Celebrate Picnic Day in Style

Did you know that the word Picnic is from the French word Piquenique? Reaps pris en plein air, dans la natural. In other words Meal taken outdoors, in nature. Picnic. A meal that hearkens back to mid 18th Century al fresco French dining.

Back then, all you needed was a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, some cheese, some fruit and a beautiful sky. Yet even in its most simplistic presentation, picnics are magical. We all need a little magic in our lives. Maybe that’s why the powers that be chose today for National Picnic Day.

It’s the one day a year that we are encouraged to pack up our lunch and eat outdoors. This is especially important for city dwellers that so typically eat at a desk under artificial light. Walk in the sunlight – it will do you a wealth of good. Shut off the phone, turn off your mind and just breath. I love picnics, so naturally I adore National Picnic Day.

Perfect pairing for National Picnic Day is National Cherry Cheesecake Day. Especially when you make your cheesecake in jars that can be packed away in a cooler. When my children were young, picnics were all about PB and J sandwiches. By the time Kiddo came into our lives, Picnics were all about style and sophistication. Oh yeah!

Happy Picnic and Cherry Cheesecake Day! Don’t you just love making every moment count?

Springtime Picnic
Smoky Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Butterfly Pesto Salad
Assorted Fruits and Cheeses

Mason Jar Cherry Cheesecake

Smoky Chicken Salad Sandwiches
2 large Chicken Breast
Mesquite Seasoning to taste
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1-1/2 tablespoon Ground Mustard
4 tablespoons Red Bell Pepper
6 soft Ciabatta Rolls, split
6 Green Leaf Lettuce Leaves
1 large Tomato
3 slices Smoked Provolone Cheese
3 slices White Cheddar Cheese

Cut chicken into strips to help speed the cooking. Season with desired smoky seasoning.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter to the pan, swirl to coat bottom. Cook chicken until cooked through and no longer pink, turning as needed to prevent searing or over-browning.

Remove from skillet, let cool. Chop and set aside. Chicken meat can be prepared in advance and held in the refrigerator until ready to make chicken salad for sandwiches.

In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and mustard. Set aside.

Dice bell pepper, add to the mayonnaise mixture. Stir in the chopped chicken, folding to blend. Spread chicken salad the bottom halves of the rolls; top lettuce.

Slice tomato, lay one slice on each sandwich. Cut the cheese slices in half to create a triangle shape. Lay one of each slice of cheese the sandwich. Place top of roll, wrap in plastic and pack away for picnic.

Butterfly Pesto Salad
3 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled
1 cup Fresh Basil
1-1/2 cups Baby Spinach
1/4 cups Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 lb Farfalle Pasta (bow-tie)
1/4 cup or so Reserved cooking water
1-1/2 cups Grape Tomatoes halved
1 (12 oz) jar marinated Mozzarella Balls
1/4 Red Onion diced
Salt, if desired

Toast garlic in a small skillet over medium-heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let garlic cool, then peel and chop coarse.

Process garlic, basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Add Parmesan Cheese and mayonnaise, continue to process until thoroughly combined. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta is just past al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta. Toss pasta with a little olive oil and spread into a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Let pasta cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

While the pasta cools, cut tomatoes in half and set aside. Drain Mozzarella Balls, cut into bite-size pieces and set aside. Dice onion, set aside.

In a large bowl, toss cooled pasta with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coasts pasta.

Add tomatoes, Mozzarella and diced onions, mix to combine.

Taste, season with a pinch of salt if desired. Chill well. When ready to head out, pack in a cooler. Don’t forget to pack serving spoons!

Mason Jar Cherry Cheesecake
1-1/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 cup softened Butter
1/4 cup Sugar
8 oz softened Cream Cheese
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Lemon, zested
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 (12.5 oz) can Cherry Pie Filling

In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Mix ingredients until well coated in butter and crumbs hold together when pressed.

Divide the Graham Cracker mixture into the 6 jars, pressing the crust to the bottom of the jar with a spoon. Set aside.

Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift powdered sugar over the cream cheese. Add vanilla extract and heavy cream. Zest lemon over the mixture. Mix on low until smooth and fluffy.

Top the Graham Cracker Crust with the cheese cake filling. Spoon the cherry pie filling on top of the cheese mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap, secure with a string. Refrigerate for several hours. Pack in a cooler.
When ready to serve, slip spoons into the string ties for a nice presentation.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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