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An Impromptu Picnic & Menu

We had family visiting in town this weekend, and rather than drag two small children to another restaurant, we decided to have a rather impromptu picnic at a nearby park on the Indian River Lagoon. Impromptu being I had three hours notice–but I honestly didn’t spend any more time cooking this meal than I would have if we had stayed at home, and I only had to run to the store for some flowers, rolls and ice tea to complete our picnic.

Once we decided a little dinner al fresco was in order for the evening, I quickly prepped the pork loin and put in in the oven to cook. While that was happening, I cooked the pasta and made the cake batter while waiting for the meat to be done. After that, the rest was easy assembly. You might remember those Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin Rolls from here where you can find the recipe. They are so perfect for a picnic, and a nice departure from turkey and cheese sandwiches.

We packed up our picnic in baskets and brought them to the park. The kids and grandparents went to play for a few minutes while I set everything out. I brought along an old table cloth to add to the ambiance.

The strawberry salad is super easy, super filling, and super good. I like to use spinach, sliced strawberries, crumbled feta cheese and chopped walnuts or pecans in mine. I top with chicken for a complete meal quite often. I use a homemade balsamic vinaigrette for dressing–it’s honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper that I shake up in a mason jar. I eyeball this one, so I can’t begin to tell you the measurements! The pasta, peas and pesto recipe was originally by Ina Garten, and is a favorite of mine. This time I omitted the spinach and used bowtie pasta, but all in all it is a quick recipe to make and serve.

The flowers came from the grocery store, and I think were that little extra touch that just made the table really spectacular for an easy evening picnic. I just picked out all the yellow blooms for my arrangement, then tied some gingham and raffia around a mason jar (had all on hand) and finished it off with a 4 inch monogrammed circle. I’ll have these available in my store soon!

When it comes to little details, sometimes I can’t help myself. But really, this was a 5 minute project! I punched some monogram party circles (available with the 4 inch circle soon!), wrapped the silverware in a napkin and tied it all together with a ribbon. This ended up being an excellent idea, as we found the wind blowing off the water was a bit stiff that evening.

For dessert, a tribute to my favorite southern cook, Paula Deen (the other Paula), with her Southwest Georgia Pound Cake. Her mother’s recipe, I believe. It had the most perfect crisp sugary crust and moist middle. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The cake was topped with fresh whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and blend on high until peaks form), strawberries and blueberries. I always like to dust the top of the cake with a little powdered sugar, but for our picnic, I brought the cake still warm in the Bundt pan. When I put the sugar on top in the wind…well, I’m just happy I decided to do it where it was blowing onto the plates and off the table and not onto the rest of the food!

This recipe comes from Paula’s“The Lady & Son’s Just Desserts,” one of my favorite down home dessert cookbooks. Nothing is very fussy in this book, but all of it fabulous!

It was a beautiful, breezy evening and the view we had was gorgeous while we had our meal. As a bonus, the kids were able to play on the playground while we had dessert in peace. Completely perfect picnic, easy to make, and the few extra minutes adding a few special touches really made it memorable!

Paula Biggs

Owner at Frog Prince Paperie
Paula Biggs is a party planner, DIY crafter, and owner of Frog Prince Paperie, where you can find hundreds of party, craft and lifestyle ideas.


Thursday 19th of August 2010

OMG - what a great menu. I'm sure to use it for my husband's birthday in May or 4th of July.