Next Door Chef—Nashville—outdoor bar

Counting down until Ben and I leave for Thailand and Vietnam in FIVE DAYS. It feels as if we booked the tickets ages ago, and now the trip is nearly here. Whenever I pause to think about it, I’m immediately filled with excitement and totally overwhelmed by the amount that needs to be accomplished before we depart.

Breaking in my hot new Tevas so I’ll be ready to roam blister-free when we arrive.

Most popular recipe on my site right now: Apple Cider Chicken Skillet.

Upcoming recipe I’m most excited to share: Paleo Pistachio Truffles. My friends raved!

Filing away this tip for how to soften butter quickly for the next time I want to bake but forgot to set out my butter ahead of time.

Smitten with these adorable edible Thanksgiving place cards. So cute!

Checking off roasting a leg of lamb from my culinary bucket list. We had friends over for a special dinner last night, and I felt SO PROUD when I pulled it out of the oven. Naturally, I used Ina’s recipe, and it was fabulous.

Feeling like a star after attending Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef event in Nashville, which was filmed for a commercial on Food Network. This was the second of the Next Door Chef events. The first was a holiday-themed event in Chicago (you can check it out at The overall event concept is that a local celeb chef comes into community members’ homes, teaches them to cook, then transforms their homes into a restaurant for a day. I was particularly excited to be invited because a) it’s the Food Network (!), and b) I’d actually met the Nashville chef previously. Our Nashville taping doesn’t air until March, so I have to keep the majority of the details secret for now (including the chef’s name), but I CAN share a few pictures of the setting. The photo at the top of this post shows the charming outdoor bar that was placed right on the back patio. The rest of the backyard was beautifully lit with candles and strings of lights. I want to throw an epic bash like this in my backyard…assuming someone else can wash the dishes!

Morton Salt Next Door Chef Nashville Event

Starting with the leftmost photo, then going clockwise: kosher salt, used to enhance and finish the different dishes; heading into the party with Tiffany and Chelsea; one of the table settings.

Aside from the fun of the event, I was also excited to be invited because the partnership felt like an especially appropriate fit. If you’ve been cooking from my blog for a while, you may have noticed that all of my recipes call for kosher salt versus regular table salt. Years ago, a friend who is a great cook had me taste the two side by side, and I was shocked by the difference. Where the kosher salt tasted soft and (for lack of a better word) “pure,” the table salt had a distinct metallic flavor I didn’t enjoy. I’ve been using kosher salt exclusively in my recipes since, so it was neat to see the chef doing the same with his menu. If you are looking for inspiration for YOUR menu, especially for the upcoming holidays, Morton Salt is sharing recipes from the Next Door Chef series here.

Speaking of menu planning, this guide from Food52 lays out how to determine the right amount of food to serve at Thanksgiving.

Adopting a dog soon! We were just approved by the shelter and attended a meet and greet with a few of the pups. We don’t plan on going for it until after we get back from Asia, but I may or may not already be surfing dog collars on Etsy…

Thank you to Morton Salt for hosting me in Nashville and for sponsoring this post. I’m excited to share more about the taping with you in March when it airs. Fingers crossed that I didn’t have any food in my teeth.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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    1. Samantha, I have to keep the details under wraps for now, but I promise all will be known in March. Stay tuned :) It was super neat!

  1. Ever since I started reading your blog a year ago, I switched to cooking with kosher salt and now my whole family uses it. also, Thailand??! Are you going to be posting about your trip?

    1. Kate, isn’t kosher salt the best? I’m so glad to hear that you think so too! And YES, we will be posting. It might take me a while to get everything together, but I am excited to share a part of our adventure with you.

  2. hey girl Have a safe and fun trip! Can’t wait to see the new pup! You need to get a boxer! hint hint ha They are such fun dogs! ours is already 5 years old and he is part of the family!

    1. Shawnna, my friend has a boxer and she is the sweetest! I can’t wait to find the perfect pup. Boxers are definitely on the possibility list. Thanks so much for your kind words, as always!

  3. Sounds like an exciting upcoming trip!  Have an old work friend who is doing an Asian vacation now. Currently in Vietnam as we speak,  saying it’s hot. So pack tanks and linen!  Lots of short squatty stools in restaurants so work on those leg muscles too! :)  And a new furbaby when y’all get home woohoo!  Safe travels and pictures please!

    1. Joanie, I *think* I am prepared for all of the above!! Tips are much appreciated, though :) And I’m soooo excited for our newest family member. Fingers crossed that we find the perfect pooch.

  4. Nashville is my favorite city! Excited to hear more about the event (and see you on TV!!!). Also congrats on the doggie. You are going to love having a pet!

    1. I love Nashville too Shannon! More on the event coming in March :) And thanks for the kind words about our dog too. We are excited!

  5. hi erin,
    i am so glad to hear that you are adopting a shelter dog! it is the kindest and most responsible way of pet partnership there is. thank you! 
    not that i needed it, but you have given me yet another reason to count your blog amongst my all time faves!
    have a great time travelling!


  6. Hope you have a great time! I just got back from the UK and am getting over the jet lag. That’s the not so fun part of traveling internationally! Jealous of that salt event you went to… salt is so important to me that it’s in my blog’s name. :P I use sea salt for most things, but I do have a huge collection of various salts that I use depending on the occasion. Congrats on the puppy… we are actually getting two kitties very shortly. It’s such an exciting time.