Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015


With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share a few dishes that have been on my table and on my blog in the past years.  These are recipes that have worked well for me and I am sure they will add a special punch to your usual menu.  Notice that I am not including a recipe for turkey.  I would not presume to tell you how to cook your turkey.  Everyone has their personal idea of the best way to do that.  Let’s start with appetizers.  Because there is a huge meal waiting in the kitchen, appetizers should be light.  These Candied Spiced Almonds require a little attention upfront, but can be made way in advance.


I always love homemade savory shortbread crackers and the addition of dried cranberries to these appetizer rounds make them perfect for the holidays.  The recipe for these Chipotle Cheddar Cranberry Nut Wafers can be found here.


If you prefer your sweet potatoes as a first course, this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is sure to be a hit. It is easy too.  The sweet potatoes are cooked in the microwave and the mixture comes together smoothly with an immersion blender, although you could puree it in a blender or food processor.


Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding makes a great dressing if you do not stuff your bird.  It is an Ina Garten recipe and you can make it ahead of time.  Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or you can leave it out all together if you have vegetarians at the table.

Cranberry-Lime ChutneyThis Cranberry-Lime Chutney is definitely a new take on cranberry sauce.  It is a combination of fresh cranberries, lime, apples, onion, raisins, pecans, and lots of spices.  It is best made ahead of time.


Instead of a green bean casserole, try these Green Beans Gremolata.  This dish is best made with the thin French Haricot Vert.  They have been readily available in several supermarkets that I visit.  They are usually found in a cellophane bag. The beans are cooked quickly and then tossed in a mixture of garlic, parsley, parmesan and pine nuts.


This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage could almost be a meal on its own.  But it would certainly look pretty on the Thanksgiving table.


Instead of an apple pie you could make an Apple Bundt Cake.  This spice cake with a caramel frosting is a snap to make and there is a good tip on how to turn your cake out of the bundt pan easily.


If you are in a hurry you could make this Pumpkin Dump Cake.  For a while this cake was on my DIL’s family Thanksgiving table every year.  I first made it for Kristen for her birthday and she loved it so much that she shared it with her family.  They adopted it for Thanksgiving.

Apple Crostada 2

Instead of that apple pie you could make this free form Apple Crostata.  This is one of my favorite desserts.

Enjoy the preparations and fun of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Dirty Dancing Weekend

August 13th, 2015


We are looking forward to the Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure this coming weekend, August 15th.  It has become a tradition in Lake Lure since 2010.  The year after Patrick Swayze’s death, it was decided that the town would honor the star and the movie with a festival that would raise money for pancreatic cancer research.  It has been a draw for Dirty Dancing fans ever since.  As one of the major sites of the filming, Lake Lure is the perfect venue.

We bought our small cottage on the lake in 1984.  Little did I realize that in the Fall of 1986, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and the cast and crew were in residence at the Lake Lure Inn filming scenes around the lake.  At that time it was a low budget film. No one had ever heard of Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey.  Lake Lure was not the only film location. Parts of the movie were also filmed in Virginia.  I wrote a post about our stay at Mountain Lake, Virginia and the confusion about the scene where Baby was put in the corner. I thought it was in Virginia and sat at that corner table, but as it turned out, it was really in Lake Lure. Many of the scenes were filmed in Lake Lure. To teach Baby how to master the move of being held in the air after leaping from the stage, Johnny suggested that they practice in the water. The “lake lift” has become an iconic move.  From what I have heard, because it was late autumn, Patrick and Jennifer were very cold in the frigid water.  A big part of the festival today is a contest to see which couple can perform the best lift.  The above couple did very well.

This couple did their best. . . . .   the picture makes me smile and laugh.  These are two of our guests who rented our small cottage for two weeks a few years ago. Jenel is very talented on the computer and photoshopped a very convincing recreation of the lift.  She offered to do one of David and me, but I wasn’t too sure that it would be a pretty picture.  Maybe after we are toned and buff.  Ha!  But I totally love their picture!

Salmon in Parchment Vegies

We are still trying to eat well.  I have posted about this recipe for salmon in parchment before, but thought it was worth a repeat.  It is one of David’s favorite creations.  You can see the details for the dish here.  One of the things I love about it, other than the taste, is that you can make the parchment packages ahead of time and just bake them when you are ready.  They would be perfect for camping wrapped in foil rather than parchment paper.  Or after an afternoon attending a festival.  Enjoy your weekend.   “Have the Time of your Life”.



This is a very simple, delicious and fool-proof way to prepare salmon with vegetables. And, it looks fancy and festive, but it is so easy. You can use any combination of vegetables that suits your fancy. Listed below are some of the ones we commonly use, but you can substitute or include others such as, leeks, and snow peas, anything that can be cut into thin pieces so that it cooks rapidly. You can also substitute any other type of fish fillet that you might have on hand or can find, and you also might want to experiment with other herbs and spices.

Here are one possible set of ingredients per packet, i.e. per serving

one 8 oz salmon filet
¼ cup julienned carrots
¼ cup julienned green onions
¼ cup julienned broccolini
¼ cup julienned red or green pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dry white wine
basil ½ tsp dried or 1 tsp chopped fresh
2 lemon slices
3 pats of butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten-to seal the packets

Place a salmon filet to the right of the center of a 15” square of parchment paper. Salt and pepper the filet to taste. Sprinkle the olive oil, garlic, and basil over the salmon. Arrange the julienned vegetables on top of the filet. Place two lemon slices and three butter pats on top. Sprinkle the wine over the top and add a little more salt and pepper to the top of the vegetables. Use a brush and the egg wash to paint the edge of paper all the way around to help seal the packet. Fold the left side of the paper over the fish and vegetables and start at the top left corner making small overlapping folds all the way around the three open sides. When you get to the final fold, turn it under to help keep it from unfolding. Prepare as many packets as you want servings and place on a baking sheet in a 400 deg oven for about 18-20 minutes. The fish will actually be done in about 15 minutes, but the veggies will benefit from the extra time, and the fish will remain moist and tender from the cooking method. To serve, place a packet on each plate along with whatever starch you are serving, and cut the packets open with a sharp knife so the contents can be removed to the plate.  Enjoy.

Printable Recipe

A Look Back at 2014

January 4th, 2015

We had a busy holiday season with family and friends.  We traveled to North Carolina to spend time with family in Cary and Jacksonville and then back to Lake Lure to attend to some Winter tasks.  We spent the New Year in Myrtle Beach with old friends, ate well, celebrated joyously and returned to Lake Lure a little heavier and totally worn out.  It is cold and dreary here with constant rain and fog and my cooking has been minimal.  So before we return to Florida this week, I thought that I would reflect back on some of the dishes that were favorites in 2014.  I will begin with January 2014.

Pork Tenderloin with Grapes 3

I had just discovered Mimi Thorisson’s lovely blog Manger.  One of the first dishes I made from her blog was this Pork Tenderloin with Grapes.  We loved it and my eyes were opened to the possibility of actually cooking grapes.  It was also a pretty dish that tasted heavenly.

Tortilla Soup 1

February found us in Cary celebrating our Grandson’s third birthday.  My DIL Kristen made this warming Tortilla Soup on a snowy day.  I could use a bowl of it right now.

Polynesian Meatballs 2V

We enjoyed these Polynesian Meatballs as the weather was improving.

Asparagus Tart 1With Spring in the air and fresh asparagus in the market we indulged in this easy Asparagus Tart. 

Triple Cinnamon Scones V


King Arthur Flour has a wonderful blog called Flourish.  This recipe for Triple Cinnamon Scones sounded so good that I purchased their cinnamon chips and cinnamon filling mix to make them.  I have been making them ever since.  They are the best scones I have ever had.

Blueberry Galette 1

In June I made this wonderful Blueberry Galette.  The rosemary in the crust was an unusual addition and went so well with the blueberries.  I will be making this often.  The crust also has whole wheat flour in it which I love.

Raspberry Tiramisu 2

Summer is berry season and I couldn’t resist this lovely Raspberry and Blueberry Tiramisu.  Perfect for the 4th of July.

Spicy Glazed Salmon 1

In August our grill was kept busy.  This Spicy Glazed Salmon was an easy fix with only three ingredients.

Couscous with arugla 2

September at the lake is usually still warm.  Cool salads are always welcomed.  This Israeli Couscous and Arugula Salad from Ina Garten is delicious.

Acorn Squash 4

October is apple season in Western North Carolina.  This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage is a perfect Fall dish.

Leek Bread Pudding 1

In November, this Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding was on my Thanksgiving table.  The recipe came from Ina Garten’s new book Make it Ahead.

Ham Loaf 2V


Finally, in honor of family tradition, in December I made my Mother’s delicious Ham Loaf.  It brought back memories of Christmases past.  2014 was a very good year.  I am looking forward to the year ahead and wish all of you a Happy New Year.



Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich with Sweet Onion Marmalade and Pear Horseradish Mustard

March 28th, 2014

Flank steat sandwich 2


One of the first posts that I shared with you when we arrived in Florida for the Winter was a meal that we had on our lanai.  You can see it here.  It just seemed appropriate that the last meal that I share with you from Florida would also be outside on the lanai.  We are leaving for Lake Lure on Sunday.  This delicious sandwich is one that I posted three years ago, but it is special so I wanted to repeat it in case any of you missed it.  It is one that I made for a contest on Food 52.  I didn’t win the contest, but it is still a winner in my opinion.

Flank steak sandwich 3

There are several components to the sandwich.  All of them can be done ahead of time.  The flank steak can and should be grilled ahead of time.  You can use your own favorite marinade or the one I have included here.  If you want to skip this step, you could always get some good deli roast beef.  The pear horseradish mustard is easy to make and the extra will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month.  It gives an interesting kick (but not hot) to the sandwich.  The onion marmalade has a nice sweet and sour flavor, more sweet than sour, that compliments the mustard.  This sandwich is best served on toasted ciabatta bread. The whole sandwich brings together the elements delightfully.  I love it.

Flank steak sandwich 4

The weather was warm and sunny on the evening that we enjoyed this meal.  It got cold again the next day and we have had cloudy skies and rain.  I have no idea what we will find in North Carolina, but like all of you, I am ready for Spring.  We are packing and looking forward to being back.  I miss my Lake Lure Kitchen.  See you back there soon.  I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday at The Comforts of Home.


Serves 4

For the Flank Steak and Sweet Onion Marmalade:

Marinade Ingredients (Simply recipes)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Other ingredients

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

2 Large Vidalia onions, halved and sliced

3 tablespoons Canola oil
3 tablespoons Sugar
3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Water (May or may not be needed)

1.Marinate the flank steak in the marinade ingredients in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

2.While steak is marinating, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the sliced onions and cook over moderate heat until the onions become soft. Add the sugar and cook stirring for a few minutes. Add the vinegar and turn the heat to low and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. If the onions are not as soft as you would like, add the water and simmer, stirring, until mixture is slightly thickened and onions are very tender, about 10 minutes.

3.Prepare grill. Remove steak from marinade and grill it over hot coals turning once until it reaches your desired doneness. Medium rare to medium works best. Remove steak and let rest before slicing it into thin strips.

For the Pear Horseradish Mustard and Final Assembly:

4 Ripe Pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Red Wine
1 10 ounce bottle of Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Creamy Horseradish
4 Ciabatta rolls, split and cut side browned in an oiled pan
Chopped lettuce for garnish

1.Wrap the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. Add the chopped pears and cheesecloth bag to a large saucepan with the red wine vinegar and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced. Cool slightly and remove cheesecloth bag. Puree the mixture in a food processor. Add the pear puree to a large bowl along with the Dijon mustard and the horseradish. Stir to combine. The pear horseradish mustard keeps, covered and chilled for 1 month.

2.Assemble the sandwiches. Spread the split and toasted ciabatta rolls with 1 tablespoon pear horseradish mustard per side (or to taste). Add the sliced steak and the onion marmalade. Garnish with lettuce. Enjoy!

Printable recipe

Split Pea Soup Thomas Keller Style

October 22nd, 2013

Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley is among the top 50 best restaurants in the world.  He has won many awards and has established several other restaurants in his illustrious career.  Among them are Bouchon in Yountville, California, Per se in New York City and his more humble establishment, ad hoc, also in Yountville, where a different fixed price comfort dinner is served every night.  I own both his French Laundry Cookbook and his ad hoc at home cookbook.  My favorite is the ad hoc cookbook for obvious reasons.  The recipes are more approachable and simpler in conception.  But they still have the Thomas Keller style.

There is a depth of flavor to all of his recipes because he takes the time to make it happen.

In the case of the split pea soup, he starts by steaming carrots, onions and leeks with a parchment paper lid.  The vegetables are cooked long enough to release lots of flavor.

Chicken broth and a ham hock are added to the vegetables and are simmered gently.  The soup is strained and then the split peas are added.  By this time the broth is full of flavor.

The finishing touches are fresh peas, creme fraiche and mint.  The soup is so nuanced; a smooth rich pureed base, chunks of ham, bright peas, rich cream and fresh mint.  This is a well thought out rendition of split pea soup and I am definitely a Thomas Keller fan.


  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 c thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 c coarsely chopped leeks
  • 2 c coarsely chopped onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 pound split peas (about 2 cups) , small stones removed, rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 c peas, either fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 c crème fraîche
  • Mint leaves

Heat oil in large stockpot/dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the carrots, leeks, onions and a generous pinch of salt.  Reduce the heat to low, cover with a parchment lid and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, for 34-40 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Remove and discard the parchment lid.

  Add ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer for 45 minutes.  Prepare an ice bath.  Strain the stock into a bowl, discard the vegetables and reserve the ham hock.  Place the bowl of stock over the ice bath to cool. (The split peas will cook more evenly when started in a cold liquid.)
Return the cold stock and ham hock to the pot, add the split peas and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour, or until the split peas are completely soft (do not worry if the peas begin to break apart, as they will be pureed).
Remove the soup from the heat and remove and reserve the ham hock.  Season the soup with 1 tbsp vinegar and salt to taste.  (Be careful with the salt at this point because the ham hock adds a lot of salt.)  Blend the split peas and liquid until smooth.  Taste for seasoning, adding pepper and additional vinegar if needed.
  Pull away and discard the skin and fat from the ham hock.  Trim the meat and cut into 1/2″ dice. (I added more ham at this point because the ham hock was not very meaty).
To serve, heat peas, (he recommends fresh but I only had frozen) and add half to the soup.  Put the remaining peas, creme fraîche, ham meat and mint leaves in separate serving bowls and serve the soup with the garnishes. Serves 6.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.