Friday, February 22, 2013

Springtime Picnic Ideas: Great Salads

Springtime Picnic Ideas Great Salad

Springtime Salad Picnic Ideas

When spring is in the air, we all feel that wonderful sense of renewal. Those who live in four season climates appreciate seeing the buds on the trees and the daffodils poking their heads through the grass. Even people who live in warmer climates sense that something special is about to begin as schools wind down for the year and people begin to make plans for their summer vacations.

What is it you like about the spring? Is it the warm breezes? Is it the color of the flowers? Perhaps it’s the opportunity to spend more time outside after being cooped up in the house or busy at school. For many nature lovers, the best thing about spring is the onset of outdoor activities from walking and jogging to playing sports or simply the chance to head outside without being wrapped up in your parka and snow boots.

With that increased outdoor activity also comes the opportunity to pack up that picnic basket, spread out the blanket, and enjoy an al fresco meal. Nearly everyone – from little ones to senior citizens – enjoys a picnic, though everyone’s idea of the perfect picnic might be a little different.

But whether you prefer a quiet time in the park with one or two closest friends or a noisy picnic with all the kids in tow, you’ll need some great food to take along.


Spring brings a plentiful bounty of produce that you might not have in the wintertime, depending on your location. So use them in a salad! Salads are light and easy to prepare and you won’t feel overly stuffed by the time you’re finished. Furthermore, you’ll have room for a few cookies if you don’t eat a bunch of heavy food for the main course. Try one of these:

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Avocado Salad
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, cut into small chunks
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

Dress the 3 items above in:
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. vinegar (use your favorite!)
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with basil

Tortellini with Spring Vegetables
8 oz. tortellini, cheese or some other favorite
3 c. fresh spinach
1 c. shelled peas
1 lb. asparagus, cut in 2 in. spears
¼ c. pine nuts
6 ounce herbed feta cheese
¼ c. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Cook the tortellini in boiling water for about 5 minutes then add the asparagus and cook for 3 more. Add the peas just before turning off. Strain then add spinach, pine nuts, and feta cheese. Toss with olive oil and vinegar and season to taste.

Layered Garden Salad
6 c. torn mixed salad greens (use your favorites!)
1 15 - ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. shredded carrots
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 9-oz. package frozen whole kernel corn
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 c. green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. finely chopped cooked ham or Canadian bacon
1 10-oz. package frozen peas, thawed
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

Use a large glass bowl and layer the ingredients beginning with the greens and continuing in the order listed. Save half the cheese for top garnish. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. Bring individual dressing packets with you in an insulated cooler so picnic guests can choose their favorite for this yummy salad.

Combine St. Patrick’s Day Traditions with a Fun Picnic

Combine St. Patrick’s Day Traditions with a Fun Picnic

Fun St. Patrick’s Day Picnic Ideas

Okay, admit it. Even if you’re not Irish, you kind of like the idea of celebrating that holiday where it’s okay to drink green beer and consume large amounts of a fatty meat accompanied by plenty of cabbage and spuds. No doubt you’ve got that green outfit already picked out, just waiting until March 17th rolls around when you can wear it along with a silly hat or perhaps some sort of shamrock icon.

Seriously, Americans have fun with this holiday that’s designed to honor St. Patrick, the designated patron saint of Ireland, who is said to have banished all the snakes from that island country…along with a whole bunch of other legends. Truly, however, he was a great Christian missionary who did much to help the poor of Ireland and it’s fitting that not only Irish but others who believe in the spirit of giving honor him on the anniversary of the day of his death.

Happily, for many in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day falls at that time of year when the weather is getting warmer, so many festivities include parades and other outdoor activities. That means it’s also a good time of year to consider a picnic, so instead of keeping the party indoors this year, bring it out into the pretty March sunshine and organize a picnic that’s worthy of this great man.

What’s on the Menu?

There are many traditional Irish or St. Patrick’s Day foods that are actually pretty easy to pack in your picnic basket or cooler and take along to your favorite green space.

Start with a great loaf of Irish soda bread. Around the time of this March holiday, it’s pretty easy to find this bread at supermarkets or other specialty stores, but it’s also quite easy to make. You can pair it with just about anything or simply enjoy it with some good, creamy butter slathered on top. (Calories don’t count on St. Patrick’s Day!)

Of course, a perennial main entrée favorite for this special day is corned beef, and the nice thing about this particular meat is that it can be enjoyed hot or cold. So, you can cook the roast ahead of time, refrigerate it, and then slice it up to bring along on the picnic. You can eat it as is or use it in a sandwich, perhaps putting it on some good hearty oatmeal bread and adorning it with mustard.

And then there’s the potatoes. You can go with the usual potato salad or even make some sort of potato casserole you can keep warm in an insulated container. Whether you choose hot or cold, be sure to keep this and other offerings at the right temperature for serving so as to avoid having anyone get sick.

Why not add a few more traditional Irish items to the menu? Cheeses go great with corned beef and are ideal for any picnic as they are easy to cart along and enjoyed by all ages. You can slice or cube them ahead of time or bring along a cheese board and knife. Types of cheese to consider include Ardrahan, a semi-soft with a salty, nutty flavor; Irish Porter Cheddar (who wouldn’t love a cheese made with beer!); Crozier Blue, a very intense cheese from Tipperary; and Gubbeen, a pink-and-white rind cheese from County Cork that often has a mushroom-like flavor.

Finally, end your meal with some tasty little morsels – Bourbon Fudge Balls, a wonderful blend of two great ingredients, chocolate and a little Irish bourbon. Here’s the recipe, which is easy to make as it requires no baking.

Bourbon Fudge Balls

  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (like chocolate wafer cookies)
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for rolling
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

  1. In a food processor, pulse together the cookie crumbs and pecans until the nuts are finely ground.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the bourbon, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and honey. Add to the mixture in the food processor and pulse until just combined.
  3. Let the dough rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 4 hours or, lightly covered, overnight. Dough will be drier after the rest period.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the remaining confectioners' sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Celebrate the Light with a Daylight Savings Time Picnic

We all get the doldrums when the days are short. It seems its dark when we get up and dark when we get home from work. During the winter, we barely get the chance to enjoy the sun, especially if we’re cooped up in an office or busy at home, rarely venturing outside during the daylight hours. So, when it’s time to “spring ahead” one hour, we rejoice at the opportunity to grab some extra minutes of light which – undoubtedly – helps us shed the winter blahs.

Spring Ahead Picnic Party

When daylight savings time arrives, there’s more than reason to celebrate! Some particularly festive types mark its arrival with a party. And why not? A get-together is a great way to mark the coming of spring and the joy that extra daylight brings, and if the weather permits, why not make it a “Spring Ahead Picnic Party”?

For those who really enjoy being outside, a picnic is the ideal way for marking the return of longer days. So, gather your like-minded friends and pack a special meal that pays homage to the extended daylight. How about stocking your picnic basket with items related to the sun or those that are sun-colored? You can include items such as:

  • Oranges, clementines, or tangerines
  • Orange juice or lemonade
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Round cookies with sunshine-colored frosting (orange or yellow)
  • Circle-shaped orange cheese sandwiches
  • Mini lemon tarts
  • Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto
  • Simple grilled chicken topped with mango salsa
  • Carrots with your favorite dip
  • Dried apricots
  • And any other orange or yellow foods!

    One particularly healthy orange food is sweet potatoes and, if you have time to prepare ahead, there are many ways you can serve them at your picnic. Of course, traditional potato salads are a picnic favorite. Here’s one that uses these vitamin-packed sun-colored tubers and another sunny fruit as well!

    Sweet Potato Salad

  • 6 med. sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 (8 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/2 c. sliced celery
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 c. mayonnaise, low fat
  • 1/4 c. sour cream, low fat

    In a large pot, cook sweet potatoes in boiling water for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Let the potatoes cool and then cut into ½-inch cubes. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, pineapple, celery, and pecans. Combine the mayo and sour cream and fold into the other ingredients. Chill and place in an insulated container for transporting to the picnic. Serves 8-10.

    Springing Ahead to Festive Days in The Sun

    Sunday, March 10th is the 2013 date we get to “spring forward” and 10 short days later on the 20th is the spring equinox, the official beginning of spring. Make an excuse to get away, out of the office and into the sunshine for a Daylight Savings Time Picnic!

  • Monday, June 11, 2012

    Summer Picnic Season is Here!

    Summer is in full swing! Memorial Day is behind us and vacations and staycation plans are being made! Father's Day is fast approaching and the 4th of July will be here before you know it!

    Father's Day Ideas

    Father's Day is always a special "family time" celebration. A day to show Dads & Granddads just how special they are to their families. Why not celebrate Father's Day this year with a BBQ? Whether its at home or at your favorite picnic location there will be plenty of family time and good food. Need some help putting a BBQ together? Check out this out - Father's Day BBQ Ideas.

    4th of July Picnic

    What could be more American than celebrating the 4th with a picnic & fireworks? It provides the perfect opportunity to share the day with family & friends. Food, games & fireworks make for a fun day but for the day to go smoothly "someone" needs to do a bit of preparation! Planning a 4th of July picnic can be as simple as hotdogs & hamburgers and potlucks work well with larger groups. Check out this article if you need some help planning a 4th of July picnic.

    A Day At The Beach

    We love the beach and living just minutes from the "Worlds Most Famous Beach" that's where we tend to spend the 4th. Surf, sand and fireworks! We generally take "finger food" with us and enjoy a picnic with desserts coming from the passing ice cream trucks! Rushing to finish before it melts in the hot sun with a cool dip in the ocean to rinse clean the inevitable ice cream drips from your body! Fireworks end the day at 11, shot from the end of the pier they burst beautifully over the water. Check out this article for more beach inspiration: A day At The Beach. We have also compiled some safety tips and a list of items we consider essential for the beach. Beach Gear Checklist & Safety Tips

    Canadian Independence Day

    On July 1st our Canadian friends get to celebrate Canada Day, their independence day. The warm days and mild nights just beckon for a picnic to celebrate the day!

    Corporate/Company Picnics

    Many large & small companies hold their annual company picnics during the warm summer months. If you get to help in the event planning we have several articles that can help make the task easier; Company Picnicking 101, Organizing Your Company Picnic Games & Activities, Company Picnic Planning Ideas and Checklist for Organizing Your Company Picnic.

    Get Out & Enjoy

    Take every opportunity you are given this summer to enjoy some family picnic time. That's how memories are made!

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Memorial Day 2012

    Honoring Those Who Sacrificed for Your Freedom

    Memorial Day 2012 is on Monday, May 28th and it is much more than the kick off summer, it's a day to remember Americas' brave men and women that gave their lives for this country and the bedrock beliefs of freedom that we all enjoy. Sadly too many of us, myself included, forget the blessings of freedom we enjoy every day!

    We should all take a few minutes for quite reflection this Memorial Day!
    From the Revolutionary War to Afganistan tens of thousands of young men and women that died for us to be able to enjoy the freedoms we do today. If you know a vet, thank them. If you know of someone has lost a loved one to war, reach out to them, let them know you appreciate them and their sacrifices. Showing someone we care can mean the world to them. Those we memoralize were all someones daughter or son, sister or brother, wife or husband. They are missed everyday by those left behind who have to live the rest of their lives without that person.

    Military Discounts for Active Duty

    Local Party Stores are an excellant place to start. They are sure to have all the napkins, plates, table covers, ballons and cups that you'll need but SHOP EARLY, many items will sell out.

    Browse the internet for some inspiration on cool red, white & blue foods. There are dozens & dozens of recipes that use everything from colorful fruits to food coloring and their all sure to good! For a spectacular desert try this Blue Cheese and Cherry Salad recipe or this Red, White & Blue Strawberry Shortcake recipe or try this Layered Red, White & Blue Cake recipe from Recipe Girl! How about a Red, White & Blue Pasta Salad or Red, White & Blue Jello Stars?

    Celebrate Summers Arrival With Loved Ones

    I can't think of a better way to kick off summer than with a 3-day weekend! If the weather is good where you are, get out and enjoy it with those you care about. Of course we "highly" recommend a picnic...the bigger the better, the more the merrier kind of picnic! And hey, if the weather isn't cooperating then what a great chance to spend time together cooking, eating, playing board games and reconnecting!

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    Cinco De' Mayo Picnic

    Cinco De' Mayo Picnic Ideas  

    Ole! It’s nearly Cinco de Mayo, and whether or not you have a connection to the Mexican culture, it’s still fun to celebrate with some good food and drink!

    Cinco de Mayo – the fifth of May – began as an occasion to celebrate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

    These days, it has become more a celebration of Hispanic/Mexican heritage and pride and it’s not unusual to find a nod to the holiday in cities and even small towns across the U.S., especially in places where there’s a large Hispanic population.

    But rather than going to your favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate the holiday this year, why not put together a fun get-together in your own backyard? Have a Cinco de Mayo picnic and start a new tradition!

    Mexican Barbecue?

    If Cinco de Mayo calls to mind baskets of tortilla chips and pitchers full of margaritas, you’ve probably spent a lot of May 5ths eating in restaurants. The fact is, however, that there’s so much more you can do to honor the great food of Mexico. Think barbecue, for example. There are many foods with a Mexican slant that can be cooked on your backyard grill. Consider steaks with mole sauce or salsa, grilled seafood, spice-rubbed chicken, and much more.

    Backyard cooks can experiment with all sorts of items that are regular components of Mexican food including chilies, avocado, cilantro, coconut, plantains or bananas, and other tropical fruits. Use them in the grilling process or for side dishes.

    Of course, you’ll want to include some traditional stuff. too. It’s okay to break out the tortilla chips (consider frying your own!) and homemade salsa (make some with mangoes!) for munching before the main meal, and you’ll want to be sure you have several pitchers of margaritas on hand as well.

    The Mexican Picnic Basket

    If you want to pack a Cinco de Mayo picnic basket to take to the park or elsewhere, you may want to opt for the traditional as well, especially if the kids are in tow. One suggestion is to pack the components of tacos and let picnickers but them together on their own.

    For example, bring along some flour or corn tortillas as well as containers full of cold chicken or beef, shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, and anything else you like on your hard or soft tacos. Be sure to keep them in an insulated tote if it’s hot outside. Then just remove the containers and let everyone design their own taco. Furthermore, they’re easy to eat without silverware and fairly mess-free.

    For beverages, pack a cooler with some exotic juices like mango or papaya or some fruit flavored bottles of water. For dessert, end the meal with a selection of Mexican cookies including traditional wedding cookies or these cool looking Taco Cookies and be sure to try these easy-to-make Mexican Hot Chocolate cookie treats!

    Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

    In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides. Add eggs and beat until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture.

    In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chili powder (if using). Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on two parchment-lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake at 400 degrees until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks.

    Compliments of | 1-800-861-8823

  • Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

    unique christmas gifts  

    Unique Christmas Gift Giving Ideas


    It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner. For many people Christmas is a magical time of snowy afternoons, cozy nights sitting by the fire, and enjoyable treasure hunts for perfect gifts to give to those they love. You'll never be the same after you check out the benefits and features of creative gift ideas that will create memories for a lifetime from!

    Fun Christmas Gift Giving

    Many rack their brain for weeks (or months!), trying to think of "just the right thing" to give the people in their life. As the time ticks slowly down they become even more frantic, and many times end up settling on something ordinary because they couldn’t find that one of a kind, unique gift they were looking for.

    Well, not this year! We’ve got some great ideas for unique Christmas gifts that you can bet your friends and family won’t be receiving from anyone else.

    One distinctive idea is a wine and cheese picnic basket from This gift would be great for a couple, and might give them the inspiration to head outdoors for a romantic evening picnic for two. Rather than giving them "just another gift certificate", a wine and cheese picnic basket would allow them to do something meaningful together, and give them a chance to reconnect every time they enjoy it.

    If you’re looking for a gift for someone who likes martinis, offers luxurious, portable martini sets that would impress even the most discerning drinker. Imagine being able to take your martinis outdoors for a quiet evening under the stars! Many people don’t know that portable martini sets are available, and you can bet that any martini-lover would love these high-quality sets. And there’s no plastic here - all the martini sets come with stainless steel pieces, which any martini aficionado knows makes for a better martini.

    Another wonderful idea is a coffee backpack. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to head out to the beach first thing in the morning for a soothing cup of coffee and a light breakfast while watching the sun come up? That’s the whole idea behind the coffee backpacks at These backpacks enable people to strike out early to enjoy the outdoors, and take their coffee with them for a lovely picnic. This is a unique, one-of-a-kind gift that any coffee lover would enjoy using when the weather is fine.

    With the Christmas shopping season here, it can be easy to get overwhelmed trying to think of "the perfect gift". Giving gifts that can bring joy and rich experiences to those you love are always the best ones, and many of the items featured on encourage people to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery Mother Nature has to offer. These unique Christmas gifts can improve the quality of life for those you love and allow them to try something new!

    Compliments of | 1-800-861-8823


    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Corporate Gift Solutions

    Corporate Gift Giving Ideas  

    Corporate Gifts Ideas

    "Thank You". Two little words that we hear so rarely these days. Two little words that everyone loves to hear. Two little words to make your customers feel valued.

    Two little words guaranteed to increase both an employee's productivity and sense of self worth. The Holiday Season is a great time to think about rewarding your valuable clients and employees alike.

    Have you thought of promoting your company in addition to rewarding those valuable customers and employees? Corporate Logo Gifts can be a fantastic
    Holiday Gift Idea. Instead of presenting perishable gifts that will be consumed and then forgotten, a gift with corporate branding will last indefinitely. Better still, every time the recipient uses your gift they will be thinking of your company. Whereas the bottle of wine or food hamper, once drunk or eaten, is out of sight.

    We have corporate gifts that start at very reasonable prices. If they enjoy a bottle of wine then an insulated wine tote would be perfect. Other reasonable corporate gift ideas are a Coffee Backpacks or Totes or perhaps a comfortable
    Folding Chair.

    A BBQ Tool Set is another great idea. Maybe a chef's apron with BBQ Tools? Your logo could be stitched on the front of the apron, ensuring years of endless advertising. Other products in this sort of price range include a wine and cheese sets, or if they are football fans we have pleanty of Tailgating Supplies to pick from. For the more impressive bonus there are Picnic Baskets and picnic backpacks.

    "Merci", "Gracias", "Mahalo", "Danke" all ways of saying "Thank you". Add a corporate gift to your words of thanks and receive the gift of giving: increased productivity and happy clients.

    Compliments of | 1-800-861-8823