The Outdoor Table: The Ultimate Cookbook for Your Next Backyard BBQ, Front-Porch Meal, Tailgate, or Picnic

The Outdoor Table: The Ultimate Cookbook for Your Next Backyard BBQ, Front-Porch Meal, Tailgate, or Picnic

by April McKinney

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April McKinney celebrates the tradition of packing up your best food and enjoying a meal outdoors.

When most people say they are going out to eat, they usually mean out to a restaurant. But it could mean a front porch brunch with your closest friends; a nighttime concert in the park; a tailgate party at the stadium; a moonlit dinner at the drive-in movie theater; or a picnic at a vineyard.

Whether at a planned event or just an impromptu cookout in the backyard with your friends and neighbors, The Outdoor Table is your guide to creating portable dishes that you can prepare ahead of time and serve cold or at room temperature when you get to your destination that your family and friends will love. It’s time to pack a picnic and start making memories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718022204
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/02/2015
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 437,098
File size: 30 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

April McKinney is an award-winning cook, food writer, and recipe demonstrator. She has cooked with Paula Deen and Claire Robinson, and she has demonstrated her recipes on national television shows such as the Today Show and Better TV, with regular appearances on Talk of the Town in Nashville.

Read an Excerpt

The Outdoor Table

The Ultimate Cookbook For Your Next Backyard BBQ, Front-Porch Meal, Tailgate, Or Picnic

By April McKinney

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2015 April McKinney and Bryan Curtis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-2220-4



Watermelon Lime Cooler

There is nothing like the taste of fresh watermelon to cool you off on a hot summer day. This fizzy drink makes the most of my favorite melon with the addition of a few simple ingredients. Kids and adults are going to love this sweet beverage.

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
8 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups ginger ale
Lime wedges, for garnish

In a small saucepan combine the lime juice and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Place the watermelon cubes in the bowl of a food processor or blender container, and process until smooth. This may have to be done in batches depending on the size of your processor or blender. Pour the watermelon into a mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Discard the solids in the strainer, and stir the lime syrup into the liquid watermelon in the bowl. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart pitcher, and pour in the ginger ale right before serving. Garnish the glasses with the lime wedges, if desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tip: For transporting, take the watermelon and lime mixture in a sealable pitcher so it can be shaken or stirred before adding the ginger ale.

Old South Planter's Punch

I first sipped this sweet and tart drink at the historic Dock Street Theatre during a trip to magnificent Charleston, South Carolina. Some Charleston natives claim that the drink originated at the antebellum Planter's Hotel as the specialty of the house. Regardless of its actual history, this drink has become a classic in the iconic Southern city, and I like to believe folks have been drinking it there for centuries.

2 cups fresh orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup light rum
1/4 cup grenadine
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

Stir together the orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, rum, and grenadine in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the mixture over ice, and garnish it with a cherry, if desired.

Makes 4 TO 5 servings.

Sparkling Lemon Berry Water

One thing a good host knows how to do is dress up their guests' drinks, even if it's just water. At the rehearsal dinner for my wedding, my mother-in-law had large pitchers filled with water and citrus slices. It looked so pretty and tasted very refreshing. This sparkling lemon berry water is another simple way to beautify and enhance your water pitchers at an elegant outdoor gathering.

2 liters sparkling water, chilled
2 cups frozen berries (raspberries,
blackberries, or blueberries)
2 lemons, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds

Combine the sparkling water, berries, and lemon slices in a 4-quart pitcher. Serve chilled.

Makes 6 servings.

Tip: Using frozen berries keeps the water chilled without using ice cubes.

Basil Strawberry Lemonade

My grandmother always makes fresh lemonade for the kids at family picnics and gatherings. It does take extra time to squeeze the fresh lemon juice, but using the real fruit juice makes a big difference in the final product. The addition of the strawberries and basil gives this childhood favorite a sophisticated and refreshing flavor.

5 cups water, divided
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 pint strawberries, stems removed

In a small saucepan heat 1 cup of water and the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Place the sugar syrup into a blender with the lemon juice, basil, and strawberries. Blend until the strawberries break down and the basil is finely chopped. Pour the strawberry mixture into a 2-quart pitcher, and then stir in the remaining 4 cups water to dilute it. Serve the lemonade over ice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

"Raise Your Glass" Raspberry Beer Cocktail

This light cocktail just might change the minds of your friends who don't typically like beer. The raspberries and lime juice add a crisp, fruity flavor while the ginger ale sweetens and carbonates the beverage. A cool glass of this concoction is just what you need at a warm summer picnic.

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 6 ounces)
4 (12-ounce) light beers
4 cups ginger ale

Combine the lime juice and raspberries in a pitcher and muddle together with a wooden spoon. Slowly pour the beer and ginger ale into the pitcher so that the fizz stays at a minimum. Stir gently, and serve the drink chilled.

Makes 4 to 5 Servings.

Tip: Keep this drink in a sealable pitcher and store it in a cooler to keep the drink cold outdoors.


Picnic in the Park

FORSYTHE PARK Savannah, Georgia October

It's hard not to fall in love with the town lovingly nicknamed "The Hostess of the South." Every year, once the scorching hot summer comes to a close, Forsythe Park, nestled in the center of Savannah's historic district, is home to one of Savannah's most beloved outdoor events.

Even though you will see picnic tables filled with the usual Southern fare at Picnic in the Park, it's not uncommon to see spreads complete with candelabras and fine china laid out. Each year the event has a different theme, and picnickers are encouraged to compete in the annual picnic contest by decorating their tables with elaborate designs, dressing up in costumes, and creating a menu based on the theme. Strolling around the thirty-acre park to see the unique spreads is all part of the Picnic in the Park experience.

Bourbon-Spiked Peach Tea

What could be more Southern on a hot summer day than a glass of sweet iced tea combined with fresh peaches and a kick of bourbon? This is a drink that truly tastes best when enjoyed outside. You may want to double the recipe, because this one goes down smooth.

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches,
divided (about 2 medium peaches)
1 cup bourbon
4 cups freshly brewed iced tea, unsweetened

In a saucepan over high heat combine the water, lemon juice, sugar, and 1 cup of peaches. Allow the mixture to come to a boil for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Once the peach syrup has cooled, pour it into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the bourbon, the remaining 1 cup peaches, and the iced tea. Stir to combine and serve over ice.

Serves 6.

Brown Sugar Sweet Tea

As every good Southerner knows, you simply cannot have a gathering, especially outdoors, without our beloved sweet tea. The key to real sweet tea is dissolving the sugar. It's an easy step, but it makes all the difference. This brown sugar version gives the tea a richness that sets it apart from the original.

8 cups cold water, divided
2 family-size tea bags
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Pour 4 cups of the water into a 2-quart saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for 5 minutes or a little longer if you prefer a darker tea. Remove the bags from the pan and discard. Add the brown sugar to a heatproof pitcher, and pour in the tea, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the remaining 4 cups cold water, and serve over ice.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Orange Dream Slush

My friend Julie and I used to make this drink when we were kids. It's almost like drinking orange sherbet. This is one drink the kiddos and the kid in you will love!

2 cups orange juice
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups ice

Place the orange juice, milk, sugar, orange peel, vanilla, and ice in a blender container. Cover and blend on high until the mixture is smooth. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tip: Add a little rum to turn this into a sweet adult drink.

Coconut Milk Punch

Traditional Louisiana milk punch gets a tasty twist with creamy coconut milk. One of my good friends describes this as "Christmas on the beach." Serve this drink over ice at an outdoor brunch, but be careful—it sure goes down smooth!

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
4 cups low-fat or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/2 cups bourbon
Toasted coconut, for garnish

Whisk together the condensed milk, coconut milk, milk, coconut extract, and bourbon. Pour into a 2-quart pitcher, and serve over ice. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Georgia Peach Sangria

Every summer I look forward to getting amazing fresh peaches from a local "Peach Truck." The peaches are from Georgia, and each one is everything that the fruit should be: sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor. Find the freshest peaches you can to make this "sip of summertime" sangria.

2 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 2 medium peaches)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bottle dry white wine, chilled
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1 (12-ounce) can club soda

Place the peaches, orange juice, and sugar in a large pitcher, and allow the fruit to macerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the wine and peach schnapps. Slowly pour in the club soda right before serving. Leave the peach slices in the sangria so they will soak up the flavors in the drink. The fruit can be eaten once the serving glass is empty.

Makes 6 servings.


Music in the Vines

ARRINGTON VINEYARDS Arrington, Tennessee April through December

Nestled in between country mansions and picturesque horse farms, you will find the best of Nashville's "Wine Country" in Arrington, Tennessee. Breathtaking views of green rolling hills and vineyards make a beautiful backdrop for an elegant evening at Arrington Vineyards. A vineyard might not be what you would expect to find in the middle of the Volunteer State, but this establishment has become a local hotspot for many reasons. Locals can't get enough of the great wine, spectacular scenery, and live music at this picture-perfect Southern winery.

Showers and birthdays are celebrated at the vineyard with a spread of finger foods especially picked to pair with Arrington's delicious wine. Not sure which wine is best for your menu? Guests are welcome to take advantage of the complimentary wine tastings offered daily at the clubhouse.

On the weekends the whole hillside of the vineyard fills up for "Music in the Vines." Since the area is full of local talent, you're sure to hear some fantastic country tunes while sipping, nibbling, and taking in the stunning Tennessee sunset.

Blackberry Mint Julep

While the mint julep is known for being the beloved drink of the annual Kentucky Derby, it's actually been around for centuries. It's a refreshing cocktail made with fresh mint and the South's favorite liquor: bourbon. This is my modern, fruity version of the old classic.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 sprigs fresh mint, divided
1 1/3 cups blackberries (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup bourbon
1 liter seltzer water

In a small saucepan bring the sugar, water, and 1 sprig of the mint to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the syrup cool to room temperature.

Pour the syrup into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the blackberries and the remaining 3 sprigs mint. Muddle the berries and mint together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the bourbon, and top the pitcher off with the seltzer water just before serving. Serve over ice.

Makes 4 servings.

Caramel Apple Spiced Cider

One of my favorite activities during the fall is building big bonfires at my parent's farm. When there is an autumn chill in the air, there is nothing like a fire and some spiced cider to warm you up. Keep this in a warm slow cooker so it's hot and ready for sippin'.

Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 half-gallon apple cider
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks

For the caramel sauce, place the butter, brown sugar, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter melts, and then bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

For the cider, pour the apple cider into a slow cooker. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and caramel sauce. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Turn the slow cooker to the warm setting and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sherbet Party Punch

If you're gathering for an outdoor wedding or baby shower, you must have this sherbet punch. This fruity, crowd-pleasing drink is super easy to mix up, especially with slightly softened orange sherbet.

30 ounces pineapple juice
1 liter seltzer water
1 (12-ounce) container raspberry lemonade
concentrate, thawed
1 quart orange sherbet, slightly softened

In a large punch bowl stir together the pineapple juice, seltzer water, and raspberry lemonade concentrate. Just before serving, add scoops of the sherbet into the mixture and gently stir to combine.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Tip: There is no need to add ice to this punch. The scoops of sherbet will keep it nice and cold.

"Wake Up!" Bloody Mary

If you need a not-so-sweet drink for that morning tailgate, this spicy beverage is sure to get you going. Add more hot pepper sauce as needed to really give it a kick.

4 cups vegetable juice
1 (11-ounce) can tomato juice
1 cup vodka
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon green olive juice
Celery ribs and green olives, for garnish

In a large pitcher whisk together the vegetable juice, tomato juice, vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and olive juice. Serve over ice, and garnish with the celery and olives, if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Grapefruit Mimosas

The combination of grapefruit and orange juices in this mimosa recipe makes for a slightly more tart sparkling beverage. It's delicious for a morning tailgate or outdoor brunch.

2 cups orange juice, chilled
1 cup grapefruit juice, chilled
1 (750 ml) bottle dry champagne, chilled
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

In a large pitcher combine the orange and grapefruit juices. Top with the champagne just before serving, and garnish the pitcher or individual glasses with the cherries, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.


Shakespeare in Clark Park

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Summer (check website for dates)

Formed in 2005, Shakespeare in Clark Park is a theatre company committed to presenting free, outdoor productions of Shakespeare's plays, creating a cultural event for the greater Philadelphia area.

This relatively new theater experience is set in a real park—not a theatrical venue—where a perfectly shaped, immense tree provides a set of real theatricality. The actors come down the hill into their next scene, and darkness falls just as the plot turns grim. The company has cobbled together, with borrowed footlights and a generosity of talent, a real treat for a summer evening.

Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to add to this cultural tradition and memorable evening under the stars.

"Pretty in Pink" Sparkling Punch

Normally I don't like to add ice to punch because it can dilute the flavors, but with the lemonade and orange concentrates, this drink can use a little watering down. All of my girlfriends love this punch; it must be the champagne!

2 (12-ounce) cans lemonade concentrate,
1 (12-ounce) can orange juice concentrate,
1 (32-ounce) bottle cranberry juice cocktail
2 (750 ml) bottles dry champagne
2 oranges, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds,
8 cups ice

Stir the lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, and cranberry juice together in a large pitcher or drink dispenser. Just before serving add the champagne, orange slices, and ice.

Makes 18 to 20 servings.

Granny Smith, Cucumber, and Mint Infused Water

The ingredients in this recipe may seem like an odd combination, but it is the most refreshing infused water I've ever had. I like to keep a pitcher of it in my fridge all summer long and pour myself a tall glass of it to sip on the porch after a long day.

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and seeded,
thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh mint
1 gallon water

In a large pitcher combine the apple slices, cucumber slices, mint, and water. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tip: You may also use a traditional cucumber in this recipe. Just be sure to remove the seeds. Slice the cucumber lengthwise, and then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut into half-moon slices.

Spiced, Iced Fruit Tea

A little sweet, a little spicy, and everything that's nice about a glass of iced fruit tea, this crowd-pleasing drink might become your go-to drink recipe for outdoor entertaining.

8 cups cold water, divided
2 family-size tea bags
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pour 4 cups of the water into a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the tea bags and cinnamon sticks. Steep the tea for 5 minutes or a little longer if you prefer a darker tea. Add the sugar to a heatproof pitcher, and pour in the tea, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and the remaining 4 cups cold water. Serve over ice.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.



Bacon-Wrapped Hash Brown Bites

Cheesy hash brown casserole is a breakfast favorite in the South, so these adorable hash brown bites are my take on the classic breakfast dish. They are crispy and bite-sized, making them just right for outdoor entertaining.

24 bacon strips
1 (30-ounce) bag frozen, shredded hash
browns, thawed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is chewy and easily pliable, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place each strip of bacon in a muffin cup, making a circle around the inside of the cup and leaving an opening for the hash browns filling two 12-cup muffin tins.

In a large bowl toss together the hash browns, Parmesan, onions, oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon the hash brown mixture into each "bacon cup," and gently press down on the hash browns with the back of the spoon. Bake the hash brown bites for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 24 servings.


Excerpted from The Outdoor Table by April McKinney. Copyright © 2015 April McKinney and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, V,
Beverages, 1,
Breakfast, 23,
Appetizers, 37,
Breads, 93,
Sides, 103,
Main Dishes, 185,
Desserts, 239,
About the Author, 278,
Index, 279,
Destination Index, 297,

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