Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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After a super busy year of takeout and re-heating leftovers, I’ve only just started to get back into cooking and baking for myself at home again this month.

Making food, especially this time of year, is one of those magical activities that has a way of bringing people together. Whether it’s you and a partner squabbling over a recipe book, your mom teaching you how to make her famous shortbread, or table full of friends eagerly awaiting your creations, food has a way of creating family in all sorts of shapes and forms.

The meaning of “family” shifted for me this year – as friends started growing their families by getting married or having children of their own, my chosen family grew bigger and stronger than ever before. Sophie and Bobby from Kitten and the Bear are some of my very favourite people, and getting to be an honorary aunt to their little boy Forrest was seriously one of the highlights of my 2017. I’m always impressed by their baking and jam-making prowess, so when Soph offered to come over to bake these Chocolate Cherry Jam Cruffins before I headed home to Vancouver for the holidays I couldn’t resist the time spent together (or the CRUFFINS!)

Scroll down for the full recipe by Kitten and the Bear!

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What you’ll need //

1 jar of Kitten and the Bear jam (we used Dark Cherry, Plum & Cocoa and Winter Cranberry)
1 box of Tenderflake classic puff pastry or rolled puff pastry sheets
2 tbsp soft butter
2 tbsp icing sugar (for dusting)
1 tbsp flour

Recipe //

1. Thaw pastry according to the directions on the package (either in the fridge overnight, or 2 hours at room temperature.)
2. Preheat your oven to 375 F
3. If you are using classic Tenderflake pastry, roll each brick out on a floured surface to about 12”x12” (give or take…it doesn’t have to be exact). If you are using the rolled sheets, use as-is!
4. Brush soft butter evenly across the pastry, then apply the jam in a thin, even layer.
5. Slice the sheet down the center to create two long rectangles, then roll each rectangle up into a cigar shape.
6. Cut each cigar in half lengthwise using a floured knife to expose the layers of pastry and jam.
7. With the cut side facing outwards, twist each piece into a loose rosette shape and place into a non-stick muffin tin.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown, checking midway and rotating the tray if necessary.
9. Run a small knife around each cruffin to dislodge the pastry from the tin. It’s much easier to do this when the jam is still hot.
10. Allow to cool slightly, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

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KATB + RAOP wish you and yours all the best this holiday season – may your days be buttery and bright!

Party Time

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As the years go by there’s something truly magical about watching the people I love change and grow, building families, businesses, homes and beyond. I feel so lucky to be a part of all the things they create, to share in their joy and celebrate their victories (preferably with cake). Getting older and watching things change can be difficult; so often the relationships you build in your early twenties degrade and disappear over time, but I’ve started to accept that this shedding is less about loss and more about really growing with the people who matter most. In my case, that means Sophie, Bobby and their little one on the way.

I first met this wonderful pair at their west-end jam shop, Kitten and the Bear, and from the moment I walked in I knew we needed to be friends. From that day on we’ve been staging jam photo shoots, tracking down secret foodie delights, and taking the occasional road trip. When Soph told me she was pregnant last Fall I knew I wanted to do something super special to celebrate, and so the quest to throw the perfect baby shower began.

My team joined forces with one of Sophie’s close friends to get the ball rolling and searching for a dreamy venue was first up on the list. We immediately turned to the awesome team at The Drake, and they agreed to host us at their gorgeous new space, The Drake Commissary. With a massive kitchen that includes a GELATO MACHINE, a small marketplace section, and the coolest decor around, we knew our party had found the perfect home. We started working with Chef Jonas and the Drake team to dream up the menu, complete with colour changing cocktails and a naked style cake topped with peonies. We got the oh-so-talented Scarlet O’Neill on board to shoot the surprise, and enlisted the help of Amira from Coriander Girl for fresh flowers and greenery. Topped off with party favours from Sloane Fine Tea Merchants and Kitten and the Bear themselves, the stage was officially set to shower this growing family with love, gifts, and croissants!

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It was really hard to resist buying EVERYTHING for these two and their baby on the way, believe me, but I did my best to stick to the essentials: tiny shoes that make me and Johanna squeal aloud, a bear hat and mitten set to combat the Toronto cold, and a pacifier for teething that Sophie and Bobby can fill with fruit for the new addition to their “Jamily”! Links to shop below…

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Here are some of our favourite picks from Amazon:

Fruit-filled pacifier for teething
Baby bear paw mittens
Baby bear fleece hat
White baby converse
Fruity Party Picks
Baby bear onesie

An extra special thanks to:
Florals – Coriander Girl
Photography – Scarlet O’Neill
Favours – Sloane Tea and Kitten and the Bear
Food, Drinks and Venue – The Drake Commissary

Team RAOP’s dresses by Samantha Pleet (Alyssa) and Guess (blue on Johanna, yellow on Seonaid)

Dress Up

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There’s no better time to layer up and make your way through the cold to a cozy local cafe. Whether you’re meeting a friend or settling in on your own with a good book, coffee shop campouts are crucial when it comes to winter survival, which is why I’m sharing some of my favourite Toronto spots in the December issue of The Kit! You can find my list online here.

If you’re looking for an extra dose of cozy, I’m sharing all of the extras from my cafe shoot at Kitten and the Bear (plus how to shop the post) below!

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Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

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When Mary Kay first approached us about driving their pink Cadillac around for a day, we couldn’t decide where to head first. Should we go apple picking in a neighbouring town? Spend an evening at the drive in movies with buckets of popcorn? Visit one of our favourite local sweet spots to load up on treats?

And then it struck us like a bolt of sugary lightning: let’s spend a day visiting ALL of our favourite Toronto sweet spots!

If you’re ever stuck for sugar in the big smoke, or visiting from out of town in search of new desserts, you now need look no further than the #RAOPtreattour. True, we weren’t able to cover everything (the pink Cadillac was super speedy, but you know, speed limits…), however we did capture all of our absolute top pastel picks. We even made up a little map of all the places our Mary Kay Caddy took us so you can retrace our route yourselves!

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Okay, let’s backpedal for a second. Why a pink Cadillac in the first place?! Well, in case you hadn’t heard, Mary Kay has a long tradition of providing their top achieving Independent Sales Directors with a pink ride to peddle their lipsticks, blush, mascara and more out of. Legend has is Mary Kay herself walked into Cadillac and asked them to match her custom car to a lip and eye palette in her purse, and when she realized how eye catching it was to be out and about in a rose-tinted ride, she decided to add it to her Career Car fleet! Cute right?

We didn’t sell any Mary Kay during our #randomactsofcaddy day, but we DID fall in love with a whole bunch of lipgloss, listen to nonstop Ariana Grande and ingest a mountain of sugary goodness! It was a pretty crazy experience to see how people around us reacted, and honestly we had a hard time giving our dream ride back when the day was done – we’re still getting Instagram comments and messages from people who spotted us on our sweet adventure!

Scroll down for the #RAOPtreattour map, and more details about our picks!

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Kitten and the Bear //

We can’t express our love for this place enough – there’s honestly nowhere sweeter in the whole city. Sit in for an exquisite tea service, or take a scone milk latte and loaded scone sammie to-go!

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Peace Treats Co. //

New to the Toronto sweets scene, Peace Treats Co. is taking the city’s frozen dessert scene by storm with their “more is more” style milkshakes. Every single flavour is a work of art, but we highly recommend the “Amusement Park” if you’re craving some ultimate pink cotton candy magic for your Instagram feed.

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Glory Hole Donuts //

Do-nut even get us started on how great these donuts are! Glory Hole is home to the famous “toast and butter” flavour (just trust us and try it), plus they offer ice cream donut creations, incredible seasonal flavours like cherry pie, and a few daily vegan options if that’s what you fancy.

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Bake Shoppe TO //

If you ask a Torontonian to direct you to the city’s most popular bakery, they’d probably send you in the direction of Bake Shoppe. With a menu of epic goodies including ruffles chip marshmallow squares, homemade pop tarts, and the best chocolate brownies you’ve ever tasted, this place is an absolute must-taste on the treat tour.

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Petit Nuage //

There are plenty of big fancy macaron shops in Toronto, but Petit Nuage makes the best of the bunch out of her tiny shipping container storefront. You haven’t lived if you haven’t tried the cloud-like “Nimbus” macaron (it’s filled with soft marshmallow and it’s truly divine.)

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Through Being Cool //

If you’re on the hunt for vegan baked goods that taste like they came hot out of your grandmother’s oven, this is the stop for you. We’re especially addicted to their sprinkle donuts, the massive slices of cake, and the gooey cookies!

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Who did we miss? Share your favourite Toronto treat spots in the comments!

This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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I haven’t had as much of a chance to explore Ontario as I want to, so when Sophie offered to give me an adventure as my birthday gift, I suggested we get out of town. The KATB crew has totally fallen for Prince Edward County over the past few months (check out their guide here), so it was the obvious choice when deciding on a final destination. Sophie booked us a tiny cabin at Lake on the Mountain just steps from the water, and we roped in Jaymi from Good Day hair as well – mostly because she’s an awesome mutual friend, but also a tiny bit because of her cottage hair styling skills (love you Jaymi!)

Early Sunday morning we settled in for a long drive on the open road and after about three hours of horrible car sickness (thanks to those beautiful winding country roads) we had arrived in Ontario’s tiny island heaven. Separated into a handful of smaller towns and communities, like Bloomfield and Picton, PEC is full of amazing restaurants, wineries, and adorable shops, and we couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide than Sophie to show us the best of the best.

The possibilities for #RAOPplaces were seemingly endless, but I’ve rounded up some of my absolute must-see picks for you next time you visit!

Scroll down for my pastel PEC travel guide!

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Slickers //

The best homemade country-style ice cream in all the land. Try the chocolate orange and the campfire!

County Cider Company //

Serving up amazing pizza and just about every flavour of cider you can imagine, this is the perfect place to load up on local sips to take home to your friends (or hoard for yourself.)

Vicki’s Veggies //

You know those farm stands in the olden days where you write down what you take and leave cash in a jar? Well, this tiny family-run farm is just that!

Coriander Girl PEC //

A Toronto favourite, Allison now lives in PEC and has opened up the prettiest little county coriander girl florist you ever did see.

Miller House at Lake on the Mountain //

This restaurant was part of the complex we stayed in, and I’m surprised we ever left. It was essentially a cheese board-only eatery that overlooked the ferry crossing, and if the sun sets weren’t worth a visit, the food definitely was!

Norman Hardie Winery //

Open air dining, an adorable shop filled with local goods, amazing wine and an oyster shucking bar? What else could you ever want?!

The Courage //

The decor at this spot is a perfect mix of minty old and new, and the brunch is on point! Don’t forget to snap a photo of their perfect neon sign between bites.