Colorado Cocktail Taste Test

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Last night after a girly day of shopping, grilled cheese, crafts, and pizza (we are the classiest of girls) we had an impromptu Colorado cocktail taste test hosted by dad (of ‘Dad’s Corner‘ fame). He’s been practicing his bar tending skills over the past few months, so when my sister saw 5280’s poll for the official Colorado state cocktail, she knew he would be game to try at least one. Of course, Dad can’t say no to a challenge so he concocted our own in-home, four person contest between all three. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t expecting to end my night this way, which means that I did not have my regular camera to take lovely pictures! We did our best though. We had a sample size of each drink and picked our own winner/s. Check out our thoughts on all three drinks below! Spoiler alert: YUM.

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Kevin Burke’s “The 4th Pin”bitters, Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, Whiskey, orange peel.

Dad: offered the most traditional western drink…like when Colorado was an old cow town.

Mom: liked the complex herbal flavors

KT: definitely strong but was pretty good. I liked that I could taste the bitters towards the bottom.

Bepcity: really nice layering of flavors. I don’t always do well with strong drinks, but I really enjoyed this one.

20140209-115852.jpgAlexandra Parks’ “Central Slope Sour”: Lemon juice, honey, Three Pins Herbal Liqueur, Breckenridge Bourbon, Avery IPA

Dad: Becky and her man hands squeezed too much lemon…but still really good.

Mom: really liked the honey and lemon! Would be great on a hot summer day.

KT: liked it best because of the tart lemon juice! It was definitely sour! But again, the herbal liquor added something unique.

Bepcity: loved it! I just felt happy drinking this. The perfect, summery glass of lemonade with a kick.

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Sean Kenyon’s “The Centennial Smash”: Palisade peach, mint, Colorado honey, bourbon, Three Pins Alpine Herb Liqueur

Dad: I think I added too much bourbon…this one needs a second chance.

Mom: thought this would be my favorite, but it was my least…wonder if it would be better when palisade peaches are in season to get more fresh peach taste.

KT: I agree with mom. Felt very summery.

Bepcity: I liked the subtle peach and mint flavor, but agree we should give it another shot.

THE VERDICT

All great contenders for a Colorado cocktail! The girls all agreed that the Central Slope Sour was our favorite while Dad picked The 4th Pin as his favorite. We all expected to like the Centennial Smash best, but it was everyone’s least favorite – possibly due to our own lack of in season peaches. I think we will definitely be trying it again this summer! All three used Leopold & Bros Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, which is really cool stuff. Highly recommend you take a look at 5280’s post, which has videos of each bartender making their entry. Even if you’re not in Colorado, it was fun to have a little tasting party of these tasty drinks that will get you pumped for summer! I love you, Colorado!

Mint Cherry Limeade

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First off, I must make a blogger confession…I don’t own any mason jars. Yes, we all know that the top three things that all bloggers must have are 1. a decent camera 2. too much time on their hands and 3. mason jars. I made due with these just as cute (maybe?) soda glasses that we got last summer and have barely used! For some reason we have all these cute ice cream and drink glasses, but we rarely drink alcohol and are typically too lazy to actually scoop the ice cream out of the carton before eating (Ok, that might just be me). Anyway, it’s summer now, so I’ve really been in the mood to make some fancy, fruity drinks! I was going over my grocery list on the way to the store and quickly decided that if I grabbed a whole bunch of limes I could probably fashion some sort of tasty drink. I knew we already had mint and like five cans of tonic water in the fridge and plus I had cherries on the list for a breakfast recipe. Sweet!

Instructions: First step is to make a quick simple syrup – I did 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Then add the juice of 3 or 4 limes, depending on how tart you want it. Then I smashed a handful of cherries and strained the juice into the mixture. Fill your glass up about halfway with the juice and then fill the rest with whatever fizzy stuff you got. I had tonic water, so that’s what I used. Then you must add some extra halved cherries because they taste sooo yummy after they’ve been floating around in the drink for a while! The mint is a great touch, but that’s up to you as well! Feel free to sweeten with more sugar if needed. This made enough for 4 drinks.

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Tip: We had some extra soda left so I soaked some cherries in the fridge, which made a really nice snack for later!

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A Lotta Panna Cotta

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Ok I didn’t really make a lot of panna Cotta, but it was too much for me to eat! I made this last week after listening to an episode of The Splendid Table (always a good source of inspiration!). I had totally forgotten that I put it on a mental ‘I wanna learn how to make that’ list. The first time I tried it was at The Fort in Colorado. I’m pretty sure they aren’t known for their desserts, but their panna cotta was amazing! That was years ago and I finally learned how simple it is to make. Cream, sugar, vanilla, and gelatin. That’s it! I added a little almond extract too because I cook with it any chance I get. There are so many topping options too. I went with simple, fresh blueberries and candied lemon peel to make it pretty. Those were also easy to make, but I wasn’t a big fan! Maybe I’ll try it again with fresher citrus next time. I was pleasantly surprised that this dessert reminded me a lot of the Berry Chantilly cake from Whole Foods, which is my favorite! I haven’t seen it at the Whole Foods here, so it was a nice substitute for now!

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Puff Pastry :: Savory Fillings

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On my way home last night I wandered around Trader Joe’s feeling pretty lost for dinner ideas. We only have like 5 TV channels, so some weekend mornings I watch PBS cooking shows, which I’ve actually been enjoying a lot recently! Super informative and no commercial breaks! The last couple of times I’ve remembered to watch all involved puff pastry. Julia Child made an almond pastry one morning and Hubert Keller made beef wellington last weekend. I was pretty set on buying some puff pastry, but when I called Paul for suggestions he reminded me that we have lots of meat in the freezer. We will be leaving Boston pretty soon too, so I decided to improvise rather than buying more meat. I came up with four combinations and they were all delicious. Paul loved them. Like, really LOVED them. These would be a great, easy thing to throw together for an impromptu get together or a any type of entertaining, really. Or just dinner for two. I’ve listed my filling ideas below! They are all basically different combinations of spinach, cheese, mushrooms, and pork (in various forms).

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Mushroom based: brown some mushrooms in butter and garlic. Let them release their moisture so that the pastry doesn’t get soggy. Start by filling a pastry square with the mushroom mixture. This will be great on its own. For some more variety and flavor add mozzarella, then either bacon crumbles, or small cubes of sausage. Or go for it all if you’d like!

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Pork Based: I used a filleted pork loin that I had precooked and frozen. Defrost and cut into small cubes. Pile them onto a square with a chunk of mozzarella and some of your mushroom mixture. For a nice cheesy crust, sprinkle a little mozzarella on the top of the pastry.

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Spinach Based: Chiffonade some spinach leaves. Similar to the mushroom based pastry, layer mozzarella and bacon, or sausage cubes.

Cheddar Based: If you have extra scraps of pastry after cutting your squares, use them to make cheddar and bacon pastry straws. Place thin slices of cheddar in the middle of the rectangle and then twist. They are great with or without bacon!

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Have fun experimenting with different ways to fold your pastry squares! They don’t have to look perfect when you put them in the oven. The puffiness helps make any fold look lovely!