| Recipes |

Picnic at Miller Outdoor Theater

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Two weekends ago I made the trek up the big hill at Miller Outdoor Theater to see Houston Ballet's performance of The Core, Tu Tu and Hush. The weather was perfect and all three ballets were impressive, but as I looked around at my fellow picnickers on the hill with their various fried things from the concession stand and even my own Brown Bag sandwich, I thought, we can do better than this. So if you're planning on seeing one of the upcoming performances at Miller Outdoor Theater (and you should be) here are some more festive options to bring to your picnic on the hill.

1. Madame Butterfly (8 p.m. Friday, May 20 and Sunday, May 22) While this opera takes a tragic turn, the snacks you enjoy don't have to fit the melancholy theme. As the story takes place in Japan, make these simple spicy Asian lettuce wraps for a healthy snack that's easily edible without silverware or even a plate. Take it a step further if you're feeling up to the challenge and try your hand at homemade sushi. If Asian cooking is not your forte, pick up some sake (in a plastic container, of course) or Japanese beer and head to the conveniently located Nippon for takeout authentic Japanese dishes.

2. Movies at Miller: The Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera (8 p.m. Saturday, May 21) A Night at the Opera first premiered in 1935, during the Depression. People of this era had to cut down on expensive protein and learn how to stretch what they could afford, leading to many one-pot wonders like chili, soups and casseroles. For this event, try a portable play on casserole with savory chicken pocket pies followed by individual versions of the 1930s classic, mock apple pie made with Ritz crackers. If the cooking and baking concept is too difficult, head to the Oh My! Pocket Pies' food truck instead. Make the evening more festive with canned champagne like Sofia Blanc de Blancs and peach juice for bellinis.

3. Dancin' in the Streets: Motown & More Revue (8:15 p.m. Friday, May 27) Nothing goes better with the soulful sounds of Motown than soul food. Rather than lugging a big dish of macaroni and cheese to the hill, these baked macaroni and cheese cupcakes not only provide the cheesy goodness of the traditional stuff, but protein and veggies, too. However, if you want the real stuff with a whole lot of soul (read: butter), opt for takeout from Esther's Cajun and Soul Food or This Is It. Pair your comforting feast with premixed sweet tea vodka cocktails in containers that fit the no-glass policy.

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