The Kindergarten Cookbook: Our Picnic-Ready Recipes

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

What’s a picnic without food? For issue 18, Kindergarten contributors share their potluck approved recipes. After this, you’ll never volunteer to bring utensils ever again.

Kleigh Balugo

Garlic Tortellini

I really don’t know how to cook at all but after eating at a very expensive Italian restaurant, I became obsessed with pasta. Thankfully, there are real shortcuts when it comes to making pasta. I formulated this recipe by watching a few TikToks and messing around with the ingredients I have on hand, so there are no exact measurements. You can always taste test as you go and adjust based on your personal taste. If I can make it. You can. I believe in you!


  • Pre-made tortellini
  • Butter
  • Two chopped cloves of garlic
  • Chopped onion (amount based on your preference)
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Seasonings of choice, I used garlic powder and cayenne 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Greens to garnish with
  1. Prep the garlic and onions by chopping them up. I like a lot of garlic so I chop up two cloves of garlic and a tiny bit of onions.
  2. Make the tortellini based on the package instructions. Don’t forget to salt the water!
  3. Drain the pasta and save some of the pasta water to be used later on.
  4. In a pot or saucer on medium heat, add a little bit of butter, the garlic, and onions. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
  5. Add cream to the pot, I eyeball this based on how many servings of tortellini I’m making and how saucy I want it to be. I like a lot of sauce.
  6. Add in your seasonings of choice, salt and pepper, and grated parmesan. Mix until combined.
  7. Once combined, add a bit of the pasta water to thicken the sauce.
  8. Keep mixing until the sauce becomes thick enough.
  9. Pour sauce onto tortellini and garnish with more parmesan and greens.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Aian Tabor

Spiced Rice

I’m a big fan of eating whatever I want, no matter the occasion! Now, having grown up in an Asian household, picnics for us weren’t exactly sandwiches, pudding and dipping foods. There would always be rice, some form of spice and a stew of some sort. It’s quite amusing to think how we would just be having our ordinary meals, but outside….

Now, this meal is a combination of different flavors, techniques, ingredients etc. that could be eaten separately, enjoyed with even typical picnic items and so on and so forth! I’m fairly fond of having versatility in my meals on a regular basis, so even though this wouldn’t necessarily fall under typical picnic items, who’s to say you couldn’t enjoy a zingy, spicy umami bomb with your sandwich?  

This recipe can work with most types of rice, I chose long grain rice this time as it was easily available for me!


  • 30g of large diced Italian Salami (optional but the flavor of cured meat really adds to it!)
  • Half a white onion 
  • Two cloves of Garlic
  • One teaspoon of Thyme
  • One teaspoon of Oregano 
  • One heaped teaspoon of Turmeric 
  • One heaped teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of Cumin
  • One teaspoon of dried chili powder
  • One teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 Cups of rice (include your usual measurements and technique for rice to water ratios)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of MSG (trust me)
  • One tablespoon of Oil
  • One veg stock cube 
  1. Sweat off onions in a medium sized pot with a tablespoon of oil (I used olive oil), then once onions are translucent add in the garlic 
  2. Let onions and garlic cook down until soft and begin to add herbs and spices.
  3. Be extra careful to keep an eye out on your spices, they can burn easily so if it’s easier, turn the heat down to the lowest setting as you begin to cook off your spices! The residual heat of the pan will continue to cook the spices but make sure they’re getting cooked off and you get the aromas! 
  4. Let spices and onions cook together on a low heat for upwards of a minute, again keeping a close eye on your pan! 
  5. Add in washed rice and let it mix in with the spices and veg for roughly 3 minutes. 
  6. This is an extra tip, and also a hard one to write down as I measure the ratio for water to rice by eyes and using my hand, rather than cups. After washing your rice, you can soak it for a minimum of 30 minutes to get an extra fluffy texture! 
  7. Add your veg stock to the amount of water you’d normally add in for the rice, it brings in additional flavor and color, then add into the pot and making sure to stir thoroughly so there aren’t any burnt bits at the bottom
  8. Bring to a boil, turn it down and then let it simmer. Keep a close eye but it should be finished after 25 minutes! 

My favorite condiment

I’m unsure what to call it exactly, but this goes well with SO many food items and especially in a picnic setting, it pairs with salad, proteins, sandwiches and so on!

Mix together:

  • 2 Spring onions (or one large one)
  • 1 Whole tomato, core removed 
  • 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon brown sugar (honey also works very well)
  • 1 Teaspoon chili flakes, (it’d be great if you could add variety with different kinds of dried chili!)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Datu Puti sukang ma asim vinegar (this is the key flavor here but it can be easily replicated!
  • 1 Thai chili sliced
  • Squeeze of lemon and lime 
  • 1 Teaspoon MSG 
  • ¼ cup of diced piquillo peppers 

On a side note, adding some form of dried mushroom powder works fantastically with this too, although it’ll change what you can eat this with!

Jazz Marie Kaur

Black Bean Salmon Avocado Tacos 

There’s something absolutely refreshing and magical about summertime fish tacos. 

After I eat a taco I always feel super energized. I grew up eating a lot of fish in Minnesota and when I visited family in Malaysia. I love eating food truck tacos, but there’s a great feeling overall with homemade tacos. What’s great about tacos is that you can easily tweak, add or remove to build it the way you want. There’s endless options and so much customization can be done, so here’s one of my faves:


  • 1 cup black beans (serves about 3-4)
  • Any brand of tortillas packed 
  • An onion diced or sliced in strips 
  • Wild sockeye salmon 
  • Cilantro 
  • 2 Lime wedges
  • 1 Cucumber
  • Sour cream 
  • 1 Sliced avocado
  • Dashes of salt and white pepper 
  • Salsa jar
  1. Flake the salmon with a fork in a bowl (Note: You can also leverage grilled wild caught salmon too instead of a packaged sockeye brand too)
  2. Set it aside and dice an onion 
  3. Cut a lime in half
  4. Cook the black beans for 45 minutes in an instant pot (add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 2 cups water to one cup water
  5. Take a ½ cup of plain yogurt or sour cream 
  6. Combine the sour cream in a bowl with a few spoon scoops of  salsa then stir it in a bowl until mixed smoothly Note. You could totally blend cucumber and Greek yogurt too if you don’t like salsa
  7. Pluck and rinse cilantro leaves 
  8. Dice the avocado into mini wedges 
  9. Heat up the tortillas for a few minutes in an oven pan 
  10. Grab the tortillas once heated and place the salmon flaked and black beans inside (quantity depends upon how many you’re serving) use your judgment to evenly distribute with a spoon 
  11. Assemble it with onions, avocado and drizzle the salsa cream over the top 
  12. Place the sprinkles of cilantro over the top 
  13. Enjoy! Sprinkle a tad more salt or white pepper and squeeze lime if needed.

Lianelys Cabrera


A picnic is not a real picnic without sweet treats! A flan is perfect to share with many friends, and you can always add fruits or pastries to decorate it. The women in my family are experts in the art of making flans, and kindly have shared some tips with me that I’ll now share with you (but I won’t be giving away the secret ingredient ;)). I hope y’all enjoy this delicious dessert. 


  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (380 g)
  • 1 can of evaporated milk (360 g) 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 spoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Pinch of salt 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Add ½ cup of sugar to a nonstick saucepan, then add a small amount of water, just enough to cover the sugar. 
  3. Heat the mixture over low heat. Mix and swirl until it turns into a caramel-like color.
  4. Lift the saucepan away from the heat and keep browning until golden brown.  
  5. Pour the caramelized sugar into a casserole dish or pan (any oven-safe dish) 
  6. Cover the whole pan with the caramelized sugar and let it chill while you prepare the mix.
  7. Pour the condensed milk and evaporated milk into a blender and mix well.
  8. Add the spoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. 
  9. Add the four eggs and mix everything again.
  10. Make sure you taste it and add more vanilla if needed. 
  11. Pour this mix into the caramelized sugar-covered pan.
  12. Place this pan into a larger pan and add some hot water (fill about 1-2 inches)
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes (350 F)
  14. Note: The baking time might vary depending on the oven, but you can check if it’s completely cooked by sticking a small wooden toothpick into the mix. If it comes out clean, then it’s ready.
  15. Add some fruit or any decorations that you’d like.
  16. Share with friends!  

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