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Jan 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘croque monsieur’

Cheap Date: Picnic Under the Stars

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

In honor of all the incredibly enjoyable weather that’s been happening as of late, this week’s Cheap Date focuses on evicting you and yours from those well-worn spots on the couch and rediscovering nature. It’s time to switch off Netflix, head outside, lay a blanket down, pop a cork and enjoy an evening under the stars.

Starting in a few weeks, the best time and place to do so will be Forest Park after dark during the monthly Star Parties.Beginning April 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., the St. Louis Astronomical Society will set up super telescopes outside of the Forest Park Science Center Planetarium. Grab a spot on the lawn and stick around till 7 p.m., when the party moves inside the Planetarium for a free showing of a Star Trek movie or episode in the Omnimax theater. The stargazing will be held on the first Friday of each month through October, but the indoor showing of Star Trek only runs until May 28, when the Star Trek exhibit ends. The best part: These star-studded events are free.

Your evening picnic menu can be as light and fun or as sumptuous and sensual as you want. Our advice: Aim for someplace in between. Throw in a cheap bottle of wine, and try to avoid foods that can’t be eaten with your hands. So, in the spirit of ditching sweater weather for good (hopefully), here’s our inexpensive and relatively easy-to-prepare suggestions for the perfect picnic that will only set you back about $34.

Croque Monsieur Sandwiches
A decadent ham and cheese snack made famous in Parisian cafes circa 1900

Makes 2 sandwiches

1 French baguette
Dijon mustard
½ lb. deli ham
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided

• Cut the baguette in half lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of mustard on one side of the baguette. Arrange a few slices of ham on the mustard side, then top with 1½ cups of the Gruyère.
• Cover the sandwich with remaining slice and butter the outsides. Starting with the bottom side up, broil for 6 to 7 minutes on a baking sheet. Flip the baguette so it is right side up, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and broil for another 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cut in half.

Herbed Roasted Chicken Drumettes
These finger foods can be enjoyed hot or cold and nicely complement the sandwiches.

1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ to 2 lbs. uncooked chicken drumettes
2 Tbsp. olive oil

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the raw chicken and coat with the herb mixture.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in a casserole or baking dish.
• Bake for approximately 75 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear.

For dessert, consider strawberries dipped in Nutella. Wash everything down with a decent, inexpensive red.

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