How to Make an Awesome Picnic Basket
Picnics are fun and one of my favorite summer events to both cook for and to attend. Food is always the central theme of friends, family and loved ones gathering for a day of camaraderie and relaxation.

ABC’s and 123’s on how to make a successful picnic:

1.) Make it interesting, diverge from the usual or give it a twist. A few exceptional food items are better than 5 or 6 things that are mundane.

2.) Make it practical:

          A) Easy to transport
          B) Easy to eat & non-perishable (finger food, sandwiches, fresh fruit, etc.)
          C) Be prepared for inclimate weather, bugs, & heat. KEEP HYDRATED!

3.) Avoid foods that require refrigeration or need to be frozen like Jello, yogurt or ice cream. The more foods that don’t need refrigeration the less ice or ice packs you’ll need making your load lighter. Also foods like soups and chili might be difficult to heat up and eat in a picnic environment. Who wants hot food on a warm summer day anyway?

Just a few more common sense things to remember:

* Don’t bring more food than you can consume.

* Bring insect repellent and sun screen and plenty water to drink.

* Please be respectful to the picnic grounds and bring extra trash bags to pack out used disposable utensils, paper plates and napkins, etc.

* Drink any alcoholic beverages responsibly!

Below are some of my favorite Picnic Basket Recipes:



Makes about 6 to 10 servings.


16    Oz.       Orzo pasta
1/4   Cup      Olive oil
1/3   Cup      Red wine vinegar
2      Tbsp.   Grated lemon zest
1/4   Cup      Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2      Cups    Kalamata olives, chopped
2      Pints    Grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1      Lg.       Red onion, finely chopped
1/2   Cup     Drained capers
1/2   Lb       Feta (crumbled and chopped)
1/2   Cup     lightly packed chopped fresh parsley leaves
To    taste    Freshly ground black pepper
pinch           Sea salt


1. Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil in the large pot. Add salt and the orzo and cook until al dente. Drain well in the mesh strainer, then pour hot orzo into the mixing bowl.

2. While the orzo cooks, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the hot orzo and toss. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3. Add the olives, grape tomatoes, onion, capers, and parsley, and stir well. Season with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Sparkling Lemonade

Makes 1 quart


1/2  Cup    Agave Nectar

4     TBS    Lavender Buds

Zest of the 4 lemons
4     LG     Juiced Lemons – about 1 cup (Meyers if available)
3    Cups  Sparkling Mineral Water

      (see: *note of interest after the recipes)
1              Lemon for wheels
3   TBS   Agave nectar (or to taste)


Steep the Agave, Lavender and Lemon Zest under very low heat for 25 – 30 min. Let cool.

In a pitcher, add the steeped mixture to the squeezed lemon juice and mineral water. Add more Agave nectar to sweeten to taste. Stir well and enjoy. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint leave and lemon wheel.

* Note of Interest:

If you’re lucky enough to live close to Manitou Springs, Colorado (or a natural mineral springs) use the spring water. It makes incredible lemonade. The Twin Spring (in Manitou) is naturally effervescent, has a slight trace of lithium and is very refreshing. Locals refer to it as: “Happy Water!”
Awesome Slaw
Serves 4



1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Red Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Green Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sliced) Nappa Cabbage
1/2    Cup    (Sm Cubed) Jicima
1/2    LG    (Bite Sized Julienne) Colored Bell Pepper
1/2    Cup    (Grated)    Carrots
1’2    Cup    (Grated)    Radish
1/2    Cup    (Grated and rinsed) Beets

Any other root vegetables you might have


1/4    Cup    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1    Oz.    Ume Plum Vinegar
1    Oz.    Honey
2    Cloves    Minced Garlic
2    tsp.    Minced Cilantro
1    Key    Lime Juice
Pinch    Sea Salt and Fresh ground Pepper


Prep vegetables.  Prep dressing.  Mix together. Chill.  Serve.

Summer Beef Salad
Serves 2 – 3


1/3    LB    Beef (cut into thin bite size strips)
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Cooked Barley
1/4    Cup     Fresh Corn (kernels off the cob)
1/4    Cup    Small Diced Red Onion
1/2    Cup    Blanched Small Broccoli Florets
1/2    Cup    Cherry, Pear or Grape Tomatoes (cut in half)


1    teas.    Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
2    TBS    Pomegranate Molasses (recipe below)
1    pinch    Kosher or Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Red Wine Vinegar
1/2    teas.    Red Pepper Flakes
1/4    Cup Olive Oil

Pomegranate Molasses:

2    Cups    Pomegranate Juice
1/4    Cup    Sugar
2    TBS    Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice


Add all of the Pomegranate Molasses ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over low heat for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes (until it becomes syrupy).  Let it cool to room temperature.  Cook barley according to package directions, usually takes about 45 min.  While these two are reducing and cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for about 20 seconds then placing them to cool in an ice bath.  Repeat the same procedure for the corn kernels.  When cool, drain and set on double folded paper towels to remove any further moisture.  Cut the onion into small dice.  Cut tomatoes in half (if not done so already).  Heat olive oil in sauté pan and sear the thin sliced beef slices with salt and pepper very briefly on both sides.  Transfer the beef with juices to a bowl and let cool.  Add the previous ingredients to the beef bowl.

To make dressing add all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk briskly.  When dressing has emulsified, add to the beef bowl and fold in.  Refrigerate for several hours.

Panco Spiced Fried Chicken

Serves 2 – 3


6    Pieces    Chicken
1    Cup    Flour
2    TBS    Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2    TBS    Salt and Pepper
to    taste    Cayenne
4 Eggs
1    Cup    Panco
2    Cups    Oil for frying


Pre-Heat oven to 375f.  Heat up oil in frying pan or turn electric frying pan to 375f.  Mix together Flour, Rosemary, Cayenne and S&P in a bowl, Break and beat eggs in a separate bowl.  In a third bowl, put in the Panco.  Dredge the chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture, then the beaten eggs, then the Panco coating each thoroughly.  Place 3 (avoid crowding the pan) dredged chicken pieces in the pan for about 2 min or until golden brown.  Turn and repeat for about 1 min.  Remove with tongs and place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil.  Repeat with the other three pieces.  Place on a baking pan and finish in oven for 15 min.  Place on wire rack to cool. · 303-517-6225 ·