Category Archives: recipes

the tropicante | margarita of the year

Between packing up our old house and making small moves out to our new spot on the western slope of Colorado, Steve and I have barely had time to fix dinner, let alone relax and enjoy it together. Last night was different, however. Steve fired up the grill, despite the falling snow outside, and served up some Coho salmon, alongside a few handfuls of blanched spring peas and sautéed green onions.

I garnished every, last bite of salmon with fresh avocado, since we’ve had a lot of it on hand this past week. It has made appearances on sourdough avocado toast, layered between salsa and corn chips, piled on by the spoonful, and even muddled up in a few cocktails. Have you ever tried adding avocado to a drink? If you have enjoyed any egg whites-based cocktails, then you understand the delicious role that texture plays and the sometimes surprising ingredients that make it happen. Adding avocado does the very same thing an egg white does – it adds a rich, silky mouthfeel and integrates a variety of flavors together.

I find it perfectly timed that I get to share an avocado-based cocktail with you that’s in the running for Patrón’s 2017 “Margarita of the Year.” It’s one of seven artisanal, creative spins on the versatile, classic cocktail, crafted by top-notch bartenders around the world. One of those bartenders in the running is Denver’s own Alex Kady of 12 @ Madison and Star Bar. His Tropicante Margarita is a whipped combination of reposado tequila, mango liqueur, citrus, and avocado. It’s also the perfect brunch cocktail to complement your go-to avo toast. I might have done just that. On a Wednesday.

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mint cucumber + smoky jalapeño margaritas | celebrating kristy gardner’s new book, “cooking with cocktails”

Apparently, it is National Margarita Day today, a celebration of all-things-tequila, salt-laced, and citrus-y. I’m also celebrating the book release of one of my favorite food bloggers and friends, Kristy Gardner, of She Eats. Her new book, Cooking with Cocktails, is dedicated to the both the cocktail-imbibing cook and the food-loving beverage connoisseur. Its beautiful pages are filled with 100 boozy recipes, each crafted with wine, beer, or spirits. I’d can safely say that she wrote this book with me in mind.

I have been patiently awaiting the publication of Kristy’s book ever since I helped her test a few recipes for it this past spring. When she asked me to be a part of her virtual book release tour, I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Since the date of my post along the tour fortuitously fell upon National Margarita Day, I knew that I had to share Kristy’s recipe for “Mint Cucumber + Smoky Jalapeño Margaritas” with you.

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dsc_3937For those of you new to Kristy Gardner, I’ll give an introduction. She is a writer, photographer, and self-professed “bourbonator” from Vancouver, British Columbia. Bourbon is her jam. She also does a little acting and owns a branding agency called, Peppercorn Creative. The two of us bonded over the subject of cocktails {our first love} from the start about four years ago, and we regularly send each other lengthy emails and care packages filled with culinary treats {our second love, essentially}.

I trust Kristy’s drink-making skills implicitly. In fact, the very first recipe of Kristy’s that I tried was her version of Bourbon-Soaked Cherries. Since then, I’ve made iterations of my own and put them atop ice cream, stuffed them inside galettes and hand pies, and eaten them straight out of the jar. This particular recipe that I’m sharing with you is the perfect combination of flavors. As much as I love a simple lime-centric margarita, this smoky, savory, and slightly vegetal version might be my new favorite.

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cilantro-salted tomatillo green bloody marys | bittersweet seasons of change

I love the challenge of taking any vegetable in my garden – at any stage in its life cycle – and turning it into a cocktail. The abundant amount of sunny, 75-degree days kept me donning shorts, pouring the rosé, and harvesting all of the kale, chard, herbs, edible flowers, tomatoes, and tomatillos my garden would spit out, well into mid-November. We have had the most record-breaking, unseasonably warm weather this past month.

Before I share this {very} late fall recipe, I have to say a few things.

From putting in well over 55 hours each week at the restaurant, to observing the backlash of the recent election, to pursuing creative opportunities on the side, some of which I can’t even share with you yet, I have felt devoid of creativity and inspiration. I’ve had great difficulty writing and pouring creativity into this space here. Even when I do get strokes of genius or breaths of innovation, I’m all-too-tired to put action to paper, recipe, or photo. It’s been quite the challenging year for many of us, I feel.

For both me and Steve, we can safely say that 2016 has been the “Year of Change and Secrets.” That’s actually a soft and easy way of describing it. There have been countless highs and lows. Steve and I got engaged, which was wonderful, albeit stressful with respect to timing. We’ve gone through three different executive chefs at work, finally ending up with one of our former, beloved executive sous chefs at the helm. We’ve also lost two of our long-term managers and haven’t realllllly replaced them, so our workload has been more intense.

green garden bloody marys with tomatillos + late-season tomatoes | bittersweet seasons of change | holly & flora green garden bloody marys with tomatillos + late-season tomatoes | bittersweet seasons of change | holly & flora green garden bloody marys with tomatillos + late-season tomatoes | bittersweet seasons of change | holly & flora

And then there’s our side project, which we’ve been working on since April. Keeping it under wraps has been just as exhausting {and thrilling!} as all of the hours before and after work spent quietly building it. Once I can talk about it all, I’ll feel justified in my actions or, in some cases, the lack of them. For now, I simply seek out those moments, where I feel revitalized and recharged. It’s all I can do. I find them when I go for a long run, when I take a lengthy late-night drive, when I sit still in the darkness before the sun rises, and when I stay up late and watch the moon crest above my head.

Okay, I’ll be honest.

I don’t do all of the things I listed above every time I’m stressed. I want to do them, but many nights, it just doesn’t turn out like that. Take two nights ago, for example. I finished off a bottle of bubbles, impulsively booked two nights at a B&B I’d been dying to sneak away to, baked and consumed an entire pan of brownies, signed up for a marathon, and watched almost every Nora Ephron movie ever made. The next day suuuuuuuuuucked, and of course, I was needed at the restaurant to help Steve because he was having complications with his recent hand surgery.

And I couldn’t make it to the B&B.

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bourbon + spiced pear cocktail | fall cocktail favorites

This week has been a weird one. I’m slowly recovering from being sick with a virus that smacked me down on the couch for a week and a half. And my camera and my car both decided to get sick and die at the very same time. How is this fair?! Don’t we wish all of our mishaps and hiccups could be dispersed over several months’ time, but maybe having all the crap happen at once is a blessing.

I’m posting this delicious cocktail, but at the same time, I’m also on a serious cleanse: no caffeine, no sugar, no booze, no animal products. I’ve made it past week one, so I am feeling rather strong. I did take a slight deviation on Friday, when I met up with two friends at Café Max and had one of Max’s famous matcha green tea lattes, made with almond milk. My friend, Sherrie, who is coincidentally my health coach, couldn’t finish hers. With crazed eyes, I brazenly reached across the table and pulled her room-temperature latte closer to me and slurped up the last, lightly caffeinated drips. It was an enlightening moment on my caffeine dependency.

Ouch. Whatever, I balanced it all out with a round of green juice, so it’s all good.

bourbon + spiced pear cocktail | holly & flora

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pumpkin pie martini with coconut cream + homemade pumpkin spice syrup

Today is the first day it actually feels like fall here in Denver. Cool, rainy, and cozy. Thankfully, I have the day off, and I defiantly plan on staying in my PJs most of the morning. There just may be a Hobbit marathon in the works. I am actually welcoming the idea. I came home from work rather late last night, and my entire house smelled of freshly cut basil. Steve took an inventory of the garden and harvested enough vegetables and herbs to span the surface area of our dining room table. There’s so much here to be grateful for.

Between the Hobbit movies, there will be lots of pesto-making, tomato-puréeing, chutney-prepping, and herb-drying. All of these are easily accomplished in my PJs, for the record. I think the most exciting event this Wednesday, however, is Sara Cornelius of Cake Over Steak‘s fabulous roundup, celebrating all-things-pumpkin! It is a #virtualpumpkinparty, and over 70 bloggers are sharing their favorite pumpkin-inspired recipes.

I couldn’t resist the challenge to create a pumpkin cocktail. And not one of those pumpkin-flavored cocktails with whipped cream vodka and store-bought pumpkin spice syrup. Oh, no. This one’s the real deal, and it’s made with full-fat coconut milk, a bitter amaro, homemade pumpkin spice simple syrup, and aged rum.

And it’s delicious. And you can already thank us all for fulfilling your pumpkin desires throughout the rest of the year.

pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora pumpkin pie martini | holly & flora Continue reading