This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlockPartyHero #CollectiveBias
It’s block party time! Put on your hostess hat, whip up these easy recipes, and minimize your prep time with these sure-fire picnic celebration ideas!
Summer is here, and I am kicking it off in style with my first picnic of the season! I love throwing low-key gatherings for my friends and family, and over the years I have learned a few things about how to pull it off stress-free and without destroying the kitchen. I absolutely adore picnic food, and growing up we had a lot of family picnics over the years. Some were big, with 60-70 people attending and bringing their own dishes, and some were intimate celebrations where people just brought their appetites. Either way, I have come to equate outdoor eating with good old fashioned family time, and that won’t ever change.
I love getting together with friends and family when I can, so to kick off summer I hosted a laid back “block party” style picnic for everyone last week. It was awesome, and the food was so fabulous that I must share! There is also an entertainment portion that I will write about once I edit the “after” photos, but for now let’s talk about this gorgeous table spread. I’m super happy with how it turned out, and I was in total photog heaven snapping away at my handiwork!
I usually play it safe with party menus and stick to fresh fruits/veggies and quick munchies, and that is just what I did for this party. I love the simplicity of it, and I feel like I can never go wrong as long as there is a nice mix of those three to choose from. Another secret I like to stick to is cross-ingredient recipes. I’m sure you are wondering why in the heck I just made up that word, (and there might be a real term for this I am missing), but it amounts to saving time/fridge space/trouble by making two completely different dishes with a number of the same ingredients. So instead of buying and preparing two entirely different ingredient sets, I consolidate resources by prepping my “big” ingredient but getting two separate recipes out of it. Of course I do add a little of this and that to each one to make them different. For this party my “double agent” was trueroots quinoa.
From cooking up a double batch of truroots, I made a quinoa pepper pilaf side dish and quinoa/black bean veggie burgers. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but when you’re preparing a 10 foot table’s worth of food, every little shortcut helps! I love quinoa – as a vegetarian it is one of my staples that can be used in virtually anything, and it serves as a great way to get texture in things like burgers. It is super versatile in that it is best when flavored with other ingredients and serves as a meat substitute in a lot of vegetarian dishes.
For this particular occasion, I chose to make a Quinoa & Pepper Pilaf side dish that I had seen on Swanson’s website. I like to keep their broth stocked because it comes in handy for so many things, so I usually purchase 6-pack boxes from Sam’s Club. Want to make it? Here’s how!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups Swanson® Vegetable Broth (carnivores can use chicken broth)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Start by heating your oil,shallots and garlic on medium/high for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add peppers and quinoa then cook for another 2 minutes. Lastly, add in your broth, reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes or until your liquid is absorbed. That’s all! It is similar to rice in that once the ingredients are in, you can go about your business until the timer goes off. I love that because it means I can actually do two things at once!
The second recipe that came from the quinoa was my awesome quinoa and black bean burgers. I love burgers, but not eating meat means that I have had about ten years to work on perfecting my veggie burgers. I have developed three different recipes over the years that I can say are tried-and-true, always reliable, amazing burger recipe. But, if you know anything about meat free burgers, you know that they tend to fall apart unless you use egg in them (which I don’t). Finding a grillable burger is something of a hunt, but through trial and error I have one!
Do you see those grill marks?! Yum! (Yes, I did burn some. But that’s life, right? Burnt burgers and all.) The recipe for these babies is a whole other post, but I will be sharing it this week so keep an eye out. Moving on to the rest of the spread, I served fresh fruit in a hollowed out watermelon (because fancy), set out buffet style burger toppings, and finished off with chips and salsa. I’m not a make your own salsa kinda girl, so I scooped up a two-pack of Pace Organic Salsa. It is USDA certified Organic, and the 2-pack is perfect for sharing!
I had a s’mores basket for dessert, and I really wanted to make it customizable like the s’mores bar I had last year with toppings/fruit/candy set out. But you can’t go wrong with s’mores, right?
Last but not least, I got creative with my drink station and made it a “Mix and Mingle” drink lab. I feel like creative drinks are popular right now, so I offered a selection of different fruity sodas along with a few flavor add-ins and berries to go along with it. Isn’t it cute?
I thoroughly enjoyed my picnic, and I can’t wait to do it again! Want to replicate it? Head over to Sam’s Club for everything you need, plus sample this quinoa pilaf dish at your local club during their Summer Block Party events.