Picnic Bites

It seems like my summer is just getting increasingly more busy. This weekend, I got to go to my very first Jimmy Buffett concert and it was an absolute blast! It was such a unique concert experience and I can’t wait to go again. Then I got to spend all day Sunday at one of my top-5-favorite-family’s family reunion. When I started dating my boyfriend, I also committed to attend his friends’ family reunion, once a year, every year, and play as many picnic sports/games as physically possibly in a single day. This year, we played volleyball, football, bags, softball, egg toss and water balloon toss. There’s always a lot of food and beer involved and so is inevitably a great time.

The family reunion is always a sure sign that summer is in full swing, and this summer has been amazing. It’s been full of beach volleyball, midnight movie premiers, awesome concerts and great people. At the family reunion though, I realized that not everything great about summer has to come with a $50 admissions ticket. So while I’m still riding the buzz from the family picnic and with the 4th of July right around the corner, I thought today would be a perfect time to share some of my favorite picnic recipes with you.

These recipes are all simple, porch-approved recipes straight from my kitchen. I hope you’re having a fantastic summer too and can share these recipes with your friends and family!

Apple Chips

Crisp apples of your choice

Slice your apples as thin as you can. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Bake at 220F for about 1.5 hours. I think these would be delicious with this Peanut Butter & Brown Sugar Fruit Dip!

Deviled Eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
¼ cup Mayo
½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
½ teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde (or salt)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Pop out the yolks and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pipe into cooked egg whites.

Flirtini Cocktail

1 part X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 part vodka
splash Triple Sec
splash cranberry juice

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a pretty glass.

FroYo Dots

Yogurt (any flavor, but I’d recommend a fruity variety)

Put the yogurt in a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Pipe small dots onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Freeze. After they’ve frozen (about 30 minutes), uses a metal spatula to remove them from the wax paper quickly. Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve. Just like Dippin’ Dots, but healthy and cheap!

(This fun recipe was a bonus recipe on my Facebook page! Be sure to “like” EmJoyable on Facebook for more simple, quick recipes!)

Also try watermelon cake pops, mini fruit tartlets, grilled shrimp skewers, summer cocktails and cinnamon cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Muddled Blackberries

Happy Memorial Day, Friends! Today is a day to appreciate the great gift of freedom that we are blessed with here in good ol’ USA! Thank you to all who have served our country, past and present to protect our liberty.

If you ask me, there is no better way to celebrate Memorial Day than sitting outside, cooking, eating and drinking with great friends and family! I wanted to share with you three, porch-worthy drink recipes that include my newest obsession: muddled blackberries.

My recent love of blackberries started with a blackberry mojito I made a few months ago that was featured in my Fruity Cocktails post. That love only grew when I discovered the beauty of muddled blackberries. Here are a few blackberry beverages to share with your friends this holiday weekend!

Blackberry Sangria

Red wine (I used Merlot)
4 blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar
2 lime wedges
2 orange wedges
splash of lemon juice

In a plastic cup or cocktail shaker, muddle the blackberries with the sugar. Add the juice of one lime wedge, one orange wedge and the lemon juice. Stir. Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add the fruit mixture. Add the second wedge of lime and orange for looks. Top off with wine. Stir and serve.

Blackberry Mojito

12 mint leaves
4 blackberries
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 ounces white rum
1/2 cup club soda

In a plastic cup or cocktail shaker, muddle the blackberries, mint and sugar. Squeeze the juice of two of the lime wedges. Add the rum. Stir. Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add the fruit mixture. Add the remaining lime wedges for looks. Top off with club soda. Stir and serve.

Blackberry Spritzer

4 blackberries
1/4 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
Club soda

In a plastic cup or cocktail shaker, muddle the blackberries and sugar. Squeeze the juice of the lime. Stir. Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add the fruit mixture. Top off with club soda. Stir and serve.


Goose Island Summer Beers

Goose Island is definitely one of my top-five favorite things about Chicago (the other four things will come in a future post, because that sounds like fun now that I think about it). For those of you who don’t know, Goose Island is a brewery in Chicago probably most popular for their wheat beer, 312. (I say probably because I’m not sure about the popularity of Goose Island outside of the Chicago area, let alone a specific beer.) They also brew a pretty wide variety of other house beers, including six of my top-seven favorite beers.

Photo Credit: Hello Chicago

Yesterday, I spent a solid five hours at Goose Island in Wrigleyville. I was killing time after work before a comedy show that started 11. I know that sounds silly, but I live on the south side and the show was on the north side, and it didn’t make sense to go all the way home between. Anyway, it ended up great because Goose Island had they’re summer beers out and they were all fantastic!

These are the three summer beers that I tried that I highly recommend. Keep in mind that I generally like wheat beers and fruity beers. These were perfect. So if you’re in the Chicago area, now or ever, be sure to hit up Goose Island! You won’t regret it!

Also, I’m really sorry that I didn’t take pictures of all these! What was I thinking!?

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Cubby Blue
Blueberry Ale | 5%
Raspberry color, blueberry aroma and flavor, light body*

Now, I know this sounds uber girly and fruity and amazing, but I promise it’s only two of the three. It’s really not as girly as it sounds — it’s certainly no wine cooler. This one is probably my favorite of these three. It’s incredibly flavorful, but not in a faced or fake way. It’s very “honest” if you will.

Wrigleyville White
Belgian Style Witbier | 5%
Hazy straw color, orange peel aroma, spicy citrus flavor, light body*

The spice is what I remember most about this one. I’m no beer-tasting pro, but if I had to describe this beer with one adjective that was not food related, it’d be “loud.” It just had a lot happening. Thumbs up.

American Blonde Ale | 5%
Straw color, light tangerine aroma, pear flavor, light body*

To me, this is the perfect summer beer. It was just so refreshing and simple and clean and lovely! I had this with my dinner of fried pickles and sweet potato fries, and I thought it made for a great pairing.

*Source: Goose Island Beer Menu

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