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It's Picnic Time – Inside Or Out

Indoor picnic anyone?

While Memorial Day is the traditional start of the outdoor season, this year the outdoors may be wet.

After last year's drought I'm certainly not complaining. The garden is doing well (without extra watering) and is already providing fresh ingredients for summer meals.

Today's all purpose picnic recipes can be prepared and served indoors or out (just in case the weather doesn't cooperate).

The Grilled Vegetable Sandwich is a hearty choice that packs well for picnics. Served on a pre-baked pizza crust or focaccia shell, it features seasonal produce. Warm Potato Salad boasts the same great taste as it chilled counterpart. With no mayo, this version is perfect for picnics. Bake American Bounty Cobbler early in the day and serve at room temperature for this dessert to be a hit at every family picnic.

GRILLED VEGETABLE SANDWICH

1 zucchini, quartered, 1 yellow squash, quartered, 1 Portobello mushroom, cut into six pieces, 7-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained, 1 T. low fat mayonnaise, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1 garlic clove, peeled, 8-in. prebaked pizza crust, 4 slices provolone cheese, or focassia shell, halved

Preheat broiler. Arrange zucchini, squash, and mushroom in single layer on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Broil until well browned, about 9 minutes. Remove and set the vegetables aside. Reduce oven to 450 degrees. Puree the roasted peppers, mayonnaise, oregano, thyme, and garlic in food processor. Place one half of the crust on the baking sheet. Spread the roasted pepper puree over it and layer with the vegetables, then the cheese. Top with the other half. Bake until cheese melts and the sandwich is heated through, about five minutes. Cut into six wedges and serve.

WARM POTATO SALAD

1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, 1-1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. oil, 1 turkey bacon strip, minced, 1 onion, minced, 1-1/2 c. chicken broth, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 2 T. fresh chives, minced, 1/2 tsp. sugar

Place potatoes, enough water to cover, and 1 tsp. salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, 25-30 minutes; drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into 1/2 inch slices; place in medium bowl. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the bacon. Cook until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove the bacon bits and add to the potatoes. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add broth, vinegar, sugar, and the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt; cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until slightly reduced, about five minutes. Stir in the chives and pepper; pour over the potatoes, then toss to coat. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature before serving. Serves six.

AMERICAN BOUNTY COBBLER

3 c. peaches, sliced, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 3/4 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 c. fat free milk, 1 lg. egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon peel, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray. Combine the peaches with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the nutmeg in a medium bowl; toss until evenly coated. Let the peaches sit for at least 20 minutes while preparing the batter topping. In large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and remaining 1/4 c. sugar. In a medium bowl, blend the milk, egg, vanilla, and lemon rind. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and the batter is smooth. Transfer the fruit to the baking dish. Spread the batter over the fruit. Bake until the topping is brown and springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Let the cobbler rest 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves six.