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Backyard picnic how-to menu

As a high school student, Jana Erwin fell madly in love with Washington, D.C. Eight years, a couple of degrees and an internship later, Jana moved from Arizona to the East Coast with high hopes of changing the world. After five years in ...

The perfect picnic

Looking to head out for a picnic? We have all you need to know to pack the perfect meal!

In the simple how-to above, these chefs give you all the tips you need to pack up a drool-worthy picnic basket full of favorite summer recipes in no time!

Iron chef Michael Simon spills the secret of tender, moist grilled chicken breast in the above episode of ABC's foodie talk show, The Chew. While his BBQ chicken cooks skin side down to 160 degrees, watch as Daphne Oz whips up her favorite summer salad with an interesting combination of flavors. Daphne and co-hosts provide delightful commentary and helpful step-by-step directions as a colorful summer salad comes to life on a bed of romaine lettuce with grilled fruits and veggies. Grilling melon is perfect for when the fruit isn't as ripe as you'd like!

After watching this Dish of the Day video above from our favorite Chew chefs, check out our recipes below inspired by them.

Cover your bases

Picnics need to have foods that can be grazed over for hours while you relax and unwind in a scenic spot. You'll want to make sure you have at least one dish from each category.

  • Drinks
  • Trays: cheese, veggies, fruit, charcuterie, etc.
  • Salad: fruit, potato, pasta, lettuce, cucumber, etc.
  • chips/crackers
  • main dish
  • dessert
One easy grazeable dish for a picnic is homemade pie-crust crackers made from store-bought pie-crust dough. They are quick, simple and easily adaptable to fit the theme of your picnic.
These cheesy, doughy bites are light and airy. The cheddar cheese will pair perfectly with a BBQ chicken breast like Iron Chef Michael Simon's from The Chew.

Pie-crust crackers

Pie-crust crackers

Ingredients:

  • 2 ready-made refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional toppings such as fresh herbs or shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Unroll the refrigerated pie crusts on a work surface.
  2. Cut the dough using small cookie cutters or a pizza wheel or knife (use the latter for square cookies).
  3. Put the cut shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet, brush the tops with a little beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and any additional toppings.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 8–10 minutes, until golden brown.

When considering salads to add to a picnic, it can be best to avoid mayo or dairy-based salads that may spoil after sitting for hours in a picnic basket and then hours more at the picnic. Consider using salads made with freshly chopped vegetables covered in vinaigrette, such as this cucumber-and-dill salad. We are taking pointers here from Chef Daphne Oz and Clinton Kelly! It is a great idea to make salad dressings at home, especially if you want to avoid the high levels of sodium or sugar found in bottled dressings.

Dill cucumber salad

Dill cucumber salad

This salad has it all. It's light, healthy, vegan, low-cal and guaranteed not to spoil!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 English cucumbers, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and quartered

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, dill, salt, sugar and pepper until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Toss in the cucumbers and red onions.
  3. Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes.

For main dishes, consider skipping making each person a sandwich and instead bake a stuffed bread filled with all the best sandwich ingredients! It's easier to pack, impressive, unusual and even faster than making a bunch of individual sandwiches.

Munster- and ham-stuffed bread

Munster- and ham-stuffed bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 (13.8-ounce) refrigerated classic pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup stone-ground mustard
  • 8 ounces ham
  • 4 ounces Munster cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  •  1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Roll the dough into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle
  3. Alternate layers of cheese, ham and mustard.
  4. Starting at a short edge, roll the layers into a loaf. Pinch closed.
  5. Place the loaf seam side down into a 9-inch loaf pan.
  6. Brush egg over the loaf's top.
  7. Place the loaf in the oven for 25–35 minutes and bake until golden brown.

After planning your perfect summer picnic, check out the video below for more creative culinary ideas from some of our favorite food television stars. If you're looking for great recipes and chefs that will inspire you to create the perfect meal for your dining room table, look no further than The Chew on ABC at 1e|12p|c.

More summer eating

Pack the perfect picnic
Enjoy a low-carb picnic
Easy summer desserts that are perfect for a picnic

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