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life's a picnic how to host an indoor picnic 
by Patricia Virella
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Remember those occasional elementary-school picnics you had as a kid? Although the opportunity to get out of the classroom was a blast, the food was always less than memorable. A ham and gooey cheese sandwich accompanied by the warmest juice box ever -- fortunately, we're all grown up now, and as adults, our picnic food options are significantly more enticing.

Picnic fare can range from a basic sandwich to an elaborate pasta salad. When you're dining at the park or beach, it's wise to stay away from mayonnaise, as the results can be rancid sandwiches and a sour stomach. Now that the party has moved indoors, however, you can have any cuisine you prefer. Still, roast leg of lamb is hardly in keeping with the picnic mood: opt for picnic standards, but with a special twist. One of my favorite sandwiches is a hollowed-out round loaf filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, basil and other goodies. Thanks to the challenges of transporting such a concoction, this would normally be an adventurous picnic lunch, but when I'm picnicking at home, the rules change. Other indoor picnic-friendly foods include burritos stuffed with rice, beans and your favorite fixings -- or go Middle Eastern and serve falafels or gyros. If you're trying to keep it healthy, offer a veggie wrap with avocado puree.

In addition to your culinary skills getting a better workout, picnicking indoors permits you to indulge in a nice refreshment to accompany your meal. In many states, after all, it's illegal to have liquor outdoors in non-sanctioned public places; at home you can partake of whatever fine beverage suits your fancy. Spiked lemonade would be especially nice if you coupled it with a clambake or a sandwich.

As for dessert, the sky's the limit. Get a little glamorous by offering chocolate dipped strawberries as a dessert coupled with champagne. For something more down-home, serve classics like brownies or cupcakes. Regardless of what dessert you choose to satisfy your sweet tooth, the key is to prep it ahead of time. Make a heap of bite-sized treats a couple days in advance and you'll be able to avoid any last-minute kitchen stress.

In the end, just remember that inside picnics can be just as fun and sometimes much better than outside picnics. No bugs, flies or ants -- and no worries that a sudden rainstorm might spoil the mood. Have a blast and enjoy your good inside "weather"!


Patricia Virella was born in Spanish Harlem, and grew up entirely in NYC. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is the owner of Comida, Catering by Patricia, and a freelance food/entertaining writer. When she's not throwing fabulous dinner parties on a shoestring budget, she enjoys spending time with her 6 and 9 year old nephews, as well as painting.

check out these related articles:
grill sides | soup up your salad | salad days

more articles by Patricia Virella:
fab finales | i don't eat that!
hosting picky eaters | dinner for two, chez vous | entertaining on a budget 

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