Let’s Toast Fall with a Picnic
Betty blogger Megan DeKok toasts autumn’s arrival with a cozy picnic for friends, featuring unfussy fare, a fresh-from-the-orchard cider cocktail and an easy make-ahead dessert.
The day before picnicking, I baked up some Gold Medal Classic Focaccia. Instead of baking the dough into rounds, I divided it between two 9-inch square baking dishes so that I could make rectangular sandwiches. (You could totally buy focaccia if you wanted to speed things along. No judgment here. Both routes are tasty.)
I also made the dessert the day before. I wanted to use some apples from a cider mill field trip I had recently taken, so I baked up a batch of Easy Caramel Apple Bars and sliced them the next morning. I love making bars for picnics because they transport so well and keep it cool while sitting out. A platter full of these heavenly squares outfitted with a washi tape bunting was as festive it was tasty! And, I’m so glad I took the extra two minutes to make the bunting! Just tie twine between two skewers, fold washi tape rectangles over the twine about ¼-inch apart and then snip the tape into flags. Done and done.
The morning of the picnic I started by assembling the Layered Italian Sandwiches so the flavors could blend and do their magic in the fridge. I packaged the sandwiches up with parchment paper rectangles and twine, which made them easy to stack on a platter and wrap up tight for safe traveling, not to mention fun to look at. To round out the menu, I roasted some squash for Butternut Squash Kabobs and stirred together the spicy lemon dip while the Lentil Vegetable Soup simmered away.
At the last second, I mixed together all the boozy goodness going into the Sparkling Ginger Hard Apple Cider. I used Michigan-made maple syrup and hard cider to keep it local and man, this cocktail stole the show! Served over ice in mismatched cups, it was the perfect refreshment to sip on while sitting on a blanket in the park while my friends and I chatted the afternoon away.