Transitional Picnic Packing 101.

Transitional picnics. There is something so tranquil and serene about diving into a new season with a very distinctively packed picnic… filled with food, drinks, and cute little treats that highlight everything about transitioning into the absolute best season of the entire year!! It’s not difficult to decide on what to pack for a specified summer picnic, or a full on fall picnic, but it is kind of confusing on what to pack for a picnic in the dead of September considering the weather is still warm, but there is a cool breeze floating around in the air. Since summer isn’t too far gone, we’re not completely in the mood for pumpkin spice everything just quite yet, so I’m going to guide all of you Diamonds on making the most perfect transitional picnic to date! This IS the 101!

I love a picnic so much! I think it’s the cutest little date idea whether it’s with a significant other, a friend, or even just a mother daughter day in the middle in the living room floor while watching a chick flick! There’s seriously so many ways you could go about putting this basket together, and endless options of where to enjoy it, but you always have to have the essentials!


The transitional picnic packing essentials: (or any picnic for that matter!)

  • I always base everything that I put in the basket around what type of sandwich, finger sandwich, or hoagie I’m putting together. I definitely think that sandwiches are a picnic stable in my book!
  • Cheese is the next essential! I think cheese, cured meats, and crackers are always more than welcome in your picnic basket.. along with any other charcuterie board fill-ins.
  • Fruit to represent the seasons, or transitioning into one! You can also do add whatever vegetables that you’re into as well besides the fruit! Picking on fruits & vegetables when dining during a picnic is the most traditional thing to do! Since we are heading into autumn which is the peak of apple and pear season, I had to include both of those babies! Besides grapes they really are my two favorite fruits to eat on a picnic anyway.
  • Little goodies and treats to snack on makes a picnic basket super special. The snacks I chose for picking in this transitional picnic basket are plain sea salted kettle cooked chips because I feel like you can’t fully enjoy a sandwich without yummy chips to accompany it. Then I placed in some sesame sticks to pair along with the smoked gouda cheese that I have cubed up to enjoy since they both just goes amazingly together, and I laid those all next to crunchy banana chips for a delicious bite of pure, natural sweetness!
  • I feel like all picnics NEED to have that touch of sweetness.. whether it’s sophisticated sweetness, a touch of romance, or a just simple indulgence. Being that I did put this picnic together for my boyfriend and I added added a box of whiskey filled chocolate truffles. His liquor of choice will forever be whiskey, so he was pretty pleased with these when he saw that I threw them in there as his little surprise!
  • Wrapped Candy! (To sort of throw is a “confetti” or decor) 😉 It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge candy bars unless you would want it to be, but I tossed in some wrapped up pumpkin spice chewy caramels to introduce the new season that we are vastly approaching. If you aren’t really into caramel, you can throw in taffy, or even hard candy would be a tasteful touch! Lollipops are definitely a nice go to as well, and if you pack champagne with gorgeous glassware you could even drop your lollipop into the glass to have it’s delicious candy flavors infuse into your champagne as you take sips! YUM!
  • Wine! Even if you don’t enjoy wine.. pack yourself some coolers, a hard cider, or something to relax to while you enjoy a perfect transitional picnic with your loved one(s)! If by chance you do not drink alcohol there are plenty of cute drinks to pack other than that! Cans of flavored sodas, sparkling waters, or lip licking lemonade! Whatever you choose is just to wet the whistle while you lay back, and take in some relaxation for just a little bit at least!

For the sandwiches I didn’t just want to do lunchmeat, and cheese because I felt like that did not give me the smokiness that I wanted to showcase for this transitional period. I had a ham steak that I’ve been dying to do something awesome with, and the thought of ham salad for this picnic planning was ideal ! All you have to do is small dice one whole ham steak, and place all of it in a stainless steal mixing bowl. Then in the bowl you’re ready for the mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish! If you don’t really like relish please please do not skip over it!! I am begging you. Lol. How it tastes on a hotdog is not how it is going to taste in this dish. Ham salad actually wouldn’t even taste like ham salad if you skipped out on the relish, so make sure you add three tablespoons of relish, along with a half cup of good hearty mayonnaise. The only other thing you have left to do is sprinkle in a punch of flavor by adding salt, pepper, dried parsley, paprika for some more smokiness, and a dash of garlic powder.

When putting the sandwiches together as one with the delectable ham salad you must pick the bread carefully! The bread of a sandwich can truly make or break it! I have mentioned that to you Diamonds before in pervious posts! I chose pillowy potato buns that were a bit small, so that we can each enjoy two of these sandwiches! When creating a sandwich for a picnic when I already have cheese cubes packed, I usually decide to not add cheese on the sandwich itself. Instead of the cheese, for presentation and texture.. I placed some green leaf lettuce piles on the bottom of each bun. Then of course I put two spoonfuls of the ham salad on each one of the sandwiches. If you used a whole ham steak there will be left overs, but if you do not want leftovers you can simply use a half of one, but I mean who wouldn’t want to nibble on some the next day with crackers, or bread cubes? DUH! That’s a no brainer! 😉

For some ornate decorative presentation when you open the basket to see whats inside.. you can wrap your sandwiches in parchment paper by folding each corner into the center to hold everything in, and then fastening It with some burlap string; tying it all into a bow!

Picnic planning is a very pretty piece of art, especially when planning for a transitional one because you want to add pops of seasonal aspects, without adding too much when it hasn’t even official started yet. The best way to go about it is just switching out your summer berries, to juicy fall fresh apples, switching out certain meats and cheeses for ones that add more smokiness into the spread since smokey foods remind me of a fair, or having a bonfire, and then switching out some s’more desserts to strong liquor filled chocolates, or maybe even pecan filled shortbread cookies! It is just all about connecting little fall features into a traditional picnic to make it a transitional one, so you can start to enjoy some of the best fall flavors that there is to be offered! I could have packed some thirst quenching cider to pair with the fruit even better than the berry filled wine that I added in, BUT I thought that that would be much more of a complete fall filled basket rather than celebrating the transition between the seasons! Of course you can make it less, or more autumn filled if you would like, but this is everything that I feel that makes it just perfectly perfect!


HAVE SO MUCH FUN TRANSITIONAL PICNIC PLANNING DIAMONDS!

A nutty White peach & bacon green leaf salad.

If any of you Diamonds have a pile of very ripe summer peaches about to go bad.. don’t throw them, or just eat them on their own..that’s too basic! I know as each season starts to come to an end, we end up getting sick of the seasonal fruit, so eating them like an apple just doesn’t do it for me because I’ve already indulged in it so much while everything was at it’s peak. This is the time where you need to get creative! You can even do a grilled peach pizza topped with ricotta as well. That would be absolutely sensational! In this case I decided to toss some wedges of white peaches on a pile of leafy greens, paired with some salty, smokey bacon. I love sweet & salty so much. It truly is one of the best, most sophisticated tasting combinations of all time! It goes way far and beyond just combining dark chocolate, and sea salt. Even though that’s simply scrumptious in it’s own way, this is kicked up a notch! Some people don’t love fruit in their salad, but the punch of sweetness that these white peaches give to this salad is unreal.

One of the only things you really have to prepare for this dish is the bacon. I used turkey bacon because that’s something I always always keep in the house, and let’s be honest.. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, BUT if you’d like to go all out definitely don’t let me stop you! Use your favorite regular thick cut bacon. It’ll give it that fatty zip that a salad is longer for at times, especially when paired with fruit.

Aside from the beautiful bacon, and the pretty white, juicy peaches that I love oh so much .. you always need a slight cheese flavor in your salad. Whether that would just be a sprinkling, or crumble of something, I always feel like it’s not a completed salad without some sort of cheese added to it. In the middle of the green leaf pile, I chose to add a small garnishing of finely grated parmesan cheese. This type of cheese goes perfectly with fruit, nuts, and greasy bacon crumbles! If you’d rather not include a salty cheese because of the bacon, you can choose some sort of creamy cheese to lay over the middle of the bed of greens. A few slices of brie, or crumbled goat cheese would be super superb! It all depends what you have on hand, what you love paired together, or sometimes.. what you’re in the mood for!

The only thing left that this pretty little salad needs is a few kalamata olives, and a few tiny piles of trail mix for that crunchy bite that we look for within a salad especially when theres no crunchy vegetables, or anything like that being incorporated. Lastly comes the very delicious vinaigrette! This vinaigrette doesn’t require any mixing.. although you are mixing things together that usually most don’t think of. Most of the time people usually do an actual dressing, or oil & vinegar.. where as for this creation, I did both! I chose a tangy Italian dressing to drizzle over the top, along with some really good olive oil, and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. You Diamonds also know that I finish every salad off with some salt & pepper to taste! It also makes the fruit look really elegant with little specs of freshly ground black pepper on top. The seasonings believe it or not, bring out the sweetness even more than usual!

Who new sweet & salty would be based off of a salad recipe?

This was indeed the salad that you saw peaking through in the background of my last post. I paired this with the wonderfully bold pasta tossed in the beautiful blush sauce, and it was so so amazing together. Since the pasta was a tad creamy from the milk, and parmesan cheese, this was the perfect accompaniment to add that tangy element. It gave the meal a pop of freshness, and juiciness that I think all pasta dishes long for considering it’s usually a pretty filling, and hearty meal!

xoxo

XOXO


Linguine Tossed in a Beautiful, Bold Blush sauce!

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Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s got to be the ultimate comfort food! The magical thing about it is that you can mix it with anything in the world.. even something as little as a stick of butter, and a healthy handful of parmesan cheese! Thats probably one of my favorite, most simple pasta dishes in the world. BUTTERED NOODLES! Although that’s for a whole entire other blog post, I still wanted to let you in on how truly simple, but succulent noodles, and just one easy peasy pairing can be! Besides butter and olive oil.. my favorite ingredient to add into a sauce for some pasta is milk, or even cream if you choose to be more decadent.. to make a wonderful, whimsical blush sauce!

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A blush sauce is mixing the best of both worlds into one unique symphony! It’s putting everyones two favorite sauces together from the two most traditional pasta dishes on earth.

  1. The classic red sauce. 
  2. The creamy dreamy cheesy Alfredo. 

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I start everything out by grabbing the best bowl for the dish! I mean tell me Diamonds.. how much more perfect can the presentation get when your guests scoop the last couple noodles out of the bottom of the bowl to find that the platter spells “spaghetti”?! Super adorable if I do say so myself! I’m a very themed and seasonal person, so anything that goes with what I’m cooking is always going to be showcased. There’s no doubt about that! 

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Before even beginning your pasta sauce.. bring some water to a boil in large soup pot!

  • When the water comes to a rapid boil, seriously salt it (like the sea) and pour your linguine in!

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     Chop up one white onion, and a red bell pepper into a medium dice. Also, mince up two gloves of garlic. You can use more, or less garlic if you’re a lover of it, or you don’t have to add any if you don’t so much care for that punch of flavor. Totally up to you on that one Diamonds!

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  •      Saute the vegetables in a pan coated with olive oil, and two tablespoons of butter.
  •      Season with salt, pepper, and some shakes of oregano.

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After sautéing on medium heat for ten minutes.. add Italian seasoning, and chopped parsley flakes!

After the herbs, you are now ready to add in the creamy goodness into it all!

  • Pour in 1 1/2 cups of milk, or heavy cream in! If half and half is what you prefer to either of those you can use that as well.

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    On top of the simmering goodness.. pour in one cup or so of tomato sauce.

Right after you mix in the tomato sauce with the cream, you can toss in the linguine, and then also add in a bunch of parmesan cheese! That’s whats going to make this sauce extra special. I am that person that thinks cheese makes everything better! 😉 I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who agree as well!

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      Just a little close up so you can see how beautiful, and bold these flavors look! 

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When the pasta sauce looks a little light still around the pasta, let everything simmer on low heat giving it time to come together. The sauce will thicken up, and get darker in color. That’s exactly what you want! You’ll only need to let it sit on the stove for just about ten minutes to let all of that take place.

This big, bold and beautiful bowl of linguine tossed in a succulent seasoned blush sauce is pure pasta perfection! It is perfect for dinner parties, Sunday dinners, a luxurious date night, or just a nice little week night family gathering! Really.. it’s just perfect for anything, and everyone will love it so so much! You can garnish this beauty will oregano, and chopped parsley flakes.

  • If you diamonds are curious as to what delicious looking salad is peaking through from the background.. it’s a pretty peach and nutty bacon concoction that will be up here on the blog within the next few days! It was super yummy, and an amazing way to end peach season!!

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XOXO

Herby Ranch Cheesy Bread!

From everyones childhood on up there’s something we will always love! Something we can always go for. Something that we can serve as a side dish with absolutely any dinner menu and have it be incredible! Something we remember eating off of our lunch trays in the school cafeteria trying to imagine that they really weren’t as greasy as they actually were. Lol. That something.. is CHEESY BREAD! You don’t have to wait until a Friday night after the kids get settled down from getting home after school to indulge in this delectable cheesy, and exceptionally crusty goodness. I know ordering from your favorite pizza parlor is super convenient, and you may even crave that specific taste from each different place, but you can build this cheesy bread in the comfort of your own home any time of the day! Of course there’s going to be days where were going to order out because we’re having a party, or we’re just craving it to the absolute max, but I can guarantee you that no matter how amazing you think someone else’s breadsticks are.. these are going to be that much better. They are the cheesiest, most flavorful chewy breadsticks; kicked up a notch with blasts of buttermilk ranch dressing! 

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When you think of a party.. think of these little stunning stringy sticks! It is for sure the ultimate party food, and if you even think of arguing that concept, think again! This herby ranch cheesy bread is the perfect pick food for a party. It may actually be the king of all party foods!! There will be no-one turning there noses up to this no matter their food preferences, or how picky you are! If you are vegan and/or gluten free you can make this exact same recipe with vegan cheese, and gluten free pizza crust!

Building this bad boy is super super simple! You can even have the kids jump in and help with this one. There really isn’t any mess or clean up, so that’s a big plus especially when everyones hands are in the kitchen helping at once.


Steps for making this ridiculously tasty ranch cheesy bread: 

  • Rub good olive oil all over the crust.
  • Sprinkle one whole bag of shredded mozzarella cheese all over the crust.
  • Sprinkle a quarter of a bag of shredded white cheddar cheese all over the top of the mozzarella cheese.
  • Drizzle the entire top of the pizza crust with your favorite ranch dressing. It could even be homemade!! That would honestly make it even more incredible.
  • Garnish everything off with dried parsley, dill, and oregano. Also, add salt & pepper TT.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is to your liking! I like my crust very browned, and crisp! 

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     So cheesy, so crusty, so ranchy, and so so herby! 

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There is one important rule to this cheesy bread! DO NOT cut this like a pizza! It isn’t supposed to be a pizza. It’s meant to be cut into fun little sticks to pop into your mouth while sitting on the couch on a Saturday night binge watching Netflix with all your friends, or to dance around with while you mingle at a party.

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You can serve them any which way you fancy, but I love the wooden platter next to the crust! It looks very Tuscany, and has a fabulous Italian flare to it. No matter what the occasion, or how fun the theme may be, your guests will always be so pleasantly surprised when they hit those wonderful ranch pouches while munching on this cheesy bread! Ranch is normally something many many people adore dipping their pizza in, so since this is a relative to our delicious cheese pizza, I thought it would be the perfect topping to this delicious herby, cheesy goodness! This is a movie night masterpiece, so grab one of these yummy sticks, and get cozy on the couch Diamonds!


      XOXO

Super Small Party Bites!

 No matter how big or small the party, there’s always room for well.. a little more small bites!! It doesn’t have to be extravagant, fancy, or filled with new things people have never tasted before, even though of course they are all solid choices. Sometimes we just need little add ons for dinner parties, or even much bigger parties. Variety is key for everything at every event, no matter what the occasion, or theme may be. I think there are times where we get the idea in our heads that if we’re hosting a gathering for a larger crowd, everything we present has to be huge, and over the top. Fortunately that isn’t always the case. Even if you are expecting a wide range of people, you can fill the kitchen island, and counters with a whole bunch of little charcuterie boards & pretty platters, instead of making yourself nuts trying to impress people with every single thing you’re planning on making!

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Diamonds, always remember.. on every board you create you don’t need endless amounts of meats, and aged cheeses to make it the most delicious it can be. You need a few impeccable items that pair exquisitely together, so no matter how small your pick tray may be it will always be perfect. 


Six sensational Italian ingredients to make the best bite board: 

  • Everything but the bagel seasoning crackers. You can use plain butter crackers, but it’s great to have that punch of garlic flavor when pairing it with mild mozzarella cheese, and some vinegary pops along side of it!
  • Fresh sliced mozzarella cheese. This cheese pairs wonderfully with the other goodies on the board.
  • Marinated whole button mushrooms. The texture up against the flakey, and crunchy wheat crackers is really really awesome!
  • Pimento stuffed green olives. To me, these are a staple on any board. They’re classic, insanely flavorful, and are so great even for just a simple garnish.
  • Smoked gouda woven wheat crackers. These type of crackers are some of my absolute favorite ones. The cheese flavor goes super well with everything else sitting next to it!
  • Sweet & smokey red roasted peppers. I have always had love for these ruby colored sweet, sweet silky peppers. They go with basically any dish, and every appetizer on the face of the planet, and dare I say.. it’s probably my favorite way to enjoy a pepper. Next to the hot & spicy versions of course. 😉

Perfect bites sometimes come in super sweet, small packages Diamonds. 😉

  • Think & plan before you prep for your next gathering!

XOXO

Cool & Creamy Dill Cucumber salad

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As summer comes to an end, so do my sensational, and super succulent summer time salads. Whether you’re enjoying them during the day next to the pool while laying under the cabana, or for a side during a late night dinner, paired with a bright red sangria next to the fire pit.. it is a full on summer side dish, and cannot enter into the fall season! Therefore, we have to indulge in all of the cool, creamy, and dill filled cucumber salad that we possibly can until September 1st! Now, I know, I know.. fall doesn’t truly make it’s officially appearance until the near end of September, but as soon as the first month of autumn hits I totally change my brain into fall mode!! That’s just who I am Diamonds. 😉

 Cucumber salad has always, always been a summer staple. For as long as I can remember I’ve continued to serve myself  large spoonfuls of this at every barbecue I have ever attended since I was a child. The proper way to conduct this delicious salad is to have a light, and creamy dressing lathered around crisp and cool cucumbers, garnished with fresh chopped dill, and smokey paprika! Paprika is the ultimate garnish to top of mayonnaise based salads. It’s really just such a great combination, and taste!

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When creating a dressing for a salad we don’t often think of adding texturized food into it, but in my opinion that’s definitely what flavors it best! Chop a half of a vidalia onion extremely fine, so that it can help marinate the cool, creamy dressing!

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For this specific salad, don’t just use any old cucumber. If I were you.. to avoid seeds, and harsh skin.. use a Persian, or English cucumber instead of American slicing cucumbers that have tough skin, and huge seeds. If you wanted to remove the skin from any cucumbers that you are using, you’re welcome to it. Although, I wanted the skin kept on so that it would add a pop of bright green, grassy colors!

The number one thing you want to make sure of when making a salad like this is that it is not watery! That won’t be appetizing what so ever, and it will ruin the whole appeal of the dish! 

  • To avoid wateriness: Grab a colander, and place it in the bottom of your sink, then line it with paper towels while placing all the sliced cucumbers on top of it. Sprinkle all of the cucumbers generously with salt, and let them sit for a minimum of a half hour! The salt will release the water from the cucumbers, leaving you to make a gorgeous thick, creamy salad!

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This delicious off-white sauce is impeccable, and pairs wonderfully with the snap of a cool cucumber!

Sauce ingredients:

  • One cup of mayonnaise.
  • Two tablespoons of vinegar.
  • The minced onions you diced earlier.
  • Two tablespoons of honey.
  • A dash of milk.
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and dried parsley.
  • Chopped fresh dill.

 

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Mix the drained cucumbers in with the sweet, onion dressing, and spoon it all into a decorative wooden bowl! As you Diamonds already know, I love contrasting textures and colors when serving!

  • As I mentioned earlier, top everything off with a colorful coating of paprika, and chopped dill.

I adore white dressing covered salads inside of brown wooden bowls. It looks super summery and Tuscany, which is absolutely my vibe when it comes to something like this. I hope you Diamonds enjoy all of the summer salads that you can before we’re covered in scarfs under the chilly air, walking on cobble stone in beautiful boots, and eating all the fall comfort food that’s around us.


 

XOXO