Thursday, March 31, 2011

Individual Apple Crisps

For our March recipe, we've picked one of our popular fruit side dishes: apple crisp. Rather than serve out of a large dish, we make ours in individual portions of appley goodness topped with a fabulous crumbly topping. One entree we like to serve with our apple crisps is Dave's vegetable and ham quiche (with homemade sausage balls on the side as well).

Our recipe is a version of the original recipe of Patrick and Gina Neely on Food Network, so we thought we'd also share a cute video we found of the Neelys making their apple crisps on "Down Home with the Neelys":

And here's our adapted recipe. Enjoy!

Individual Apple Crisps

from the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast
Prep time: 30 minutes / Bake time: 40 minutes plus 5 minutes cooling / Makes 8


7 medium granny smith apples
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Crumbly Topping
3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350.

First, the filling:
  1. Peel, core and chop the granny smith apples. We use one of these to peel and core, which really cuts down on the prep time:
  2. In a bowl containing the remainder of the ingredients, stir in the apples until a nice glaze appears on the apples. We use a wooden spoon for this. You do not want any dry flour or brown sugar showing on the apples.
  3. Spray ramekins with non-stick spray and spoon apple filling into each ramekin. We overfill because the filling tends to shrink when cooling after baking.
Now for the topping:
  1. Mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the chilled butter (you can use a pastry cutter/mixer, but we've found using your hands works better), until the mixture has clumps the size of small peas. Overmixing will result in less crumbly topping.
Sprinkle the crumbly topping over the filling and bake the ramekins on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Take out and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Innkeeper Tip: Save yourself some time in the morning by preparing the filling and topping the night before. It can be stored {separately and covered} in the frig overnight. We put the apple filling into the ramekins, place them in a large casserole dish and store them that way. We leave the crumbly topping in the mixing bowl and cover that. You will need to rework the crumbly topping a little bit before sprinkling it over the filling, because storing in the refrigerator will cause it to want to stick together into one large crumb!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Greening

Driving around this week, we noticed that several trees are flowering in the Asheville/Black Mountain area and there is green starting to show on the trees. Spring has arrived! And although the daytime temperature went from 79 degrees to 49 degrees in a span of three days (that's Spring in the mountains), we can't help but notice Mother Nature giving us some beautiful blooms to make up for that temporary fluctuation in the weather.

Currently blooming at the Inn: Daffodils, our dwarf weeping cherry by the Main House, and forsythia (all just past peak), pansies, and creeping phlox (just getting started).

Enjoy these latest photos from the Inn, and be sure to visit our Facebook page for even more photos and updates - We hope you'll "like" us because we love hanging out on Facebook with our Facebook friends!

Benefit Concert for Japan at White Horse Black Mountain

We wanted to share an upcoming event being sponsored by our friends at the fabulous music venue White Horse Black Mountain. As many of you know, parts of northern Japan are coping with the effects of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami earlier this month. Akira Satake, an artist, musician and native of Japan who lives in Swannanoa (the charming little town next door to Black Mountain) along with the folks at White Horse Black Mountain, have organized a benefit concert set for Thursday, March 31, 2011, at 7pm, to help those who have been affected by this tragedy.

The benefit concerts headliners include Akira Satake along with Tony Trischka and Tim O'Brien, and local musicians Billy Cardine, Julia Weatherford and Duncan Wickel will be performing as well. All proceeds will go to GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund

Find out more at the White Horse Black Mountain Facebook Page and the Laurel of Asheville website.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2011 Biltmore Festival of Flowers Begins April 2

    Spring gets a head start in the Biltmore Conservatory (March 2011)

Our four-year anniversary with the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast is right around the corner, and one thing we're remarking on this year is how we love Spring more and more as time goes on. Spring has actually surpassed Autumn as our favorite season if you can believe it (and that's saying a lot, considering we have six weeks of awesome fall color in the mountains of Western North Carolina).

One annual event that always makes us smile and "think Spring" is Biltmore Estate's Festival of Flowers. The gardens at Biltmore are definitely the place to be during the Festival of Flowers. In April, there are tulips amassed in the Walled Garden by the thousands and the Azalea Garden follows soon after with acres and acres of azalea shrubs in full bloom. It's hard to pinpoint the exact bloom peak of the year it was the last week of April, while it was the first week of May the previous year. However, no matter when you visit, be it April or May, you will experience a fantastic technicolor-esque Spring palette. Tulips, azaleas, irises and peonies are just some of the Spring blooms you might see. Plus, the roses are really something to behold at Biltmore and they'll be blooming in Spring as well.

The Festival of Flowers is celebrated not just in the gardens at Biltmore, but all around the estate, including: inside Biltmore House in gorgeous floral arrangements, at Biltmore Winery with special Festival of Flowers wines, at the restaurants which carry special menus, and at the garden shop behind the Conservatory, where you can attend daily seminars on topics like Culinary Herbs and Edible Flowers and Celebrate Spring with Wreaths (and keep in mind that guests of the Inn on Mill Creek can get discounted tickets that are also good for a free second day to be able to enjoy Biltmore to its fullest).

Lest we forget that Spring is still a week away as we write this, we have some photos to share from our most recent trip to Biltmore with friends. The orchids are in full bloom in the Conservatory (Brigette's favorite place on the estate), and there are some Spring flowers and other blooms that are providing a little color preview for all the beauty to come over the next few months in the North Carolina mountains. Enjoy... and think Spring!

     Biltmore...proving it's beautiful even on those rare, dreary days

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Painters Greenhouse 2011 Herb Festival

In "Spring is almost here!" news: You know Spring is almost here when it's time for the annual Painters Greenhouse Herb Festival. Now in its seventh year, the Herb Festival, which will take place April 9-10, 2011, is more than just a sale on herbs (like the ones at the left, photo courtesy of Painters Greenhouse Facebook Page). While you're picking out your chives, basil, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, you'll also get to be entertained by local musicians, browse local arts and crafts, and enjoy some festive fare (funnel cakes, anyone? yum!).

We're really excited to see what Painters Greenhouse has been growing for the 2011 season. Our favorite local greenhouse and nursery, located about 25 minutes from the Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort, is under new ownership, and we hear that along with the usual beautiful hanging baskets, perennials, bedding plants and shrubs, there will be an increase in vegetable starts, as well as a new native plant section.

Plus, what we like about Painters is that you can buy lots of plants {"and believe me, we do," Brigette adds while Dave just smiles} and the plants will easily fit in your car...perfect for our guests to be able to transport their new plants from Painters back to their homes. And to make it even easier, we've got plenty of outdoor space at the Inn, so you can keep your baby plants safe outdoors in a sheltered spot while you're staying with us.