40 Perfect Side Dishes for Summer Picnics

A few weeks ago I shared a collection of Over 30 Delicious Recipes for Easy Picnic Food with you, just in time for National Picnic Day.

With summer warming up, we’re already in summer picnic mode and couldn’t be happier about that! Not only are picnics a great way to enjoy the outdoors, they are a fun way to enjoy family time most months out of the year. Which means the more picnic food options we have, the better! So today I figured you could use 40 Perfect Picnic Sides to add to your picnic menu options. Enjoy!

 Quick Dips and Spreads for Crackers and Fruits and Veggies, Oh my!

  1. Pesto Bruschetta Spread
  2. Sun Dried Tomato Artichoke Hummus
  3. White Bean and Garlic Hummus
  4. Roasted Garlic Hummus
  5. 7 Layer Dip (In little jars)
  6. Guacamole for Chips
  7. Homemade Salsa
  8. Fusion Dip for Veggies
  9. Tomato Basil Dip for Crackers
  10. Honey Peanut Butter dip
  11. Cream Cheese Trio Appetizers for crackers

Appetizers & Snacks & Tasty Little Treats

  1. Hard Boiled Eggs
  2. Huli Huli Bacon Chicken Bites
  3. Almost Homemade Pickles
  4. Kale Chips
  5. Sweet Heat Slow Cooker Chex Mix
  6. Country Bob’s Tangy Chex Mix

A few More Traditional Picnic Favorites

  1. Chicken Salad
  2. Potato Salad
  3. Baked Beans

Pasta & Grain Salads for Light Summer Dining

  1. Perfect Pasta Salad + Tips and Tricks
  2. Another version of Pasta Salad
  3. Broccoli Tomato Tortellini Salad
  4. Bacon Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad
  5. Wild Rice Salad

Veggies Salads for those who prefer Healthy Picnicking

  1. Asian Broccoli Salad
  2. Ranch Veggie Salad
  3. Tomato Artichoke Heart Salad
  4. Summer Corn Salad
  5. Orange Red Onion Salad
  6. Cucumbers and Onions
  7. Cucumber Tomato Salad
  8. Green bean and Tomato Salad
  9. Creamy Italian Herb Cucumbers & Tomatoes

Slaws for Days

  1. Hawaiian Coleslaw
  2. Quick Coleslaw
  3. Tomato Jalapeno Slaw

Fruit Salads as sweet as dessert

  1. Easy Apple Salad
  2. Easy Fruit Salad
  3. Sliced Apples (with a no-browning trick!)
  4. Wild Watermelon

So how about you? Do you have a favorite side dish that you always have to make for picnics? I would love to hear what it is in the comments below. And in the meantime … Happy Picnicking!

More Picnicking Resources

 

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Over 30 Easy Recipes for Delicious Picnic Food

Did you know that April 23 happens to be National Picnic Day? It seems fitting that it would fall just a week after Easter when we’re all quite ready to get outside and enjoy a bit of warm sunshine and a slower pace. I’m not sure what your picnic traditions include, or if you even have any but, there’s just something special about a picnic. It’s not that the food is fancier than most days, it’s the change of scenery and being in the middle of the budding and blooming color all around us. Just to make it easier for you to celebrate, I’ve gathered up over 30 recipes for delicious (and easy!) picnic food for you to try with your family.

To get you started, you’ll find 6 Tips and Menu Ideas for a Day at the Zoo or Park that may include several picnic opportunities. If you are traveling and need some ideas for picnicking on the road, this post could help, too!  Some of these sandwiches are often served hot, but I think they’d be fine cold, or the meat could be put in a thermal container to keep it warm. Others could be made at home and wrapped up to take with you, like the Hawaiian BBQ or Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches.

Pita Pockets Make Perfect Picnic Food

One of the best perks of these recipes is that the meats can be cooked in the crock pot and they all freeze well, which means if you make up an extra large batch now, you’ll be ready for weeks of impromptu picnics. And let’s face it, there are literally endless ways to fill pita pockets

  • Greek Chicken Pitas from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.
  • These Greek Pita Sandwiches start with meatballs and just get better and better from there.
  • Chicken Gyros from Kate’s Recipe Box.
  • Beef Gyros are a great way to serve steak on a picnic.
  • We enjoy serving our Beef Shwarma with a cucumber-yogurt sauce instead of the traditional tahini sauce.
  • You can prep and freeze the meat for these Chicken Broccoli Picnic Pitas and add all the veggies to be served in the pita as a chicken salad. A perfectly tasty and tidy picnic option.

Shredded Meat Sandwiches are easy to make ahead and so filling

Chicken Salads & Sandwiches are always a hit

  • My Peach Chutney Chicken Salad Sandwich uses cooked chicken and a delightful combination of ingredients that taste great and come together quickly.

Summer Picnic Classics never fail to impress

  • Slow Cooker Beer Brats are a classic summer grill idea with only 2 ingredients that can actually be made in the slow cooker.
  • 70s Fried Baloney Sandwich and other such sandwiches are sure to make the kids happy with their classic simplicity.
  • Gina’s Club Sandwiches were named for my sister, and as you would imagine, it’s a tasty club sandwich for any day of the week, especially if a picnic is involved.
  • Tomato Sandwiches are perfect when those fresh tomatoes start showing up in the garden or your local farmer’s market. Nothing says summer like a thick sliced juicy fresh tomato.
  • The secret to these PBJ on Depression Era Bread is the tasty Depression Era Bread. It just takes the classic PBJ up a notch or two.
  • These Egg Salad Sandwiches are a classic recipe that includes how to boil the eggs, and a great little item to have the kids help whip up.

  • Loaded Hot Dogs can be made with 3-ingredient “Cheater Chili” and a little slaw.

Classics with a Twist keep things fun and interesting

Roulades, Frittata Bites & Chicken Legs are too good to pass up

  • These Ham & Swiss Roulades from Carmella at Assortment Blog are made using handmade or store-bought pizza dough and can be filled with a variety of meats and cheeses based on what sort of mood you’re in.
  • This Bacon Spinach Frittata Bites recipe from Jessica at Life as a Mom would be perfect for a breakfast picnic with some fresh fruit because picnics aren’t just for lunch and dinner!
  • Chili Sauce Chicken Legs are a tasty warm option that is easy to eat and slightly messy in a good way, making them perfect picnic food.

And there you have it, over 30 recipes for celebrating National Picnic Day on April 23 or any day you like!

Do you have a favorite picnic food? What about a favorite picnic spot, whether it’s one you go to now or one you enjoyed as a child?

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Everything you need for an amazing and easy Easter Dinner!

I’m not sure about you, but we’re really looking forward to Easter this weekend! As you’re considering your final menu and shopping list for Easter, I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes. Some have been shared here at Eat at Home Cooks and others are from other blogs. You’ll find a mixture of traditional dishes as well as a few twists on your usual Easter Dinner fare. Whatever your final menu and shopping list includes, I hope your Easter includes a celebration of this holiday and all that it means with your family and friends. And in the meantime, here is pretty much everything you need for an amazing and easy Easter Dinner!

Everything you need for an amazing and easy Easter Dinner!

Main Course Recipes

Honey Glazed Ham is always a favorite, and with this recipe, you don’t have to buy the prepackaged glaze mix.

This Mustard Orange Glazed Ham is from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen, who adapted an existing recipe to complement the tanginess of mustard with the sweetness of a fresh squeezed orange.

Herb and Olive Oil Roasted Chicken makes a great option for those who prefer a meat other than ham.

Salad Recipes

Shaina at Food for My Family created this Spring Orzo Pasta Salad with asparagus and artichokes that can be prepared up and chilled for several hours while you tend to your other dishes.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad  Tara at Unsophisticook shared her recipe for this refreshing cucumber salad that can also be prepared ahead of time and chilled until the rest of your dinner is ready to be served.

This Spring Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette if perfect for spring with the flavorful mix of berries, nuts and strong cheese. And the dressing recipe mixes up quickly and would be a nice addition to lots of different salads.

Side Dish Recipes

I found this recipe for Black Angus Au Gratin Potatoes years ago while preparing one of our first Easter dinners as newlyweds. It was a big hit then with it’s potatoes and loads of cheeses, and it has continued to be a family favorite ever since.

Aimee of Simple Bites has a recipe for Rosemary Potato Strudel with an ingredient list that includes potatoes, rosemary, sour cream and puff pastry. How can it not be tasty with that list of ingredients?

I know the Balsamic Strawberries recipe sounds a bit crazy, but trust me, you really should try this one.

Honey Glazed Carrots are always a favorite with a touch of butter and honey and they free up some oven space since it’s a slow cooker recipe.

Bread Recipes

Hot Cross Buns have been a long-standing Easter tradition that started centuries ago with the Saxons, and it’s always fun to bake a recipe that has stood the test of time.

This  Sunny Blueberry Orange Bread would make a great sweet appetizer to munch on if you’re serving dinner a little later than usual, or even a dessert for those who want some sweetness without an overload of sugar.

This Goat Cheese Biscuit recipe is an adaptation of a biscuit served at Table Fifty Two restaurant in Chicago and Oh my! That’s all I can say about these yummy little things!

Dessert Recipes

There were so many yummy dessert recipes to choose from that they had their very own post earlier this week. You’ll want to check those out before you make that last trip shopping trip. But be warned, you don’t want to check out these recipes if you’re the least bit hungry! Your mouth will definitely be watering.  And if you need even more inspiration, check out this post with 22 more ways to expand your Easter Menu.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of Easter weekends!

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Pressure Cooker Homemade Apple Sauce

pressure-cooker-apple-sauce-ingr

Of all the delicious things there are to eat in the world, I’m pretty sure that warm, homemade apple sauce is near the top of the list.  You must give this recipe a try soon!

This is the pressure cooker version of my slow cooker apple sauce recipe.  The slow cooker makes great apple sauce, but it does take a while.  That’s fine if it works for your day, but if you decide at dinner time that you’d like homemade apple sauce, you’ll want to use the pressure cooker.

The total time for this recipe to cook is about 20 minutes.  You’ll program the pressure cooker for just 5 minutes, but it will take some time for the pot to come to full pressure.  Still, this is totally doable for a weeknight meal, especially if you have help peeling and slicing apples.  Once you’ve got everything in the pot, it’s all hands-off, leaving you free for other things.

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Honey Crisp Kale Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Dressing

honey-crisp-kale-chopped-salad-with-apple-cider-dressing

Do you ever do something that just makes you so pleased with yourself?  That’s how I feel about creating this salad!  

To me, this Honey Crisp Kale Chopped Salad couldn’t get any better.  I hope you feel the same way.  I do hope you’ll go to your kitchen and give it a try!

This idea came to me in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.  It’s a simple salad, with just a few healthy ingredients – kale, honey crisp apples, and a few dressing ingredients.  The dressing doesn’t even have to be mixed separately.  I just drizzled each ingredient over the salad and tossed.  So easy!

This is the type of salad I could eat forever!

Here’s what you’ll need:  [Read more…]

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11 Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

I love my slow cooker. You can do basically everything in a slow cooker. From foods that can cook all day, to classic BBQ, all the way to even gorgeous desserts like cheesecake, the slow cooker can do it all.  Slow cookers save time and keep the house cool. And they are an awesome way to prep food for a crowd! I absolutely love using my slow cooker for gatherings. It makes my life so much easier.

SlowCookerSides

If you’ve never used your slow cooker to make side dishes, pull it out and give it a try! These 11 side dishes you can make in your slow cooker are the perfect thing. These recipes are easy to put together and are definitely crowd pleasers. They pair well with summer food and some of them are perfect for parties and holiday dinners.

11 Easy Slow Cooker Side Dishes

loaded-cheesy-potato-casserole

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

honey glazed carrots in the slow cooker done

Honey Glazed Carrots in the slow cooker 

slow cooker corn casserole

 

Corn Casserole in the Slow Cooker

hashbrown casserole

 

Hashbrown Casserole in the slow cooker

Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

Acorn or Butternut Squash in the slow cooker

homemadeapplesauceingr.jpg

Homemade Apple Sauce in the Slow Cooker 

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Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

scalloped potatoes done

Scalloped Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

sweet potatoes and apples done

Sweet Potatoes and Apples in the Slow Cooker

slow cooked apples and butternut squash

Apples and Butternut Squash in the Slow Cooker

 

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5 Minute Nightly Salad Method

5 minute Nightly Dinner Salad method

I really like having a salad with dinner.  Not every night, but for many meals it’s a great side dish.

But I hate making salads.

If you can relate to that, you’ll want to give this easy method a try.  I’m sure some of you already use this method for making salad.  It’s not rocket science, but for some reason I used to always tear the leaves into pieces, then wash them, dry them…  The process didn’t take forever, but I just hated doing it.  That meant I had lettuce languishing in the bottom of the crisper drawer.

romaine

Now I buy a large pack of romaine lettuce.  Costco sells six heads in a pack.  They stay fresh for quite a long time.  One head is about the right amount of salad for our family.

romaine leaves

I pull the head apart and rinse each leaf under cool water.  They get patted dry with a clean towel or a paper towel.

romaine chopped

Next, I chop them up by cutting across all the leaves and then running the knife lengthwise down the head as well.  This takes all of 20 seconds.

All the leaves go into a salad bowl and I pat them dry again.  Sometimes I add tomatoes or red pepper or another vegetable.  Sometimes we keep it simple with just the lettuce.

Since I started making them this way, we’ve eaten a lot more salad.  And I don’t hate making it.

Nightly Salad in 5 minutes or less

The other easy salad that gets served a lot around here is the Simple Wedge Salad.

Do you like making salad?  What method do you prefer to use?

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Easy Apple Salad

Easy Apple Salad

I could have sworn that I had a recipe for Apple Salad on my blog.  In fact, at Thanksgiving time, I started to make it to take to a gathering and the first thing I did was look search the recipe on the site.  Nothing.

So I snapped a few photos and I’m just now getting around to posting the recipe.  This one is great for holiday dinners like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, but it’s so easy that you can also serve it up on a plain old Tuesday night.  If you’re dishing it up for weeknight dinner, use the ingredients you have on hand.  Feel free to skip the pineapple, pecans or grapes.

The recipe is really more method than exact measurements, but the two ingredients that make the dressing are key.  Those are also the two ingredients I can never remember, hence the reason I was searching my blog for the recipe.

Since my search yielded nothing, I called my mom, of course.  Now that I’ve got the recipe posted we can all find it here and talk to our moms about something else.

Here’s what you’l need:   [Read more…]

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Cranberry, Pecan, Mandarin Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Cranberry, Pecan, Mandarin Spinach Salad

Adding pecans, dried cranberries, red onions and mandarin oranges to your spinach makes for a great salad.  This is more method than recipe.

Feel free to vary the ingredients for what you have on hand.  Use apple, celery, raisins, walnuts, sesame seeds…  You can also add goat cheese, feta or Parmesan.

I love a slightly sweet vinaigrette with this salad.  It’s easy to whip up homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette.  You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry now.

This is the type of salad I could eat and eat.  And that’s a great way to pump up your daily fresh fruits and vegetables!

Raspberry Vinaigrette
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbs. seedless raspberry jam
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Warm the jam in the microwave for a few seconds until it become slightly melted.
  2. Place all ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid. A mason jar works well for this. Shake to combine the ingredients.

 

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Butternut Squash Casserole

Butternut squash casserole with cranberries and pecan topping

Raise your hand if you need to take something to Thanksgiving Dinner at someone else’s house.

I’ve got the perfect recipe for you.  This one travels really well.  No risk of spilling it in your car.  Or very little risk, anyway.

It stays hot for a long time, which is important for buffet line items.  And I think you could even make it in the slow cooker.  If you want the pecan topping to crunch up, just pop the slow cooker under the broiler for a minute before serving.

Butternut Squash Casserole is similar to sweet potato casserole, but the flavor of the squash is a little different.  This one also has fresh cranberries studded through it.  They add a tart flavor to the rich sweetness of other ingredients.  The McCormick Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Vanilla really bring out the autumn flavors of this dish.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

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