Picnic Perfect: Dressed Up Deli Delights The Whole Family

IN THE KITCHEN

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Take along these fast and easy tasty treats when you attend the free Concert Under the Stars Series at Green Valley Park this summer.

Face it. Food tastes better served outside.

This summer, outdoor eating is easier than ever with a stop at the deli counter. There you'll find a selection of items to help you produce portable food at its best, whether it's a simple meal served steps away from the kitchen on the deck or patio, or an elaborate picnic packed in a basket and then spread out at the park. From seasonal salads to easy casseroles to delicious desserts, you'll find everything you need for a perfect picnic from the deli counters in the Rim country.

The range of flavorful meats, cheeses and condiments, when combined with other ingredients, create simple, satisfying tastes to please the entire family.

Bratwurst and Vidalia Onion Sauce Casserole

The smoky taste of grilled bratwurst combines with the sweet and sour flavor of Vidalia Onion Sauce in this easy-to-make casserole, which works both as a side dish as well as a sandwich when spooned over crusty French bread.

Grill six sausages, slice to bite-sized pieces, place in a heat-proof bowl and mix with one jar of Vidalia Onion sauce. Reheat on the grill, away from direct heat, or in the microwave.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Mendocino Chicken Salad

6 ounces plain or smoked chicken breast, cubed

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup diced red onion

3 stalks celery, diced

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 cup blanched sliced almonds

3/4 cup mayonnaise

In large bowl, combine chicken, grapes, red onion, celery, basil, almonds and mayonnaise. Mix well; chill and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Prosciutto and Melon Salad

6 wedges fresh peeled honeydew melon, about 1 1/2 inches thick

6 wedges fresh peeled cantaloupe, about 1-1/2 inches thick

Salt and pepper

12 thin slices of prosciutto

Extra virgin olive oil, optional

4 to 6 lemon wedges

Season melon with salt and pepper. On serving platter, arrange cantaloupe, melon and prosciutto slices, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (optional) and garnish with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Mini Cheesecakes

Crust

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Filling

8 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons lemon juice

6 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder

1 large egg yolk

Garnish

Fresh berries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners, or use foil cups with paper liners. Toss crumbs, sugar and butter together. Spoon 1 teaspoon crumb mixture into each paper liner and press down with finger. Place muffin pans, or paper-lined foil cups, on cookie sheet, position on center oven rack and bake until shells are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes. Cool.

Place cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice in food processor bowl and process until smooth, about 15 seconds, scraping once or twice with rubber spatula to make sure mixture is completely smooth.

Place milk in small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over it and allow to soften 3 to 4 minutes, then stir with whisk. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with whisk about 1 minute, until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat.

In small bowl, beat egg yolk with whisk until frothy. Add a little milk mixture to warm eggs and prevent scrambling. Add remainder of milk to egg. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat and pour through strainer into cream cheese mixture. Process until blended.

Fill each crust-lined cup with filling. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Garnish each with a berry and serve.

Yield: 24 mini cheesecakes

Family Features Editorial Syndicate

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