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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Don’t Miss A Picnic in the Park

By Sherrie Norris

Events of the past week have reminded us that folks love a good reason to celebrate — and that everything seems better when food is involved. 

As we pulled into the area off State Farm Road in Boone last Monday evening, anticipating the amazing fireworks display that did not disappoint, we loved seeing all the “tailgating” that was taking place. Tables and chairs were set up, blankets were spread across the lawns, most everyone was in one stage or another of  having a picnic in the park.  And everyone seemed to be having a great time.

We heard there were food trucks available in the hub of all the activity, but we were a little too late to get close enough to experience that for ourselves. 

Knowing that would likely be the case, we had made a quick stop for subs, chips and drinks before arriving. And, yes, we enjoyed our own little picnic in the midst of the crowd.

As another Independence Day has already come and gone, we know that summer will pass quickly, as well, so we need to make the most of every chance we have to enjoy a picnic.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just decide to do it — throw something together at home, stop by a drive-through, or call an order into  your favorite eatery. Head out with a blanket or chairs and decide to make a happy new memory. Life is too short to waste on lost opportunities. 

Everyone’s Favorite Ham Rolls 

2 pkg.  Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls 

1 pkg. deli sandwich ham 

12 slices Swiss cheese 

½  cup butter, melted

1 Tbsp.  poppy seeds 

1 ½  tsp.  brown or Dijon mustard 

1 ½  tsp.  Worcestershire sauce 

1 tsp. onion powder 

Slice evenly all the way through rolls horizontally; separate rolls and place bottoms in baking pan. Layer ham and cheese on rolls. Replace tops. Combine butter, poppy seeds, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and onion powder and mix well. Drizzle over rolls. Cover with foil.  Refrigerate until butter is firm, even overnight is OK. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes or until cheese melts. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Quick Ritz Cookies

Ritz crackers

Peanut Butter

Candy coating, color of choice

Make a sandwich out of the crackers and peanut butter. Melt candy coating and dip crackers. You will be pleasantly surprised at the taste.  Make plenty – they disappear quickly.

Snack On A Straw

Cut fruit, meat, cheese, etc. into chunks. Pierce with a metal skewer and thread onto a straw.

Coca Cola Cake

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix (or any other dark chocolate mix)

 1 small box (3-4 oz.) instant chocolate pudding

4 eggs

 ½  cup oil

 10 oz. Coca-Cola ( not diet)

Combine cake mix and pudding mix. Blend in eggs, oil and cola. Pour cake batter into a greased 9×13- inch cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°. The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool.  


 ½  cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

 1½  tsp. vanilla

 2 oz. (1/8 cup) Coca-Cola

  ¼  tsp. salt

With hand mixer, beat butter on low speed. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  

Best served cold.

It’s A Wrap

Flour tortillas

Sliced turkey, ham, roast beef or any sandwich meat

Cheese, if desired (shredded works best)

Shredded lettuce

Mayonnaise, mustard, cream cheese, salsa or even ketchup

Spread tortilla with condiment of choice; top with meat, cheese, lettuce, etc. and roll up tightly. Wrap each one in plastic and refrigerate overnight. For smaller hands to hold, cut in half before wrapping.

Cheese Straws

4 cups plain flour

1 lb. shredded cheese

1 lb. butter or margarine

Pinch of salt

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients together. Press through cookie press to form a straw, or roll into ball and flatten with fork on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes, or until lightly brown.