Picnic Recipes to Beat the Heat

Picnic Recipes to Beat the Heat

he picnic basket is a distinct Madisonian summer icon. It shows up at Picnic Point, on bike trails and the Capitol Square on Wednesday nights for Concert on the Square – the crème de la crème for picnickers. It’s easy to overlook both the artistic and logistical components of the trend, but packing the perfect picnic basket is no easy feat.

Up against balmy weather and hustling crowds, packing the perfect picnic basket is no easy feat. The best basket can weave easily through crowds and contains food that will not perish in heat.

With just a few tips, you can become picnic-packer-extraordinaire. Try these fair-weather items that bode well in heat and crowds.

It’s crucial to stay hydrated on sweltering summer nights, but that doesn’t mean your beverage needs to be watered down. Keep cool by introducing foreign substances to your ice-cube trays. Instead of making cubes from water, freeze your beverage of choice: coffee, wine, iced tea – anything refreshing.

To add an extra flash of flavor, try freezing herbs or fruit in the cubes as well. Mint, lemon and raspberry all work wonders, either together or separately.

Frosting – like frost – melts. But without frosting, cupcakes are merely muffins, meaning they are not nearly as fun. Try putting the frosting inside: a less-messy alternative, without sacrificing flavor. The following recipe is for carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, however, the same concept can be applied to red velvet cupcakes or other flavors.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare cupcake tins with either grease or cupcake liners.

2. Prepare the frosting. Melt 8 ounces cream cheese and combine with ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.

3. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger

4. Add two eggs, ¾ cup water and 1/3 vegetable oil (or, for a healthy substitute, apple sauce). After fully mixed, add one cup grated carrots. Optional ingredients include ½ cup shredded pineapple, ½ cup shredded coconut and chocolate chips.

5. Pour about two tablespoons of the cupcake batter into a pan. The pan can be either greased or filled with cupcake liners. Add one tablespoon of frosting, and top with one to two tablespoons batter, until muffin cups are nearly full.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes.

For sweet finishing touches, add chocolate chips or dried fruit.
For savory ends, sprinkle sea salt, crystallized ginger and ground nutmeg on top. 

It may be tempting to grab one right out of the oven, while the frosting is warm enough to ooze. Go ahead – you only live once.


Recipe adapted from: www.kingarthurflour.com

Whether you bring a basket or insulated cooler, Brie fits the bill.

Served cold, it can be served with crackers, pita or cut plain.

For a warmer approach, slather the top with either pesto and pine nuts or fruit jam and walnuts. The hot air will cause the cheese to melt, and you’ll have a nature-oven-prepared appetizer.