Sunny days, lazy afternoons. You know the time calls for some picnic – a nice blanket spread on a bed of grass, topped with all the picnic goodies you can think of – and it shouldn’t have to be chips and fast food take outs!
Since there’s a gazillion of sumptuous picnic-worthy recipes out there, we figured we pick 10 themes and painstakingly provide two simple recipes for each. If you make at least 5 or 3 of these recipes, you may already have a full menu for a nourishing and enjoyable picnic.
- Adult Beverage
Don’t be fooled by the name because this cocktail is really easy to make, plus it’s tropical flavored, making it a real Filipino drink. Take 1 part rum, 1 part pineapple juice, 1 part orange juice, a dash of Grenadine and Angostura bitters, and slices of tropical fruits for garnish. By the way, if you can’t get your hands on Grenadine, substitute it with cranberry or pomegranate juice. Learn how to substitute Angostura bitters through this article.
This cocktail recipe is Irish because it calls for Irish whiskey, but substitute it with any whiskey we have in the country, and what you get is a Philipinized buck drink. Get 2 parts whiskey and 3 parts ginger ale or ginger beer, flavor it with fresh lime juice and adorn the drink with lime wedges or wheels. If you want to make this simpler than it already is, mix your choice of whiskey with Emperador’s Smirnoff Mule, add some fresh calamansi slices and you get a Pinoy-friendly Buck Cocktail!
- Kiddie Drinks
Citrus Cucumber Cooler
Blend in your favorite citrus fruit juices like oranges, lime, lemon and pomegranate and throw in some slices of seeded cucumber to make a refreshingly cool drink for kids and even adults. Make one pitcher full of this drink ahead, and pack some cubed ice and slices of citrus fruits and cucumber for serving later. If you want, you can also mix in pineapple juice for a more tropical taste or a cup of basil for that herby kick.
Summer in the Philippines is mango season, and we can easily get our hands on the sweetest mangoes sold cheaper than any other month of the year. Throw in a 2-liter blender 4 cups of shaved ice, 2 cups of ripe mangoes, cream, yoghurt or milk and sweetener. If you want, you can also mix in other tropical fruits like banana or papaya.
With just two main ingredients, this salad surprisingly amazes. Combine chunks of seeded cucumber and avocados, slices of spring onions in a bowl. Mix in a dressing of mayo, lime juice, salt, hot sauce, and chopped parsley and you get a really simple yet satisfying vegetable salad.
Filipinos like tomatoes in dips and salads, but this one’s a great take away when you lounge on a spread of blanket under a shady tree or on a picnic table on a sunny afternoon. Take cherry tomatoes and slice them in half, add thin slices of onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper (substitute with sili haba). Marinate the tomatoes and spices with white wine vinegar (substitute with our famous coconut wine vinegar), brown sugar, olive oil, minced ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Chill for an hour before serving.
- Sliders (Burgers/Sandwiches)
Sandwiches and burgers are easy to make ahead, wrap in sandwich packages and bring out to the outdoors for some picnic munching. While we can easily drive through a fast food and order away burgers, a homemade slider would definitely make your picnic menu healthier and personalized, too.
Combine together canned tuna, chopped celery or cucumber, spring onions, salad dressing, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Fill the middle of two slices of sandwich bread with the tuna mixture and wrap with table napkin or sandwich packet wraps.
Combine ground beef, spices and condiments together and fry. Slice in half mini burger buns or pandesals, fill one side with your choice of dressing (mayo in place of marinara), top with a meatball, a slice of cheese (our very own Eden will do) and cucumber or tomato, and cover with the other half of the bun. Hold the slider in place with a toothpick or bamboo skewer.
Make a pudding mixture of crab meat, egg and spices. Spoon a bit of the crab meat mixture onto one end of a bacon slice, roll, and secure with toothpick. Grill or deep fry each crab bite and pack up for a delightful picnic finger food you can share with family and friends. Plum sauce in the recipe is so Western; make your own dip using mayo, sweet chili sauce, or spiced vinegar.
If you can make tuna filling for sandwiches, then you can definitely create this simple recipe. Filo pastry sheets are now sold in groceries, or if you want, you can make your own version of tuna empanadas. You can also ditch the entire pastry packets, and simply get a bag of bread sticks for dipping into the tuna mixture later at picnic time.
Picnic chicken is so delicious being marinated overnight or 24 hours before you fry or bake it, and then serve cold (chilled or room temp; picnic chicken taste best when chilled as make-ahead dish) with a dip. But this one here is a hybrid of the traditional picnic chicken recipe and your favorite Chicken Joy from Jollibee – only that it’s in bite sizes. Replace blue cheese and honey mustard dip with the usual soy sauce-vinegar combo, Mang Tomas or your pre-made gravy.
For that spontaneous picnic trips, try this dish. You can prep the ingredients ahead and assemble them on location. You stir fry all the chicken satay ingredients, let cool down and place in a tightly sealed container. Meanwhile, slice all the salad wrap ingredients like cucumber, cabbage, and tomatoes, pack together or separately. Bring in some grated cheese and dressing, plus your flour wrap in your picnic basket for assembly later.
Make this ahead of your picnic time, and they make great finger foods for the family. You will need to prep and cook the beef filling, prep and wrap it with the pastry, and bake the entire thing in the oven for a total of about 2 hours of prepping and cooking time. But once the pies are off the oven, you know you have a pastry surprise waiting for your picnic guests. You know if you make Pinoy version of picnic beef pies, you actually create something like empanadas or siopao?
If you want something more hearty and savory, try this homemade picnic beans. It’s literally a few levels up your canned pork/beef and beans (which is really an ingredient in this recipe). This dish can serve an entire PBA team on a picnic (about a dozen people). Place the cooled dish in a sealed container, and bring along picnic cups and spoons for serving later.
They look stunning served on a platter, or when you’re out on a picnic, simply serve the meatballs in one container and the sauce in another ready to pick out using toothpicks or forks. They’re for cocktails, but great for pika-pika picnics, too. This recipe adds in a bit of ground beef, but if budget is tight, simply ditch the ground beef altogether and use ground pork all the way.
If you want something quick and easy, try any one of these pork tenderloin recipes. Tenderloin is essentially fast to cook, and you can cut them into bite size pieces and skewer them along with chunks of pineapple, bell pepper and cucumber and pre-grill for that smoky flavor.
Lasagna cup recipes are all over the Internet –and all of them are mini, handy versions of the ultimate comfort noodle dish that we all like to make. If you want, you can make them using real lasagna noodles or using wonton wrappers which are cheaper. Don’t be intimidated with the expensive cheeses. For a budget-friendly recipe, just use ordinary quick melt cheese.
Chao fan that we know from Chowking is nothing but fried rice with a little bit of fast food twist. We can make one at home, place serving portions inside paper cups and top with homemade siomai if you want. Or if preparing serving portions ahead is too much for you, simply place the entire dish in a big container and spoon out in plastic cups later on location.
You know you already have a basket full of picnic dishes but you can’t just miss out on the dessert. This make-ahead soft, aromatic and sweet rolls are so tempting and so yummy, plus they’re easy to make, too! You refrigerate a batch overnight and then bake it before you go to the picnic to have a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon pastry goodness. If you don’t want to get too messy, you can place the cream cheese frosting in a separate container for dipping later on.
The reason why the two desserts mentioned here are originally sweet breakfast recipes is that dessert always come as afterthought in picnics, but no worries because you can pack up a scrumptious dessert you can make ahead and bring it on your picnic. This one here is a healthy cookie recipe –flourless and vegan, so you won’t need to be guilty when you’ve had a good fill during your picnic and all you did was sit under the shade. Well, it would help if you play Frisbee or baby sit or walk the dog so you burn some calories! Hehehe. . .
So have your picnic basket ready, and fill it all up with these exciting picnic dishes you can make quick and easy. When you try these ones, you won’t have to swing by the drive thru or head out to the convenience store and grab several bags of chips and softdrinks. You know you can do better than that come picnic time if you aren’t afraid to do some bit of cooking and baking!
Do share this list with your foodie buddies who are as excited for some picnic fun like you. If you have some recipes in mind that’s great for picnics, please share them with us so we can have some sort of recipe exchange.