It’s that time of year. The need to be outside has completely kicked in. Especially after an 85 degree Easter Sunday. The windows have been open, letting out all the indoor winter air. The trees are in bloom and the grass is greening up. Of course, allergies are also in full bloom.
You can’t let that stop you from getting outside though. Just pop some Claritin, stuff some tissues in your pocket and get outside. Take a hike, do some fishing, play on a swing set, have a picnic.
I am not a big outdoors-y type person, I admit. Last spring Nina and I took a hike and the next morning I woke up unable to move my leg due to a deer tick embedded in my butt. After a diagnosis of Lyme disease and three antibiotic treatments later, I finally felt better and vowed never to go outside again.
But life’s too short for that and I’m sick of being stuck in the house. I have been wanting to do more inexpensive, quality type activities with the kids and having a picnic is at the top of my list. I used to love packing up some sandwiches and snacks and heading out on my bike with my friends. We’d find a spot near a stream or the lake and break out the food. Even if we were just hanging out in the backyard, it always seemed more special with a picnic lunch.
Here are a couple of ideas for packing the perfect picnic lunch.
- Food safety first! Make sure foods that need to stay cold, do! Freeze half-filled water bottles then fill em up and use them as ice packs. They’ll keep your food chilled and be ready to drink when you get where you’re going.
- Mason jars are great for building layered salads. Place wetter ingredients on the bottom (i.e. salad dressing) and more delicate ingredients on the top (i.e. salad greens). Shake em up and dig in!
- Pack heavier items on the bottom and more fragile items on top.
- Wrap up your individual silverware settings in a cloth napkin and they’re ready to go.
- Don’t forget the extras! Salad dressing, salt and pepper and condiments will make your meal perfect!
- Don’t forget a bag for trash!
- 2 c. crushed graham crackers (about 12)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tbls. granulated sugar
- 1 c. heavy cream, chilled
- 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 (8oz) cans Cherry Pie Filling *Use whatever flavors you want. Mix em up!
- Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until it looks like wet sand and put about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture in each jar and press down gently, either with the back of a spoon or your fingers wrapped in plastic wrap so the crumbs don’t stick, then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cold heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and set aside
- In the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together until creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add half the whipped cream and mix until blended. Then fold the other half in gently to keep it light and airy, not heavy and dense.
- Spoon about 1/3 cup cheesecake mixture into each jar and press down gently with a spoon to remove air bubbles. You can even tap them gently on the counter (on a towel so the jar doesn’t break). Continue with all the jars until the filling is evenly divided into each jar
- If it looks messy, just wipe the inside of the top of the jar with a damp paper towel.
- Top with about 2 Tablespoons fruit pie filling and cover each jar and place in the fridge for about an hour to chill and firm up. Jars can keep in the fridge for up to a week.