Dining with Dogs in Restaurants: What Pet Owners Need to Know

The "dog days of summer" are upon us, literally.  That long-time expression has a couple of meanings, but one thing for sure, this is the time of year that we tend to take our pets more to public places simply because of outdoor dining.

A Guide to Dining with Pets
Photo by Curious Notions Photography


Public Health Laws regarding animals vary from state to state. Just because a restaurant has an outdoor patio does not automatically mean that your pet can dine with you. Service dogs abide by different laws than normal pets. In my home state of North Carolina, only service dogs can dine inside a restaurant with its owner. Normal dogs who are considered like my Andy need to dine on an outdoor patio instead of inside the restaurant.


If a restaurant uses glassware and utensils then state health laws put breweries in a restaurant category for public health inspection. If a brewery does not serve food or serves food packaged in individual containers then it may be at the discretion of the brewery or individual city laws on the dog issue.

Dining with Dogs in Outdoor Areas in Restaurants or Breweries

For the past couple of years in North Carolina, it's been confusing to pet owners because breweries started as one of the most-dog-friendly places around. It's great to have a cold one with your best friend around. The North Carolina General Assembly is working on a bill that allows individual breweries to decide if pets can be allowed inside because beverages would no longer be classified with food under state health inspections. Wine tasting rooms already have that freedom. For now, it's a safe bet to keep your dog outside unless you see other dogs inside, too.


There are lots of public debates lately about what qualifies as a working service dog in 2019. There are a lot of dogs licensed now for therapeutic reasons. In the past, service dogs primarily helped people with physical disabilities such as blindness or someone in a wheelchair.  But regardless, of its primary working role, service dogs are like people and can go anywhere, but there are rules and regulations for service dogs, too. Regular pets, on the other hand, are more limited on where they can go.

Dogs at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

We ran into this issue at Biltmore Estate in Asheville. We were going to ride the bus to the house from the parking lot where we parked our car. As we got ready to board the bus, the driver informed us that dogs were not allowed. The people chanted, "Let the dog ride. Let the dog ride." I mean he is really cute and all, but it was against the rules. We then asked the driver how we could park closer to the house and he easily gave us directions. It was a minor inconvenience, but as new pet travelers, we just were not aware of the limitations. Biltmore Estate does have a kennel nearby that parking lot though to kennel your dog. It is first serve-first come. I personally chose not to do that Andy.


When we first adopted Andy, I could not wait to take him out to eat. It's like, "Oh, I have a dog now. Let's go eat out." Why? I have no idea. I will tell you that it is like taking a toddler to a restaurant. He's good, but it is still a lot of work so I primarily do it when traveling now that I've been a pet owner for awhile now.

Cantina 18 is a pet-friendly restaurant in Raleigh, NC

Our first official dining experience was at a Southwest-inspired with Southern roots restaurant here in Raleigh called Cantina 18 in Cameron Village. It's a favorite lunch spot of mine. Chef Jason Smith uses fresh seasonal ingredients, and I've never been disappointed in all my meals there.

Burrito at Cantina 18 in Cameron Village

I've eaten there more times now than I have fingers. Cantina 18, now with two locations, has a good kid's menu for families. Jason is a parent himself so I believe when chefs have their own children, they really grasp that parents want to dine on great-tasting seasonal fresh food, but be able to supply the simple basics for their children that do not cost them $10 to $15 each child.

Cantina 18 was the first restaurant we dined in with our pet, Andy.

I have only one child that dines off a kid's menu now. Liza loves the chicken nachos at Cantina 18, but she leaves off the chicken every single time and adds a big strawberry sorbet at the end of the meal.

Strawberry Sorbet at Cantina 18

I called the restaurant ahead to make sure their outdoor dining area was pet-friendly. 

Cameron Village is great for dog owners. Most of the patio areas are public sidewalks so it's a natural fit for dogs to dine with their owners outside.

Cantina 18 went the extra mile for Andy. Even though I had brought him water because I had no idea what to expect, the wait staff at Cantina 18 brought him a water bowl when they brought out water for us.

As a first-time dog owner dining with a pet for the first time, I thought that was a really nice perk. 

Now that I've dined a few times impromptu with Andy, I learned that not all restaurants may go out of their way like Cantina 18 did for us, but I've found that overall, most restaurants that allow dogs are very welcoming.

Dogs can dine at Cowfish on the patio at North HIlls

Andy has also been to North Hills in Raleigh which is another outdoor shopping and entertainment area in the area.  He felt welcomed at Cowfish, a local sushi and burger restaurant with locations here and in Charlotte. My biggest gripe is that Andy wants to look at everyone and will not sit down. I've decided that it is easier to keep it at home so I can relax. He is like a third child, although the best one I might add.


What I've learned through trial and error is that it is more challenging to dine at counter-service restaurants with a dog if you are alone or have very young children who cannot be left alone with the dog outside while you go inside to do what you need. 

Even though I have an eight-pound dog that I can carry around like a baby, it is against the law for me to take him inside a restaurant and order food. Someone needs to stay with the dog outside while you order food or request a patio table with the hostess. One may be able to put a dog in a dog purse briefly to do this, but if you have a big dog then it does make it more challenging to abide by the public health laws to order even if you plan to dine outside.


There are so many cities in the U.S that are pet-friendly. Raleigh is a pet-friendly city, but Asheville, North Carolina is touted as the most pet-friendly city in the U.S. It has its own doggy-welcome center, a first in the U.S. 

It was not open when we took Andy to Asheville with us last year so I look forward to going this year summer just for doggone curiosity.  But, what's great about this center is that it will give you a guide to pet-friendly attractions and restaurants.

Andy the Poodle at the DoubleTree Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Andy took his dog bed to the Doubletree Biltmore in Biltmore Village in Asheville when we visited last summer.  The staff was excellent with us as first-time pet-travelers. too. Andy was allowed to be in the lobby and the front desk gave us a list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, which was very nice for that first night we checked-in.


The Biltmore DoubleTree Hotel has a TGIF restaurant attached to it with a beautiful patio, but dogs are not allowed to dine there because there is not an exterior entrance to the patio. You have to walk through the restaurant to get to the patio. Keep that tidbit in mind when you spot restaurants. A good rule of thumb is that if you see other dogs then you are fine.  

However, if you are the first one to arrive at a restaurant or brewery with a dog in tow then you may want to ask to make sure dogs are allowed.


When you are traveling with your dog and staying in a hotel, information about area restaurants are so important and honestly, it does take some planning. Heaven forbid if it rains. What then? Some dogs may bark in a hotel room when crated and then you run the risk of getting called by the hotel with a noise complaint.

Dogs are part of the family

I feared the "barking dog" when I traveled with Andy for the first time in Asheville. As a result, we ate in restaurants where we knew Andy could go easily. Some Asheville establishments even have a doggie menu.

During my time in Asheville, NC,  I sometimes felt as if there are more dogs walking the sidewalks than people. It truly is a dog-friendly city. Raleigh is dog-friendly, too, but it can also be really hot during the "dog days of summer", too.

Do you have a favorite place that you dine with your dog? Continue the conversation on social media on Facebook or Instagram?


Pedestrian safety is important. Be mindful at crosswalks with your pets, watch for cars, keep your dogs on a leash at all times. Make sure you have your dog's shots records and that your dog is wearing identification and rabies tag at all times.

Always have water available for your pet, and always be diligent about your safety and other's safety if your dog has been known to bite. When traveling in a car, make sure your dog is safely secured in the vehicle.

DISCLOSURE: My thanks to the Law Office of Hardison and Cochran in North Carolina for being a May HinesSightBlog sponsor. My sponsors enable me to keep writing, travel #outaboutnc and stalk a few houses. Be sure to stay tuned for my new YouTube show, The House Stalkers

Dining with Pets in Restaurants: What Pet Owners Need to Know. #pets #dogs #pettravel


Southern Style: The Old Homes and More Tour in Beaufort, NC

For years I have stalked homes.  It's no secret that I love a home tour just as much as I love a good restaurant and hotel. I have stalked more homes in Beaufort, North Carolina than anywhere else. Beaufort is a waterway town near the port of Morehead City and the crystal blue waters of Atlantic Beach. Will's Dad is a Beaufort resident now so we have easy access to the town and have been visiting the Crystal Coast area for the past nineteen years.

Beaufort is North Carolina's third oldest town. The picturesque waterfront town is pronounced Bo-Fort and not Bew-fort like the town by the same name in South Carolina. Beaufort's Historical Association hosts the Old Home Tour and More annually in June. This year marks the 59th year of residents opening up their private homes for all of us to see.  The home tours used to mainly consist of the town's historic homes and gardens, but because Beaufort has become such a popular vacation spot due to its proximity to North Carolina's Crystal Coast beaches, the tour now includes newly constructed homes for the tour weekend. 

Will and I used to attend the Beaufort historic home tour event annually before we had children. One of the highlights was enjoying lunch in St. Paul's Espicopal Church, prepared by the church. I have the church cookbook and some of the recipes in it are ones they use for the luncheon. I shared the  Ann Street brownie recipe from that cookbook many years ago with you.

Unfortunately, we skipped the historic home tour for many years because of the kids. It's hot in Beaufort, NC in the summer. They complained. They were not interested in homes. You get the idea, but last year, we walked historic Beaufort's streets once again to see homes at least with one child in tow.

Beaufort, NC is North Carolina's 3rd Oldest Town

Typically, there are about ten to twelve homes on each tour. One of the homes we saw on the tour was called "The Conch House" and part of it now operates as a VRBO. The home dates back to 1883.

Old Homes and More Tour is in Historic Beaufort, NC every June.

Sunny Living Room of a Historic Beaufort, NC home that dates back to 1883.

When you enter the home, the left side is the owner's side that also incorporates an upstairs.

The home has been updated and expanded.

The right side of the home consists of a bedroom with a sitting area, a bath, and a private tiny kitchen nook and dining area.  It's like an efficiency apartment within a home.

This is the guest room that serves as a VRBO in this historic Beaufort Home. With this side of the house is a small sitting area, bath, and small kitchen nook with seating.

The apartment and the owner's side open up to this outdoor seating area.

Outdoor Living Spaces in Beaufort, NC

If you enjoy homes as much as I do then you may want to subscribe to Leigh Powell Hines on YouTube. In early fall, I'll be co-hosting TheHouseStalkers, a show where we stalk homes and local eats near these homes. We have a The HouseStalkers Facebook page and we are @TheHouseStalkers on Instagram too.

If you are visiting Beaufort, Morehead City, and the Crystal Coast, you will enjoy these dining and travel guides.

Crystal Coast Travel Guide: A LightHouse,  Wild Horses and Emerald Isle 
A Traveler's Look at Historic Beaufort, NC
Crystal Coast Dining Guide: Beaufort, Morehead City, and Atlantic Beach 

Disclosure: My thanks to Basnight Garner Realty located in Morehead City for being a HinesSightBlog sponsor. If you're looking for a home or vacation home in Beaufort, Morehead City or the Crystal Coast beaches, then  Basnight Garner Realty is the place to start. My HinesSightBlog sponsors keep me at my desk writing, #OutaboutNC and now stalking houses on YouTube.

If you love to look at old homes or newly-constructed homes then you would love the Old Homes and More Tour in Historic Beaufort, NC. It's held every June. 2019 is its 59th year.


Five Mouth-Watering Side Dishes for Outdoor Grilling Season

It's officially outdoor grilling season now. In the South, it's not uncommon for one's social calendar to be filled with family reunions, potluck dinners, bbq's or even a good, ole' fashioned "Pig Pickin" where bbq is a noun and not a verb. Usually, the hosts ask the guests asked to bring a side dish to share.  I've been writing about side dishes for years and you can find all of these recipes and more under the recipe section of the HinesSightBlog.

I've made every single of these dishes at least once, and some dishes are so popular that I'm not allowed to attend certain annual events unless I bring a certain dish with me. Here are my family's favorite five side dish favorites.

Southern Mac and Cheese is a great picnic side dish. This is a family favorite recipe from Southern blogger, Leigh Powell Hines. It's not your usual Mac and Cheese. Great for family reunions, family dinners, or potluck dinners.

Hines Mac and Cheese

This recipe came from my husband's family, but it's the only Mac and Cheese I make now. My kids ask for this dish more than anything else. In fact, it's the only dish I take to Scouting events now because my husband nor son will let me take anything else. I've served it to many guests in my home and I hope you enjoy, too.

Shoe Peg Corn Salad

Shoe-Peg Salad is a popular Side dish with a sugar and vinegar base. It is a crowd favorite for church picnics and event side dishes. It is one of the most popular recipes from the HinesSightBlog. It also doubles easily for a crowd.

This particular side dish is a favorite of my mother-in-law so anytime she hosts an event, she asks me to make this delicious side dish that is served chilled. It's even better if made the day ahead.

Southern Potluck Potatoes for a Crowd

This yummy side dish originally came from a cookbook from an Edenton, N.C. church.  It's one of those dishes that tend to come back empty when you take it an event.

Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad

Not everyone loves mayo, but mayo is common in the South. This no-mayo based pasta salad recipe is perfect for the mayo-haters, but it is delicious enough that it wins over the entire crowd at potlucks, picnics, and reunions. It's easy enough for an easy dinner side on any day of the week.

I have several friends who do not like condiments. When you're in the South, it's sometimes hard to go to an event and find a side dish that does not contain mustard or mayonnaise. When I was having one of my no-mayo friends over to the house, I whipped up an easy pasta salad that I was proud to put on the table. Olive Oil and Lemon juice serve as the base.

Southern Baked Beans with a Twist

I like baked beans as a side dish. However, soaking beans can take a while so to save time, I doctor up canned beans. now. This baked bean recipe is originally from Rachael Ray, but I accidentally created a new version of the dish when I read the ingredients wrong. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

In the South,  tis the season for picnics, parties and reunions. These five mouth-watering sides are perfect pairs for the South's grilling season, or easy side dishes for any night of the week, but several of these recipes are crowd favorites at Southern Potlucks and Family Reunions.

Disclosure: My thanks to Glenn Martin Hammond Law Office, personal injury attorneys in Lexington, KY for being a HinesSightBlog May sponsor. My sponsors keep me at my desk writing about my Southern Lifestyle or OutaboutNC. If your business would like to become a HinesSightBlog editorial sponsor, please contact me at leigh@hinessightblog.com.  My sponsors give me 100 percent editorial content control and I could not do what I do without them. 


How Doing One Simple Thing Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds Before Turning 50

2019 is my year to be fifty.  Some may consider that number to be a milestone. AARP certainly does. I've already received my second invitation to become a member.

I still have kids on the younger side so I don't think of myself as fifty, honestly. I don't feel fifty. But yet, people who were born in my year are all fifty whether we like it or not.

NC Blogger Leigh Powell HInes at the Beautiful HIstoric Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC. This Black and White Hallway is an Inn landmark. Leigh shares her weight loss journey before turning 50. She lost 20 pounds.
March 2019 at 50
Photo by Curious Notions Photography

I feel that turning fifty was certainly better than turning forty-five. Beginning at forty-five, the body as I knew it began to change. I started holding weight in my midsection than rather my hips and every year, the scales would get heavier.  By the age of forty-nine, I was twenty-five pounds than I had been five years earlier. Now, at fifty, I'm not skinny. I'm average, but am twenty pounds lighter and weigh less than I did at the age of forty-four.

Having a blog is like having an online time capsule. I've written about weight many times before. The first time I wrote about weight was when I was participating in a clean eating/detox program. At forty-three I weighed 125 to 130 pounds.  Just a year later, I talk about turning forty-five soon, and I had jumped to 136 pounds so once again. I was working on a new eating program. I was finding that keeping weight off was not as easy as it once was and it was something I would battle throughout my forties.

Add moving to a new home, busy schedules and way too many carbohydrates in a diet, the pounds kept adding up.  In fact, I have very few photos of myself from 2105 and beyond and very few full-body shots like this one below from 2017. It's easy to tell in this photo that those twenty pounds were in face, arms, bust, and stomach.

Losing weight after 40 is hard. AT45, it gets even harder, NC Blogger Leigh Powell Hines before a low-carb lifestyle in 2017.
In the summer of 2017 at 47

When we moved into our new home, I started exercising more because of our clubhouse pool and gym. We even adopted a dog that needed walking.  No doubt, I was moving more by the time I was 48 in our new home, but my diet was not right.

 In July of 2018 when I went for my well-visit, I was shocked to learn that all that exercise and dog-walking may have toned my legs a little, but I was five pounds heavier than I was six months prior and unfortunately, I was only five pounds lighter than my husband. I was determined to make a plan right then because I was not turning fifty and be heavier than my own husband.

Before Weight Loss.
Summer of 2018 at 49

I had dinner with my college roommate who is the medical field. We discussed carbs and sugars that night over a great dinner at Bida Manda in Raleigh.  She said to me, "Go home and google keto and lower-carb. You'll find so much information." She told me how she monitored her carb intake daily.

That July night of 2018, I downloaded a free app. I just googled "free carb counting" in the play store and came up with the Carb Manager.  I used the free version.  As you educate yourself on the Keto diet, it advises about 25 carbs a day.

Hello, 25 grams of carb is basically one sandwich a day. One medium tomato has nine grams of carbs.  I learned very quickly that I was eating a ton of carbs in my diet and had no idea how much carbs I was really eating in a day. I cooked a lot of pasta meals for the family because they were quick and easy.  This had been my lifestyle for years.

Twenty-five carbs a day was not going to work for me. I decided to shoot for 50 carbs a day and it would be OK if I went to 75 carbs some days. I figured I was eating about 200 carbs a day before changing my habits so going to 75 carbs a day would at least help.

The carb manager app helped NC Blogger Leigh Powell Hines track what she was eating daily.

I continued to walk the dog and go to the gym. I moved daily thanks to the dog, Andy. My weight loss was slow and steady at about a loss of one pound per week. By December (my birthday month), I was down finally down 20 pounds.

North Carolina Blogger Leigh Powell Hines is owner of the HinesSightBlog, Travel, Food, and Life with A Southern Spin.
Photo by Curious Notions Photography

I did not gain weight over the holidays. I did give up a lot of pasta throughout this process and I now use a lower-carb bread for sandwiches at home. When I was working to lose weight, I was strict, I would rarely eat a sandwich in a restaurant for lunch.  Instead, I would eat a chopped salad, tuna salad or chicken salad. Bread is not your friend on a low-carb diet, but fats are more tolerable. I also ate very little beans during the weight loss process.

Once I achieved a twenty-pound weight loss goal, I stopped using the app because I started to know my foods, but once I stopped using the Carb Manager app, the weight loss stopped.

50-year-old NC blogger lost 20 pounds on a low-carb eating plan.
Photo by Turnkey Photography

I've maintained my weight at about 132 pounds. I've fluctuated up to 135 pounds, if I don't eat well or drink enough water. I also will eat a sandwich out or a burger with bread now in a restaurant on occasion. I've learned now that my weight may creep up if I do it too many times in a row. I also eat more beans now than I did when I was trying to lose weight.  Everything I do has to be in moderation.  The biggest take away for me that I've learned from this experience is to actually lose weight, I need to log everything I eat with the app and be under 1300 calories a day. It was that simple.

Log what I eat, keep carbs between 50g to 75g per day, and do not go over 1300 calories.

The one thing that I did not give up through this entire process was NC Craft Beer, but I had very little wine unless it was sparkling. I rarely ate sweets and I kept sugar at a minimum. I still try to abide by both those rules.

On My eating plan, I still kept NC craft beer as part of my diet. This is a local beer from Brice's Brewing in Raleigh, NC.
Photo by Turnkey Photography 

What did I miss most on this diet? I missed spaghetti and meatballs. When I was losing weight I did zucchini noodles and let's be honest, there is no substitute for a big plate of angel hair.

I will eat angel hair now, but I really try to watch the portions or mix it with zucchini noodles so I can still get a hearty portion.

I'm really glad that I got my weight in check before turning fifty. If I can do it, you can, too.

How Lifestyle Blogger, Leigh Powell Hines, of the HinesSightBlog lost 20 pound before turning 50. She did one simple thing that helped her achieve her weight loss carb goals.

Disclosure: My thanks to Wells Family Dental Group in Wake Forest, N.C. for being a HinesSightBlog sponsor. My sponsors help keep me # OutaboutNC and writing editorial content at my desk. If your business is interested in becoming a blog sponsor, please email me at leigh@Hinessightblog.com for advertising rates.


Make it a Simple, Taco-Themed Dinner Party: Fiesta Tacos, Taco Pizza, and Guacamole Salsa will Wow your Guests for Easy Entertaining

Updated May 2019
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Taco Pizza

Do you need a simple entertaining menu to feed a crowd? When I have people over, I like to use simple and inexpensive recipes. 

A taco-themed dinner the party worked well for a mini family reunion and it is perfect for any night of the week or even Cinco de Mayo. 

Tacos, Taco Pizza plus Guacamole Salsa for Entertaining a Crowd. It's Simple and Great on the Budget

My father-in-law’s twin brother was in town from Atlanta, so we entertained him along with my husband’s family, who also live in Raleigh at our home. It was a chilly weekend here, so we decided against grilling. 

Taco Night is great for entertaining because it doesn’t break the piggy bank.  It’s simple, and it feeds a crowd with ease, with very little preparation by the host.

My Taco-Night Themed Menu

Guacamole Salsa
Blue and White Corn Chips
Fiesta Turkey Tacos  (Hard corn shells and Soft flour tortillas)
Taco Pizza
Black Beans and Corn
Toppings: Sour Cream, Salsa, Lettuce, Tomato

The taco, taco pizza, and guacamole recipes all came from McCormick's website. I’m sure you make tacos all the time, so I’m not going to share a recipe on how to make a taco, but I did use ground turkey, and McCormick Taco Seasoning Mix. Simple and easy. 

The other recipes were DELICIOUS.  They are keepers, and I will serve them again as family entrees.

Guacamole Salsa

Guacamole Salsa

2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 package McCormick Guacamole Seasoning Mix
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon lime juice

Mix avocados, seasoning mix, tomato, onion, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Stir before serving and serve with tortilla chips.

Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza comes together in Minutes

1 pound of ground turkey
1 package McCormick Taco Seasoning Mix Mild
1 cup of salsa
¾ cup of water
1 prepared pizza crust (12-inch)
2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brown meat in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir in seasoning mix, salsa, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spoon meat mixture over crust. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with shredded lettuce and tomato.

Taco Pizza: Great for Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Night. Easy Weeknight Meal instead of Tacos

This is a quick and easy guacamole salsa for any night of the week. Great as an appetizer for entertaining in a pinch.

Disclosure:  My thanks to Clegg's Pest Control in Charlotte, N.C for being a May HinesSightBlog Sponsor. Consider calling them when you find pests buzzing about. My sponsors keep me at my desk sharing my Southern Lifestyle and #outaboutnc.

This was a sponsored post in 2013 from the Motherhood on behalf of McCormick. This post was updated in 2019.  Six years later, the recipes are still solid.


Easy Pecan Recipes You Will Love (And So Will Your Heart)

Whether you say pee-can or peh-kahn, this tree-bearing nut is a top agricultural commodity for North Carolina. It ranks in the top 10 in the United States for pecan production and farmers produce three to five million pecans annually. Georgia is number one in the U.S. and Albany, Georiga is the Pecan Capital of the U.S with almost 600,000 pecan trees. Pecan history facts go back to the 16th century. While most of us enjoy pecans during the holidays, the nut is available all year and is a great, healthy snack.

Pecans are rich in copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin E. The tree nut boasts 14 vitamins and minerals in one serving. It also provides a good source of protein. April is National Pecan Month and I am constantly searching for recipe ideas on my Pinterest Account, especially my lower-carb board.  The nut is a certified American Heart Association heart-healthy food and has been linked to cholesterol reduction.

I think most people tend to think about pecans more in the winter and it is overlooked the rest of the year unless it's in a Planter's Nut mix that you may snack on when you open your pantry. Grocery stores display pecans front and center around Thanksgiving and Christmas for pecan pies and sweet potato casseroles, but typically, there is little publicity around them the rest of the year.

Even though I have a great holiday recipe using pecans for a sweet potato souffle, I thought it would be fun to showcase a few recipes that don't remind us of the holidays. For lunch the other day, I used pecans as a topping for my salad. I tossed mixed greens, tuna, avocado together and added some pecans for a little crunch. Have fun with using pecans as a topping for a salad by combining your own ingredients.

Easy Pecan Recipes. Toss them in a Salad.

Here are some other healthy recipe with pecans to add to your dinner rotation. The National Pecan Shellers Association has a fabulous free cookbook on its website that it put together for its 75th Anniversary. There are some great recipes using pecans in this pecan-focused cookbook you can download for free.

5 Other Recipes With Pecans You Must Try that are Heart-Healthy

Fettucine with Zucchini and Pecans 

Toasted pecans with zucchini, asiago cheese, basil, and fettuccine make this recipe simple for a weeknight meal. This is delicious, and you could go lower-carb by using zucchini noodles.

Fettucine, Pecans, Zucchini and Shaved Parmesean make for an easy all-in-one meal. Add tofu, chicken, seafood for more protein.

Banana-Pecan Smoothie

Pecans add great flavor to this power-protein smoothie with vanilla yogurt as a base. For even more protein, use vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt.

Stuffed Eggplant with Pecans, Sundried Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

I love eggplant and am always wanting new ideas for the vegetable. This recipe looks easy, quick and delicious. Pecans are part of the stuffing for the roasted eggplant.

Paula Deen's Pecan Chicken Salad with Pecans 

You're either a fan of grapes and pecans in your chicken salad or not. Personally, I love the two flavors mixed in for the crunch in place of traditional celery. Paula adds sour cream to this recipe to add to the uniqueness. Great on a croissant.

Pecan Crusted Salmon

If you do google search for pecan crusted fish then you can use a pecan breading for most any type of fish. I like pecans with salmon. I chose this dish for ease. No need to get out a processor and using mayonnaise as a base helps the crust stick to the fish when baking. No need to the cucumber dill sauce unless you want to do so. I skip it because my kids won't eat it.  Not a mayo fan, then you may like this recipe with dijon mustard, instead. You can also use pecans for all types of fish.

Easy Pecan Recipes you will love and so will your heart. Pecans are heart-healthy, packed with 14 vitamins and minerals and filled with protein. Pecans don't have to be reserved for holiday use. These simple recipes will have you serving pecans all year. April is National Pecan Month.

Disclosure: My thanks to Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Ashburn, Va for being a HinesSightBlog sponsor.  My sponsors allow me to keep writing at my desk and bringing you the best in editorial content.

If your business has an interest in becoming an editorial sponsor, please contact me at Leigh@HinesSightBlog.com for rates. 


Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine with this DIY Facial Tip from North Carolina's Luxury Umstead Spa

Spring is a time for renewal. After a long winter, our skin can also use some pampering. One of my favorite products is a resurfacing peel that I use three times a week.  Skincare experts say that one should try to get a professional facial with the change of each season.

The Five-Star Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina is one of the best places in the Southeast to get a facial, but spa experts tell me that it's also wise to use some natural ingredients at home to give your skin the renewal it needs, especially in the Spring after a dry winter.

DIY Spring Facial Tip for the Umstead Spa in Cary, N.C.
The Umstead Spa in Cary, N.C. 

DIY at-Home Spring Facial Tips from the Umstead Spa

Wash face with a mild cream cleanser, rinse well and pat dry. 
In a small bowl, mix half of one lemon (Organic lemon is best), with 2 tablespoons of raw honey.
Mix until the product is a smooth and blended consistency, then apply to skin and leave on for 10 minutes
Remove with warm water or a warm towel to reveal a smooth, bright and glowing complexion 

Lemon and water. I think we can all get those ingredients easily.

The Spa at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, N.C.
Spring will be a great time to enjoy the outdoor areas at the Umstead Spa in Cary, N.C. 

Skin Perfecting Facial (80 minutes, $185)
This skin rejuvenating facial exfoliates and brightens the skin, cleaning the pores to rid it of dull, dry winter skin, and revealing a fresh face for spring.

Combining healing herbal products, a peel suited for guest’s personal skin care needs, and a Vitamin C mask to boost skin’s natural radiance and beauty, this facial helps even out skin pigmentations, promotes skin firming, helps fight breakouts and aids in moisturizing.  Spa-goers can enjoy a luxurious hand and foot massage while the mask is penetrating and replenishing the skin.

Let me know if you try the Umstead's beauty tips.

North Carolina's Luxury Five-Star Spa, The Umstead shares a simple recipe to use at home for a spring facial.

Updated: April 2019
Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links with Beautycounter, a product I use regularly. My thanks to Costa Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Ashburn, Virginia for being a HinesSightBlog sponsor. My sponsors allow me to keep at my desk writing bringing you the best in editorial content. 


Garden Vegetables that Harvest in the Spring

One of my memories from my childhood is waking up at my Grandma's home, and seeing her in the garden. She was not a farmer to earn a living, but rather I guess it was part of her heritage to grow her own food. I really have no idea.  She died when I was 13. I never asked her, "Why do you grow your own food?" My Dad is gone now, too. I never asked him either why his parents had this garden. It is just what they did. I live less than two miles from North Carolina's State Farmer's Market, and I also belong to Papa Spud's, where I can get produce from the farms straight to my door. My family is lucky, I think.

What's Fresh from the Farm in the Spring in NC? Spring Vegetables

My grandmother grew corn, turnips, collards, strawberries, butter beans, new potatoes, and green beans. They also had grapes.  I really don't know all that she grew, but I certainly know that every day, she would cook fresh vegetables for a lunch buffet. She did it daily. She kept me while my Mom worked when I was little and I developed a palate for fresh vegetables at a very early age. 

Farm Days
Source:  Who Remembers This? on Facebook 

The photo of a woman snapping green beans was circulating on Facebook at one time, and it immediately took me back to summers when I would visit my Grandma. I remember shelling peas and snapping green beans as a child.

I look forward to eating more vegetables in the spring and in North Carolina, this is when produce is abundant at the Farmer's Market.

This is the garden harvest for spring that will be available at Farmer's markets. Of course, grocery stores have these items off-season, but this is when you will see it come in fresh from the farms. 

A guide to Spring Crops in North Carolina and beyond. Garden Fresh Vegetables in the Spring #eattherainbow #vegetables #healthyeating

Green Onions: Late March
Asparagus: Early April 
Strawberries: Early/mid-April
Arugula: Late April 
Lettuces: Late April 
Radishes: Late April 
Bok Choy: Early May
Salad Mix: Early May
Blueberries: Mid May
Chard, Rainbow: Mid May
Salad Turnips: Mid May
Snap Peas: Mid May
New Potatoes: Mid May
Broccoli: Late May
Squash, Yellow: Late May
Squash, Zucchini: Late May 

When I started the #OutaboutNC community in 2015, one of my biggest supporters has been chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte, N.C.  His dream was to open a restaurant that was entirely locally sourced. Every item from the alcohol served to dessert come from North Carolina. His restaurant has been named one of the top 100 foodie restaurants on Open Table. 

I've been in Clark's company several times now but have not made it to Charlotte yet. It's on my list. for a true North Carolina culinary experience.  

Farm Fresh, NC local produce at Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte, N.C.
Happy Spring!

This post was originally published in Spring of 2016 and updated in 2019.  Recipes you may like for Spring.

Three Recipes Using Kale
Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad 
Bok Choy on the Side 
Most Delicious Asparagus Ever  and other recipes.

Disclosure: *Papa Spud's is a referral link given to local customers.

The HinesSightBlog is sponsored by PSChevy. in Fayetteville. Test drive the 2020 Silverado HD today.  Thanks, PSChevy for keeping me at my desk writing and #OutaboutNC. 


The Most Delicious Asparagus Recipe Ever

Whether you are planning a bridal luncheon or an elegant dinner party, this recipe for marinated asparagus will score big with your guests. They will think you have slaved away in the kitchen for hours, however, the secret is that this recipe takes little time to prepare.

This simple and delicious side dish is perfect for spring, and summer when asparagus is in abundance at the Farmer's Market. It's great for an Easter side as well. My kids love asparagus simply roasted or boiled, but this recipe takes asparagus up a notch for guests.

It's best when it's made the night before an event, which I love because it gives me less to do on the day of a dinner party. I'm also a big fan of asparagus because it's also lower in carbohydrates.

the most delicious aspragus recipe. Perfect for Easter dinner. It marinates overnight in a balsamic vinegar dressing.

Elegant Marinated Asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus spears
1 green onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning (used Good Season's Italian Dressing Packet)
2 tablespoons of diced pimento
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Cut ends of asparagus. Blanch asparagus 4 minutes until crisp-tender, then immediately submerge in ice water. Pat asparagus dry and place in shallow baking dish.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well.  Pour the dressing over asparagus, cover, and chill overnight.  Drain any excess marinade before serving.  Allow sitting at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

*Versions of this recipe are in almost every junior league or church cookbook that I own. This recipe is based on my trying different ones, and using the ingredients that I like best.

This marinated asparagus recipe would also be a great side to my Joey Burgers recipes. 

Pin for Recipe

The perfect asparagus recipe for Easter, a bridal luncheon or just for the family.  This Marinated Asparagus is the most delicious asparagus ever.  #springrecipes #recipes #asparagus #sides

This recipe was originally published in 2012 and was updated in April 2019.

My thanks to North Carolina car dealership, Performance Ford in Clinton, N.C, for being a blog sponsor. Test drive the new 2020 Ford F-150 Hybrid. Thanks for keeping me at my desk writing and #OutaboutNC. 


Southern Recipes: Enjoy the Carolina Inn's Arugula and Beet Salad at Home Plus a Chat with New Chef Jeremy Blankenship

I know there have to be some beet lovers out there. I find you're either a lover or a hater, and there are few people who fall in between. But I believe the right beet recipe can turn a hater into a lover.  Chapel Hill's Carolina Inn is steeped with Southern tradition. It's been serving guests in North Carolina's quaint college town for 95 years.

Leading the culinary scene at the Inn's Crossroads Chapel Hill restaurant is Hillsborough native Jeremy Blankenship. One salad plate at a time, Chef Blankenship hopes to turn every Tarheel in town into a glorified beet lover with his Arugula and Beet Salad Appetizer with Toasted Walnuts, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, and Citrus Gel. 

Carolina Inn's Arugula and Beet Salad Recipe
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

I met with Chef Blankenship in March to get a feel for his culinary influence. He is no stranger to the Carolina Inn. In fact, the Inn and past North Carolina prestigious Southern chefs have been a huge part of his own culinary training. From an internship and Sous Chef training at the Carolina Inn to being hired as Chef de Cuisine at Crossroads in 2005 following his tenure with the well-known, Magnolia Grill, located in Durham NC.

Leigh Powell Hines and Chef Jeremy Blankenship
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

It was at the Southern icon Magnolia Grill, under the ownership of Ben and Karen Barker who both were James Bearn Award-winning chefs that he really developed the food philosophy that he uses daily. It was quite evident during our chat at the Inn, this was a special time in his and in truly molded him into the talented chef he is today.

Blankenship told me he doesn't label himself as a Southern cook, but rather he takes Southern ingredients and uses worldly techniques in the kitchen that embraces seasonality and regionalism.

“It’s not just about farm-to-table, it’s an exchange of ideas, it’s a relationship, it’s about integrity in the entire process of food preparation from finding and sourcing ingredients to educating the team that works with you every day about how to be creative with what is set before you," stated Blankenship.

Blankenship pays homage to his past mentor with a special Karen Barker inspired dessert that will soon debut on the Carolina Inn menu.

Carolina Inn Desserts
Photo by OutaboutNC  Contributor Tatiana Amador 

Just as with anyone who builds a career, Blankenship left the Inn for higher culinary roles and returned finally returned back to the Carolina Inn in 2016 to serve as Executive Sous Chef. He was in that role until his appointment of Executive Chef this year.

Chef Jeremy Blankenship of the Carolina Inn Speaks with NC Blogger Leigh Powell Hines
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

Being an Executive Chef of a hotel always comes with many challenges because unlike a regular restaurant, the kitchen is rarely closed because guests are with you 24-hours a day. The Carolina Inn offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and a bar menu. All items are different and all are what you would expect at a luxury hotel. It sounds exhausting, but Blankenship loves the culinary challenge. The Carolina Inn is one of North Carolina's largest event and wedding venues as well.

The Carolina Inn for Southern Afternoon Tea 

The classic Carolina Inn is one of my favorite places in North Carolina for afternoon tea. They have delicious scones. The tea service is traditional and does not steer too far away from its British roots.

Not as many chefs are in love with hotel afternoon tea service as much as the guests because I got the feeling it can be kind of mundane.  Chefs can't mix it up too much because people like me expect a scone, a smoked salmon and a cucumber sandwich a certain way as a UNC-Chapel alumnus want. Sometimes, even the scones are piped in Carolina blue.

Afternoon Tea  Service at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

Chef Blankenship may not love afternoon tea as much as me, but he knows his guests expect the best and he'll deliver. Carolina Inn offers special teas throughout the year, and tea reservations must be made 48-hours in advance.

He joked with me, "We're not going to change up your cucumber sandwich and scones. So don't worry!"

Traditional Tea at the Carolina Inn
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

Busy days are ahead for Blankenship and his culinary team. Spring in a University town is one of the busiest. He has Easter, Mother's Day and UNC Graduation within weeks of each of other. When he's off, he has busy kids at home, but he loves to hop on his motorcycle and enjoy other's culinary talents.

Since beets are still at the markets right now, he is sharing with me the exact recipe he has on the dinner menu currently.  I took one look at it and immediately said, "I love it, but how can we do shortcuts?"

A Recipe for Arugula and Beet Salad at Home
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 
He told me that the beet confit could be served as a side alone. They are time-consuming due to the time of being in the over, but that is really it.  He firmly believes that beets pair best with Arugula so no substitute there, but if you do not have time to make a citrus gel then he told me to toss in some sliced oranges.  During our conversation, he admitted that about ten years ago, the salad would have been on the menu with orange slices, but menus have evolved into even more creativity.

Beets are still plentiful at your local farmer's market so pick some up and try this sensational recipe at home.

Carolina Inn's Arugula and Beet Salad
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

Arugula & Beet Salad 

Toasted Walnuts, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Citrus Gel

1 each large red confit beet, peeled and ½ inch dice
1 each large yellow confit beet, peeled and ½ inch dice
1 cup toasted walnuts
½ cup citrus fluid gel  (See recipe below for gel)
4 oz Point Reyes Blue Cheese crumbled
8 oz fresh Arugula
½ cup vinaigrette  (See recipe below for vinaigrette)
¼ cup toasted walnut oil
Salt to taste

Method of Preparation
Place your diced beets in a mixing bowl and season with salt and a splash of the vinaigrette and toss to coat

In a separate bowl add your arugula  and season with salt and enough vinaigrette to coat and toss to coat

Evenly distribute the seasoned beats between 4 plates.

Between the beets add dollops of the citrus gel

Add your toasted walnuts between the beets and gel

Place your seasoned arugula on top of the beet salad making sure to not cover up everything

Drizzle the walnut oil over the salad and serve

Serves 4

Carolina Inn Chef Jeremy Blankenship
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

How to make the Confit Beets

5 Each Medium sized beets
1 Each Shallots peeled
1 Each Zest of orange
1 Each Rosemary sprig
Oil to cover the beets

Place first 4 items in a pot and cover with oil
Place on the stove top and heat until the oil is warm
Cover with foil and place in the oven at 275 degrees for 1.5 hours
Check to make sure they are tender
Uncover and cool in the oil

Note: Store these beets in the fridge in the oil. That is the key. 

How to Make the Orange Citrus Gel 

     4 cups of Fresh squeezed OJ Strained
     3 teaspoons of Agar Agar
     1 teaspoon salt

Bring the orange juice to a simmer and add the salt
Whisk in the agar really well while still simmering
Let it simmer for 10 more seconds
Strain through a chinois into a hotel pan and cool in the fridge
Once cold and set up cut into tiny square and blend in the vita prep until super smooth
Push through a fine strainer
Store in airtight containers in the fridge

How to Make Toasted Walnuts

     4 Cups Walnuts
      Blended oil to coat
      Salt to taste
Place the walnuts in a mixing bowl and add enough oil to coat. Toss in the oil and season with salt
Place the walnuts on a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until toasted.
Let cool and store in airtight containers.

How to Make Vinaigrette

YIELD:  6.5 cups

     2       T Red Wine Vinegar
     2       T Sherry Vinegar
     ½     T Cider Vinegar
     1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Mix all of the tablespoons of vinegar together
Whisk in the EVO and season

Bon appetite

NC Blogger Leigh Powell Hines
Photo by Curious Notions Photo in Chapel Hill 

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