It wasn't until Matty and I were engaged that he found out what kind of actual monster I can be. You may know our story, how basically when he chased me down to Austin from NYC and wasted no second getting down on one knee even though he was without a job, in between visas, and legally unable to work. (But boy, was he hot. And he was holding a diamond at me!) This made date night rare as we saved our pennies for lawyers and a wedding, so when he told me to get ready one summer night, that he was going to take me out, I was ecstatic!
Until he pulled up to the park and grabbed the brown paper Whole Foods bag from the back seat of the car. Shortly after, this insane monster appeared. I became mopey and mean. I had on a new dress and I wanted to go out. I had a hot, Aussie fiancé and I wanted to show him off! A picnic was NOT what I had in mind. EVEN IF he did go to the market and pick out healthy food that he knew I would like. Yeesh, I was terrible.
Somehow we managed to get through that argument and I realized what a bbbbbrat I was. In addition, Matty realized that his new fiancé had a bottomless pit for a stomach, so we ended the evening with second dinner: pizza and ice cream. (Honestly, most date nights still end this way.)
Now, two years into marriage, I have a new found affinity for picnics. In fact, one night last week I texted him and said, "I'm taking you out!" When he got home I had a picnic prepared. He raised his eyebrows at me, aware of how the tables had turned. Marriage in a nutshell: always be open to changing your mind.
I packed a lot of picnics last summer and I'm assuming this one will be the same because LORD HELP ME if I'm going to the beach without a watermelon in my bag. I thought I'd share some of my best "menus" for those who also love eating al fresco on the cheap. Just like the food itself, the photos are nothing fancy, just a little snapshot of our favorite times together :)
TACOS FOR TWO
For the tacos:
- Prep corn: This recipe for Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites) is INSANE. Matty took one look and said, "NOPE." But I begged him to try it. "Actually pretty good..." he said, as he finished off the last bite. I kept it warm in the oven (on the lowest setting) until we were ready to go.
- Prep meat: I use Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce for chicken or beef. This was just one boiled chicken breast that I shredded and mixed with the sauce in the skillet.
- Prep tortillas: We prefer corn, so I warm them in the skillet with a little olive, add the meat, then roll them up in foil. Toss them in the oven with the corn.
- Prep guac: My quick go-to is one big avo, fresh garlic or garlic powder, chopped onion, cilantro, lime, S+P.
- Prep veggies: Yeah, the asparagus is a bit weird for this meal but it's what I had on hand. A salad would have been nice but ALL the CHOPPING. Nah. I just tossed some asparagus in olive oil with S+P, then rolled them up in foil. Tip: undercook because they will continue to cook in the foil. I neglected to do this.
I tossed all the hot food and some chips in a cooler and carried the guacamole, drinks, and a few leftover GF brownies in a lunch box with an ice pack.
We drove over to Pan Pacific Park which is a huge, historical park right in our neighborhood. An entire year here, we'd never been and now we're in LOVE! We discovered an entire community of people outside just...playing. It felt like we'd gone back in time. A time when people still tossed velcro balls at velcro mitts, to be exact. The sunset was pinkish/purple and even though the basketball courts had that faint and familiar smell of weed, the food was good, the company was good-looking, and we didn't even need pizza or ice cream.