Life's a Picnic in the Summertime
Celebrate the new season (and get out of your hot kitchen) by packing up a basket of goodies and heading outdoors for the most summer-ific of meals: the picnic. All you need are a few heat-tolerant, handheld foods, and a group of hungry friends.
Crank up the spice quotient of your food picks -- it may seem counterintuitive, but spicy foods actually have a cooling effect on the body. Just be sure to dial back the heat if you've got kids on your guest list.
Scout around your area for the perfect picnic spot, and don't be afraid to annex your local park if your private property doesn't quite cut it. Just watch the liquor laws if you're outside of your own yard -- a picnic blanket won't keep you very warm in the event of an overnight jail stay.
Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps
The #1 requirement for a summer picnic food is its ability to safely stand up to hot weather conditions -- which means no quick-spoiling ingredients like mayo or dairy. So instead of a traditional chicken salad, opt for an oil-dressed, asian-inspired lettuce wrap.
Using rotisserie chicken means you won't even have to heat up the kitchen to cook anything. Use the time savings to chop up some crunchy veggies like water chestnuts or cucumber strips to keep the wraps texturally interesting and add a cooling element.
Traditional dripping-with-mayo coleslaw is another no-go on the picnic list, so how about a spicy, vinegar-spiked broccoli slaw as a side dish? With extra lettuce leaves from the Chicken Wraps, this summer salad would also make an awesome wrap filling for any vegetarians in attendance.
Pick up a few tubs of ready-made dips from your local deli -- just skip the creamy stuff in favor of picnic-friendly fare like salsa, hummus, and guacamole. Bring along an array of sliced veggies, tortilla chips, and/or crackers. Done!
Although half of the point here was to keep you from heating up your kitchen, we just can't resist these squee-worthy individual cobblers from Not Martha. Tiny desserts! In jars! Too cute to ignore, and if you bake them up the night before your picnic you might not even suffer a heatsroke. And if you do? Totally worth it.
We, of course, do not encourage you to flout the law by drinking in public (even when adorable products like this are available). If you're heading for public space, take along some lemonade to quench your thirst. The cocktails will be waiting for you when you get home.