and stir-fry till cooked.

Spread desired amount of cream cheese on each tortilla, leaving about 1″ edge around each tortilla.

Along center line of each tortilla, place the remaining ingredients — peppers, tomato, onion, chicken, carrot, cheese, and lettuce.

Roll up each tortilla, cut in half, and plate.

Serves:  2

Bon appetit!

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A PEI Picnic in the Park

I like picnics.  My earliest memories of picnics consist of Sunday family drives on the Island with a stop at a park for a picnic lunch.  My Mom would have prepared the traditional picnic fare of tomato sandwiches along with ham and cheese sandwiches, too.  These would have been packed up in the airtight Tupperware containers and placed in the old blue Coleman cooler with ice (I’ll bet some of you remember those coolers!).  There would be cookies and squares for dessert.  Often plums and pears would be included in late summer outings because that would be their “in-season” time on PEI.  We had a large thermos that would have been filled with some kind of juice and lots of ice cubes and off we’d go touring around our province.

Picnic food always seems to taste so good …. whether it is the fresh air or what it is, I don’t know.  It’s also a great way to casual dine.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or ordinary.  With a little planning, organization, and effort, picnics can be gourmet and they can be an event.  And, the best part is that you don’t even need to leave home to have a picnic!  You can picnic right in your own backyard, on your front verandah, or on your apartment or condo balcony.

The color theme for today’s picnic is lime green with white accents.  Just because we dine outside doesn’t mean we can’t add some polish to the dining table which, in my case today, just happened to be a traditional old wooden picnic table in a park.  As those of you who regularly follow my blog will have heard me say before….you don’t need high-end dinnerware and cutlery for picnics.  Simply visit your local dollar stores and you’ll find lots of things that will make your table look very dressy and you won’t have spent a fortune on the items.  The white plates, napkins, lime-green cutlery, and small salad bowls I used today all came from my local dollar store.

I debated about what flowers to dress the table with but knew I wanted them to be white.  Queen Anne’s Lace blooms prolifically on PEI this time of the year so I stopped on the country roadside on my way to the park and claimed some Queen Anne’s Lace from the ditch.

I added some green Granny Smith apples and green pears and, voilà, I had an easy, carefree centerpiece that took the picnic table from blah to one that looks attractive and oh-so-summery.  You don’t need to spend a lot on tablesettings for it to look attractive and, bonus, the apples and pears can be part of the meal!

The Picnic in the Park Menu

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

Pasta Salad

Fruit Cup

Homemade Butter Tarts

Jam-Filled Brown Sugar Cookies

Perrier

For my picnic outing in the park today, I am highlighting pressed Italian sandwiches. While my Mother would have gone to take great pains to ensure the picnic sandwiches were carefully packed so they would not get squashed, I actually purposely squashed mine today!  These sandwiches are incredibly tasty, not as difficult to make as you might think, and they look so attractive on the plate.

The idea of pressing the sandwich is that it helps all the flavours to blend.  You will need to press the sandwich for several hours or overnight.  The recipe for these sandwiches follows at the end of this posting.

Make sure you use a good quality bread for this sandwich and one that is not too soft.  Here, I have used a Ciabatta.  I love the ribbons of color that the sandwich ingredients make!

As a side dish, I chose to serve a pasta salad.  I found a great bag of colored, flower-shaped pasta at our local Winners store and I thought it would be great in a pasta salad which it was.

Pasta salads are easy to make and travel well – that’s probably why we often see them making an appearance on picnic menus.

Dessert consisted of a small fruit cup of green grapes, kiwi, and blueberries….again, the focus was on green with the blue for contrast.

Of course, there always has to be something for the sweet tooth on the picnic menu!  I used my dollar store cupcake carrier for the Jam-Filled Brown Sugar Cookies and the butter tarts.  This proved a good way to transport them and keep them in place.

Serving Perrier steps the picnic up a notch (plus, doesn’t the green bottle look great in this color scheme!)

And, when it all got pulled together, this is what it looked like.

Can you taste those good Italian cold cuts in the sandwich!

Now, here are some collages of today’s picnic.

Keeping color schemes simplistic makes the picnic table look coordinated.

A tasty meal, for sure on a warm PEI summer day!

PEI offers many great venues for picnic lunches, from our parks to our beaches.

I like to include edible components to table centerpieces.

Using wildflowers in the tablesetting is a great way to enjoy local flora.

Mix and match patterns (e.g., checks and stripes) for interest but just keep them in the same color family.

I love how the sun peaked through the trees.  I am going to look at these picnic photos some day in cold January and try to remember what a beautiful day today was for a picnic.

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

Ingredients:

Ciabatta loaf (I used Red Pepper & Sun-dried Tomato)

Butter

Basil Pesto

Mayonnaise

Roasted Red Pepper

Selection of deli cold cuts (I used salami and Mediterranean Turkey Breast), sliced very thin

Selection of cheese slices (I used Provolone and Cheddar)

Fresh basil leaves

Balsamic Vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s Cranberry-Pear)

Olive Oil

Leafy Lettuce

Method:

Slice bread in half, lengthwise as shown in photo below.  Butter both sides of bread.

In small bowl, mix about 3 tbsp pesto with about 1 – 2 tbsp mayonnaise.  Spread on both sides of bread.

On bottom half of bread, add a layer of salami, followed by the roasted red pepper.  Add torn pieces of basil leaves.  Add a layer of Provolone cheese.

Add a layer of turkey breast.  Drizzle just a bit of olive oil, about 1 tsp or so, over the turkey breast.  Add a layer of cheddar cheese followed by a second layer of turkey breast.

Add fresh leafy lettuce and drizzle a bit of your favorite balsamic vinegar, about 1 tsp, over the lettuce .

Place the top half of the bread on top of the sandwich ingredients and press down on the sandwich.

Wrap entire filled loaf of bread as tightly as possible in plastic wrap.  Place in refrigerator and place a weight on top of the sandwich to “press” it.  This could be a couple of heavy books, for example, or anything that will press the sandwich down.  Let this rest in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4-5 hours to let the flavours blend and to ensure that the sandwich is pressed.

Remove the sandwich from the refrigerator.  Remove the plastic wrap.  Cut into desired widths of individual sandwiches.  Out of this size of loaf, I got six sliced individual sandwiches.  For presentation, I also like to cut off the outside edges all around the sandwich loaf as it makes it more even and tidy and the layers of the sandwich are more visible.

Yield:  3 servings, 2 sandwiches per person

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A Beach-Themed Picnic

Ever heard of the expression “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”?   Well, that was somewhat my case today.

It’s been a hot, dry summer so far on PEI, and today was forecast to be 31C and very humid.  I had been planning a beach picnic for some time and last evening rolled out the plans for the day and began preparations.  This morning, while it seemed a little breezy, I didn’t think it was particularly windy so off we set for a mid-day picnic on the beach.  However, when we arrived at our destination, the whitecaps were rolling in to shore at a reasonably good clip.  Suffice it to say it was breezy and it was going to be difficult (read ‘impossible’ and ‘frustrating’) to hold things in place for a picnic on the beach.

So, I had a “Plan B” ready just in case, for some reason, a beach location would not be suitable – good thing to do when the food has all been prepared!  So, my beach picnic became a beach-“themed” picnic in a calm location not many yards from the beach where we could still hear the waves rolling in to shore.

On the menu for the picnic:

Turkey, Egg, and Cheese Baguettes (recipe follows)

Green Salad

Brownies

Brown Sugar Jelly-filled Cookies

Seashell Chocolates

So, let’s assemble the elements of the picnic and see what is in the picnic basket.

I like to wrap the cutlery in napkins.  This can be done ahead of time and it’s also a great way to remember to bring along the napkins!

The highlight of today’s picnic were the baguettes – they were really tasty and very filling!

Turkey, Egg, and Cheese Baguettes
Turkey, Egg, and Cheese Baguettes

These looked extra special wrapped in parchment paper and dressed with a string bow and a sprig of lemon thyme from my herb garden.

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