Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Tiramisu is one of our most favorite desserts to buy for any occasion.  If there is a birthday or anniversary celebration, invariably we will have a store-bought tiramisu for dessert

Tiramisu is a coffee flavored Italian dessert, and looks and tastes like it takes hours to make.  The original recipe calls for raw eggs, heavy whipping cream, and mascarpone cheese.  Once I read the recipe, I was wary, because after reading about all the salmonella poisoning, I really did not want my family eating raw eggs.  

So I decided to explore further and find a recipe that does not use raw eggs.  There are several short-cut recipes available online.  I have made several versions – some using mascarpone cheese and heavy whipping cream, others using cream cheese and whipping cream, and my latest version, using cream cheese and store-bought whipped topping.  I used to make it with mascarpone cheese till last year, when my grocery stores ran out of it! Apparently tons of people were making tiramisu!  I have since switched to cream cheese and it works just as well.

This version hardly took any time at all and tasted great!  This recipe is mostly based on the one I found on Kraft Recipes (original recipe here).

Here is what you need:

  • 2 Tbsp. instant coffee
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups whipped topping, thawed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
  • 2 pkgs. ladyfingers (3 oz. each)
  • unsweetened cocoa for dusting
  • chocolate shavings


Here is how I made it:

  1. Mix the coffee powder and sugar.  Pour in hot water to make a strong cup of coffee.  Set aside.  You may use espresso or other strong coffee instead.  I normally brew a really strong cup, but my coffee maker was not cooperating this morning.
  2. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer, on medium speed, till smooth.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add orange liqueur.  You may use Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur if you like.  I like the hint of orange in the tiramisu.  Gently mix in the whipped topping.  Set aside.
  3. The ladyfingers come in 3 oz. packages and are sliced.  Remove the top half and set aside.  Arrange the bottom half (from both packages) in a 9 X 13 serving dish.
  4. Brush coffee gently onto the ladyfingers so that they are soaked through.  I used about ¼ cup for this layer.
  5. Using a spatula spread half of the cream cheese mixture on top of the ladyfingers.
  6. Layer the remaining ladyfingers on top of this.  Brush with coffee (I used another ¼ cup for this layer)
  7. Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture and smooth it out. 
  8. Put cocoa powder in a tea strainer and tap gently over the tiramisu to give it an even dusting.
  9. Take a bar of chocolate and using a peeler, shave some chocolate curls for garnish.
  10. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Thanks Ram, for the picture!

Note:  This dessert can be made almost fat-free if you use fat free cream cheese and fat free whipped topping.  I used regular versions of both.   
I ended up using only ½ cup of coffee.  For stronger coffee flavor, you may want to use all of it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Here is another super healthy salad I made for our Mediterranean party.  Tabbouleah is made with bulgar wheat and does not require any cooking.

I served it as a part of a meal.  It was one of many sides for my Mediterranean party.  Full menu here.

This recipe was on the side of the bulgar packet. I followed the recipe almost exactly.  I added more pepper than the original recipe. 

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 english cucumber diced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 5 -6 mint leaves, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1- 2  tsp. black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Here is how I made it:

  1. Mix bulgar and boiling water and soak for 1 hour.  I put it in a tupperware container and covered it. 
  2. Drain and squeeze out the water. 
  3. Mix all the other ingredients and let sit for an hour.
You can make this and store it for a few days in the fridge.  Makes a great addition to a Mediterranean menu or a healthy lunch idea!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Microwave Kalakand

I just never liked sweets.  I know people who cannot resist having one, or two, or more servings of dessert, but I am the kind of person, that if someone forces me to have dessert, then I have to have something spicy to get the taste of the sweet out – weird right?

But then, I am weird.

My husband, on the other hand, loves sweets.  He grew up eating Bengali sweets and I feel sad for him because I don’t make enough desserts at home.

So this year for deepavali, I made this super easy, and healthy (because there is no ghee) kalakand.  It has 3 ingredients – 4 if you count the nuts, and takes less than 15 minutes to make.  I found the recipe online.  It is on several blogs – so I don’t know who to give credit for this, but it is a fool proof recipe and if you have the ingredients on hand, a quick dessert


Here is what you need:

  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ¼ tsp. powdered elaichi (cardamom)
  • few chopped pistachios or almonds for garnish

Here is how I made it:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix the condensed milk and ricotta cheese.  I add a little less than one can of condensed milk, because I don’t like it to be too sweet.
  2. Set the microwave to cook for 13 minutes.
  3. Put this mixture in and cook on high.  Keep stirring this about every three minutes.  This tends to spatter, so I put a cover on so that my microwave does not get messy.
  4. Start monitoring the consistency after about 10 minutes.  Add the powdered elaichi at around the 10 minute mark.  At this point I start checking every minute.  By around 12 minutes, the consistency should be thick and kind of grainy.  It should not be very smooth and wet,
  5. Put it back in for about a minute at a time till the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl and has turned very slightly brown.  It should still be moist, and not totally hard and dry.
  6. Pour this out onto a greased plate and smooth it out.
  7. Top with the crushed pistachios or almond.
  8. Wait for it to cool a bit and then cut into desired shape and size.

Stays well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

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