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

Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Buckwheat Buttermilk Muffins!!!

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Sorry – I just don’t know what other name to give this recipe!  Any ideas? Almost guilt-free, these muffins are packed with nutrition.  They keep nicely for a few days out of the refrigerator and taste even better the next day after baking.  Be sure to use extra-ripe bananas for more sweetness, and if you’re not into chocolate, substitute dried cranberries or simply leave it out. Makes 12 muffins.

p.s. This recipe was updated in December 2014 after a lot of experimenting in the past few months.  If you tried the previous version, be sure to try this one.  It now makes a full dozen muffins, has a better texture, more fiber, and more flavor!!

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 mashed very ripe medium-size bananas
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp milled flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place liners (I like the unbleached kind) in a standard  2″ muffin pan.  In a large mixer, combine first five ingredients, beating well.  Add all other ingredients in order given, mixing until just combined.  Do not over-mix.  Fill each lined muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter and sprinkle tops with sliced almonds, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes until nicely crowned and slightly browned.

Too healthy for you?  Try serving with Orange Butter:  Beat 1 stick unsalted butter with 2 oz cream cheese until smooth. Add 1/2 cup orange marmalade and mix until just combined.  Place in a serving dish and chill.  Also delicious on tea breads, toast, dinner rolls, pancakes, french toast, or sweet potatoes!

A Recipe From the Kitchen of Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast, Highlands North Carolina

Check our BLOG for year-round specials. Call (828) 526-2060 or (866) 526-2060 Toll Free for Reservations.



Lemon-Cranberry Buttermilk Bread

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Welcome Spring!!! Use those frozen cranberries you have leftover from the holidays to create a flavorful bread with a  fresh burst of Spring.  The cranberries rise to the surface while baking and create a sweet/tart topping for the bread, especially when you add the sugary glaze after baking.  These loaves freeze especially well, so if you have a large mixer, make the full recipe and you’ll have a nice treat for transitioning into warmer weather.  Cut only the slices needed with a large chef’s knife and you won’t have to thaw the entire loaf.   I love the color and flavor of fresh cranberries and try to keep them in the freezer year-round for Baked Cranberry-Blueberry French Toast, Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread, Cranberry-Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes, or Cranberry-Jalapeno Preserves (a hot pepper jelly which I sell in our gift shop).   They can usually be substituted for dried cranberries as long as your recipe includes plenty of sugar to temper the tartness.

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare (4) 4X8 or (3) 5X9 loaf pans by spraying with a light coat of cooking oil and dusting with flour.

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar + 1 cup sugar for glaze
  • 4 lemons, juice & zest
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 12 oz package fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried)

Reserve 1/4 cup lemon juice for glaze.  In a large mixer, beat eggs, oil &  4 1/2 cups sugar, remaining lemon juice, and all lemon zest.  Add baking powder & salt, mixing well.  Add flour alternately with buttermilk and mix well.  Add cranberries and mix until evenly distributed.  Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 about 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack. While still warm,  glaze with 1 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Special Note:  Spoiled milk products such as half and half or regular milk work well in this recipe as a substitute for the buttermilk. However, fat free products can sometimes cause the cranberries to sink rather than rise. If using fat-free skim milk or fat-free buttermilk, eliminate the cranberries, glaze as directed, and you will have a delicious, healthier version of lemon pound cake!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Spring!!

Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast, and Miss Rebecca’s Cottage

Click for SPECIALS or call: (828) 526-2060 or (866) 526-2060 Toll Free


Ghirardelli Chocolate-Almond Bars

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Pure comfort. Bite into one of these and your Winter Blahs will disappear!!

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (or half raisins)
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds (for topping)

Preheat Oven to 350 and line 8X8 baking pan with foil.  Cream butter & sugar, add egg, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add almond & vanilla extracts, baking powder & salt.  Add almond meal, flour, chocolate chips, coconut & 1/2 cup sliced almonds. Mix until combined.  Press into prepared pan, sprinkle with 1/8 cup sliced almonds and bake about 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool completely, remove from pan along with foil, and cut into bars. Makes 25 small bars.

Say Bye-Bye-Blahs with our Winter Specials: Click HERE

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast, 541 Hickory Street, Highlands NC 28741

(828) 526-2060 or (866) 526-2060 Toll-Free

White Cheddar Flan

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022 blog

Guests at Colonial Pines Inn on Thanksgiving are usually going out for a sumptuous holiday feast served at one of Highlands’ fabulous restaurants.  Since the only other meal that day will be breakfast, I like to serve something  especially hearty like this White Cheddar Flan, crispy bacon, Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread, Apples-in-a-Dish, and whole-grain toasted bread from Annie’s Organic Bakery.

White Cheddar Flan is a creamy, cheesy crustless quiche and the original recipe was in Yankee Magazine’s “Main Dish Church Supper Cookbook,” published in 1980. To serve eight, you can make my version a day ahead in a 9X13 pan. See previous posts for the bread and apple recipes which can also be made ahead.  In the morning, pop the casserole into the oven, fry up the bacon, warm the apples and serve. Easy as pie!

  • 11 oz grated extra-sharp Vermont white cheddar
  • 11 oz frozen corn niblets, thawed
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Spray 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Layer half of corn and half of cheese in pan.   Repeat layers.  Mix eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, & cayenne pepper, beating well. Pour over eggs & cheese.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake at 325 about 55 minutes until puffy and lightly brown.  Serve immediately.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Donna & Chris Alley!

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast

Highlands NC (828) 526-2060


Fall = Apples-In-A-Dish

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Baked Apples 006

The ultimate comfort food, baked apples are synonymous with Fall at Colonial Pines Inn. Thanks to dear long-time guests from Alabama, the Bradleys, who like to make a day trek to a nearby orchard as part of their visit to Highlands, we usually have a bushel of exceptionally fresh, very large apples on hand.  This year, due to some very sad circumstances, the Bradleys were not with us for the first time in 28 years.  We missed them even more than we missed the apples, but the Keenes, another generous couple from Florida, heard me talking about the Bradleys and showed up that evening with a surprise bag of gorgeous apples!!  We have some nice guests, don’t we???

The apples shown above are Honeycrisp and here’s how I like to use them to make APPLES-IN-A-DISH:

Choose large apples about 3″ in diameter.  Core and cut in half through the middle, being sure to remove all the seed hulls. Place them cut side down in a baking pan with about 1/2″ water with a little sugar added.  Bake covered at 350 about 30 minutes, then check regularly until the apples reach a soft consistency.  Because each apple may bake at a different rate, remove the ones that are ready and continue to bake those that aren’t.  When done, use a spatula to place the apples cut side up in a 3″ glass dish, pouring a little of the remaining liquid over each apple.   To make a delicious topping, saute chopped pecans in a little butter, add an equal amount of dried cranberries and golden raisins.  Add a little cranberry juice and simmer with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a splash of maple syrup. Top warm apples with the pecan mixture and serve immediately.  They can also be made ahead, refrigerated, and microwaved just before serving.

Another variation, PINK-APPLES-IN-A-DISH, can be made with large, ripe Rome apples which, with their dark red skins, bake up pink.  Use the same method as above for baking.  Add a little cranberry juice to the pan liquid before pouring over the apples.  Instead of the above topping, place a generous dollop of Red Currant Jelly into the apple holes just before serving.  The warm apple will turns the jelly into a lovely red sauce!

Either variation makes a beautiful additional to a holiday meal and if there are any apples left over, use them to dress up a humble bowl of oatmeal like my husband Chris does!

Highlands is enjoying a late Fall this year, and Leaf-Season rooms are still available through the end of the month. We’d love to have you as our guests!

Wherever you are, we wish you a Color-Full Fall!

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

(828) 526-2060

(866) 526-2060 Toll-Free

Pumpkin Bread with Fresh Cranberries

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Pumpkin Cranberry Bread 004

The perfect Fall bread to serve with a cup of hot cider!  One 29 oz can of pumpkin is the correct amount to  make this recipe in (4) 4X8 or (3) 5X9 loaf pans and it will take a large, heavy-duty mixer for this volume.  I buy lots of cranberries to freeze for year-round use and they can be added to this recipe without thawing.  Be sure to use DARK brown sugar for a richer flavor.  This bread is even better after freezing, and cuts cleanly with a chef’s knife while still frozen.  If you’re not using the whole loaf, just slice what you need, thaw, and ENJOY!!

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lb. plus 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 29 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 12 oz whole cranberries (not dried)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour (4) 4X8 or (3) 5X9 loaf pans.  In a large heavy-duty mixer, combine eggs, dark brown sugar, and oil, beating well.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, salt, soda, baking powder, allspice, cloves, & cinnamon.  Add flour, mixing well.  Add fresh cranberries (if frozen, there is no need to thaw).  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 350 for one hour.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.  If not serving immediately, wrap and freeze.

Come visit us in the mountains for Fall Leaf Season!

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

Bon Appetit! – Donna Alley

Quiche Primavera

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Quiche Primavera

This individual quiche is not one of my quick-and-easy recipes but it’s well worth the effort if you want to make a great impression.  If desired, it can be made a day ahead in sections and assembled just before baking so you stay cool-as-a-cucumber.  Scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of ingredients, and here’s how to make it for six guests:

The Crusts:

Cut three 9″ ready-made piecrusts in half.  Line six 3.5″ spring-form pans by pressing each half into the bottom and sides of the pans.  Close seams carefully and form a double-thick collar above the sides of the pans.  Pinch dough to form a rustic scallop about 1/2″ above the rim of each pan as shown above.  If not baking immediately, cover and refrigerate.

The Filling:

Saute 1 medium chopped onion in olive oil until tender.  Add 8 oz coarsely chopped mushrooms, 1 chopped red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, & 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  Add 9oz fresh baby spinach and cook until just wilted.  Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate.

The Cheese:

Grate 8 oz extra-sharp white cheddar.  Wrap and refrigerate.

The Custard Mixture:

Mix 6 eggs, 2 tsp dijon mustard, and 1 1/2 cups half-and-half.  Cover and refrigerate.

Assemble Before Baking:

Place a little cheddar in each pan.  Cover with vegetable mix, then top with remaining cheddar.  Pour custard mixture over and sprinkle with grated parmesan.  Bake at 375 on a cookie sheet for about 45 minutes until puffy & golden.  Let rest a few minutes, remove sides of spring-form pans, and use a spatula to transfer to serving plates.

Quiche on Plate

I like to serve the quiche with chicken-apple sausage cut diagonally and grilled.  And of course, no breakfast at Colonial Pines is complete without fresh fruit, coffee, tea, and juice.  My usual homemade breads are saved for another day since, in this recipe, the crust is so generous.

Quiche & Guests

Happy Guests from Tennessee enjoyed the Quiche Primavera. After this hearty breakfast, they went to The Bascom, shopped, hiked, visited waterfalls, and skipped lunch!!! I always recommend a custom blended yogurt from SweeTreats (near Main Street overlooking Mill Creek) to get you through until dinner.

Here’s your ingredients list:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, medium dice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 9 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white cheddar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp grated parmesan

See – it was worth it, wasn’t it? Better yet, be our guest at Colonial Pines Inn sometime when things aren’t so busy and I’ll make it for you!  I never serve this one when I have a crowded dining room, so come during the week in a month like May, September, or November.

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast (828) 526-2060 or (866) 526-2060 Toll-Free

Bon Appetit & Happy Trails! – Donna (Innkeeper & Cook Since 1984)

Cranberry Coconut Bars

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Cranberry Coconut Bars

Cranberry Coconut Bars

For the Bars:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/8 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup passion fruit or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8X8 baking pan with foil. Cream butter & sugars. Add almond extract,, vanilla and egg, beating well.  Add baking powder, salt, cinnamon, flour & almond meal.  Mix until blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, mix the glaze ingredients and spread evenly over top of bars.  Cool completely, remove from pan, and cut into 25 bars.

These are best enjoyed with a cup of tea and a late Summer breeze on the porch at Colonial Pines Inn!

Colonial Pines Inn Bed & Breakfast

Highlands NC (828) 526-2060

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