Picture Perfect Picnic

As the last days of summer quickly approach, you may be realizing you didn’t complete all of your summer to-do’s… But – with our weather being as lovely as it has been, now is the ideal time to plan a relaxing picnic and enjoy some of these warm summer days before they’re over!

Picnics are perfect as a romantic date just as much as they’re an ideal way to spend some time with the family. Atlanta Magazine recently reached out to our team here at steve mckenzie’s and asked if we’d design a perfect, relaxing picnic for their July 2017 issue. It was a challenge Steve and Jill absolutely relished in accepting! And we hope the results inspire you to go enjoy some last-minute summertime fun in the outdoors!

PHOTOGRAPH BY NATHAN BOLSTER

First thing was a location. For Steve and Jill, this one was easy – it’s one of their favorite spots for a walk with the dog – Duck Pond Park in Peachtree Heights East. It’s absolutely picturesque and so serene!

Next they needed a place to perch drinks and wares and a vintage rattan table was an ideal selection. It is lightweight, but absolutely stylish! A patchwork Kilim from our neighbors, Verde Home, laid the groundwork for lounging. Add some kantha quilts and a bunch of pillows, and the scene is set.

When you think of a picnic, food is top of mind. Steve and Jill wanted something light and refreshing; as well as easy to transport. Enter glass jar salads! Not only pretty to look at, these salads absolutely delicious and so simple to enjoy – just shake, and pour onto your plate! Speaking of plates, although the McKenzie’s love the look of Italian pottery and cut crystal glassware, those selections aren’t exactly picnic practical. Instead, they brought along melamine plates by Le Cadeaux, which offer the look of the real thing, as well as acrylic glassware by Baci to serve cocktails made using Cathead Distillery‘s delectable pecan vodka.

Here’s the recipe for those delightful individual salads:

Mason jar salads
1 red onion sliced thin
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
Black peppercorns
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 cups lettuce of some mix
1 ½ 0z cannellini beans drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbs mayonnaise
½ tsp salt
Ground pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp chili powder

First pickle the onions. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to a boil. Add the onions and about five black peppercorns to the boiling mixture. Boil for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. When cooled, remove peppercorns and place in the refrigerator.

Prepare your dressing. Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Whisk thoroughly to fully combine ingredients.

Take four mason jars and assemble in layers in this order: Dressing in the bottom, quinoa, lettuce, cannellini beans, pickled onions, tomatoes, and chopped cucumber.

And we can’t forget the cocktails! Thank you to our friends at Cathead for making some pretty fantastic products. Our picture perfect cocktail utilizes their pecan vodka, and once you try it, we think it’ll become a liquor shelf staple!!

Spicy pecan spritz
1 oz Cathead Pecan Vodka
½ oz spicy simple syrup
6 oz Pellegrino water

Pour ingredients over ice in a highball glass and garnish with spearmint.

Spicy simple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup raw sugar
½ tsp of ground cayenne pepper
1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil turn back heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through coffee filter to remove the cayenne. Serve.

Happy picnicking everyone – hope to see you at Duck Pond Park soon!

All products seen in this article, except for the rug, are available at steve mckenzie’s.

Pack it up!

This past Friday was “National Pack Your Lunch Day” (yes, it seems there’s a day for everything) and it inspired us to get thinking about more creative ways to get us excited about lunchtime. Forget the boring brown bag – we’re revitalizing lunchtime with some fun additions to pump up your basic lunch from home and tantalize your taste buds with the promise of a delicious, mid-day pick-me-up!

Our first step – forgo those pb&js for something a little more exotic and healthful. Such as, this butternut squash and cranberry quinoa salad from Katya at Little Broken blog…

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CRANBERRY QUINOA SALAD
  • 3 cups butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used rainbow quinoa but any type will do)
  • 1½ cups water
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and black pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned.
  3. While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. To assemble the salad, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, cranberries, red onion, toasted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for couple hours and serve.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

YUM. Now, that’ll get us excited for the lunch hour any day of the week! It’s fresh, flavorful and gluten free (a must for the McKenzie household).

MELAMINE CATALINA CEREAL BOWL

Another bonus to this salad, it’s beautiful to boot. You know they always say you eat with your eyes before your stomach, so we should make our food look as appetizing as possible. One way to do this is to drop the tupperware and serve your lunch in a dish more deserving of the effort you put into your meals. That’s where our melamine dishware comes in. It’s as beautiful as fine china, yet as durable as your plasticware. Bottom line, it’s brilliant and will make your lunch look lovely as well!

And how’s this for synergy – also last week, we also received an e-mail with a link to a post on The Edit about & “Recipes To Pack For Lunch This Week.” Wowzas… We don’t know what to go for first, the “Farmer’s Market Bowl” or the “Avocado Club Sandwich With Marinated Portobello Mushrooms?!?”

Although any of these amazing-sounding recipes are sure to elevate your traditional lunchtime fare, another easy way to make more of your packed meals are fabric napkins. We’re BIG fans of a classic fabric napkin and use them all day, every day. Steve and Jill have even been known to bring them on roadtrips!

LE JACQUARD ORIGAMI MULTI NAPKIN

Wrap your utensils in a fun fabric napkin and take your lunch to the next level!

So, please share – what are your favorite ways to make your typical weekday lunch a little special? We’d love to learn!