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Travel Tuesday: Great Picnic Recipes

We have been doing a lot of day trips and quick weekend getaways lately. Living in So Cal, we are fortunate enough to be a day-trip away from a great variety of things, and it is a great way to get out with the baby. Over the course of the last few months I've managed to find some delicious picnic recipes after experimenting with them for our recent weekend excursions. I thought I would share some with you all in my Travel Tuesday series in case anyone needs a great lunch for a quick trip. Here are my fave picnic recipes:

Chicken Hummus Wraps

This one I don't have an actual recipe for, as you just add ingredients to taste.

Tortillas (we use wheat)
Sour Cream
Cooked Chicken Breast (chopped)
Cucumber (thinly sliced)
Tomato (diced)

Spread the hummus and sour cream onto the tortillas. Top with chicken chunks, cucumber slices, and tomato. Roll tortillas to create wrap.

Spicy Orange and Sesame Chicken Sandwiches
From Country Living via

Soooo good and has a great kick!

Photo Source:

1 1/2 pound(s) boneless chicken breasts, with skin
3/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/2 teaspoon(s) black pepper
2 tablespoon(s) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup(s) orange marmalade
2 1/2 tablespoon(s) sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoon(s) soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon(s) hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon(s) cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon(s) sesame seeds
2 medium oranges
1 small head of butter lettuce, leaves separated
3 large pocket-style pitas, halved

1.Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Season the chicken on all sides with the salt and pepper and place in a baking dish. Dot the top of the skin with the butter and place in the oven on the center rack. Roast for 10 minutes.
3.Mix the marmalade, sesame oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl and use it to baste the chicken frequently until the meat reaches 167 degrees F -- about 20 more minutes.
4.Adjust oven to broil, sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken and broil until seeds are toasted and skin is crispy -- about 1 minute.
5.Remove the breasts from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
6.Bring the basting sauce to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.
7.Cut the skin and pith from the oranges and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Remove any seeds.
8.Slice the chicken and place equal amounts of it, the oranges, and lettuce leaves inside the pitas. Drizzle each sandwich with the boiled sauce.

Garden Sliders
From Better Homes and Gardens

Photo Source:

1 15- to 16-oz. can Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
24 1/4-inch-thick slices baguette
2 medium roma tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Small celery top sprigs, small tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices (optional)

1. For bean spread, in blender or food processor combine beans, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
2. To grill squash, toss squash slices with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place in a grill basket. Place basket directly over medium coals for about 5 minutes or just until squash is tender, turning once.
3. Spread one side of each bread slice with bean spread. Top half of the bread with tomato, squash, and cucumber slices. Top with remaining bread slices, spread side down. Secure sandwiches with wooden picks. Top with celery sprigs, tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices. Makes 12 appetizers-size sandwiches.

Make-Ahead: Make the bean spread up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate, covered. Slice vegetables up to 24 hours ahead. Assemble sliders 2 hours ahead.

Servings Per Recipe 12 appetizer-size sandwichesCalories 120, Total Fat (g) 2, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 1, Sodium (mg) 289, Carbohydrate (g) 23, Total Sugar (g) 1, Fiber (g) 3, Protein (g) 6, Vitamin C (DV%) 5, Calcium (DV%) 3, Iron (DV%) 9, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Tote-and-Slice Loaf Sandwich
From Better Homes and Gardens via

Photo Source:

3/4 cup dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1 1-lb. loaf Italian or French bread
1/2 an 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup basil pesto
4 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
8 oz. thinly sliced peppered or regular salami
1 medium fresh banana pepper or 8 bottled peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
4 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Small salad peppers and/or pimiento-stuffed green olives (optional)

1. Place tomatoes in a small bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain tomatoes and place in a food processor; cover and process until finely chopped. Or finely chop tomatoes by hand. 2. Split loaf in half horizontally. Remove some soft bread from the bottom half of the loaf, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. 3. Spread cream cheese on cut sides of both bread halves. Spread top half with dried tomatoes and bottom half with pesto. On bottom half layer provolone cheese, salami, banana peppers, onion, and loaf top, spread side down. 4. If toting, tightly wrap loaf in plastic. To serve, slice loaf crosswise into six sandwiches. If desired, spear a salad pepper and olive on long toothpicks; insert through sandwiches. Makes 6 sandwiches.

Calories 588, Total Fat 34 g, Saturated Fat 14 g, Monounsaturated Fat 11 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 69 mg, Sodium 1645 mg, Carbohydrate 46 g, Total Sugar 5 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 24 g. Daily Values: Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 16%, Calcium 28%, Iron 21%.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Crunchy Asian Pasta Salad

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1 box Betty Crocker® Suddenly Salad® classic pasta salad mix
1 package (3 oz) Oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cups coleslaw mix
1 cup snow pea pods, strings removed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 can (15 oz) mandarin orange segments, drained

1. Empty Pasta mix into 3-quart saucepan 2/3 full of boiling water. Gently boil uncovered 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water. Shake to drain well.
3. In large bowl, stir together seasoning mixes from pasta mix and soup mix, sugar, oil, vinegar, water and soy sauce. Add pasta, coleslaw mix, pea pods, almonds and oranges; toss to combine.
4. Just before serving, coarsely crush dry noodles from soup mix; stir into pasta mixture. Serve immediately, or refrigerate.

1 Serving: Calories 220 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 1 1/2g, Trans Fat 1/2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 610mg; Total Carbohydrate 30g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 10g); Protein 5g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 30%; Vitamin C 40%; Calcium 4%; Iron 8% Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 1 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Italian Popcorn
From Better Homes and Gardens

A great picnic snack!

Photo Source:

1 100-calorie-size bag unpopped microwave popcorn
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

1. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. While popcorn is still hot, transfer to large bowl. Remove any uncooked kernels. Lightly coat popcorn with nonstick cooking spray. Toss; repeat until all kernels are well-coated in nonstick spray. Sprinkle popcorn with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and, crushed red pepper; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately (do not store). Makes 1 serving.

Calories 145, Total Fat (g) 4, Saturated Fat (g) 2, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 9, Sodium (mg) 325, Carbohydrate (g) 22, Fiber (g) 3, Protein (g) 7, Calcium (DV%) 12, Iron (DV%) 3, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Friday Faves: Kettle Brand Jalapeno Chips

Photo courtesy of the Kettle Chips online store.

Today's Friday Faves post is an ode to the best.chips.ever. I love me some jalapeno flavored chips, so always try new brands' versions of them to compare. Previously, Miss Vickie's were my favorite. That was until I saw that the delectable Kettle Brand chip company came out with a new flavor: none other than jalapano!

This chip is seriously addictive. It is not only my favorite flavor of the Kettle Brand chips (even better than Buffalo Bleu, IMO), but is by FAR the best jalapeno chip out there. It has a kick of spice, the great crunch that Kettle Brand chips are famous for, and some kind of devilish blend of flavor seasonings that sets it apart from other jalapeno flavored chips. The seasoning I think is the key, but beware because they are highly addictive. It is dangerous for me to have them in the house, because my husband and I can literally kill an entire full-sized bag in MINUTES.

Give it a try, you will not be disappointed! Click here for more info from the manufacturer.


Friday Faves: New Favorite Recipes

It's been a while since I posted recipes, and I realized that over the last several months I have found quite a few "keepers." They are all tried and true. Here they all are for your enjoyment!

Easy Pork Skillet

This is so simple, yet SO delicious. I always keep these ingredients in the house because this meal is such a hit.

Get the recipe on Betty Crocker.

Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

My husband LOVES this recipe!

Photo Source: Homesick Texan

Get the recipe from Homesick Texan.

Parmesan-Dijon Chicken

Great recipe that only has five ingredients (and usually things I have around the house anyway).

Photo Source:

Get the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Chicken with Olives

Savory and delicious.

Get the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Orange and Ginger Chicken

Another super simple dish with ingredients you probably have at home already.  We like to make ours as nuggets.

Get the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Spicy Skillet Chicken

Great one-pot meal when you need something hearty that doesn't take a lot of time to make. I add seasoning salt.

Get the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Gluten Free Favorite Chicken Nuggets

I have a family fried chicken recipe, but when I want a change and decide to make nuggets, this is my go-to recipe.

Photo Source:

Get the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Stuffing-Topped Chicken

Get the recipe from Eating Well.


Travel Tuesday: Campground Reviews

As you know, we do a lot of camping. I thought it would be helpful to write down some reviews of the campgrounds we have stayed at recently. I am sure there will be a Part II of this post in the future as we add this year's camping trips to our review repertoire. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like more specific reviews or information.

Cachuma Lake
2225 Highway 154
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 686-5055

Things to do in the area: Visit Solvang, wine taste, visit Santa Barbara, fish

Pros: Beautiful lake-front camp spots - an amazing thing to wake up to, close to Los Angeles
Cons: The ground is really hard, so it was difficult to get the tent spikes into the ground. Not to mention that we didn't bring an egg crate or air matress, so were a little stiff in the morning. Would have been fine had we remembered a hammer and an egg crate.

The lake at sunset from our campsite.

The lake early in the morning (fishing time).

Salton Sea – Mecca Beach

Things to do in the area: Star gaze, fish (tons of tilapia live in the Sea), visit Palm Springs

Pros: It feels "out there," but is not that far from LA, beautiful stars
Cons: It smells like fish, can’t go year-round because of the heat

The sun reflecting off the lake.

The lake at sunset.

Sedona – Manzanita
5900 N HW 89A
Sedona AZ 86336

Things to do in the area: Chapel of the Holy Cross (A-MAZING views), admire the natural beauty, hike
Recommended hike: Cathedral Rock

Misc: There are many vortexes in Sedona (areas of spiritual energy). For the record I visited one and didn't feel a damn thing.

Pros: The camground is a lovely stream, and is a beautiful place
Cons: Campsites really close together, and a little out of town (so uou have to drive to the good hikes and views)

The stream next to the campground.

The view of Cathedral Rock from Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Yosemite - Upper Pines

Things to do in the area: Hike, admire natural beauty

Misc: Bears! Make sure you adhere to the rules regarding food and toilettries in your tent and car (you must use the bear lockers at each site). There are literally bears coming through the campsite each night.

Best spot: 73. It was HUGE.

Pros: Huge camping spots, great location in the valley
Cons: Books early, so you have to make reservations well in advance

Half-Dome in the distance on our drive up.

The two tents we fit in our large campsite.

Pismo Beach – Oceano Dunes
Oceano CA 93445

Things to do in the area: Walk along the beach, wine taste

Pros: Campsites really close to beach, large tent camping spots
Cons: None really

The beach.

An unedited photo of the sunset.

Lake Cuyamaca
15027 Highway 79
Julian, CA 92036-9530
(760) 765-3867

Things to do in the area: Visit the quaint town of Julian and eat some of their famous apple pie

No major pros or cons, just a nice getaway surprisingly quick from Los Angeles or San Diego.

The lake.


The dock.

Apple and boysenberry pie in Julian.

Pt. Mugu – Thornhill Broome
32100 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Things to do in the area: Whale watch (amazing during April), hike

Pros: Camp right on the beach, and very close to LA
Cons: Right next to freeway, so you get some street noise

View of the Point to the north.

View of the coastline to the south.