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Picnic Recipes

What I like to eat on a picnic is the same food I like to eat anywhere else. I like cold food to be cold, so I pack lots and lots of cold packs.  I freeze my beverages (my favorite is half iced tea and half lemonade) so that they stay cold as the temperature outside increases.


Family Picnic for Six

Humus and Herb Cheese with Carrots, Snow Peas, Crackers, French Bread

Sticky Chicken Wings

Tortellini Pesto

Assorted Cookies

Lemonade, Apple Cider


Grown Up Picnic for Two

Humus and Herb Cheese with Carrots, Snow Peas, Crackers, French Bread

Ginger Lemon Flank Steak over Greens and Chopped Salad


Lemonade Iced Tea


Sticky Chicken Wings

Although I have made these literally zillions of times (my children beg for them), each time they come out a little differently.  When the chicken cooks, the marinade should turn sticky and thick and the crust should become somewhat blackened and crisp; if it doesn’t, simply stop cooking about 5 minutes before the chicken is done and turn the broiler on.  When we serve this we often divide it in half and add the crushed red pepper flakes to the half my daughter Lauren won’t even look at.


5 pounds chicken wings, tips removed or drumettes, trimmed

1 cup soy sauce

½ c orange juice concentrate

½ cup dark or light brown sugar

2-3 garlic cloves, minced     

1 small chunk fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)                                                                                                                                                                 


  1. Place everything in a large glass, ceramic or plastic container, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450- 500 degrees.
  3. Place the contents, including the marinade, in a large baking pan and transfer to the oven.  Bake until the chicken is crispy and the marinade is sticky, about 40- 45 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to overnight.

Serves 6 generously


Tortellini with Pesto


20 ounce container “Family Size” fresh frozen tortellini

1- 2 garlic cloves, or more to taste

1 large bunch fresh basil, leaves only, about 2- 2 1/2 cups packed

1/4 cup pine nuts, pecans, or walnuts or more to taste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons warm water


  1. Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.  
  2. Add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  3. While the tortellini is cooking, prepare the pesto: Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until the garlic is well chopped but not juiced.  Add the basil and pine nuts and process until fully incorporated. Add the parmesan and salt and process until incorporated. Very, very gradually add the olive oil, at first one tablespoon at a time, gradually increasing the amount.  Add the water, one tablespoon at a time.
  4. Add half the pesto to the tortellini and stir to combine. Add the remaining pesto, if desired. 

The pesto can also be served on grilled or poached chicken, pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, salmon or tuna.

Serves 6



Although this is incredibly easy to make, if you don’t have the time or the inclination, Tribe of Two Sheiks makes a huge selection of plain and flavored hummus.


1 16 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, or more to taste

1 teaspoon soy sauce, or more to taste

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill or parsley leaves or chive or scallion greens (optional)

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste



  1. Place the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the mixture begins to come together.  
  2. Gradually add the remaining ingredients, processing until completely smooth.  
  3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. 

Makes: about 1 1/4 cups


Herb Cheese


1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature (it is fine to use low fat but not non-fat)

¼- ½  cup buttermilk

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/3 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place the cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and mash with a fork. 
  2. Gradually add the buttermilk and mash until it is well incorporated and creamy. 
  3. Add the garlic and herbs and mix to combine. 
  4. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.  


Ginger Lemon Flank Steak


½ flank steak, about 1- 1 1/4 pounds

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 thick slice ginger root, minced

¼ cup flat leaf Italian parsley

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

thickly sliced zest of one lemon

thick shavings of Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare a grill until very hot or preheat a broiler.
  2. Sprinkle the steak with the salt and pepper and place it on the grill or under a broiler until deeply browned and crusty, about 4- 5 minutes per side.
  3. Place the garlic, ginger, and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until well chopped. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and process until it is thick and emulsified. 
  4. While the steak is hot, thinly slice against the grain and on the bias.  Pour half the dressing on the steak, cover and refrigerate at least one hour and no more than four. Reserve the remaining marinade for later (see recipe below).


Chopped Vegetable Salad For Two

This is really a recipe-less recipe.  Basically, you throw whatever raw vegetables you like in a bowl and add some mixed greens.  You can also add beans, olives, chunks of cheese, raisins. When you pack up your picnic, place the salad in one container and the steak in another and the remaining marinade in a small cup.  Just prior to eating, place half the salad on each of two plates and top with half the steak. Drizzle with the marinade and garnish with the lemon and Parmesan cheese. Remember, this is supposed to be a very grown-up picnic.


One handful assorted greens



Tiny tomatoes

Orange bell pepper



These are dark and rich yet not too sweet; don’t be tempted to leave off the glaze, it’s part of what makes these so spectacular.


For the brownie:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


For the glaze:

1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons water or prepared coffee

3 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate

1-ounce unsweetened chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper, allowing enough overhang to lift up the brownies.

To make the brownie:

  1. Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat and cook until almost all the chocolate has melted.  Off heat, stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2.  Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until lemon colored and thick.
  3.  Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt and process until just incorporated.
  4.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan, smooth down with a knife and transfer to the oven.  
  5.  Bake until the top is crackly and a tester comes out with a bit of crumb, about 20- 25 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.  Cool in the pan slightly and then carefully remove as a whole.

To make the glaze:

  1. Place the butter, corn syrup, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Lower the heat to very low, add the chocolates and vanilla and stir until smooth and glossy.  
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

After the brownies have cooled, spread with the glaze. Cut into 12- 16 bars.

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