{Heavy sigh} I didn't get as many new cookies baked this December. Days got bogged down with "must-dos" and nights found me comatose in front of the tv. Besides some Apricot Chews (it's a coming soon), and the recently posted Ricciarelli and Cashew Praline cookies, I baked The Family Favorites— Cornflake Crunch Cookies and Pecan Bars.

I did, however, manage to decorate the house a bit. This vignette sits atop the piano. I love how twinkling lights shine and break through the darkness. They bring me to a place of quiet, peace, stillness and contemplation.

During one such moment, I thought about all of you out there. Thank you so much for stopping by, reading, commenting and giving me feedback here at  beurrista,  and I wish you a joyous noel, a happy holiday, and a healthy and tasty new year!


i ♥ ny

I ♥ NY in December. There's the magic of the twinkling lights, the hustle and bustle of bundled up shoppers, and the holiday markets in various squares and parks.

We went in Sunday morning to see some sights. First stop: Chicken and Waffles at Hill Country Chicken. It's good food at great (by NYC standards) prices. The waffle was light and fluffy, served with brown sugar butter and maple syrup, and the chicken tenders were moist, perfectly seasoned with a crisp coating.



I know this has nothing to do with baking or butter, but it's the big, beautiful evergreen ball that greeted me as I walked into Macy*s Herald Square today. It begged to be photographed, and I wanted to share it with you.

Happy Friday and hope you have a wonderful weekend!


ricciarelli — italian almond cookies

It started with a rumbly in the tumbly a few hours after a meal. I dismissed the discomfort. Told her to take a Tums. Talk to me in the morning.

That rumbly continued for days, always occurring after a meal. Since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bowls of oatmeal, pasta dinners, and cookie snacks were involved one way or another, I told her to cut out all wheat and oat products.

Wouldn't you know it, eliminating glutens seemed to do the trick. We officially have a Gluten-Free Girl in the house.

I am slightly sad. My Taste-Tester, Cheerleader and Fellow Cookie Lover now has severe limitations, but it has opened up a whole new world to me.  I have started eyeing, researching and buying gluten-free products.


cashew praline cookie

'Tis the season to try new recipes. And I've found one that I crown "favorite new cookie of the month." It's nutty, crunchy, chewy, buttery, and it travels well. (Yes, be looking for some in your mailbox!)


happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!
 Hope you have a gobbledy good day.


mocha cupcake

And now for a break from the deluge of fall spices...

It is Martha Stewart Cupcake Club time, and this month's pick is MOCHA CUPCAKES.

I am a sucker for beautiful photos and Martha has always had amazing photos in her magazines and books. I remember how her photos stood apart from other shelter/lifestyle magazines when she first came out with Martha Stewart Living in 1990. They were styled, lit and nuanced differently and gorgeously.

So, it is the photo of the mocha cupcake which enticed me to make it. I was captivated by the frosting. Yes. Frosting.


pumpkin muffin with eggnog cream cheese

BRACE YOURSELF! Yes, it is another pumpkin recipe. I'd been wanting to try a muffin recipe with cream cheese ever since I saw one at Starbucks this fall, and kitchn.com conveniently had a lovely one to try.


pumpkin rolls with cream cheese glaze

I had bookmarked this recipe and knew it was time to try it when The Sister forwarded it to me. Pumpkin lovers, rejoice! This is a fantastic recipe which I adapted slightly by changing out the glaze. It has everything you want from a cinnamon roll— fluffy and yeasty— plus the addition of pumpkin.


mini mummies

This little appy has turned into a must-make Halloween snack tradition.


hello, hurricane sandy!

Hurricane Sandy is barreling into New Jersey and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic seaboard with wind gusts of up to 70mph. After last year's snowpocalypse, I'm expecting the worst this time around and think that we'll lose power for a few days.

Yesterday, I was keeping calm and eating potato chips; today, I'm switching from savory to sweet and trying out cupcakes, cookies, and pop tarts. School is canceled for two days for The Kids and The Hubs' two offices are closed. While we still have power, I'm finishing this post, cooking a hot breakfast, then playing games with the kids while keeping one eye glued to The Weather Channel. I confess, I'm a little storm-obsessed.

For those of you out there also affected, best wishes for a safe weathering of the storm. Hope Hurricane Sandy moves in and out of this area quickly- a speedy hello and even faster goodbye.


honey wheat oatmeal bread

Yes, it's been a whole lot of bread baking here in New Jersey. I hope you're not breaded out, but bear with me just one more time. I promise I'll find something novel to bake next, maybe something pumpkiny?

This bread does differ from the previous posts in that it involves yeast. The smells of yeast bread proofing and baking are so appealing. I had all the ingredients on hand too— always a plus.


banana chocolate chip bread

Firsts. Whether it be in love or experiences, they always hold a special place in your heart.

This first — a banana bread recipe— was given to me by The Amazing Musician College Buddy. I loved it when she baked it and when I was a lucky recipient of a slice or two. Or three or four. For years, the recipe had been misplaced, but yesterday I found the scrap of paper I'd jotted it down on. With three spotty bananas waiting to be mashed and mixed, I embraced the opportunity and the memories.


spooktacular treat bags!

Lest you think that I've gotten into graphic design (I only wish I had that talent,) I'm just sharing some free printables. Gotta love free! Paper Coterie is the lovely site with the download.


chai tea concentrate

What are your favorite cool weather drinks? Are you a coffee or a tea kind of person? Hot chocolate or hot apple cider?

Coffee has always been my first love, that is, until I tried the Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks. I was smitten with the wonderful mix of spices — cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

So you can imagine my excitement at finding a recipe for a mixture containing both dairy and spice. Now, I can have a chai tea on a daily basis without the hefty price tag!


pumpkin chocolate chip loaf

Here's another pumpkin recipe to add to your file. This recipe does not call for any milk, buttermilk or sour cream— thankfully, since I had none of the above in the house.  Just some vegetable oil and water.

The Discerning Daughter tasted it and said that she wanted more spice and asked for this pumpkin bread recipe instead. I realized she was missing the cloves and ginger. So, add the spices you like, hold back on ones that you don't. If you want cloves and ginger here, ¼ teaspoon cloves and ½ teaspoon ginger is a good place to start. But whatever you do, definitely don't leave out the chocolate chips!


pumpkin possibilities...

For me, fall = pumpkin. I love the smells of cinnamon and spices wafting through the air as something pumpkiny or appley (TOTALLY made up words, I know!) is cooking up in the oven.

It's been awhile since I've posted anything, but I'm still here— hope you are still there too. I've been in the kitchen trying out a few new recipes and revisiting some old ones. These are a few of the tried and true goodies that I've gone back to: (starting from upper left hand corner and going clockwise) pumpkin streusel coffee cake, pumpkin whoopie pie, pumpkin bread with pecan streusel topping and pumpkin ginger custard.

Hope you're having a happy autumn!


pb & chocolate chip cups

I have come to the harsh-but-true conclusion that I'm a fair weather baker.

I cannot take the heat. Literally. Pressure isn't great either, but the hot weather and humidity suck the life out of me. If I were a denizen of Alpharetta, Georgia, you can count your cookies that there would be no beurrista.

Now that school is in full swing, now that the mornings are cooler and the air crisper, I am finally hearing the siren song of the oven. The Kids are even asking for cookies after a summer full of ice cream and ices.

Today, s'mores are in the oven. I made chocolate chip cookies last week. What has been in the forefront of my mind, however, is pb&j. I love that combination. I wanted to make a pb&j bar cookie, but after running it by The Tasters, I realized that I'd have No Takers. I'd have to eat the whole pan myself...


sparkling raspberry limeade

A party begs for a festive drink. I haven't ventured into libation land that often, so thankfully, The Son and I opened our food network magazine JUST in time as we planned a birthday meal for The SIL. We eyed and were inspired by the All-Star Cookout section with flank steak, corn and salad recipes. The Neely's raspberry drink seemed a fantastic, refreshing and pretty drink to serve.


vanishing act + crack pie

In the blink of an eye, a whole month vanishes, and I wonder what happened to anything and everything. Did I bake? Did I cook? Did I blog? What DID I do?

You must forgive my unintentional hiatus from blogging. I had good reason.

This Little Guy/Nephew visited us for a month. We ran circles around the kitchen, ventured into NYC, read books, resisted naps, and snacked a whole lot. I made a bunch of old favorites for him: rich yellow cupcakes, cornflake crunch cookies, NY Times chocolate chip cookies...

 all very well received. He also relished his role of Cookie Dough Taster.

I managed to try one new recipe. If you can only bake one recipe this month, I'd highly recommend this one— Crack Pie. My Son, 11, perked up his ears. "Crack?!?"

I, thinking how the heck do you know what crack is, instead said, "Yes, Son, it is THAT addictive."


s'mores milkshake

I don't know how it is in your part of the world (and don't answer that, people Down Under!) but here in New Jersey, we are in middle of our umpteenth heat wave. 100º+. I was so in the mood for a cool drink.

The Kids religiously read The Food Network Magazine, and they found this awesome recipe in the 50 Milkshakes insert. You might just have all the items handily available!

We used chocolate chip ice cream,

blended with broiled marshmallows and milk,

and topped with some graham cracker crumbs.

A refreshing treat for the dog days of summer.

S'mores Milkshake
slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012

6 marshmallows
1 pint chocolate chip ice cream
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
crushed graham crackers

Broil the marshmallows on foil until browned. Blend ice cream, milk, vanilla, salt, and marshmallows. Top with crushed graham crackers. Serves 2.

This post is linked to the following: serenity saturdays, show and share, i'm lovin' itfrugal girls, show and tell, tuesday talent show, tasty tuesdaystip me tuesday, crazy sweet tuesdaywow me wednesday, sugar and dots, somewhat simplesomething swankySundae Scoop, made by you mondays, this chick cooks, friday flair, c.r.a.f.t., show me what you got,, pin it thursday


chocolate croissant

I know what you're thinking. Wow! Those look professional! And guess what? You're right!


lemon bars

The Visiting California Friends came over for Bake Day, and The Girls requested to make cupcakes and these lemon bars.

 They zested,




and baked the crust to a slight golden color,
to bring out the buttery flavor.


rich yellow cupcake

What to do with The Girlfriend with Two Daughters, visiting from LA? I could have gone into the city and done some sightseeing, but since they already are having nine days of that, I thought that The Girls wouldn't mind the trip into Jersey to enjoy some baking time...

First up: cupcakes.


cherry glazed black and white cheesecake

My pick for Martha Stewart Cupcake Club coincided with a party that I had to go to, which was a good thing. I would have eaten the whole batch of cheesecakes if they had been sitting around here at the house. 


the baked brownie

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

Mae West

And so it goes, this is my eleventh brownie recipe here at beurrista. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for new recipes. I love me a good brownie, and I love chocolate.

This one, from Baked, calls for LOTS of chocolate. It is a perfect Use-up-leftover-easter-bunny Recipe. The brownie hits just the right balance of dense, chewy and fudgey. And it's won accolades— featured on the pages of O magazine and awarded best brownie honors by America's Test Kitchen and the Today show. Definitely, this guy's a keeper.

The Baked Brownie
from Baked New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

In a medium, bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.

Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

This post is linked to the following: show and share, tatertots and jello, i'm lovin' itfrugal girls, show and telltasty tuesdaystip me tuesday, crazy sweet tuesdaywow me wednesday, sugar and dots, somewhat simplesomething swankySundae Scoopmade by you mondays, this chick cooks, friday flair,  show me what you got


strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream

These babies haunted me. Yes they did. After showing up at a party, they followed me into dream world and cried out to be discovered, to be baked, to be shared.


penguin cupcakes

 Penguins were this year's birthday treat for The Son.
Hello, Cupcake! provided the inspiration and how-tos.
Though it took The Daughter and me a couple of hours to get them done,
they were well worth the effort.

You will need to gather quite a few items to create them:
 donettes, donut holes, starburst, tub of white frosting, marshmallows,
chocolate wafer cookies, mini chocolate chips, and of course, cupcakes.

Donettes are the body.

 Slice off the tops of the cuppies and the donut holes,
 so that they will stack flat.


march of the penguins

It's the Son's 11th Birthday today. This is his last year in elementary school, which means it's the last year that I can make goodies for him to bring in. (Cue the music, sob and sniffle... kids grow so fast!) After looking through all the possibilities in Hello Cupcake, he chose penguins. We had a little fun with them and created a few variations.
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