Towards the end of our staycation week, my daughter said, “We ate out everyday this week, didn’t we, Mom?” What’s remarkable about her comment is that in reality, we ate out twice…once at a local restaurant that we’d never before tried, and once when we walked to a neighborhood restaurant for a fun lunch. Her comment let me know that I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do…to make our meals feel as special as “dining out”, even though we were dining in!
Over the course of the week, we packed several picnics. The first of which, was held in a tiki hut in the garden of our local children’s museum.
And finally, there was our dinner picnic at the 19th century fireworks celebration. To switch things up a bit, I decided to make some cole slaw and some mini apple pies and just pick up some fried chicken on our way. When the girls learned of my plans, they said, “You can’t take fried chicken on a picnic!” How sad that it’s taken me this long to give them that experience ; )
I also tried making some of our favorite restaurant meals at home.
One evening, we started with an appetizer of tortilla chips and homemade salsa, enjoyed chicken quesadillas and rice, and had strawberry nachos for dessert. The kids ate outside under their little picnic table umbrella, and I acted as their waitress, bringing out each course as they were ready for it. So fun! They would call me ma’am whenever they needed to get my attention ; )
Another evening, we made one of our favorites: The Pioneer Woman’s California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza. I simply served the pizza slices in little red, white and blue cardboard trays that I’d found at Hobby Lobby and you wouldn’t believe the ooh’s and ahh’s I got in response! Proof that anything old can feel new again with a simple change in the presentation! Oh, and by the way, the most fabulous thing about this pizza recipe (besides it’s deliciousness!) is that you can prepare most of it ahead of time! According to the wonderful Pioneer Woman herself, the dough is best if made at least 24 hours in advance, and even better if you let it set for 3 or 4 days!! So whip up the dough and the chicken in advance, and then during your staycation, you can enjoy a restaurant style meal at home, without even getting bogged down with all the preparation! Double yay!
Another of favorite restaurant-style recipes is Panera’s Turkey Bacon Bravo Sandwiches - perfect at home or on a picnic!
But no matter where or what you decide to eat, just have fun with it! Take advantage of your relaxing staycation setting and linger around the dinner table (or the picnic blanket, as the case may be) and enjoy one another’s company and the wonderful conversations that come about.
And for those occasions where you do decide to dine out? Head on over to How Does She? and discover 5 extremely creative ways to keep your kiddos entertained in the restaurant!