I made this cake for my family as a treat after they came home from Florida. It was such a big hit (with my mother especially, who as you might recall is a citrus-dessert-fiend) that I will be making it again for Easter brunch.

This photograph is slightly misleading. I took it before I added the final glaze, so you can see the toothpick holes from where the lemon syrup went in--those get covered up with powdered sugar glaze. But it was dark by the time I got around to making the glaze, and in the morning, there wasn't enough left to photograph . . .
Recipe for Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake
From Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Makes 1 9 x 5 inch loaf.

For the Loaf:
1-1/2 cups + 1 tbsp flour, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher aslt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (about 2 small lemons)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed

For the lemon syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
1/3 cup sugar

For the lemon glze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. In another bowl, gently toss the blueberries in the remaining 1 tbsp flour and fold them very gently into the batter.

P:our batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to cook for 3-5 more minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.

Using a toothpick, poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush with lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak in and then brush again. Cool cake completely.

For the lemon glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Pour the glaze over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Allow glaze to harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.
 
 
Sometimes, I read a recipe and it is love at first sight. It might be that the recipe has rave reviews, or a beautiful picture accompanying it, or that it contains ingredients or combinations of ingredients that I haven't seen before. In the case of the mango cake, it was all three. As soon as I saw Biren's cake on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it. First of all, it's a quick bread (read: it's easy to make), but the addition of the cream cheese frosting dresses it up into a cake fancy enough for a dinner party. Which is exactly what I needed a few weeks ago.

If I make this cake again, I think I'll add some shredded coconut to the batter. Mango and coconut go so well together, and the mango flavor in the cake was quite subtle. Coconut might help bring it out, and would give it an even more tropical flare.
Recipe for Mango Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Roti n Rice
Makes 1 9 x 5 inch loaf.

Ingredients
For the cake:
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup mango puree*

For the frosting:
8 oz (225 grams) cream cheese
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Dried sweetened mango, for decorating

Instructions:
Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs. Add in flour mixture, mango puree, and milk. Stir with a spatula until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before frosting.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth and creamy, another 2 minutes. Frost cake and top with dried mango slivers.

*Mango puree is an unusual ingredient. I found it unsweetened in the frozen section at Global Foods Market. There was also a canned version, but it had a lot of added sugar.
 
 
These are the first cupcakes I have ever made. A momentous occasion indeed! Ah, life in the first world.

As such, I am going to take this opportunity to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of cupcakes. A cupcake editorial, if you will. There is a serious cupcake craze in this country that has been going on for quite some time now. Cupcake boutiques have sprouted up in strip malls, Food Network has entire shows dedicated exclusively to cupcakes, and world records in largest cupcake and largest cupcake tower have been broken. (By the way, the world's largest cupcake contains two million calories. Yeah. Two million.) Not to mention the cupcake flavors that are out there these days! In the name of research, I consulted the universe's guide to trendy eats--Foodgawker.com of course. I looked through twelve pages of cupcake photos, and here are some choice results I thought I'd share with you: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Guinness Cake, Jameson Ganache and Bailey's Frosting, Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes (that's when you know you've made it big--someone's named a cupcake after you), Doughnut Cupcakes (bring on the clogged arteries and type two diabetes!), Fig, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Cupcakes (also known as a disappointment), and my personal favorite, the 'Cupcake Inside a Cupcake' Cupcake. On my "Things that are Unnecessary" list, that last one may have bumped celebrity gossip down to number two.

Before we know it, normal-sized cakes will be phased out in supermarkets and bakeries across the globe in favor of their tinier counterparts, Pinkberry will carry cupcakes made with frozen yogurt, and the Girl Scouts will begin peddling Thin Mint and Samoa flavored cupcakes every spring. Is that where society is headed, people? Is it? Is it?!

Obviously, I've been slow to jump on the cupcake bandwagon. Sure, I can enjoy a fancy dessert from Jilly's (they won on Cupcake Wars!), but to be honest, I just don't get what all the fuss is about. To me, cupcakes seem like a cop-out. Just make a real cake, people! Why is that so hard?

It is a bit funny that I've been so cupcake resistant, because I am a huge fan of muffins. In fact, my first blog post ever was on bran muffins, and since then, I've posted two other recipes. Maybe that's because muffins are acceptable breakfast fare, even though they taste kind of like dessert. But cupcakes have frosting, so it's generally looked down upon to consume them in the morning, which relegates them to dessert. But if I'm going to eat dessert, I'd rather have a piece of real cake, or a slice of real pie, or a scoop of real ice cream, instead of a carrot cake cupcake (37 recipes on Foodgawker), or an apple pie cupcake (7 recipes on Foodgawker), or an ice cream cupcake (25 recipes on Foodgawker).

So that's my opinion on cupcakes. But sometimes, the world demands that you make a double chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting. And by the world, I mean my mother. She is 100% on the cupcake bandwagon, and I can't really refuse a request to bake something. Especially if it's something I've never tried to make before. And because I am an honest person, I will tell you that I really liked these cupcakes. They were very delicious. And my mother, who by all accounts is a cupcake connoisseur, called this recipe "a keeper." And that, dear readers, says it all.

And by the way, the frosting on these cupcakes is incredible. If you want to just take the frosting recipe and use it on something else (like a real cake, or the back of a spoon--no judgment here), that's fine with me. I won't tell.
Recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
From Sing for Your Supper
Makes two dozen cupcakes.

Ingredients
For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cupcake tins with liners.

Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be absurdly thin, and will probably end up all over your hands, face, counter top, and muffin tins. Totally worth it. But wear an apron. Also, don't forget to put in the sugar. But if you do, and you get all the way to the end of the recipe and then wonder why the batter isn't thin, and then taste it, and realize you left it out and that the resulting batter is one of the worst things you have ever tasted, you can add it in at the end. The cupcakes will still turn out just fine.

Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the trays, and then cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting: Combine cocoa powder and melted butter in a medium bowl. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. (Makes about 2 cups frosting.)
 
 
Like many of the things I do in life, I tried this recipe because my mother asked me to. I baked these cookies for her book club meeting, and I believe that they went over very well. At least, there were no leftovers. I see that as a good sign.

The recipe is unique in that you actually bake the jam in the cookie, instead of waiting until they've been baked to add in the filling. I liked that, because it makes them a bit more cohesive and as such, easier to transport. If you like citrus as much as my mother, you will love these cookies. And even if you don't really like citrus (like my brother), you'll probably still like these. (He did.)
Recipe for Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
From uTry.it
Makes about 40 cookies.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup jam (I used raspberry and apricot preserves)
2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

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

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until combined. Add in the flour, half at a time, and beat at low speed until a ball has formed. Use your hands if necessary.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheet one inch apart. Lightly flour your thumb and press the center of each cookie gently. I recommend doing this after each row of cookies has been added, because the dough begins to harden and crack a bit if you wait until all the balls have been formed.

Fill each indentation with 1/2 tsp of jam. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
 
 
Recently, I have become very aware of my sugar intake. And while I was on my Whole30 Challenge, I enjoyed dried dates as a sweet, decadent-tasting treat after dinner. When the Whole30 ended, I found myself with an excess of dried dates in the fridge and stumbled upon this recipe for short bread cookies that doesn't require any added sugar.

These cookies were very good--not too sweet, and with a nice short bread texture. They are a Muslim dessert during the holy month of Ramadan, and the recipe's creator, Anja, includes a bit more on their background if you are interested.
Recipe for Pistachio Date Cookies
From Anja's Food for Thought
Makes 15-20 Cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios, divided
1/2 cup dried, de-pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Instructions:
In a food processor, combine butter and dates until they form a creamy paste. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and blend until incorporated. Add the flour and stir until it becomes a smooth batter. Mix in half of the pistachios. Form the dough into a round log about 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap. Roll the log in remaining pistachios. Slice dough into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick rounds. If necessary, roll each cookie in pistachios again. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
 
 
I am not a salty-snack person. I know this probably does not come as a shock, considering the ratio of sweet to salty recipes I post. So as much as I loved these kale chips, I didn't really eat them. I don't generally eat regular chips (unless they are accompanied by homemade guacamole), so I wasn't too eager to eat these either. But I promise that they are tasty, and they do satisfy that "I need something crunchy and salty right now" craving. If you ever get those cravings. Which I rarely do.
Recipe for Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips
From Foodess

Ingredients:
1 bag pre-washed kale*
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
kosher salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine kale, olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste.

Place the kale on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. (A single layer is the key to crispy chips.) Bake for 15 minutes or until pieces are dry and crispy.

*I used pre-washed kale so that it is completely dry when I mix it with the oil and vinegar. If you have to wash yours, make sure to dry it in a salad spinner and then with paper towels or your chips will be soggy.