Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade Nutter Butters

Here I go again with the cookie aisle making an appearance on my blog under the premise that I can make the familiar favorites into prodigious caricatures of themselves. See the Adult Oreos post from November for reference.

I blame my unusual obsession with what I call snack food aisle cookies on my childhood. I grew up in a house that was perpetually on a diet which meant that all forms of junk food were not allowed through the front door except on special occasions. That said, a part of me is actually glad that sweets were not in the house because frankly, I am not crazy about them as I think they taste processed and artificial. However, I do love the concept; a creamy peanut butter filling between two peanut butter cookies, what's not to like? So, like chocolate chip cookies which I truly believe should only be homemade with lots of love, I believe these types of cookies should also be homemade with lots of love.

This recipe make a lot of cookies so this is fair warning. Half the recipe if you are not feeding an army. xoxo - enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller of Bouchon Bakery

Cookie Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted peanuts
2 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats


1/4 pound (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
1 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar sifted

Make the cookie dough: preheat over to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together with a fork the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and beat at medium speed for 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times.

At low speed, add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in peanuts and oats and until completely combined with a rubber spatula.

Place tablespoon sized balls onto a baking sheet about three inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and are light golden brown, about 11 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet at least 15 minutes before transferring to a rack or newspaper to cool completely before adding filling.

For the filling; cream together butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar using an electric mixer until completely smooth.

To assemble, spread a thin layer of the filling an underside of a cookie and sandwich with another cookie.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fruitcake Cookies

I am definitely a member of the masses when it comes to poking fun at fruitcake. The fact that it feels like a lead weight that could easily break a window coupled with the lack of taste truly makes it food for fodder.

So why would I make fruitcake cookies? First, as you have probably noticed, I put an unusual amount of trust in Ina Garten and everything she puts in her recipe books. These cookies are from Barefoot Contessa at Home and I was intrigued that she would attempt any recipe with such a dubious reputation. If anyone can make fruitcake palatable, Ina can. I was also interested in the idea of making fruitcake into a cookie and thought, maybe the high volume of candied fruits, alcohol and nuts is just too overwhelming to a cake. The cake is trying to hold all of these elements together and screaming for mercy. Perhaps something with a cookie-like consistency and shape is exactly what is needed to make fruitcake something that is tolerable.

So, with all of that said, I present to you the fruitcake cookie. My verdict on these is that they are most definitely better than typical fruitcake. In terms of taste I would not put them ahead of chocolate chip cookies or macaroons but they have that candied/spice flavor that I love simply because it just tastes like the holidays. I will probably make these again for that reason along with the fact that they truly do look like a jeweled cookie which I adore for the holiday season. These are also excellent to transport and keep well over a long period of time. Give them a try and please enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


1/2 pound dried figs
1/4 pound raisins
2 ounces candied cherries, coarsely chopped
2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons very dry sherry
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces chopped pecans
Kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes, aka, Little Man's Favorite!

I really, really try to be as healthy as possible but I have to say, I really go off the rails sometimes. Unfortunately, tonight was one of those nights. We were in Whole Foods and my little man managed to eat his way through the store. One clarification here, I am talking about eating the samples that they give out as a taste test and no, I do not go through the aisles ripping packages of food open. Anyway, so when we were walking out he said, "Mommy, can we come back and have dinner at the store again?" Eating my way through the aisles has served as my lunch on more than a few occasions but I feel a little guilty that the little tyke is learning this at the age of 4.

The good news is that the majority of the time I do manage to get healthy stuff into my kid. To that end, this recipe rocks it in nutritious food that the little man will eat; seriously, he devours this stuff like candy. There are only two teaspoons of olive oil and the rest is all lentils and vegetables which also makes it a great vegetarian dish. One note is that I have been serving this to T since he was about 2 years old so maybe he just likes it because it is familiar. In other words, I can't guarantee all kids will eat this up like mine but, really, what have you got to lose? Give it a try and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 gloves)
1 (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 cup Du Puy French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher slat
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good sherry vinegar

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.

Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate Bark Two Ways

As you can see from the packaging, I used these little darlings as gifts and they did not disappoint! What you see in the picture is chocolate bark on the left with fruit and nut toppings. On the right is the classic peppermint bark which seems to have been hijacked by Williams Sonoma lately. Take it from me, these are so very easy to make, taste better than anything pre-packaged and will not break the bank like the stuff on the pretty display at your local over-priced cooking supply store. Make and enjoy!

Recipe for Chocolate Bark:

9 1/2 ounces best you can find semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces best you can find bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup candied ginger
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Melt the chocolates in a glass bowl in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring the chocolate at each interval. Do not completely melt the chocolate and stir it for the last interval until all of the chocolate is completely melted. The more you stir, the shinier it becomes. Pour the melted chocolate onto parchment paper in a 9x10 inch square on a sheet pan. Spread the chocolate around to get it into the square shape. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle on the toppings. Let cool overnight in the refrigerator and break into pieces the next morning.

Recipe for Peppermint Bark:

9 1/2 ounces best you can find bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces best you can find semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup candy canes coarsely smashed with a rolling pin

Follow the directions above for melting the chocolate and in separate bowls melt the dark and white chocolates. You can also clean the bowl out that the dark chocolate melted in while it cools to melt the white chocolate. After the chocolate is melted, let it cool slightly and add 1 teaspoon of the peppermint extract to the dark chocolate and to the white chocolate. Pour the melted dark chocolate onto parchment paper in a square on a sheet pan and spread it around to get it into the square shape. Let cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Follow the same procedure for the white chocolate and gently pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate and spread it carefully being careful to not mix the chocolate or marble it. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle the candy canes on top of the chocolate. Let cool overnight in the refrigerator and break into pieces the next morning.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I know this recipe is a little past due since the Thanksgiving/pumpkin season was about a month ago but really, when it comes to sweet things, there really is no such thing as out of season. I would eat a yule log in June if it were placed in front of me. That said, if you like your desserts in season, copy, paste, print and save it for next year.

These bars can be a nice little change from the typical pumpkin and pecan pie combinations that usually make it on to the Thanksgiving dessert table. Cut these up and lay it out on a three-tiered dessert stand and it will also add some height and variety to the dessert offerings. These bars have a middle that tastes and has the texture of pumpkin pie. The crust has more of shortbread consistency and taste and obviously the top is just a ridiculous concoction of coconut and butterscotch chips that provides a serious yum factor to the bars. So make it now or later but please enjoy!

Source: Annie's Eats adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Kraft

For the crust and topping:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped pecans
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Butterscotch chips, for topping


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Lightly grease the foil. Combine the flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and toss with a fork. Add the pieces of butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats and chopped pecans.

Reserve 1 cup of the crust mixture and set aside. Add the remaining crust mixture to the prepared baking pan and press onto the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Bake the crust alone in the oven for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined.

Once the crust has been removed from the oven, pour the filling into the pan and smooth over the crust. Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture and butterscotch chips, as desired. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boozed Out Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is one of those recipes that just gets better with time. Please don't misunderstand. This cake is fabulous fresh but I just loved it so much more after a few days in the fridge. Please also don't judge too harshly on this next point; my son absolutely loves this cake! Every morning we get up, he asks for cake, we walk in the door at the end of the day and he would ask for this cake. Yes, I fed my son coffee cake with rum in it but the amount is miniscule and I have photographic evidence of me drinking red wine from a glass in my PJ's when I about his age. Two tablespoons of rum in a cake that serves a crowd is better than a 4 year old downing red wine straight. Hey, it was the 70's; a wonderful time of helmetless bike riding, coming home from the hospital in the arms of your parents rather than a car seat (there' s a photo of that one too), mustard yellow refrigerators, green shag carpets, bell bottoms, platform shoes and kids drinking alcohol straight up - groovy! Anyway, that's my justification and I am sticking with it. Please enjoy!

Recipe adapted and boozed out from Barefoot Contessa Parties


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

For the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon dark rum


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, rum and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar, rum and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beouf Bourguignon (Beef Stew)

Leave it to the French to come up with the most elegant and refined beef stew imaginable. That really is all that Beouf or Beef Bourguignon is; beef stew with a sophisticated taste. True there is a good amount of alcohol that is used in this dish as opposed to American beef stew which probably gives it that “refined” taste. I have to say though, what a difference a little alcohol makes!

I have made different versions of this dish over the years and I prefer Ina Garten’s version over Julia Child’s. Garten puts in Cognac, which, I think really elevates the flavor. However, Garten’s recipe calls for a slice of sourdough bread rubbed with garlic instead of the typical noodles to accompany the dish and I personally think the noodles are better. That said, if you get a big piece of French bread to dip into the amazing sauce, you will not be able to stop eating, it is that good. So, without further rambling, here is the recipe that will make you weak in the knees and wanting to catch the next plane to France. Enjoy!

Recipe from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten.


1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces of good bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:

hot plain noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

For each serving, spoon the stew over a bed of hot plain noodles and sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread

I am just going to come out and say this and I know southerners or any traditionalist for that matter will cringe; I am not a fan of cornbread. I always think it is a little too dry and bland for my tastes. I have had cornbread at restaurants, at friend’s homes and I have made several cornbread recipes myself. Sorry, no dice.

Enter Ms. Smitten Kitchen an absolute treasure to the cooking blogosphere. This recipe just looked so darn good that I knew I had to make it immediately and it has succeeded in turning my dislike of cornbread upside down! It is slightly sweet, moist to the point of almost having a custard like consistency to it, contains a great deal of texture, a bit of tang from the goat cheese and is finished off with wonderful caramelized onions that really bring it over the top. I absolutely could not stop eating this delectable treat and although there is some serious prep time that goes into this, it is so worth it! Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal (also packaged as “polenta”) but regular old cornmeal will also work.
2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons oil, butter or a combination thereof
1 cup onion in a 3/4-inch dice
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounce log of goat cheese, at room temperature for a good while, so it’s very soft
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

The night before baking the cornbread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

The next day, prepare the onions. Heat a large saute pan to medium and coat the bottom with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, butter or a combination thereof. Add the onions and cook them until they’re well-caramelized with browned edges. Season with salt and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each. (It may look a little curdly at this point, don’t worry. It all comes back together in the oven.) Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined and then stir in the corn kernels, mixing them until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place two tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter in a 10 inch round cast-iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fat gets very hot. With good pot holders, remove the skillet and tilt it to grease the corners and sides. Pour in the batter, spreading it evenly and sprinkle the caramelized onion evenly over the top.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and springing (the baking time will depend on the size and type of pan) and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into wedges. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One-Eyed Jack

I know this is simple but I feel a need to post this since it puts me in a happy place. This is my breakfast staple almost everyday and for a person with the attention span of a fly, it is a miracle that I continue to eat this every morning. This is comfort food before work and let me just say, that the breakfast folks, should market more comfort food before work. I don't know about you but I need comfort food during the week, not on the weekend when I am happy and fully comfortable.

For those of you who can never find a breakfast that will carry you through to lunch, I think this might be the answer. This along with a cup of coffee always carries me through and for some reason, I feel more alert in the morning with this breakfast. Maybe it's the protein, I don't know but it works. Enjoy!


1 slice whole grain bread (I use my homemade bread but I prefer Brownberry Whole Grain Bread if I don't have mine on hand)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cut a hole into the bread. When the butter is melted, add the bread to the pan and soak the bread in the butter on both sides. Crack the egg directly into the hole of the bread and sprinkle salt and pepper all over the egg and the the bread and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes. With a large spatula, flip the bread and egg over in the skillet. Cook for an additional 2 minutes and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Maple Fudge

I am writing this post in very choppy air at 31,000 feet. I felt the need to write about something that reminds me of a happy time when I was making fudge, licking the spoons, listening to Norah Jones and had my feet firmly planted on solid ground. Now, I am being bounced around like a ping-pong ball at a very high altitude, my stomach is in my throat and my diet coke looks like a mini tsunami in it’s pathetic little plastic cup. God help me.

Sorry, I digress. Now, about this fudge. Let me just say that it is one of the great paradox’s of my life that I have managed to go through all of these years without having a cavity. I have such a sweet tooth that I border on dreaming about sugary treats while sleeping. I am not going to beat around the bush, this is candy showboating as “fudge”. Need evidence? Ok, there is a jar of marshmallow fluff that went into this recipe which is basically candy being poured into candy. This is a fabulous cure for all of you sweet-obsessed crazies like me. So, assemble, wait and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats who adapted from Confections of a Food Birdie.


3 cups sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tbsp. real maple syrup
2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of cinnamon
9 oz. white chocolate, chopped
7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Stir together first six ingredients in a 3 ½ – quart saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (soft-ball stage).

Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into a greased aluminum foil-lined 8-inch square pan. Refrigerate over-night; cut fudge into squares.

Mexico Lovin

I just came back from Mexico and I had to post some pics since I believe it is truly one of the best places to vacation. My parents have a place in Bucerias, Mexico which is just outside of Puerto Vallerta. One of the towns outside of Bucerias is Sayulita and I absolutely love this little hideaway. Here are the reasons Sayulita holds such a special place in my heart; awesome surfing, beautiful beaches, perfect weather all the time, cute little restaurants with delicious food, a cool laid back atmosphere, art shops and clothing boutiques everywhere with finds I can never find anywhere else, boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, low tourist count and a youngish crowd with a cool vibe (okay, that means my age range of upper 20's to upper 30's, the kids are mercifully back in Puerto Vallerta). Oh, one last reason that Sayulita rocks, the gorgeous surfer dudes who roam freely on the streets and beaches making all single girls swoon.