Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Best Ever Granola for the Make and Takes Blog!

I hope everyone had a great Easter holiday!  Now that spring is really underway (thank goodness!), I've focused my attention on other lovely spring occasions to come, with Mother's Day being the first of them!  Not only do I love getting to do something special for my mama, but it's also an opportunity to host my favorite kind of celebratory meal...brunch!  My love affair with brunch and breakfast has been proclaimed many times on the blog already, and here I am doing it again.  For Mother's Day, I wanted to make something that was light, quick to prepare, and exceptionally delicious.  My mom has been on a Greek yogurt kick lately, so the perfect complement to Greek yogurt is of course, homemade granola.  Layer that homemade granola with some delicious Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, and you have some delicious and beautiful parfaits.  



This granola recipe is so incredibly simple to make, and boy is it delicious.  It's without a doubt my new favorite granola recipe, and I'm sure I'll be making big batches of it from now on to have on hand.  My mom loved this granola and its unique sweet and salty flavor.  It was incredibly easy to prepare, which makes it a perfect option for a large celebratory brunch or for a more intimate brunch with just you and your mama.  For the full recipe and more photos, head on over to the Make and Takes blog!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Crepe Cake with Raspberries and Cream


So it seemed like spring had sprung and all was finally well with Mother Nature.  The weather was getting warmer, the birds were chirping in the morning, and tiny little green buds began to speckle all the trees around my neighborhood.  I was seeing more kids playing around outside, and just the other night, I even heard the ice cream truck driving around playing its catchy little tune (I still get excited about this).  Then, in a completely sudden change of events, it snowed two nights ago.  Snow.  In April.  In spring.  Not ok.


To be fair, the snow that fell was really just a light flurry, but still. It's the principle!  The fact that my mom had to use an ice pick to get that layer of ice off the car windshield in the morning was a bit depressing.  I thought we had moved past this!  Here I am posting a lovely recipe for a delightfully springy Crepe Cake with Raspberries and Cream, and there were sprinklings of snow on the ground just yesterday.  Fortunately, the weather is supposed to improve slightly over the weekend and by then, spring will hopefully be here to stay!  In the meantime though, we can continue to pretend that it's really spring with this crepe cake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Loaded Carrot Muffins


With Easter only a few short days away, I figured that it was high time to finally cave in to that carrot cake craving that has been pestering me for the longest time.  I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the stuff.  I've always loved carrot cake, and I remember that one of my dad's coworkers would always send us carrot cake as a treat.  He and my dad were good friends, and they used to work near this little diner in Long Island City that apparently had good carrot cake.  I'll be honest, I don't really remember how good this particular carrot cake actually was, but I do remember that I always loved eating it.  It must have been good, I guess! 


For me, the problem with most carrot cakes is really simple, and really obvious.  They're just too darn oily and greasy.  I feel like it's a really common and unfortunate problem and for me, it just kills my carrot cake craving. Some people don't mind a dense, slightly greasy carrot cake, but I'm just not one of them.  Greasy cake?  No thank you, that just doesn't sound good.  I also happen to like my carrot cake on the plain side.  I like a moist, fully loaded carrot cake with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top, or maybe, at the very most, a thin slather of cream cheese frosting.  I love the flavor of a good carrot cake so much that I don't even want cream cheese frosting to taint it.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Buttermilk, Berries, and Mascarpone Cream Cake


If you've been keeping up with my last few posts on the blog or been stalking me on Instagram, you will have certainly come across a few hints at "an awesome/extravagant/amazing/anything-but-simple/delicious" layer cake.  I'm normally a simple and easy snack cake kinda gal, but every now and then I get a craving to get totally fancy and overly-complicated and spend the better part of my day in kitchen making a single cake.  It doesn't happen often, but the mood struck a few weeks ago, and all I could think about, were layer cakes.  I became obsessed, and it was becoming problematic, because I just couldn't shake the thought.  The only way to fix the situation was to go ahead and actually make myself an epic cake, but I was holding myself back because I was faced with the same problem that always stops me from making layer cakes in the first place.  What the heck do I do with a giant layer cake once I'm done photographing it!?


I generally don't make layer cakes often simply because I just don't know what to do with them in the end.  If there's no birthday party or big family gathering happening during the same weekend, I'm stuck with a giant layer cake in my house, and that's not a good thing.  My dad doesn't like frosted cakes, my mom usually thinks 85% of the things are too sweet, and well, as much as I love cake, I don't love it enough to eat an entire cake by myself (my pants and other clothes thank me for this).  Fortunately, however, my latest layer cake craving just so happened to coincide with news that my close friends/former roommates from college were having a potluck style housewarming dinner, which for me, meant only one thing.  CAKE.  I had the perfect opportunity to make giant cake, and there would be lots of people around to eat it.  These types of occasions don't happen all too often, so I knew that my contribution for this potluck party just had to be cake.  I didn't know what kind of cake yet, but there would be cake.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Double Chocolate Pound Cake


My love for simple cakes has been very well documented on this site.  In fact, the last cake post I shared with you guys was probably the simplest, most delicious cake I've made to date, and here I am, only two posts later, sharing yet another really simple cake.  If simple cakes aren't your thing, then don't worry.  Just stay tuned until next week when I share with you a cake that is anything but simple, and comes with frosting and fillings, and a whole laundry list of ingredients.  It's not the typical cake I share, but oh man, it was delicious.  But enough talk about this surprise, mystery complex cake.  You'll have to wait and see next week.  For now, let's focus on the amazingly simple cake that's in front of you.  Double Chocolate Pound Cake.  Yum.


Pound cake is one of my all time favorite cakes.  I think it has to do with the fact that my dad absolutely loves pound cake.  Like, seriously loves pound cake.  This guy is anything but a sweets/desserts person and typically focuses all his intense adoration for baked goods on bread, but he makes an exception for things like rice pudding, flan, and pound cake.  I remember that my mom would buy my dad those Entenmann's pound cakes, and I used to loveee those as a kid.  She usually bought the plain ones, because my dad liked those the best, but every now and then she would buy one of the marbled vanilla-chocolate pound cakes.  Whenever that happened, I was the happiest kid ever, because as much as I loved plain pound cake, I loved marbled pound cakes even more.  I guess it was the chocolate fiend in me!  There was usually way more vanilla cake than chocolate in the marble pound cakes, which I always found upsetting.    A pound cake craving came to me a few weekends ago, so when the time came to actually make one, I knew that it had to be double chocolate or nothing. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Honeydew-Lemon Soda


Hello!  I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  I had a really nice weekend, complete with a layer cake adventure (if you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen a few pics!) that I will discuss and share with you in much greater detail next week, an awesome brunch, and many laughs with friends who I hadn't seen in a while.  It was a lot of fun, but I'll admit, I was pretty pooped when it was all finished!  Given that, I needed something to prepare myself something nice and refreshing that was also really simple to put together, with the really simple part being the most important.


Now that we're in spring, I've been craving all kinds of seasonal spring flavors more and more, and it's such a bummer that the weather is windy, rainy, and still cold.  I've decided to pretend like the outside weather isn't happening, and fully embrace spring anyway.  I'd been looking forward to making some kind of fruity, refreshing drink, and since I had a pretty hectic weekend, Sunday afternoon was the perfect time to mix up such a drink.  I decided to make a homemade fruit soda, because really, what could be more refreshing than that!?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Orange Poppy Seed Cake


I think I've mentioned before my obsession with simple, everyday snacking cakes right?  The kind of cakes that you can mix up in one bowl with a wooden spoon and have in the oven in no more than ten minutes.  The kind of cake that you can't help but slicing off a small piece for yourself every time you walk past it in your kitchen.  It's the kind of cake that is simple and delicious and satisfying


The recipe for this particular cake comes from one of my mom's cousins, and is really famous among the members of my mom's side of the family.  I've never actually had the opportunity to eat the cake as she makes it, but since my whole family raves about it, I knew this cake had to be worth making.  Fortunately for me, my mom had gotten the recipe from her cousin.  She hadn't had a chance to make it herself, so I was the first one to give it a go.  The recipe was handwritten on an index card, just as a good family recipe should be.  The only issue I had was that I had to do a little bit of guess work when it came to the pan size and baking time for the cake.  The recipe on the index card simply said to use a "baking pan" and to bake the cake for an hour (my cake was for sure not ready after only an hour!).  My mom helped me figure these parts of the recipe out based on what she remembered about the cake, so it really wasn't all that bad.  Mixing the cake up was a breeze, and within ten minutes, I had my cake ready to go for the oven.  
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