Cherry Jalapeno Simple Syrup

It was cherry season and I was trying to come up with some new way to highlight them.  I have made a cherry simple syrup before (and it’s also great with bourbon) but I wanted to put a little twist on that.  I decided to add in some jalapeño for a little earthiness and heat.  I wasn’t sure if the combo would work but I was hopeful.

Thankfully the combo turned out great! You can use this for margaritas or just to kick up some seltzer water.  It provides an amazing color to drinks and adds some uniqueness to your cocktail menu.

cherry jalapeno simple syrup3

Andrea’s Cherry Jalapeño Simple Syrup

  • 1C Water
  • 1C Sugar (Cane or Coconut works)
  • 15-20 Cherries, pitted
  • 1 Jalapeno, sliced in half

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 5 minutes and turn off heat.  Allow the syrup to cool and the ingredients to steep for about 1/2 an hour.

Pour all ingredients in a blender (See note at bottom) and blend until everything is smooth.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar.  Will keep for two weeks in the fridge.

NOTE: You can control the level of heat of this syrup by removing the seeds before simmering.  I wasn’t sure how spicy this would turn out so I only blended in half of the jalapeño.  It was a mild spicy, for more heat blend both halves.  Even more heat, keep the seeds in and blend those as well.

Perfect to bring along to cookouts and gatherings because people can use it to mix their own drinks and it can be at room temperature for a few hours.

You can also try using some frozen cherries to make this syrup in case you can’t find any fresh at the markets.

Enjoy guys, and remember, always play with your food!


Cherry Simple Syrup

Cherry Simple Syrup

My friend, Lori, over at Fake Food Free posted a picture on her instagram recently of bourbon and cherries.  I loved the idea so much that I started playing around with bourbon and cherries myself.

I had some cherries that were a little bruised and a little soft that needed used up.  I decided to try and make a simple syrup with them that can be used to flavor drinks.

The result is a glorious red colored simple syrup that can be used in everything from mixed drinks to flavoring seltzer water.

Andrea’s Cherry Simple Syrup

  • 1/2C Water
  • 1/2C Natural Cane Sugar (Can use palm sugar or honey here)
  • 1/2 pound Cherries, pits and stems removed

In a medium sized sauce pot add the sugar and water.  Over medium heat bring up to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved into the water.  Then add the cherries, simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat but leave pot on the burner.

Allow the mixture to cool for about 5-7 minutes.  Pour entire mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the syrup into a glass jar or bottle.

Shake before using.  Will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Makes 1 Cup of syrup.

I love the color of this syrup!  Feel free to switch up the fruits, you can do this with blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries as well!

We’ve been using this in mixed drinks with bourbon and also making some cherry lime margaritas.  It’s really easy to make and will be a hit in your household!

You can also keep it kid friendly by adding it to plain or lime seltzer for a little fun treat.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!


Homemade Latte

Homemade latte

For me, the weekends are made for relaxing and for little indulgences. Waffles for breakfast, fresh squeezed juice, and for foamy lattes.

I love lattes and since I’m not always able to go out for one, sometimes I’ll make a version at home.  I will make these for Scott and I to slowly sip on while enjoying the more relaxed pace of a weekend morning.

They are super simple and easy to customize however you want!  This is my basic latte:

Andrea’s Homemade Latte

  • 3oz Vanilla Almond Milk or Grassfed Milk
  • 8-10oz Fresh Brewed Coffee
  • 1/2-1TBSP Grassfed Butter
  • 1tsp Coconut Sugar
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Ground Cinnamon

In a blender add in the butter, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Lightly heat up the almond milk or milk, just enough to take the chill off.  Pour into a mug and add the coffee.  DO NOT fill up the mug the whole way, leave a bit of space at the top.

Pour the coffee milk mixture into the blender.  Blend on medium for about a minute.  Pour mixture back into the mug and enjoy!

This will be frothy and foamy which is why you need to leave room when you first pour out the coffee.  That space is needed to make room for all the foam!  These are also just rough measurements, feel free to play around and create a combo that suits your taste.

I use butter because that is what I prefer but you can use coconut oil instead.  Two teaspoons of oil should be plenty.

Yes you can use regular sugar instead of coconut sugar, but reduce to 1/2tsp.

Feel free to customize it!  Want peppermint mocha?  Add in 1/2TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa and 1/2tsp of peppermint extract to the above mix.  Boom!  Peppermint Mocha Latte at home!

We all need treats in life and when we can make them at home to enjoy while hanging out in our PJs, all the better!


Pomegranate Bourbon Highball

Pomegranate Bourbon Highball

The last in the pomegranate juice drink series and it happens to be my favorite of the batch because it features bourbon!  This is the drink that started us on our journey to experiment with pomegranate juice cocktails.  Thanksgiving day we were sipping on juice and seltzer when we got curious and added a little bourbon to the mix. It was delicious! I played around with the ingredients a bit to make it a little more festive.

This cocktail uses the least ingredients and comes together really quickly.

Andrea’s Pomegranate Bourbon Highball

  • 1/3C Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 2 Dashes Whiskey Bitters
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • Few cubes of ice
  • 8 oz Seltzer

Place all ingredients into a shaker except for the seltzer.  Shake for a minute and pour into a large glass.  Top with seltzer, stir and enjoy!

Your guests will love all of these festive drinks for the holiday season!  Or make one for yourself, kickback on the couch and watch your favorite holiday movie!

Don’t forget to check out PomBerry Martini and Pomegranate Margarita.

Happy Holidays!


PomBerry Martini

POMBerry Martini

With my new habit of doing most of my grocery shopping at Costco (more details on that in the new year), I rediscovered pomegranate juice.  It can totally be a pricey juice to purchase but Costco has the best prices for it and I’ve reintroduced it back into our lives.  Usually Scott and I end the day with some juice + seltzer.  It provides a nice break from water that we’ve been drinking all day.  I talked more about that in this post and bonus you get an old school picture before I developed my photo skillz.

One weekend Scott and I were wondering how well pomegranate juice would play in a mixed drink and we started experimenting.  We came up with three drinks that we love.  This first one uses gin along with some chambord to kick up the berry flavor.

Andrea’s PomBerry Martini

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz Juice of an Orange (or clementine or mandarine, whatever you have on hand)
  • 3 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • 1/4 oz Chambord
  • 6-8 oz Seltzer or Club Soda (optional)

Place all ingredients except seltzer or club soda, in a shaker along with some ice and shake for about a minute.  Pour into a glass and add the seltzer or club soda.  Stir and serve!

In all of the drinks I’ll be sharing with you, the seltzer and club soda is always optional.  The drinks are great on their own, I personally like the addition of the fizz.  It extends the drink and also helps to cut the alcohol burn a bit.  Totally personal preference so do what you like!

All pictures of the drinks are before the addition of seltzer.

Make sure to add this to your #BoozyHoliday menu!  I have two more drinks to share and those will be posted next week so make sure you check back!


Chilled Mulled Beer

I working on a lot of cocktail recipes for this holiday season so prepare yourself for #BoozeyHoliday! I’ve got three more cocktails in the works after this one!

For the holiday season I wanted to create a beer drink that was festive while still being light to drink and super easy to put together.  No one wants to fuss at holiday parties mixing a bunch of drinks.

I started thinking about festive drinks at the holidays and naturally eggnog and mulled wine came to mind.  But mixing those with beer?  Heavy cream and beer just sounds gross.  A hot steaming mug of beer doesn’t sound appealing at all.  The idea of a mulled beer drink intrigued me though and I put my thinking cap on to try to come up with a way to make it work.

It would be served cold and instead of red wine I used unsweetened cranberry juice that I spiced up using spices that are familiar to us this time of year.

And the Chilled Mulled Beer drink was born!

Chilled Mulled Beer


Andrea’s Chilled Mulled Beer

For the Mulled Cranberry Juice:

  • 4C Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
  • 1 Orange, quartered
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 1TBSP Whole Cloves

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Then cover and immediately reduce to a low simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.  Squeeze the orange quarters into the mixture, then remove.  Strain the cranberry juice into a heat proof container and place in fridge.  Makes 1 quart of mulled cranberry juice.  Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

For the Mulled Beer:

In a glass add 1/2C Mulled Cranberry Juice then add 6oz of Beer.  A pale ale or a lighter brown ale is perfect for this drink.  I used Odell’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale and their seasonal, Isolation ale with this drink and both worked out well.  You want a beer that is light in flavor so I would avoid something really hoppy as that would clash with the cranberry juice.

You can garnish with more star anise or frozen cranberries!  Serve and enjoy!

The cranberry juice can be made ahead of time and will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Store in an air tight glass container.  I used a mason jar.  Feel free to make a huge batch, just remember you’ll have to up the spices a little as well.  Give the cranberry juice a good shake before pouring it out so the spice redistributes.

Perfect for the holidays and something a little different to serve your guests!

Sweet Tater Smoothie from Paleo Smoothies

Paleo Smoothies by Mariel Lewis We are in love with smoothies here at the HQ. We try to have a smoothie everyday with our lunch or if we’re not too hungry, it will be lunch.

Having a smoothie jam packed with fruits and veggies makes me feel amazing.  It also helps us to get in more portions of fruits and veggies throughout the day.

We have our favorites though and are guilty of falling into a rut.  Having the same smoothie over and over again, it happens.  Some days I am not feeling inspired to experiment.

This is why I was thrilled to be able to review the new Paleo Smoothies recipe book by Mariel Lewis.  It’s packed full of recipes that are unique and utilizing ingredients that I never thought of adding to a smoothie (hard boiled egg anyone?).

The book is broken down into 10 categories, such as Cleansing Smoothies and Recovery Smoothies.  Mariel gives a brief run down of the Paleo Diet and goes over what foods are included in the diet.  She also discusses how smoothies are beneficial to over all health and even gives you a guide to kitchen tools that you should have on hand.

I couldn’t wait to start making smoothies!  Since I have never had a sweet potato in a smoothie before, I made the Sweet Tater Smoothie.

Sweet Tater Smoothie from Paleo Smoothies

Sweet Tater Smoothie from Paleo Smoothies by Mariel Lewis

Republished with permission from Adams Media, © 2014 Mariel Lewis

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Baked Medium Sweet Potato, skin removed
  • 1 1/4 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves (to garnish)

1. Place all ingredients in a blender, except for the ground cloves, and blend on high until smooth.

2. Pour smoothie in a glass and garnish with half of the ground cloves.  Enjoy!

This smoothie was rich and delicious!  It tasted like a pumpkin pie.  The sweet potato produced that gorgeous orange color and made the smoothie extra thick, like a well made milkshake.

I might start keeping sweet potatoes on hand just for smoothies!  Each recipe in the book also has nutritional information so that you know exactly how many calories, carbs, and so on you are consuming.

Whether you are on a Paleo Diet or not, this recipe book has some amazing smoothies that will please all tastes!

Disclaimer: I was sent this cookbook for review.  All opinions are my own. I was not required to write about it and was not compensated for this review.

Peach Whiskey Iced Tea

Peach Whiskey Iced TeaWhen we last chatted, I brought up the Rocky Mountain Peach Whiskey that I recently purchased.

Aside from drinking it straight the first thing I did was make a “cocktail” with it.

Nothing fancy, mind you.  Something that’s totally perfect for a warm summer day.

Similar to Kentucky Summer Sippin’ Tea, it’s the same concept, iced tea + whiskey.

Brew and make the iced tea yourself or you can even make some sun tea if you prefer.  Either way this drink is refreshing and great as an option for guests at gatherings.

Andrea’s Peach Whiskey Tea

Combine, stir, and add ice.  Drink and enjoy!  Then have another.

Maybe this is too simple to qualify as a recipe?  Maybe.  I don’t really care though because one sip and I know it’s the right thing.

Happy Fourth!

Blackberry LemonadeIt’s July!  Hooray!  We’re pretty excited for July over here at the HQ.  It’s a holiday week plus we will be celebrating our anniversary.  Along with some other fantastic goodies sprinkled throughout the month.

If you’re looking for some additional deliciousness to add to your holiday week, then I’ve got just the stuff!

Tart and cool Blackberry Lemonade!  Adds a nice touch of color to the party and is cool and refreshing on a warm day.  Add some limoncello for an extra kick!

Wow your guests and make your own mayo for your coleslaw and potato salads this time around!

Braised Pork RibsDon’t have a smoker? No problem! Whip up some quick Braised Ribs and put them on the grill for a few minutes before serving to add some smokey flavor.

If you need some sauce for those bad boys, Hatch Green Chili BBQ Sauce or some Bourbon BBQ Sauce will go perfectly!

Roasted Tomato Salsa Fresh salsa is always a hit!  And Roasted Tomato Salsa will only take a few minutes and can be made a day ahead!

You can never go wrong with beer!  And Beer Brined Pork Chops would be great grilled to perfection!

Need something sweet at the end?

Figgy Bourbon Refrigerator JamFiggy Bourbon Refrigerator Jam would be perfect drizzled over some fresh scooped local ice cream!

Have a great holiday!  Stay safe, drink beer, and eat great food!

Hot Buttered Bourbon and Cider

The weather is starting to get chilly and the leaves are falling. It’s apple season and you all know how much I love cider!

I wanted to come up with a drink that would be warm, spicy, and have a little kick to it with some bourbon.

Of course there are hot toddys and hot buttered rum drinks, so making something along those lines with bourbon seemed reasonable.

We had some lovely Kentucky small batch bourbon gifted to us by Lori (foodie friends rock!) so I busted that out for this warm drink.

Andrea’s Hot Buttered Bourbon and Cider
4C Cider

1/2 tsp Cinnamon or 2 Cinnamon Sticks

1/2tsp Ground Ginger or 1/2 inch of Fresh Ginger

1/4 tsp Ground Clove or 5 Whole Cloves

2tsp Vanilla Extract or 1 Vanilla Bean split

4oz of Bourbon split into 2 oz portions

2 TBSP Butter split into 1 TBSP portions

In a medium sized sauce pan add the cider, spices, and vanilla.  Stir and bring up to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.

In two mugs, put 2 oz of bourbon in each mug and 1 TBSP of butter.

Remove the cider from the heat and if you used whole spices be sure to remove or strain those out first before serving.

Fill each mug with 10 oz of cider mixture, pour right on top of the bourbon and butter.  Gently stir just to mix in the bourbon.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Serves two.

Scott and I loved this drink!  So much that I immediately made another batch that night so we could have another mug of it.  I highly recommend making extra because you’re definitely going to go back for seconds.

If you’re having a party, this recipe can be easily adjusted to accomodate more people.  You’ll just need more cider and to increase the spices a bit.  Each mug still gets 2 oz of bourbon and a TBSP of butter.

Though if you ask me, I would go ahead and up the butter amount to 1.5 TBSP.  You won’t be sorry.

Fresh and local cider is best if you can find it.  If you’re in Fort Collins, Ela Family Farms has great cider that you can get at the market on Saturday.