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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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!:

INGREDIENTS:
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
DIRECTIONS:
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.

Yum!

Yum!

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

Around the World in 80 Sips Recap

We attended the Bottlenotes “Around the World in 80 Sips” event on March 21 at the gorgeous National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC with a great group of girlfriends.  Before we sipped, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Chef Geoff’s and somehow managed to skip dessert!  We didn’t forget to take advantage of this perfect photo opp with a glass of wine and the top of the Chef Geoff’s dessert menu.

Photo Credit to Marci!

Photo Credit to Marci!

The event was quite popping when we got there–almost a little too overcrowded!  However, we managed to snag a cocktail table to claim as our home base while we each sampled different wines at stations set up by various wineries.

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Crowded! But how great is that?

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The girls at the gorgeous National Museum of Women in the Arts

We used the Bottlenotes Mobile iPhone app  so we could rate and share our impressions of each pour in real-time. Sarah was our Bottlenotes 80 Sips recorder. While we didn’t discuss our love of wine all night, here are some notes on the wines we did try!

Note from Colleen: “Yum! Smooth, taste cherry, and light in body”
Caroline: “Light but not crisp-very smooth and not heavy. You can taste the tannis.
Ellen: “Perfect wine with a steak dinner-fresh on the palatte!”
 

Tenuta di Ghizzano Sangiovese-2001 (SL-94231)

Note from Sarah: Too much strawberry

Château Lamy AOC Corbières -2012(SCH-139232)

Colleen:  ” I taste blackberries. Nice and smooth. Medium to full in body. I could drink this anytime!”
 
Sarah: “Smokey chocolate, yum!! Like a shiraz”
 Marci: “Good for mulled wine-smooth.”
 Sarah: “Taste strong alcohol.”
 
Ellen: “Crisp and very sweet, oaky in a good way: light crispy oak”
 

Los Hermanos Vineyards Chardonnay -N.V.(WS-001)

Marci: ” It’s on the sweeter side, not as dry as I’d like it to be.”
 

Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé -N.V.(BOS-2000)

Sarah: “Lot’s of bubbles! Can’t taste it because of the bubbles!”

The Bottom Line: We loved our first Bottlenotes event and plan to attend many more!

To check out upcoming Bottlenotes events, visit the events page at http://www.BottleNotes.com!

Happy Sipping!

xoxo, Colleen and Sarah