Picnics in winter can be so much fun. No risk of wasps attacking everyone, no hot sun making your worry that dairy products are going to turn sour, and no dried out sandwiches.
With the right warm clothing and our top five recipes, you will be converted to thinking that winter is the best time to picnic!
Spiced butternut squash soup
This warming soup has a kick of chilli to keep everyone extra toasty.
Medium-sized butternut squash
1 tsp Chilli flakes
2 tsp Cumin seeds
Vegetable stock cube
Chop the squash into large chunks, rub with vegetable oil and roast in a hot oven for 30 minutes or until soft when poked with a knife.
Slice the onion and garlic and fry in a little vegetable oil till soft but not browned. Add the chilli flakes and cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the squash and enough boiled water to cover. Add a vegetable stock cube and stir to dissolve.
Blend the soup till smooth then pour into a warmed thermos flask whilst still piping hot.
Vegan creamy tomato soup
All the ingredients for this classic soup are roasted together to create wonderfully intense flavour. Cashews replace the traditional cream to make this perfect for vegans or those with a dairy intolerance.
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Preheat the oven to medium heat.
In a large roasting tray tip the fresh tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and olive oil. Roast for 45 mins- 1hour.
Peel the skins from the garlic cloves and add the cashews, tinned tomatoes and fresh basil—roast for another 20 mins.
Blend the soup till smooth, adding a splash of hot water if it seems too thick.
Pour into a warmed thermos whilst still hot.
Homemade overnight bread
This is the quickest and easiest way to bake bread, no starters, no kneading, chuck everything in a bowl and then pop it in the oven the next morning.
500g bread flour
350ml warm water
½ tsp yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar
Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, cover, and leave in a warm spot overnight.
Preheat the oven to 220C and put a large lidded casserole dish in to heat up. I love cast iron ones for this, but Pyrex works too.
Tip the dough on to a floured surface, fold four ‘corners’ into the centre and place in the preheated dish. Quickly put the lid on and return to the oven.
Cook for 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for 10-20 minutes till the top is golden, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Jacket potatoes and toppings
Jacket potatoes are a fantastic winter picnic food. Easy to transport they hold their heat well if adequately wrapped and everyone can choose their fillings!
The key to keeping them hot is making sure they are well wrapped in foil, and then keep them all together and wrap them in the picnic blanket. This provides lots of layers to trap the heat and means you can still get that delicious melted butter and cheese which makes them so irresistible.
Make sure if you’re bringing toppings like grated cheese, butter or yoghurt you put those in a different bag as the potatoes can generate quite a bit of heat and may melt them.
Bring a little Mexican flavour to a British winter with this easy to make nacho recipe.
For the chilli:
Quorn mince or beef mince
Tin of mixed beans (drained)
Ancho Chilli flakes
2 Red bell peppers
Red onion- chopped
Tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tsp Cocoa powder
½ tsp Ground coriander powder
Half the red peppers and roast for 15 minutes in a very hot oven till the skin is blackened. Put the pepper straight into a bowl and cover, then peel off the skin once cooled.
In a casserole dish fry the mince if using and add the chopped red onion, once the onion has softened add the garlic.
Add the ground coriander powder and chilli flakes, fry for 30 seconds then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chopped red peppers, beans and cocoa powder.
Cook the chilli with the lid on in a low oven for 1-2 hours, checking every 30 minutes after the first hour to make sure it’s not sticking.
The chilli can go straight into a large thermos flask and should stay hot for a few hours.
For the nachos:
Once you’ve reached your picnic spot, it’s just a case of assembling. You can either make individual portions or create a giant sharing plate depending on the crockery you have (and how picky your eaters are!). Pile up the tortilla crisps, pour over the hot chilli from the thermos, top with grated cheese, dollops of guacamole, sour cream and salsa, and sprinkle with jalapenos to finish.
For pudding, there is nothing better than hot chocolate to warm everyone up.
Our favourite way is to make hot chocolate sticks with everyone’s favourite flavours and toppings, and then bring along a flask of hot milk for them to be stirred in.
Grab a WildPLAY kit for the recipe for these tasty treats, and you’ll never have to worry about forgetting the marshmallows again!