Pack a picnic with these easy recipes and head to the beach
During these times, my sister Betsy and I wanted to create something special. Here we set the evening scene with a beach-inspired menu of coastal favorites, along with a basket of fresh fruits and cheeses. For extra glam, we packed up colorful, unbreakable tableware, fabric napkins and Betsy’s baskets of fresh flowers.
Here are some ideas to enjoy a pleasant picnic as you marvel at the sunset playing off the Gulf of Mexico.
Shrimp Orzo Greek Salad
12 ounces cooked and cleaned small shrimp
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup English cucumbers, diced
¼ cup sliced green onions
1⁄3 cup seeded Kalamata olives
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup wine vinegar
1 lemon, freshly squeezed juice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small pasta pot, cook orzo al dente according to package directions. Remove from heat, drain, rinse with cold water and refrigerate.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside. Stir shrimp, pasta and all ingredients together except dressing. Fold in dressing and refrigerate salad until completely chilled.
Serve in small plastic cups and take to the beach in a small cooler.
Easy Apple Hand Pies
1 (20-ounce) can apple pie filling
1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Unroll refrigerated pie crusts on parchment and let set for 15 minutes to room temperature. Roll out crusts slightly thinner and cut 4- or 5-inch rounds using items such as a cookie cutter, glass or plastic lid.
Remove apple pie filling from can and dice into smaller pieces. Place a small mound of diced apples in the center of each round. Run your finger around the edges with a few drops of water to help seal the edges. Fold dough over in half and press closed with a fork around the edges.
Stir sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle generously on top of each pie. With a sharp knife, add 3 small slits in the top of each pie. With spatula, place pies on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes at 400 F or until lightly browned. Number of pies will depend on size of the rounds.
Piña Colada Parfaits
15 small crisp coconut cookies
2 tablespoons melted butter
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract or 2 teaspoons rum
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained
½ cup sweet coconut
8 ounces Cool Whip, divided
½ cup sweet coconut, toasted (stir in a warm skillet until lightly brown)
6 maraschino cherries with stems
Candied pineapple chunks, optional
Grind cookies in food processor. Stir in melted butter and mix well. Divide and press into bottom of 6 small, clear plastic cups or 6 small jars. Freeze until set.
With electric mixer in large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add rum and powdered sugar and continue mixing. Stir in drained crushed pineapple and ½ cup coconut and mix well. Fold in 4 ounces Cool Whip.
Spoon over crumb mixture divided among 6 cups. Top with additional Cool Whip. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, top with a cherry and pineapple chunk. Chill until ready to serve. Take desserts to the beach in a small cooler.