Wintry Green Salad Recipe - A Delicious Holiday Side to Dazzle the In-Laws

North Carolina, USA
Updated: December 23, 2023. After almost 13 years of blogging, I'm doing my best to update old content. It's not an easy task at all. I decided to update this post because I've been assigned "a green salad" for Christmas Eve dinner. This wintry green salad is easy to make and if you choose not to make your own dressing, it works well with any storebought dressing, too. 

Great Holiday Side Salad with Citrus and Cranberries. Easy to assemble and delicious.

I have been making this Wintry Green salad for a few years now. It's really easy, and it offers a great simple side to an evening meal, or serve it for lunch with chicken salad. The Mandarin oranges and cranberries make it colorful, and worthy for entertaining.

I had it on the menu for my tree-trimming meal last month, and my Mother-in-Law loved it so much that she requested it for our Christmas Eve gathering. I don't think you can go wrong with this salad. I have, however, cut the sugar amounts for the dressing from the original recipe, which was published in the 2003 Jr. Guild of Rocky Mount Cookbook, "A Dash of Down East." 

Wintry Green Salad with Citrus and Cranberries

Wintry Green Salad with Citrus and Cranberries

1-11 oz can of Mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
8 to 10 cups mixed salad greens

Sesame Cider Dressing:

1/3 cup sugar (Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced onions
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.
Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Be sure to visit all my favorite recipes in the HinesSight Blog Recipe section.

The Perfect Holiday Entree - The Beginner's Guide to Cooking a Beef Rib Roast

North Carolina, USA
Updated: December 2023. I saw my Mom this morning, and she asked me about cooking a Christmas rib roast. It was like Christmas De Ja Vu. I would not commit, but it got me thinking about this post I wrote in 2017. It may be time for a rib roast this holiday. We'll see, but after reading more cookbooks than I can count, the rib roast recipe I've posted below. My holiday looks a little different these days. I'm now a parent to teens.  This post was originally written in December 2017, 

Unlock the secret to the perfect boneless rib roast with our beginner-friendly guide. Learn the essential techniques and tips that will turn you into a boneless rib roast master in no time. Say goodbye to dry or tough roasts and prepare to impress your guests with juicy, tender results.

A week or two before the holidays, my Mom hinted that she would like prime rib by sending me online recipes every other day. The recipes would casually be slipped into my Facebook messages. This particular holiday marked our 12th Christmas without Dad. He used to make bone-in-prime every holiday. I had never made a rib roast before. 

"Learn the basics of perfectly cooking a rib roast with our beginner's guide. Our step-by-step instructions will guide you through the whole process to help you get the perfect result every time. Get an unforgettable dining experience - cook a perfect rib roast today!"

I read the recipes she sent, and they frightened me a little.  I would never commit to her, and still, two days before this Christmas, I still did not know what I would prepare for our holiday dinner. I pulled countless recipe books from my pantry and thought I might attempt some beef or pork tenderloin. When I went grocery shopping, I took two cookbooks to Lowes Food, and they sat in the cart while I looked at meat. There was not a beef tenderloin in sight for less than $80.

My wallet spoke up.  Boneless ribeye roasts were on a significant sale. A four-pound boneless ribeye roast was marked down from $52 to $32. I flipped through my cookbooks, surfed the internet on Lowes's free Wi-Fi, and decided to try it. It would be my meat entree and sides of corn pudding, macaroni and cheese, southern butterbeans, green beans, and rolls.

Delicious Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese (Quick and Easy Appetizer)

North Carolina, USA
This is an appetizer where you can't eat just one.  It's one of my favorite holiday appetizers using dates and manchego cheese.  It's easy and a fabulous combination of sweet and savory. Fontina cheese would be a good substitute if you can't find manchego. 

Enjoy the perfect combination of sweet and savory with these Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese. This easy and flavorful dish is crowd favorite

Manchego Cheese is from the La Mancha region of Spain. I was first introduced to it on a trip there decades ago. It's made from the Manchega breed of Sheep.  It's a semi-soft cheese with a mild, nutty, fruity, sweet, and tangy flavor. For me, that just translates into delicious.  Medjool dates are soft dates also known to have health benefits for your heart, brain and gut. You usually find them in the produce section of your grocery store, especially this time of year. I also like to purchase them locally at specialty stores such as Sassool in Cary or Neomonde in Raleigh.  Fontina Cheese is an alpine-style cheese more readily available in most markets. 

Dates Stuffed with Manchego and Topped with Pistachios and Honey

Dates stuffed with Manchego Cheese and Topped with Pistachios and Honey.


1 pound of Medjool Dates (approximately 30 dates)
6 ounces of Manchego cheese, cut into  1" X  1/2" strips
3-4 ounces of pistachios, salted and roasted
Drizzle of honey


Toast pistachios for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 325 degrees. Pull them out when they smell "toasty."

Use a paring knife, and make a slit down the center of one date.

Tuck a cheese strip inside the date, and repeat the same process for all 30 dates. Increase the to 350 degrees.

Place in a baking dish and warm in a 350-degree oven.

Remove from oven after cheese melts. Approximately 10 minutes.

Let it cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle it with honey and pistachios.

Dates are higher in calories so this is certainly not a low-calorie appetizer, but so worth it when you indulge. 

Easy and Quick Appetizer that is perfect for fall with Dates and Manchego Cheesetopped with Pistachios and Honey. #Entertaining #Appetizers #ManchegoCheese


You can also create a cheese board with grapes, olives, extra pistachios, and crackers. And don't worry about a fancy cracker---Ritz-Crackers work fine and pair well with this cheese.  Multigrain crackers are also a good choice. 

Manchego also pairs with certain jams, which can be another appetizer using this cheese. Red Pepper,  Hot Pepper jelly, or gourmet fig jam on a cracker topped with a piece of fontina cheese is delicious. 

Save More with Beautycounter: Unleash the Power of Clean Beauty

North Carolina, USA

Beautycounter, the leading clean beauty since 2013, has worked at its core mission to get safer beauty into the hands of everyone by changing beauty regulations and selling its inventory online, in person in Beautycounter branded stores, the retail chain Ulta, and in your communities through Brand Advocates.

Beautycounter Gift Set of Three Bestselling Creams

I've been a fan of the beauty brand since 2016,  when I tried my very first product, a luxurious eye cream using plant-based ingredients. Since then, that same eye cream that I continue to use and endorse has been reformulated, improved, and repackaged to rival top brands made in France that give the same anti-aging benefits as retinol but without some of the nagging side effects. You can buy the Countertime 

Ultra Renewal Eye Cream at Ulta if you like to see and feel textures before buying or if you need it 

ASAP.  I get it. My daughter loves to shop at both Ulta and Sephora, and because of that I've branched out through the years with products simply because they caught my eye in the store. 

No doubt, it's the season for holiday sales. I have a great opportunity for you to SAVE big time when you stock up on your own staples, and don't miss the already value-priced Gift Sets when you buy products through my brand advocate link on the blog. Beautycounter's holiday are packaged so they can go right in a gift bag, or just put a cute ribbon around the package. When you shop my link, I reward you with future free products through rewards. 

Beautcounter Mascara and Lip Gift Set

This is how you SAVE on Beautycounter. 
      1. For All product orders over $50, you will receive $7 in reward dollars. (That's the cost of your shipping back toward free full-size products.

      2. For All product orders over $150, you will receive an additional  $5 in reward dollars per each additional $100. That means if you order $250 in products, you will receive $10 in rewards plus the $7 for the first tier of rewards. 

      3. All Beautycounter products purchased under $50 will receive $3 in reward dollars. 

The following are some of my favorite products you will not be able to find in Ulta.

Beautycounter Lip Jellies Gift Set

  • Lashes & Lips Duo - - This gift contains a mini mascara and transforming lipstick (sheer lipstick that appears as a shade of sheer pink unique to your lips - think mood ring for your lips. 

  • Polish & Plump Facial Trio - This gift set contains Mighty Plump + Cleansing Balm + AHA Mask. This is the perfect trio for winter skincare, and it's seriously a steal for 3 of the best products Beautycounter makes.  I adore the Mighty Plump cream and use it as my daily moisturizer.  It's also not available in Ulta stores. 

  • Main Squeeze Lip Jellies -This is Beautycounter's top-selling gift this holiday season. Break them up and add a Starbucks GC for your girlfriends, or give this gift as it is.  They are the perfect stocking stuffers.  

  • Mini Beyond Gloss ($68 value)  I never really liked lip gloss until I tried Beautycounter's brand. It's not sticky, and at the same time, it moisturizes with the perfect shine.  I love this size for my purse. This set comes in four new shades. 

  • Goodnight and Glow Duo ($87 value). I will never stop buying the overnight resurfacing peel; now they make one for the body. This duo will wow; it's like a face-lift in a bottle. 

Do yourself a favor, and buy my favorite lip balm for yourself.  I promise you will love it. 

I also support Beautycounter's mission to spread awareness about learning what ingredients you put on your skin. Beautycounter is not an inexpensive brand, but a little bit of product goes a long way. These are some tips on saving money and getting the most out of your cosmetic and skincare budget. 

Here are a few tips to save money while purchasing Beautycounter's holiday gift sets:

1. Watch out for promotions: Beautycounter often runs special promotions during the holiday season. They may offer discounts, free shipping, or even gift-with-purchase deals. When you shop through me, you get this special access.

2. Beautycounter's gift sets are a fantastic way to get multiple products at a lower price compared to buying them individually. Look for sets that include your desired products and compare the cost savings to buying each item separately.

3. Take advantage of limited edition sets: Beautycounter releases limited-edition holiday sets annually. These sets are often priced lower than the combined cost of individual products. Grabbing these sets can be an excellent way to save money while trying out new products or stocking up on your favorites.

4. If you have friends or family members who also love Beautycounter, consider splitting the cost of a gift set. This way, you can enjoy the savings together while gifting each other something special.

5. Plan ahead and budget: Set a budget for your holiday shopping, including the amount you plan to spend on Beautycounter products. By planning ahead, you can allocate your funds wisely and avoid overspending. I also help you save by giving you reward dollars back. You can also pay using the Klarna app, which divides up your purchases into smaller amounts without interest. It's a game-changer.


Leigh Powell Hines is a Brand Advocate with Beautycounter and has been affiliated with the brand since 2016. If you would like to host your online pop-up or fundraiser, please fill out this contact form.   Leigh gives back up to 30 percent of all sales for group fundraising. 

Get the inside scoop on saving big on Beautycounter's clean beauty products this holiday season. Discover top-rated items that you won't find at Ulta and learn how to leverage exclusive brand advocate rewards for maximum savings.

A Classic Southern Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe from Historic Beaufort, N.C.

Updated November 7, 2023

If you are looking for an easy, southern holiday side, then I have the perfect recipe for you. It's not different from a casserole, but it is without marshmallows, which causes it to have the souffle name.  It will work great for any time of the year, but it screams the holidays because sweet potatoes are in season in North Carolina. This dish pairs well with the traditional holiday turkey or ham.  However, it is also divine with pork tenderloin. 

sweet potato casserole

Sweet Potato Souffle dish that is perfect for the holidays. #Holidays #SideDishes #SweetPotatoes

I've used this recipe for the holidays several times through the years.  This sweet potato classic dish was published in the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cookbook, with the last print edition in 2004. I bought the cookbook that year in Beaufort, N.C.  

I used to go down to the historic home tour every year before kids and strollers entered our lives. Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina and a favorite place of mine.  It's been a long time since updating the blog's travel guide on the area, but Liza and I spent a few days there with family this summer. It's a lovely town to walk in, with lots of coastal charm. 

Beautiful, historic Beaufort, N.C. with its beautiful boats.

The waterfront views and trees are just grand in this coastal village. 

Huge trees line the Beaufort waterfront.

I typically stay with my father-in-law when in town, but the city boasts a pet-friendly boutique hotel on the water called the Beaufort Hotel.  My family dined at the restaurant on-site during my last visit in June, and two items off the menu have me wanting to eat at 34° North Restaurant on each visit. They have delicious crabcakes and "out of this world., the best thing you will put in your mouth ever," which is not listed on its website. It's called the Atlantic Beach Pie. 

The homes are charming and always beautifully decorated. The Inn on Turner is a lovely boutique inn with four suites in the historic district a block or two off the waterway.  Innkeepers Kim and Jon speak my language with their focus on "Wellness Travel and Slow Travel" in beautiful surroundings. We've followed each other on social media for years, and guests rave about their experiences there. 

If you want a little taste of Beaufort in your own home, then give this sweet potato souffle recipe a try. 

This is a classic, traditional recipe that can be used for years. I have just one warning. It has lots of Sugar, but it's tasty.  I sometimes cut the sugar somewhat. 

North Carolina is a top producing Sweet Potato state

Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe from Historic Beaufort, N.C. 


3 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes ( I baked my sweet potatoes in the oven for a few hours. Peeled them then smashed them quickly for this recipe)
1 cup sugar ( I used Sugar in the Raw)
1/4 cup butter, melted 
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk

Mix these ingredients until well blended and pour into a baking dish.

Sweet Potato Souffle Topping:

1 cup brown Sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix brown Sugar, butter, flour, and nuts. Sprinkle on sweet potato mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Souffle with Pecan Topping

Southerners know a classic holiday dish when they find one. With sweet potatoes, sugars and pecans, this classic holiday recipe will delight your guests.

A Travel Guide to Historic Beaufort, N.C.


The Barbie-Inspired "Kenough" Salad Is Just Enough

Raleigh, NC, USA
It was the summer of Barbie. My college friend, Ken, and I walked into a mid-day movie at the Alamo in Raleigh in August. We were the perfect "Barbie and Ken" duo and, undoubtedly, the oldest fifty-something twosome at this 11:30 showing. Our spouses worked their day jobs so we could live like a dream and go to a daytime movie.  I left my oldest child in online school at home, and these two college "besties" lived the "Barbie Dream" for two hours with a glass of Cava each in our hands. It was as if we transported ourselves back to 1989 at UNC-Chapel Hill in Granville Towers. 

Barbie the Movie Poster

We were the first to arrive out of the 20 Barbie fans scheduled for this showing.  Having lived in Europe for twenty-five-plus years, this was his first "dine-in" experience, and he agreed it was the only way to watch a movie. I can't go to a regular theatre that doesn't offer Cava now.  Boy, these teens today don't know how good they have it.  As parents love to say, "Back in my Day," I  used to have to sit in a non-reclining seat with some tall person in front of me after I waited in line for candy, popcorn, and a soda. 

One hour and 54 minutes later, plus $81 in food and alcohol, our Barbie experience was over. We were not cheap dates, to say the least, but to quote Barbie, our day was dreamy. 

“It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever.”



A few days after our Barbie experience, Ken sent me a photo of a salad he created for lunch. We are passionate about good food, high-end hotels, and afternoon tea. I was like, "OMG. That looks good. What's the recipe? I will make this salad, write it up on the blog, and it will be forever known as the "Kenough" salad.  

A delicious, healthy salad with tomatoes, hummus, egg, cucumber and kale.

And just like that, we created the "Kenough" salad in honor of our weekday Barbie The Movie excursion. I made a delicious second version of the original salad due to not having some of the original ingredients. My version was delish.  

Healthy salad with red pepper hummus, butter lettuce, avocado, tomatoes and egg

And then Ken made a third version and changed the egg for peppers.  I'll put my own changes next to his original ingredients. The "Kenough" salad is filling and is the perfect lunch salad. It's just enough to keep you full for the rest of the day. 

The "Kenough Salad" by Kenneth 


Kale for Base (I used Butter Lettuce)

Cherry Tomatoes

Small Avocado

Hard-Boiled Egg


Feta Cheese (I forgot to use cheese)

A tablespoon or two of Garlic hummus (I used red pepper hummus)

Sprinkle of  Nutritional Yeast (I left this out)

Sprinkle Garlic powder (Optional- Kenough likes garlic) and Black Pepper. Knowing what Barbie likes, I added some Pink Himalayan Salt because it's pink, and I love salt on my salad. 

Sprinkle of Aleppo Chili Flakes. (Mix cayenne pepper with paprika to get this Turkish spice's same mild heat taste. Use four times more paprika than cayenne pepper.) 

Dressing: Ken used a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, whereas I gave my "Kenough" salad some kick by adding lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and paprika to the olive oil. 

Want To Make Better Burgers? Try This Simple Recipe

Raleigh, NC, USA
Originally posted in May 2011
Updated: September 6, 2023

I still have this "Cooking with Friends" cookbook from 1995. Many pages are torn out, and I am still making these burgers. In fact, Will and I have a routine. I season the meat and am a little more liberal with Worcestershire sauce. I no longer measure. I pour. However, one to two tablespoons is the best amount. I hope you enjoy this simple burger recipe as much as my family does today.  In 2022, my family vacationed in California, and of course, a highlight for me was sitting on that famous couch. I could have spent hours in the gift store. Since 1995, there have been other published cookbooks, and if you have a "Friends" fanatic on the gift-giving list,

friends set in L.A.

Cooking with Friends cookbook from the TV series

I'm going to be cooking with friends this holiday weekend. My friends are Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey. You may know them, too. They came into my home every week for years, and now I see them in syndication when I flip through channels occasionally. I adored them. We were all the same age, and even though I didn't live in NYC above a coffee shop, I somehow managed to relate to their wacky lives weekly.   I will confess that when I drive through downtown Raleigh now and see all these new condominiums with shops and restaurants below them, I get a little nostalgic about my past TV life with my "friends" and say to Will, "I think it would be so neat to have a bar or coffee shop below your residence."  Don't you?

Friends Cast from TV Series

In 1995, my Mom, who had probably never watched an episode of Friends, found a cookbook called "Cooking with Friends" and gave it to me for Christmas. The cookbook is 20 years old and a little worn from use. The photos in the book are from the show's early days, with a few pictures during the period when Rachel unveiled her iconic haircut.

I use a lot of recipes out of this book. They have cute and catchy names for food, such as mashed potatoes for the broken-hearted or Chandler's "Could This Be Any More Fattening? Cheesecake. You all remember how Chandler talked, right? Brings back some memories! What about "How You Doin'?"  I admit I go around the house and use a little "Joey" to speak to my children when they wake up.

According to the cookbook, Joey might not be much of a cook, but he does know how to make a burger. That is true, my friends! I've used "his" burger recipe now for years. It's the most delicious and straightforward burger recipe, and I'm sharing it with you, my friends, because it will be perfect for any weekend cookout.

Delicious cheeseburger inspired by the TV show Friends

Joey's Best Grilled Burgers from The TV Show "Friends"

2 pounds of ground beef
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
(I have added some Italian seasoning to the recipe because, after all, Joey is Italian).
6 buns, split

Gently mix the meat with the ingredients, and form into six patties (about an inch thick)
Grill for about 8 minutes for medium-rare, turning them once. For medium, grill for about 10 minutes.

Hamburgers at home with my delicious "Joey Burgers" that I adapted from the Cooking with Friends Cookbook in 1995. #Hamburgers #Grilling #Beefrecipes


5 Easy "End of Summer Recipes" to Transition Into Football Season

Updated August 2023

Before summer is over, I will give you a list of five of my favorite recipes that are perfect for those summer days that are still left in North Carolina when it's still a little hot and humid. We're transitioning into football season, but it's still hot. I have already featured these recipes on the blog at some point in my twelve years of owning this website.  

A friend messaged me this week and said she made my spaghetti pie recipe, and it was the dish I took to her fourteen years ago when her son was born. Reading that one message took me down my kitchen rabbit hole of finding all the recipes in my archives. 

As my kids have aged, meals are a constant struggle in my home due to our schedules. There are days that I count the days until no one depends on me to make nightly dinners. I will regret even making those remarks when those days are gone, but my afternoons were not busy when I started this blog in 2011. The kids played, watched TV, and I prepped dinner. My busy times were from 7 am to 4 pm, whereas the hours between 3 pm and 9 pm are when I'm at my absolute busiest at this stage of life. 

But throughout my 11 years of writing, my goal has always been the same: I like to prepare easy meals with few ingredients. The following collection of recipes is easy and can be used in various ways. 

Easy End of Summer Meals for Weeknight Dinners to Fancy Football Tailgates

This Shrimp scampi recipe can either be made with rice or pasta. And this is more of a Greek shrimp and pasta dish than an Italian dish. It should not even be called scampi, but instead, "Greek-Style Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta," whatever you want to call it, it's yummy. You can also use any pasta for this shrimp and feta pasta recipe. 

This Greek-inspired shrimp with tomatoes and feta recipe is easy when you use frozen shrimp. 

This fresh tomato pie recipe has many versions depending on what Southern church cookbook you are reading at the time. Regardless, it's a classic Southern style of tomato pie. It's best when NC tomatoes are in season: August and early September. I've never used canned tomatoes; if you do, it's more of a process to get them ready to use, like fresh tomatoes. You would need to use whole canned tomatoes, drain them, cut them into slices, place them on a paper towel, and salt them with kosher salt. They would need to sit like this for an hour before using them. The brand of Muir Glen Tomatoes has a simple tomato pie recipe using diced tomatoes and fontina cheese. Typically, canned tomatoes are tasty, which may be an easy alternative. More than likely, this will be juicier. 

Southern Tomato Pie using Fresh Garden Tomatoes is a must-try from August to Mid-September. 

This recipe calls for that small white corn called shoepeg because it's sweeter than most corn, but I've also used this corn salad recipe with sweet yellow corn because sometimes it is easier to find than shoepeg, depending on the grocery. Does it taste better with shoepeg? Probably, but yellow corn works as well. I've had this sweet corn recipe in my collection for years. It's easy to take to a tailgate but drain the salad before serving. The flavors also pair well with scoopable chips because in some ways, it is similar to cowboy caviar, which is used a lot as an appetizer at Southern parties. 

This canned sweet corn salad recipe is great for reunions and tailgates. 

Grover's Feta and Shrimp Pasta Salad

This simple feta pasta salad with shrimp is easy to make. It's best served cold or at room temperature. You can easily switch out the pasta of your choice and omit ingredients; however, the cottage cheese makes this Greek-style salad delicious, so make sure to include that ingredient. 

Easy feta and shrimp pasta salad
Greek Salad with Shrimp and Feta 

Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad

This easy mayo-free side salad quickly assembles and carries well to football tailgate parties. This dish can be served throughout the year and not just as a summer salad. It would even be great as a side to soups or gyros. 

Pasta Salad without Mayo
Italian pasta salad with no mayo 

NC Vacation Home In Lake Norman Named as a Top U.S Weekly Vacation Rental by VRBO

Lake Norman, North Carolina, USA

More and more families are choosing vacation home rentals to have the comforts of home when they are traveling. You can bring the dog, your kid's best friend, or even grandma and grandpa. Or you can leave the kids with your spouse and enjoy a vacation with your best friends. I would love to be the fly on the wall when you tell your spouse those plans. Regardless of how you vacation, you have choices, and if you have no budget, then the world is your playground from Mexico to North Carolina. If my wallet was thicker, I would love to stay in this Lake Norman, NC vacation home. The rate is around $5k a night for this time of year. 

Lake Front Home with Beautiful Waterfront Views

VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) released its top ten U.S. vacation homes for the year and added Mexico as a vacationer bonus. They chose these homes based on reviews, amenities, and premier management. VRBO is owned by Expedia Corp, and you may be surprised that the global travel corp owns most of the travel sites you visit online," from Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, Trivago, and many more booking sites.   

"There are more than two million private vacation rentals on Vrbo, so there are many amazing choices. This year's Vacation Homes of the Year range from an urban oasis and a cozy ranch home under $400 a night to a beachfront estate that can sleep the whole family and more," said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. "Every single Vacation Home of the Year has a beautiful view, and combined boast seven private pools and fire pits, eight hot tubs, and even five putting greens."

But let's swoon over the North Carolina rental on beautiful Lake Norman, NC, named "Chasestone."  I know N.C. is gorgeous and has much to offer the traveler, but everyone must experience it themselves. 

The Chasestone rental would be a great base to explore the Charlotte, NC, area and parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a day trip. 

This 5,000-square-foot home with four bedrooms and a seven-bath home is situated on a private peninsula with over 600 feet of lakefront views, less than an hour's drive from the heart of Charlotte. The Nantucket-inspired home has a theater room, a gourmet open-concept kitchen, and a living area with direct access to the deck for al fresco dining.

Outdoor pool with lakefront view at Lake Norman Vacation Rental

Scroll through all VRBO 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year and discuss your favorite properties on the list with me on social media. 

If $5,000 a night is out of your league like mine, don't think properties are just for the rich and famous. Lake Norman area has all price points for every budget. Learn more about the area by visiting the Lake Norman tourism office

Visit NC's official tourism site to see where else you can explore North Carolina. 

Score Super Bowl Points with this BBQ Chicken Sliders and Peach Salsa Recipe

Whether you are a Philadephia Eagles fan or a Kansas City Chiefs fan, this recipe is a winner. I like easy recipes. I want an ingredient list so short that I can remember what goes in it without a grocery list. You will love this BBQ chicken slider recipe with peach salsa because it's easy and delicious. I made this in a crockpot, but an instant pot would also work. 

Easy BBQ chicken sandwich recipes

Fresh peaches were abundant when I first made this dish, but you can substitute frozen peaches or even canned ones when peachers are not in season.  

fresh  north carolina peaches, perfect for a BBQ pulled chicken slider salsa

Here in North Carolina, that farm-fresh peach window is about six weeks in late summer. Luckily, for super bowl season, we have canned or frozen peaches that can easily be used to make this peach salsa to pair with BBQ Chicken Sliders. If you use canned peaches, definitely rinse them in syrup. 

peach salsa recipe

This easy and quick recipe for pulled chicken and peach salsa recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight or hosting a party for a crowd like the Super Bowl or a college tailgate. My kids eat BBQ chicken and hamburger buns, so even if they don't eat peach salsa, they have something to eat.

Peach Salsa with chips makes a great dish for a tailgate or  SuperBowl Party

The peach salsa is also great to serve with chips if you want to skip the BBQ-pulled chicken sliders altogether and just serve chips. I like blue chips with them. Or you can skip the peach salsa and do BBQ-pulled chicken sliders for dinner, a tailgate, or a party for a crowd. Leftover BBQ pulled chicken is significant for another night in the week if you are serving a small group. The sliders also taste great without the salsa but combined, it's a culinary touchdown.

Pulled BBQ Chicke slides topped with Peach Salsa: The Perfect Tailgate Meal

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders in Crockpot

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (or combo)
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup plus 1/4 Brown Sugar-Based BBQ sauce ( I used a sauce from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

**If you do not have a brown sugar-based sauce, add 2 Tbsp brown sugar to the crockpot.

Add onion, BBQ, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and brown sugar (if needed) to the crockpot. Make sure salt and sugar are dissolved. Add chicken, and mix to coat thoroughly. Cook for 3 to 4 hours at a high temperature until you can tear the chicken apart with a fork. When the chicken is tender enough to take apart with a fork, transfer the chicken to a bowl, and add some cooking juices. Continue to pull the chicken apart, and mix 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Stir until the chicken is coated. Add salt or additional seasoning to taste. If you like heat, add a hint of red pepper. Serve on buns or small rolls. Add the following Peach salsa for a Superbowl touchdown.

If you are cooking in this easy pulled bbq chicken in the Instant Pot, you can search many recipes, but most say to pressure cook for 15 minutes, then do a natural release for ten minutes, and then open the valve. I've yet to do this in an Instant Pot, but I will put it on my menu soon.

Peach Salsa

2 peaches, chopped ( I used fresh when in season, but canned peaches work, too)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt.

Combine chopped peaches, Roma tomato, lime juice, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and 1/4 tsp of salt in a bowl. Mix well. Add additional salt or lime juice as needed or to your taste.

Serve pulled chicken on hamburger buns with peach salsa.

Easy Recipe for a  Weeknight. Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Peach Salsa. Can be cooked in Slow Cooker or an Instant Pot

Other sides or main dishes that are easy for Tailgating have been featured by me
     Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad
     Southern Baked Beans with a Twist
     Potatoes for a Crowd
     Deviled  Eggs from Bill Smith 
     Southern cornbread
     Cackalacky Game Day Dip
     Marinated Asparagus
     Shoe-Peg Corn Salad
     Hines Mac and Cheese 
     Caribbean Bean Salad 
     Creamy Pasta Salad 

Updated: January January 2023

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