From the famously scenic outer banks, to the highest mountain peaks in the Eastern United States, North Carolina is known for its’ breathtaking landscapes. With the beach, lakes and mountains all within our reach, planning a weekend getaway in North Carolina has something for everyone. Here are four great picnic spots we recommend!
1. For those living in the eastern part of the state, Carolina Beach is an ideal spot for a relaxing picnic on the beach. One of the unique features about Carolina Beach is Freeman Park, where you can drive onto the beach and set up camp. Pick a day where the wind is minimal and pack a basket full of delicious finger foods! A great picnic recipe that’s easy to eat on the beach is Confetti Egg Salad Sandwiches.
(For more information on Carolina Beach, visit http://www.visitcarolinabeachnc.com/things-to-do/freeman-park-recreation-area)
Confetti Egg Salad Sandwiches
Ingredients to make 14 sandwiches:
1 (7-ounce) jar pimento stuffed olives, drained (reserve 14 whole olives
and 1 tablespoon olive juice)
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 (8-ounce) package Neufchatel cheese, softened
14 slices wheat sandwich bread, crusts trimmed
Slice olives in half. In a large bowl, stir together chopped eggs, cheese, sliced olives and reserved olive juice until well blended. Mix completely. Cut each slice of bread in half. Spread ¼ cup of filling on a bread slice and top with remaining bread slice half. Insert toothpick into reserved whole pimento-stuffed olive, then insert into sandwich. Repeat preparation of remaining sandwiches.
To Hard-Cook Eggs: Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add enough tap water to come to at least 1 inch above eggs. Cover. Quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat. Remove pan from burner. Let eggs stand, covered in hot water for 15 minutes for large eggs, (12 for medium, 18 for extra large). Immediately run cold water over eggs, or place them in ice water until completely cooled.
2. If the beach isn’t your picture perfect picnic spot, head north to Pilot Mountain, home of the Pilot Mountain State Park. For those that live in the Winston-Salem area, this destination is only about 30 minutes away. There, you can experience the rolling hills remnant of the ancient Suratown Mountains. With over 3,000 acres of land, you can be sure to find the picnic spot of your dreams. A wonderful picnic companion for this trip has to be the Bacon Cheese Puffs, 1st place winner of The Incredible Edible Egg Appetizer/Picnic Recipe Contest.
(For more about Pilot Mountain State Park, visit http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/pimo/main.php )
Bacon Cheese Puffs
Ingredients for these delightful puffs include:
1 cup water
¾ cup ham – finely chopped
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese – finely shredded
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. chives – finely chopped
1 green onion – finely chopped
4 oz. cream cheese – softened
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 slices bacon – fried crisp and crumbled
¼ cup dried cranberries – chopped
¼ cup toasted pecans – chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring water and butter to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and stir in flour quickly, all at once. Stir until dough pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from heat and cool slightly (about 5 or 6 minutes). Add eggs one at a time mixing rapidly until each is combined into the dough. Add chopped ham, shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped chives. Drop by large tablespoons on parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes and for another 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before filling. Mix all filling ingredients together and refrigerate until time to fill puffs. Cut top from each puff, toast, and fill. Replace top.
Makes 16-20 appetizer servings.
3. A relatively unknown gem located in Durham is the Eno River State Park, just a quick 40-minute drive from Raleigh, and even shorter drive from Chapel Hill and Hillsboro. Camping, canoeing, fishing and hiking are some of the activities you can enjoy along the winding, shallow stream. After all of the day’s activities, there’s no better way to replenish your body than a protein packed picnic basket featuring quick and easy Chicken Almond Finger Sandwiches.
(For more about the Eno River State Park, visit http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/enri/main.php )
Chicken Almond Finger Sandwiches
2 cups chopped chicken
3 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped 1
( 8 1/4- ounce ) can crushed pineapple , drained
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
10 slices bread , white or brown
Directions: Blend chicken, eggs, pineapple, almonds and mayonnaise together in a small mixing bowl. Chill 15 minutes. Trim crust from bread, spread mixture and cut into finger sandwiches.
4. Ever wish you could go on a safari but can’t afford to travel across the world? Located only 40 minutes from Greensboro, the Lazy 5 Farm Ranch will transport you to an African Safari right in Morrisville, North Carolina. The 3.5 mile long drive-through safari lets you get up close and personal with a plethora of exotic animals. Don’t be alarmed if an ostrich pops its’ head inside your car to say hello and take a bit of feed from your hand! After you’ve fed all the animals, treat yourself to a sweet snack with simply delicious Slice and Bake Cookies.
(For more on the Lazy 5 Farm Ranch, visit http://www.lazy5ranch.com/)
Slice and Bake Cookies
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups self-rising flour
Directions: Cream together sugar and butter; beat in egg, yolks and vanilla. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Divide dough in half and place dough on sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Using waxed paper or parchment paper and your hands, carefully shape into two rolls, 1-inch by 12-inches. Wrap in freezer wrap. Place rolls on cookie sheet and freeze until ready to bake. Peel paper off cookie rolls. Slice cookies into
¼-inch slices and place on cookie sheet. Bake cookies in a preheated 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
Have a favorite North Carolina picnic location that we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in a comment below this post on our Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/NorthCarolinaEggAssociation?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark