When the crisp winter air transitions to the sweet spring breezes, I find myself yearning to be outdoors. I dream of picnics filled with fresh and exciting portable dishes that celebrate the seasonal changes. I love to imagine spreading a cozy blanket on a sea of spring grass and topping it with delectable dishes of food. Of course, potato salad is a must along with a jazzy rendition of deviled eggs. Who can resist those classics? I also like to include new favorites like stuffed roasted peppers and a boozy fruit salad for dessert. The main event is a BLT club with a lip-smacking good herby aioli—which takes this classic sandwich to an entirely new level of tasty. So grab a cozy blanket and your favorite beverages, and load up the picnic basket with these fresh and delicious recipes for your next fun-filled outdoor dining experience.
smoked salmon deviled eggs
Makes 12 deviled eggs
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup finely chopped smoked salmon (not lox)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Place the eggs in the bottom of a large pot that has a lid. Cover them with water and then place the pot over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let the eggs sit in the water for 8 minutes. This will cook the eggs to medium doneness. Transfer the eggs to a large bowl with ice water and let them cool. Once they are cold, peel the eggs.
Gently cut the peeled eggs in half and place the boiled yolks in a bowl. Then add to the egg yolks the cream cheese, mayonnaise, fresh dill, green onion, lemon zest, and smoked salmon. Stir until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the egg filling to a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with a wide opening at the tip. Pipe the filling into the eggs. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh sprigs of dill. These eggs are best served the same day they are prepared.
bay shrimp stuffed roasted peppers
Makes 12 mini peppers
- 12 mini peppers
- ½ pound bay shrimp
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 clove garlic
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup shredded cheddar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the mini peppers on a baking sheet. Slice each pepper lengthwise from top to end tip, enough to create a pocket. Do not slice them all the way through. Scoop out seeds with a small spoon. Roast the peppers for about 10 minutes until slightly soft. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
In a food processor add the bay shrimp, cream cheese, garlic, lemon zest, shredded cheddar, salt, and pepper. Pulse just until all the ingredients are nicely combined. Then add the mixture to a pastry bag or Ziploc with large opening and pipe the mixture into each pepper.
Mix together the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, and olive oil. Sprinkle this mixture over each mini pepper. Place them back into the oven for another 5 to 8 minutes or until the crumbs are golden and the peppers are warmed through the center.
Remove from the oven and serve slightly warm or room temperature.
lemon artichoke & olive tapenade
Serves 8 to 12
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts
- ½ roasted red pepper
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crostini, crackers, or mini flatbread
Place the artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, zest and juice of 1 lemon, olives, olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil, and crushed red pepper flakes into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until the ingredients are nicely combined.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be prepared a day ahead and held in the refrigerator.
Serve with crostini, crackers, or mini flatbread. This is also delicious on sandwiches.