Sip It :: Apple Cider Moscow Mule

If you’re looking for a fall cocktail, this Apple Cider Moscow Mule could be your new go-to. The apples, cinnamon, and ginger combine for a nice fall flavor pallet perfect for this time of year. And, if you happen to live somewhere where the weather is still sweltering hot (like I do)…this is perfect because it’s served over ice in a nice chilled copper mug.

apple cider moscow mule

Have you been on the Moscow Mule bandwagon? Typically, I try resist anything overly trendy but you just cannot argue with this drink–it’s so versatile and refreshing! Plus, I have a thing for copper so it doesn’t hurt that you can get so many cute copper mugs! I have a small collection going on and love to mix-and-match the styles.

Apple Cider Moscow Mule recipeApple Cider Moscow Mule recipe

To make this drink you will need vodka, ginger beer, and apple cider (get it fresh from the produce section if you can), and limes. (more…)

4 Ways to Overcome Blogger Burn out

Blogger burn out happens to the best of us. Especially those of us who feel like blogging dinosaurs. September 8, 2008 was the first blog post I ever published here on Thoughtfully Simple. (I’ll spare you the laugh and won’t link to it!). That was over 8 years ago and what feels like a lifetime of changes in the blogging world have happened since then.

Many things have changed. For example, you no longer have to understand php and css to get something up and running (don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense).  Now you can get pretty blog themes pre-made … that actually look amazing!  Oh and you know–there are some cool platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat in the mix now. These channels help distribute your content and get new eyeballs on your site. What an amazing time for content creators!

And not to mention, there are so, so, so many blogs to read. Did you now that over two million blog posts are published every day? That’s a LOT of content. Remember back when you read like the same 5 blogs every morning? Now it’s an overflowing buffet of options.

blogger burn out


For those that have been blogging for five years+, sometimes it can feel deflating or frustrating to keep up with all of the changes when, in the past, all you had to do was pump out killer content and connect with your readers. Now, you must figure out the best ways to capture their attention and break through the noise. You want to get more blog readers but don’t know how. Have you had those moments when you feel like a hamster on a wheel? I know that I’ve been there and have talked to so many established blogging friends who have as well. (more…)

4 Simple Halloween Treats

I just realized Halloween is creepin’ up on me (ha, get it!), and I almost started to stress about. I mean, what cute treats am I going to make this year? What adorable crafts will I think of? Who knows (really), only time will tell. I’m totally last minute lately but instead of freaking out, I ‘m just sort of rolling with it.

The good news is, I have a few great Halloween treats already here on the blog for you. I bet you’re nothing like me, and totally ahead of the game.

So, if you’re looking for something cute to make the kiddos, or prepping a party and looking for Halloween party food–I’ve got you covered with these four ideas. They are really easy to make (and you can even cheat and buy store bought cupcakes like I did!). Just click the links at the bottom to go to the individual recipe.

Halloween Treats

Halloween Ghost Cupcakes  | Mini Pumpkin Milkshakes | Monster Eye Lollipops | Cyclops Mini Cupcakes

Will one of these four sweet treats make a debut at your Halloween party? If you make any of them, be sure to share a photo on Instagram and tag me (@HostessTori) so I can check them out! 

DIY Ice Cream Cone Wrappers

Fall, schmall. It might be mid September but here in So Cal it’s 97 degrees. And honestly, even if it was cooler, I believe ice cream is a year-round treat. Are you with me?

DIY Ice Cream Come Wrappers

I’m always looking for simple ways to add a fun touch to things and that’s how I came up with these easy ice cream cone wrappers. In under 5 minutes you can transform an ordinary ice cream cone into a unique one! All you need to do is print them, cut them out, and wrap them around the cone. Simple :) They would also be fun if you’re hosting an ice cream party! (more…)

6 Things your party guests want you to know


I love to play hostess. Inviting people into my home and welcoming them with food and drink is my love language. But not everyone feels natural in that role–I totally get it. In fact, for many of you, the idea of all that planning, prepping, and entertaining might make you feel completely overwhelmed. Heck, that’s the reason I started this blog back in 2007! I want to share tips and inspiration that takes out the overwhelm and leaves you confident and excited to send out those invites or to cook up a special weeknight meal.

But, even I am guilty of the occassional overthinking, overplanning, and overextending myself (just ask my husband and kids!). And I’ll admit I may have had my share of  “company is coming” freak-out moments. But despite the slip ups, overall, I like to keep things simple which translates into a less-stressed hostess and a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests.

So, as you start planning those inevitable holiday gatherings I urge you to try your best to keep things as simple as you can and take pressure off of yourself to “do it all” or make everything “prefect.”

Believe me, you’ll be a better hostess and your guests will have an even better time. In fact, here are a few things your guests wish you knew.


1. They are thankful you are hosting (and they don’t have to)

They didn’t have to make sure their toilets were clean, they had drink ice on hand, or have to be the ones cleaning up tonight’s mess, tomorrow. So basically you’re already their favorite person because you’re willing to host at your home.

2. They can’t tell if you baked the pie or if it came from the store

They won’t be able to tell one way or the other so make it easy on yourself and grab food at the market. Just take it out of the packaging and present it in a thoughtful way. (You know, like Sarah Jessica Parker did in I Don’t Know How She Does It.)


Mini Cheesecake Bites

This post is sponsored by Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

I have a little confession: I was always scared to bake a cheesecake. I am not sure why, really. I guess I just assumed it was tricky, required a special pan, and was going to taste bad. But none of those things are true. This simple recipe for mini cheesecake bites is my proof. I am so glad I decided to develop this recipe because it was easy and the reward was delicious!Mini Cheesecake Bites

I wanted to come up with a creative dessert that was easy to make but would impress guests at our recent family dinner party. I like being able to serve bite-sized desserts on a platter so guests can take one (or two) and pass them around. This also works out really well for the dishwasher, because there is less to clean up after everyone has gone home.

cheesecakes bites

Gather a few ingredients and get ready to bake (you’ll find the full recipe below). Don’t be intimidated (like I was) at the idea of making your own cheesecake from scratch. I promise it wasn’t difficult and it tastes way much better than the no bake-versions I had tried in the past. The star is the Philadelphia Cream Cheese which is made with, fresh milk, real cream, and no preservatives – nothing else tastes like it.


See, no special pan! I simply lined an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. You’ll want to let it overhang about 2″ on each side so you can later “lift” the baked cheesecake out of the dish. If your parchment paper isn’t big enough, just use two pieces that criss-cross the pan. The bottom part of the dish will be your graham cracker crust layer. Then, you’ll pour in the creamy cheesecake mixture on top before putting it in the oven.

easy cheesecake

It bakes low and slow for about 30 minutes at 325 degrees. This ensures your cheesecake top doesn’t crack. But don’t worry too much about it even if it does because you’re going to top it with drizzled chocolate and candy bar pieces so no one will even notice.

candy bar cheesecake

While it’s baking, cut your favorite candy bars into bite-sized pieces. You’ll use these for your cheesecake toppings. You’ll need about 48 pieces.

recipe for cheesecake bites

After it comes out of the oven, let it cool for about 15 minutes and then place it in the freezer for another hour, (be sure to cover it with plastic wrap first). This cools it down so it can harden a bit, which will help you cut the cheesecake into nice 1-inch pieces.

recipe for mini cheescakes

Once you have cut your pieces, add a drop of chocolate sauce or fudge to each piece and then place a candy bar on top. That’s it. Easy, right?

mini cheeseake bites

Place them on a platter or use a cake stand. I promise, they won’t last long!

Mini Cheesecake Bites
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Created By:
Serves: 16 Servings when a serving equals 3 pieces

  • For the crust
  • 1½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • For the cheesecake filling
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 8-ounce PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Bricks, softened, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For The Topping
  • 5 Tablespoons chocolate sauce
  • 48 Candy bar pieces

To Make
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with overhung parchment paper.
  2. For the crust. In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter, and mix until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture in the pan and press firmly into an even layer.
  3. For the filling. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese (I used the paddle attachment in a stand mixer but you could also use a hand mixer) until it is light and fluffy. Next, add in the sugar, salt, cornstarch, eggs and vanilla, beating to combine well after each ingredient is added. The mixture should be very smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared pan on top of the crust. Place in the center of the oven and bake until just set (about 30 minutes). You’ll know it’s set when it doesn’t jiggle in the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before covering the pan with plastic wrap and placing in the freezer for an additional hour to harden up.
  4. To Make The Bites. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, uncover and remove from the pan using the overhung parchment paper to “lift” it out. Using a sharp knife, slice into about 48 1-inch squares. Top each bite with a drop of chocolate sauce, then place a piece of candy bar on top of each one.


Philadelphia_AuthorLogoFor all of your entertaining needs, turn to Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Always have it on hand to create fun appetizers and desserts that pop. I had a great time developing my mini cheesecake bites for family dinner party. For more creamy, delicious recipe ideas, click here.

Mini cheesecake bites topped with candy bar pieces

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