Monday, February 20, 2012

Pomodoro Pasta and Eggplant Parmesan

This was a big hit at the Valentine's Dinner and Spirit of Athens Luncheon where I served it recently. I did also serve it with a Grilled Chicken Breast, cut on the bias, topping the Pomodoro Pasta and a Baguette for sopping up that wonderful sauce!

Paula's Pomodoro Pasta
12 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 red onion or shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1-28oz. can Italian Plum tomatoes with basil (I prefer San Marzano) hand crush tomatoes before adding to sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (10.75 ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
crushed red pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup basil pesto
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for  5 minutes. Add wine to deglaze and cook down. Add next 6 ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese. Reserve 1 cup of sauce for Eggplant.Toss with Angel Hair Pasta and serve. Garnish with additional basil and Parmesan cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
2 eggs mixed with 1/2 cup milk
Self Rising flour
2 cups Panko bread crumbs seasoned with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2" oil in skillet for frying
reserved pomodoro sauce
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place eggplant in colander and season with salt. Let stand 20-30 minutes.
In 3 shallow flour, egg mixture and bread crumb mixture. Dredge each slice in flour, egg wash & bread crumbs. Fry in preheated oil until golden, turning once. Place on parchment lined baing sheet. Top each with dollop of sauce and sprinkling of Parmesan. Bake in 350 preheated oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese. Serve immediately.

I'm not Italian, nor do I claim to cook like my Italian friends...but if it's really good and pleasing to friends and family, I'm willing to share it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rick's request for pie!

Find the link here:
Meal Plan Monday 6

Rick's request for a pie, although it has to accommodate his diabetes, reminded me how much my family loves pies!
The pies that I made for Rick are really simple but he loves them when he has a craving for something sweet.
 Four layer Chocolate Pies (low sugar)
2 Deep dish pie crusts baked and cooled
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese at room temp
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 carton fat free whipped topping, divided
2 lg. pkg. sugar free chocolate instant pudding
4 cups fat free milk

Combine cream cheese, 1 cup confectioner's sugar and 1 cup whipped topping until smooth. Spread in bottom of cooled pie crusts. Mix 2 pkg. chocolate pudding with milk until blended. Pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate to set for 15 minutes. Spread remaining topping over each pie.

 Here are some family favorites that I have made repeatedly over the years.

3 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups milk
6 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 prebaked 9 inch deep dish pie crust
Combine sugar, milk, flour, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over
medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, stir small
amount hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return to cooked
mixture and boil 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and stir
in butter and vanilla extract. Pour into baked pie crust. Prepare
Meringue from 3 egg whites, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
extract. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over pudding and
bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp. butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pre-baked 9 inch pie crust.
In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, flour , cocoa and milk. Bring to boil over
medium heat.
Boil 2 minutes and remove from heat. Stir 1/4 cup hot mixture into beaten egg
yolks and
then return to hot mixture stirring constantly. Return to heat and cook 2
minutes more.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Pour into baked crust.
Beat 3 egg whites, 6 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until stiff
peaks form.
Spread over hot pudding and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE like "Little Joe's" Oneonta, AL
1 Pre-baked 9 inch Deep Pie Crust
Peanut Butter Layer:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
Combine sugar and peanut butter until crumbly. Set aside.
Custard Filling:
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2-1/4 cups milk
3 Egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In heavy 3 qt. saucepan, combine sugar, flour, salt and milk. Over medium heat,
bring to boil, boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir 1/2 cup hot mixture
beaten egg yolks; return to hot mixture, stirring while adding. Return to heat
bring to boil; boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add
butter and vanilla.
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Beat until stiff peaks form.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup Peanut Butter Sugar Mixture in bottom of baked pie crust.
Top with 1/2 of the cooked custard.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Peanut Butter Sugar Mixture over custard.
Fill crust with remaining custard.
Top with prepared Meringue.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup Peanut Butter Sugar Mixture.

Fried Apple or Peach Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
4 Tbsp. ice water
1 Tbsp. vinegar
Mix flour, salt, & baking soda. Cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender
crumbly. Sprinkle with water and vinegar. Form into dough. Refrigerate 2 hours
or overnight. Roll on lightly floured surface. Do not overwork dough. Makes 8-10
fried pies or 1 deep dish pie pastry.
3 cups peeled and diced apples or peaches
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. flour
Alternate Dried Fruit (use 2 pkgs.) chopped
and 1-1/2 cups water, sugar, flour and spices.
Cook fruit and water until tender but not mushy. Add remaining ingredients and
cook until thick. Use heaping Tbsp. of filling for each fried pie. Fry in 1/2"
oil in iron skillet. Turn once.
Glaze if desired:
Combine 1 cup confectioner's sugar and 1/4 cup water. Brush on hot pies.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Introspective Ponderings

Trying to find myself...searching deep within...
Introspective questions arise, Should I change my direction?
Should I continue to be the person I've become through the years?
Alone, Is this a person I could be happy with...
and make another happy?
My thoughts wander to days gone by, looking for answers,
questioning my heart.
Friends, Family, Loves, Changes in my life
have brought me to this point.
I've laughed, I've cried, I've loved, I've hated...
I've won, I've lost.
I have to be myself, whether I'm accepted
in a relationship or not...
Changing or rearranging my beliefs and priorities
is not an option.
Having known love, happiness and fulfilling relationships...
I will continue to move forward, not clinging to the past...
Wallowing in self pity, disheartened with mankind is not an option.
Seeking that love, happiness and new relationships as I
travel life's pathway...
Cherishing those friends, family, loves and changes
that have brought me thus far...
Content with myself as a person, willing to share my life with others,
accepting others for who they are...
Not fearing rejection, disappointment in or by others...
Making my mere existence...once again, life lived to the fullest,
still showered with love and happiness!

Revised: 2011
Since first writing this, there have been numerous changes in my life and relationships...some good, others not so good.
The one thing that I find solace in is that these are choices, decisions that I have made.
I have learned from mistakes and traveled forward from those decisions that were right.
The individual that I am is the woman I have become...and entered into a relationship that I want to last a lifetime. It has nothing to do with others manipulating my relationships or trying to make me a part of their lives or their family, it is my choice.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 2012 Newsletter

Hi Everyone...
January has come and gone...time to move on and plan for the upcoming months. Hope your plans come together and bring you all the happiness your heart desires!
Know some have received great news regarding health issues! Continued thoughts to those for better days ahead!
Food For Thought:
Writing Together...
Each day that passes another day turns in our  lives.
Given another day to live, love and laugh together.
Each day unfolds...time to share with one another.
Sharing love, laughter, happiness and dreams together...
Taking time for us, making plans to fulfill our lives, our dreams.
You are an intricate part of make me complete.
Each day that passes is another page in the book...
The book that we will continue to write together.
Paula 2012
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
48 undrained maraschino cherries (about one 10-ounce jar)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces (not imitation)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
In a mixing bowl combine flour and cocoa; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer
on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened.
Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined.
Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheet.
Press down center of each ball with thumb.
Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice.
Place a cherry in the center of each cookie.
In a small saucepan combine the chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk;
heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie,
spreading to cover cherry.
(Frosting may be thinned with additional cherry juice, if necessary.)
Bake in 350°F oven about 10 minutes or until done. Remove to wire rack; cool.
Cover and store at room temperature up to 2 days. Makes 48 cookies.
Chocolate Red Wine Cake
Food & Wine
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream.
1 box white cake mix
1 small box strawberry gelatin
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup frozen strawberries, chopped
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix cake mix and jello; add oil, milk, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Fold in
remaining ingredients. Grease and flour 3 (9 in) cake pans. Bake at 350 for
20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
1 stick butter
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup drained strawberries
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut
Cream butter and sugar; add other ingredients. Frost between layers, sides and
top. Can be garnished with additional coconut and pecans.
Panna Cotta with Balsamic Glazed Strawberries
Ina Garten
1/2 packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 pints (4 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of the cream, the yogurt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds. Heat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and pepper 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Set aside at room temperature.

To serve, run a small knife around each dessert in the ramkein and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate and surround the panna cotta with strawberries. Dust lightly with freshly grated lemon zest and serve.