Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Leave a comment

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Moist and not too sweet, this is my most requested muffin recipe this year. They’re good for breakfast, with afternoon coffee, or add chocolate icing for a special treat. There are lots of ways to play around with the basic ingredients, but here are the specific proportions, ingredients, and methods that seem to work best for me here in Highlands, baking at 4000′ elevation:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Mix
  • 1/2 cup Hodgson’s Mill Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli if you can find them, Hershey’s if you can’t).  Minis work best to spread the chocolate flavor around.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two standard muffins tins with 16 muffin liners.  In a large mixing bowl, add egg, bananas, agave, & oil.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Add all other ingredients in order given, mixing all the while until just combined.

Use 1/4 cup scoop to fill 16 muffin liners.  They will be not quite full.  Bake about 25 minutes until risen & golden, then cool slightly before moving each muffin to a cooling rack.

Bon Appetit!  Come see us in the mountains and I’ll make them for you!!

Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

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


Lemon Almond Flour Cookies

Leave a comment


The Taste of Summer!

Gluten-free and made with agave syrup, the cookies are good by themselves if you’re looking for a low-sugar treat – but, add the glaze and WOW – you’ll be instantly transported to a beautiful sunny day in Sorrento!

Note: To make a similar gluten-free bar cookie without almonds, click here for my recipe for “Lovely Lemon Bars” from May 2013.

This recipe makes about 24 small cookies. Preheat oven to 350 and line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the cookies:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour from blanched almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup organic blue agave syrup
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and then add all other ingredients, mixing by hand until well combined.  Using a one-tablespoon scoop, drop balls of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1″ apart.  Flatten each ball slightly with the bottom of a juice glass coated with sugar. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Cool completely on cookie sheet.

In the meantime, mix all ingredients to make the glaze.  When completely cool, top each cookie with one teaspoon of glaze.  Allow the glaze to set before serving.

For the glaze:

  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Close your eyes, take a bite, and imagine yourself on the coast of Italy or – better yet and easier to get to – in Highlands!

Come see us soon in the mountains! – Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

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


Coconut Almond Macaroon Cake

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment


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!

Leave a comment


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



Snowy Specials for 2010

Leave a comment

We’re off to a snowy start this New Year and there’s plenty of fun for everyone whether it’s relaxing by our warm, cozy fireside with a glass of sherry, sliding lickety-split down a snow tubing run, or viewing the enormous icicles hanging from waterfalls and growing out of cracks in the granite cliffs. It’s a sight to see and in addition, Harris Lake has frozen solid for the first time in a decade – so bring your ice skates for a true Currier & Ives experience!
Second-Night-Half-Price rates are in effect through April and that means Colonial Pines continues to be the best bargain in town with hearty breakfasts to get you going and hot chocolate, tea & cookies to warm you up when you return. We’d love to have you as our guests! Call us toll-free at (866) 526-2060.


Leave a comment
Fall arrived this week to our yard as you can see in these beautiful blue-sky photos just taken today. Become a Leaf-Looker this month and enjoy the best of Highlands’ activities including craft fairs, music, theater, and of course fine dining, boutiques, and our fabulous new arts center, The Bascom (more on that to come in a another post). We have limited availability on the last two October weekends so call now or think about a mid-week trip to avoid the Saturday shopping crowds.

If you can’t make it in October, consider the Highlands Culinary Weekend Nov 12 – 15, for which we are offering discounts as mentioned in the August post describing this delicious event (10% on two nights, 15% on three, 25% on four). The same discounts will apply to Nov 19 – 22 as well as our usual second-night-half-price if you arrive on a Monday or Tuesday (any month except October). We want to see YOU this FALL at COLONIAL PINES INN! (866) 526-2060 Toll Free

Flags, Flowers, and Free Nights in July!

Leave a comment

Happy Fourth of July! We’ve flown a large flag between our columns for 25 years, but today it seems especially beautiful rustled by a slight breeze with the sun coming through the leaves on this cool 52 degree morning. Avoid the weekend crowds and join us on a Monday in July for a four night stay and one night is FREE! This cannot be combined with other offers and does not apply to rooms already booked. July is a great month for hiking and viewing the native rhododendron which is profuse this year and usually lasts several weeks. Enjoy these beautiful photos of native rhododendron and mountain laurel blooming next to the Inn, or better yet, come see for yourself! Email us at or call (828) 526-2060 for availability.

NATIVE RHODODENDRON (Rhododendron maximum)
Blooms late June – July in Highlands with evergreen leaves 4-10″long and large clusters of pale pink or white flowers that are 1-1/2″ or more across.

MOUNTAIN LAUREL (Kalmia latifolia)
Blooms late May – June in Highlands with evergreen leaves 2-3″ long and 1/2″ bell-like petals in white to pink.

Weddings at the Inn

1 Comment
Do you dream of violins playing as you descend a grand staircase in heirloom lace to a roomful of adoring friends & relatives? If so, Colonial Pines is not the place for your wedding!!! However, a surprising number of couples have chosen to have small, impromptu ceremonies here and put the big bucks needed for the aforementioned event toward graduate school, paying down their mortgage, or beefing up their 401K. Not a bad idea in this economy! One such couple is Laurie & Ernie Prodromides of Greenville, SC whose plans for marrying near a waterfall were foiled by a rainy, foggy mountain day. Instead, a crackling fire provided a perfect setting for the vows and the fog made for some nice photos afterward on the porch.

So call the magistrate, bring along a CD of your special song, and make a reservation here (there are no other charges). Ask a couple of friends to join you, or we can be your witnesses while we snap a few pictures. If there are other guests around, they will be caught up in the moment, too. I guarantee you that Laurie was as happy as any bride in a long white gown!

When We’re Not Innkeeping….

Leave a comment
Fortunately (or unfortunately, as our checkbook might say), Highlands has a definite off-season. That means December through March we are only open on weekends, and we have a chance to get away! We love to cruise the Caribbean…

…visit daugher Meghan in Colorado…

…see friends & family in Boston…

…and get better acquainted with grandchildren in Puerto Rico.

We also take lots of little local shopping & movie jaunts to Atlanta, Asheville & Greenville or to Athens where we visit daughter Heather and grandsons Owen & Lucas. How nice that we have all that (plus a couple of airports) less than two hours away!