Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Biltmore

The largest house in America, the Biltmore was wonderful! We spent a whole day on the property , starting at the winery and then ending back at the winery. The tour through the house was excellent, if you go do get the audio tour,it was very well done and gave us an insight into life with the Vanderbilts. We want to come back and stay on the property. There is so much land to explore, different tours and I can not wait to see the gardens in bloom. We had a great lunch at the Stable Restaurant . I had a triple grilled cheese sandwich with pesto in between each layer, while my daughter had a delicious pizza. Her pizza was on flat bread with white cheeses, pesto, tomatoes and of course Basil.

We waited to see the lights turned on....magnificent! I cannot wait to come back.

The last day we journeyed into Asheville. What a great town. We had a great day shopping, eating and exploring. Our Thanksgiving Excursion to the Mountain Cabin was a great success!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


With content hearts and tummys, we headed back up the mountain to our hideaway retreat. A major concern with having our Thanksgiving meal out was the absence of leftovers. It was decided that each family would bring a contribution from home for our "leftovers". My Son-In -Law brought a wonderful smoked turkey from a favorite BBQ spot in Georgia, while my Son brought a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I did not ask what that contribution was left over from. I provided the appetizers. We settled in for a long wonderful afternoon of football watching, game playing, dog loving, and hot tubing. My Daughter-In-Law's contribution of the game "Apples to Apples" was a tremendous hit. I must say it was one of the most relaxed post Thanksgiving meal days I have had in a very long time.

By far the best appetizer of the day was the light version of the Spinach-Artichoke Dip, that I had found in the Food Network Magazine. Much to my delight it had a whole cup of fresh Basil included in the recipe. We made sweet potatoes chips to use as the dippers and promptly consumed the whole dish! As we watched the sun set over the mountains, I felt a tremendous wave of gratitude for Family, Love, Good Food and yes even all the dogs accompanying us on this journey. Thank you for such a blessed life.

Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
25 min
12 servings


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 10-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 or 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • Baked chips, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Stir the spinach and basil into the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge in the ice water. Drain and squeeze dry, then roughly chop.

Puree the beans, cream cheese, garlic and chicken broth in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in the spinach and basil, artichokes, parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Add the cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste.

Mist a deep 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the dip mixture in the dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with baked chips.

Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 100; Fat 5 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 19 mg; Sodium 338 mg; Carbohydrate 7 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 6 g

Photograph by Karl Juengel/Studio

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grove Park Inn Thanksgiving Buffet

Rather than cook on the mountain, we drove into Asheville and had the luxury of attending a Thanksgiving Buffet at a very special spot! The Grove Park Inn is absolutely incredible, from it's wonderful location high on a mountain overlooking Asheville to its amazing gardens and stone facade. I love historic hotels, they provide a glimpse into the "people side" of our great history.

The Buffet had amazing food, and so festively presented. I hope you will look through the Video, if it makes you hungry, try the recipe below. I am not sure it is the same but it tasted similar. This Cheese Log was voted the favorite by the Ladies, the Guys were mixed on a fav but all agreed the Corn Pudding was to die for (I had it for my dessert!)

If you go during this time, please allow time for what looked like a time honored tradition, hanging out in the lobby. This lobby is not any lobby, from it's massive hearth and rugged stone walls, it begs you to linger. We had a Bloody Mary and joined the festivities watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, it was a wonderful mix of young and old, all thankful to be sitting in this great place with family and friends.

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 cup)

4 ounces blue cheese (1/2 cup)

2 ounces crumbled feta cheese, optional (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries (about 1 3/8 ounces)

About 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans

By hand or in a food processor, thoroughly combine cream cheese, blue cheese and feta, if using. Mix in cranberries by hand. Spoon cheese mixture onto plastic wrap; using the plastic wrap, form into a log about 8-inches long. Refrigerate until firm, then wrap in foil and freeze.

To serve: Unwrap from foil and defrost slightly in the refrigerator. Roll the log in the pecans and place on serving platter. Allow about 30 minutes for the cheese to warm to spreadable consistency before serving with crackers or crostini.

Wine pairing: Cream cheese mellows the salty, pungent bite of blue cheese. Add dried cranberries and Merlot becomes a logical pairing partner.

Makes 1 cheese log (about 8 inches by 2 1/2 inches)


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