Reindeer Bubbles, Hot Cocoa Bar, and Cookie Swap!

Our first year of Sips & Sweets is coming to a close, and we decided to end the year with a Christmas Cookie Swap party with our best gals.


The ladies! Sarah, Caroline, Colleen, Ellen, Patti, Erin, Marci

We planned our menu with a secret board on Pinterest–we’ve decided that’s the best way to plan a party so your guests are surprised when they arrive.  We also used Evite to create an invitation for our friends and asked each girl to bring a plate of their favorite cookies to share. Everyone received a gingerbread box to take home the swapped cookies.

Read on for all the fun details about our party and recipes from each of our guests to jumpstart your holiday baking ideas!




  • Reindeer Bubbles: sparkling wine with green rimmed glasses and pomegranate seeds. Recipe here.
    • We omitted the simple syrup and pomegranate juice because the sparkling wine was sweet enough
    • Wet the rim of each wine glass and dipped it in green sugar sprinkles
    • Place a teaspoonful of pomegranate seeds in the bottom of the glass
    • Pour sparkling wine in the glass and cheers!
  • Cheers!


  • Hot Cocoa Bar: homemade hot cocoa in the crockpot. Recipe here. Our fixins included:
    • Baileys and Peppermint Schnapps
    • Marshmallows
    • M&Ms
    • Crushed Candy Canes
    • Whipped Cream

Hot Cocoa Bar


  • Trader Joe’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip:  This is some of the best spinach artichoke dip we’ve ever had, and it was so easy to make!  It’s in the freezer section of TJs.  We served it with baguette rounds.
  • Christmas Tree Cheese Tray, which included asiago with rosemary and olive oil, smoked gouda, and white stilton with cranberries.

Cheese Christmas Tree!

  • Christmas Tree Veggie Wreath and dip.

Veggie Wreath


  • Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man: We used the help of our BFF Betty Crocker to make the gingerbread dough, and provided icing and sprinkles for each guest to decorate.

Gingerbread decorating station

  • Cookies!


Caroline brought Peanut Butter Blossoms with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Recipe here.


Colleen made her specialty: Pretzel M&M cookies.  Recipe here.


Erin brought Lemon cookies and chocolate dipped butter cookies.  Her recipes are below the picture!



Mrs. P’s Lemon Cookies

Combine the following by hand, mixing wet ingredients into the dry ones, ultimately kneading with a fork or by hand.

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
4 eggs slightly beaten
1 stick of butter melted
4 tsp lemon extract

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350.
Once cool, glaze the cookies. Best to put wax paper underneath the cooling rack to catch drips.
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp milk
Mix to a good consistency.

Chocolate-dipped Butter Cookies

1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients. Chill briefly but not necessary if no time. Shape dough into small logs and lightly press fork into each. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. Cookies will be very fragile so be careful transferring from pan to cooling rack.

Once cool, melt 1/2 bag of semi sweet chocolate chops with 1 tbsp shortening over a double boiler. Dip cookies and place on wax paper to harden.


Marci brought  Italian Cookies and Cherry Italian Cookies.


Sarah made salted caramel kiss pies.  Recipe here.


Patti brought Peanut Butter Reindeer in adorable packages! Recipe here.



Ellen brought some delicious Apricot Snickerdoodles from Bread & Water Company. We can’t wait to see her new kitchen renovations soon!

We toasted to a fun, sips & sweets filled year of sharing our baking and sipping tips with our friends and you.  Thanks for reading and sipping along with us!  Cheers to 2015!


Colleen and Sarah


Give Thanks! Apple Cider Mimosa and Mini Pumpkin Pies

Oh Pinterest, you’ve done it again: delicious, festive, and easy recipes to celebrate Thanksgiving! If you need a last-minute signature cocktail or an easy dessert recipe to bring to your Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, we recommend these seasonal treats.

Apple Cider Mimosa, is a different take on the favorite, traditional, and boozy brunch drink! We adapted this recipe from The Cookie Rookie.


  • Apple Cider-we used Trader Joes apple cider
  • Brut-we used Michelle Brut, but your favorite sparkling wine or champagne should be just as tasty.


We eyeballed a shot of apple cider and filled the rest of the flute with the sparkling wine. Voila!


Apple Cider Mimosa

Apple Cider Mimosa


Mini Pumpkin Pies adapted from Make and Takes Mini Pumpkin Pies:

  • pumpkin pie filling for one 9-inch pie (we used the recipe right on the can)
  • two 9-inch pie crust doughs – pre-made from a box
  • round cookie cutter 4 inches in diameter- we used the pumpkin pie filling can to cut out the dough.
  • mini muffin tin
  • whipped cream

1. Prep your dough. Using  a small round cookie cutter or base of a can, cut out circles from your two 9-inch pie crust doughs.


Use the pumpkin can to cut out perfect circles!


2. Place each circle into a pre-greased muffin tin. Press them in, letting the sides come up for a fun look. Score the bottom of your dough with a fork to keep the crust from bubbling up as it cooks.

3. Pour your filling into each muffin tin cup. Fill them to the very top.  We had leftovers of the filling!

4. Bake your muffin tin pumpkin pies at 425 for  about 15 -20 minutes. Keep an eye on them!

5. Let these cool on a wire rack for at least an hour to let the pumpkin filling set.

6. Add a dollop of whipped cream to each individual mini pie.

The cutest bite of pumpkin pie!

The cutest bite of pumpkin pie!


This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for our life long friendship.  And the delicious sips and sweets we’ve shared with you so far this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

And, Happy Fall Sipping and Baking!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now that Halloween is over, we thought our readers might have some extra candy hanging around the house.  Or, if it is all gone, like ours was, you can take advantage of post-Halloween sales!  We liked the idea of creating a cookie by using up that leftover Halloween candy, so decided to use one of our favorites, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  We adapted Desiree Campbell’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.  Try them out–the vanilla pudding mix makes them softer than regular chocolate chip cookies and nothing with Reese’s peanut butter cups in it can ever be bad.  We hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as we did.
Author: Desiree Campbell
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes–it may have been the old oven or size of the cookies we made, but it took around 12 minutes for our cookies to be done!
Total time: 18 minutes
Almost done...

Almost done…

  • 1 Cup { 2 sticks } butter, softened.
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tb. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2¼ Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Box { 3.4 oz } Vanilla Instant Pudding- this gives the cookies a fluffy texture!
  • 1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 20 to 25 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  • Peel and cut the Reese’s into fourths. Don’t chopped them… You don’t want them to fall apart.

Tip: As soon as you are done cutting put your Peanut Butter Cups in the freezer and leave them there while you make the rest of the cookies.This will make them firm and they won’t melt away when you add them into your dough.

  • Beat soft butter, brown and white sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • Add the eggs, beat well until creamy.
  • Add the rest of your dry ingredients including the instant pudding.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Take out those delicious chunks of peanut butter cups and add them to the batter. Stir it gently with a wooden spoon. Don’t over do it you want to see and bite into those small chunks later.
  • Drop the batter by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. The first batch always takes an extra minute. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Cookies will get harder as they cool down.
  • When they are baked remove them from the cookie sheet to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Final Product bff WINE

While we baked, we sipped on some Masciarelli Montelpucciano, a nice red wine, which paired perfectly with the spaghetti and turkey meatballs we had for dinner.

 Happy Fall Sipping and Baking!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah

Fall Sweet Potato Fluffins (Fluffy Muffins!) and Spiced Apple Cider with Brandy

Spiced Cider and Brandy

Our Fall Sips Setup!

We’re back! Fall is here, and to celebrate we paired Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Muffins with Spiced Apple Cider with Brandy.

Sarah spotted the Averie Cooks: Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Bread recipe on Pinterest. She got a lot of re-pins so we knew we had to make this delicious and fluffy treat! Instead of bread, we opted to make muffins and top them with walnuts for an extra crunch. The muffins took less time to bake and it was easy to share the individual portions.

Sips & Sweets tip: One of the most important things to keep in mind when baking with a friend: dividing the deliciousness!

Colleen’s favorite fall drink is spiced apple cider with a kick of brandy… not a #PSL (pumpkin spice latte). She still enjoys a PSL but pairing a special fall drink with your favorite liquor can’t really be beat in our opinion. You can also try hot apple cider with bourbon or whiskey. The sweetness of the brandy is quite tasty though.

To make the spiked spiced cider, mix one mugfull of your favorite cider (we used Alpine packets mixed with boiling water) with one shot of brandy, and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fluffins (adapted from Averie Cooks)


about 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium or 1 very large)
3 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk (we used plain greek yogurt!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (we subbed Truvia baking blend #sohealthy)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (we used Pumpkin Pie Spice)
pinch salt, optional and to taste


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1-inch sized chunks. Place chunks in a large, shallow microwave-safe bowl. Add 3 tablespoons water, cover, and cook on high power for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Pour off any water. Mash sweet potatoes.  Put them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool so you don’t scramble the eggs.

To the sweet potatoes, add the eggs, oil, greek yogurt, vanilla and whisk until combined; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, pinch of salt, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet sweet potato mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir to incorporate. Colleen dug her hands right in there to gently mix the fluffy ingredients together.

fluffin coll

Colleen the mixing master

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Drop a few walnuts on top. Bake for 16-17 minutes or until centers come out clean.

fluffin sarah

Sarah getting the muffins ready to bake!

Taste test while they’re still warm, then enjoy another muffin just to be sure.  Store in ziploc bag or airtight container for up to 1 week (if they last that long!)

 Happy Fall Sipping and Baking!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah



Sips and Sweets: Wine Smoothies

Wine + Berries + Greek Yogurt = Wine Smoothie.  Need we say more?

We decided to enjoy a light lunch and a “wine snack” with the gorgeous weather this weekend, and wanted to share this super easy, quick, and delicious recipe.  It really classifies as both a sip and a sweet, and with the berries and greek yogurt, these Sips & Sweets girls definitely classify it as “healthy.”

Wine Smoothie Ingredients

Wine Smoothie Ingredients!

Sips & Sweets Wine Smoothie


  • 1 bottle Wine (we used Barefoot Pink Moscato, but any wine: red, white, or even sparkling would probably work well!) Note: neither Colleen nor Sarah particularly like Moscato, but we thought using it for this smoothie would be a good way to enjoy it!
  • 3-4 cups frozen berries
  • a few heaping scoops of plain greek yogurt
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes


  • Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  We did this in two batches to ensure they were fresh and not too runny
  • Pour into stemless wine glasses, pop in a straw, and enjoy!


To go with our wine smoothie, we made a simple salad with kale, chicken, strawberries, feta, and almonds with light balsamic dressing.



We hope you try this easy wine recipe as the weather gets warmer!

Mini Key Lime Pie and Tiramisu from Pastries by Randolph

We had sweets too! Mini Key Lime Pie and Tiramisu from Pastries by Randolph


Happy Sipping!!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah


Sips and Sweets: Garden Party!

We hosted a lovely garden party–Springtime Sips and Sweets–at Sarah’s house in Old Town, Alexandria to celebrate springtime with our girlfriends.

Here is the invitation we created using paperless post.  We loved that it looked letterpressed and highly recommend using Paperless Post for invitations; they have the cutest designs!

Sneak Peek of Our First Event!


Colleen and Sarah Happy to Host!



Garden Party Spread

The Decor

We enlisted our party planning consultant, Pinterest, to begin collecting ideas for our party. (Side note, are you following us on Pinterest?  Click here!).  We knew we wanted to incorporate a wine theme with the obvious garden theme, and found this adorable inspiration: tulips in wine glasses!  See below for our inspiration and result.  We cut the tulips down to a shorter length than we bought them, and used pipe cleaners to hold the tulips together.  Any twine or string would have worked well.

Pinspiration: Tulips in Wine Glasses!

Result: Tulips in Wine Glasses!

Result: Tulips in Wine Glasses!

We also loved the idea of using corks as place card holders:

Pinspiration: Corks as place cards/food descriptions

Result: Cork Card Holders!

We used corks we had been collecting from previous sipping nights and cut small slits into them with a sharp knife.  We bought inexpensive place cards at Michael’s craft store and voila!

Tip: We found synthetic corks and champagne corks were most durable!

Wine Cork Game

Another fun idea we found on Pinterest was a wine-inspired game.  We wanted a good way for our guests to interact.  We had our guests guess how many wine corks were in a vase.  The winner won a wine bottle topper.

After dessert, we announced the winner of the cork game. Ellen won with a lucky guess of 35! There were 36 corks and we gained even more after the party we can use for future games and decor!



Sips, Savories, and Sweets Pairings

On to the “good stuff,” literally.  We decided to choose a white wine, Sauvignon Blanc, and a red wine, Merlot, to pair with cheese and desserts, and a sparkling wine to pair with dessert only.  To be honest, we googled around a bit to come up with our selections, choosing wines that pair well with a nice variety of items to please everyone.  Sarah went to Trader Joe’s knowing the types of wines she was looking for, but relied on the descriptions of the wines to guide her selection.


The Sauvignon Blanc: Bogle, vibrant, lively, exotic flavors (yum!)

The Merlot: Red Diamond, like a diamond, it “goes with everything.”

The Sparkling: Michelle Brut, not too sweet or dry!


We purchased the cheese at Trader Joes as well.

Tip: Trader Joes has incredibly priced, high quality cheeses.  In some cases, the same size package was almost half as expensive as in a regular grocery store!

Smoked Gouda paired well with the Merlot.

Parmesan- Gouda was the crowd favorite and was delicious with the crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Brie was the second favorite.  The creamy and slightly sweet brie paired with the dry Sauvignon Blanc.

Goat Cheese paired well with the Sauvignon Blanc.

Mild Cheddar went great with the Merlot.


Cheese platter with pairing on the back of the name card


Strawberries with Merlot Drizzle paired with Merlot or Brut

& DIY Dirt Cake paired with Brut

Ingredients for Strawberry Merlot Drizzle adapted from Yummly.

  • 1/2 cup merlot
  • 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups strawberries (sliced)

Homemade Whipped Cream

* heavy whipping cream: whip cream with mixer and add a dash of vanilla and sugar until   smooth and creamy. Be careful to not over-whip!         


  1. Bring merlot, lemon juice, and honey to a boil in a sauce pan over high heat.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Drizzle over sliced berries.
  3. Top with whipped cream



Strawberries with Merlot Drizzle and Whipped Cream. YUM!

Strawberries with Merlot Drizzle and Whipped Cream. YUM!

DIY Dirt Cake adapted from Lorie’s Mississippi Kitchen.

We traveled back to our childhood when brainstorming garden themed dessert ideas like Dirt Cake! We have to credit Lindsay Christians’ friend with the wine pairing for this dessert, which we found here.  Apparently a dry sparkling wine pairs perfectly with crunchy cookies and creamy filling, and we completely agree.


3 1/2 cups whole milk

2 small packages instant French vanilla pudding

1 stick butter, softened to room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (16-ounce) container non-dairy whipped topping

2 packages chocolate sandwich cookies

Assorted gummy worms


Whisk the milk and pudding together in a large bowl until smooth.  Let stand five minutes.  In another large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together with a hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy.  Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.  Add the pudding and beat until smooth.  Fold in the non-dairy whipped topping.

Crush 1 package of cookies so that there are some fine crumbs, but also some larger pieces.  There needs to be a variety. Crushing cookies is a great stress reliever!


We set up a DIY Station for our girlfriends to make their own dessert. We provided bowls of Oreos, Gluten-free Oreos, Pudding Mixture, and Gummy Worms. Our guests  layered the pudding and oreos to their liking in small garden pots, purchased at Michaels, then topped with gummy worms! Delicious and adorable🙂


DIY Dirt Cake! Brings us back to childhood!


Dirt Cake in Mini Flower Pot! We send some springtime cookies home with our guests too!

Dirt Cake in Mini Flower Pot!
We sent some springtime cookies home with our guests too!


We had a great time planning our first party and catching up with our girlfriends. We can’t wait to host again!

Happy Sipping and Sweet Making!!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah



Lovely ladies in Sarah’s Garden!

Sips and Sweets: Pairing Couteaux Du Layon with Lemon Tart

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in DC!

Gorgeous Cherry Blossoms in DC!

The Cherry Blossoms have bloomed in DC and springtime is in the air! We decided to celebrate the first taste of spring by pairing a bottle of Couteaux Du Layon with a  delightful and refreshing lemon tart. Colleen made a trip to the local wine store, Arrowine for to find the perfect dessert wine for our pairing. A wine specialist helped choose the 2010 Domaine du Pas Saint Martin Coteaux Du Layon bottle. She said this semi- dry sweet wine would pair well with the lemon flavors in our dessert. The light lemon flavors in the wine would create a balance with the tart without being too acidic.  She had paired it with cheesecake in the past and said it is a nice wine to simply sip on. SOLD!

Sarah hosted the evening at her house providing a lovely pasta dinner and the baking ingredients.

We used a recipe we found on All Recipes called “The Best Lemon Bars.”  Can’t go wrong with a  name like that!:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.
4. Bake for an additional 20 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool. For a festive tray, make another pan using limes instead of lemons and adding a drop of green food coloring to give a very pale green. After both pans have cooled, cut into uniform 2 inch squares and arrange in a checker board fashion.


A couple Sips & Sweets tips with this recipe:

Squeezing lemons: Sarah saw this trick at a Mexican restaurant once and has used it in her own kitchen ever since.  Cut the lemon in half, then use a fork to pierce the lemon while squeezing into a bowl or measuring cup.  You get more lemon juice out of the lemon than if you only squeeze.

Colleen demonstrates the lemon squeezing trick!

Colleen demonstrates the lemon squeezing trick!

When life gives you lemons make lemon tarts!

When life gives you lemons make lemon tarts!

 When pressing the crust into the pan, make sure you really press hard!  We didn’t in some places, and the bottom of the bars were crumbly and fell apart.  User error, but something to keep in mind!  They were delicious regardless, and beautiful, as demonstrated below.



Neither of us had ever tried Couteaux Du Layon, but we feel quite fancy adding it to our list of wines we now like!  We had to Wikipedia learned some interesting things about the wine.  Couteaux Du Layon is a region in France near the Loire Valley and Loire River, where the wine is produced.  It’s made with a Chenin Blanc grape which has a high acidity and is used to make white wine varieties from sparkling to dessert.  Couteaux Du Layon wines are never very dry, and vary in sweetness.  We added the following notes into our Bottlenotes app (sidenote: We are becoming less impressed with the Bottlenotes app as we continue using it.  It’s tough to download on some phones, and it’s difficult to retrieve notes once you’ve entered them.  The website is very helpful, though.  We may go in search of a new app soon):

  The color was bright, rich yellow, and reminded us of lemons!  We tasted honey, lemon, and vanilla.  It was light and sweet, but not too sweet, which we really liked.  It’s a sippable wine and we will definitely have it again!

The Perfect Pairing!

The Perfect Pairing!


We had a great time sipping, baking, and brainstorming ideas for our first Sips & Sweets Event! Here is a sneak peek of our invite🙂

Sneak Peek of Our First Event!

Sneak Peek of Our First Event!


Happy Sipping and Sweet Making!!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah