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 mortonsalt.com/nextdoorchef.) 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.