Cookies,  Dessert,  Fruit,  Salads

Picnic Time..PB and J Cookies and Watermelon Feta Salad!

There is something quaint and nostalgic about an old-fashioned picnic.  Not that my menu is particularly old-fashioned, but the simplicity of a picnic under a shady spot in the park.   No toting plastic coolers filled with ice, bags of charcoal or fancy food; just a nice wicker basket, a red checked tablecloth and simple bites to eat.  After being closed up in an air-conditioned office all day, I enjoy being outdoors; sharing a bottle of vino and feeling the warm breeze.  Spur of the moment, packing up my basket and heading out! 

For this little picnic, I packed up my Quinoa Tabbouleh  , some whole wheat pita bread and a Watermelon Feta Salad.  The salad is simply made with chunks of watermelon and feta, mint, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar can be simmered until reduced to a thick glaze or purchased as such.  I packed the balsamic glaze separately to drizzle on at serving time. 

For drinks a mason jar of freshly made lemonade kept chilled with lemonade ice cubes and for dessert, these fun little PB & J cookies!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Adapted from Real Simple Recipes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 large egg

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (or use chunky)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)

1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry seedless jam

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or Slipat.  Cream the butter and sugars on high in a large mixing bowl. Lower to medium speed and add the egg, peanut butter, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture on low speed. Beat until incorporated. Fold in the rice cereal.

Using a small ice cream or cookies scoop place balls of dough on the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Gently press the cookies with the back of a fork to create classic hatch marks. Use the end of a wooden spoon to create a shallow well in the center of each cookie and fill with a spoonful of jam.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.

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