Saturday, December 27, 2014

Individual Tiramisu Cakes

Individual Tiramisu Cake
One of the things I enjoy most about the holidays having time to cook things that are a little more time-consuming.  As I do every year, I sent out a family text soliciting menu requests.  Of course, many were the usual turkey, ham, broccoli casserole and the like, but one request harked back to several years ago:  Tiramisu Bowl Cake.

Given that our family has begun eating less, rather than prepare an entire bowl cake, which presumes that we would eat the entire thing in one sitting, I decided to prepare individual servings of Tiramisu Cake.  I searched (um, Googled) far and wide for a recipe that had the wonderful taste without some of the more excessive time requirements and found a delicious Tiramisu Layer Cake by bettina on

Rather than repeating the entire recipe here, I'll list my adjustments:

  • White Cake Mix (Duncan Hines, of course):  
    • use olive oil (NOT extra-virgin!!!) instead of vegetable oil
    • use 2 whole eggs rather than 3 egg whites
    • bake in self-supporting muffin/cupcake papers (which gives room for the topping) for 15 minutes
  • Cupcakes may be made several days in advance
  • Fill the cupcakes with the marscapone mixture (any large tip--I used Wilton 1G) after soaking with coffee liqueur.
  • Dust the top of the filled cupcake with cocoa.
  • Frost with flavored whipped cream and dust with cocoa.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Freeze leftovers to enjoy later!
These are a beautiful and delicious addition to any holiday table!

What about you?  What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fast Festive Treats: No-Fail Microwave Fudge

While I'd like to tell you that I have all the time in the world for preparing holiday treats--like our family's Traditional Dipped Fruit--but this year has been extremely busy.  It's been so hectic that I finally prepared my first batch of fudge just a few days ago.

My daughter is working, and in need of treats for office holiday parties, so I shared my Always-Reliable Microwave Fudge recipe with her.  I do have a more traditional recipe, but it can be affected by humidity, so I've been relying more and more on the microwave recipe.  Here 'tis; I hope you find it as fool-proof as I have.
Cut into 1" squares.

Always-Reliable Microwave Fudge

1 pound confectioner's sugar (sifted)
1/2 cup cocoa (sifted)
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
1 t. vanilla

In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together the sugar and cocoa.  On top, add the butter and milk, but do not stir.  Microwave for 2 minutes.

Immediately, stir in vanilla and nuts.  This sets up very quickly.  Spread about 1/2" thick on waxed paper and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.  Cut into 1" squares as it is very rich.

Serve on a lovely paper doily or in tiny fluted candy papers.

You'll be the hit of the party!

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Friday, August 1, 2014

Adding a Little Culture to My Life

New fun for an old kitchen friend!
My creative muse swooped by recently (after a long vacation) with a wild idea.  I've been wanting to add natural probiotics to my diet, but flavored yogurt is really expensive, and full of additives.  So, I did a little research and found an easy method at Cultures for Health for culturing yogurt at home using my ancient slow-cooker.  Nothing could be simpler!

  • First, I cleaned the crock really well and found a heavy lid (rather than the glass one) that would fit tightly and retain heat.  Per the recipe, I added 1/2 gallon milk; I used Kroger Simple Truth Organic Whole Milk because Kroger is closer than any health food store.  I put on the lid, then turned the slow cooker on low for 2.5 hours while I did many other things.

  • After 2.5 hours, I turned off the slow cooker and let it cool (with the lid on) for 3 hours.

  • After 3 hours, I took out 1/2 cup and whisked in 2 T. of purchased yogurt with live cultures.  I used Greek Gods Plain Yogurt (which is, sadly, not organic) because it contained a variety of live cultures (S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidobacerium, L. Casei) and only pectin rather than gums.  You can also used a purchased yogurt starter as well as one shared from a friend.  Then I returned the culture mixture to the slow cooker, stirring well before replacing the lid.

Culturing the yogurt

  • The final active step is allowing the mixture to culture:  I wrapped my slowcooker, unplugged heating element and all, in two heavy bath-sheet size towels and left it overnight.  The instructions advise culturing for 8-12 hours depending upon how tangy you like your yogurt (more time=more tang).  I try to culture mine for 8-9 hours as I prefer a less tangy yogurt.

  • When your yogurt has achieved the desired "tang" spoon gently into jars and refrigerate at least 8 hours before using.  Reserve about 2 T. in a separate container to start your next batch.  Keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

The "busy mom" mild yogurt culture schedule
5:00 p.m.  Pour milk into slow cooker and turn on low heat.
7:30 p.m.  Turn off slow cooker; let set
10:30 p.m. Add culture starter and wrap in towels.
6:30 a.m.  Spoon into jars and refrigerate (reserve about 2 T. in its own container to make your next batch!)
2:30 p.m.  Ready to enjoy!

If you want "Greek" style yogurt, place some coffee filters in a plastic colander and allow some of the whey to drain off (frugal folk can use the whey in baked goods!).

You're only limited by
 your imagination!
Currently, I am enjoying my yogurt with fruit (fresh and preserves) and bran nuggets for crunch.  I have plans to make a healthy muesli and even a savory mixture for variety.

Why am I bothering with making my own yogurt?  I've read several articles that additional probiotics help lower blood pressure while I continue to take my prescribed medications.  I've also read several articles that probiotics help boost immunity while increasing metabolism.

Please consult your medical professional about this!  I am NOT a doctor nor do I even play one on TV!

With my next batches, I hope to make some yogurt cheese (Alton Brown makes it sound so easy!) and add some of my home-grown organic garlic and herbs to spread on toast and sandwiches.  I also have my eye on frozen yogurt.  I might even make a yogurt cheesecake!

Healthy, frugal, easy--I encourage you to give this a try!

What about you?  What's cooking in your Savory kitchen!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Warm Up a Winter Dinner with Roasted Vegetables

Squash and zucchini make great partners!
One of my new year's resolutions was to eat more vegetables and, last week, I finally put that plan into motion.  The greengrocer had beautiful produce and I treated myself to an assortment.

Aside from potatoes, I've never been much of a vegetable eater.  Most of the vegetables I've tried in the past have been boiled to the point of sliminess.   A few years ago, we discovered just how wonderful slimy asparagus was when it was when roasted.  Since then, we've roasted potatoes and mushrooms.  The selection of fresh produce prompted us to try roasting more vegetables.

Roasted brussel sprouts and asparagus
disappear quickly!
Jim was the entremetier.  His recipe for squash is below, and he prepared halved brussel sprouts and asparagus similarly.  The same general technique can be use for potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and many other "winter" and "summer" vegetables.

Roasted Summer Squash

2 medium to large summer squash, sliced
2 medium to large zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 T. olive oil
1 T. white balsamic vinegar
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Arrange squash, zucchini and onion into a prepared 9x13 baking dish.  Drizzle them with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Roast on an upper rack in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

All were wonderful, savory, and very satisfying on a cold, winter evening.  Enjoy!

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dragon's Grilled Chicken Salad

What a great sandwich!
Well, Jim's been in the kitchen again and he came up with a new chicken salad recipe that's too spicy for your grandmother's garden party!  Give this one a try:

Grilled Chicken Salad

6 boneless chicken thighs
1 bottle sesame ginger marinade (Kroger)
4 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and chopped
2 dill pickles (diced)
2 T. pecan pieces (chopped)
1 c. seedless red grapes, halved
1 c. mayonnaise with olive oil
1/4 c. sour cream
1 t. spicy mustard
1 T. onion soup mix
1 T. dill weed

Marinate thighs in marinade overnight.  Discard marinade and cook or grill thighs until done.  Let cool, then cut or pull into small pieces.  Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, onion soup mix, and dill weed and set aside.  Toss together chicken, eggs, pickles, pecans, and grapes before adding mayonnaise mixture.  Mix well, then chill for several hours before enjoying on crusty bread or savory crackers.  Makes about 2 quarts of chicken salad.

Variation:  Substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the grapes!

We hope you enjoy!

What cooking in your Savory kitchen?