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January 16, 2021

An Excellent Winter Recipe: Pork Mole Chili

Jack and I met the summer of 1981 in Chicago. We both had just graduated from college and moved to the big city—he from Kentucky and me from Indiana. We were working hard at our first post-college jobs and trying to manage rent and all the other expenses that come with being on your own. Needless to say, we were pinching pennies. When it came to celebrating holidays and special occasions, we started going to Mexican restaurants. The atmosphere was festive, the food delicious and reasonably priced, and dinners came with complimentary chips and salsa—perfect for us. So perfect that all these years later we still celebrate with Mexican food.

 

This recipe is one of my favorites. The chocolate adds color, the cinnamon and sugar add sweetness, and the chili powder adds spice. This recipe is from “Easy Entertaining” by Marlene Sorosky and I made it for one of the first meals that John and Lee had at our house. That was a special occasion indeed! I often pair this dish with a lush, red Zinfandel. The warm spice, dark berry, vanilla and chocolate notes in the wine go nicely with the dark, bold flavors of the chili. On the other hand, Jack recommends you enjoy it with a bottle of cold Dos Equis or your favorite Mexican beer.

 

 

1 ½ cups dried black beans
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 pounds pork butt, cut into ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 14 ½ ounce can whole tomatoes
4 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 corn tortillas torn into small pieces

Rinse beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute then drain. Add fresh water to cover by three inches, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. (Or, use two 16-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the pork. Cook over moderate heat for about 20 minutes or until pink is gone. Pour off drippings. Stir in onions, spices, sugar and salt. Cook 5 minutes. Break up tomatoes and add them with their juice. Add chicken broth and chocolate. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half. Add beans and continue to simmer for 30 minutes until pork is tender and chili has thickened. Stir in tortillas and simmer until they have dissolved.

Offer chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, finely chopped onion, and/or sour cream as condiments. Serves 8.

Romance Is in the Air!

As February 14 nears, we are bombarded with advertisements for chocolates, flowers, wine, and romantic movies. Everything is decorated with hearts, lace, and a baby boy who flies around shooting arrows. What is up with that?

According to myth, Cupid is the ancient god of love. The son of Venus and Mercury, he is often pictured as a winged infant carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. The wounds from his arrows inspire love in everyone they hit. Interestingly, he is sometimes depicted in art wearing armor—perhaps to symbolize the invincibility of love. Or perhaps to show parallels between warfare and romance!

Cupid generally brings happiness to couples, whether they be gods or mortals. He is sometimes mischievous in his matchmaking, though. Venus is often the instigator of his mischief. In one instance, she tried to use Cupid in seeking revenge on the mortal Psyche. Her plan backfired, however, when Cupid fell in love with Psyche and made her his immortal wife.

In modern culture, we see Cupid as a god who uses his power for good and not for ill. Some of us need a little push to make the first move in expressing our love—and Cupid is there to help us.

If you are looking for a way to express your true love, how about a Buckhorn Inn gift certificate? Your sweetie would love a romantic dinner, or perhaps a get-away complete with flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, and sparkling wine!

December 14, 2020

Love It or Hate It: A Brief History of Eggnog

At this time of year many of us enjoying curling up in front of a roaring fire with a frothy cup of eggnog.  What is the history of this unusual beverage?

Our favorite eggnog is Alton Brown's version.

Eggs, cream, and rum are common eggnog ingredients.

Most food historians agree that eggnog originated from medieval Britain.  In the 1200’s Brits were known to be fond of a hot, milky, alcoholic drink called a “posset”.  These drinks were usually made with ale.  Eventually, monks developed a posset with eggs, sherry, and figs.  Because milk, eggs, and sherry were consumed by the wealthy, this beverage was often used to toast prosperity and good health.

When the drink came to America in the 1700s, it began to become associated with the winter holidays.  The colonists began substituting less expensive rum for the sherry and mixed it with their eggs and milk.  George Washington had his own favorite recipe which included brandy, rye whiskey, rum and sherry along with eggs, cream, sugar and milk.  Most say that the drink is called a “nog” from the word “noggin” for a wooden cup.  Whatever the reason, by the late 18th century the term eggnog was in common use. 

We are partial to the recipe from Alton Brown http://www.foodnetwork.com.

Alton Brown’s Eggnog

Makes 6 to 7 cups

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

1 pint whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 ounces bourbon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 egg whites

Beat egg yolks until they lighten in color.  Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until completely dissolved.  Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and nutmeg and stir to combine.  Beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Whisk whites into the milk mixture.  Chill and serve.

If you prefer to cook your eggnog, beat yolks until light and beat in sugar until it is dissolved.  Over high heat combine milk, cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.  Cook until it reaches 160 f.  Remove from heat, and stir in the bourbon.  Chill.  Then beat and add the egg whites and sugar as described previously.

Cheers!

November 30, 2020

Holiday Gift Ideas for Others or Yourself!

Stumped about holiday gift ideas?  You members of the Buckhorn INNer circle have some options just a phone call away!  Here are some of the goodies available from the Buckhorn Inn gift shop.

Gift Certificates

Buckhorn Inn gift certificates are available in any denomination from $25.  You can gift a stay at the Inn, a dinner, or a special occasion package.  Hard copy certificates are delivered in a beautiful card featuring a watercolor of the Inn by famed painter G. Webb.  We can also email gift certificates.Gift certificates may be purchased for stays, dinners, or packages.

Buckhorn Inn Memories Captured in Watercolors

The watercolor series is designed to spark your own Buckhorn Inn memories.

Tonya Young’s watercolors capture special scenes at Buckhorn Inn.

Long-time guest Tanya Young has created a set of special vignettes created in watercolors.  The matted prints are $25 each and measure 8.5″ x 11″, including matting.  The vignettes feature the meditation labyrinth, Cottage #1, a window table in the dining room, and the book case lamps in the dining room.  What a special way to remember your stay!

Holiday Gift Ornaments

Each year we introduce a new collectible ornament crafted by Tim Weberding Woodworking.  The 2020 ornament features the front of the Inn.  Supplies of these beautiful pieces are limited!

 

Works by Local Artists and Artisans

We have beautiful hand-crafted hiking sticks priced from $35 to $125.  They would make a lovely gift along with a copy of the book “Hiking Trails of the Smokies” for $19.95.

We also carry some beautiful glass pieces by local artist Pete Alcott.  He produces colorful fused glass art pieces that are durable enough to be functional.  These striking works will be treasured for years to come.

 

 

Other Gifts

We also carry bathrobes, Buckhorn Inn cookbooks and shirts.  Our supplier promises our mugs will be back in stock soon!  Many of our local partners have gift cards as well–you can check out Anakeesta http://www.anakeesta.centeredgeonline.com and Ober Gatlinburg http://www.obergatlinburg.com.

We look forward to helping you with your holiday shopping this year!

 

November 9, 2020

Covid 19 Updates at Buckhorn Inn

For those who plan to travel to Buckhorn Inn in the next few months, I wanted to remind you of the precautions we are taking ensure your health as well as that of our staff.

All hard and soft furnishings in your room are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before your arrival. We have removed bedspreads, decorative quilts, and decorative throw pillows to speed our sanitation procedures. You may use contactless check-in. Upon your arrival, we will not enter your room again until after you check out. We have eliminated our hard copy guest directories in favor of an electronic version which you may download to your phone. We will send the link to it in your confirmation letter. In it you will find much information—including the location of the supply of extra towels and toiletries stored for you in your room!

All staff members undergo a temperature and health check daily and must stay home if they, or a family member, are ill. Our housekeeping members are masked and gloved when they are preparing your room for you. All kitchen and serving staff are masked and gloved as well. We reservation times for breakfast, so that we can manage social distancing in our dining room in the morning. We utilize the library for additional dining space. We clean and sanitize dining tables, chairs, and condiment holders between guests. We keep as much air flowing in the dining room as possible. We have limited the number of dinner reservations we will accept so that we can maintain social distancing in the evenings as well. Our afternoon treats are individually wrapped in plastic. Our team sanitizes all high-touch surfaces in the Inn’s public areas several times each day. We have large, well-marked dispensers for hand sanitizers in several places in the public areas.

If we have an active credit card for you on file, we will email you the final bill the day before you check out. Then you will not need to come into the office as you can simply leave your key in your room. If you do enter the office or gift shop, you will see that we have installed a large plexiglass window as a barrier between our guests and the office staff.

Thank you for placing your trust in us.  We look forward to seeing you soon.  And we look forward to a future where we can greet you with a hug and you can see our welcoming smiles!

Flaky Parmesan Pinwheels: A Social Security Recipe

From Sharon Mellor

Flaky Parmesan Pinwheels

One thing I learned from my mother is to always have something on hand to offer unexpected guests. She called it her “social security”! A roll of these pinwheels can remain in your freezer for several months. Simply remove, slice and bake and you have a very delicious appetizer! Serve them with a fresh and acidic white wine. A pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc would do nicely.

Flaky Parmesan Pinwheels
12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 green onion tops, chopped
¼ cup pesto (purchased or your favorite recipe)
1 lb. frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold

Blend cream cheese and parmesan. Add green onions and pesto and mix until well incorporated. On a lightly floured board, roll 1 sheet of the puff pastry into a 10 x 6 inch rectangle. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the pastry. Roll lengthwise. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling. Freeze until solid. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375 and place rack in upper third of oven. Slice logs into ¼ inch thick rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned. This recipe makes about 50 pinwheels. Serve warm or at room temperature.

New Year’s Eve Celebration: An Evening of Pearls and Moonlight

We are very ready to bid adieu to 2020 and to usher in a New Year. We look forward to ringing in 2021 with those of you who are participating in our package. We hope you will be joining us for an evening of Pearls and Moonlight! The dining room will be dressed in snowy white and the dress code is winter white. Chef Frank has devised an elegant white menu for our enjoyment:

 

Dîner en Blanc

Course #1
Scallop and Fennel Risotto

Course #2
Cauliflower and Gruyere Soup

Course #3
White Asparagus and Prosciutto Salad

Main Course
Beef Tenderloin enrobed in Horseradish Sauce
White Truffle Mashed Potatoes
White Corn in a Tomato Cup

Dessert
White Chocolate Pots de Crème with Pistachio, Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscotti

 

Time for a New Thanksgiving Tradition

 

Thanksgiving is more than a harvest festival.  It is the beginning of the fall-winter holiday season!  Each year we pay homage to the first Thanksgiving—a feast shared by the Pilgrims who settled the Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag natives.  Our Buckhorn Inn tradi has been to serve a Thanksgiving buffet with everyone’s favorite dishes.  To comply with the current knowledge about Covid-19 prevention, we will not be offering a buffet this year.  But the feast will be bountiful nonetheless!  Chef Frank has developed a fantastic menu for a plated dinner which will be served at 5:00 p.m.  If you are joining us for our three-day Thanksgiving package, please know that families and groups travelling together will be seated with their own groups for the holiday meal.  All couples will have their own tables.  We will be removing furniture from the dining room and library to ensure adequate social distancing between tables.  So that you may start looking forward to it, here is the menu:

Course #1 

Root Vegetable Soup with Crema and Dried Apples

Course #2 

Shrimp Martini

Main Course 

Roast Tom Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Sausage, Sage, and Cornbread Stuffing

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Green Beans Almandine

Roasted Butternut Squash

Dup of Black-Bottom Mascarpone Tart

and

Brandy Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Mousse

 

We look forward to celebrating a delicious harvest meals and counting our blessings with you, our wonderful guests.

October 23, 2020

Creating the Perfect Pumpkin Pie is a Family Affair

  1. Pumpkin Pie is a delicious finale to any Thanksgiving dinner.  This week we are planning our upcoming Buckhorn Inn Thanksgiving feast and fondly reminiscing about Thanksgivings past.  Here is Sharon’s memory of her first Thanksgiving after she and Jack moved from Chicago.

I was so delighted to be part of the Buckhorn Inn family and was eagerly looking forward to Thanksgiving.  I love to bake, so I was excited when Lee asked if I would help out by baking a few desserts for the feast.  I pictured myself bustling about in an apron, my kitchen fragrant with fall spices.  Perfect!  When the menu was finalized, I was in charge of baking six pies–three apple and three pumpkin. 

Family to the Rescue

Pumpkin pie is a delicious end to any fall meal.

This recipe is rich and creamy with a hint of spice.

Pie crust has long been my nemesis.  My mother makes perfect pie crusts–light, tender, flaky and delicious.  I follow her recipe carefully, but my results are inconsistent.  I watch my mother’s deft hands as she quickly and confidently rolls out her crusts.  I don’t think I inherited her “dough touch”! 

I was worrying aloud about my pies to my sister-in-law Donna.  I know my brother would have married her anyway, but the fact that she is a great cook certainly sweetened the deal for him!  She said, “Sis, don’t worry about a thing.  I have a recipe for pie crust that has never failed me.”  She wrote out the recipe and I hurried home to make some practice pies.  Success!  If you would like the recipe for Donna’s  crust, check out her blog  https://faithhopefarm.wordpress.com/2020/10/23/a-time-to-give-and-a-time-to-share-a-pie-crust-recipe-story/ Her blog shares the story of how a “town girl” like her adapted to life on a farm.  She shares recipes, craft ideas, garden inspirations, and farm anecdotes.  You might enjoy following her!  

Here is the recipe for my pumpkin pie filling.  It is rich, creamy, and has a hint of bourbon.  This recipe makes one pie and is delicious topped with copious amounts of whipped cream.

Sharon’s Pumpkin Pie

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

Donna’s No-Fail Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place pie dough in a 9-inch pie pan and press down on bottom and sides.  Pinch and crimp edges.  Put the shell in the freezer for an hour to firm up.  Line the frozen shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes.  The crust should be dried and just beginning to color.

Beat cream cheese.  Add pumpkin and beat until combined.  Beat in the sugar and salt.  Add egg and yolks, half-and-half and melted butter, beat until combined.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat until incorporated.  

Pour the filling into the warm pie crust and bake for 50 minutes.  The center should be set.  Cool to room temperature before cutting.

We hope you enjoy this pie and that you have a beautiful autumn!

 

 

 

 

 

October 5, 2020

Most Delicious Cookie, Bar None!

Are you a bar cookie fan?  Cookies and brownies of all kinds are popular afternoon treats at Buckhorn Inn.  But fall makes us yearn for a sweet date filling, crunchy nuts, and a buttery cookie crust.  This recipe was inspired by one found in “Easy Entertaining” by Marlene Sorosky.  The cookbook is available on http://www.amazon.com.  The addition of prunes adds a chewy texture to the sweet dates.  The recipe below makes about 24 bars.

Each cookie is loaded with sweet dried fruit, crunchy nuts, and a buttery cookie crust.

Dates and prunes add natural sweetness to these delicious bars.

Butter-Crust Date Bar Cookie

Crust Layer

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 pound butter, cold and cut into 8 pieces

Fruit-Nut Layer

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts

2/3 cup chopped pitted dates

1/3 cup chopped prunes

Confectioners sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with heavy foil.  The foil should extend over the sides of the pan.  Butter the bottom.  For the crust, pulse flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until crumbly.  Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 16 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.

Make the fruit and nut layer while the crust bakes.  In food processor mix sugars, eggs and vanilla until frothy.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Mix until incorporated.  Pulse in nuts, dates, and prunes until well combined.  Spread the topping over the hot cookie dough.  Return to oven and bake 15 to 17 minutes.  The top should be golden.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  Use the foil to lift out the cookies.  Place on a flat surface and cut into bars.  The cookies may be stored at room temperature, tightly covered, for several days or frozen.  Before serving, sift confectioners sugar over the top.