Spending a day on a boat is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend your leisure time, and in the South, you can almost enjoy this activity year-round (maybe you’ll want to bring along some blankets in January?).

But whether or not you own or have access to a boat is irrelevant – enjoy these menus by the pool, beach, lake or on a boat (OR TAILGATING IN SEPTEMBER!).  The food is easily transportable and delicious!

(Love plaid wool blankets to go for a Fall boat ride to see the leaves changing!)

But whether you own a boat or are just wanting to picnic near the water, here are some suggested menus to get your mouth watering!


Cobb Salad Dip with crudites

Marinated Olives
Ciabatta sandwiches (pane cunzatu)
Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting


This dip is out of this world!  I made it the first time for a family get-together, and then I made it the next day, because we loved it so much!

You might want to make a double batch…

1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ounces)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium avocado, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups, cut just before serving)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 slices bacon, well-browned and crumbled
Celery sticks or assorted crackers

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Place the sour cream, blue cheese, lemon juice, salt and Worcestershire in a nonreactive bowl and combine.  Add avocado, scallions, parsley and stir.  Place in a shallow serving dish and top with bacon.  Enjoy!



This recipe comes from the Ritz-Carlton. During a trip to Fort Lauderdale, my best friend and I stopped by the Ritz for a drink with a view. We were served these olives, and they are the BEST!
½ onion
½ tsp garlic
1 T fennel
1 tsp fresh basil
2 anchovies
½ tsp orange peel
1 pinch black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup salad oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 cup very large green or black olives

Puree first 5 ingredients. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Marinade overnight in the refrigerator. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

CIABATTA SANDWICHES (or in Italy “pane cunzatu”)

Ever since returned from a vacation in Italy last summer, these sandwiches are my “GO TO” meal for summer. They’re easy to fix and then transport to wherever your picnic destination is located.

Ciabatta Bread (enough for however many guests you’re serving)
Ripe Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh Basil leaves
Fresh Mozzarella
Olive Oil (Best you can afford)
Salt and Pepper

Split open your ciabatta bread and drizzle each side with olive oil. Add thick slices tomatoes, mozzarella and 1-2 basil leaves on one side. Sprinkle with S & P, and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on tin foil, and wrap each sandwich individually. Place in your picnic basket and you are all set. These will be so good!


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I prepared these bars for my husband’s company’s 10th Year Anniversary Celebration recently.  They were part of a dessert bar I had set up, and these bars were hands down the favorite.  You won’t believe what an impact browning the butter in the frosting has.  Trust me, these will go fast!  But they’re perfect for a picnic/boat lunch, as they are even better when a bit warm!
Banana Bread Bars:
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1-3/4 (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Brown Butter Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk
Heat oven to 375F.  Grease and flour 15×10-inch jelly roll pan.  For the bars, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy.  Blend in bananas and vanilla extract.  Add flour, baking soda, salt, and blend for 1 minute.  Stir in walnuts.

Spread batter evenly into pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, for frosting, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling.  Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting). Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars (the frosting will be easier to spread while the bars are still warm). You seriously won’t believe how good these bars are!


Make a big batch of this punch, and place in a thermos to keep cool. Your guests will love you!

Photo Credit: The Chew

(drink is on the right, above)
    2 ounces coconut rum
    1/2 ounce banana puree
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup pineapple juice
    1 1/2 ounces grenadine syrup

    Combine all ingredients and serve over ice – so good!

    For a large crowd:
    4 cups coconut rum
    1 cup banana puree
    8 cups orange juice
    8 cups pineapple juice
    3 cups grenadine

    MENU #2 


    (courtesy of Michael Symon)


    2 pound Ripe Tomatoes (cored and roughly chopped)
    1/4 cup Slivered Almonds (toasted)
    1 Fresno Chilies (seeded and diced)
    1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more for garnish
    Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
    2 cloves Garlic

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
    Combine ingredients in a blender, process until smooth. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Check seasonings, and chill for 30 minutes. Garnish with more slivered almonds and drizzle with olive oil.  Just before leaving for your picnic, pour the gazpacho into a thermos.  Bring styrofoam cups or bowls for your outing.  You can bring spoons, but in a pinch, you can drink/sip the soup easily.


Doesn’t get much easier than this recipe!  And they pair perfectly with the gazpacho!


1 lb asiago cheese
pine nuts 

Shred 1 pound cold asiago cheese. Place 6 tablespoon-size mounds of cheese about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet. Sprinkle with chopped pine nuts and sage. Bake at 425 until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove each crisp with a spatula and drape around a rolling pin to cool slightly; cool completely on a rack.

Grate the cheese, finely mince the sage, and coarsely chop the pine nuts.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Make little mounds of the cheese on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each mound with a bit of sage and some of the pine nuts.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and lightly browned. Allow the crisps to cool very briefly on the pan and then, working quickly while the crisps are still warm and pliable, remove each with a spatula and drape around a rolling pin to cool slightly. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can also leave the crisps flat if you prefer. You could also substitute another cheese or herb according to your own preferences.



You can do whatever you like with this one. Any deli meats, peppers, olives and cheese assortment will do.  I like to use the following:

marinated artichoke hearts 
sliced dry Italian salami
thinly sliced prosciutto
slices or chunks of provolone
marinated olives
banana peppers
marinated mushrooms
maybe some roasted red pepper (you can buy in a jar) for color

Bring some toothpicks for serving.

(courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)


Just love the salty/sweet thing going on with these cookies!

1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt (optional, see note above)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
Potato chip salt finish
1 tablespoon crushed potato chips
1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and table salt, if using, until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and using the bottom of a drinking glass to slightly flatten the cookies. 

Cookies only need to be an inch apart; they only spread a little. Sprinkle with a few flakes of the potato chip salt, if using. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.



1 1/2 oz. dark rum 
6 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice 
Dash grenadine 
Juice of 1/4 lime 
1 tsp. Simple Syrup 
Orange slices 

In a cocktail shaker over ice, combine rum, orange juice, grenadine, lime juice, and syrup. Shake well, then strain into a tall glass over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.  Easy to enlarge the quantities to fit your crowd.





Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
¾ cups finely chopped celery
¾ cups sweet pickle relish
2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped (optional)
¾ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup mayonnaise
Salt and fresh-ground pepper

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Combine all ingredients except mayonnaise and eggs in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise in increments, until the chicken salad reaches the desired consistency: rich, but not too creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in chopped eggs if desired. Serve with crackers, or on soft rolls or white toast.  Core some tomatoes, and add the chicken salad right before serving.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


1-1/2 lbs cucumber (about 3 medium or preferably 2 English Hothouse), peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 c water
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs minced red onion

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well.  Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated.  Toss the cukes a few times while they drain as well.  While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade below.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes).  If for some reason you boil for too long, just add a little water until you have 1/3 C. Remove reduction from heat and add onion.  Let mixture cool to room temp.

When cucumbers are done resting, pat them dry with a few paper towels and then combine with the vinegar reduction.  This can be served immediately, but for best results refrigerate until well chilled.



12 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired. To take to your picnic, just wrap in tin foil, and they’ll be delicious when your meal is ready to be served!


Easy peasy.  Start with cheese. You can use cheddar, parmesan, monterey jack, whatever you’d like.
Otherwise, if you’re doing just plain cheese, you just need to slice it.

If you’re planning on mixing in seasonings or, grate your cheese. Or get pre-shredded cheese. Either is fine. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
It must be parchment. Foil won’t work (trust me, I’ve tried), nor will “cooking spray” or any other method – parchment only. 
Now, if you’re using shredded cheese + seasonings, toss it all together in a bowl. Cheddar/Jack and Ranch dressing mix is amazing. “Mexican blend” is great with some chili powder and garlic. Parmesan and basil is always nice. Just don’t add salt. Cheese is already salty on its own. 
For shredded cheese, put little lumps of it all over the parchment-lined cookie sheet, spaced out because they WILL “grow” and spread more than you think they will. And when I say “little” lumps, I mean little… about a teaspoon of cheese each.

If you’re using plain cheese, slice it thinly (not paper-thin, but like “sandwich slices” thin) and break or cut it into little squares. About an inch square is good. Again, they will spread out, so place these on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, spaced out like cookies.

Now put it on a rack centered in the middle of your oven, and bake for 5-7 minutes. Then peek. If the edges are starting to brown, you could try taking it out. If you’re not sure, leave it in for another minute or two.

I’ve accidentally forgotten about these in the oven before, and the whole thing turned brown and it was STILL tasty… but if you don’t let it bake enough, it’ll just be stretchy melted cheese, not “crisps.”

When you remove them from the oven, you’ll need to let them cool. If you have the sort of countertop that feels cold, you can just lift the whole piece of parchment off the cookie sheet, and set it on your counter for a few minutes. Or if you don’t, you can use a pancake-flipper thing (what are they really called? not spatulas; those are different) to pick them up and put them on a cool plate.

After a few minutes, they’ll be crisp! And you have a great snack. 


1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar, dark or light
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate or white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 8×8 baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together butter and brown sugar. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. To brown sugar mixture, whisk in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and stir until completely combined. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 20 or more minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 6, 9 or 16 pieces.
(courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow)

2 very ripe peaches, peeled, cut into 1/2″ wedges
6 TBSP peach liqueur
2 TSBP fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup vodka
1 English hothouse cucumber
2 cups chilled Prosecco
1 1/2 cups chilled soda water
12 fresh mint leaves

Using a muddler or wooden spoon, mash peaches with liqueur and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Stir in vodka. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill)
Cut 1/3 of cucumber lengthwise into 4 spears for garnish.  Thinly slice remaining cucumber.  Stir Prosecco, soda water, mint and sliced cucumber into pitcher.  Fill glasses with ice.  Pour cooler into glasses; garnish with cucumber spear.