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Love the idea of a quaint picnic in the shade on a breezy summer day, but not sure how to make that dream a reality? Here’s a handy how-to guide to give you great ideas and help you navigate the do’s and don’ts of your perfect summer picnic!
For us, picnics come with the mental picture of a slow, warm summer day full of happy moments with loved ones spent on a red and white checkered blanket eating a delicious four course meal. What you don’t see are all the thoughtful preparations it took to get to that mental image, let alone a how-to guide for achieving it. So how do you keep your picnic from devolving into a puddle of unmet expectations? Let us help! While reality might never live up to the idealistic version in your head, picnics can be a blast! All it takes is little planning. We at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce have compiled a simple list of tips and tricks to help make your summer picnic absolutely perfect. Or at least not a total disaster.
How to Make Your Summer Picnic (Almost) Perfect
1. Lower Your Expectations
This is the easiest and probably the most important step! Sometimes we miss the best moments in life because we’re too busy looking for “perfect.” Our suggestion? Let it go, and have some fun. Keeping your expectations loose and low will guarantee you have a great time, even if your blanket isn’t checkered (or is actually two towels you had in the car because you forgot the blanket), the ants move in, or the weather is terrible. If the point of the picnic is quality time and making memories with the people you love, a little rain won’t hurt (it could actually help!)
2. Keep It Simple
Speaking of reasonable expectations, it’s good to keep in mind there can be some complications when it comes to eating outdoors. Especially when you have to carry the meal TO the outdoors. Because of this, a picnic is not the time to overreach with your choice of fare. Your best bet is to keep it simple with the classics. At a loss? We have some ideas you can try:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
When was the last time you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? No time like the present to give that blast from the past a try! But classic doesn’t mean boring. Quality ingredients will take your meal from thrown-together to alfresco gourmet. Consider checking out Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce’s vast array of local jellies and natural peanut butters for ideas. We recommend Maury Island Farms Red Raspberry Jam and Wild Friend’s Classic Creamy Peanut Butter (or Sunflower Butter if you’re working around a peanut allergy). Bonus: Wild Friend’s is female founded and based in the PNW! You’ll love biting into this childhood favorite with grown-up ingredients.
When packing a picnic, it’s probably best to leave behind the actual board, but the idea is the same. Meat and cheese and crackers in any combination are perfect for picnics! Just slice, cube, and cut everything into bite sized pieces back at the house to save you from the struggle once it’s chow time. Then, toss everything in a reusable container and you’re on your way! Feel free to check out our cheese selection for new favorites, but you can’t go wrong with Beecher’s Flagship Cheese. And have you tried Hellenic Farms’ Fig Salami? Completely vegan, their Pistachio Pepper flavor is a must have for your perfect summer picnic. Additionally, Delreal Organic Medjool Dates from our produce are a great no-mess option for your picnic charcuterie. Pack some toothpicks and let everyone make their own mini kebabs!
3. Make sure it travels well.
There’s nothing quite so disappointing as opening your picnic basket to discover a mashed and mangled mess. To avoid this, be sure to include foods that can be packed easily into locking containers or that won’t be ruined if they get a little jostled. We recommend this recipe for Chicken Pesto Pasta by Damn Delicious. Just be sure to secure the tupperware lid! Or, make a dish sturdy enough to handle the ride in a Ziploc bag. For example, these Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with a gourmet twist from Delish. Again, quality ingredients are everything. For this recipe, in lieu of making your own honey mustard, try AJ’s All Natural Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard from our condiment section! AJ’s is local, and they source the majority of their ingredients right here in Washington state. And add Tacoma Boy’s Sweet Pickle Chips rather than plain old dill pickle slices. You can’t go wrong with either the Chicken Pesto Pasta or the Ham and Cheese Sandwiches. Both will look as great coming out of the basket as they did going in!
4. Have a little something on the side.
Now that you’ve figured out the main fare, it’s time to pack the bonuses! This is like stockings after the big presents are unwrapped. So, make it good! The easiest choice is fresh fruit. Peruse our produce aisle for the freshest fruit in the PNW. Look for great deals on local Rainier Cherries (Can you think of a more quintessential picnic food?) or our sweet and juicy plums (in season right now, and so delicious). For another great healthy side option, try this recipe for Avocado Tomato Salad. Tacoma Boy’s Corn Relish would go great in this scrumptious side dish! Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just make it something you’ll be excited to pull out of your basket.
5. Don’t forget dessert!
Nothing will make your perfect summer picnic complete like topping it off with a little something sweet! For a less messy take on strawberry shortcake, grab a Strawberry Log from Magic Flavors (a small business in Kent, Wa) from our refrigerated section. Enjoy as is, or top with additional strawberries and/or whipped cream. For a gluten-free homemade option, try Bob’s Red Mill Brownie Mix in our GF section. Or simply grab a package of Olivia Superfree Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes–also gluten free, and vegan! As you’re savoring the last morsels of your dessert, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a moment that feels as good as you imagined it would.
All In One Basket at Tacoma Boys
We’re confident your perfect (ish) summer picnic is just around the corner, and we would love to be part of it! You’ll find everything you know you need (and probably a few pleasant surprises) at your local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce. From the basics to those specialty items that will keep your picnic fresh and unique, we’ve got you covered. Stop by today and fill your basket with high quality local products to make your summer picnic absolutely almost perfect!
Independence Day is upon us! If you’re looking for appetizers to wow a crowd, desserts to celebrate summer, and drinks to keep the whole crew cool, look no further. Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce have everything you need to make this a fantastic 4th of July!
The weather has warmed up, Washington is in full bloom, and our favorite summer holiday is on the way! Maybe you’ll be barbecuing in your backyard with your closest friends and family. Or perhaps you’ll spend the day out on the water with a drink in your hand and the sun on your skin. And you’ll likely end the day snuggled up somewhere under a night sky full of fireworks. However you choose to celebrate the birth of our nation, we’re willing to bet food will be a big part of it! So, whether you want to get your party started with red, white, and blue shish kebabs or end your evening with a slice of coconut cream pie, Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce have just the thing.
Tacoma Boys Guide to a Fantastic 4th of July
Struggling for ideas on what to bring? No worries! We’ve come up with a list of perfect Independence Day appetizers, drinks and desserts to make your 4th fantastic.
Having a light snack on hand between the moment guests arrive and when the main course is ready is a great way to help them feel at ease and give them something to do with their hands. And appetizers don’t have to be elaborate to be fun and impressive! These simple, easy to prepare appetizers will be sure to set a patriotic tone for your 4th of July celebration.
Patriotic Chips and Dip
While it’s not exactly brimming with originality, all this tried and true classic needs is a slight twist to make it delightfully fresh. For a patriotic vibe, start with Tacoma Boys Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. Then, add one ramekin of cream cheese and another of Tacoma Boys Salsa. Viola! You have a red, white, and blue appetizer that’ll keep your guests coming back for more. If salsa isn’t really your thing, you’ve got to try Tacoma Boys Corn Relish! Delicious on our blue corn chips, our regular tortilla chips, or all by itself, our corn relish is bursting with summer flavors perfect for kicking off your backyard barbecue.
Red, White and Blue Skewers
The concept is simple. It’s just raspberries, blueberries, and cheese on a stick. But you’ll be shocked at how perfectly the flavors complement one another, and your guests will love the colorful nod to the holiday! The key to this fun appetizer is quality ingredients. So, swing by our produce department to find the freshest blueberries and raspberries in town. Then, head over to our cheese section for some Tillamook White Cheddar Cheese. When adding your ingredients to the skewers, be sure to alternate your raspberries, chunks of white cheese, and blueberries for a patriotic vibe. For some variety, substitute squares of watermelon for raspberries or a milder cheese like Red Apple CheeseⓇ Apple Smoked Gouda in lieu of cheddar. Sure to please adults and children alike, these red, white, and blue appetizers will be a great addition to your fantastic 4th of July!
Are your 4th of July memories full of melting popsicles and cannonballs into the pool to keep cool? Ours too! Because, what’s Independence Day without the sweltering heat of a hot July sun? With any luck, the weather will be fine, and you’ll have a chance to serve some of these cool and refreshing drinks!
Summer Berry Sangria
There’s something about a white sangria that just screams “summer celebration.” Even better, this recipe for Mixed Berry Sangria from Taste of Home is–you guessed it–red, white and blue! It calls for a white sparkling wine, so check out our extensive wine selection and take your pick. We recommend 14 Hands “Brut” Sparkling Wine (made right here in Washington State). Be sure to serve this light, bubbly sangria with a spoon, so your guests can enjoy the yummy berries when the drink is gone!
Washington Hard Apple Cider
Hard apple cider is great for barbecues, boats, and backyards. And nobody does it quite like Washington! At Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, you’ll find an incredible variety of ciders to suit your taste. We recommend One Tree Cider’s “Staycation.” Bursting with mango and pineapple, it’s a vacation in a can! Or, try Whitewood Cider Co.’s Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub Cider Cooler. Made with Washington apples, this cider is an ideal balance of sweet and sour. Both One Tree and Whitewood are here in Washington, so you’ll be supporting local businesses while enjoying some of the best ciders in the PNW.
Sweeten the Deal!
Hopefully by now, you and your friends will be stuffed to the brim with sliders, brats, melons, and potato salad. But if there’s one thing childhood taught us, it’s that there’s always room for dessert! And there’s no better way to end a fantastic 4th of July than with something sweet.
Independence Day Ice Cream
It wouldn’t be a proper 4th of July without ice cream! Give your sundaes a holiday twist by keeping your toppings on theme. Start with vanilla ice cream (we recommend Umpqua, a local favorite). Add FavoritⓇ Sour Cherry Preserves Red Cherries from our jam section. Then, top with blueberries and whipped cream! For additional toppings, consider white chocolate chips, blackberries, or strawberries. Nothing goes better with a firework show than a good old fashioned ice cream sundae!
Coconut Cream Pie
Do you love the idea of pie on the 4th of July, but aren’t in the mood to bake over a hot oven for hours? Have no fear, we have you covered. Simply swing by our freezer section and grab a Cyrus O’Leary’s Coconut Cream Pie. Tired of red, white, and blue? Neither are we! So, serve with Tacoma Boys Blueberry Preserves and drizzle with strawberry sauce for the perfect Independence Day dessert.
Have a Fantastic Fourth of July with Tacoma Boys!
Whether you’re hosting a celebration and need a little support, or you’re looking for a quick something to bring to the party, Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce are your one-stop shop for all your Independance Day needs. Swing by one of our locations today for the quality ingredients you need to make this 4th of July truly fantastic!
One of the best things about living here in the Pacific Northwest in the summer is the abundance of perfectly ripened, Washington grown berries. Over 30 varieties of edible berries are native to our state! This extensive list includes national favorites like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. And then there are berries Washington grows best and has become somewhat known for, like cherries (ok, technically not a berry, but still delicious!) and marionberries. With all these berries flourishing right here in our own backyard, it’s no surprise many jam and jelly makers call our state home. And of course, the best place to find locally grown and jarred jelly spreads, preserves, and jams is your own neighborhood Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce.
What’s the Difference?
The sheer number of options for a jelly connoisseur can be overwhelming, so we’ve curated a few of our favorites right here. But first, you might be asking, what’s the difference between jam, jelly, and preserves? Well, it’s relatively simple. It’s mostly about consistency. Jelly is your smoothest option, and it’s often clear or at least somewhat translucent. Jam usually consists of crushed or muddled fruit, so it’s a little stiffer–still spreadable, but holds its own shape better than jelly. Finally, preserves are usually fruit chunks in gelatin or syrup. There, now you’ll know just what you’re looking at when you peruse our wide range of jellies, jams, and preserves. Without further ado, we give you our favorites!
The Best Jelly Spreads, Jams, and Preserves in the Pacific Northwest
Artie’s Harvest Small Batch Blackberry Jam
Artie’s Harvest is a locally owned and operated small business. They specialize in honey, but lucky for us–and you–they also produce an occasional small batch of delicious, locally grown jam. They battle the blackberry bushes, so you don’t have to (if you’ve ever encountered a Washington blackberry bush, you know what I mean–ouch!), and the result is blackberry jam that’s to die for. Try it on a classic peanut butter and jelly to take your childhood favorite to the next level!
Jammy Yummy Carrot Jam
Yes, you read that right. Carrot Jam. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Based in Florida, Jammy Yummy creates six different vegetable spreads, including tomato, red pepper, and even a caramelized onion jam! Try their carrot jam on a bagel with cream cheese for a breakfast that tastes just like carrot cake. Almost.
Stonewall Kitchen’s New England Raspberry Relish
Stonewall Kitchen’s specialty foods have been gracing and improving gift baskets for years, and with great reason! They produce baking mixes, sauces, condiments and more, but it all started with their jams and jellies. As a result, you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors of Stonewall Kitchen jams and jellies we carry! But let us suggest their New England Raspberry relish. It’s great on turkey, deli style turkey sandwiches, and chicken. While you’re at it, try their Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Jam, or keep it simple with Concord Grape Jelly.
Dickenson’s Lemon Curd
Dickenson’s–now one of America’s premiere makers of gourmet jams–started in the 1800’s right here in the Pacific Northwest! What started in a garden and pantry of a homestead in Willamette Valley has become a national gourmet brand. No time to make lemon curd at home? No problem! Grab a jar of Dickenson’s Lemon Curd made by the experts. Try it on pancakes or ginger cookies or cheesecake, or in between cake layers as a mouthwatering filling.
Maury Island Farms Marionberry Jam
Located right here in Tukwila, WA, Maury Island farms creates all natural local jams and jellies. And their marionberry jam perfectly compliments fresh baked scones or is great all by itself on a slice of toast. In addition to marionberry jam, try their Tart Cherry Preserves or Boysenberry Jelly Spread. You’ll be glad you did!
Elki Scandinavian Delights Lingonberry Jam
With recipes and product lines straight from Denmark, Elki’s Scandanavian Delights taste every bit like the real deal they are. A family-owned company, Elki’s has been creating high quality Scandanavian preserves since 1984. Even the lingonberries are harvested in Denmark, with just the right balance of sweet and sour. To get the full experience, try this recipe for Swedish Pancakes. Top them with powdered sugar, a dollop of butter and a spoonful of lingonberry jam. Enjoy the taste of Denmark from the comfort of your own kitchen!
Tacoma Boys Ancho Chile Pepper Jelly Spread
If you haven’t tried chile pepper spread, now’s the time! Our own take on pepper jam is flavorful and sweet with just the right amount of kick. Start with a mild water cracker or rice cracker (Milton’s Gluten Free Original Rice Crackers from our gluten free section are great for this), add a high quality white cheddar cheese from our cheese section (we like Coastal or Aussie White Gold), and top with Tacoma Boys Ancho Chile Pepper Spread. This jelly spread is also great with a crusty baguette and brie. So don’t be surprised if this becomes your new go-to appetizer when you’re entertaining a crowd!
In a Jam? We’ve Got You Covered
Whether you’re looking for fig butter for your charcuterie board, cranberry preserves to garnish your pork chops, or good old fashioned grape jelly for your peanut butter and jelly, you’ll find it at your local Tacoma Boy’s and H&L Produce. We care deeply about our local farmers and value their commitment to harvesting the best local berries in sustainable ways. And, with countless unique flavors and high quality ingredients, we’re sure you’ll be satisfied with a jar chosen from one of our locations. So stop by today for the best quality jams, jelly spreads , and preserves in the Pacific Northwest!
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One Pan Chicken
For some recipes, the cleanup can be worse than the cooking itself. Watching those dishes pile up is no fun! Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about a huge cooking mess when it comes to this simple, one pan, chicken recipe.
At your local Tacoma Boys and H & L Produce we have all the fixings for this meal. From our year round supply of fresh vegetables, to our well sourced fresh and frozen chicken.
Just place your Tacoma Boys vegetables of choice on one side of the pan, thickly diced chicken breast in the middle, and diced potatoes on the other side. Then, bake at 425 for 45 minutes.
You can have fun with a one pan chicken recipe by switching up your veggies and seasonings. Here are some of our favorite ways to add a little flavor:
- Use Italian dressing on the chicken
- Season veggies with some garlic powder and olive oil
- Add some olive oil and pepper on your potatoes.
Gluten Free – Butter Chicken With Cauliflower Rice
A tasty crowd-pleaser. This gluten free Chicken Recipe is even dairy-free. Try this tasty recipe tonight! (more…)
SHEET PANNED ITALIAN CHICKEN
In a sealable plastic bag add 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Then add some salt, olive oil and a quick pour of balsamic vinegar (⅓ cup). Add some Italian seasoning, pepper and garlic powder to your preference. (Some folks cheat and use a bottle of Italian dressing, but we think this version is much fresher). If you can refrigerate for 1 hour, that is ideal, but not necessary. (more…)
BRUSCHETTA-TOPPED CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI
Have a craving for Italian food? Going out to eat at a restaurant is nice for a special occasion. But, with help from Tacoma Boys, you can make a quality Italian meal right at home! From artisan pastas and cheeses to the best quality meat, we have everything you need to turn your favorite Italian dishes into easy weeknight dinners. And, this delicious recipe is ready within 30 minutes!