Picnic For Eight With $80

If you're hosting or attending a Fourth of July party this weekend, then the Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring has some great ideas for you.

Robin Vitetta-Miller is the author of a new book called "Picnics," and with a special entertaining budget of $80, she is creating a July Fourth picnic for eight.

Here is her menu:
Spicy Black Bean Dip
Prosciutto and Gorgonzola on Raisin Bread
Pasta Spirals with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Almond Biscotti and Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut

The following are her recipes:

Prosciutto with Gorgonzola on Raisin Bread
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices raisin bread
12 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup baby spinach leaves

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and Gorgonzola. Mix until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the cheese mixture on half the bread slices and top with prosciutto and baby spinach leaves. Top with the remaining slices of bread.

Packing: Individually wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to pack them into a cold cooler.

Pasta Spirals with Toasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 pound uncooked rotelle or fusilli (or any spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Spread the tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet, cut-side up, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly shriveled.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and oil and toss to coat. Add the roasted tomatoes and basil and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Top with the goat cheese just before serving.
    Packing: Store the pasta in a sealable plastic container in the refrigerator until you're ready to pack it into a cold cooler. Top with the goat cheese just before serving.

    Spicy Black Bean Dip
    Makes 2 cups

    Ingredients:
    2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 minced chipotle chile in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 ripe beefsteak tomato, diced
    1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    Method:

  • In a food processor, combine the beans, sour cream, chipotle chile plus sauce, and cumin. Process until smooth.
  • Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in the tomato, chiles, and cilantro.

    Packing: Store in a sealable plastic container in the refrigerator until you're ready to pack it into a cold cooler.


  • Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut
    Serves 4

    Ingredients:
    2 cups diced fresh mango
    2 cups diced fresh papaya
    2 bananas, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    1/4 cup lightly toasted shredded coconut (see note)

    Method:

  • In a large bowl, combine the mango, papaya, bananas, orange juice, and lime juice.
  • Stir in the coconut just before serving.

    NOTE: Toast the coconut by spreading it out on a baking sheet and baking at 300 degrees F. for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden.

    Packing: Store the salad in a sealable container in the refrigerator until you're ready to pack it into a cold cooler. Add the coconut just before serving.

    Almond Biscotti
    Makes 18 cookies

    Ingredients:
    Cooking spray
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2/3 cup sugar
    1/3 cup slivered almonds
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    2 large egg whites
    1/4 cup whole milk
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon pure almond extract

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, almonds, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with a fork and set aside.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. Whisk in the milk and vanilla and almond extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until a manageable dough forms.
    4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a 10-inch log. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
    5. Cut the loaf crosswise into 18 slices and return them to the baking sheet. Bake for 20 more minutes, turning once, until golden. Cool completely before packing.

  • Packing: Store in resealable plastic bags.