Highland Haven Creekside Inn Recipes

Joshua Hardin

The Highland Haven Creekside Inn looks like a Colorado fairytale. Nestled in a clearing in the woods surrounded by tall spruces on the banks of Bear Creek in Evergreen, the Highland Haven has been a favorite getaway for Coloradans since husband-and-wife owners Tom Statzel and Gail Riley bought it more than 35 years ago.

Though the setting has always been beautiful, the accommodations weren’t always as luxurious and romantic as they are now. The couple first came to the inn as guests in 1978, back when it was known as the Highland Haven Motel. The Indiana natives were then living in San Francisco, and they certainly weren’t looking to become innkeepers, but they were so taken with the classic Colorado location that Statzel casually asked the owner if he was interested in selling. A year later, Statzel and Riley had sold their house in California and purchased the motel.

“When people asked us what our business plan was, my husband and I would look at each other and roll our eyes,” Riley said. They had no master plan other than to live in a place they loved. They figured they would do it for three years – it ended up being three decades and counting.

They started making improvements, starting with a horseshoe pit, which they figured earned them the right to call it the Highland Haven Resort Motel. They didn’t take a paycheck for the first eight years, constantly reinvesting to transform the motel into something special. By the 1990s, they had completely revamped the facilities and were serving home-cooked breakfasts, so they dropped the “motel” part entirely and renamed it the Highland Haven Creekside Inn.

Statzel and Riley raised their two children at the inn, and now their daughter, Roxy, and her husband, Blake, manage daily operations. The founding couple still live there – after all, where else would they want to be?

Riley calls the Highland Haven a bed-and-breakfast only for lack of a better term. True, the inn has beds and serves breakfast, but it doesn’t quite fit the mold of the traditional B&B. Rather than being in one central house, the guest rooms are spread out in several lodges, each with its own private entrance, and guests don’t have to eat breakfast in a common dining area. And with two cookbooks of her recipes from the inn – Colorado Cravings and Colorado Romance – people can enjoy Highland Haven meals anywhere, though nothing can compare with the experience of enjoying a meal at the original Colorado fairytale setting.


This traditional Spanish soup is served cold, which makes a thermos of gazpacho a refreshing option to enjoy on a mid-hike picnic during the spring or early summer.

1 cucumber, peeled, chopped
1 green pepper, cored, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 12-oz cans tomato juice or V-8
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt for garnish
chopped chives for garnish

Serves 6 to 8

Combine first five ingredients in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine oil, vinegar and tomato juice. Mix with vegetables. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve in large bowls or mugs, or fill a thermos. Garnish soup with sour cream and chives.

Mountain Energy Bars

If you’re headed on an outdoor expedition that doesn’t lend itself to a full-fledged picnic, these mountain energy bars are the perfect snack to eat along the trail. They double as tasty treats and on-the-go nourishment.

1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup rolled oats
7 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup dried milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Makes 25 bars

Toast the sesame and sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, salt lightly and set aside to cool. Combine dates, raisins, apricots and cherries in food processor and pulse until small (not pasty). In large bowl, combine seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips, oats and cereal. In a saucepan on stovetop, heat corn syrup, sugar and peanut butter until bubbly and then add dried milk and extracts. Mix into dry ingredients until well coated. Press into 10-by-15-inch cookie pan with wet hands. When completely cool, cut into 2-by-3-inch rectangles.

Turkey Brie Croissant Sandwiches

Quick and easy to make, these sandwiches transport well in a picnic basket or backpack. The simple yet sophisticated mix of sweet and savory flavors is a springtime favorite.

2 croissants
6 slices roast turkey
2 slices brie cheese
raspberry chipotle sauce (buy at grocery)
1 cup arugula 

Makes 2 sandwiches

Slice croissants in half with bread knife and array cut-side up. Spread raspberry chipotle sauce on the cut side of croissant tops. Onto each croissant bottom, place three slices of turkey, one slice of brie cheese (rind may be kept or removed) and pile with arugula before capping off with top of croissant.

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