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Fresh Ideas for Summer Picnics

Image: summer picnices (ARA) - Warm, sunny weather beckons us outdoors for picnics. For some people, though, preparing a picnic can be daunting. Not anymore. Sandra Lee, the internationally acclaimed lifestyle expert, bestselling author and host of Semi-Homemade, offers tips for an easy, fun and satisfying picnic experience without all the work.

Here are her easy tips. The "quicknic" is all about simplicity. Use items that don't require cooking such as an assortment of gourmet crackers, cheeses or fruit and nuts. Pre-washed raw veggies and sliced fruits from your grocery store are always refreshing on a hot day. Just put them in a plastic container and squeeze a little lemon over the fruit to retain freshness.

Grab it and go! Fast-food restaurants are a great source for quicknics with salads, low-fat yogurt and fruit and made-to-order sandwiches. One new option is Wendy's Frescata deli sandwiches. The four varieties are made with fresh baked artisan bread, premium-quality turkey and ham and topped with tasty condiments like pesto mayonnaise and honey mustard.

Semi-Homemade is based on the 70/30 rule: 70 percent ready-made products and 30 percent creative, homemade touches allow you to take 100 percent of the credit for a great quicknic experience. For example, pair a homemade side dish with a rotisserie chicken from the grocery or takeout from a favorite restaurant for an easy shortcut to a great meal. Ms. Lee has created a special side dish perfect for a quicknic - Poppy Seed Cole Slaw a mixture of fruit and vegetable.

Also, add special touches to a quicknic by garnishing packaged foods. Sparkling water gives a casual picnic a sophisticated feel when spruced up with a sprig of mint or sliced lemons and limes. Slice them before you leave the house and throw them into a plastic bag. Or, bring disposable containers of your favorite ice cream toppings like sprinkles, marshmallows or other treats to dress up frozen desserts purchased from a near-by store, restaurant or park vendor.

And, always be ready to turn any meal into a quicknic! Turn your winter car-emergency kit into a summer quicknic kit by filling a tote bag with a blanket, Frisbee, plastic flatware, dishes and cleanup items like paper towels and a garbage bag. So when you hit the drive-through next, you'll be ready to drive to the nearest park and enjoy summertime. Consider bringing along a portable radio or iPod for a little mood music. Or a good summer read.

According to Sandra remember to keep it fresh and keep it simple.

Poppy Seed Cole Slaw

1 bag (16 ounces) Pre-washed Tri-Color Cole Slaw Mix
1 can (8.25 ounces) Mandarin Oranges
1 can (8 ounces) Pineapple Chunks
1/2 cup Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup Organic Sour Cream

In a large mixing bowl, combine cole slaw mix and fruit; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together poppy seed dressing and sour cream. Pour over slaw mix and toss. Serve chilled.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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