Fresh Ideas for a Holiday Riverwalk Picnic Means No Labor Here!

Chicken / August 29, 2014
This picnic and the recipes developed are dedicated to the residents of Riverwalk, Rock Hill, and Evans Cohgill Homes, builder of fine homes at Riverwalk Carolinas in Rock Hill, SC.
Check out the slide show at bottom for how-to photos!
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Picture

I feel the hint of cool weather approaching. Green leaves, once firmly affixed to branches heavy with the canopy of summer, have begun to gather in small but growing, amber piles. I don’t mind it, really. I love being outside in late August, and it makes me appreciate the beauty of the Carolinas and the promise of autumn. Gone is the heavy mugginess so evident just this last week, making cooking in my kitchen that much more pleasant.

PictureInspiration for my Swirling Chocolate Dessert!

“Time for a picnic.” I muse, choosing to travel today to Riverwalk, in Rock Hill, SC to see friends, and then enjoy an al fresco meal among the oaks. As I prepared my simple weekend lunch in honor of this last holiday of summer, I decided to create not only something fun and original, but one themed for the many activities that every resident in Riverwalk is lucky enough to enjoy. With ice and napkins on board, I head out for one of the most progressive master-planned communities in the Carolinas.

After arriving and saying hello to my friends at Evans Coghill Homes and touring their amazing homes (I want one of the Villas!), I unhinge my bike, throw my lunch across my shoulders and ride slowly towards the river. Passing tree lined streets dotted with colorful cottages, and charming front porches, I then wave at my fellow pedalers — those more ardent in their cycling passion than myself who are racing away at the adjacent and world-class Giordana Velodrome — and settle in for lunch beside the river. The spot I choose is in the middle of the budding Town Center parcel. Among other exciting additions it will feature its own micro-brewery, a YMCA, shopping, dining and enhanced open spaces.

Spreading out a blanket and noshing on some carrot sticks and asparagus, my first course is a nod to cyclers everywhere. Check out my BMX-CELLENT SPIRAL PASTA SALAD WITH CHICKEN AND ORANGE GINGER DRESSING which pays homage to the Novant BMX Supercross Track soon to open here in Riverwalk. Using ready-made and fresh ingredients, this colorful salad is packed with protein and vegetables, and surprises with a kick of chili flakes and the heady satisfaction of ginger and orange. Replacing the usual sandwich fare as the centerpiece, this salad comes together in a flash, and qualifies easily for one of my #fabin40 recipes. It goes great with chips, apples, even holding its own next to your favorite baked beans, or a generous slice of watermelon. “This salad will taste even better tomorrow!” I think, as I wipe the last vestiges off my chin, and place the leftovers in my back pack.

I’m now ready for something sweet, and inspiration is only a few yards away. Watching the currents in the bend in the river swirl around the base of aging trees, I see the brightly colored kayaks come into view, paddling peacefully along the banks of the Catawba just inches from my traveling lunch. Warm and soothing, the muddy waters urge me on to dessert. My first bite of my CATAWBA INSPIRED DARK CHOCOLATE, CREAM CHEESE AND CARAMEL SWIRL PARFAIT wows with the dizzying satisfaction that only chocolate provides. Crowned with a caramel filled Ghirardelli wafer planted in the middle of swirling dark chocolate ganache, I dig deep to get a spoonful of caramel, and sweetened cream cheese in one, decadent bite. These are easy to make in advance and keep in the fridge, covered until you put them into your cooler. Yeah, I know. I’ll have to paddle a few hundred miles to mitigate the calories, but it’s chocolate, caramel, and cream cheese for heaven’s sake! Plus, I need energy for the hike I have planned later, right?

Speaking of hiking, the Carolina Thread Trail is another huge amenity here in Rock Hill. Eventually it will connect 15 communities and over 2.3 million citizens, and features miles of meandering pathways. Not to mention a way to get your pulse respectably up to speed. I even created a beautiful, take-along snack for the trek. My CAROLINA THREAD CASHEW CURRANT TRAIL MIX is pumped up in flavor with the addition of crunchy organic raw sugar, and earthy cinnamon. White chocolate makes it rich, golden raisins make it pretty, and peanuts make it familiar. I declare! Pack some in your pocket next time you sport those hiking shoes and you won’t regret it.

“Hey! You want someone company?” A low voice chants from behind, interrupting my slow attempt to gather my belongings and head for home. As I turn to identify the callers, I see four bikers, 10-speeds in tow, headed my way for a rest after 30 miles or so at the track.

“Sure! Come on down!” I shout. And turning to my leftovers, I know just what to offer them on this lazy, comforting, delicious, No-Labor Day.

#caminecooks #riverwalkpicnic #catawbainspired #fabin40 #caminewrites #c-and-company #evanscoghillhomes


BMX-cellent Orange Chicken Spiral Pasta Salad

Inspired by River walk in Rock Hill, SC
With Creamy Orange Ginger Dressing

makes almost 8 cups/#fab in 40


Ingredients:

6 C cooked (amount after cooking) spiral pasta, drained
6-8 ounces precooked chicken breast cut into chunks (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
1 10 oz package frozen broccoli spears, thawed, drained and the florets cut into chunks
¼ C red onion diced rough
½ C chopped fresh cilantro
2 stalks celery diced small
2 medium oranges, peeled, sliced and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 half small red pepper cut into long thin strips
Add red chili flakes to your liking. I added about a ½ T
1 t coriander powder


Dressing:

  • 3 – 4 heaping T Duke’s mayonnaise     1/2 T fresh grated ginger    Juice from ½ orange
  • Salt and pepper     1-2 t white sugar   Salt and Pepper

Direction:

  • Mix, all pasta salad ingredients. Then whisk together the dressing, toss it into the salad and mix with a large spoon. Chill and serve. Can add a bit more mayo if it needs to be moistened.

Catawba River Floating Dark Chocolate, Cream Cheese and Caramel Parfaits

Can stack in tall parfait as well.

makes 4 desserts served in a 3 inch square serving dish.


Ingredients:

6 ounces room temperature cream cheese
1 C heavy cream, whipped to make 2 C
3 T heavy whipping cream
1 T white sugar
½ t vanilla extract
½ C dark chocolate morsels
1/3 C room temperature caramel sauce
4 Ghirardelli caramel filled, dark chocolate
squares, cut in half


Direction:

  • With an electric mixer, beat the 1 C of whipping cream until stiff peaks form, add the white sugar and vanilla and beat just a few moments longer. Add the cream cheese, breaking into small pieces. Using a small whisk, gently incorporate the cream cheese and whipped cream, then beat until it us a custard consistency.
  • In the microwave, in a heat safe, small glass bowl, melt the chocolate, cooking 10 seconds at a time and stirring with whisk until melted. Do NOT let it get too HOT or bubble! Take out, let it cook for about 1 minute. Then add the 3 T cream and whisk until shiny and smooth. When you first start it will look like it is going to be grainy and clumpy. But it will become smooth. If it doesn’t smooth out right away, add about 1 T of milk, whisk and stir until the ganache is, as mentioned, shiny.
  • To assemble: In small glass bowls, (or handy small plastic containers for traveling to your picnic site) cover the bottom of each with a fourth of the caramel sauce. Gently mound a pillow of cream cheese mixture and spread out a bit so that the caramel still shows from the bottom around the edges. Place a dollop of ganache in the center. With a toothpick, spread out the chocolate into the cream into the design of your choice. Don’t do too many swipes or it will all start clumping together.
  • Take the two halves of the chocolate squares, and place in the center of each dessert. Cover, chill until firm.

Carolina Thread Cashew Currant Trail Mix Inspired by Riverwalk in Rock Hill, SC

Ingredients:

(Adjust to your preference)

3/4 C salted roasted peanuts
3/4 C salted cashew pieces
1/2 C white chocolate chunks
¼ C dried currants
¼ C yellow raisins
2 t raw organic sugar
½ t cinnamon


Directions:

  • Mix, munch and share! Keep stored in pantry in an air tight container.


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