| photography captured by Sunny Golden |
People always ask me what my favorite part of living in Hawaii is—turquoise, sparkling water? Yes! Palm trees? Yes! Amazing Thai food? Yes! But in all honesty, my favorite part has not been any of the physical beauty, but rather the friends I have created with and grown to love. I am so blessed to be surrounded by a group of fabulous girl-friends who love eating, pretty things, champagne and creating as much as I do! When my friend Sunny (her name perfectly captures her personality!) talked to me about doing an oceanside picnic party, my mind immediately day dreamed of endless possibilities!
This summer picnic party was nothing short of magical—sprayed with ocean mist, golden light that filled the sky as the sun went to sleep and of course endless helpings of delicious bites! In typical Hawaii fashion, we were sprayed the the salty ocean mist while we ate and sprinkled with raindrops as we hiked home!
I wanted this picnic to have a charming, light-hearted feel! So I walked through my house, looking for colorful florals and pretty, mismatched plates! I grabbed a bouquet of blooms at the market on the way to the picnic and carried extra mason jars for flowers and drinks!
My grandma is quite the talented quilt maker and I knew her quilt had to be the foundation for the picnic—this is such a special piece to me that I like to enjoy it and see it used! I wanted to create a space that was inviting and relaxed and something about homemade blankets or quilts just does that.
Floral Blouse | Jeans | Watch | Sunnies
Personally I am really not a big fan of plastic or paper plates, especially when sitting on the ground as you really just need something a bit sturdier, so I gathered some mismatched plates from around my house and wrapped them in towels to carry to the picnic! There is something just lovely about using real plates and silverware even when sitting on the ground!
I assembled the food in small bowls and mason jars so that it was easy to pass and share—passing large bowls will sitting cross legged just didn’t sound good, plus individual bowls make it so much more fun!
To me, healthy eating is really just about creating good food—food that is so delicious, no one even knows it is healthy! Typical picnic food is often sandwiches, so I wet a bit outside the box and made Paleo-friendly and grain-free chicken salad, placing it in these mini jars that are perfect for individual eating. I also provided baby lettuce cups if people wanted to make mini chicken salad wraps.
It wouldn’t be summer without potato salad right?! Well, this loaded bacon potato salad will make your world a little bit happier. Growing up, I was never a fan of potato salad—maybe because mayo kinda scares me, but I am completely obsessed with this avocado oil mayo and since there is bacon in the salad, I now am obsessed with this potato salad! I made the largest bowlful and people kept going back for seconds and thirds!
| photography captured by Sunny Golden |
Gluten-Free Summer Picnic Party with Friends
Pesto Chicken Salad
- 3 lbs chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
- olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
- 1 batch fresh basil pesto
- 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted & sliced in half
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- baby lettuce leaves, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the chicken in a roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the roasting dish with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken is, so watch carefully).
- Prepare your batch of pesto and set aside.
- Allow the chicken to cool slightly, about 20 minutes before chopping into bite sized chunks.
- Mix together with the pesto, olives and half of the pine nuts.
- Chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Plate and serve with baby lettuce leaves, garnishing with the remaining pine nuts.
BLT Potato Salad
- 1/2 lb bacon, crumbled
- 1 1/2 lb baby potatoes
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise*
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
*I recommend Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil mayo or Sir Kensington’s.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bacon on a parchment lined rimmed baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Slice potatoes in halves or quarters depending on their size. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until slightly tender to touch with a fork (watch carefully as you do not want them overly soft).
- Drain the potatoes rinsing them in cold water, then allow them to completely drain out any excess water.
- Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and stir together with the mayonnaise and dijon mustard, being careful to not over stir and turn to mush. Fold in the crumbled bacon, tomatoes, shallot and green onions. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
Sparkling Strawberry Basil Lemonade Spritzers
- 1 32 oz bottle lemonade
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled
- 2 lemons, sliced (1 for the pitcher + 1 for garnish)
- 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves
- 1 32 oz bottle sparkling water
- In a large pitcher, add the lemonade, strawberries, 1 slice lemon and basil leaves.
- Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, fill each glass with a handful of ice cubes. Pour 2/3 the way full with lemonade, then top off with sparkling water. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
Charcuterie & Cheese Platter
- assortment of 3 cheeses
- 3-6 oz sliced prosciutto or other sliced meats
- seasonal fruit slices or berries
- Simple Mills rosemary & sea salt grain-free crackers
Ideas for Assembling a Cheese Platter
- Charcuterie and cheese platters to pass, share and nibble are one of my favorite things to assemble! I usually go to the store and find my inspiration in what is currently available, always with a few parameters in mind. When it comes to cheese, different people have varied preferences and I always like to be as inclusive as possible.
- I usually select three cheeses (you don’t want much more than that or there will be too many competing flavors). I try to select different milks (cow, goat or sheep) and different textures (soft, firm and hard).
- For this event, I chose a soft rind, creamy goat cheese, a semi-hard sheep’s milk Manchego and a firm, salty gouda (ah my personal favorite). I paired this with some smoky prosciutto slices and sweet, juicy strawberries. I personally love just grabbing some slices of cheese and meats, but since I was serving this with friends, I grabbed a box of these rosemary, sea salt grain-free crackers.
These gluten-free and grain-free salted maple blondies are one of my go to desserts when serving friends or family! Everyone just loves them…plus they are so simple to make and travel fabulously so you can enjoy your company and dessert without a bit of stress. In typical fashion, I always sprinkle extra sea salt flakes on mine!
Planning a Picnic
- I love meals that come together simply and quickly, but pack in the colors, flavors and textures! With a little prep time, you will have a stress free meal! I actually prepared the chicken salad and salted maple blondies the day before. The morning of the picnic, I made the potato salad and set the lemonade in the refrigerator to chill. While setting up the picnic, I assembled the cheese and charcuterie platter.
- Be sure to bring a roll of paper towels and extra trash bags to make clean up simple! Since I used actual plates, I wrapped the dirty ones in paper towels until I was home and then placed them in the dish washer.