Challenge Prompt: For this challenge, you’re tasked with creating a delicious meal that will travel well and still look great. From picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go, you need to whip up a entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road. Be sure that your meal fits inside the Project Food Blog Road Trip Cooler.
My fall inspired picnic in the park for two was a little bit elegant and a little bit rustic. The elegant is a pretty blue tablecloth I used to cover the table with, cloth napkins and glass mugs; the rustic is the squares of parchment paper that I wrapped our sandwiches in that served as both plate and place mat. Then there’s the food. The rustic, hearty food.
Fall to me means a switch from summer’s light eating to heartier food; warmly spiced and seasonal; and to include ingredients that have me looking ahead to the holidays. It also means using up whatever I can scavenge out of my garden so as not to let it go to waste.
For the main dish I turned to one of my favorite sandwiches: meatloaf. I didn’t want the regular run of the mill meatloaf sandwich made with sliced bread. I wanted it to be special. And different. I made over-sized, square biscuits packed with smoky bacon, cheddar cheese and garden fresh chives. These sturdy biscuits held up well and complimented the herb and vegetables in the meatloaf.
I must admit, a few crumbles of biscuit might have found their way to the ground, as a small offering for the squirrels and birds to nibble on later.
The meatloaf is packed with herbs and sauteed, mixed peppers, then topped with caramelized onions. Over a 1/2 cup herbs from my garden went into the mix including sage, basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme. The red onion that I sauteed along with green bell pepper, roasted red pepper and jalapeno also came out of my garden. Sweet caramelized onions go over the top. Smelling strongly of fresh herbs, you can see the speckles of them and the vegetables running throughout. It makes for an incredibly satisfying and filling sandwich.
What would a sandwich picnic be without the chips? Hand-fried sweet potato and white chips are sprinkled with a salty, spicy mix of chile powder, garlic powder and cayenne.
A traditional picnic classic, this cole slaw is a play on the famous Waldorf salad. Cabbage, apples and cranberries come together to make a cool, crispy, sometimes chewy, slaw. It’s sweet yet savory, with a creamy, tangy dressing. The jewel-like cranberries tease of holiday meals to come.
Black and white cookies are a N.Y. deli classic. More cake-like than cookie they are sometimes called half moons for their distinctive black and white frosting. Typically chocolate and vanilla frosted, I incorporated melted white chocolate into my vanilla frosting to give it a little oomph. Which side will you bite first?
Because I’m all about dessert I included two! These mini gingerbread pumpkin muffins combine a fall and winter favorite into one lovely treat. Frosted in a sweet citrus orange cream cheese frosting, then rolled in festive sprinkles and stuck with lollipop sticks, these make the cutest little treats and the perfect ending to a fall inspired picnic.
To drink I made iced cinnamon spiced bubble tea. The tea is flavored with lots of cinnamon, a touch of cloves, nutmeg, ginger and sweetened with honey. The ‘bubbles’ are tapioca pearls, chewy little balls that make this tea a distinctive favorite.
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