The Dock at Crayton Cove in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: The Dock at Crayton Cove in Naples, Florida! Open waterfront dining has been drawing people like a moth to flame since 1976. Could it be the tropical paradise setting? Or the splash of a wave against the floating dock stretching out into Naples Bay? What about the low hum of the motor on a distant yacht? It’s not hard to imagine when you are seated at the open-air restaurant sipping on a refreshing cocktail basking in the afternoon breeze. Order a Crayton Cove Cobb Salad. Enjoy it as served or add lump lobster meat for a taste extravaganza. Afterwards take a nice long walk around this “Back Bay” area. It’s seeped in history for the early pioneers as well as the fishing community.

Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida! Whenever people get the choice to dine outside among potted palms and waterfall fountains, they choose it. The feeling of nature creates a calming atmosphere for casual conversation. Food seems to taste better, too. In essence, it’s almost like a mental vacation to embrace the ambiance. The food choices encompass cravings from Appeteasers to Gourmet Salads to Triple ‘B’ Burgers, Wraps, and Famous Flatbreads. But that’s not all… NFB spotlights a Tap Wall with over 50 domestic and craft beer choices available on a self-serve draft system. You’ll find beers, wines, hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brews, meads, and kombuchas. Seriously, if you’re a food and drink enthusiast, it’s time to check this place out. What have you got to lose?

Off the Rock Tavern in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Off the Rock Tavern in Naples, Florida! The cozy laid back atmosphere of this place makes people feel relaxed, whether outdoors at shaded tables or indoors to watch the games. It’s the classic setting for your favorite alcoholic beverage, a place to engage in conversation, binge on bar bites, and linger over dinner. Guilt-free menu options encourage healthy choices with fresh ingredients. Don’t be shy; try something new. The day of this snapshot, a table was set…front and center…marked by American flags and personalized place cards. Its purpose was to honor the US military killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Thirteen bottles of beer sat ghostly untouched as a tribute for the lives of those brave Americans. When a restaurant community of servers come together like this for our military, is it any wonder people gravitate here?

Griggsby’s Station in Greenfield, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Griggsby’s Station in Greenfield, Indiana! Located within walking distance from the museum home of Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, Griggsby’s Station is a farm-to-table gastropub open for homestyle dining at your leisure. It got its peculiar name from one of Whitcomb’s poems by the same title. Outdoor dining encourages a spirit of camaraderie where everyone is either your neighbor or your friend. Check the blackboard for daily specials on gourmet food and spirited drinks. What you see written there promises to be robustly flavored and go well together. On occasion, live music is a treat for the evening, especially as the weather becomes warmer and people like to mingle. Look for the bright lights and the buzz of excitement. It’s right there on Main Street.

Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina in Shalimar, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina in Shalimar, Florida! Sipping on a salt or sugar-rimmed margarita, with a grand marnier floater, is the only way to peruse the menu of a Mexican restaurant. The orange-flavored cognac not only adds a zing of citrus, its deep amber color elevates an ordinary cocktail to a vacation status offering perfect relaxation. A basket of homemade chips act as a modifier while you make up your mind for the main course. Tacos de Carnitas or the Taco Salad Fajitas will tickle your taste buds with marinated grilled meats that become the star attraction, enhanced by sautéed onions, chopped cilantro, and restaurant-style salsas. Seriously, this is the best way to pass the time before checking into the cottage rental on the beach.

Sand Bar on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Sand Bar on Marco Island, Florida! Talk to any local about an island favorite off the beaten path, and you’re sure to hear about the Sand Bar. The drinks are cold, the bar bites are amazing, the music is lively, and the cheers come in waves. With walls of big screen televisions, there’s bound to be something interesting to pique the conversation, should the need arise. From startups to salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, or platters, the favorites keep coming. Happy Hour often means standing room only, but that’s part of the allure for stopping by. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner offer specials that are worth checking out, too. Being open every day all year long kinda proves this local joint is spot on. Better check it out.

Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida! My husband always says, “It’s more fun to eat at a bar than drink in a restaurant.” At Joey’s you can do both… or choose to eat and drink outdoors in their welcoming patio area. No matter where you settle in, the mood is contagious. Everyone seems to be having a good time. The drinks are cold and thirst-quenching, the food is definitely spot on. That’s probably due to the fact that Italian pasta dinners, specialty pizzas, and sweet desserts are made from family recipes. Pace yourself by sharing appetizers. Pizza is the main attraction offered in the New York style of thin-crust, which can be folded in half to eat, or the popular Sicilian thick-crust version covered in olive oil. Either way, go overboard. Leftovers can be taken home and eaten later when the cravings return.

Equal Measures

A sprinkle of this and a dash of that is what makes cooking at home an adventure. Turn a basic recipe into a legendary dish by giving it a healthy twist of flavor or spice. Did you know a squeeze of lemon is a great substitute for salt? It’s also a good thickening agent for fruit butters, jams, and sauces. Lemon juice is my “go-to” marinade from time to time when slow-cooking meats. It also enhances olive oil for a light salad dressing drizzled over fresh vegetables. I think you get the idea. Time flies on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all of my followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest at Gail Dorna, on Instagram @gail_dorna and Twitter @ Snapshotsincursive. What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. No matter how much we travel, I relish the thought of returning there to create something delicious. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: EQUAL MEASURES!”

Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana! There’s something charming about an eatery located on the town square a few steps from the county courthouse. Inside the decor is Old World Italy with rustic brick walls dividing spacious seating for a romantic meal for two, weekend entertainment for a crowd, or outdoor dining on the patio. The wait staff is as friendly as family. If you’re lucky, the owner of Tour of Italy may step away from the alcove kitchen to twirl pizza dough into the air. With fresh ingredients, made-from-scratch garlic knots, and authentic Italian cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one item. Order enough to share and take home the rest. Problem solved.