The Café’s Best of 2014 – Happy New Year!

The Cafe's Best 2014 - month by month, our most popular recipes.

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were excited about cool evenings, pumpkins and golden-hued trees? Now it’s time to fold up 2014, put it in a box and move on; pulling it out, only in those rare moments when we take the luxury of reminiscing.

With just a bit of time left to reflect on the old year before it’s time to jump into 2015, we spent some time going over Café posts, month by month; enjoying as we revisited each one, and picking out the most popular, most pinned recipes of the year. We thought you might have fun seeing them too, so – away we go!

Best Caramel Cake Recipe - Moist, tender, fabulous cake with a "to die for" icing!

January – the year started with lots of fun culinary endeavors, but this Best Caramel Cake Recipe really seemed to be the one to go crazy. I called it Almost Rose’s Caramel Cake – you see, it wasn’t quite Rose’s famous cake (a classic from Saveur magazine). I wrote dear Rose a letter explaining why I couldn’t make the cake exactly like she did.



Winter White Red Velvet Fudge - A delicious, beautiful fudge for any season; not just winter! Try it for your next party; or for fun gifts to give relatives, neighbors and friends.

February – oh my! I had no idea when I started messing around with fudge and food coloring that this Winter White Red Velvet Fudge recipe would evoke such a response. It was really popular when I posted it just before Valentine’s Day, but when the holiday season rolled around in November it went viral on Pinterest and Facebook. It was one of the major contributors to The Café’s first 1 million pageview month in November!


Irish Chocolate Cheesecakes - in a jar! So rich, so decadent, so delightful ... and ... so portable! Take them anywhere and enjoy!

March – The Café got a whole new look this month and switched from Blogger to WordPress. It was a huge learning curve, and a quite a few tears were shed in the process. But nine months later, I’ll have to say that you really can “teach an old dog new tricks”. We’re still learning, but we love WordPress and all the blood, sweat and tears have been worth it – our average readership has increased tenfold since then!

It was St. Patty’s Day, along with a special family celebration, that inspired these Irish Chocolate Cheesecake jars. One of our guests said it was the best thing he’d ever eaten – in his life! Of course almost everyone loves chocolate, and this dessert has been hugely popular on all our social media sites as well as the blog.


Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins. Tender and moist with a fabulous buttery crumb topping and a lemony drizzle!

April – these Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins were gobbled up as soon as they came out of the oven. I had some special little helpers with these crumb-topped, blueberry-studded muffins. Maybe that’s why they were such a special hit with all of you!


Mexican Chopped Salad. The freshest, healthiest, most summery salad with lots of Southwestern flair!

May – the minute this super fresh, super healthy Mexican Chopped Salad was posted, it started getting pinned like crazy. And it still’s going strong at 352,000 pins! I’ve gotten lots of emails from readers who are totally smitten with this vibrant, delicious salad with a little South of the Border flair.


Avocado Crema. A delicious, fresh, healthy condiment made with fresh avocado and Greek yogurt.

June – We’re quite crazy about avocados here at The Café, and we actually toured an avocado ranch on a fun road trip up the California Coast. Since we live in the Eastern United States, we had no idea how avocados grow, and learned all kinds of fascinating things about this delicious fruit (yes it’s a fruit!) One of the most interesting facts we gleaned, is that avocados can be stored on the trees for a long time. They don’t actually ripen until they’re picked! How cool is that; nature’s own storehouse!

When we returned home, I really had avocados on the brain, along with the Mexican cuisine we enjoyed everywhere we went in California. The carnitas (slow roasted pork) especially captured my imagination. Once I got back home, I came up with my own version, and this Avocado Crema to go with it.

We use this delicious sauce for so many other things too. I served a small bowl of it with a fried egg and a slice of whole grain toast; yum! It also makes a delicious, creamy sandwich spread, is wonderful spooned on burgers or grilled chicken and is simply fabulous for dipping with chips. I’ve even used it as a base for a salad dressing (recipe here).


Best Ever Vanilla Cupcakes and Buttercream, the name says it all! This is what every wedding cake should taste like!

July – For years, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect vanilla cupcake. I wanted it to be moist with a super tender crumb and, at the same time, be simple to put together. Finally, I found it and it’s definitely my go-to, never-fail cupcake recipe now. I’ve received lots of emails from readers who love it as much as we do, especially when you combine it with this delicious Best Ever Buttercream Icing.


European Style Artisan Bread - a step-by-step picture tutorial. If you haven't tried this amazingly simple technique, you won't believe how easy it is. No, the bread does not take 5 minutes to make, but you can stir together the dough in that amount of time - and there's no yeast expertise and NO KNEADING needed!

August – I’ve been making 5-Minute Artisan Bread for many years, and have shared a number of these recipes on the blog. This time I decided to do a step-by-step picture tutorial and it just seems to grow more and more popular every month. If you haven’t tried this amazingly simple technique, you won’t believe how easy it is. No, the bread does not take 5 minutes to make, but you can stir together the dough in that amount of time – there’s no yeast expertise and … NO KNEADING needed!


Pumpkin Crumb Muffins - these delicious muffins are super moist and full of delicious warm-spiced flavor. The buttery, crumb topping is the crème de la crème!

September – There were quite a few contenders for top spot this month. Between our Italian Meatballs and Marinara, the Best Ever Hot Fudge Sauce and the Best Ever, Super Easy Salsa recipes, I wasn’t sure which one was going to take top honors. When I check the stats, these Pumpkin Crumb Muffins were a sure winner. Can you tell how much fun Scott and I had with the photo shoot?


Arugula, Pom and Pear Salad - a beautiful salad that tastes even better than it looks. The Cider Poppy Seed Dressing is amazing!

October – This pretty Arugula, Pom and Pear Salad was the show stealer this month. With seasonal ingredients and a delicious Poppyseed Cider Dressing, it was a wonderful go-to salad for the fall and holiday season.


Red Velvet Kiss Cookies - the most delicious, fun, festive cookies you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting!

November – it seemed like every time I turned around, someone (actually, lots of someones!) was pinning these Red Velvet Kiss Cookies. Our granddaughters in London made them on their own, with just a bit of supervision from me. They had a blast; although there was a little Red Velvet bandit who showed up later in the story!


Pomegranate, Parsley and Pecan Cheeseball - light, fresh and fun - with a smidgen of garlic, a bit of fine lemon zest and lots of fresh herbs. It's gorgeous too and tends to make jaws drop!

December – We shared lots of festive recipes this month, along with ideas on how to make preparations for the holidays a bit easier using make-ahead recipes. This Pomegranate, Parsely and Pecan Cheeseball was a clear favorite though, and was thoroughly enjoyed at some of our pre-Christmas gatherings.


So that takes us up to today, New Years Eve. Scott and I want to thank you for following The Café this year. We so appreciate our long-time, faithful readers, along with a plethora of new followers in 2014. We’ve loved getting to know you through emails, comments and even meeting some of you in person. It’s our joy to surprise you each week with fun, fresh new recipes you can serve to family and friends.

We’re also thrilled about lots of new ideas and inspiration for 2015, and wish each one of you a blessed and Happy New Year!

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