Tricks & Tips to Make Your Picnic Perfect

PicnicSummer is not quite over until we’ve had a proper picnic. We all know that we need to pack food, drinks and a blanket to make a picnic work, but there are a few things you can do to make it headache-free. Here are a few tricks & tips to make your picnic perfect.

Bugs Be Gone While the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “picnic” is food on a blanket, the last thing you think about is bugs. They love food as much as you do. Before you leave the house to go on your picnic, spray the underside of your picnic blanket with insect repellent so bugs don’t sneak up on you while you’re enjoying your meal al fresco. When you get to your destination, use bug repellent wipes on your skin rather than spray so it doesn’t get into your food.

Embrace Your Individuality Pack individual meals rather than bringing one big dish of everything. It’s more convenient to have everything already served for many reasons — fewer utensils, fewer dishes, less mess at your destination. This doesn’t mean you have to pack your sandwich and sides into one container; sides can go in smaller containers for individuals. If they’re stackable and sealable, cleanup is a snap.picnic-basket

Keep It Safe Food and travel don’t mix very well, so you have to make sure to make food that doesn’t spoil easily. Steer clear of items made with eggs and dairy — without proper refrigeration, they spoil quickly. That means if you’re going to make salad or pasta salad, make sure the dressing is vinegar-based. That doesn’t mean you have to forgo all cheese — hard cheeses can be left at room temperature for extended periods. If you are set on bringing a summer staple like deviled eggs, make sure you have insulated totes to keep them cold. For extra protection, freeze a few water bottles for the bottom of your basket or tote. They’ll keep things cool without making a wet mess and you’ll have a few extra cold beverages.

Brisk Beverages While eating room temperature food on a hot summer day is expected, room temperature drinks is not. Unlike water, you can’t freeze soda, beer or wine, but you can use your frozen water bottles to keep your other beverages cold. Make sure to bring along double-wall tumblers — they come with lids and straws to protect your drink from bugs and the double walls protect your drink from the heat of your hand!tumbler

Don’t Forget Your Cutting Board Even if you don’t have anything to cut on your picnic, bring a cutting board. Big or small, there will be a point when you need a hard, even surface and a blanket on the grass won’t cut it. It gives you a spot to put your drink or even a plate of food without worrying about everything ending up on the ground or on your blanket. It also takes a lot of the awkward out of eating without a table and chairs.

The Lakeside Collection knows a little something about entertaining. Whether it’s a picnic in the park for two or a barbecue for 30 people, look to Lakeside for entertaining ideas, inspiration and products.

National Blueberry Month: Blueberry Recipes

BlueberriesJuly is National Blueberry Month — though you can buy blueberries at supermarkets year-round, they’re plentiful and taste best during summer months. These little fruits are tasty in just about any form — even if they’ve been frozen. But we want to eat them fresh while we can, so we’ve selected some of the most interesting blueberry recipes we’ve come across. Here are 5 recipes to celebrate National Blueberry Month.

 blueberry-cheesecake-ice-creamBlueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Not only is July National Blueberry Month, but it’s also National Ice Cream Month, so we thought it fitting to include a recipe that combines the two: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream! La Famille Noire made this for a family gathering and, as ice cream lovers, they know a little bit about making a frozen treat that wins! If you wait to make this until July 30 you can have a trifecta treat as that is National Cheesecake Day!

blueberry-lemon-soft-fudgeBlueberry Lemon Soft Fudge Here’s something special out of Trinity’s Kitchen — it’s Blueberry Lemon Soft Fudge. It’s such a wild idea, we had to include it for those bakers and cooks who want to try something unusual that’s also simple. It only has four ingredients and it’s also gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan so most people with dietary restrictions can indulge in a sweet treat!

blueberry-fruit-rollupsBlueberry Fruit Rollups It’s almost back to school time, so with that in mind we had to include this recipe for Blueberry Fruit Rollups from Sugar Free Mom. This recipe only requires three ingredients! It takes a bit of time to bake it, but it’s a naturally tasty fruit snack you can make ahead for school lunches. These snacks are only 32 calories each and contain no fat, so mom can sneak a few guilt-free bites while she’s packing the lunch totes.

blueberry-velvet-cakeBlueberry Velvet Cake For experienced bakers who want to try something out of the ordinary, The Cooking Bug has a recipe for you! We’ve all been spoiled by the richness of a red velvet cake, but this one is even more decadent — Blueberry Velvet Cake. What makes this recipe better than your run-of-the-mill red velvet cake is that red velvet gets all of its coloring from food coloring, and the color for the Blueberry Velvet cake comes from blueberry juice and cocoa powder.

blueberry-gallettesMini Blueberry Galettes Of course, we couldn’t leave out a recipe for blueberry pie! But this recipe is unique in that, not only is it for galettes, but they’re mini-galettes! In case you don’t know what a galette is, it’s a free-form pie. Free-form pies are fantastic because you don’t have to worry about a pie plate and making perfect crimps — you basically place your dough on a cookie sheet, spread out the filling on top of the dough and sort of fold in the edges. But this recipe is for single-serving-sized pies — perfect for dinner parties or small barbecues. Check out how Completely Delicious puts it all together

The Lakeside Collection is celebrating all things summer! From products to put together an unforgettable backyard party to blueberry recipes for National Blueberry Month, look to Lakeside to make your summer more fun.

A Brief History of Our Favorite 4th of July Food

hamburgerFood is a big part of any celebration. When we think of food for the 4th of July, hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken come to mind, but they weren’t part of the original 4th of July festivities. Our Founding Fathers couldn’t declare our independence on an empty stomach, but what we think of as a 4th of July menu didn’t become standard until much, much later than 1776. Here’s a brief history of our favorite 4th of July food.

Hamburgers Our Founding Fathers didn’t have our most cherished fare for 4th of July at their Independence Day celebration. The hamburger didn’t become part of popular culture until the late 1800s, but where, exactly, it was first cooked up is debatable. Residents of Hamburg, NY claim the hamburger was named for the town at the county fair when sausage vendors ran out of sausage and put ground beef on a bun. But Wisconsinites say it was teenager selling meatballs at the county fair who should get credit. He put the meat on bread to make it easy to walk and eat. Local historians say he named the sandwich “hamburger” after Hamburg steak. Either way, summer was the season in which the hamburger was born.

Hot dogHot Dogs It is possible there were hot dogs at the first Independence Day party. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, the frankfurter — a smaller version of common European sausage — was created in Europe (possibly Germany or Austria) in the 1600s. As European immigrants made their way to the United States, so did the frankfurter. Frankfurters gained popularity for the convenience in the late 1800s with the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. 1893 was also the year hot dogs became a standard at ballparks. Like hamburgers, it’s easy to see why it’s outdoor party food.

Potato Salad According to foodtimeline.org, potato salad was created as early as 1597 but it wasn’t until the late 1800s (much like hamburgers and hot dogs) that it was popularized (likely by German immigrants) in the United States. But German potato salad is made up of bacon, onion and vinegar — no mayonnaise was in the original recipe. Who came up with putting mayo in the potato salad we love to bring to 4th of July barbecues is a mystery, but its first mention in a cookbook was in the 1946 edition of The Joy of Cooking.

cherry-piePie Pie was likely served at the first Independence Day feast — both sweet and savory. Putting fruit or meat inside of pastry and baked can be traced as far back as 160 B.C. It was a way to preserve food to make it last for long journeys as well as portable. It’s no surprise that tradition dictates cherry or blueberry pie for our Independence Day parties — berries are in season on the 4th of July and they’re perfectly portable for a party.

We love all of our 4th of July traditions no matter where or when they started. And while like to keep tradition alive, there’s no reason we can’t start new traditions! Whether it’s a new side dish or an unconventional pie, you have the freedom to make up your own 4th of July recipes. It’s what our Founding Fathers wanted.

3 Ideas for Patriotic Punch

mason-jar-giftsSunshine, fireworks and cookouts — the 4th of July is coming up and we’re planning fantastic backyard parties! We have the games and food all planned out, the only thing missing are the cool, refreshing drinks. And since it’s the 4th of July, a we think a good sparkling cocktail is in order. Here are 3 ideas for patriotic punch to serve at your 4th of July barbecue.

Red, White and Blue Brew For a simple punch with patriotic flare, vodka is a good base for the alcohol — you just have to give it color, garnish it well and make it sparkle.

  • 1-750 ml bottle vodka
  • 1/2-750 ml bottle sparkling wine
  • 1/2-750 ml bottle sweet white wine (Riesling or ice wine)
  • 1-750 ml bottle cranberry juice
  • 1/2-liter bottle 7up
  • Garnish: blueberries, strawberries or raspberries

In a punch bowl mix together the vodka, sweet white wine and cranberry juice. When your guests arrive, gently stir in the 7up and sparkling wine. Pour over a glass of ice to serve and add berries as garnish.

punch

Sparkling Watermelon Punch Nothing says summer like watermelon, but you don’t have to eat it to enjoy it! A watermelon can do double-duty as punch and punch bowl — which is convenient when you’re serving a crowd that you’ll later clean up after.

  • 1 large seedless watermelon
  • 1 750-ml bottle of vodka
  • 1/2 liter club soda
  • ½ sour Mix
  • Garnish: lime slices

Slice off the top of the watermelon — choose the side that makes the most sense as the top of a punch bowl. Scoop out the entire contents of the watermelon. In a blender, puree the watermelon until it’s smooth. Pour the puree through a fine sieve (strainer) to separate the juice from the pulp of the melon. Pour the juice back into the watermelon rind. Stir in the vodka and sour mix. When the guests arrive, stir in the club soda. Serve over a glass of ice and garnish with a slice of lime.

punch

Summer Rum Punch Of course, since it’s summer, we have to include a rum punch — there’s just something about the flavor and fragrance of rum that goes so well with sunshine and a backyard party. This one is simple and delicious.

  • 1-750ml bottle oz Dark Rum (Myers or similar)
  • 2 cups Lemon Juice
  • 2 ½  cups Orange Juice
  • 2 ½ cups  Pineapple Juice
  • ¾ cup Grenadine
  • ¾ cup Simple Syrup
  • ½ 750ml bottle club soda
  • Garnish: pineapple slices

In a punch bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the club soda and mix well. When guests arrive, stir in the club soda. Serve over ice and garnish with a pineapple slice.

The Lakeside Collection has hundreds of ideas and products to make all of your parties spectacular! From patriotic outdoor serveware to holiday decor to make your home sparkle, shop Lakeside for great products at great prices.

Rocky Road Day: Rocky Road Recipes You Didn’t Know About

There aren’t many holidays in the month of June (who needs holidays when you have this much sunshine to celebrate?!), but we’re celebrating a special day on June 2: Rocky Road Day! Rocky road is that favorite summer treat: chocolate chips, almonds and marshmallows swathed in chocolate ice cream. It was created during the Great Depression to give people something to smile about — and close to a century later, it’s still making people smile. But rocky road has been re-invented many times — here are 5 ways to enjoy rocky road that you didn’t know about.rocky-road-parfait

Nutella Greek Yogurt Rocky Road Parfait This one is an easy one! Baker By Nature put together this Nutella Greek Yogurt Rocky Road Parfait with just five ingredients, so if you’re in the mood for something sweet and don’t have a lot of provisions stocked in your cupboard, you may be able to whip this one up. In addition to only five ingredients, this recipe only takes five minutes to complete, so if you’re short on time and long on kids to treat, put this on your weekly summer dessert menu. Basically, you mix the yogurt and Nutella together and start layering it with the marshmallows, peanuts and chocolate.rocky-road-clusters

Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters Here’s another easy rocky road recipe — it only takes about 15 minutes to construct Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters. Farm Flavor  put together simple step-by-step instructions for this no-bake sweet treat. Packaged nicely, these make a great potluck treat or snack to bring to events.

rocky-road-saladRocky Road Fluff Salad Though “salad” is in the title of this recipe, it has absolutely nothing to do with lettuce, tomatoes and vinaigrette! But Inside Bru Crew Life adjusted the definition of salad to include chocolate pudding, dessert whipped topping and marshmallows. It only takes about ten minutes to stir together all the different versions of sugar and another hour in the refrigerator for it to reach its flavor peak, but when this dessert is ready, the only reason you’ll be thinking about salads is to figure how to make up for the bowl of sin you’re eating.

rocky-road-milkshakeRocky Road Smoothie This list wouldn’t be complete without a milkshake recipe. A Cozy Kitchen broke it down into 4 ingredients that take approximately three pulses on the blender to turn it into the perfect frozen treat. As a bonus, she threw in a recipe for rocky road cookies — in case you want to bake your rocky road and take it on a picnic.

rocky-road-bundt-cakeElvis on a Rocky Road Bundt Cake This is probably the most decadent and labor-intensive rocky road recipe out there — It’s Yummi somehow blended Elvis Presley’s love for peanut butter and bananas and wove it together with marshmallows and chocolate to come up with the richest bundt cake ever made! This cake isn’t for beginner bakers — it takes some practice in the kitchen to work your way up to this recipe. But it’s fun to look at and something to aspire to make.
The Lakeside Collection is all about tasty treats and anything to make summer more fun! From baking gadgets to outdoor water toys to keep you cool during the hottest season, shop Lakeside for fun products at spectacular prices.

National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month: What to Eat Right Now

berriesWe’re just a few days away from June and with all the sunshine bringing life to our gardens and lawns, that means there’s an abundance of farm fresh produce to add to our daily menus. June has been appropriately designated as National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month and to help you figure out what you want to put in your farmer’s market basket, here’s what to eat right now.

Blackberries/Blueberries/Boysenberries Jellies, jams, pies and muffins — dessert is in the garden! Berries have a relatively short growing season, but fresh berries have a flavor you’ll be thinking about all year long. Sprinkle them with a little bit of sugar and whipped cream, and you have a refreshing dessert, but make them part of your pastries and you’ll get a little taste of heaven.

Apricots We’re just about half-way through the apricot growing season, so if you want to try a recipe using apricots, now’s the time to do it. An upside down cake, a tart, a cobbler– put them on your list for your next summer picnic.

Rhubarb June and July are your last months to try something fabulous with rhubarb. Most people are familiar with strawberry-rhubarb pie — it’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart (and goes really well with vanilla ice cream!) but rhubarb can be transformed into a sauce for chicken or pork chops — you just have to make sure to add a sweet seasonal fruit — like cherries — to it to temper the tartness.   asparagus

Asparagus Get your asparagus while you can! We’re winding down the growing season for these green spears. They’re perfect for grilling so you don’t have to heat up the house roasting them or sauteing them on your stove top. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle them with salt before putting them on the hot grill. Leave them on just long enough to make grill marks and they’re ready to serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Corn We’re just starting the sweet corn season — start pinning your favorite corn recipes because for the next months, you’ll have corn coming out your ears! That’s not a bad thing — who doesn’t love a good roasted corn salad or eating it straight off the cob slathered in butter?

tomatoesTomatoes There’s no other time of year that you can find such red, plump and juicy tomatoes. Whether you’re slicing them up for a caprese salad or skewering them for a veggie kebab, you’ll have plenty of delightful dishes that can be brightened with a few tomatoes. And if you don’t get to them all, you can always can them for sauce in the winter.

Summer sunshine gives us so much more than just outdoor fun to take advantage of — make sure to take advantage of all of nature’s bounty and make fresh fruits and veggies part of your summer cookouts, entertaining or just dinner at home with the family.

Last Minute Memorial Day Ideas

Summer starts this weekend with an extra day to play — not everyone is taking a trip out of town and for those of us who are staying around the neighborhood to hit a barbecue or two, we have some ideas to make your first weekend of summer awesome. Here are 6 last minute Memorial Day ideas.

concerts-in-the-parkOutdoor Concert Music aficionados can finally take their hobbies outside! Amphitheaters will be packed this weekend to start of summer concert series from coast to coast. The symphony, a country music review or a rock bands will take to the summer stage from now until September — you can make it part of your summer routine.

Shakespeare in the Park Across the nation thespians are getting into character for a summer on the park stage. Many communities hold Shakespeare in the Park series between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s fun way to enjoy the warm weather and take in a few “thees” and “thous.”

Backyard Movie You don’t have to go to the park to have an evening of entertainment outdoors! Set up a movie projector in your backyard to watch a family flick and eat popcorn under the stars. It’ll give the kids a taste of what’s to come for the next three months. fun-run

Race to Summer Walk, jog or sprint, there are Memorial Day races planned in most communities. You don’t have to be a serious runner to enjoy these kind of races — you can do a mile, 5k or 10k. Do it with the family or do it with a running partner — it’s a fun way to spend time outdoors and get some exercise. If you pick the right race, you might even be running for a good cause.

Botanic Gardens Flowers are at their finest at the botanic gardens in May. Some gardens hold special events and flower sales as a bonus to viewing the green landscapesand perfectly pruned plants. Even if you’re not into horticulture, seeing the blossoms gets just about everyone excited for the season to come. flea-market

Treasure Hunting Memorial Day weekend is the weekend when most outdoor flea markets and farmers markets start in earnest. Whether you’re looking for an antique dresser or you need fresh heirloom tomatoes for an impressive spread at your Memorial Day cookout, going to the market is more of an event than a chore.

Summer is finally here — take advantage of it while you can! Whether you’re headed to a barbecue or you want to spend the weekend surrounded by flowers, make sure to make the most of your outdoor time; we only get so much sunshine every year.

Memorial Day Cookout: 4 Marinades to Try

Memorial Day weekend is here! It’s the first big barbecue weekend of the year and we want everyone to be ready to cook out. To make your grilled meats tasty and moist, we have a few ideas to get the most flavor out of your food. Here are 4 marinades to try this weekend.Greek-Chicken

Chicken A favorite marinade for chicken is the Greek version — it’s simple and the flavor is bold but light enough to go well with beer or the refreshing summer cocktails you’ll be mixing up this weekend. This recipe comes from the Baking Bookworm. Most of the ingredients are items you probably already have in your pantry so you don’t need to make an extra trip to the store before your party.

steak-marinadeBeef A little bit of Latin flavor goes a long way to make your steaks stand out! There isn’t much to this marinade from The Gardening Cook. Cuban style steak is only slightly more than a sprinkle of cumin and a twist of lime — just 30 minutes in the refrigerator and you’ll be on a 90 mile journey off the coast of Florida… all without leaving your backyard!

mojo-marinadeSalmon Give your salmon a little bite with jalapeños and keep it fresh with a splash of lime! Barefeet in the Kitchen offers her Mojo Marinade to give your salmon a little kick. A few fresh ingredients from a trip to the farmers market can yield enough Mojo Marinade to last you from Memorial Day to Labor Day with friends and family asking for more!

tenderloin-marinadePork The grilled pork tenderloin with Thai marinade requires a lot of ingredients — but it’s worth it! This recipe comes from the Bewitching Kitchen and, even though there are a lot of ingredients, you shouldn’t be scared — the hardest part of it is the shopping! All you have to do is chop up the ingredients; they don’t have to be pretty because it’s just a marinade. It does require quite a bit of time for the tenderloin to soak up all the flavors, but it’s a three-day weekend — you have time!

You don’t have to marinate your meat this Memorial Day weekend — you may want to put all of your effort in the outdoor fun — sometimes just a little salt and pepper is all you need to create the right flavors. But if you want to make your party memorable, try something new and bold! Your guests will be happy you did.

National Bike Month: Benefits of Biking

bikingMay is National Bike Month and, probably not coincidentally, it’s a great time of year to get on two wheels — it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. But weather might not be quite enough incentive for you to go for a ride. In case you’re wavering, here are 4 benefits of biking that will get you back on the saddle.

Easy Exercise Biking is a low-impact way to workout. It’s easy on the joints while giving you a decent cardio workout it also works all your major muscle groups — making it a great way to tone up your entire body for summer. It’s so easy, you won’t realize that you’ve gotten an intense workout until you’re back home and ready for a nap. If you want to burn a lot of calories, kick it up a notch and you can burn as many calories in an hour of biking as you would an hour of running — and you’ll go a lot further doing it.

bikingIt Feels Good Biking releases dopamine — the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Biking has the power to improve your mood and relieve anxiety — it’s kind of like a natural antidepressant. It also gives you energy and reduces fatigue. It may not fix your problems, but for just 45 minutes on your bike, you may be a little happier for the day.

Brain Booster Getting your body moving gets your brain fit, too. But participating in cardio exercise, you’re increasing the blood and oxygen flow to your brain. Not only will you be keeping your body and brain fit, according to a study from the University of Illinois, you may also be fighting off age-related brain deterioration.

It Keeps You Young Just three 45 minute rides a week could make you almost a decade younger — biologically, anyway. King’s College in London studied the effects of cycling and found cyclists show fewer signs of aging than sedentary people. It also reduces the risk of heart disease,  type two diabetes and obesity. In addition to feeling younger, according to a study from the University of Valencia in Spain, Tour de France cyclists live an average of eight years longer than people who don’t bike. Get on your bike and ride to youth and health!biking


Just about everyone knows how to ride a bike but not everyone knows how good it is for your. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how biking can improve your life, get your bike out and prepped for a summer on two wheels!

National Burger Month: Craziest Burger Toppings

lak-burgersIt’s National Burger Month — which makes sense since we’ll be grilling up our favorite meats this Memorial Day weekend. Though burgers are never boring, there are always ways to make them more interesting. In honor of National Burger Month and Memorial Day cookouts, we’ve put together a list of burgers from around the country with the craziest toppings.

Minnesota Minneapolis is home to Eli’s Donut Burgers. It’s the best of the best in sweet and savory dishes! But it’s certainly not on the menu for anyone trying to stick to a diet this summer. Eli has been peddling these crimes against nature in a food truck for the last few summers — but it’s unclear if these devilish burgers will be hitting the streets again. Consider yourself lucky if you can get your mouth around one!

burgers

Image Source: Facebook/Rockit Burger Bar

Illinois Chicago is proving itself to be a culinary powerhouse — and the burger is a platform to showcase food creativity. If you happen to be headed to a Cubs game, you might want to fuel up for the game with a Mac Attack at Rockit Bar and Grill across from Wrigley Field. If you haven’t guessed what that is, it’s a burger between two “buns” formed from deep-fried macaroni and cheese. To conquer this one, you need to leave your house hungry.

Kentucky At Doc Crow’s in Louisville, they want you to love your meat. They want you to love it so much, they put together the carnivore’s dream burger: pulled pork, sliced brisket on top of a half-pound of steak burger. But the mayhem doesn’t end with the meat — a fried green tomato, onion rings and a fried egg pushes this burger over the cliff of crazy.

Massachusetts Boston Burger Company adopted a Memphis favorite as one of the most outrageous burgers north of the Mason-Dixon line. It’s called The King, and it’s named for Elvis Presley so if your imagination serves you well, you know it includes bacon, fried banana slices (with a coating of cinnamon and sugar) and, instead of ketchup and mustard, the bun is slathered with peanut butter. If adventure is in your blood, this burger will certainly take you on a trip.burgers

Florida In a place where the sun shines every day, ice cream is part of the everyday diet, so it makes sense that they’d top their burgers with it, right? You can find this fun food at the Florida State Fair, but if you can’t make it to the fair, McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola serves its hot fudge sundae on top ¾ lb of Black Angus beef.


There is no rule on what you can and can’t put on a burger — whether you want a traditional burger or you want to outdo your neighbor at your Memorial Day cookout, there’s nothing that doesn’t go well with an all -beef patty!