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Picnic Sandwiches and Cake Batter Bars

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Ah, summer love. I’m not sure whether it’s the summer or the lovin’, but something has me doing something I would never do before—cooking. In honor of the last Screen on the Green, I packed a gourmet picnic basket for myself and my beau. Three courses: salad, sandwiches and dessert, paired with a crisp summer rose. Sounds like the perfect way to close out the summer season.

For the salad, I made an easy caprese salad of grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil leaves. Honestly, I had intended to make skewers but then I realized I forgot to buy skewers. So, I threw them all in a big bowl, topped them with fresh pepper, olive oil and balsamic and voila! It was better as a salad any way.

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For the sandwiches, I needed to make one with meat and one without—and not wind up with an overwhelming amount of excess ingredients. My man wanted turkey. So, I found a delicious turkey, brie, pesto and arugula sandwich on Pinterest, of course. I thought about what veggies go well with pesto and arugula—and decided on beets, which happen to be my favorite vegetable (and not just because they’re pink). The arugula, pesto, beet and goat cheese sandwich allowed me to make good use of the first two ingredients, and keep rations reasonable.

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Though, I did end up buying three types of cheese for this picnic (mozzarella, brie and goat cheese), bringing the total number of cheeses in my fridge to eight. (Please refrain from judgment).

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Additionally, I made the pesto from scratch. Despite this being exceedingly simple (if you have a food processor), I am exceedingly proud of myself. So, that may be the whole reason for sharing these recipes with you Bitches.

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For dessert, I made funfetti cake batter bars—an extremely unhealthy and delicious dessert. They basically consist of loads of sugar, butter, and eggs with some sprinkles thrown in—so basically everything that’s bad for you.  So, because they’re bad for you, the end result is ooey gooey sugary deliciousness that, honestly, is comparable to next-to-nothing on the yumminess scale. I highly suggest you make these– and then take them to a dinner party or your office so you don’t sit at home and eat the whole batch yourself.

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The best thing about the picnic, aside from the excellent weather and perfect company, is the picnic basket. A wicker basket with glass plates, wine glasses and real silverware, all housed in padded carriers, along with green-and-blue plaid napkins and a tablecloth. The picnic basket was a gift to my parents at their wedding— and it’s held up 30 years allowing me to use it today.

The recipes are below.
Home-made Pesto

Ingredients:
– 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1/4 cup pine nuts
– 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
1. Stuff all ingredients into your mother’s old food processor. Put top on, blend. Hope for the best.
2. If you’re having consistency issues, add more pine nuts and cheese to thicken the pesto. To thin it, add more olive oil.

Turkey, Brie and Pesto Panini (Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking)
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
– 2 slices bread, whole grain preferred
– 1 tbsp. olive oil
– 2 tbsp. homemade pesto
– 1 small handful arugula
– 4 slices brie cheese (about 3 ounces)
– 4 slices oven roasted peppered turkey

Directions:
1. Plug in your panini press, or turn on a skillet to medium heat.
2. Brush the olive oil on one side of each piece of bread. These are the sides that will be on the outside.
3. Place a piece of bread on a plate, olive oil side down. Spread on the pesto and then layer on the turkey, brie and arugula. Top with the remaining piece of bread.
4. Place into panini press and close. Or, put in frying pan and cover with top, flipping after about 2 minutes, cooking for a total of 4-5 minutes.

Photo credit: B’s in the Kitchen

Beet, Arugula, Goat Cheese and Pesto Grilled Cheese (Adapted from B’s in the Kitchen)
Serves 1

Ingredients:
– 2 beets
– Olive Oil
– Arugula
– 3 ounces Goat Cheese
– 2 tbsp. Pesto
– Multigrain bread

Directions:
1. Roast beets until tender. Slice beets into thin slices.
2. Take two slices of bread, coat each one on bottom side with olive oil.
3. On the top side of the bread, spread goat cheese on to one slice. Spread pesto on the other. Line with beets and arugula.
4. Heat frying pan on medium heat, or turn on Panini press, cook sandwich for 3-5 minutes, flipping once if you’re working with a frying pan.

Cake Batter Bars (Adapted from Lovin’ From the Oven)

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Ingredients:
– 1 1/4 cup funfetti cake mix
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 3/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
– 1 egg
– 1 egg yolk
– 2 teaspoons vanilla
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.
2. Cream both sugars, butter, vanilla, egg and egg yolk.

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3. Gradually mix in flour, cake mix, and baking soda until just mixed.

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4. Spread batter evenly into greased pan.

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5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is lightly browned and middle still jiggles slightly.
6. Cool completely before cutting.

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