I'm really excited for this weekend's snow picnic! Like any sort of picnic, all of the dishes should be made in advance. Fill a large thermo with hot tomato soup and serve in mugs at the picnic destination. Pack buttery croutons — they'll add a delicious crunch to the soup — in separate Tupperware. Make a giant mozzarella and red-pepper sandwich on a large baguette and cut into individual slices for serving. Store portobello mushroom salad in Chinese take-out containers and allow guests to top with croutons or prosciutto crisps. Supplement the menu with store-bought potato chips, crackers, or flatbreads. For these tasty recipes — perfect for energizing before a snowball fight — please


Creamy Tomato Soup with Buttery Croutons
From Food and Wine magazine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
5 cups canned whole tomatoes in their juice (from three 14-ounce cans)
1 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Four 3/4-inch-thick slices of white country bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 3/4-inch dice

  1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sliced onion and smashed garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the water, heavy cream, sugar, crushed red pepper, celery seed and oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over moderately high heat until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Scrape the browned butter into a medium bowl. Add the olive oil to the skillet. Add the diced bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is slightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bread to the browned butter and toss well.
  5. Working in batches, transfer the tomato soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to a clean pot and rewarm the soup if necessary. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the croutons.

Serves 6.

Mozzarella Pepper Cooler-Pressed Sandwiches
From Cookie magazine

1 (5-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1 pinch hot-pepper flakes (optional for kids)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (optional for kids)
1 (6-ounce) container bocconcini in oil (or 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella in oil, torn into pieces), undrained
1/2 thin 18-inch baguette, sliced lengthwise, interior crumb removed

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients (including the bocconcini's or mozzarella's marinade).
  2. Fill the baguette with the mixture.
  3. Close the baguette and wrap it tightly in waxed paper, then in aluminum foil.
  4. Place the sandwich at the bottom of the cooler so the weight of the other contents compresses the sandwich and allows the juices to soak into the bread.

Serves 4.

Portobello Salad with Crispy Prosciutto
From Rachael Ray

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
4 small portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and thinly sliced
6 ribs celery from the heart with leafy greens, thinly sliced on an angle
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Truffle oil, for drizzling (optional)

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet and broil until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Toss the mushrooms, celery and onion with the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange on a platter and top with the arugula and parsley. Drizzle with truffle oil, if using.
  5. Break up the crispy prosciutto and scatter over the salad.

Serves 4.