“Be Inspired” Seasonally by Rita Calvert

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 Memorial Day weekend in the Chesapeake is marked by a breathtaking flight of the Navy's Blue Angels soaring over Annapolis with choreographed formations which leave the crowd in awe. After four years' absence, the show is a stellar kick off to the Memorial festivities. As this event sets the stage, grab your American flags and get ready for a summer season of living outdoors.

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Get out your gear-sunglasses, sandals, grill, platters, and your biggest pitcher -- it’s time for taking entertaining outside. The most important thing about entertaining outdoors? Playing it cool. There will be no fancy tablecloths, no crystal, no brass candlesticks, no fussing about timing or making things perfect. Here are tips to make your outdoor entertaining as stress-free -- and as comfortable for everyone -- as possible. Getting ready for Al Fresco living is just what Dianne Flury has done with gorgeous outdoor furniture from Homestead Gardens in our lead photo.

To  get in the swing, break it down into categories such as:

  • Outdoor living on your turf
  • Furnishing your outdoor living space
  • Al Fresco Transportable Entertaining
  • Carefree Menus and Food 
  • Food and serving related equipment

 For food, think fun, easy, grilling and toting waterside. No fussy fixings here unless it might be a farm-to-table dinner you are part of.

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 The cooler totes above keep foods and drinks cool and are fun to boot with a fashion attitude. The recipe below was especially developed to wrap and pack or simply serve tropical style carefree wrap sandwiches on a platter.

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 Island Wrap Sandwich

Serves 4

Luscious wrap sandwiches all all the rage, but often the bread (usually a cold tortilla) is lacking in flavor and rubbery. Not so with this moist Naan bread; it adds just enough flavor to make the sandwich a deluxe concoction. Have most of the ingredients in longer slices, rather than chopped or diced. That way the fillings won’t fall out so easily and the sandwich can be nicely wrapped and held in place by the wrapping paper-ready to eat.

 For the dressing mix fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro into a fiery wasabi mayonnaise or just a basic tame one.

  • 2 cups sliced or shredded skinless, boneless white breast meat from a rotisserie chicken (or 1/3 cup dark meat per each cup)
  • 2 cups mango, cut in long spears
  • Thin skinned cucumbers, such as Persian, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Roasted red bell peppers, diced
  • 4 individual Naan breads (I found moist tender variety at Whole Foods Market)
  • Large tender lettuce leaves, like Boston or Bibb (mine are from Homestead Gardens lettuce planter)

 Heat the Naan bread in a 350 degree oven until soft and pliable. Layer each with chicken, mango, cucumber and then sprinkle with even amounts of black beans and roasted red bell pepper. Make sure the bread has cooled and tuck in some lettuce leaves. 

 Place each sandwich on a serving platter and serve with sauce along the side.

 If transporting: Place each sandwich on a sheet of parchment, wax paper or plastic wrap and gently roll up to enclose. Store, refrigerated until ready to tote.

 Transport the dressing on the side in a chilled container.

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 Tabletop gear such as trays, placemats, table runners, napkins, glasses, pitchers,silverware caddies and accent pieces all share a big purpose in making your al fresco living sublime!

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