Project Food Blog Challenge #6: A Family Picnic

Hooray! I made it to Round 6 of Project Food Blog! I really appreciate the support you’ve shown me during this competition. Should you decide to cast another vote for my blog, you can do so by following this link and clicking on the red heart at the top of the page.

For Challenge #6, we were asked to “design a meal to go- one that carries well and tastes great”. Foodbuzz further specified that the meal had to include four parts- a main dish, a side dish, a dessert, and a drink- and that we had to pack and transport our meal in our new Project Food Blog coolers.

This one was a no-brainer for me. I live in a beautiful area, an area that’s particularly stunning in the fall. So I knew right away what I wanted to do: pack a picnic featuring as much local, seasonal food as possible, and take the picnic on an outing with my family.

I purposely chose foods that would be relatively quick to prepare and that would travel well, and I wanted everything to be easily enjoyed outside. I packed it all up in eco-friendly tempered glass containers, and we ate on compostable palm plates.

Here’s the menu I came up with, the recipes I used, and photos of our incredible day.

Main Dish
Honeycrisp Apple and Cheddar Sandwiches with Red Onion Confit
on homemade gluten-free bread/homemade whole wheat baguette

I made my own breads the day before the picnic. I made a gluten-free sandwich loaf for me:

gluten free sandwich bread

And a couple of whole wheat baguettes for the others:

whole wheat baguette

Feel free to use your favorite all-natural, sturdy bread instead, if you like.

Ingredients for the red onion confit:

*4 cups peeled and thinly sliced, red onion
*2 tablespoons organic butter
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*2 tablespoons organic sugar
*1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions for the onion confit:

1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large pan. Add the olive oil (to prevent the butter from burning).

2. Add the sliced onions, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until soft.

3. Add the sugar and the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes more. Makes about 1 cup: enough to spread on at least 4 sandwiches.

Ingredients for the sandwiches:

*baguettes, sliced in half (or slices of bread, wraps, etc.: I made my own bread for these sandwiches…whole wheat baguettes for my family and a gluten-free sandwich loaf for me)
*red onion confit
*peeled and sliced Honeycrisp apples (or choose another crunchy variety, like Fujis)
*slices of cheddar cheese, preferably made with raw milk (or use fontina or your favorite cheese)

Directions for the sandwiches:

1. Spread a layer of onion confit on the bread, then add a layer of cheddar cheese. Finish with a layer of sliced apples.

2. These can be grilled or served cold; enjoy open-faced or with a second piece of bread on top.

cheddar and apple sandwich
Cheddar and apple sandwich with red onion confit

Side Dish
Roasted Local Sweet Dumpling Squash and Fennel with Rosemary

You can use any kind of squash (or try it with “cheese” pumpkin) in this recipe…sweet dumpling squashes are pretty small, so adjust the amount if using a larger squash/pumpkin.


*2 sweet dumpling squash, seeded and chopped (I used organic squash so didn’t peel mine, but you can peel yours if you like)
*2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, and chopped
*a small handful of fresh rosemary leaves
*coarse sea salt
*fresh ground black pepper
*extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Arrange squash and fennel on foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary leaves, sea salt, and pepper. Drizzle liberally with olive oil.

3. Cook for about 25 minutes, under vegetables are very tender and starting to brown. Allow to cool. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve warm or chilled.

roasted squash with fennel

To Drink
Spiced Local Pear Cider

Feel free to use apple cider instead, if you like.

spiced pear cider


*1/2 gallon pear cider
*1 thumb sized piece peeled fresh ginger or several pieces of crystallized ginger
*4 small cinnamon sticks
*5 cardamom pods
*5 star anise


1. Place all ingredients in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

2. Cook for 1-4 hours, depending on how much time you have (it will be spicier the longer it simmers). Pour through a strainer and discard the spices. Store in a thermos to keep warm, or enjoy cold.

Maple Pumpkin Seed Toffee

Make sure you have a candy thermometer on hand before going ahead with this recipe; adapted from spiced pumpkin seed brittle over at food52.


*1/2 cup (1 stick) organic butter
*3/4 organic brown sugar
*3/4 cup pure maple syrup
*1 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon cardamom
*1/4 teaspoon allspice
*1/4 teaspoon coriander


1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add brown sugar and maple syrup and bring to a boil.

2. Clip a candy thermometer to side of your pot. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 290 degrees F., about 15 minutes. Watch carefully after 280 degrees F. to prevent burning your toffee.

3. When it reaches 290 degrees F., take the mixture off the stove. Taking care because it is very hot, add the spices and the pumpkin seeds. Stir to mix well.

4. Using a wooden spoon, spread the mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicon mat. Sprinkle with sea salt.

5. Let mixture cool completely, then break into pieces.


Since there was more than enough room in the cooler for everything, and since my daughter isn’t a huge fan of sandwiches, I made her some deviled eggs that we brought along, as well.

deviled egg

When everything was packed up…

…we headed over to our destination: we’re very lucky to have such a lovely picnic spot with spectacular views less than five minutes from my house.

As you can see, “lumpy” grass and bright sun don’t make for great food photography.

But the food was great…

…and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon together.

There was lots of snuggling…

…some red light, green light, 123!

Time to just be…

…and have fun.

Like last week’s pizza extravaganza, which gave me the opportunity to spend some great hours with my dad, this week’s picnic was an extremely enjoyable post to put together. I’d love to keep advancing in this contest so be sure to cast your vote this week: voting for this round will be open Monday-Thursday.

Leave a Comment

75 thoughts on “Project Food Blog Challenge #6: A Family Picnic”

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  3. What a beautiful day for the entire family! You’re so fortunate to have such a stunning landscape where you live, and I love your picnic. I’ve never had pear cider before – I must look for it! Spiced apple cider brings back memories of my childhood in NY, so I am so very intrigued by the pear variety. Nicely done!

  4. What a gorgeous setting for your picnic! Everything sounds so delicious – I really love the onion confit and the spiced cider. The leaves were still green in my neck of the woods, it’s only in the last few days that they started changing color. Best of luck!

  5. Such a pleasure to see a beautiful family on a picnic in a beautiful out door setting and it is also my pleasure to vote for you to advance in the FB challenge, good luck!

  6. *Gasp* are you gluten-free?? Me too!! So excited to see you get this far! What a lovely post! The sammies look amazing, as do the deviled eggs! And the view!!! Grew up in the mountains and spent my summers in New England… Love the view! Good luck this round!

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I don’t have celiac disease but do try to stick to a mostly gf diet bec. I just feel better when I do. Thanks for your support!

  7. Those apple sandwiches look incredible, and I would love to try pear cider. We’ve got lots of local apple cider here but I’ve never tried pear cider. What a gorgeous picnic spot! Good luck in this round!

  8. Truly incredible. The food is making me hungry, the scenery is just like home and it was made to look easy. You killed it!


  9. Those hills in the background, like out of a movie. I’ve never had pear cider before– I’ll for sure be looking for some now!
    Isn’t it great to have a picnic with the family? Something about it makes everything slow down.

    • It does not hold a candle to your white chocolate pumpkin seed toffee, I’m sure, but we loved it :)
      Loved your post, as well :)

  10. What a glorious setting! It makes me want to pack up a picnic and go. And, when it comes down to it, nothing says picnic to me more than cheese sandwiches – they are my portable food of choice :)

  11. the quintessential family picnic – beautiful healthy food, fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and lots of smiles…
    happy to give my vote, good luck

  12. What a beautiful afternoon for a picnic! The view and the leaves are just gorgeous. I love your combination of a red onion confit and apples.

  13. I just spent last Saturday hiking in New Paltz and hitting the farmer’s markets. I do it every year – I LOVE it there so much. Your bread looks wonderful. There is nothing like a sandwich on fresh baked bread. You are blessed with such a beautiful family. What a great challenge – I am voting for you :)
    – Butter

  14. I just about melted. Not only does your food look delicious and inspired but your actual picnic experience looks heavenly. I loved seeing these photographs of your family. Truly special. And set against such a lovely backdrop, how could your day not be perfect? Thank you for sharing. You have my support!

  15. You know I love your posts. And this one oozes all the warmth and charm that I have so come to associate with you. Great job!
    P.S. Love the snuggles pic and the one with ur kids dancing/hopping : )

    • Thanks Heena- my kids asked me not to put that pic in cause it’s silly. But that’s exactly why I love it.

  16. What dramatic and beautiful scenery! Really?? Five minutes from your house? I love the final pictures of the family just enjoying the outdoors.

  17. What a beautiful setting! And such a perfect picnic. I don’t think i have ever seen better looking gluten free bread, and the onion confit with the apples and cheese sounds amazing. Nicely done. I voted for you!

    Good luck! Hope to see us both in round 7!!! =)

  18. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE LOVE Los Angeles. But sometimes when I see fall color I stop and wonder what it would be like to leave it LA behind. Of course then I wake up in a cold sweat and realize there is beauty everywhere, no need to act all crazy. Beautiful family fun. GREG

  19. Gorgeous post Winnie…beautiful in every frame. Congrats on coming this far. Good luck for the remainder! Voted for you!!

  20. Your recipes are always stellar, and these are certainly no exception. Everything is beautiful here: your innovative ideas for a healthy, eco-minded, and delicious picnic; you wonderful photography and writing; your family; and that gorgeous place with fall in (almost?) full color. I’m rooting for you Winnie!

  21. Winnie – I love all of your recipes, but especially the squash-fennel roast….YUM! Great photos of a lovely day and a happy, healthy family. How can you NOT advance to the next level? Off to vote for HGK now! – DS

  22. OMG. That picnic is lovely.The food, the weather, the Gunks in the background. Red onion confit!

    But mostly, Just watching your family together. Awesome. You rock, girl.

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  24. What a beautiful unique picnic?! Love your pictures and the setting you chose. Your family is very lucky! You definitely have my vote!

  25. the sandwiches!! the toffee!! this all looks so amazing – and the view goes right along with it…

    your pizza with your Dad post was one of My Very Favorites… and this is a close second. it is nice that this challenge is more about creating fabulous food… you are creating memories <3

    I LOVE Red Light Green Light !!

  26. All of it, every dish, every picture, just wonderful. And to be able to share it withh your family on a beautiful autumn day! Lucky woman you are! (Congratulations — you’ll keep getting my vote.)

  27. What delicious food and such a GORGEOUS setting! Wow, I’m just so impressed with your entry for the 6th challenge. The sandwiches you made look sooo tasty and flavorful. They definitely beat an ordinary sandwich for sure! And the side dish is just perfect for fall. Mmmm I love how you had pear cide to drink, what a fantastic idea to have pear cider instead of apple cider. The dessert is just so pretty how you packaged it and not to mention it looks incredible. I can’t wait to try out that recipe.
    How nice of you to always bring along something your daughter would enjoy for the picinic. Oh I could just go on and on about how wonderful your entry is!
    I’m so impressed with your 6th entry and will definitely be voting for you. I just love your blog and best of luck to you in PBF!