Perfect Spring Picnic


Spring is in full bloom.  And that means outdoor plans are flourishing as we embrace warm rays and scintillating sun.  One of the quintessential seasonal outings is the spring picnic.  And this season Cotton Candy Magazine® wants you to go beyond the traditional packed lunch and infuse some style into your meal.  Cotton Candy’s contributing food editor Chef Evelyn Paul has created these unique, lip smacking recipes for the ultimate outdoor feast.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad


3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

4 Yellow tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks

2 cups, one-inch cubed, red seedless watermelon

½ cup crumbled feta cheese


Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, mint, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, and black pepper into a large bowl.  Add the tomatoes, watermelon, and feta cheese to the bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve Immediately.

Serves 6

Grilled Chicken and Sundried Tomato Mozzarella Wraps


1 garlic clove

½ shallot

½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dry oregano

2 (6 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast

4 lavash breads

1 cup sundried tomato packed in oil

4 oz fresh Mozzarella thinly sliced

8 fresh basil leaves

(Click the photos below.)

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Add the garlic and shallot to a bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 5-6 times.  Add the basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano to the bowl and pulse for 15- 20 seconds.

Add the chicken to a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the pesto over the chicken.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the grill to 425 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the pesto and place directly onto the grill.  Grill each breast for 5-6 minutes per side or until an instead read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the grill to a plate and let cool for 10 minutes.  Thinly slice or shred the chicken for the wraps.

To Assemble

Place each piece of lavash bread flat onto a cutting board.  Layer each piece of bread with ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes, 2 slices of mozzarella, 2 basil leaves and chicken.  Roll each piece of lavas into a cone shape. Serve Immediately.

Serves 4

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

2 Tablespoons honey

1 ½ Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon Chile Pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise

2 Tablespoons Canola oil

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 thinly sliced green onions

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Add the sweet potatoes to a large stockpot and cover with cold water.  Bring the sweet potatoes to a boil over high heat and cook for 6 minutes.  Carefully drain the sweet potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Whisk the honey, lime juice, pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and black pepper together into a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil until combined.

Preheat the grill to 450 degrees

Brush each potato wedge with canola oil.  Place each potato wedge directly onto the grill and grill for 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board. Cut each wedge into 1-inch pieces.

Add the potatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and cilantro into a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat. Season the potato salad with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Lemon Cupcakes with Basil Lemon Frosting


2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Line twenty-four 2 ½ -inch muffin cups with paper bake cups.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar on medium high for 3 to 4 minutes.  With the mixer on low add the eggs one at a time until combined.  Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating between wet and dry ingredients, on low speed until combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix on low for 5 to 10 seconds.  Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Place the cupcake pans directly into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Carefully remove the pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from the cupcakes from the pans and cool thoroughly on wire racks.

When completely cooled, pipe or spread with Basil Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Serves 12

Basil Lemon Cream Cheese Icing


1 8ounce package cream cheese, softened

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

¼ cup finely chopped basil

4 cups confectioners’ sugar


Add the cream cheese and butter to a medium bowl and using a hand held mixer beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, zest, and basil and mix on low for 3-4 seconds.  While the mixer is on low speed slowly add the confectioners sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly combined.

Ice the cupcakes with the prepared frosting.  Serve immediately.

Hibiscus Lemonade


2/3 cups of boiling water

1 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers

1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cups cold water

1 lemon cut into thin rounds


Add the hibiscus flowers to a medium bowl and cover with the boiling water.  Steep the hibiscus flowers for 4-5 minutes.  Carefully remove the hibiscus flowers from the water using a slotted spoon and discard.  Add the agave nectar and stir.  Pour the hibiscus water into a pitcher and add the lemon juice, cold water, and lemon slices.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately over ice.

Serves 4

Cotton Candy Magazine®