Last week I presented you with the first two Kailley’s Kitchen summer bucket list items: perfectly executing the backyard barbecue and the camping adventure. This week, I have another item to add.
The picnic in the park: If you think a “good picnic” simply means grabbing a blanket and a basket filled with simple finger-food and lemonade, you are sadly mistaken. The ideal picnic requires planning and attention to detail. Here’s the shortlist of what you’ll need, as well as some keeper recipes:
- Off! clip-on bug repellant – Picnic-goer, meet cutting edge bug repellant technology. No spray, no sting, no stink. Allegedly keeps unwanted critters of the insect variety away. Sounds like a brilliant plan, unless you’re into the idea of needing a toothpick to dislodge the wayward six-legged traveler that snuck into your food and ended up in your chompers.
- A decent blanket – No, not a glorified tablecloth. Not a beach towel. Not a sheet. Contrary to popular belief, sundress-clad ladies do not enjoy grass blades poking their lady bits through whatever pansy-ass blanket you’ve provided… so please, for the love of Mother Nature, pack a large blanket thick enough to mask the topography/vegetation beneath you.
- Real silverware/cutlery – Do you prefer your food neatly sliced or brutally mutilated? Really, this is self-explanatory. Even if you opt for a menu that doesn’t require utensils, BRING SOME. You’ll be glad you had that fork when you need to fend off a rabid squirrel.
- An exceptionally boozy beverage – Lemonade, iced tea, and wine are all cute beverage options. But the ultimate picnic isn’t about being “cute;” it’s about delivering an exceptional experience. Try sipping apple pie moonshine from a mason jar. How creative and rustic of you.
- Goat cheese lollipops – All you need is goat cheese, bacon, and basil. Cook bacon, finely chop bacon and basil, form goat cheese into 1-inch balls, roll cheese in bacon and basil until coated, and stick a cake pop stick in it. Yes, it looks like a lollipop, but please don’t lick or suck on it because that’s weird.
- Grape salad – Use this classic Taste of Home recipe, add a sprinkle of flaked coconut on top for an extra pop of flavor. Like those frosted tips you rocked in the 90s, assorted melon fruit salads are dead.
- A baguette and seasoned olive oil – Classic and underrated. Just make sure it’s fresh, because bread that’s more than a day old looses that perfectly-crisp and flaky crust. Use a bread-knife to cut it– you’re not a neanderthal. You know the statement above re: grass blades? Ditto goes for rogue pieces of bread crust.
- DunkAroo cupcakes – Because they’re an awesome throwback treat. One bite will make your mind slip’n’slide back to the good old summer days of diving for sunken treasures in your pool, running through sprinklers, and chasing after the Good Humor truck.
If you weren’t a child of the 90s, you may not recall what DunkAroos were. Allow Urban Dictionary to explain.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened (NOT melted)
- 3 ounces (about 1/3 block) cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other desired flavor, such as coconut or almond)
- 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or more for desired consistency)
- 4 Tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
- 1 cup graham crackers crumbs (use food processor to pulverize)
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- Teddy Grahams to top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with liners
- In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and light brown sugar
- Place about a Tablespoon of the mixture in each muffin liner, patting down with the base of a cup
- Bake graham cracker crust for 3 minutes, remove promptly from oven and set aside
- Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each
- Add flour, baking powder, salt, and extract and mix until just combined (don’t overmix!)
- Slice vanilla bean length-wise, scrape seeds into batter and mix until there aren’t visible clumps of vanilla bean
- Add milk and vegetable oil, mix until just combined
- Spoon batter into cupcake liners and fill each 3/4 full
- Bake for 16-18 minutes until slightly golden, then allow to cool on a wire rack.
- In an electric mixer fitted, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth
- Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix
- Add remaining powdered sugar and vanilla extract and mix
- Add heavy cream and sprinkles and mix
- Fill a piping bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes, top with Teddy Grahams