Kitchen Helpline

Marcella Valladolid explains how to best pack your picnic, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen.

Marcella Valladolid explains how to best pack your picnic, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen.

Photo by: David Katz

David Katz

Episode: Summer Sides

Question 1: Do you have any packing tips for keeping my food cold at the beach this summer?

Answer: Try using 2 separate coolers: 1 large hard-shell cooler for your food and 1 ziptop cooler for your drinks. Use ice packs to keep the food cold and pack your perishables on the bottom so they stay colder longer. Trying chilling your cooler first with ziptop bags of ice before adding your food to give it an extra "chill." Refrain from constantly opening your cooler; the more you open it, the more cold air you let out. We recommend using crushed ice to keep your drinks cold so the ice spreads out between the bottles and cans more evenly.

Question 2: How can I prepare a tossed salad before a party without the lettuce getting soggy?

Answer: It's all about how you layer. In a large bowl, put your firm vegetables on the bottom (carrots, peppers, etc.), then add your meat. Next, add your dressing--but don't toss! Then layer your greens and put your fragile veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) on top last. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for up to a day before your party. When you're ready to serve, all you have to do is toss!

Question 3: Do you have ideas on how to keep my side salads cold when it's hot outside?

Answer: Try using the roasting pan that you normally save for Thanksgiving! Remove the grate and fill with crushed ice. It should hold up to 3 large bowls for your side salads. All you have to do is replenish the ice as it melts. On average, mayo-based side dishes last up to 1 hour in direct, extreme heat. Keep out of direct sunlight if you can.

Question 4: Any ideas on how to jazz up my standard bean salad?

Answer: For something new, try upgrading the "Three T's"--Texture, Taste and Topping. For a new texture, try using lima beans or edamame. Lima beans are available in fresh, dried or canned forms. They are sometimes called butter beans because of their starchy, buttery texture. Edamame are most commonly found frozen in grocery stores. They have a firm texture and snap, but become silky and creamy once you bite into them. For a new taste, try using black-eyed peas. They are typically found in a bag at the grocery store (but canned also works in a bean salad recipe). They have an earthy aroma and taste, and pair well with the other ingredients of a traditional bean salad. For a (trendy) new topping, try baked chickpeas. This new snack can be found in most grocery stores. It's a versatile ingredient that can add a much-needed crunch to your bean salad. But it doesn't have to end there. You can even add baked chickpeas to trail mix, stir into pasta, crush them and use as breading for chicken or add them to stuffing!

Next Up

Kitchen Helpline

Diner food is the food we love! It's hot, fast and delicious. But, how do they get it so good, and, even better, how can you replicate that magic at home? The Kitchen is unraveling the mystery with another Kitchen Helpline--Diner Edition!

Kitchen Helpline -- Shopping

Once again, we've opened our Kitchen Helpline, and this time we've got the answers to your pressing questions about buying chicken. Here's what you want to know!

Kitchen Helpline -- Secrets

Chicken, chicken, and more CHICKEN! We haven't flown the coop. The Kitchen Helpline is open and we're answering the chicken questions you've been clucking about.

Kitchen Helpline: Chicken

We'll help you solve some of your most pressing poultry problems.

Kitchen Helpline: Summer Cookout

Is the stress of outdoor entertaining getting you all fired up? Worry no more because The Kitchen Helpline is officially open, and we're ready to answer your cookout conundrums.

Kitchen Helpline: Grilling Fish

Banish your fear of fish sticking to the grill with this one easy trick.

Kitchen Helpline: Restaurant Secrets

We know you love to eat out just as much as you love to cook at home, so we want to help you recreate your favorite restaurant dishes. Here's how to master your most-requested restaurant items at home.

Kitchen Helpline: Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is the time of year that gets many people into the kitchen. As they plan their turkey day meals, viewers have reached out to us with the turkey day questions weighing on their minds. Here are some commonly asked questions as answered by The Kitchen!

Wrap it Up! Kitchen Helpline

Sometimes the only thing better than delicious food is delicious food wrapped in more deliciousness! Our Kitchen Helpline has tips and tricks to help you perfect your favorite wrapped and rolled foods!

Kitchen Helpline: Your Cheesiest Questions

Here at The Kitchen, we're not above being a little cheesy. We put out the call and you came back to us with some really cheesy questions. Here are a few of the most popular ones from The Kitchen Helpline.

What's New

Latest Stories