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Paula’s Potato Salad

This week I’m excited to share my Aunt Paula’s potato salad.  I love potato salad, especially the grilled potato salad we made last summer (I can’t wait to make that again).  As the weather warms up I’m thinking about picnics more and more, and no picnic is complete without a potato salad!

Paula says:

When our son Matthew was seven and had developed into a strong swimmer my husband Richard and I thought it was time to include him in one of our favorite outdoor activities- kayaking.  As he was too young to kayak on his own we bought a two-person kayak so one of us could help steer and paddle.  He quickly caught on and kayaking has become a fun family event that’s enjoyed from Spring to Fall.

We’ve begun an annual tradition of kicking off the summer season by going to one of our local lakes, either Mercer County Park or Assunpink Nature Preserve.   We spend most of the day paddling around, exploring the local wildlife, watching fishermen and other boating enthusiasts and then pulling over for a family picnic.  The picnic is never fancy, but it’s something we look forward to.  We search the bank for a good spot, one with a clearing, and pull the kayaks over.  We eat our lunch and talk about what we’ve seen that day.  Matt sometimes wades into the water or skims rocks on the surface.  All in all, it’s a great way to start the summer.

Matthew, 2005, on a visit to Baltimore

Paula’s Potato Salad

1 lb russet potatoes

1 egg

2 stalks celery

1/2 red onion

3 carrots

1 tbsp mayo or greek yogurt

1 tbsp brown mustard

1 tbsp red vinegar

2 roasted red peppers

Salt & pepper

Boil and quarter your potatoes. Hard boil and dice your egg.  Peel and chop carrots.  Dice celery, red onion, and red peppers.  Mix all ingredients together.  Adjust seasoning and consistency.  Chill.

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Perfect Picnic Sandwich

For picnics, my mother always makes hoagies.  The sandwiches vary, but usually it is turkey, provolone, greens, pesto, and some sort of roasted pepper or onion.  These simple sandwiches were always fresh and delicious, paired with chips or fruit salad, soda and maybe even dessert.  Over the years we’ve eaten these sandwiches up and down the east coast and still they’re my favorite picnic treat, a testament to my mother’s sandwich making skills.

This mother’s day we met the Turcottes at the Wheaton Regional Park for a special picnic.  We ate sandwiches, pretzels, pickles, fruit, and whoopie pies and enjoyed what turned out to be a gorgeous day.  We took turns making Amelie smile and planned for when Meredith is old enough to read Harry Potter and make the trip to Orlando with her favorite Aunt and Uncle to GO TO HOGWARTS (Meredith has no idea what she’s in for).

Photo by Dan

Dan and I aren’t quite anywhere near ready to have kids (sorry Paps!) of our own so these days we rely on our sweet, wonderful nieces and a group of pretty amazing family friends to keep the little ones in our lives.  It was lovely spending mother’s day with the Turcottes, I feel so lucky to have them in my  life.

Perfect Picnic Sandwich

Loaf of French or Italian Bread

Smoked Turkey

Roasted Red Peppers

Provolone Cheese

Pesto*

Dandelion Greens

Combine all ingredients but roasted red peppers on bread.  Wrap sandwiches in parchment and pack with peppers in picnic basket.  Add peppers when you are ready to eat.

Basil Pesto

Combine 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.

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Jill’s Vanilla Mojito

This recipe for vanilla mojitos comes courtesy of my Aunt Jill.  Jill, my mother’s older sister, is a wonderful person, a caring aunt, and a huge supporter of this blog.  She’s the first to recommend recipes (she helped me think this one out), always tells me what she thinks of my dishes, and never fails to encourage and cheer me on.  She’s incredibly special and important to me, and this Mother’s Day I’d like to give her a big virtual hug.

Aunt Jill, not a particularly big rum fan, dreamed up this mojito recipe.  Now Dan and I are very fond of the classic mojito, so we were skeptical.  I wasn’t sure if vanilla would make sense with the lime and mint, and if I would be okay giving up rum for vodka.  We decided to do a side-by-side taste testing, one version made with vanilla vodka and the other made with rum + vanilla extract.  The verdict? Both are wonderful.  The vodka is subtle and very refreshing, perfect for a picnic.  I have every intention of enjoying some of these when we make our way up to New Jersey this summer to visit Aunt Jill.

From left: my cousin Taylor (five days younger than me), Aunt Jill, Uncle Ron, and my cousin Jessie

Christmas in our family. Note, please, both my Aunt Jill and my Mom (front row left and first in).  This is why I’m the way I am.  Also, Jessie’s total deadpan kills me.

Vanilla Mojito Two Ways

Vodka:

Slice two limes.  Muddle them with a handful of mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Combine 1 cup lime simple syrup and 1 cup of vanilla vodka.  Chill.  When you arrive at your picnic destination, add 16 oz of club soda to the pitcher and serve!

Rum:

Slice two limes.  Muddle them with a handful of mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Combine 1 cup lime & vanilla simple syrup and 1 cup of white rum.  Chill.  When you arrive at your picnic destination, add 16 oz of club soda to the pitcher and serve!

Lime Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Juice of two limes

Combine all ingredients in a medium pan.  Boil until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

Lime & Vanilla Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Juice of two limes

Combine all ingredients in a medium pan.  Boil until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

 

 

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