A New Pumpkin Pie

a red candle with a flame

Image by: Errol Niblett

Now that November has officially begun, I am counting down the days until the holidays. Thanksgiving is near and so is Christmas, then there is New Years. This time of year is the most exciting for me and I am not talking about the exchanging the gifts, it is just the season altogether. The sanctity and simplicity of togetherness is what truly makes the holiday season special to me. I love being able to spend time with friends and family as well as partaking in holiday specific events. I enjoy soaking in the sentimental feeling that the holiday season brings. The beauty of the Christmas trees adorned with the most decorative ornaments. The way that the cold weather evokes the need for hot beverages such as coffee or hot cocoa…the simple scenery of how the cold weather impacts nature around us. The happiness that surrounds us that influences us to have better days despite the struggles that were faced throughout the year. The way in which Christmas brings the hopes and wishes of snow to add more authenticity as well as a pathway for Santa to drive his sleigh to drop off gifts while eating lots of cookies and drinking tons of milk. Some say that it is way too early to begin the spirit of the holiday season as Halloween was only just a few days ago. But I have already begun the process, I have already made a list of the gifts I will be purchasing for Christmas for those special to me. I have already thought of the perfect meals to prepare. I have already started listening to holiday themed music…I have already belted out the lyrics to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” a billion times. I am so ready for the holidays; it is when my worries and woes begin to drift away.

a transparent slice of pie

Image by: FoodBeast

To me, holidays bring on traditional dishes such as cranberry sauce, a turkey, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. As well as my favorite part…dessert. The desserts can consist of pecan pie, sweet potato pie, and the most popular, pumpkin pie. But more recently, pumpkin pie has taken a new form; changing from the traditional dessert to a whole new appearance. There is a popular restaurant in Chicago named Alinea, it is one of the most iconic restaurants for its amazing food quality and creativity that it lends to the culinary world. They have created an entirely new vision for the classic dessert of the pumpkin pie, and it’s clear. The pie appears clear and has no distinct color as it has a transparent appearance. According to Huffington Post, the crust is made of the traditional pate brisee which is a crumbly butter crust. But the filling is where it becomes less traditional as it is more scientific then the usual science that is readily involved in baking. The chefs at Alinea create a mixture of cooked pumpkin and sweetened condensed milk as well as a mix of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger powder. This mixture is then heated up until the vapors from the mixture condense into colorless droplets that can then readily possess the flavors of the pumpkin pie. This process is done in a rotary evaporator not a traditional average post in order to properly collect a certain amount of cleat condensation that can then be mixed with gelatin. This will allow the filling to stiffen and get the smooth consistency of the classic pumpkin pie. So the result is a pumpkin pie with a clear pie filling packed with the traditional flavor of a pumpkin pie as well as the amazing texture of this holiday classic.

Comment below with your thoughts of this new spin on a traditional holiday dessert.

A Slice of Pie

two holiday inspired pies

Image by: Cynthia Classen

As autumn settles in and summer has come to an end, it becomes time for the colder weather to take hold…for the holidays to roll around…for the winter clothes to be taken out of storage…for the beauty of Indian summer to overcome nature. I love autumn as well as the winter…I find that it is the most beautiful time of year. Around this particular time of year, everyone gets so crazy about pumpkin spice everything…it’s in fragrances, car air fresheners, lattes, et cetera. But I hardly get interested in this trendy nonsense instead this season brings on other memories. No matter who you are or the life that you lived, we all have that one person…that one important person in our lives who always made us feel special, cared for, and loved. That person could be a family member or a close friend but someone who has always stuck by you despite life’s difficulties. And as the holidays are coming soon, I found myself thinking of all the people that I appreciate in my life…every single person who has made my life better.

When I was younger, my grandmother would always purchase gifts for me and my sisters on her way home from work. It could’ve be the most inexpensive thing but it meant the world to me…just to have her think about getting me something special…something that she knew I’d appreciate. We weren’t exactly the most financially stable family so there was no Christmas tree or any gifts…and we weren’t even ones to really celebrate the holidays altogether. Still, my grandmother would try her very best to shower us with as many gifts as she could…fulfilling this traditional role of a grandparent and trying to spoil us as much as possible.

My grandmother really fought for us…even as her grandchildren, she did everything in her power to keep us happy and to ensure that we had a good childhood. There is one gift that for some reason topped the rest…it has always held a greater value for me. Being a writer, I always had an interest in books and because I was the middle child…I always wanted to be like my older sister. I was so quick to things, I wanted to learn my alphabet and then to read. My grandmother had purchased this children’s book for me and my sisters titled, “Sweet Potato Pie” by Anne Rockwell. It was a short book that describes how a family was so busy…they each had their own jobs, tasks, and responsibilities but the grandmother always had a way of getting the family together by way of her homemade sweet potato pie. I still love this book just the same and it is by far the best thirty-two pages that I have ever read. This book has held such a great impact in my life and every time that autumn comes around…as the holiday season slowly approaches; I am captivated by the thought of sweet potato pie. Much like the book, my grandmother is a phenomenal baker and has made plenty of pies for the holidays especially sweet potato pies. My grandmother holds such a matriarch title in our family that she unites us as one multi-generational family by way of both her baking and her peaceful spirit. And to quote the most pivotal line of this children’s book, “Everybody’s happy. Why, oh, why? Grandma’s baking…sweet potato pie! That’s why!” (A. Rockwell, Sweet Potato Pie, Feb. 1996).

The Best Week for a Sweet Tooth

heart shaped candies

Image by: Peace & Love

This week was Valentine’s Day…which is a holiday that celebrates love and happiness. Although, love shall be shared each and every day amongst each other, this particular day of February 14th has become this renowned holiday which is designated to showing love and appreciate for all the special people in our lives. This day is easily celebrated by way of cards, teddy bears, flowers, or most of all….with candy.

For those of us that received chocolates or other candies on Valentine’s Day as well as those that gifted those sweets to themselves may find that it can be difficult to get rid of. Though, you can snack on candy, it may become boring after a while. Instead of wasting all of that candy, I will share a few ideas to better make use to all the leftover candy from the holiday of Valentine’s Day.

chocolate frosted cupcakes with heart sprinkles

Image by: Janet Sumner

  1. Cookies

You can easily upscale your normal recipes for cookies by adding chopped pieces of leftover Valentine’s Day chocolate to the recipe. For instance, instead of putting the typical chocolate chips into the batter for chocolate chip cookies, you can incorporate chopped up chocolate candies.

  1. Truffles

These chocolate treats are very simple to make with ingredients that may already readily be in your home. Simply, melt some chocolate either by nuking it in intervals of thirty seconds at a time to stir in between or by a double boiler in which you will stir the chocolate constantly in a heatproof bowl that is over a boiling pot of water. Then, add some heavy cream or condensed milk before shaping it into balls and refrigerating. You can also roll the balls into chopped nuts, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, or sprinkles to add other flavors, textures, and to better the appearance of the truffles.

  1. Hot Chocolate

Since the most popular candy received on Valentine’s Day is chocolate, this recipe will put all the leftover chocolate that you have to use in this easy recipe. Simply, warm a cup of milk either by boiling it on the stove or by nuking it in the microwave. Then, put a few pieces of chocolate into the mug. Let this steep as the hot milk will slowly melt the chocolate. Then, stir the chocolate in accordingly until it thoroughly dissolves into a cup of hot cocoa.

Comment below on desserts that you make with leftover Valentine’s Day candy.

Macy’s Holiday Window Display


As the end of the semester quickly approaches, I pondered with myself how to end this semester of photoblogging with a bang. In light of the holiday season, I decided Herald Square’s Macy’s window display was the best way to close out this memorable year. Their “Believe” campaign started for the Make-a-Wish foundation to give ill children hope with a Christmas miracle in the shape of presents and granted wishes. Over time the “Believe” campaign became more mainstream in the attempt to get all children to believe in the greater good. Especially for Macy’s, Santa has become a symbol of humanity between all races and religions, vying to show kids that regardless of our differences we all deserve to shown respect, kindness, and love in memory of the sincere and selfless Saint Nicholas that we have all come to know and love.

This year’s window display showed the meaning of the Christmas spirit through words of holiday wisdom; it makes people believe again, not only in Santa but in humanity. It starts off with a display labeled “Santa”, kids gravitated toward this display, questioning their parents if their name was on the list. It was heartwarming to see the children converse with each other about Santa, while reassuring each other that every single one of their names were certainly on the list. The second display was titled “Celebrate” which included an interactive pinball machine; not only the kids were drawn to the game, even adults waited in line to have a chance to play. The third display was called “Together” showing that we are all connected and should enjoy the moments we have with friends and family as we fellowship. The fourth, “Giving”, showed an important attribute of the holiday season, the exchange of gifts to show your appreciation for each other. The fifth window titled “Love”, depicts Mr. and Mrs. Clause dancing to a Christmas tune. This display was also interactive since it played music when you touch the glass. The sixth and final display was labeled “Magic” which depicted a half underwater and half above ground utopian scene in which the reindeer came to these magical grounds to frolic and graze; this window exceptionally spread the joy of the wispy and wondrous.

This tradition started in the 1870’s by RH Macy, himself, at the original Macy’s on 14th street. Over one hundred years later we still enjoy this magical creation. It takes two hundred-fifty designers/carpenters/Santa’s little elves to build this masterpiece. It also takes twenty-one days and nights to complete, ultimately gaining over ten thousand viewers during the holiday season.

I would love to thank everyone who read and enjoy my posts; I learn more about New York as you do, as well.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!


Together Display

Together Display

love-display love-marquee celebrate-marquee

Giving Display

Giving Display

Diary of a Former Nomad: A New Home for The Holidays

The holiday season no matter what race or religion means one thing: family coming together and for those of you who may be alone for the first time this year, I completely understand your feelings of frustration, confusion and even depression. I remember the first time I spent the holidays by myself and it was the loneliest time for me. Eventually I found comfort in the city and the people around me. Adjusting to a new place and culture this time of year only makes you miss your own even more but luckily you have come to New York City– a place where you don’t have to forsake who you are but can be that person freely.

This holiday season, if you are adjusting to this new place here are 5 tips of mine that will help you see New York more as home and help you through what can seem as a grooling time.  

  1. Explore. New York City has so much to offer. Around every corner is a new adventure and has something exciting just waiting to be discovered. The holiday season is filled with great festivals, shows and treats. Take this time of year to learn about your new home, the people and the holiday culture. The holiday season in New York City is like no other. People seem to come together in ways that all year round is forgotten. Whether it is ice skating in Bryant Park or visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center, New Yorkers come together to celebrate the season and each other. Click the link below to check out various ways you can venture out this holiday season in the city. https://www.timeout.com/newyork/christmas
  2. Volunteer. As the holiday season is a season of giving thanks and being thankful for, we should remember that many of those who live here in the city might not have as much as we do. New York City alone has a population of over 60 thousand homeless people. In the city there are various shelters and soup kitchens that are always looking for people to volunteer their time to help with activities. Although, we should try to give back throughout the year, giving a little extra during the holiday season goes a long way and means so much those we help. For those adjusting to a new life here in the city, it is a great opportunity to open your eyes to all that you have even though it might not be clear to see. Click the link to learn more about organizations that need your help this season: https://www.newyorkcares.org/holiday-volunteering-referrals
  3. Travel. With classes coming to an end and a break coming up, it is a great time to take a few days off and see what else is out there. Being alone comes with its perks and this is one of them. Traveling out or around the country during the winter season has its rewards, for one flights and hotel stays are cheaper. Adjusting to a new place can be hard on the mind and body so if you need to take a little time and go home, or go see a new part of the world. Click the link to see the best places to see during the season. http://www.priceoftravel.com/5324/cheap-warm-places-go-christmas-new-years-season/
  4. Find what you love. The winter season may seem like a dreadful and boring time in New York City but in fact what may seem to be dull and dreary is a great time for you to get back to doing what you love. In the winter we are offered solitude and with an extra hour we can take up a hobby we forgot about. So this winter take the time to remember who you were and  find ways within you to adjust to your new life.
  5. Connect with people. Being alone in a new place only becomes easier by opening yourself up to new possibilities. By connecting with people you will feel less like an outsider, and will become less consumed with the feeling of being alone. You will become more confident in yourself and your place where you are if you build a support system. I know that meeting new people is not an easy task but each day try to put yourself out there. The holiday season is a great time to begin this because everyone is more open to connecting and if I do say so myself in a far better mood.

Happy Thanksgiving

a sunset backdrop with a banner that reads thankful

Image by: Bianca J. Klein

Today is Thanksgiving and with all that has occurred this year, both publically and in my personal life, I am not exactly in the holiday spirit. I am struggling to find something to be thankful for. The truth is, even the smallest of things make up the large majority of what there simply is to have thanks for. Life is honestly a roller coaster ride, it can be great at times or utterly terrible momentarily, but there is always something to be thankful for. The holidays have evolved so much over the years, now it’s more oriented on gifts or shopping deals rather than giving thanks, enjoying company, and being in the holiday spirit.

I have been working with The Buzz for over two years and I am extremely thankful for the time that I have graciously had working with this academic project. It is easily accessible for all students at the school, as well as the general public, as a forum to be a haven for all as they navigate through their individual college experiences. Next semester will be my last and it is a tad bittersweet, I have had the most amazing opportunity to write about my innermost passion which pertains to food, more specifically baking. I absolutely appreciate being able to share my love for a hobby that is truly overlooked. Honestly, anything that is of interest can be a passion.

In certain aspects, my hobby of baking saved me. It gave me an escape from the struggles in my world to be in tune to something that has never disappointed me, the way the life has at times. Baking is the only thing that can really comfort or relax me so completely. But the most valuable part of baking is being able to share your edible masterpieces with other people in order to put a smile on someone’s face by the simplicity of enjoying a baked good. My time with The Buzz has surely shaped me into a better writer. I have greatly improved in my writing skills and feel that I have become a writer in all its meaningful value. I hope to have found a way to reach out and touch people through my eloquent sequence of words to be an encouragement and a help for them.

I suppose what I am saying is that I am so completely grateful to be able to write for The Buzz as I hope that those who read my posts can find a haven, such as I have found one in baking. But, more importantly, I want you to challenge yourself to find a haven for yourself, whatever that may be. So in a celebration that truly reunites families and friends, I want to encourage you if even for a single moment in all the business and chaos of holiday shopping or family dinners, to find something to be thankful for. I hope all my readers have a great holiday season.

Share a holiday tradition that you enjoy partaking in for the holidays.

Feelings of Home


In the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday, reminding us of family and our childhoods. I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip down memory lane to a building that I hold near and dear to my heart. When I was a young child my grandmother used to take me and my sisters to this magical library in Greenwich Village known as The Jefferson Market Library. Before I even knew the correct terms to describe a building, I grew to love this structure not only because it automatically symbolized togetherness and family but it also amazed me how greatly defined the structure was; almost like entering those doors was synonymous to stepping into an entirely different era.

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The Victorian Gothic Building started construction in 1875 by architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Clark Withers and was completed in 1877. The project was funded by the city since the building’s main use was for government and community purposes as The 3rd Judicial District  Courthouse. Vaux and Withers budget for the project was 3.6 thousand dollars, which does not seem like a lot of money in present day, but in the time period was a massive fortune. With a conversion of inflation, 3.6 thousand dollars in 1875 is equivalent to about 7.8 million dollars in 2016 (present day).

They masterfully crafted the place in a Victorian Gothic style which celebrates pointed arches in any form of entrances, stained glass, and other means of ornamentation. The courthouse had three different main floors; the top (second floor) was used as a civil court which now houses DVDs, adult and young adult literature, and CDs, the floor below it (first floor) was a police court and is now the specified children’s area, and lastly the basement (sub-level floor) was used as a holding space for criminals and prisoners, waiting to be transferred to jail is now used for resources. The bell tower was juxtaposed the main floors and was utilized by the community fire department as a watchtower. Also, the large clock that adorns a facade of the building was a necessary means for everyone in the community and all who used the courthouse.



In 1927 the courthouse was solely used for women’s trials, dismissing its co-ed method of before and only settling women’s cases. After a series of changes of usage came upon the courthouse, it finally discontinued its use for court due to redistricting in 1945 (which was 75 years after it was built). The building was then used by various community agencies; including the police academy, at one point. Slowly the need for the building dwindled as architectural natural selection took place. In 1959 the once, one of the top ten most beautiful buildings in America in the 1880’s, was now completely unused and became a home to the city’s creatures. Something that used to be so beautiful was dejected to the pressure of being demolished to build a new apartment building. The area’s population thought the aging courthouse was an eyesore and depreciated the value of Greenwich Village. But the community officials did not allow this grim fate to occur and fought to keep the previously beloved courthouse. In 1961, it was later announced that the courthouse would be preserved and used as a public library. So under architect, Giorgio Cavaglieri’s supervision, the courthouse was spared and opened for business as a library in 1967; which is how we know the Jefferson Market Library today.

Now, every time I go to The Jefferson Market library, I think of my grandmother and how we would connect through literature and other discoveries. So on this holiday I will happily reminisce of the great times I had with my family in New York City.20160914_121029-220160914_121222-220160914_121418-2

Join in on the holiday memory lane fun. What places in New York City makes you think of family or gives you the feeling of home?

National Cookie Day

This past Friday marked National Cookie Day, some places had a few sales but many did not. The day almost went by completely unnoticed as some still shared their favorite cookie recipes.

Over the weekend, I made a bunch of cookies to celebrate the special day. I made a variety of cookies. While I made some of the classics like chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and white chocolate chip chocolate cookies, it allowed me to have time to try out some new ones. But I tried some new cookies which are called alfajores, these cookies are of a Spanish origin and varies from different countries such as Spain, Argentina as they each have their own way of the production of this particular cookie. It is a sandwich cookie and taste like a cross between a shortbread and a butter cookie. The cookie itself is extremely low in sugar which is counteracted by the sweetness of the dulce de leche that sandwiched between the cookies. The cookie has a lighter finish as it uses corn starch instead of the usual flour so it crumbles easily. And the flavor is just simply divine and almost indescribable. It is unlike any other cookie I have ever tasted in my life. I placed the recipe that I used below so you all can have a chance to make your own alfajores.


Prep time:  20 mins

Cook time:  8 mins

Total time:  28 mins

Serves: 35 alfajores


2 cups corn starch, sifted

â…” cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh milk (if necessary)

1 (14-ounce) can dulce de leche

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs with the sugar at medium speed, for 3 minutes; add the butter and continue beating. Stop the mixer.

Add the corn starch and baking powder in three parts, using a spatula, then knead lightly with your hand until the dough is no longer sticky. If the dough feels dry add the milk.

On a floured table, roll the dough with a floured rolling pin to form a very thin layer, about a â…› inch.

To make the cookies cut the dough with round cookie cutters, and bake for 8 minutes in ungreased baking sheets. If you don’t have cookie cutters, be creative. You can use the top of a glass or cup, which will make slightly bigger alfajores.

Cool the cookies on racks. When completely cool, fill them with a teaspoon dulce de leche. Place another cookie on top, like a sandwich, and sift the confectioner’s sugar over the alfajores.

Recipe adapted from PeruDelights

I also had the pleasure of making my own dulce de leche which is remarkably easy. I used four cans of sweetened condensed milk, peeled off the label and placed it in a big pot of water. By gradually adding water so that the cans were always covered, it was fully cooked it about six hours but can vary depending on the heat applied and how the cans lay, it is better if it is on its side.

So share and comment, what your favorite cookie recipe is or simply your favorite cookie. And have you ever heard of this cookie before? During this time with the holidays approaching, it is almost necessary to know how to cook or bake certain items. Christmas marks a time for food, family, and activities.