Yogurt Panna Cotta

I have a huge weakness for panna cotta. Correction –  I have a huge weakness for almost all desserts – but custards, puddings, and souffles are very high on my list. And anything with chocolate. But that’s another story.

Traditional panna cotta is nothing more than cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatin – and although the name translates to “cooked cream”, it isn’t cooked at all – the gelatin provides the structure to hold it together. This version, made with milk and yogurt, instead of the usual heavy cream, is perfect for breakfast. It’s not very sweet at all, so feel free to increase the amount of sugar to your liking. I prefer mine on the tart side, as it makes me feel more virtuous.

And less guilty about the chocolate chip biscotti I have after it……

Yogurt Panna Cotta – adapted from myrecipes

2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 tsp plain, unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 tbs vanilla extract

 Pour 1 cup milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top. Let soften for 5 minutes, then stir until dissolved.

In a medium saucepan, mix remaining milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in gelatin mixture, then whisk in yogurt and vanilla. Divide among 8 6-ounce ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serve with fresh fruit.

Chocolate Mousse

Tomorrow is July 1.

Say what??!

We are halfway though 2015, and it doesn’t seem possible. Yet it is, and it’s happening. Crazy. Isn’t it funny that when you’re a kid, time moves painfully slow. Once you’re an adult, however, time moves at light speed.

Or ridiculous speed.

Or ludicrous speed.

Classic – just like a good chocolate mousse.


Chocolate Mousse – adapted from epicurious

I put crushed Oreo cookie crumbs into the bottom of the glasses to make them a bit more festive, as I served these at J’s birthday party a few weeks ago. The mousse is outstanding – perfectly textured and not cloyingly sweet.

  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

Heat 3/4 cup cream in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks and sugar in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a glass bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power 3 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, then cool.

Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.

Spoon mousse into 8 (6-ounce) stemmed glasses or ramekins and chill, covered, at least 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving.

Cooks’ notes: • Mousse can be chilled up to 1 day.

• To vary the flavor, you can replace the 1 teaspoon vanilla with 2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder (dissolve it in the hot cream) or 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or 2 tablespoons Cognac (either one whisked into strained custard).


Tiramisu Trifle

Yesterday was one of those days where it seemed that everywhere I went, there was an enormous amount of traffic, congestion, and rude people. My day started off with a 60 minute drive to go the 5 miles for the kids’ school.


Granted, there was an accident that caused the massive delay, but that was the second major shut-down in a week. I am about ready to put a portable coffee maker in the car so I can refill my cup while sitting in traffic. I’m not even kidding. I have learned to always keep the gas level in the car at half-full or above, so I don’t run out if I get stuck somewhere. Yes, it’s that bad.

Anyway, after school, Sabrina and I went to the Starbucks right down the street from campus to grab a drink while we waited for Alexander to re-take his biology test. We only had 45 minutes, and it was pointless to drive the 5 miles home, only to turn around and go back – traffic is a nightmare at that time of day, it would have taken me another hour to get through it.

And I was in NO mood for that.

So we get to the coffee shop, place our order, and wait. And wait. 5 minutes passes….then 10…….then 15……. now 20 minutes has passed and still no coffee for me. We (along with the other mob of people crowded in the shop) are getting quite cranky waiting so long for the drinks, and I’m about ready to ask them if they are growing the coffee beans in the back parking lot. Finally (finally!) we get our drinks and head back to school.

And promptly get stuck in traffic. 


Tiramisu Trifle – adapted from My Baking Addiction

This dessert was a pleasant surprise…. meaning, I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, since traditional tiramisu is made with mascarpone, not ricotta. Although the texture is a bit more grainy (from the ricotta), it’s absolutely delicious and I appreciated the fact that it took so little time to make.

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs. Kahlua
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp instant espresso granules
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

Combine whipping cream and sugar in a large bowl.Using a hand held mixer, whip to medium peaks. In another bowl, using the same mixing blades, whip together the cheese, cocoa powder, Kahlua, vanilla, and instant espresso granules. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture using a rubber spatula.

Alternate layers of cookie crumbs and tiramisu filling in trifle or parfait glasses, and top each with a heavy dusting of cocoa powder.


Spoon Bread

Can I be honest here? The name of this recipe confused me. A lot.

At first, I thought it meant you mixed it with a  spoon. Except you use a whisk for the preparation.

Then, I thought it meant you ate it with a spoon. Except you cut it into squares. 

 What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Thank you, Shakespeare, for identifying the fact that the name of this bread doesn’t reflect what it really is.


Spoon Bread – adapted from Rebecca Rather

More pudding-like than bread-like, it reminds me of a very soft cornbread. We all loved it though,  and leftovers are wonderful warmed up and served with a side of jam.

3 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish. Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low and slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the baking powder, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until the batter is smooth and the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and puffy. Cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits

My inner being is in such a state of discord right now. I’m a bundle of emotions (all good ones, though!) and quite frankly, I’m having trouble focusing on the task at hand.

Which explains why I just found the potatoes that were supposed to go with dinner last night still in the oven. Fortunately the oven was turned off…..

Anyway, my current state of mind isn’t for the reason you might think. After all, my Christmas shopping is just about finished, the gifts that I do have are wrapped and ready to go under the tree, and the house looks merry, festive, and aglow with lights.

So what gives?

It’s simple. I’m having trouble narrowing down exactly what to make for dessert on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t laugh! This is serious! I have so many ideas, and there are so many things I want to try, but I think there might be a limit to how many sweets I can set out.

Or is there? Can you really ever have too many desserts?


This is a subject I will seriously ponder today.

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits – adapted from Baking Bites

3/4 cup light or golden brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
6 tbsp cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs. bourbon

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and mixture starts to bubble.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk with the cornstarch and egg yolks until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk. Pour into brown sugar mixture in the saucepan without turning down the heat. Cook, stirring regularly with a spatula or whisk, until mixture begins to thicken. As it gets thicker, stir constantly until pudding just starts to bubble. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat immediately and whisk in vanilla extract and bourbon.

Layer pudding into parfait classes alternating with pie crust crumbs and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours.


Pie Crust Crumbs

  • 1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbs. melted butter

In a medium size bowl, combine crumbs and melted butter. Pour mixture onto a greased baking pan, spreading them around evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until the crumbs are crisp, stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Chocolate Tiramisu

Two major, life changing events occurred this morning that have had such a profound impact on me, I’m still in a state of bewilderment.

First, Alexander went to work this morning. Yes, you read that right – work. Pretty impressive for a kid whose biggest achievement each weekend was to sleep until 2:30 in the afternoon.

And the other event (hold on to your tea Dad, this is a big one!)…..

Sabrina finally cleaned up her room. And when I say cleaned up, I mean clothes were hung, shoes put away, room vacuumed, boxes unpacked and trash thrown out.



I hope this doesn’t mean the zombie apocalypse is coming…….

Chocolate Tiramisu – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs. cocoa powder, divided
  • 5 tbs. coffee liquor such as Kahlua (optional), divided (I used Amaretto)
  • 28 ladyfinger cookies
  • 2 cups (about 17 1/2 ounces) mascarpone, slightly softened 
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 6 tbs. confectioners sugar, divided
  • 1 tbs. pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream, very cold
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

In liquid measuring cup, stir together coffee, granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa, and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) coffee liquor. Lay 14 ladyfinger cookies in single layer in bottom of pan. With pastry brush or spoon, douse ladyfingers with 1/2 of coffee mixture.

In large bowl, gently whisk mascarpone, melted chocolate, 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon coffee liquor (if using), and 1 teaspoon vanilla until just combined. Spread over soaked ladyfingers in pan and smooth top. Place 14 more lady fingers in single layer over mascarpone mixture. Soak with remaining coffee mixture.

Using stand mixer or handheld mixer, whip cream with remaining 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, remaining tablespoon cocoa, and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla to medium peaks. Spread over soaked ladyfingers and smooth top.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow ladyfingers to completely soften. Dust with cocoa, cut into squares and serve.

Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole

It just dawned on me that Thanksgiving Day is 5 weeks and 1 day away.


Whoa. Dare I say I’m ready for it? I truly am, because this holiday season is going to be epic. J and I have a few options this year, as the posse will be away from home again. Oh, it’s ok, don’t feel sad for me, because Thanksgiving, to me, is akin to a Sunday Dinner. Which means, quite frankly, you can do it any day of the year. Everyone comes together, there’s lots of chatter, reminiscing, sharing, love, family, and of course, copious amounts of food and wine.

Wait, that sounded like my birthday week in Vegas…..

Anyway, as I said, it’s not a holiday that has monumental sentiment for me (that would be Christmas, and you can bet your last dollar they will be home with us for that!), but don’t think for one minute that I don’t get sucked into every glossy magazine showing off their finest and most delectable dishes for the season.


With 98% of my cookbooks/baking magazines still  in storage, I’m having to exercise tremendous self control not to buy each and every one of them. Actually, I told Sabrina this morning that next week, we will break into the storage unit and start pulling out holiday lights and a few boxes of books.

Yes, I’m one of those people that starts decorating in November. Like November 1. 

Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole – adapted form Southern Living

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Bring milk just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in butter and grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until grits are done. Remove from heat.Stir in egg, cheese, and pepper. ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until mixture is set. Serve immediately.