Labor Day Picnic Ideas!

So it’s a holiday weekend and we of course are closed on Monday, Labor Day! Yay! So instead of working out I’m sure many of you will be having or going to a picnic and participating in some delicious picnic food consumption! Well I’m going to give you a few different recipes that you can make for your picnic, and I promise that they are healthy! (well for the most part!) And will shy away from the usual hot dogs, hamburger and potato salad staples that normally appear at picnics!


I’m going to start off with a couple of salad ideas that I found (cause as much as I’d love to cook and come up with all these recipes, I can’t, I’m a terrible cook unless it’s chicken parm or tacos, I’m pretty awesome at those!)

Mozzarella Salad

This recipe I got from Rachel Ray (we are bffs like that.)

  • 16 pieces bocconcini, bite sized mozzarella balls
  • 1 pint multi colored, yellow or red heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 4 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, 10 to 12 leaves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • Salt and pepper
Halve the mozzarella and tomatoes and combine in bowl with scallions and herbs. Dress salad with vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roasted Potato Salad

Instead of the usual fattening, not being able to keep it outside in the heat, potato salad I found this delicious recipe on my favorite food blog, How Sweet Eats, please go there, you will be addicted to her amazing recipes!
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and chopped
  • 10 small yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound of fresh green beans
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Chop sweet potatoes (I peeled mine) and yukon golds (I didn’t peel those) into uniform cubes and throw them in a bowl. Cut the fresh green beans in half to shorten each piece and add them to the bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss potatoes and green beans until all is coated. Spread them on a non-stick baking sheet. Take the garlic heads and chop off the top to reveal the top of each clove. Rub the head chopped side down in the oiled bowl to coat with olive oil (there should be some left in the bowl that didn’t sick to the potatoes). Place garlic heads face-up on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, flip and bake for 15-20 more.

While the potatoes are roasting, in a separate bowl combine 1/4 cup olive oil, parmesan cheese, dill and parsley and whisk. Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven to cool and set garlic heads aside for 5 minutes. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze roasted garlic into the olive oil mixture. Using a whisk, smash and stir the garlic into the olive oil.

Dump potatoes and green beans into a large serving bowl and cover with the garlic and olive oil mix. Toss to coat throughly and serve.

Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter and Cotija Cheese

This one is also stolen from How Sweet Eats, I can’t help but ‘borrow’ her recipes when they are so freaking good!

Don't you just want to eat 25 ears of this?

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (very small crumbles!)
  • 3-4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (this is a Mexican cheese that can be hard to find)
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
  • black pepper

Preheat your grill on the highest setting. Shuck corn ears and brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Wrap each in a square of aluminum foil – just so there is one layer cover the corn. Grill for about 5 minutes each “side” – rotating corn 4-5 times during grilling. While grilling corn, combine softened butter with crumbled bacon. Crumble cotija cheese on a large plate.

Once corn is finished, let sit for about 5 minutes to cool a bit before serving. The corn will still be very hot. Serve with a brush for the bacon butter, the plate of cotija to roll the corn in, and a bunch of fresh cilantro for garnish.

Note: there are so many ways to grill corn – feel free to grill your corn another way if you’d like. Also, if you can’t find cotija cheese I’m sure you could sub feta or blue – something that crumbles.

Pierogi Casserole
Okay so this one might not be so healthy, sorry! But how can you resist pierogies! This is also from How Sweet Eats blog!
  • 8 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into fours
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces of cheese, cubed or shredded (Velveeta will work best, second best is hand-grated cheddar)
  • 1/2 pound pasta (farfalle or lasagna noodles)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel potatoes and chop into quarters. Set them in a large pot and cover with water, allowing it to come to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, cook pasta according to directions, and once drained mix with two tablespoons of butter. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and saute chopped onion until soft.

Drain potatoes and mash with one stick of butter and cheese. Make sure no lumps remain. Fold in onions.

Spread out pasta in a large baking dish and spread mashed potato mixture over top. If desired, top with more cheese and onions. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. This is best when served immediately, but still tastes good after being in the fridge for a day or two.

Main Dishes

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I am basically obsessed with pulled pork sandwiches, I love pulled pork! So I found this recipe that is soo good! Also if you are in the Pittsburgh area this weekend it’s the Rib Fest weekend outside of Heinz Field!! I went last year and it was great!

  • 4 lb pork roast
  • 2 onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 or 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cups water
  • 16 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • salt and pepper
Place one sliced onion at the bottom of Crock Pot. Stud pork roast with cloves and season with salt and pepper.
Place roast in slow cooker on top of the sliced onion. Cover with the second sliced onion and add enough water to fill Crock Pot two thirds of the way. Cover and cook on low 8 to 12 hours.
Remove roast. Remove and discard cloves, bone and fat as well as any water, onions and grease remaining in pot.
When pork roast is cool enough to handle, use a fork or your fingers to pull it apart until the entire roast is shredded.
Return the pulled pork to the crockpot. Mix in the chopped onion and BBQ sauce and cover. Heat on high for 1-3 hours or until the onions are soft.
Serve on large, crusty buns with a mustard based Carolina-style BBQ sauce. Garnish with dill pickle spears, thinly sliced raw onion and pickled pepperoncini (Italian banana peppers). Serve with crisp, homemade slaw. Carolinians would put the cole slaw on the pulled pork sandwiches..that’s up to you. Obviously you can serve them however you want though!

BBQ Ranch Chicken Sliders

Anyone see a theme with my main dishes? When I think summer/end of summer I think BBQ!

  • 1/5 -2 lbs chicken, grilled and shredded
  • 6 whole wheat slider buns
  • 2 slices of low-fat monteray jack cheese, cut in four pieces
  • 1/4 cup barbeque sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dressing
  • lettuce for garnish

Once chicken is shredded, mix with barbeque sauce until thoroughly combined. Toast slider buns.

On each slider bun, add roughly 1-1.5 ounces of shredded chicken. Top with a teaspoon on ranch dressing, and a piece of cheese. Add lettuce.

Grilled Corn and Tomato Fettuccine

This pasta looks like you can serve it warm or cold. Also from How Sweet Eats!

  • 1 pound whole wheat fettucine
  • 4 large ears of corn
  • 3 vine tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup + 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the grill on the highest setting. Remove most of the husk from each ear of corn and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can leave it in the husks, but I choose to wrap it in one layer of aluminum foil, leaving a bit loose so I can check to see if the corn is charring. Lay corn on the grill on direct heat and cook on each side for about 5-6 minutes before rotating – overall the corn usually takes us about 30 minutes for the char we like. After adding corn to the grill, slice tomatoes in half. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then lay on the grill cut side down. I do NOT seed or juice my tomatoes and love the end result, but as a warning, they will stick to the grill a bit. Cook for 5 minutes before rotating. Repeat the same (oiling, salt/pepper) with the green pepper and grill. That green pepper and tomatoes should take about 6-8 minutes to grill, but it is up to you and dependent on the level of char you like.

Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic. Add fettuccine to the bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Once corn is finished, unwrap and let cool for a few minutes. When cool enough to touch, slice corn off the cob using a sharp knife. Slice grilled tomatoes into wedges. Add corn, tomatoes and green peppers to pasta. Top with additional parmesan cheese.


Angel Food Cake with Berry Sauce Recipe

You can always just buy an angel food cake instead of making your own if you are in a time crunch!

  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup blueberry vodka
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • SAUCE:
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries

  • Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar and flour together twice; set aside.
  • Add the cream of tartar, vanilla and salt to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Gradually fold in flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time.
  • Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through the batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 325° for 50-60 minutes or until lightly browned and entire top appears dry. Immediately invert pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate. Brush top and sides of cake with vodka. Combine cornstarch and water; set aside.
  • For sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups raspberries, 1 cup blueberries, pineapple juice and liqueur. Bring to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened
  • Remove from the heat; stir in the strawberries, blackberries and remaining raspberries and blueberries. Serve sauce with cake.


Now how could I give you all recipes for a picnic and not have a delicious refreshing drink included?  Yes I also consider this a dessert. Now for these you can always add some fruit (crushed up so the juices mingle with it! Blackberries are my favorite!) This only makes a single serving so if you plan on having a few you can make a pitcher of them! You could also make them frozen by blending them and adding a little more ice as well!

Can't wait to make these!

  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 ounces Tequila
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
  • orange + lemon + lime slices for garnish
  • salt for the rim (I use sugar when I include fruit!)

Rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lemon, lime and orange slices.

For simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely.

This recipe can be easily doubled, quadrupled, etc. Since everyone’s tastes differ, add simple syrup 1/4 cup at a time and go from taste. I also suggest buying the lime juice if you plan on making a pitcher (or 2) considering you’d have to squeeze a billion limes to get enough juice.

So there are some delicious recipes to make this weekend when you have or go to a picnic! I’ll think of all of you when I’m drinking a pitcher of margaritas and munching on grilled corn and pulled pork sandwiches! Have a great holiday!!