Spring and picnic season have definitely arrived in Oregon. And if there is one thing Oregon does well…it’s Spring. Maybe it’s because we live in a backdrop of grey clouds and rain for much of the year, so when Spring does arrive it settles in with an exclamation point.
Growing up in Southern California, I never really noticed seasonal changes. But here in the beautiful Willamette Valley, when the sun appears, everyone heads outdoors. When it’s time to eat in wine country, picnicking is part of the culture. The scenery is breathtaking and I am lucky enough to live in the rural countryside on a meadow with picturesque views.
One of our favorite places to picnic is right here at home.
I set up this outdoor picnic the other evening to celebrate some recent accomplishments my kids have experienced at school. When picnicking at home, I purposely pack things up just as if we were headed to a park or the beach. Since we are at home, there might be a few extra touches, but being outside definitely makes us feel like we have left the comfort of our dining room.
There are always a few things you can do to make every picnic feel special. Cute straws, patterned dishware (non-breakable) and napkins are fun additions to your table setting. And I always bring a cloth tablecloth for the table. I have a picnic basket just for my supplies and one for the food. I also brought out a few houseplants from inside.
I filled a large container full of juice, just as I would for the park. Salads were also packed in sealable containers, the lids help keep the bugs out.
We live off a gravel road in a wooded area. This is the road that leads up to our home. As you can see, the trees provide a great backdrop and afternoon shade for the perfect picnic.
The west side of my property is covered in 50-100 foot oak, maple and Douglas Firs trees. They are beautiful this time of year as they begin to leaf out. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be having a picnic.
Instead of the usual folding chairs, I pulled out wooden chairs from the house for a more homey feel.
One last view of the gorgeous trees before we delve into how to put together the perfect food to take along on a picnic. You can see how the house and our table are dwarfed by these incredibly tall trees.
To make my Buffalo Bleu Chicken Salad Sandwiches, I mix together rotisserie chicken, celery, and blue cheese crumbles. I toss this with a buffalo mayo and honestly it is so delicious.
I purchase packaged rolls from the bakery, ones that are baked together as you see here. I slice them in half lengthwise.
I spread the chicken salad over the rolls and top with shredded lettuce. If we are headed to the park, I wait until I get there to cut up the sandwiches individually. This makes it much easier to transport.
Now, here is my favorite part. My kids have referred to my picnics as the “potato chip chronicles”. Why? Because I have a few tricks that help add a nice crunch to any outdoor eating adventure.
Even with the best of prep, picnic food can often be soggy by the time it is consumed. So, to avoid the complaints of a partially soggy sandwich, I have always brought along chips to my picnics. The reason I have stuck with Kettle Brand is because of their superior crunch and huge array of flavors they have available. I can always find a chip to pair with whatever I am making.
When I served my chicken sandwiches I passed around the chips. The chip adds crunch and flavor to a sandwich that might need some bite after spending several hours in the cooler. My boys wait to see what flavor chips I have paired with my picnic food. Its kind of become an obsession of mine and I’m so glad Kettle Brand is continually coming out with new, fancy flavors. It makes packing a picnic so much more fun, not to mention interesting.
Buffalo Bleu Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 5 ounces blue cheese crumbles
- 3 large celery stalks, chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
- 8 small rolls or any type of bread
- 1-1/4 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 bag (8.5 oz) Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Buffalo Bleu Chips
- In a large bowl combine chicken, blue cheese and celery. In a smaller bowl, combine mayonnaise and buffalo wing sauce, Add mayo mixture to chicken mixture and combine until fully incorporated. (You can make this ahead and refrigerate until ready to place on the bread.)
- To make the sandwich spread chicken mixture over bread and top with lettuce. Wrap accordingly for transport. When ready to serve the sandwich at the picnic, add as many chips as you like to the inside of the sandwich. Make sure to serve some on the side as well.
Now, what would a picnic be without an array of cold salads? However, while I will happily bring along a tablecloth and cute dishes to a picnic, forks and spoons are only available upon request. Why would we need them?
All salads at my picnics are served and eaten with chips that have been paired to match their flavors. Chips are the perfect, picnic utensil.
Do you see how this works? I stick with Kettle Brand not just because of flavor, but because they are the one chip made with all-natural, non-GMO ingredients. I also love that they are made right here in the Willamette Valley. These are local chips for me!
Kettle Brand uses no trans fats, no MSG and no artificial colors or flavors…something to feel good about.
At our outdoor picnic we enjoyed one of my all-time favorite salads, Cucumber, Tomato and Chickpea Salad with chips. The hints of sweet onion, butter and garlic with it’s salty crunch were the perfect mesh of flavor. Every scoop of salad on these chips had a delightful twist of flavor. It’s safe to say the salad and these chips disappeared in no time at all.
There was no way I was passing up the chance to serve my Southwestern, Black Bean, Quinoa and Mango Medley with chips. The salad already has a bit of jalapeno in the mix, so when you also add this chip’s south of the border flavor….you hit the pairing jackpot.
The chips have a heat that is not apparent at first but it creeps up on you and balances this dish nicely. The salad itself already has a nice flavor, but the jalapeno chip gave it the pop and crunch it needed to really stand out as memorable picnic fare.
Here is a chip that will make your homemade or store-bought potato salad pop. These are unlike any other barbeque chips I have had before. They have this tangy spice with sweet honey and hickory taste. Each bite of potato salad scooped onto this chip is like heaven to me. It is the perfect, perfect match. I will never serve potato salad with a different chip.
These were really fun flavors to have together and it’s amazing how the chip really accents the dip.
Even the dog enjoyed the outdoor eating. She was on high alert, gobbling up any chip that had fallen to the ground. She’s a Kettle Brand fan too.