A grown-up romantic getaway doesn't have to be at a fancy restaurant. Leave the kids with the sitter and treat yourselves to a carefree picnic lunch. Whether you're eating on the beach, in a nearby park, or in the privacy of your own yard, eating on a picnic blanket seems to make everything taste better. If you're transporting your meal away from your home, you'll need a variety of plastic containers with tightly fitting lids so nothing spills. Choose foods that are best served at room temperature and bring along a cooler for drinks and perishables.
In order to make your picnic spread look really impressive, prepare at least two side dishes. One should be light and refreshing, like a fruit salad. The second can be a little heartier, such as a potato salad made with creamy dressing. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon and chopped herbs to make it taste bright and fresh. If you're going to be spending hours lounging on the picnic blanket -- say at an outdoor concert -- an appetizer may also be needed. Bring along a sleeve of wafers or crackers and some goat cheese or sliced Gouda. Remember to bring along plastic knives for spreading. Celery and carrot sticks with a creamy dip make for good snacking, too.
Sandwiches are the ideal meal to eat at a picnic, but a private picnic for two calls for something more special than peanut butter and jelly. Buy thick, crusty bread since this will hold up better than thin sandwich bread. Fill one sandwich with roasted turkey, sharp cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce and creamy dressing. Fill a second sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato and arugula. Cut the sandwiches in half so you can each try both varieties.
Since dessert will sit in the picnic basket or cooler the longest, it can't be delicate or prone to melting. Baked goods are your best bet. Make brownies filled with peanut butter and caramel chips, or oatmeal bars filled with a layer of fruit jam. If you don't have the time to make your own dessert, pick up a half-dozen pieces of biscotti from an Italian bakery. The sweet flavor and light texture will hit the spot after eating a filling meal.
If you're enjoying a picnic with your partner, a chilled bottle of champagne or white wine makes the meal feel romantic, even if you're eating in your own backyard. Drinking only alcohol isn't a wise idea, so bring along some bottled water and other refreshing drinks as well. Make homemade lemonade or iced tea the day before the picnic. On the day of the picnic, pour the drinks into jars or portable bottles with screw-top lids so you can keep them in the cooler without them leaking.
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