Backyard Picnic

When one thinks of summer, I’m sure large backyard picnics with family come to mind. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I’m pretty sure I went to a different family member’s cookout every other week. This summer since I’ve been in New York, I haven’t been able to enjoy a backyard picnic..but thinking about it not many people in New York do. Sure, they might have a rooftop picnic (if they’re rich enough) or a fire escape picnic (much more common), but this week my friends and I are having a picnic in my living room. Since school starts tomorrow and everyone is back in the city, I figured we should all have a back to school dinner together! On tap for tonight’s menu is Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken, Butter Bean Salad, Corn on the Cob with Chili and Lime, and Fluffernutter Brownies. Let’s get cooking!

This trip to the grocery store was quite uneventful for me because I had everyone pick up 2-3 items. This made my wallet happy, and was also less stressful on me because I was running around like a mad woman 2 hours before everyone came to pick up the chicken and nuts. I do have just one complaint — WHY ARE NUTS SO EXPENSIVE? We needed chopped nuts for the brownies and I spent $10 on a little packet of them. At least I didn’t buy all of the ingredients, I really would have had to have a funeral for my bank account.

Anyways, I cleaned the whole apartment before everyone came over (10 people were going to be here in total). I now understand why my mom would want the house cleaned when we were having guests. Everyone arrived around 7 and it was a great big happy reunion! I have never been so happy to be reunited with people. 3 months without everyone was too long.

Now, because I live in such a small space and there were 10 people here, it became a little cramped but I gave everyone a specific task to keep things moving. I took care of the sauce for the chicken, Nicolette (MY SOUS-CHEF IS BACK) cooked the chicken, Mel made the salad, Saoirse made the corn, and Morgan, Chela & Amy took care of the brownies. Some how we made it all work. It was great.

Everything was made within the hour and I set up a nice little buffet for everyone. We all dug in! Everything was absolutely delicious! There was almost nothing left, except for some chicken because most people are vegetarians. I think what made the food so enjoyable this time around was just being back together with everyone — it’s safe to say we all had happy hearts and happy stomachs.

Now time for rating! The Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. This was not the hit of the night because there was so much of it left (that’s okay more leftovers for me all week) but every time I make one of Rachael Ray’s chicken recipes, it always tastes exactly like the last. We need more variety!! Hopefully the next chicken recipe spices things up. The Butter Bean Salad receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. This was without a doubt everyone’s favorite dish. Every time someone spoke they were raving about it! I’m not one for beans, but this was actually pretty good. There wasn’t even a crumb left. The Corn on the Cob with Chili and Lime receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. Also quite scrumptious. I have only ever eaten corn with butter and salt. The chili powder and lime juice was a nice different surprise; to me it was like corn on the cob gone Mexican — refreshing with a little kick. There was also no trace of corn left by the end of dinner. Finally, the Fluffernutter Brownies receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. These brownies were just like typical brownies. We were supposed to put peanut butter chips into the batter but could not find any, which made Mel happy since she’s allergic to peanuts. Anyways, these brownies were topped with nuts and marshmallows. I don’t think you could ever go wrong with brownies and there was also none left by the end of dinner. Simply amazing.

I don’t think that there was a better way to kick off this school year. Like I have said in many previous posts — I am positive that food only brings people closer together. I can honestly say after this dinner I already feel closer with all of my friends. It’s like we weren’t even separated for three months. It’s nights like these that I’m so glad I’ve kept up with this cooking adventure. These are the nights and memories I live for. Here’s to a great school year, and a great cooking year!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

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