Coconut Almond Macaroon Cake

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324Light & reminiscent of Spring, these macaroon-like squares are not excessively sweet but melt in your mouth and are gluten-free.  I’ve adapted this recipe from the one on the package of Bob’s Red Mill “Finely Ground Almond Meal/Flour” which is made from skinless, blanched almonds.  Be sure to look for this product rather than “Finely Ground Natural Almond Meal” which is made from whole almonds and has flecks of skin visible. You’ll have a prettier result!


Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8X8 baking pan with foil.  Cream the butter & sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy.  Add almond milk & extracts.  Add salt, baking powder, coconut flour & almond flour. Mix until well combined, then add flaked coconut & pineapple and mix briefly. Spread evenly into pan and top with sliced almonds.  Bake 30 minutes until slightly browned.  Cool and cut into 16 squares.

  •  6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 cup organic coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds

If you like to experiment, it might be nice to try this with orange extract, just to vary the flavor a bit.  The original recipe called for milk instead of almond milk, no flaked coconut, no pineapple,and no toppings. Also, I have tried cutting the butter down to 4T with success.     So – depending on what is on hand in your pantry – go for i!

For something more decadent, add a cream cheese frosting such as this one: 1 stick softened butter, 2 oz cream cheese, 1/2 tsp vanilla & 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar. After icing the cake, top with flaked coconut and sliced almonds.

Serve with a light afternoon tea like jasmine green tea and maybe a bowl of fresh berries or yogurt. My gluten-free guests love it. Bon Appetit!!

A recipe from Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast

Highlands, North Carolina (828) 526-2060

Sweet Potato Muffins with Orange & Fresh Ginger

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Something about being stuck inside when you know it’s going down to single digits outside and there might be snow in the morning makes me think of ginger, cinnamon, & orange.  Sounds like a comforting herbal tea, but if you add leftover sweet potato, my favorite baking flour (buckwheat), and buttermilk, you’ve got a healthy, not-too-sweet breakfast muffin idea. This recipe makes 8 standard muffins.

So here goes…

  • 1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup choped walnuts (or pecans)
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/8 cup finely ground walnuts (or pecans) for topping
  • 1/8 cup turbinado sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tin with 8 liners (I like the brown ones for this recipe). In large mixer, add first 15 ingredients and beat well.  Add buckwheat and mix until just combined. Use 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup.  Dust tops with ground nuts and turbinado sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve warm with honey and a cup of tea. Wrap up in a blanket and feel the glow!!

Stay warm and call us NOW for the best choice of rooms this Season!

A recipe from Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

In -town on Hickory Street, Highlands North Carolina (828) 526-2060 10am – 10pm





Better Than the Original!

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Does anyone in your family like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Well…this is the ADULT version, but the kids will like these BETTER, too!! They’re made with rich dark chocolate, organic peanut butter, and freshly ground peanuts.  You won’t go back!!


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 7 oz confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup Smucker’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 6 oz Ghirardelli 60% semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 oz Ghirardelli 85% chocolate bar
  • 2 T finely chopped roasted peanuts

Melt butter.  Put confectioner’s sugar in a small mixing bowl and pour in butter while mixing.  When well combined, add peanut butter and mix until smooth. Line a 9X9 baking pan (or 8X8 for thicker bars) with waxed paper, leaving extra paper to grasp for easy removal. Press mixture evenly into pan and allow to cool slightly.

In a measuring cup, microwave the 60% chips in 15 second increments, stirring in between each heating, until chocolate is just melted.  Chop 85% chocolate into small pieces and add to melted chocolate.  Keep stirring until chocolate pieces are completely melted. This can take some patience, but if done properly will give a shiny tempered chocolate finish. (See note below about using Melting Chocolate Wafers instead). Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the peanut mixture and top with chopped peanuts. Allow to cool thoroughly.

When the chocolate is completely hardened, remove from the pan by grasping the waxed paper “handles.” Turn the chocolate side down on a cutting board and peel off the waxed paper from the bottom.  With a large chef’s knife, cut the bar in strips and then in uneven triangles or squares as desired.  Don’t worry if the chocolate breaks unevenly – see the photo!

Store in an air tight container.  Do NOT refrigerate.

p.s. Any combination of chocolate will do.  I like an extra dark flavor as above, but you could substitute 8 oz  of Ghirardelli Melting Chocolate Wafers which consistently give a shiny, tempered chocolate look and are easier to work with, although they are a bit sweeter.


A recipe from Donna Alley, Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast

Highlands North Carolina (828) 526-2060



Potato-Potahto, Tomato-Tomahto

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One of the most crowd-pleasing breakfast casseroles I have made, this one is even kid-friendly and can be made with different vegetables according to your family’s tastes. Lately I’ve been using basil & tomatoes, but red peppers & chopped spinach, or any other combination of vegetables will do.  The more colorful, the better. You can also subsitute sausage for the bacon.  A little time is needed the day before to chop, grate, measure, fry, & mix the ingredients; but in the morning – no worries!  Just it pop the oven and serve along with a bowl of fresh fruit and a muffin. Easy-peasy. This version is made in a 9X13 pan and serves 8. One note regarding tomatoes: using grape or cherry tomatoes works best because they don’t produce as much water during baking.

Potato Bacon & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

  • 12 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (or any combination of cheeses you prefer)
  • 12 oz frozen hash brown shredded potatoes
  • 20 oz bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 large whole green onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (for topping)

Grate, chop, and assemble all ingredients as listed above.  Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray.  Layer half of each of the following in this order:  cheese, potatoes, bacon, onion, basil, and tomatoes.  Repeat layers with remaining half of each ingredient.  Mix eggs, half-and-half, milk, pepper, and cayenne.  Pour over and top with 2 oz cheese. Cover & refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, preheat oven to 325 and bake about one hour until eggs are set and edges are lightly browned. Cut into rectangles and serve immediately.

Or, join us at the Inn and I’ll make it for you – then you’ll be ready for that hike up Whiteside Mountain!!

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast, Highlands NC, (828) 526-2060

Donna & Chris Alley, Innkeepers Since 1984 – That’s right, this is our 32nd Season!!

Pretty Please with Sugar on Top

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There are hundreds of blueberry muffin recipes but this one is my all time favorite. A hint of lemon, the surprise of fresh cranberries, and the character of buttermilk make these muffins special. The recipe makes 8 muffins but they won’t last long, so it might be a good idea to go ahead and double or triple!

Red, White & Blueberry Muffins

Happy Memorial Day and Thanks to All Who Served!

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 24 fresh cranberries
  • extra sugar for tops

Preheat oven to 375, and line a standard muffin tin with 8 paper liners.  Beat egg, oil, & buttermilk until smooth.  Add sugar, vanilla, & lemon.  Add baking powder, salt & flour, mixing until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.  Using a 1/4 scoop, fill each muffin cup almost to the top. Add 3 cranberries to each muffin, pushing down to cover with batter. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp sugar on top of each.  Bake 18 – 20 min until muffins are lightly browned.  Makes 8 muffins.

Enjoy with a cup of tea on a beautiful Memorial Day in your own backyard!

Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984, Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

541 Hickory Street, Highlands NC 28741 (828) 526-2060

Ginny’s Gingers – with a Twist

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Years ago, our innsitter Ginny had a cookie business called “Ginny’s Ginger’s” and she gave me that wonderful family recipe with strict instructions not to share it with anyone else. She’s now a real estate agent with no time to bake, so – here it is!!  However, here I have altered it a little by using whole wheat flour, raisins, and cranberries.  AND if there are any leftover cookies, or if you just want to be decadent right from the start, dip half of each one in melted chocolate!!  You don’t see chocolate and ginger paired very often, and believe me, there is nothing better.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 tsp soda
  • 1 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp clover
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or half white & half wheat)
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • extra sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter & sugar until fluffy.  Add molasses and egg, beating thoroughly.  Add all dry ingredients in order given, beating just until combined.  Add raisins and cranberries.  Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, drop balls of dough into a bowl of sugar, rolling to coat.  Place each sugared ball on cookie sheet – about 12 per sheet.  Bake about 9 minutes.  Cool 1 minute on pan and remove to cool completely on wire rack.  Optional:  Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers give a glossy finish and is perfect for this purpose. Makes 24 cookies.

041Notes: You may have to experiment a little to get the desired result in your kitchen. The way you measure flour and the cooking time in this recipe determine whether you get a crunchy or chewy cookie. Slightly more flour and/or a longer cooking time will yield a crunchier cookie.  A chewy texture is what I prefer.  If you get hard cookies, don’t despair – just dip them in chocolate and you will still have a delicious product!

Happy Baking!

Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

541 Hickory Street, Highlands NC 28741 (828) 526-2060

Sausage Primavera

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Perfect for low-carb diets, this easier version of  “Quiche Primavera” (see Aug 2013 post) eliminates the crust and adds flavor from spicy sausage, mustard, and italian herbs. For a meal in itself, add fresh fruit and maybe a sweet muffin to contrast with the spicy casserole. Fits nicely in a baking pan 11 X 14 to serve eight.

  • 1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot pork sausage
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Spice herb mix
  • 16 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 16 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup Bisquick
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Lightly spray 11 X 14 baking pan with cooking oil.  Saute crumbled sausage with mushrooms and onions until sausage is no longer pink and onions are translucent.  Add to pan and layer with spinach, tomatoes, herbs, & mozzarella (in that order).  Beat 16 eggs with mustard, skim milk, Bisquick, salt & pepper.  Pour over, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes until top is lightly browned and center is just set. Do not overbake. Cut into eight portions and serve.

Bon Appetit from Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

541 Hickory Street, Highlands NC 28741 828.526.2060