Get packing!

Get packing!

Recipes and safety tips for the summer cooler

By Andrea McKinney

When the sun is hot and the water is cold, there is no worse place to be than stuck inside the kitchen all day. So pack up a cooler during the cool morning to enjoy a refreshing lunch in the scorching heat later in the afternoon.

When it comes to cooler safety, it’s better to be safe than sorry to avoid food poisoning. Keep the following tips in mind:

• Use a high-quality cooler with no leaks or cracks.

• Wash and sanitize the cooler before packing.

• Don’t skimp on the ice!

• Keep the lid closed.

• Don’t put warm items inside the cooler.

• Store food in tightly closing containers.

• Pack raw meat (if using) separately.

Sick of eating turkey sandwiches and potato chips? These fun recipes will surely impress your guests.

Instead of packing lunch meat, mix up some homemade egg salad. Short on time? The grocery store sells delicious chicken salads. Swap out the boring white bread for a fun pita, which makes the sandwich easy to hold. And use skewers for fresh fruits and vegetables for easy handling.

Baked Ranch or taco crackers make for a fun change from ordinary snacks, and miniature pie parfaits will be a welcome surprise to everyone aboard.

So get packing!


Egg Salad

This recipe is inspired by an egg salad I ate three times a week as a student at The Ohio State University. As with any salad, tweak to your tastes.


5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

Small handful cherry tomatoes, halved

1/3 cup Miracle Whip

1 teaspoon mustard

Dash garlic powder

Salt and pepper


Place eggs in a covered saucepan, and cover with water. Slowly bring to boil. Boil for one minute. Remove pan from heat. Place eggs in cool running water. When cool enough, peel and dice.

Dice celery, onion and tomatoes. Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

Serve in pita pockets.


Ranch Oyster Crackers

These easy-to-pack crunchy snacks are a nice change from potato chips. Taco seasoning can be used in place of Ranch. (Toss these in a separate dry bag, not the cooler.)


1 10-ounce bag oyster crackers

1 1 ounce packet of dry Ranch dressing and seasoning mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil


Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spread in a single layer on top of a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about five minutes, being careful not to burn.


Summer Fruit Skewers

Nothing is better than fresh fruit in the summer. Buy what looks best at the store and prepare it at home. Sticks allow for easy eating while on the beach or boat.


1 fresh pineapple, cored and cut into chunks

1 quart strawberries

1 pint blueberries

1 pint blackberries

1 package red grapes


Wash and prepare all fruit. Using bamboo skewers, place fruit on stick. Be sure to place blackberries on end of stick, as they are more fragile.

Store in a long, leak-free container.


Mini Banana Cream Pie Parfait

These miniature sweet treats fit perfectly into the cooler, and are just the right size. Pack along a handful of disposable spoons, pass around the jars and dig in! Try chocolate, vanilla or lemon versions, too.

Makes two half-pint desserts.


1 banana, sliced

10-20 miniature vanilla wafers

1 cup Cool Whip

1 small box instant banana pudding mix

2 cups milk


Prepare banana pudding with milk as directed. Set aside until ready.

Using clean half-pint (jelly size) Mason jars, place about 5 miniature cookies in each jar. Top with pudding, bananas, Cool Whip and cookies, being careful not to overfill.

Cover jars with lids and rims.


Andrea is the editor of The Madison Press in London and the food editor of Salt magazine. An OSU graduate, she enjoys piddling in her garden, making way too much food than two people ever need, singing in the car and exploring photography.

Salt Magazine

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