Hallelujah, spring is finally here! I learned to be a lot more flexible years ago as my family got larger and, now, as the grandkids have gotten older.
For several years now, we’ve been getting together for an Easter picnic dinner at the park. It works out well as no one has to rush after church to try to make it to several different family gatherings! Like I said, the kids are older—way past the egg-hunting age—so we have an egg toss! We pair up by drawing numbers then get in two lines and start tossing the eggs, taking a step back with each toss. You toss until you drop the egg, and the last pair with an unbroken egg is the winner! And of course, I have a prize for the winning team. We also play a game of kickball—yes, all of us play, and we all get very serious playing kickball!
I made the mistake of bringing cold fried chicken to a picnic years ago, so now it’s requested! No, you don’t want to fix this all the time but what’s a Southern picnic without fried chicken? If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go on and make that purchase; it’ll be one of the best buys you ever make for your kitchen.
And of course, cold salads are a mainstay at any picnic. Here are a few of our favorite dishes for a picnic, and the great thing is, all of them can be made the day before!
Berry Crumb Cakes
(makes 24 cakes)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 tsp. vanilla
Heaping Tbsp. cornstarch
(If you use fresh berries add 1 Tbsp. water.)
Toss together and set aside.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks cold butter
1 cup sugar
Mix all together with a pastry blender, or I use my hands. Mix till pea-size crumbs form. You do not want it to be smooth.
Line two 12-count cupcake pans. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of crumbs in each paper liner and press down, saving almost half of the crumb mixture for the top. Fill each with fruit, then top with the remaining crumb mixture.
Bake about 30-35 minutes, until the top is a little brown. Let cool.
Quick Fruit Dip
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 small jar marshmallow cream
Mix in a medium size bowl with a mixer for about two minutes till smooth and creamy. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Serve with fruit of your choice. It goes really well with a sliced Granny Smith apple!
Four Bean Salad
1 can large red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can yellow/wax beans
1 can sliced green beans
1 can lima beans, rinsed
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
Place all in a large bowl.
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Mix together well. Pour over vegetables and stir with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.
Double Crusted Cold Fried Chicken
You will need a large skillet (a cast iron skillet is best, but use what you have) and 2 cups of vegetable or canola oil for frying.
4 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into two pieces
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (saving 1/4 cup for later)
Put chicken and buttermilk into a large zip lock baggie. Refrigerate at least two hours (overnight is even better).
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Mix all seasonings into a small dish.
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Take chicken out of the refrigerator and coat each piece with seasoning on both sides. Dredge in 1 cup flour, and lay out each piece on a wax paper lined sheet pan.
Take the other 2 cups of flour and pour about 1/4 cup buttermilk over flour and mix a little. Take one chicken breast at a time, placing in flour/buttermilk mixture and press the flour onto each piece of chicken, and set aside on the sheet pan lined with wax paper.
Heat oil in a skillet to medium-high heat and add chicken, not crowding, frying until nice and brown (about 7 or 8 minutes). Turn heat down to medium turning each piece over and cooking until nice and golden brown again about 6–7 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool—this will keep the chicken crispy.
If you use chicken on the bone, cooking time will be longer. Refrigerate until you’re ready for your picnic.
6 boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1/2 tsp. Beau Monde seasoning
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice eggs in half and scoop out yolk into a small bowl, setting egg whites to the side. Combine all ingredients except paprika. Mix well, adding more mayonnaise if it’s too dry.
Fill each egg with a heaping tablespoon of egg yolk mixture, and top with a little sprinkle of paprika. It’s a Southern thing! If you don’t have Beau Monde, it’s ok but it is a great seasoning to have on your shelf!