Alcohol Free February Recap

Funkwerks White

For the month of February, Scott and I challenged ourselves to abstain from alcohol.  There were two “treat” days since Scott’s birthday was during the challenge.  So for 26 days we didn’t have a drop to drink.

Bah.  That sucked.

I did learn a lot during this challenge though.

For one, beer and I currently do not get along.  It screws up my digestive system and gives me a headache along with making me feel like crap.  Like I’m coming down with the flu.

I did miss drinking wine and cocktails more than beer.  I think it’s because since our move to Colorado we have been hardcore beer focused for the past couple of years.  I’m at a point where I’m good with beer and my drink of choice is wine or a mixed drink.

Does that mean I’ll never have beer again?  Heck no, we’ve got a cellar full that we need to work through.  But beer is getting put on the back burner for a bit.

The biggest surprise of all is the discovery that alcohol seems to mess with my sleep.  After the challenge, when I was able to have alcohol again, I also started having restless nights.  Waking up in the middle of the night only to lie in bed awake for hours.


I love sleep so this news does not sit well with me.

I am positive my body’s negative reaction to alcohol is the result of wrecking my digestive system with too much beer over the past couple of years.  Which means it is time to work towards getting my body back to tip-top shape.

Since December, I have been working towards getting back to a healthier me, but now I realize how much of a beating my body has taken over the past two years with too much beer and unhealthy food.

My focus will be centered around healing my gut through healthy foods and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum.

While the No Alcohol challenge was difficult and did stink, it helped me realize where my body’s current level of healthiness is along with what steps I need to take to fix the situation.  2015 is definitely the year to get back on track!




Halfway Point No Alcohol Challenge

Avery Barrel Aged Beers

Earlier this month I announced that I was going alcohol free for February. I’ve had two cheats days (hate that term but it applies), one was at a media event where I had some wine because I’m not passing up free wine!  And the second was for Scott’s birthday, we went out to celebrate and I had a couple of beers.  Not a big deal and not something I’m beating myself up over.

Other than that, no alcohol.

I’m extending the challenge to include the first week of March because of a new fitness challenge that I’m doing.

Surprisingly I’ve learned a lot and it’s only been a few weeks.

I miss wine more than I miss beer.  This was a STOP THE PRESSES moment for me.  I love beer and have expanded my palate and educated myself on it more over the past two and a half years.  Yet at the moment I really would like to have a glass of red wine and not beer.  When the challenge is over I’m probably going to opt for wine and pass over beer.

I’ve realized that it isn’t the alcohol content (ABV) of beer that was causing me digestive issues, it was the beer itself. Wheat and all it’s gluteny goodness wasn’t playing nice with my digestive tract. I have to limit my beer intake and when I do have it, I cannot combine that with other wheaty things (no pasta, no breads, etc) or else the results are not good.

So far the challenge hasn’t been terrible though I do have moments where I stomp my feet and just want a glass of wine.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to the end and counting down the days till I can partake.

Scott is doing this with me and that has been a huge benefit.  I’m not sure I would have lasted if he was sitting there having a drink of his own.  That would be too tempting!

Two more weeks and then this lady gets a drink!


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!


Pomegranate Margarita

Pomegranate Margarita

As Scott and I were experimenting making drinks with pomegranate juice, he decided to bust out the tequila.  I was highly skeptical about this because for whatever reason, tequila + pomegranate juice did not seem like they would match up well.

I was wrong.  So, so wrong.

This drink has enough kick to let you know it’s a cocktail but mild enough that no one will end up with a lampshade on their head by the end of the evening.

Feel free to rim the glass with a little salt or a little sugar mix.

Andrea’s Pomegranate Margarita

  • 2 oz Reposado or Anjeo Tequila (You can use Silver if you prefer)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 3 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
  • 2 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Ice for the shaker
  • 6-8 oz Seltzer or Club Soda, optional

In a shaker combine all ingredients except the seltzer or club soda.  Shake for about a minute and pour into a glass.  Add the seltzer or club soda at this time and stir.  Serve and enjoy!

Now you’re ready with another cocktail recipe for your #BoozeyHoliday party!  I have one more pomegranate recipe coming up for you on Wednesday, stay tuned!


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!


Bourbon Coconut Caramel Sauce

Bourbon Coconut Caramel Sauce

I have a love affair with caramel.  Rolos and Twix bars were a favorite when I was a kid.  I loved the Cadbury caramel eggs and when I got sundaes, I preferred caramel sauce over chocolate sauce.

Caramel is rich and buttery and like the liquid version of toffee, which I also love.  I have never tried making my own caramel sauce though because I figured it was too difficult.


Spoiler alert: It isn’t.

It does take time and yes you do have to baby this but it’s worth it because in the end you have a delicious caramel sauce that can be added to just about anything you can think of.  Cake? YES! Coffee? YES!  Pancakes and waffles! Drizzle it into some brownie mix to make caramel brownies.  Drizzle it over some coffee cake.  Add it to ice cream? The list is endless!

You can see that I put this on top of some cake.  Some Buttermilk Spice Cake!

Since I’m cutting down on my dairy intake, I made this with full fat coconut milk instead of cream.  You won’t notice the difference because it tastes amazing.

Also, since it’s #BoozeyHoliday, I added bourbon at the end.  You’re welcome.

Andrea’s Bourbon Coconut Caramel Sauce

  • 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1/2C Maple Syrup
  • 1TBSP Butter
  • 2tsp Vanilla
  • 2TBSP Bourbon

In a medium sized heavy sauce pan add in the coconut milk, maple syrup, and butter.  Heat over medium heat and whisk until the butter is melted and everything is incorporated.  Bring the mixture up to a boil and boil for two minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 60 minutes.  Whisking every few minutes. The mixture should just be slightly bubbling.

Yes 60 minutes is a long time, but this needs to reduce down and thicken up.  You’ll know it’s ready when the sauce coats a spoon and has a slow drizzle to it.  It should be thick.  At this point, turn off the heat, add in the vanilla and bourbon and whisk.

Put the sauce into a heat proof container (I used a mason jar) and allow to cool.  Either use right away or store in the fridge.  If it’s cold, gently heat the sauce by adding some of the caramel to a sauce pan and heating over low heat.  Just until the sauce can be drizzled.

Yeah it takes some time but it lasts for two weeks in the fridge!  Honestly, I doubt it will last you that long because you’ll be eating it by the spoonful.


Healing a Cold: The Two B’s, Broth and Bourbon

homemade stockScott travels for work and he always seems to catch a little something while traveling.  Altered sleep patterns, a wonky schedule, and not the best of eats will do that to just about anyone.

Since he always comes back with what I called, Conference Crud, I make sure to have things ready for him to get back on track.


The two things that consistently work for us when dealing with a cold are The Two B’s:

  • Broth
  • Bourbon

I always make a big batch of homemade stock that’s ready for when he gets home.  Some of the broth goes towards soup and then the half is just for drinking.  I typically make chicken but you can make whatever flavor broth you like.

Hot broth helps soothe sore throats and it also provides nutrients to help boost up the immune system.  It also comes in really handy if the person has a stomach bug or perhaps their appetite is a little off.  This way they aren’t drinking empty calories.

Next on our cold combat list is bourbon!  I think that this surprises people because most people don’t think about alcohol or hard liquor when they are feeling ill.

Here bourbon is on the front lines for battling colds.  We mix it with hot tea and local raw unfiltered honey.  You can use any tea you like though I will caution against green tea. It doesn’t seem to pair well with bourbon.  Rooibos and black teas work really well with bourbon.

To one mug of large tea add:

  • 2 oz Bourbon (any brand you like)
  • 1/2-1 TBSP Honey

Mix and sip.  I recommend 2 mugs of this before bed.  The bourbon and honey help soothe sore throats and open up nasal passageways.  The bourbon is also relaxing and the cold sufferer gets a little better rest at night.

This latest trip, I shoved soup at Scott as soon as he walked in the door and then he sipped on tea and bourbon.  The next morning he was noticeably better, less congested and his cough had improved.

It’s important to make sure to eat real whole foods as well (no junk!) and get plenty of sleep.  I’m not a medical doctor (clearly) but this routine is what works for us.

Do you use natural remedies to battle colds?

Eggnog Oatmeal Cookies With Rum Raisins

Eggnog Oatmeal Cookies with Rum RaisinsSince eggnog is a staple in our house around the holidays I’m constantly trying to come up with new ways to use it.

Besides sipping some by the Christmas tree.

Rum is a pretty standard addition to eggnog and I wondered if I could some how incorporate that into some cookies.

Rum raisin popped into my head and I was off experimenting in the kitchen.

Chewy with a little warm holiday spice, these oatmeal cookies turned out just as I had hoped.

Andrea’s Eggnog Oatmeal Cookies with Rum Raisins

For the raisins:

  • 1C Raisins
  • 1/2C Rum
  • 1/4C Water

Place the raisins in a medium sized glass bowl.  Put the rum and water into a small sauce pan and gently heat until the mixture is warm.  Do not bring to a boil or a simmer, just heated through.  Pour over raisins and let steep for one hour.

Drain the raisins and set aside.

Keep the rum mixture! You can use that in waffles or even add it back into some eggnog later.  It’s now infused with the sweetness from the raisins so don’t toss it, use it up!

For The Cookies:

  • 1 1/2C White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2C Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2C Cane Sugar
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp Ground Clove
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/4C Molasses
  • 3/4C Eggnog
  • 5 TBSP Butter, room temperature
  • 2tsp Vanilla
  • 1C Rum Soaked Raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees**.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease with some butter.

In a large glass mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and clove.  Whisk until everything is combined.

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, add in the eggs, butter, and sugar.  Mix until the butter and eggs are combined.  Add in the molasses, vanilla, eggnog, and combine.

With the stand mixer on low, slowly add in the flour and oat mixture.  Increase speed slowly until everything is mixed together.  Next add in the raisins and mix until the are just incorporated into the cookie batter.

Drop by the tablespoonful on the lined or greased baking sheet.  Create space between the cookies as they will spread while baking.

The size of the cookies will determine their bake time.  I made very large cookies and they took 20 minutes to bake through.  If you make smaller cookies, the bake time will decrease.  You will need to keep an eye on them as they bake.  Insert a toothpick in the center, if it comes out clean, the cookies are done.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Serve and enjoy!

**Above sea level, use 400 degrees as the baking temp.  At sea level, drop down to 375 for baking.

Eggnog Oatmeal Cookies with Rum RaisinsThe cookies are darker in color because I used molasses in the batter.  This gives a nice richness to the cookie and a little bit of a gingerbread feel.  The raisins add a little pop of sweetness and only a slight hint of rum.  You won’t be overpowered by alcohol flavor and it’s totally safe for kids to eat as well.

These also go great with coffee in the mornings. If you decide to roll that way.  And of course they are perfect with some eggnog!

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

Peach Whiskey Crumble

Peach Whiskey CrumbleIf you recall, I recently fell in love with some local Peach Whiskey.  We have already made a light and fun iced tea with it.

Now we need something a little bit more substantial and dessert sounds just about right.

Or breakfast.  This may or may not make for a great breakfast treat if you roll that way.  We don’t judge over here.

When I made this dessert, I used a mixed of peaches and nectarines because that’s what I had on hand.  However you can most definitely use all peaches or all nectarines in this recipe.

Colorado peaches are currently in season and what better way to highlight them than with some whiskey baked up in a very easy dessert.

Andrea’s Peach Whiskey Crumble

For the filling:

  • 2 Large Peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 4 Nectarines, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4C Cane Sugar
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2TBSP Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2C Peach Whiskey

For the Crumble Topping:

  • 2C Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1C Pecan Halves
  • 1/4C Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 6TBSP Butter, cubed
  • 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2C Whole Milk (or Half and Half, or non-dairy milk of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8×8 baking dish.  In a medium sized glass mixing bowl, add the peaches, nectarines, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Allow to sit for half and hour mixing every so often.

Then add in the whiskey and flour, gently mixing until everything combined.  Add this mixture to the baking dish.

For the topping, add the oats, flour, and pecans to a food processor.  Pulse about 4-7 times to start to break down the oats and pecans.  Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture is crumbly but also starts to hold together.

Crumble this mixture over the top of the peach mixture.  There is a lot of topping so the whole dish should be covered.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the topping is browned and the peach mixture is bubbling.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Peach Whiskey CrumbleIf you don’t have white whole wheat flour on hand, regular AP flour is fine.  I also didn’t use that much sugar in this recipe.  The peaches are already sweet and so is the whiskey, so only a small amount of additional sugar is needed.

Scott and I loved how this dessert came out!  Sweet, the topping gets a little chewy, and the whiskey adds just enough of a kick.

Now don’t you want to go get some peaches and whiskey?

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


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.