Crispy coated legs, pre-cut veggies will do the trick



Cornmeal-crusted chicken legs are an easy choice to pack for a Father’s Day picnic this weekend.


Picnics are a family tradition for Eric Akis, his wife Cheryl Warwick and their 17-year-old son Tyler. In fact, any excuse is a splendid reason for this trio to pack up a cooler and head to the beach — any time of the year.


For Father’s Day, they plan the traditional outing, but this time Tyler and his mom, a pastry chef, will be preparing the feast so that Akis, a chef and writer in Victoria, B.C., can just relax.

Here are several of Tyler’s suggestions:

  • Crispy coated chicken legs: The picnic-friendly food can be “baked a day before and chilled well,” Akis says.

  • Mediterranean-style sandwiches: “... the meat is cured, the cheese is aged and it could be spread with a basil pesto and served in a pita bread, on multi-grain artisanal bread or into wraps.”

  • An Asian noodle salad will match the chicken, and for drinks, homemade iced tea and lemonade.

  • For dessert, check out the date squares recipe below.

When it comes to packing the picnic, “give the kids the responsibility, especially on Father’s Day” — mom can supervise.

Also, “it’s homegrown fresh strawberry season, so pack some with fruit yogurt for dipping,” he says, “or pack pre-cut veggies like broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots and some ranch dressing as a dip.” Just pack them in plastic containers and keep them cool.

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Legs


  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) cornmeal

  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) breadcrumbs

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 4 large chicken legs, cut into leg and thigh pieces

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) Dijon mustard

  • 30 to 45 ml (2 to 3 tbsp) liquid honey, warmed slightly


  1. Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F).

  2. In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, breadcrumbs, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Brush chicken all over with mustard. Place chicken in crust mixture and pat mixture onto chicken to coat it on all sides. Set on a baking sheet, skin side down, and bake for 20 minutes.

    Turn pieces over; bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle top of chicken with honey and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until cooked through.

  4. For more crunch, replace breadcrumbs with finely crushed cornflakes. For fewer calories, remove skin from chicken before coating. Serves 4.

Best-Ever Date Squares


  • 500 ml (2 cups) packed chopped pitted dates

  • 250 ml (1 cup) cold coffee

  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) packed brown sugar

  • Grated rind and juice of half an orange

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice


  • 300 ml (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder

  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda

  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) butter

  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) rolled oats

  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) lightly packed brown sugar


  1. In a small saucepan, combine dates, coffee, brown sugar and orange rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until soft enough to mash and consistency of jam (runny, but easy to spread), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in orange and lemon juices. Let cool.

  2. Crumb Mixture: In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until size of small peas. Stir in rolled oats and sugar.

  3. Press half of crumb mixture firmly into lightly greased 2.5-l (9-in.) square cake pan. Spread date mixture evenly over crumb mixture. Top with remaining crumbs, pressing lightly. Bake in 160 C (325 F) oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in pan. Cut into squares. Makes 25 squares.Source: Smart Cooking: