Great Summer Picnic Recipes That Aren't Sandwiches
It’s so easy to pack a cooler with sandwiches for a quick picnic. If your family is anything like mine, as summer continues on you might hear them saying…”I’m sick of sandwiches!” If sandwiches are always the first thing that comes to mind when considering what to pack for a picnic, then this article is perfect for you! Here are 3 great summer picnic recipes to help get you out of the sandwich grind.
Mexican Macaroni Chicken Salad
- 6 ears fresh sweet corn (shucked)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins
- 1 packet fajita seasoning
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 ½ cups mayo
- 3 limes
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 1 cup green onion (chopped)
- 1 cup cilantro (chopped)
- 1 lb elbow pasta (cooked)
- 1 Tbsp ground chipotle pepper
- 1 Tbsp salt
- Grill chicken tenderloins until done, about 4 minutes on each side. Season with fajita seasoning and juice from one lime. Chop in bite sized pieces when cooled.
- In a large pot boil salted water and cook corn until done. Remove with tongs and brush corn with olive oil. Lightly char corn on a grill for about 6 minutes, turning every 2 minutes to evenly char each side. Cut corn from cob into a medium sized bowl.
- Return water to a boil and add elbow pasta. Cook until done, about 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain in a colander.
- In a large bowl mix together mayo, juice from 2 limes, sour cream, chipotle pepper, and salt.
- Add corn, chicken, pasta, green onion, feta cheese, and cilantro. Cover and toss in bowl to combine for about 2 minutes.
- Place in the refrigerator and cool for an hour or more.
We like to make this salad the night before a picnic. The next morning when we are packing our cooler I take 6 mason jars and fill them with the salad. The mason jars seal tight and keep the salad safe from moisture in the cooler. When it’s time for the picnic we hand a jar to everyone, shake it to mix up the ingredients one last time, and enjoy.
Perfect Picnic Fried Chicken
- 3 lbs thawed chicken drumsticks, thighs, breasts (your choice)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups flower
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tsp. garlic salt
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- 1 ½ tsp. onion salt
- 1 tsp. Black pepper
- Your choice of oil for frying
- Whisk flour, onion salt, garlic salt, smoked paprika, cornstarch, and pepper in a small bowl.
- In a different bowl whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
- Dip your chicken pieces 1st in the seasoned flour. (this removes any moisture from the surface of the chicken and helps your fry batter stick)
- Next, dip chicken pieces in egg/buttermilk mixture.
- Finally, dip chicken back into the flour to coat it once again. (Sometimes I use 2 different flour bowls for the 2 flower dipping’s steps.)
- Allow chicken to sit for 15 minutes. You want the batter to be slightly gooey.
- Fill a cast iron dutch oven ⅔ full of oil and heat to approximately 325 degrees. (Any pot will work but cast iron seems to produce the best fry!)
- Place chicken pieces in the pot giving plenty of space between them.
- Cook chicken pieces for approximately 12 minutes on the first side and then turn to finish. Chicken is done when it is a deep golden brown. If you find that you are burning the outside of your batter then turn the temperature down.
- Place finished chicken on a rack with a cookie sheet underneath to let it cool and drain excess oil off.
- If there is any question of whether the chicken is done in the middle or not feel free to put the chicken in the oven at 425 degrees for a few minutes to finish cooking.
- Let the chicken cool completely. Place cooled chicken in zip lock bags and into refrigerator. Do not place warm chicken into bags as it will result in your fry losing its crispness.
In many places fried chicken is a staple of a good summer picnic recipes. I like that it tastes good, and also that it gives a break from the normal sandwich routine. I also believe that when you perfect a fried chicken recipe, it’s so much better for you, and better tasting than anything you can buy at a restaurant. Make this recipe a few times and experiment with it! Your family will thank you come picnic time.
Do It Your Way Taco Salad
- 1 lb lean ground beef (browned) or 1 lb chicken breast (grilled/chopped)
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 head of lettuce (chopped) or ½ head of lettuce and 6 cups of spinach (chopped)
- 1 tomato (chopped)
- ½ red onion (diced) or 1 cup green onion (diced)
- 8 oz mexican cheese (shredded) or 8 oz cheddar cheese (shredded) or both
- Optional diced green pepper or finely diced jalapeno pepper
- Your choice of Doritos and/or Fritos (lightly crushed)
- Sour cream
- Ranch, French, or southwest dressing
The nice thing about a dish like this is that you can simply make it your way! Cook your meat, dice and chop the necessary ingredients, season the salad, add any sour cream or dressing on top, and you are good to go! Basically anything you love about mexican food can be added to this dish including corn, black beans, a spritz of lime, and more. For some the best thing about this salad is… drum roll please… IT’S NOT A SANDWICH.