Category Archives: winter

mint cucumber + smoky jalapeño margaritas | celebrating kristy gardner’s 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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pear + chamomile bee’s knees with cinnamon-honey syrup | with a vegan option

I’ve been meaning to share this floral, spring-inspired twist on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail for several weeks now. Back in January, I made a batch of pear- and cinnamon-infused gin, and I forgot all about it, leaving it to hang out in my fridge before even straining it. I’ve been guilty of forgetting projects before. When I stumbled across my unlabeled jar the other day, I cracked the lid only to discover a hazy, unappetizing shade of brown and a way-too-concentrated flavor for the delicate, floral cocktail I had in mind.

So, I tossed that batch, moved on, and made another go of it. This time it was perfectly balanced in flavor and just the right shade of pale gold. I also labeled it and gave myself a pat on the back for doing so. My boyfriend {er, fiancé – I’m still not used to saying it!} gets so bothered with me because I never remember to label my concoctions. I always figure I’ll remember what’s inside the jars, but unless it’s a giveaway shade of strawberry pink, I don’t. Instead, we spend time opening unlabeled jars, smelling them, dotting and nosing small portions on our fingers, or going all-in and boldly giving the unknown liquid a sip.

Why do I rebel so much at taking the time to label something properly? I mean, all it takes is a piece of masking tape and a Sharpie. This time around, I won’t have to guess what’s in this particular jar, but I don’t think that this infusion will even make it that long. I’ve been mixing it with tonic or simply adding an ounce or so to a glass of bubbly.

So good.

pear + chamomile bee's knees with honey syrup | holly & flora

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rosemary paloma cocktails with grapefruit sea salt rims | a cookbook + rosé winner

The past few weeks have been a series of highs and lows. I must be in dire need of a lesson in “going with the flow” because that’s precisely what I haven’t been doing! I’ll start with the most exciting of news: Steve and I are getting married! Our conversation kind of went like this: “I’m asking you to marry me because you’re my favorite!” “And I’m saying yes because you’re MY favorite!” I think that being together ten years let’s me know I’m ready for that step. I knew he had something in the works for a while, but I really did not expect it to happen last week over our quick getaway to Arizona.

We’d both been extra busy the few days leading up to our departure, so I truly didn’t see it coming. As I was sitting on the plane, I saw a text from one of my dear friends. It was simply five ring emojis, followed by the monkey emoji with its eyes covered. I laughed so hard and told her that I doubted it would happen. The only things both Steve and I wanted to do was forget about the mess we left in our house, sleep all day, maybe sit by a pool, and not see anyone we knew for a solid three days.

Some of those wishes came true, but sleep wasn’t one of them. Leading up to the trip, we had both shared a few, consecutive, ten-hour shifts at the restaurant, leaving our minds harried and our eyes laden with dark circles. I had been recipe-testing blender cocktails all week for an upcoming series at the Kitchn, and the sound of the Vitamix motor was ringing in my ear. Needless to say, I left the kitchen in a state of stickiness, along with a stack of cocktail-covered glassware.

We hit the airport last Sunday without getting any sleep the night before. What an excellent way to start a proposal weekend, right!??

rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora rosemary palomas with grapefruit salt rims | holly & flora

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blood orange white wine cocktails with campari + thyme

There is nothing like the vibrant color, sweet burst of flavor, and juicy texture that an orange can deliver in the middle of winter, especially on those cold, grey days like the one we had here in Denver yesterday. I only made it outside once yesterday and just for a moment. I fully understand the necessity of this darker season as a time for inner growth and renewal within nature. Even though my backyard garden looks dead, brown, and crusty right now, there is actually life flowing within the roots of those perennial plants underneath the snow. They’re anticipating spring’s arrival, and they’re getting ready for it.

Steve and I have already started planning what we’re going to plant in the garden this spring. I’ve even ordered some seeds to start indoors in a few weeks. And I can’t wait for that first crocus to pop through the leaves, followed closely by the daffodils and tulips. We have been faithfully watering the spots where we planted tulip bulbs this past fall, along the circular walkway we recently built in the front yard. In our minds, spring has already sprung. Simply imagining the new growth puts a smile on our faces and a lilt in our steps.

I recently read that with respect to taking vacations, the act of anticipating the getaway is just as exciting as actually going on the vacation. The happiness factor is equal. One thing that Steve and I are trying to do more frequently is plan little getaways. Having something fun to look forward to is bringing the two of us closer as a couple and keeping us motivated through the tough or dull times.

blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora

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smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes | diy spiced pear liqueur

Hello and happy 2016!!

It’s been a minute. I can safely say that I’ve started and backspaced this post well over five times now. I have had the biggest case of writer’s block and lack of motivation these past few weeks, both here and in other projects. Am I alone here?? Nothing seems to be flowing or resonating within me, and despite my strong desire for change and my sketched-out plans for the year, I can’t even manage to get out of bed without a straight, ten-hour stretch of deep sleep.

I can feel my sister rising up in fury down in Florida right now. She is a new mom, who is happy when she gets a solid, consecutive four hours of sleep. Granted, we live different lives and are in different phases in our lives, but right now, I’m so tired that I could easily sleep for 14 hours straight. I’ve done it. I did it last night. And although it sounds decadent, it’s quite depressing to wake up with only four hours of daylight left with which to work, especially when you were so pumped about the promise of this new year.

I’m seriously grateful that we are slowly inching toward sunnier days, but part of me questions why I fight so hard against the urge to slow down, rest, and recharge?

smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes {how to make pear liqueur} | holly & flora smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes {how to make pear liqueur} | holly & flora

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