Yesterday was International Earth Day, and today is National Picnic Day. It was hard to pick a day to share this menu between the two, since having a picnic on Earth Day makes sense. Earth Day, Picnic Day. I went back and forth, but as an American, I had to go with Picnic Day. And let me tell you why.
The whole green movement in American is become unhinged. Really – arguments about farting cows and who’s the boss has become insane. I decided to avoid the whole political circus of Earth Day, and planted a garden to honor the day in my own quiet way. Now National Picnic Day is something I can get behind because there are no political attachments to the day. Pack a picnic, and spend the day in a park, or the mountains or sit by a sparkling brook. Just unplug, enjoy nature, and your loved ones. If it’s raining, you can still unplug, spread a blanket on the living room floor and bond with those most important in your life. The spirit of Picnic Day lives on.
Picnic hearkens back to mid-18th-century al fresco French dining when all you needed was a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, some cheese and fruit and you could have a party under the sky. And doesn’t that sound lovely?
National Picnic Day Menu
Roast Beef and Monterey Blue Croissant Sandwiches
Prosciutto Melon Skewers
Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad
Pineapple Up-Side-Down Cupcakes
Favorite Red Wine
Roast Beef and Monterey Blue Croissant Sandwich
1 cup Caramelized Onions
1 pat Butter
1 cup Roasted Sweet Red Pepper
2 tablespoons Butter, softened
1/4 pound Monterey Blue Cheese, sliced
1 cup Arugula
1/2 pound Seasoned Roast Beef, sliced
Thinly slice onions into rings. Caramelize onions in a pat of butter over medium-low heat, stirring often. Allow onions to become tender and golden but not browned, about 20 minutes. Let onions cool.
Pat dry the roasted peppers, then cut into strips.
Split croissants horizontally. Butter the cut side of all the croissants.
On bottom half of each croissant layer cheese, arugula, roast beef, roasted peppers and caramelized onions. Cover with top halves of croissants.
Wrap sandwiches to keep fresh and pack in picnic basket.
Prosciutto Melon Skewers
1 medium Cantaloupe
10 slices of prosciutto, cut in half
20 mini Mozzarella Balls
Fresh Basil Leaves, whole
Fruit-Flavored Aged Balsamic
Using a melon baller, made 20 Cantaloupe balls about the same size as the Mozzarella balls. Set aside.
Cut prosciutto in half. Set aside.
If the Mozzarella balls are packed in a liquid, pat dry before using.
Thread the ingredients onto 8″ wooden skewers, alternating between cantaloupe, Mozzarella and prosciutto. Fold the prosciutto into a bundle so it holds neatly on the skewers.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to pack. Place skewers in an air-tight Tupperware container.
Pack basil leaves in a zip-lock sandwich bag. If possible, pack the balsamic vinegar. If the container is large or might break, pour some balsamic into a small Tupperware container.
At the moment of serving, garnish with chopped and whole basil leaves and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.
Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad
3 large ripe Tomatoes
1 cup Red Onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1/4 cup. extra-virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
12 oz. Fusilli Pasta
Sea Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 cup fresh Basil Leaves
Cut tomatoes, set aside. Chop onion, set aside. Mince garlic. Set aside.
Put tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a large bowl; toss. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes or until tomatoes release their juices, tossing occasionally.
Cook pasta as package directs. Drain and add to bowl with tomatoes; lightly toss. Let come to room temperature. Add basil; toss.
Pack in the picnic basket with a serving spoon.
Pineapple Rum Up-Side-Down Cupcakes
Pineapple Rum Topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
1 cup dark Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Dark Rum
1 (20 ounce) can Pineapple Rings
12 Maraschino Cherries
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
3 large Eggs
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup reserved Pineapple Juice
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 muffin cups using two 12-cup pans. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar and rum. Bring to a slight boil and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat.
Open canned pineapple. Drain, reserving the juice for cake batter. Cut rings into chunks to make it easier to fit into the bottom of the cupcake pans. Set aside. Cut cherries in half. Set aside.
Spoon brown sugar mixture evenly into muffin tins. Place half of a maraschino cherry in the center of each muffin tin. Surround with pineapple pieces.
In a large bowl, beat cake mix, pineapple juice, eggs and oil on low-speed for until moistened, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Spoon cake batter over pineapple, filling almost to the top of each tin, just over 3/4 full.
Bake 18-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center is removed clean.
Immediately invert onto wire racks and allow to cool.
Pack desired cupcakes in an air-tight container and pack for the picnic.
Want to really have some fun today? It’s also National Take a Chance Day and Speak like Shakespeare Day. Create your own Shakespearean Picnic the The Park.