I am always looking for great ideas for what to enjoy while boating or picnicking at the beach or lake.  Here are a few menus I’ll be sampling when entertaining friends and family this summer:

FRESH FRUIT (Apple slices and grapes are my favorite for boating)


OTHER FOOD IDEAS (see recipes at bottom of this post):

PARTY SALSA (with cheese)




3/4 cup (3 oz) crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese
2 TBSP prepared horseradish
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 TBSP tarragon or other flavored vinegar
1 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 (10-inch) flour or whole wheat or spinach tortillas or flatbread
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef

Combine blue cheese, horseradish, mayonnaise, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Combine 1 tablespoon cheese mixture, vinegar, honey,  garlic, pepper, cabbage and basil in a medium bowl.

Spread remaining cheese mixture evenly over tortillas.

Divide beef and cabbage mixture evenly among tortillas; roll up.

If not eating immediately, wrap each roll up tightly in plastic wrap.

Before serving, cut each rolled tortilla in half crosswise. Enjoy!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

This salad was my addiction last summer, and I’m sure it will be around all this summer as well.  It’s as easy as it gets, but it’s just SO delicious!!!

3/4 to 1 pound seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 TBSP mayonaise
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce ( like Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.

Whisk together mayo, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste. Toss salad with dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley, if desired.

A view from our boat from our favorite cove on Lake Hartwell, GA:


HOMEMADE CROSTINI (take come sliced french bread, brush with olive oil and sprinkle your favorite seasoning on before baking)


(Adapted from South your mouth)

1 1/2 cups (~ 1 lb) seafood (crab, shrimp or lobster)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, finely chopped 
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp dill
Salt to taste

Chop seafood into 1/2-inch pieces, and add to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to store. Better if made a bit in advance to let the flavors marry.

(Adapted from Just a spoonful of)

2 avocados (peeled, pitted, and cubed)
2 – 3 tomatoes (cubed)
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese (cubed)
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp basil – preferably fresh
salt & pepper

Put the cubes of avocados, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil. Add basil, salt & pepper.

Mix lightly. Place in a tupperware or other airtight plastic container, and you’re ready to go! Enjoy.
*Note: this salad is best served soon after preparing, since tomatoes don’t do well refrigerated.

*Beef Tenderloin sandwiches– Grill a beef tenderloin (like this recipe). Cool and slice with rolls and an assortment of spreads like caramelized onion and garlic (you can buy this jam in a store or buy here on Amazon

or make your own – see below for a onion, garlic and gouda spread), horseradish, mustard etc.

*John Oliver Sandwiches(Saveur mag)
*Veggie Cream Cheese Roll ups
*Chicken, Avocado and Cheddar Melts (IF you have access to an onboard grill or are picnicking at a marina or picnic spot with a grill)
*Cold fried or grilled chicken strips with satay or honey mustard, marinated ceviche, BBQ chicken salad
*Party Salsa (with cheese)
*Caramelized onion and smoked gouda dip
*Smoked tomato basil dip
Salads and veggies:
*Grilled Sweet potato wedges
*Mixed greens with Vidalia onion, peaches with vinaigrette
Pretzels with assorted mustards and hummus
GORP (mix together the following: plain M&Ms, peanuts, raisins, and mini pretzels and place in a baggie or other airtight container)
frozen grapes
popcorn (placed in individual bags)

Individual Strawberry shortcakes

Dense Brownies


On thickly sliced toasted bread (Saveur magazine recommended using cranberry-walnut bread- yum!), spread one slice with 2 TBSP softened goat cheese, and spread 2 TBSP olive tapenade (you can make your own or buy on Amazon here) on the 2nd slice.  Put the 2 slices together to make a sandwich.  Wrap in foil and take on the boat!

Easy Olive Tapenade Recipe (from Alton Brown)
1/2 pound pitted mixed olives
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP capers
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
Thoroughly rinse the olives in cool water. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture becomes a coarse paste, ~ 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

(Adapted from Just a Pinch)

These roll ups are so nice to make early in the day before heading off on a boat ride.  I prefer to make them on spinach tortillas because they look great, but any tortilla will do.  Then just bring along a plastic platter on your boat and slice the roll ups and serve.  No plates are needed!Pick up food ALWAYS gets eaten before things that require forks or two hands to eat.

2 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
4 green onions chopped
1/3 c black olives, chopped
68-inch flour tortillas (can use wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas.)
1 celery rib, chopped
1/2 c green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red bell pepper, chopped

Beat cream cheese and dressing mix together, can use fork to mix. Add green onions and other veggies and mix. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on flour tortillas and roll up tortillas.
Chill tortillas about 3 hours to set. Cut tortillas diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.
Display on platter. Can serve with salsa as a dip.

(Adapted from The Silver Palate)


Serves 2-4
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup ketchup
1 scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1-2 whole boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled
1 ripe avocado
4 slices whole-wheat bread, lightly toasted
4 large slices sharp cheddar cheese
Paprika, if desired

Mix the mayo, ketchup, 1 tsp scallion and 2 tsp parsley in a bowl, and set aside.

Cut the cooked chicken breasts in half down the center, then cut each half into four thin long slices.
Peel the avocado, remove the pit, and slice each half lengthwise into four slices.

Place two slices of chicken on each piece of toast.  Spread half of the reserved dressing over the chicken.  Lay the avocado slices over the dressing, and cover with remaining dressing.  Place a piece of cheddar atop each sandwich.  Sprinkle lightly with paprika and the remaining scallion slices.

Broil 3 ” from the heat in an oven (or place on the grill to melt) until cheese melts ~ 1 1/2 minutes. Sprinkle with the leftover parsley and serve.

(Adapted from Epicurious)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 generous pound unpeeled smallish shrimp (I prefer the ones that are 41/50 count to a pound)
1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup ketchup
1 to 2 TBSP vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce (such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo, the latter being on the sweet side)
About 2 TBSP olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jícama (or 1/2 cup of each)
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
Several lime slices for garnish
Tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade or saltine crackers for serving

1. Cooking and Marinating the Shrimp.
Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein the shrimp if you wish: One by one lay the shrimp on your work surface, make a shallow incision down the back and scrape out the (usually) dark intestinal tract. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
2. The flavorings.
In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
3. Serving the ceviche.
Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.
Working Ahead:
The ceviche is best made the day it is served. The flavorings can be added to the shrimp a few hours in advance. For the picnic, just place in an airtight container and keep in the cooler until ready to serve.

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or plastic container with a lid; add barbecue sauce. Turn to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Grill chicken, covered, over medium-hot heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees F. Cool; cover and refrigerate chicken until chilled.
Chop chicken; place in a large bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, onion, celery, salt and pepper flakes. Can eat in a sandwich, with chips on just as a salad.

PARTY SALSA (with cheese)

This recipe is one that’s been around for a while too. My husband had it at an office function years ago and brought home the recipe.  Thank you Drew Veght wherever you are! It’s so good and different from any other salsa.  There will be none left if you serve it! I could probably sit down and eat it with a spoon I love it that much!!!

1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 4oz can chopped black olives
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 can Hot Rotel tomatoes
1 pkg dry Good Seasons Italian Dressing (mixed according to the directions – – – I use less of the required oil however).

Mix together – better if you let it sit for a bit prior to serving.

Serve with tostitoes or corn chips.

(Adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

3 heads garlic
Extra virgin olive oil, For drizzling
4 TBSP butter
3 onions, sliced
¾ pounds gouda, shredded (choose a softer gouda for easy melting)
8 oz light cream cheese, room temperature

For the roasted garlic:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut a thin slice off the top of the garlic heads to expose the flesh. Remove excess skin. Place garlic on a sheet of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold foil over garlic to enclose it. Roast for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Once cool, squeeze the flesh out of the skin. Discard skin and set the flesh aside. Increase the oven temperature to 350 F.

For the caramelized onions:
Melt half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and stir occasionally over medium to low heat. Add a little butter from time to time, if needed. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how low you cook the onions.

For the dip:
Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and add the the onions, garlic and shredded gouda. Mix everything into the softened cream cheese. Add the mixture into a sprayed 9×9 or 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with additional Gouda if desired. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler. Broil for an additional 5 minutes or until nicely browned.


(Adapted from A nutritionist eats)

2 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese
4 oz light cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
few drops of Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste

Stir together all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Serve with crackers or crostini.

(Adapted from Whitney Bond)

2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp basil olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup basil (divided)
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet covered with foil bent into a basket shape. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, then top with the black pepper and ¼ cup fresh basil. Place into the oven for 25 minutes.
Place the sour cream in a food processor. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic and basil.
Puree for 30 seconds, then add the sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and remaining basil. Mix well. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes then serve.

(Adapted from Serious Eats)

For the Seasoning:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and each cut into 8 equal wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley leaves

To make the seasoning: Mix together paprika, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl, set aside.

Place potato wedges in a large bowl. Add olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Move potatoes to hot side of grill and cook until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer potatoes to a serving platter and sprinkle with prepared seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately or wrap up and serve at room temperature at your tailgate or picnic.

(Adapted from My Recipes)

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP sugar
2 TSBP coarse-grained mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Whisk together first 7 ingredients. Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

I love the idea of this dessert for boating – you make the shortcake part in advance (a day or two) and then place them in an airtight container.  Then mix up the strawberries and place them in a plastic container.  Finally whip up some whipping cream and put that in a 3rd plastic container.  Place the strawberries and cream in a cooler and when you’re ready to enjoy dessert, just assemble and enjoy.  It’ll be a nice, cool dessert that doesn’t weigh you down.

This recipe for strawberry shortcake might possibly be THE best one there is! I love strawberry shortcake but find that usually the “shortcake” part is dry and sort of tasteless. You need the strawberry juices to seep into the “cake” to give it any flavor. I typically eat the strawberries and cream and call it a day. BUT – that was before I tried this version! OMG! The shortcake is absolutely divine and when you combine the flavors of the tangy strawberries (with a bit of lemon) and the creamy whipped cream (with a bit of vanilla) – just wow!

smitten kitchen

The best part about this version is that you make the shortcake part in advance (a day or two) and then place them in an airtight container. Then mix up the strawberries and place them in a plastic container. Finally whip up some whipping cream and put that in a 3rd plastic container. Place the strawberries and cream in a cooler and when you’re ready to enjoy dessert, just assemble and enjoy. It’ll be a nice, summery, cool dessert that wont weigh you down.

1 2/3 cups flour
3 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Shortcake assembly
1/2 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream, beaten to soft peaks~ 3-4 minutes (with 2 TBSP powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla added at the end)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, egg yolks, and salt. Pulse to combine.

Add the butter and zest, if using, and pulse until the flour resembles coarse meal. Add 2/3 cup of cream and pulse until the dough comes together.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a mass. Knead a couple times to make it into a mass and then pat it into a rough circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and 3/4 to 1-inch thick.


Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 6 wedges and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. OR— use a cookie cutter to make shapes of your choice (my dough made 7 cookie cutter shapes plus an irregular one leftover – that will be put to good use I assure you!). Chill for 20 minutes (and up to 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the shortcakes very lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with the coarse sugar.

Bake until risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes (mine took 20). Turn the pan around halfway through to ensure even cooking.

If you’re not baking the shortcakes in advance, while the shortcakes are baking, toss the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl. Let stand several minutes (or refrigerate until serving). And whip the cream (about 3-4 minutes) until soft peaks form. Then mix in 1 tsp vanilla and about 2 TBSP powdered sugar (to give it a tad of sweetness).

Spooned into a plastic container and ready to transport:

Split the shortcakes in half horizontally and set the tops aside. Place the bottoms on dessert plates and heap strawberries over them. Spoon whipped cream generously over the strawberries and replace the shortcake tops. Serve immediately with any remaining whipped cream on the side.

*If making a bit in advance, bake the shortcakes then allow them to cool. Place in an airtight container and then serve as directed above when you’re ready! I’m making mine in advance, placing them in a container and then putting the whipped cream and strawberries in 2 other plastic containers to transport. Easy peasy to put the strawberry shortcakes together on the boat!

(Adapted from Inspired Taste)


I like dense, dark, ooey gooey brownies.  The cakey ones are ok too, but I prefer the intense dark chocolate flavor vs milk chocolate and crumbly.  Be warned – these are rich, so cut into 16 smallish squares.

10 TBSP unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP cocoa powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep.

Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).

Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot. Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.

When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using.

Spread evenly in lined pan.

    Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). ***You may need to bake an extra 5-10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies, and use the toothpick test as your guide.
      Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.