Tasty Tuesday–Pumpkin Tiramisu

If you’re looking for a unique Thanksgiving dessert that still falls into the mandatory “pumpkin” category, you’ve come to the right place! Plus, you can make this pumpkin tiramisu as early as today, and refrigerate it until the big event…always a bonus when you can work ahead!


I tried this recipe out last week, and was amazed by both how easy it was to make (I’ve previously been afraid of trying to make a real tiramisu ), and how delicious it was. The crystalized ginger is what really takes it the holiday level, but I imagine even without that, it would still be amazing!

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups coffee, cooled
  • 2 7 oz. packages Italian ladyfingers
  • Crystalized ginger

With whisk attachment of stand mixer, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups cream; beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
Dissolve 2 Tbsp. sugar in coffee. Dip both sides of approximately 8 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange them in a single layer in a  4-quart trifle dish. Spread one cup of pumpkin mixture on top. Repeat layers five more times, ending with pumpkin mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Beat remaining cream and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop over tiramisu and garnish with crystalized ginger.

Tasty Tuesday–Tiramisu Cheesecake

I was very excited to find this recipe, because I was hoping it would be similar to my all-time favorite dessert–The Cheesecake Factory’s tiramisu cheesecake. Now, theirs has a piece of tiramisu baked into their original cheesecake, (how do they do that?!?), so it wasn’t exactly the same, but the flavor was right, which was what really mattered.

I have to be honest, and admit that I made my cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer crust, as ladyfingers are both expensive and hard to find. The resulting crust stuck to the pan terribly, probably because of how moist it was, and it made the cheesecake lack an important textural component that the ladyfingers would have provided. The cake itself, however, had an amazing, creamy texture, thanks to the 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese mixed in with the cream cheese. And the coffee liqueur whipped cream really finished off the dessert, and made it look amazing, which is ironic, because this is the first cheesecake I’ve made that hasn’t cracked!

  • 1 (12 ounce) package ladyfingers (I used 45 Nilla Wafers)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
  • 1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a pan of water on the bottom of oven.
Crush the package of ladyfingers to fine crumbs. Mix the melted butter into the crumbs. Moisten with 2 tablespoons of the coffee liqueur. Press into an 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar until very smooth. Add 1/2 cup coffee liqueur, and mix. Add the eggs and the flour; mix slowly until just smooth. If the cheesecake batter is too thick, add a little cream. Do not overmix at this point. Pour batter into crust.
Place pan on middle rack of oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set. Open oven door, and turn off the heat. Leave cake to cool in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let it finish cooling. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons coffee liqueur, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Before serving, top with whipped cream, and grate the semi-sweet chocolate on top.

The Five Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten

Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant and hungry all the time. Or maybe it’s because I have gestational diabetes, and can’t eat anything interesting. But lately, I’ve been thinking back over the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, and I think I’ve come up with the top five, (none of which are things that I cook–I wanted this list to contain special, restaurant-only items!).

Chicken Thomas–This was one of the specialties at a restaurant my parents and I used to go to, Cafe Wheaton, (that has, sadly, closed), and while they had many delicious thing on the menu, including chicken and/or veal oscar, I almost always ordered this. It was a breaded chicken breast, slathered in some kind of parmesan sauce, served with pasta, and there were artichokes involved. I wish I could remember more details about it so that I could try to replicate it, but it’s just been too long.

Fresh Trout–Back in college, I went to Copper Harbor, MI, for the very first time, for my cousin’s wedding. While we there, I had fresh trout, caught that day in Lake Superior. I don’t think I knew what really fresh fish was like before that day! In all honesty, I don’t really even remember how it was prepared, but it was, hands-down, the best fish I’ve ever eaten, and there are days that I think it would be worth the trip up there just to eat fish that fresh and wonderful again!

Tiramisu Cheesecake–This is the only thing on my list from a chain restaurant, (Cheesecake Factory), but this cheesecake is so good, it’s worth it. My two favorite desserts, combined in one amazing piece of cake. Seriously drooling just thinking about it. Lucky for me, there’s a Cheesecake Factory near enough to us that if I have to have a piece, I can, but not so close that I’m danger of going there often. It’s the perfect set-up for a serious pregnancy craving, (gestational diabetes aside).

Seamus McDaniel’s Cheeseburger–The first “local only” item on my list, the Seamus cheeseburger is by far the best I’ve ever had. Rare, with provel, tomatoes, and onions, it’s like a bite of heaven. The french fries that come on the side aren’t too shabby, either.

Beast Craft BBQ Carnitas–I’ve loved Beast since it first came to Belleville, but the carnitas, a recent menu addition, are just over-the-top delicious. I seriously couldn’t eat them often enough!

Honorable Mention (because I couldn’t just leave the list at five!):

Triple Chocolate Suicide Cake–I haven’t had a piece of this cake in probably over 20 years, but I still remember it. This is from another, (now defunct), restaurant that my parents and I used to frequent, and tiramisu and cheesecakes aside, it’s the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. Several layers, (at least three, maybe more, and they were thick layers!), of rich chocolate cake, and an almost fudge like frosting. Oh, and big triangle of a chocolate bar stuck in the top, and the whole thing drizzled in more chocolate. Sinfully delicious!

So, there you have it. Those are the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I’m proud of myself for “only” including two desserts on the list. I could have easily made a list of just the best five desserts I’ve had, or a list of 10 or more of my favorite foods, but I wanted to narrow it down to the best of the best. Of course, there’s the chance that I’ve overlooked something, but in my current pregnant and constantly hungry state, these are the items that immediately came to mind.

Sadly, of these five items, only two of them are remotely accessible to me, (and I’m not supposed to be eating cheesecake right now, so that leaves me with just the cheeseburger–no fries). Of the remaining three items, two of the restaurants were a.) In Suburban Chicago, and 2.) Have closed anyway, so are no longer even an option. And the third item…well, Copper Harbor, MI is 750 miles from here, so that’s not happening anytime soon. But when I’m hungry in the middle of the night, I console myself by remembering some of the best things I’ve had the opportunity to eat!

Tasty Tuesday–The Cheesecake Factory

I had a prenatal appointment today, and since Ryan’s parents are in town, they were able to watch the children, so that he could come along. Afterward, we decided to go out to dinner, to The Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant that I’ve only been to once before, and Ryan had never been to.

We splurged, and started with an appetizer–Avocado Eggrolls with a tamarind-cashew dipping sauce. I know, they sound weird, but were amazingly delicious!

As long as I was in an avocado kind of mood, I ordered The Navajo sandwich–a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich, served in warm fry bread. I had this the one other time I went to The Cheesecake Factory, and it was so good, I had to get it again. Ryan had the filet, which was also delicious, (I may have sampled it), but we both had a hard time choosing, since the menu is so extensive and diverse. You can get tacos or burritos there, as well as orange and cashew chicken, plus seafood, pasta, steaks, burgers, and sandwiches. Ryan found the diversity of the menu a little alarming at first–when you serve that many types of food, it’s hard to believe that any of them are done well. But we certainly weren’t disappointed with our food, and I’ve never heard anyone complain about a meal from The Cheesecake Factory, so they’re doing something right!

You can’t go to a restaurant with the word cheesecake in the name without ordering some, so of course I did. I couldn’t pass up the Tiramisu Cheesecake, since it contains pretty much my two favorite desserts, and it was just as delicious as I had hoped. There aren’t words to describe just how wonderful it was, so I won’t even try–you’ll just have to take my word for it!

This is definitely a splurge type of establishment, so we probably won’t be going back for a very long time, but it was very fun and delicious!

Tasty Tuesday–Frankie Tocco’s

For the last several years, when we’ve gone to St. Charles, MO, for their Christmas Traditions festival, we’ve eaten lunch at Frankie Tocco’s. Even though we only go there once a year, it’s become a place that we, (the children in particular), look forward to eating at.

This year, we started with an order of the St. Louis specialty, toasted ravioli. This isn’t my favorite food, no matter where it’s made, but the children, (and Ryan), love it. I think they could have easily put away several orders, but they managed to be happy with just splitting the one.

Every year, we order two pizzas. It amazes me how much children can eat when given the opportunity. They managed to finish off an entire large cheese pizza, (and that with Ladybug having eaten a piece of the pizza Ryan and I got), before they were full. It’s definitely a St. Louis style pizza–saltine-like crust, provel cheese, etc., but it’s still pretty good.

Ryan and I got a Tocco special pizza, which had mushrooms, onions, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon. It was also delicious!

I splurged, and got a dessert. But you can’t go to an Italian restaurant without ordering tiramisu!

One of these years, we may try a new place when visiting St. Charles. Then again, we are creatures of habit, and know what we like, so we may just stick with Frankie Tocco’s!

Booze Soaked Cake #1–Tiramisu

For my birthday last month, I tried a new cake recipe–a tiramisu layer cake courtesy of Allrecipes. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for over a year, but it’s a little costly to make (thanks to the coffee liqueur and mascarpone cheese), so I had to wait for the right occasion to try it out.

I was not disappointed! Even though the base was a regular boxed layer cake, and not sponge cake, it tasted just like tiramisu. And tiramisu happens to be one of my all-time favorite desserts, so this was the perfect birthday cake for me.

I have to admit, I do think I did something to screw up the filling a little bit. It was much creamier than I was expecting (I thought it would have more of a whipped consistency), and so it was too runny. It *did* taste just like I was hoping it would, though. Not sure what happened there, as I did follow the recipe exactly (honest!), but the next time I make it, I hope to correct whatever error I made, without tampering with the excellent taste.


1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white cake mix

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1/4 cup coffee

1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur


1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur


2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur


2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 (9 inch) pans.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Divide two-thirds of batter between 2 pans. Stir instant coffee into remaining batter; pour into remaining pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. In a measuring cup, combine brewed coffee and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; set aside.

To make the filling: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1/2 cup of cream mixture into filling mixture.

To assemble the cake: Place one plain cake layer on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. Pour one-third of reserved coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half of the filling mixture. Top with coffee-flavored cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour another third of the coffee mixture over the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour remaining coffee mixture on top. Spread sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

To make the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar.