Celebrate the Fourth of July with a picnic

Al fresco dining is a holiday tradition that makes even the simplest foods taste like they’re gourmet fare

 

Dining al fresco is an American tradition, especially on a patriotic holiday when picnics and cookouts are rampant.

In Wisconsin, brats and burgers are the go-to option for a picnic but there are plenty of other options as well.

Try a grilled sandwich or a variation of the tried and true potato or pasta salad, perhaps using red, white and blue potatoes for your holiday potato salad.

Make a fruit salad — perhaps garnished with berries to give it that holiday flair.

Create a vegetable tray with red peppers, cherry or grape tomatoes and red radishes and serve with a white dip — or stir blue food coloring into the dip.

Add food coloring to your ice cubes, creating red, white and blue cubes to cool your beverages, which could include red or blue Kool-Aid or white or red wines.

Perhaps the easiest place to incorporate the colors of the day is in desserts and sweets.

Make a cheesecake, trifle or shortcake and top it with whipped cream and a selection of red and blue berries.

Make frozen pops with fruit juices in berry flavors and colors.

Set up a fruit tray with raspberries, strawberries, cherries and blueberries and a white cream cheese or yogurt dip.

Use red, white and blue corn chips with salsa and dip.

Whatever you do, whether you choose to eat outside in your backyard or picnic in the park, be safe with your food choices.

Make sure foods that are meant to be served cold are thoroughly cooled before packing. If you’re driving to your picnic destination, place the cooler in the air-conditioned car, not in the trunk.

Set up the picnic in the shade. It will keep everyone cooler, and help keep the food cool as well. Throw away any food that’s been out of the cooler for more than an hour.

Following are picnic foods from www.delish.com.

 

 

    delish.com

Antipasto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 slices sourdough bread
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/2 cup sliced pitted black olives
1/4 pound deli sliced ham
1/4 cup pepperoni
1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini
1/4 cup torn basil

    Spread about 1/2 tablespoon butter onto one side of a slice of bread and sprinkle with a small pinch each of oregano and garlic powder. Place bread, butter side-down, on a clean working surface, then top with a quarter each of mozzarella, artichokes, olives, ham, pepperoni and basil.
    Spread another 1/2 tablespoon butter onto a second slice of bread and sprinkle with oregano and garlic powder. Place bread, butter-side up, on top of sandwich. Repeat to make four sandwiches.
    Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place one or two sandwiches in skillet and cook about four minutes, until the bottom slice of bread is golden and the cheese is starting to melt. Flip sandwich and cook another four minutes, until golden underneath.
    Makes four serving.

 

Watermelon Feta Salad

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups. cubed seedless watermelon
1 cup medium cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 cup crumbled feta
    In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt.
    In a large serving bowl, combine watermelon, cucumber, red onion and mint. Pour over dressing, tossing to combine.
    Garnish with feta, more mint, and flaky sea salt.
    Makes four servings.

 

Very Berry Cheesecake Bars

For compote:
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 cups diced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
For crust:
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For cheesecake:
16 ounces. cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup. blueberries

    Whisk together cornstarch and water. Set aside.
    In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine strawberries with sugar and cook, stirring often, until juices have been released. Bring to simmer, add cornstarch slurry and cook about three minutes more. Set compote aside and cool.
    Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs or crush the crackers in a zipper-close bag with a rolling pin. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Process or stir until combined. The texture should be similar to wet sand. Pour mixture into a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and gently press to evenly distribute crust. Bake in a 325-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until golden, then cool slightly.
    With a hand mixer, mix cream cheese, eggs, lemon juice and zest and sugar until evenly combined, then pour over graham cracker crust. Swirl strawberry compote on top of the cheesecake with a butter knife or toothpick.
    Bake in a 325-degree oven about 35 minutes, until mostly firm (the center will slightly jiggle). Top with blueberries.
    Let cool completely then refrigerate at least three hours, until set.
    Makes six servings.

 

Mexican Corn Salad

6 ears corn, kernels stripped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cotija cheese or feta, plus more for garnish
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chili powder, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt

    In a serving bowl, toss corn with mayo, cotija, lime juice, cilantro and chili powder. Season generously with salt.
    Top with more cotija, cilantro, and a sprinkle of chili powder and serve.
    Makes four servings.

 

French Silk Pie in a Jar

1 cup. butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 box shortbread cookies, crushed, plus more crumbs for garnish
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings

    Using a hand mixer and a large bowl or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream butter and powdered sugar. Add chocolate, vanilla and Greek yogurt and continue beating three to five more minutes, until mixture is light and fluffy.
    Transfer mixture to a piping bag.
    Place a layer of shortbread crumbs in the bottom of four six-ounce. Mason jars. Pipe a layer of French silk mixture, then top with another layer of shortbread crumbs. Repeat until almost to the top of the jar, then refrigerate one hour.
    Top with whipped cream, more shortbread crumbs and shaved chocolate and serve.
    Makes four servings.

 

BLT Pasta Salad

1 pound farfalle
6 slices bacon
1-1/2 cups romaine, shredded
2 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup sour cream
1/2 ranch seasoning packet, about 1/2 ounce
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chives, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

    In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook farfalle according to package directions until al dente. Drain, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
    Cook bacon until crispy. Drain and roughly chop, then set aside.
    In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, ranch seasoning, lemon juice and half the chives. Season with pepper to taste.
    Add dressing to serving bowl and toss with pasta until evenly coated. Stir in remaining chives.
    In a trifle bowl, layer pasta, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. Top with more ranch dressing.

 

Potato Chip Shrimp Rolls

1-1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons melted butter
6 long potato rolls, split open
1 cup crushed potato chips

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add shrimp and boil two to three minutes, until pink and cooked through. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to cool the shrimp. Chop into bite-size pieces.
    In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with mayonnaise, celery, scallions, lemon juice and dill. Mix until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Brush inside of potato rolls with melted butter. Distribute shrimp mixture evenly between rolls. Sprinkle rolls with Old Bay seasoning and top with crushed potato chips.
    Makes six servings.

 

Banana Split Pops

4 bananas
1 cup melted chocolate
1 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup rainbow nonpareil sprinkles
Whipped cream, for serving
8 maraschino cherries

    Cut the ends off of each banana to level the sides, then cut in half. Insert a popsicle stick into each banana piece and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for two hours.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together melted chocolate and coconut oil until smooth. Pour sprinkles into a small bowl.
    Dip the top of each frozen banana in chocolate, then roll the melted chocolate tip in sprinkles. Return to baking sheet and freeze about 15 minutes, until chocolate is firm.
    Top each pop with whipped cream and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
    Makes eight servings.

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