A Year of Picnics - Ashley English

While Ashley English's A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors is, in theory, a cookbook and guide that shares the keys to a perfect picnic, the great selection of recipes can be used for any occasion - basket and blanket optional. 

The chapters are organized seasonally with dishes featuring ingredients that are fresh and at their peak. The bonus here is that Ashley gives pointers on what elements in nature to take in while you are enjoying the outdoors. Instructions are given for such activities as making a DIY utensil holder or creating a mushroom spore print.  Spring and Summer offer such delights as Cardamom, Rose Water and Berry Coffee Cake, Zucchini Gratin, and Quinoa and Pecan Casserole as picnic-perfect dishes but also would be lovely for any meal.  Fall & Winter delivers Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Dijon Mustard Pork Chop Sandwich, and Twice- Baked Potatoes.

If themes are your thing, themed picnics such as the Bird Watching Picnic, The Tea Party or The Romantic Picnic are set out for you with ideas and recipes to set the mood. Beautiful photographs of the food and nature are plentiful and the stimulus one needs to get off the couch and try something adventurous (yes, at this point in my life - having a picnic is adventurous). 

Roost Books and the author are sharing the recipe for Trail Mix Blondies - which are amazing. Head over to our giveaway for a chance at one of five copies of this book open to US and Canada members.


Trail Mix Blondies

A playful nod to trail mix is my final take on classic hiking edibles. I've nestled granola and chocolate chips into a blondie bar, creating a highly transportable food that can be eaten with your hands, no need for utensils. Do be sure to select a somewhat fatty granola.


1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup granola

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8 × 8-inch baking pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the beaters with a spatula.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Scrape down the beaters again.

4. Add the flour and salt, beating until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and granola.

5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread out evenly using a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

From A Year of Picnics by Ashley English © 2017 by Ashley English. Photographs © 2017 by Jen Altman. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. 

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  • jwhise79  on  5/20/2017 at 10:06 AM

    I would like to try the Chimichurri chicken :)

  • cocecitycook  on  5/20/2017 at 1:02 PM

    Country Pate, potato salad with a Dijon dressing, a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of wine equal picnic in my mind!

  • Siegal  on  5/20/2017 at 4:24 PM

    I like baguettes with cheese

  • lgroom  on  5/21/2017 at 3:16 AM

    Any picnic we had as kids involved fried chicken, potato salad, and beans ... therefore, when I'm picnicing, I make fried chicken, potato salad, and beans.

  • lebarron2001  on  5/22/2017 at 11:30 AM

    My favorite picnic has a variety of Italian meats and cheeses, olives, bread and of course wine.

  • sgump  on  5/22/2017 at 12:00 PM

    For a picnic, I always must have an old Pennsylvania Dutch macaroni salad recipe: with chopped red onion, chopped green pepper, chopped celery, sliced green olives, and possibly shredded carrot--everything in a dressing of evaporated milk, powdered sugar, and LOTS of apple cider vinegar.

  • trudys_person  on  5/22/2017 at 10:34 PM

    For us, a picnic has to include potato salad (with hard-boiled eggs in it, my preference) and Libby's Deep Browned Beans (my husband's tradition). After that we are open to anything!

  • JenJoLa  on  5/23/2017 at 9:53 PM

    Cold fried chicken usually hits the spot.

  • VickiN  on  5/25/2017 at 7:22 AM

    I love macaroni salad and cold chicken.

  • thewoobdog  on  5/25/2017 at 10:13 AM

    My favorite picnic dish is probably the Marinated Summer Bean salad from the William's Sonoma Eat Well cookbook.

  • nandag  on  5/25/2017 at 10:58 AM

    Salami deli sandwiches with everything!

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  5/25/2017 at 12:47 PM

    My favourite picnic dish is potato salad in sandwiches.

  • love2chow  on  5/26/2017 at 9:16 AM

    Are there recipes for good hand-held meals besides sandwiches?

  • vinochic  on  5/26/2017 at 3:10 PM

    a good quinoa salad

  • PennyG  on  5/26/2017 at 5:14 PM

    Cold fried chicken.

  • t.t  on  5/27/2017 at 12:33 AM

    fruit salad

  • RSW  on  5/30/2017 at 10:49 AM

    Potato Salac

  • pappaslauren  on  5/30/2017 at 12:25 PM

    The maple pound cake sounds amazing!

  • fiarose  on  5/31/2017 at 11:49 AM

    i love a good herby, vegetable-y grain salad--couscous, quinoa, even orzo! so nice and refreshing

  • kitchenclimbers  on  6/8/2017 at 1:53 PM

    cheese and salami

  • RoseMGenuine  on  6/9/2017 at 8:32 PM

    The smoked salmon and herb sandwiches! I love smoked salmon.

  • BMeyer  on  6/9/2017 at 9:45 PM

    Barefoot Contessas chicken salad with grapes and nuts

  • Nancith  on  6/11/2017 at 9:10 PM

    My favorite would have to be my mom's macaroni salad--it takes me back to family swim parties & long summer evenings spent with cousins!

  • nomadchowwoman  on  6/12/2017 at 10:46 AM

    I love taking along a rustic ciabatta loaf, stuffed with rare roast beef, arugula, thin slices of red onion, and garlicky mayo, and then sliced into "fingers" and also a pile of elegant little triangle sandwiches, some filled with a paste of smoked salmon, crème fraîche, horseradish, and chives and some with egg salad.

  • tarae1204  on  6/15/2017 at 1:40 PM

    Deviled eggs, or a caprese salad

  • orchidlady01  on  6/17/2017 at 2:26 AM

    Submarine sandwiches and potato salad are my favorite picnic foods.

  • meggan  on  6/19/2017 at 9:55 AM

    Cornichon dressed potato salad.

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