Spring is not my favorite season. Everything, yes, everything gets covered in yellow dust. Thunderstorms keep me awake at night. Pharmacists make me feel like a meth-making criminal for requesting extra-large packages of Claritin.
Even the sun is sneaky. Those bright rays trick me into believing I can wear sandals and leave my sweater at home. Wrong. Soggy grass and chilly wind are not friends of bare toes and shoulders.
Thankfully, spring has a bright side. Azaleas wake up from their winter slumber and bloom.
This weekend is the perfect time to take a trip to Callaway Gardens to see hundreds of blooming azaleas. Now through April 29, admission is $25 for adults; $12.50 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for kids 5 and younger. Military (active and retired with valid ID) are admitted for half-price. The Gardens are open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Gardens have several good dining options but I prefer to pack my own picnic.
Picnics are fun, affordable and easy. Just remember, even if it’s warm and dry when you leave home, wear sneakers and take a sweater.
Oh, and don’t forget to pack that Claritin. Azalea season is so short, one ill-timed sneeze could cause you to blink and miss it all.
Here are a couple of my favorite picnic treats.
CORN AND TOMATO SALAD
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
4 cups corn kernels (fresh or canned)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
In a frying pan on medium-high heat, sauté onion in olive oil for about five minutes until soft but not browned. Add corn and stir until tender, about another 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a large bowl and stir in tomatoes, basil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Serve cold.
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package milk chocolate toffee bits
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until well mixed. Gently stir in toffee bits.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.
Source: Land O’Lakes
Check out more recipes on her blog Dawn’s Dish