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Pack the perfect picnic

Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the author of the food blog Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she has worked as an overnight bread baker in Colorado and a chocolate maker in Virginia. She currently resides ...

One of the best summer activities!

Grab your picnic basket and extra large blanket, we're headed to the beach for a picnic unlike any other! Hoping to inspire you to think outside the wicker basket, we've brought together a few of the best ideas on picnics: What to eat, play and drink while sitting comfortably cross-legged on your blanket.
Family having picnic on beach

It's that time of year, when we brush off the dust from our wicker baskets, coolers and beach blankets and head out for picnics! And remember, picnics can happen at any time on any day — don't just wait for Sunday afternoons!

Check out these easy-to-make picnic dishes >>

Brunch picnic

How fun would it be to wake up, prepare a few key items and head toward the park for a brunch picnic with your loved ones. The night before start by making a simple fruit salad of fresh berries, melons and pineapple. Make it special by preparing a flavored simple syrup to toss the fruits in. Whip up and bake a batch of mini quiches that can be reheated and eaten room temperature at the picnic. Add a bottle of your favorite bubbly and a quart of grapefruit juice for a twist on the classic mimosa.

Try a pear basil mimosa for a refreshing sip >>

Date night picnic

Nighttime picnics are always fun, even if they happen in your own backyard. My advice? Grab four large citronella candles and hold down the blanket with them — they'll keep the bugs away and provide romantic lighting. Keep it simple by dipping strawberries in chocolate for dessert! As for the "main dish"? Nothing is more romantic then cured meats like velvety prosciutto and your favorite cheeses, so head to your favorite cheese shop and stock up.

Learn how to assemble a cheese and meat platter >>

Cape Cod picnic

Nothing says summer on the East Coast like heading to Cape Cod and the Islands! If you can't make it this year, host a themed picnic with food inspired by the Islands. Fresh lobster meat tossed with mayonnaise, celery and lemon zest makes the perfect stuffing for lobster rolls (just be sure to put them together onsite, not ahead of time to keep the buns fresh!). Use the ever-so-trendy glass jars and layer yogurt, cranberry jam and fresh granola as parfaits for a sweet treat. What will you be sipping on? Cranberry spritzers of course, made by mixing equal parts seltzer water and cranberry juice.

Make your picnic extra-special with an indulgent BLT lobster roll >>

Desserts only picnic

For the friends that only eat chocolate, a "desserts only" picnic is the best way to go! Plus, desserts tend to travel well if made in smaller versions like hand pies, cupcakes, mousse cups and fresh fruit. If you have a fire available, bring your favorite homemade gourmet marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for a s'mores bar!

Don't have a campfire? Try these portable Mason jar s'mores >>

Whichever picnic you decide to have, just be sure to relax and soak up the sunshine! Because that's what picnics are for, right? Sunshine, food and friends!

More on picnics

How to make travel picnic packs
Plan a romantic summer picnic
Top 10 best places to picnic along the West Coast

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