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.

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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!

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MENU

Cocktails:

  • 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!

    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
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Hot Cocoa Bar

Appetizers:

  • 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.
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Cheese Christmas Tree!

  • Christmas Tree Veggie Wreath and dip.
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Veggie Wreath

Desserts:

  • 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.
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Gingerbread decorating station

  • Cookies!

 

Caroline brought Peanut Butter Blossoms with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Recipe here.
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Colleen made her specialty: Pretzel M&M cookies.  Recipe here.

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

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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.
Glaze:
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.

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Sarah made salted caramel kiss pies.  Recipe here.

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

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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!

xoxo,

Colleen and Sarah

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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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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.

DIRECTIONS:

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.

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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

 

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!

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Colleen and Sarah Happy to Host!

 

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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!

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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 SIPS

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!

THE SAVORIES: Cheese!

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

THE SWEETS:

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!         

Instructions:

  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.

Ingredients:

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

Instructions: 

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!

Assemble:

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 🙂

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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

 

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Lovely ladies in Sarah’s Garden!