December 1, 2015

Ladies Night In with Spiked Mochaccinos


One of my favorite things about the cold weather, besides being able to wear sweaters and big fuzzy socks, is the excuse to stay inside and snuggle up. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out and being social, but sometimes after being out and about all day in New York City, you want to just go home and not have to deal with all of the people.  Know what I mean?

This is precisely why when Hills Bros.®  Cappuccino sent me their #CappTheNight Ladies Night In prize pack, I was SO EXCITED. I could not wait to open it up and check out all of the goodies that I could use to host the perfect night in with my favorite ladies.  When I did finally open it, I couldn’t believe all of the fun things that they included! In addition to three flavors of Hill Bros. Cappuccino Powder, the box had a deck of cards, a soothing face mask, some lemon butter cuticle cream, lip balm, gorgeous red nail polish, body lotion, fuzzy socks, gloves and a headband, and double mocha cappuccino K Cups. The perfect items for a night of pampering and relaxation!

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The Ladies Night In prize pack could not have arrived at a better time.  My best friend was coming to visit me from Boston for the weekend, and we needed a night in to catch up on life.  We decided to take advantage of the awesome stuff in the box, and to use the Hills Bros. Cappuccino powder to make some yummy winter cocktails!


After playing around a bit with the different flavor canisters of powdered mix that Hills Bros. sent me, I came up with a recipe for the Spiked French Vanilla Cinnamon Mochaccino.  Yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds.  I took a trip to my local Walmart to get all of the ingredients that I needed.  While browsing, I also found these awesome glass Irish coffee mugs, which were the perfect vessel to enjoy this new drink in!


Here’s what you’ll need:
-Canister of Hills Bros. French Vanilla Cappuccino Mix (available for purchase at your local Walmart or
-Your favorite Powdered Hot cocoa mix
-Pinch of cinnamon
-2 oz of Kahlua
-Whipped cream

Here’s what to do:
1) Combine 2 tbsp of the Hills Bros. French Vanilla Cappuccino mix and 2 tbsp of your favorite hot chocolate mix in each mug

2) Sprinkle some cinnamon into each mug
3) Add 8 fl oz hot water to each mug
4) Stir until all powered mixture has been blended into hot water
5) Add 1 oz of Kahlua to each mug (Kahlua is optional)
6) Stir to mix

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7) Add whipped cream


And there you have it.  A warm, sweet, delicious beverage with a little extra kick to enjoy on your girls night in. And it was super easy to make! We styled our drinks in the glass Irish coffee mugs that I mentioned before, with our favorite antler drink stirrers.  For a fun little extra detail (and a tasty snack) we added mini cinnamon rolls to each of the stirrers. How cute is that?


We stuck the leftover cinnamon rolls on these stunning red and black plaid plates, which fit perfectly with our drinks on our rustic wooden serving tray.  Since we had the wooden trays as a smooth surface to put our drinks on, we stuck a fur rug underneath everything so some extra, cozy detail.  To add some color and height to the whole setup, we set up red and black paper cones.


We also kept a bowl of peppermint, cinnamon stick and chocolate handy, to add some extra flavor or garnish to our drinks.  We used some of our favorite bamboo straws, striped in festive red and green, for stirring when necessary!


With our cocktails in hand to sip, my friend and I got to work painting our nails, watching movies and playing cards! We had an absolute blast just relaxing after a day of walking around the city in the chilly weather.


The best part? Hills Bros. Cappuccino is giving you the chance to win your own Ladies Night In prize pack! For more information on how to win and additional tips for how to host the perfect ladies night in, check out their #CappTheNight Sweepstakes info page.  You can enter to win by using the widget below!

Hill Bros. Cappuccino – #CappTheNight Sweepstakes


This post is sponsored by Hills Bros. Cappuccino, but all ideas and opinions are my own. 

xx, Abby
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November 30, 2015

Mandy’s Meals & More featuring Daniella of All that Glitters


I have a confession to make. From the day we moved into our condo which was over a year ago, I have been dreaming about hosting our engagement party in our building’s party room. Well before the proposal. That’s normal right? When my fiancé Cory popped the question about two months ago, I got right to work to put all my ideas into action. This weekend we celebrated with our family and close friends, and if I do say so myself it was one fabulous party!





When planning I tried to keep things simple since the room itself has so much character and so many great details. I kept a palette of white, mint, and pale pink with accents of copper and marble. We stocked the bar and hired a The Food Dudes to do passed appetizers. The drinks were flowing and the food was out of this world.


Now onto the details.

Because it was an engagement party I felt that a bubbly bar cart would be perfect. Because really, when you’re engaged all you want to do is pop champagne and celebrate! I put out juices and fruits for mimosas which were such a hit! And to switch it up a bit I stocked the bar with elderflower liquor and aperol so guests could make Elderflower Fizzes and Aperol Spritzes – so yummy! Using a bar cart as a mini drink station is great since it’s interactive and also takes a bit of pressure off the bar. I added a confetti balloon and a SIP SIP HOORAY glittery banner and voila – a chic bubbly bar!




The sweet table was really out of control and probably my favourite part of the party! My fabulous mother in law to be Debi, who you all know as Simply Beautiful Eating, brought with her a stunning petal layer cake, vanilla and chocolate mini cupcakes, and the cutest sugar cookies ever. All from the amazing ladies at Baked With Joy. My wonderful mother made mini panna cottas to add to the table as well. I loved that everything on the sweet table was mini and very easy for guests to grab at any point in the night.





Let’s talk about the favor table. I knew I wanted to give out mini champagne bottles so I designed a thank you tag that fit our theme to tie around the bottles. We also tied straws around some for those guests who wanted to pop their bottle right away and keep the party going! I printed black and white square photos of my fiancé Cory and I to use as wall decor behind the table. I punched holes in two of the corners and strung them onto three strands to put up on the wall. It was the easiest thing and a non-cheesy way to incorporate photos of the bride and groom to be. Seeing photos of us from the past four years was so much fun for all our family and friends, and made us so happy to look back on all the wonderful things we’ve done and amazing places we’ve been to together throughout our relationship.



This party was so much fun and it was amazing to celebrate with so many of the people we love. We couldn’t be happier! Until next time…



Photography – Simply Beautiful Eating
Caterer and Bartender – The Food Dudes
Flowers – Coriander Girl
Desserts – Baked with Joy
Banner, Cake Topper, Cupcake Toppers – All That Glitters


xx, Seri
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Party conversation
  1. Debi @simplybeautifuleating

    This was one of the most beautiful engagement parties I’ve ever been too! Daniella you’re amazing and we love you! I’m so happy to have you as my future daughter! Xoxo Mama D

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November 27, 2015

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating


Now this is exciting! I collaborated with the Feedfeed and Driscolls this week!

In our home, we give our best shot to grow our berries and vegetables when the Canadian climate is kind to our needs. We are also big supporters of our local farmers by getting our seasonal berries, fruits and vegetables at the market. Our summers are short around here and as soon as the weather turns nasty, we need to turn to imported fruits and veggies.


Driscolls is the brand we reach for at the market. They have been family owned for over 100 years and are dedicated to growing premium fresh berries.

When the feedfeed asked me to do this collaboration with Driscolls, I was super pumped to create a unique recipe using their berries. After all, I feel like the “Berry Queen” with the amount of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries I consume on a weekly basis.


Stuffing myself with antioxidant rich foods has been a daily routine of mine since my early forties. I don’t know if it’s helping freeze the aging process, but it sure can’t hurt. Right?

I especially love using fresh raspberries in baking, sauces, syrups and smoothies.

This original recipe (which I dreamt about for about 3 nights straight) was concocted around a specific tart pan. Which I had trouble finding, by the way.

It seems that no stores carry 14 inch rectangular pans with a removable bottom. WHAT!


I think I may have a tart pan addiction. SOMEONE NEEDS TO PLAN AN INTERVENTION. This particular one was missing from my repertoire and I WANTED AND NEEDED IT BADLY.

Naturally, there was a lot of running around involved with trying to locate one of these pans.

I would dash in and out of a store – sweating a bit – trying to find the exact pan I was looking for, only to be met with sales staff saying:

“never seen one”
“a removable bottom” ?
“what size did you say”
“ya we have one but we really don’t”
“sorry they are sold out”
“oh, I think we sold the last one today….some lady came in and…….”
“let me check”
“for what’?
“say what”?
“can you describe it again”?
“can you show me what it looks like on your phone”?
“do you bake”?
“what do you bake”?
“what do you need it for’?
“could you use this one instead”?
“oooooo….what are you making”?
“I’ve never seen that size”
“follow me to the bakeware section”
“do you want to special order it”?
“I think we had them”
“Oh ya, they are $14.99 and shipping is $35 and will take 6 -8 weeks”
“did you try going online”?
“did you try going to…..”?


Anyhoo…. I finally found one – OF COURSE – right near my house at a local kitchenware store FOR $6.99!!!

Now take a look at this tart. Wasn’t it worth running around for the pan? YES and YES!

I used a delicious shortbread cookie dough crust spiked with coconut, had a little bit leftover so I pulled out my mini tartlette pans and made extra, then filled it with a fresh raspberry infused coconut filling and simply topped it with lemon zest and these stunning Driscolls raspberries.


OH and in the middle of all this I needed leaves. Yes, leaves.

Would you like to know what I looked like when I went to get these leaves?

Let me tell you in one word – BEDRAGGLED.

Yup, hair up in a ponytail, not a stitch of makeup on and in my jammies. I think my neighbours may have reported me today.

(Chief Executive Leaf Hunter)


Raspberry Coconut Tart

Coconut Shortbread Crust
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut

Fresh Raspberry Coconut Filling
3 cups fresh organic Driscolls raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut
2 tablespoons water
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp cornstarch
⅛ tsp salt
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
Additional raspberries and lemon peel curls for Garnish


For the crust, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture looks like small pebbles and there are no pieces of butter larger than the size of a pea.

Add the egg a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.

Once all of the egg has been added, process until the dough forms large clumps.

Turn the dough into a 14 X 4¼-inch rectangular tart pan and use your fingers to press it into an even layer all over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.

You can run a rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove the excess dough.

Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Pierce the dough all over with a fork, then cover the crust with aluminum foil, pressing the foil tightly against the crust and covering the sides. I use pie weights to hold the dough in place.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Carefully remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and place the tart pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the raspberry coconut filling, combine raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring mixture to a boil (about 5 minutes); reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes to thicken.

Remove mixture from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Place in a food processor or blender; process until smooth.

Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids.

Wipe pan clean and return strained mixture to pan.

Whisk together egg yolks, coconut and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.

Stir yolk mixture into raspberry mixture; bring to a boil over medium-low heat (about 5 minutes).

Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Place curd into a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.

Chill curd in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 1½ weeks.

To assemble tart, spoon raspberry coconut filling into cooled tart shell and spread into an even layer with a spatula.

Arrange additional raspberries over filling and garnish with lemon peel curls. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.driscolls2See ya next week!
Debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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November 26, 2015

First time at the Big Apple Circus


Last weekend we got our hands on some tickets to the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center. I was pretty psyched for this show because I hadn’t been to the circus since I was a little girl and I have never been to the circus in New York City.


When I told Adam and the kids that I got tickets they were just as thrilled. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with your family, right?


We weren’t 100% sure what to expect aside from some jugglers and maybe a few animals. So we went in bright eyed and bushy tailed and couldn’t wait to discover all that they offer at the circus these days.


When we walked in, it was exactly how I remembered the circus looking and feeling as a child. Every iconic feature was in place: The large tent, the red and white boxes of popcorn, stimulating art hanging from the ceilings and the walls and ushers who were making sure everyone got to their seat in time for the show to start.






As we walked inside I was surprised to see a rather small stage which I happened to love because the show just turned into an intimate gathering that made you feel very special to be a part of.


We took our seats and out came the ringmaster with a big ol’ top hat and a stripe coat with a long tail. He fit the bill and kicked off the show with a bang.


My boys could not take their eyes off the center stage from start to finish. The look of excitement and curiosity in their eyes was making my heart melt into a puddle. So much so I could hardly focus on the show.




When your child experiences something as magical as the circus for the first time and you are there to witness it, that memory burns into your mind forever. These are the moments that make parenthood feel extra cool. These are the special times you will always remember in your life.



The show was full of incredible talent, dogs and horses. The kids loved every single second of it and so did Adam and I. Oh I didn’t even tell you the best part…..they served wine! I wasn’t expecting that but boy was I ever pleasantly surprised!




We talked about the show for the entire walk back to the car at the end of the night. What we liked best, who made us nervous and why, when will the circus be back and can we go?! For those of you who live in New York or who are planning to visit  sometime soon, you’ve gotta get yourself some tickets. You will absolutely love the show.

For more information and to buy tickets to the Big Apple Circus click here.

This post was sponsored by the Big Apple Circus but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

xx, Seri
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November 25, 2015

Taking your office holiday party up a notch

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It’s that time again! The most wonderful time of the year…and you know what that brings, Holiday parties! If held at the office, these gatherings can be pretty hum drum. We came up with a few ways to liven up the party with a nontraditional approach.

Create a Pop for a Prize game for your co-workers
Everyone will be psyched at the opportunity to win a day off work or a gift certificate to a spa! Start with regular latex balloons (one for each employee), a Jumbo Balloon Time helium tank, ribbon, paper and pen. Print or write each prize onto a small strip of paper, like a fortune. We love a day off work, trip to the spa, off-site team lunch or even a gift certificate to a new, trendy restaurant.
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Roll each prize up and tie with a piece of bakers twine or ribbon.
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Put one prize in each balloon and inflate with the helium tank.
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Tie with a ribbon and secure each balloon to a table or desk with tape or weight. Balloons can even be tied to a chair. We secured ours to these amazing neon fringe Christmas Crackers. Each person gets a turn selecting a balloon and popping for a prize!
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We also had some fun with metallic gold sticker letters from our local craft store and spelled out HO HO HO! onto plain white balloons. You can get creative and spell out your company name or another festive saying.
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No party is complete without the cocktails. For our holiday party we are serving up a festive cranberry punch that gave off an ombre effect after we mixed it all together. PRETTY and YUM!

Enjoy everyone and Happy Holidays!

xx, Michelle
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