Smoky Air Shouldn't Deter Picnic Plans

IN THE KITCHEN

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The smoky air should not be a deterrent to plans for a picnic. Just wait until after dark, or do an early morning picnic when the smoke is down.

Put lights around your deck or porch, set up a table with candles or lanterns and enjoy the cooler air.

One benefit of the smoke -- bugs hate it.

Roast Beef & Veggie Wrap

Total preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes.

3/4 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef (16 slices)

2 cups shredded broccoli slaw

1/4 cup prepared reduced fat ranch dressing

1 (8-ounce) container reduced fat whipped cream cheese

2 tablespoons prepared reduced fat ranch dressing

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

Place broccoli slaw and 1/4 cup dressing in medium bowl. Toss with two forks to coat evenly.

Place cream cheese and 2 tablespoons dressing in small bowl. Stir with a wire whisk; mix well.

Place one tortilla on cutting board or other flat surface. Spread about 1/4 cup cream cheese mixture on tortilla using rubber spatula.

Place four roast beef slices in an even layer on top of cream cheese.

Place 1/3 cup broccoli mixture on top of roast beef. Spread broccoli mixture in an even layer, using back of spoon.

Starting at bottom edge, roll up tortilla tightly to enclose filling.

Repeat steps 3 through 6 to make four wraps.

Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until serving time.

For transporting, place wraps in sealable food storage bags and place in cooler with frozen gel ice packs or ice.

Makes 4 servings.

Planning a biking or hiking day trip -- here are some nutritious tips:

Pack plenty to stay fueled for a day hike or bike ride. Dried fruits and nuts make healthy snacks along the way. And when it's time for a meal, beef subs will satisfy the most ravenous hiker or biker and provide energy to complete the trip.

Deli Beef Sub With Tomato-Pepper Relish

Total preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef

1 (1 pound) loaf Vienna bread, unsliced

2 tablespoons prepared fat free Italian dressing

8 leaves Boston lettuce

8 slices provolone cheese (about 4 ounces)

Relish:

1 cup chopped seeded tomato

1/2 cup finely chopped green, red or yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons prepared fat free Italian dressing

Combine relish ingredients in medium bowl; set aside.

Cut bread lengthwise in half. Lightly drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over bottom half of loaf; line with lettuce. Layer with cheese, beef and relish.

Close sandwich with top half of loaf; cut crosswise into four portions. Serve immediately.

For transporting, wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap and place in sealable food storage bags. Pack in small insulated soft-sided cooler or bike bag with frozen gel ice packs to keep cold until serving time.

Makes 4 servings.

Star-Spangled Cherry Shortcake

Preparation Time: 20 minutes. Baking Time: 15 to 20 minutes.

1 Star-shaped cake pan

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup coarsely chopped sliced almonds

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

2 to 4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, as desired

1 cup whipping or heavy cream, whipped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray pan with vegetable pan spray. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl; mix well. With pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in almonds and chocolate chips. In small bowl, combine milk, egg and almond extract. Add to flour mixture all at once; stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine cherries and confectioners' sugar. Remove shortcake from oven; cool 5 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; cool. Place shortcake on serving plate. Just before serving, pipe whipped cream into stars, flowers or rosettes over top of shortcake using a disposable bag and decorating star tips; spoon on cherries. Add additional whipped cream, if desired.

Makes about 12 servings.

For individual star shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray cavities of pan with vegetable pan spray. Fill cavities almost to top with batter. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack; cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with whipped cream and cherries as described above, or cut shortcakes in half horizontally and fill with whipped cream and cherries. Top with additional whipped cream.

Makes about 9 servings.

Keep your movable feast safe

  • Thoroughly clean coolers, thermal bottles and other portable containers before packing with frozen gel ice packs (or ice) and food.
  • Keep perishables such as fresh beef, sandwiches and salads in insulated coolers packed with frozen gel ice packs or ice until it's time to remove them for cooking or serving.
  • For transporting, package foods in airtight containers, plastic wrap or sealable food storage bags.
  • Keep the cooler in the shade whenever possible and open only when necessary. Do not let it stay open.
  • Return foods to the cooler as soon as possible after eating. Foods should not stand outside the cooler for longer than 1 hour -- less time in the sun.
  • Pack premoistened towelettes, paper towels and trash bags for easy clean-up.

Recipes are from Family Features Inc. The following web sites are recommended for more festive feast ideas: www.wilton.com.; www.nwcherries.com; www.certifiedangusbeef.com; www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com. To order a free grilling brochure, "1-2-3 Grill It! Beef," send a self-addressed, stamped, #10 business-size envelope to NCBA, Dept. FC-123, P.O. Box 670, Bloomingdale, IL 60108-0670.

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