Strawberry Balsamic Margarita + Black Pepper Shortcake

Strawberry Basil Balsamic Margarita + Black Pepper Strawberry Shortcake

Our cocktail dream team of Andrea Harper of Gray Harper Event Maker, Jade of Jade + Matthew Take Pictures and Samantha Huba is back today, sharing what may just be the perfect cocktail and dessert pairing! Strawberries. Oh, how I love freshly picked strawberries. And today these ladies are taking strawberries to an all-new level with a crazy delicious strawberry basil balsamic margarita and strawberry shortcake made with black pepper biscuits and a balsamic strawberry sauce infused with lavender. Um, yes, please! I love flavor combinations that are a bit unexpected, here adding a touch of pepper to something that is otherwise sweet. And, I’m just saying, but with Cinco de Mayo coming up this weekend, you’re probably going to want to make this.

Picking Strawberries

Picking Strawberries Picking Strawberries

I think the key here is to use the best strawberries you can get your hands on. U-pick season is coming up in a lot of places so I love the idea of swinging by your local strawberry farm to gather up your berries. With both of these recipes, the balsamic vinegar and black pepper really let the strawberries shine and the touch of basil and lavender just takes the whole combination over the top.

Strawberry Basil Balsamic Margarita

  • 4 – 6 fresh strawberries
  • 1 – 2 oz tequila
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 basil leaves and sprig for garnish
  • 4 cubes ice
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Lime wedge to garnish

Combine strawberries, tequila, ice, balsamic, and basil in a blender and blend until smooth. Meanwhile, mix together sea salt and ground black pepper in a small dish and use the mixture to coat the rim of your glass. Pour drink mixture into glass and garnish with lime wedge and basil sprig. Enjoy!


Strawberry Basil Balsamic Margarita Lavender-Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1-1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees . Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor. Pulse twice to distribute the ingredients evenly. Scatter the butter over the top of the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and pulse until the mixture just begins to come together.

Scrape dough onto a lightly floured counter (you may need to work in some flour if the mixture is  too wet). Pat the dough into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Use a 3″ round cutter to make biscuits, pressing together scraps of dough and repeating the process until you’ve used it all. Place the biscuits on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter.

Lavender-Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

  • 1 pound {about 2 cups} chopped and hulled strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (we used a lavender balsamic, but you can use any)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook all ingredients for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s finished when the strawberries are soft and sauce coats the back of the spoon. Let cool –  it can be served hot, cold, or room temperature. Spoon the sauce over a warm biscuit, and top with homemade whipped cream. For an extra kick, add a touch of black pepper to the whipped cream and crack a bit over top. Enjoy!

Freshly Picked Strawberries

Be sure to check out all of our Sips + Sweets cocktail and dessert pairings and for more Cinco de Mayo ideas check out our classic margarita recipe, our pick for what to wear, these DIY fringed vases, a few favorite fiestas, this color palette, this yummy citrus cocktail, these DIY beaded earrings, and this Mexican chocolate pudding recipe!


[Cocktail recipe + styling by Gray Harper Event Maker | Strawberry shortcake recipe by Samantha Huba | Photos by Jade + Matthew Take Pictures.]


What To Wear: Cinco de Mayo

As promised, we’re keeping this fiesta rolling all week long! It wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo if we didn’t talk about brightly colored dresses and some fabulous accessories. Here’s the thing with Cinco de Mayo – it’s the perfect excuse to go as bold, patterned and colorful as you’d like! So, personally, I vote for layering it up. A kicking party dress, a vibrant clutch, a pretty scarf and a classic wedge to keep the whole look from getting too carried away. (Although, by all means, I’m always an advocate for getting carried away if you feel so inclined!) The only thing missing is a margarita in one hand and a fistful of chips and guac in the other.

What to wear for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta | The Sweetest Occasion


[Shop: Dress | iPhone cover | necklace | clutch | scarf | wedges | sunglasses.]

p.s. For more Cinco de Mayo ideas check out our classic margarita recipe, these DIY fringed vases, a few favorite fiestas, this color palette, this yummy citrus cocktail, these DIY beaded earrings, and this Mexican chocolate pudding recipe!

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Colorful Celebration Decor from Luna Bazaar

This post was sponsored by Luna Bazaar. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so generously help keep The Sweetest Occasion rockin’!

Beautiful Paper Lanterns from Luna Bazaar

You guys know I’m no stranger to being infatuated with gorgeous party decorations! Which has a whole lot to do with my love for our long-time sponsor Luna Bazaar. They are seriously my go-to place for the most beautiful celebratory decor. If you’re planning a wedding or even just a backyard shindig, you’re going to want to pop on over and take a gander at their huge selection of paper lanterns, tissue paper pom poms and honeycomb balls. Because a big spray of colorful paper lanterns hanging overhead? It’s a show stopper of a look at any and every celebration, from a dramatically elegant barn wedding to a casual al fresco dinner party.


Buy paper lanterns from Luna Bazaar
[Shop paper lanterns at Luna Bazaar!]

Parasols from Luna Bazaar

In addition to my favorite paper lanterns, I’m also really digging these colorful paper parasols, too. They’re just so festive and fun, there’s really nothing not to love. Luna Bazaar also has an amazing selection of vases, candle holders, and awesome paper star lights so you can really make your celebration shine.

Buy paper parasols from Luna Bazaar

[Shop paper parasols at Luna Bazaar!]

Parasols from Luna Bazaar

If you’re planning a big bash for this spring or summer, make sure to hop to it and pay Luna Bazaar a little visit. From their prices to their selection of gorgeous decorations in every color imaginable, you’ll be glad you did. See even more of their awesome offerings over at our Facebook page, too!


[Images provided by Luna Bazaar.]

This post was sponsored by Luna Bazaar. Read more about our editorial policies.

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DIY Seed Bead Earrings

by Stephanie of Henry Happened

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Who else is ready to get their party on this weekend for Cinco de Mayo? And while we’re all thinking about margaritas and guacamole I have just one question for you – what will you be wearing? A celebration like Cinco de Mayo deserves something special. Something colorful. Something that moves! So put on a party skirt and make a pair of fun, swingy earrings.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Have you ever crafted with seed beads? Yes, they are super tiny. So don’t have a margarita before making these! But don’t be intimidated either. It’s simpler than you might think! They come in so many great colors and and you can make these earrings in no time.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Supplies -

  • Fishing line
  • Seed beads. I used 4 colors – turquoise, cobalt blue, silver and gold. I also included a few silver tube beads I had on hand.
  • 4 small cord clamps like these
  • 2 gold fish hook earring wires like these
  • Jewelry pliers

Step 1: Cut six pieces of fishing line. Two 4-inch pieces, two 5.5-inch pieces and two 6.5-inch pieces.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Step 2: Lay out the fishing line for each earring – the shortest piece on top and the longest on the bottom.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Step 3: Line up the ends of the fishing line on one side and clamp with a small cord clamp. It’s definitely easier to clamp one side before you start stringing beads, like I did. If you’re having trouble keeping the ends in place while you clamp then dip them in a bit of glue.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Step 3: Play around with the design of your beads. This is the part where I always get stressed because I’m worried I’ll do it “wrong.” But the good news is that there is no wrong design! Pick the colors you like and have fun. Then string the seed beads onto the open side of the earring.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

You’re probably thinking stringing tiny beads will be muy tedious. Nope! Stringing a few earring strands will only take you a couple of episodes of Modern Family.

Step 4: Clamp the other end of the earring wires.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Step 5: Attach the loops of the clamps to an earring wire.

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

Now that you have festive attire, it’s time to party!

DIY Seed Bead Earrings | The Sweetest Occasion

So what will you be wearing on Cinco de Mayo?

For more Cinco de Mayo ideas check out our classic margarita recipe, these DIY fringed vases, a few favorite fiestas, this color palette, this yummy citrus cocktail, and this Mexican chocolate pudding recipe!

[Photos by Henry Happened for The Sweetest Occasion.]

The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo


Cinco de Mayo: The Best of Fiestas

As we count on down to Cinco de Mayo this week it only seems fitting to celebrate my love for all things papel picado, guacamole and piñatas! It’s not too late to whip together a little party for you and your favorite pals this weekend so I dug through the archives to bring your three of my favorite fiestas. If you want to get in on the fun, don your favorite sombrero, whip up a pitcher of sangria and party on!

Fiesta Birthday Party

[Photos by Kallie Brynn Photography.]

This fiesta had all the goods! Strands of colorful papel picado, an ample supply of margaritas, cactus centerpieces and a big spread of tacos catered by a local food truck. See all the details and beautiful photos here!

Backyard Fiesta

[Photos by Studio 222 Photography.]

For this glittering backyard fete, think long tables with mini piñatas at each place setting and long strands of twinkle lights. Add in a self-serve taco bar and you’ve got a whole lot of awesome going on. See all the details here!

Backyard Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

[Photos by Emily O. Photography.]

A casual backyard fiesta among friends makes the perfect dinner party. A pleasantly pretty overload of paper lanterns, bandana bunting and sparklers after dinner make this party such a treat. Check out all the details here!


For more Cinco de Mayo ideas check out our classic margarita recipe, these DIY fringed vases, this color palette, this yummy citrus cocktail, and this Mexican chocolate pudding recipe!