Friday, February 26, 2010

Dish Delight: Square White Plates




I love dishes.  Compared to some people, I have a lot; compared to other people, I don't have a lot.  I don't really have a lot of expensive dishes;  I just love dishes!  So here's the story on how I acquired ten white square dishes.

Dish lovers and decorators in Utah love the store Tai Pan Trading.  There are about four locations in Utah and one in Southern California.  In one of my sister Jeannie's visits to Utah she bought ten square white plates.  She also bought some sunny yellow plates.  Obviously she is a dish lover too!  Her intention was to take them on the airplane with her on her return flight to Texas.  When the skycap weighed in her "dish luggage," he informed her she would have to pay one hundred dollars for her luggage!  Somehow, she fit the sunny yellow plates in her other luggage.  Since the white plates only cost two or three dollars per plate, she decided to leave the white plates behind.  As I had taken her to the airport, I became the proud owner of ten square plates!  I love them!  I think they pair up well with food.  They are also great used as minimalist chargers or used with Asian food.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Delicious Chicken in Potato Baskets


MY TABLESCAPING POST IS RIGHT BELOW THIS FOOD POST; I DID NOT USE A PERMALINK FOR IT...OOPS!!

I am posting this recipe to Foodie Friday.  You can link to Foodie Friday here:http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/


If you came to my home on a weeknight, you might be served potato baskets, or potato pots as my children call them.  I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine.  I would like to give the author credit, but the name was not on my copy of the recipe.  This recipe could be easily adapted for vegetarians.  You will need six (10 ounce) Pyrex custard cups or some other comparable baking dishes.  I LOVE serving individualized portions for dinner!!!  It's just so cute!

These are the two main ingredients: one package of hash browns (1 pound, 10 ounce) and two (12.5 ounce) cans of chicken.

RECIPE:

Potato Basket:
1 package (1 pound, 10 ounce) package of frozen hashbrowns, thawed
6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a bowl, combine the potatoes, butter or oil, and salt and pepper.  Press into six greased (10 ounce) custard cups; set aside.

The "basket" waiting to be filled.


Filling:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups milk
2 cans (12.5 ounce) chunk chicken
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I added this)

In a saucepan, saute onion in butter or oil.  Add the flour, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and basil.  Stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.  Add chicken.  Spoon mixture into prepared crusts and put an equal amount of the parmesan cheese on each of the custard cups (1 large tablespoon or so).  Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Makes six servings.  The recipe also called for 1 cup frozen peas, but I never add these.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My First Tablescape--Thrifty St. Patrick's Day Tablescape!

This is my version of a green...as in dollar friendly, St. Patrick's Day Tablescape!

 My 13 year old daughter Tati has a different take for a St. Patrick's Day Tablescape...she set a more formal tablescape using some of the same items.  We had a lot of fun setting up our different tablescapes using some of the same items.  You can find her tablescape at this link:http://polkadotpantrysweets.blogspot.com/2010/02/st-patricks-day-table-setting.html.

We are linking up at Tablescape Thursday!  Come see many more tablescapes on display.  The link for this is:http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/.


 I am kind of undecided on the napkins.  There is actually green on it, but it doesn't show up well in the photos.  At home, I thought the red napkin was a nice contrast to the green...I am not so sure now.


These glasses were a happy find at the Dollar Store!  I just love the stem!


The bowls were found at the Dollar Store.  The placemats were from Wal-Mart bought for, I think, fifty cents in a post-season sale last year.


The plates were bought for fifty cents at the Dollar Store.  They were on clearance!  The silverware is from Wal-Mart.  The napkins were a gift from my sister-in-law Camille.

The plates, bowls, and stemware are all still available at my Dollar Store.  Maybe they are still available at your Dollar Store! 
Happy Tablescaping!

Addictive Fresh Tasting Canned Tomato Salsa

We love this salsa and I love, love, love cilantro!  This salsa has a ton of cilantro!   I love the convenience of being able to have fresh salsa anytime I want...and not having to wait until the summer when good tasting tomatoes are available.  The cilantro and vinegar make this salsa unique.  I received a version of this salsa recipe from the wife of one of my husband's colleagues.  We went to their baby daughter's baptism.  After the baptism there was a party at their home.  We sat down at the appetizer table and when we tasted this salsa, we didn't want to leave.  My son said, "Mom, we NEED this recipe! " (Yes, we are foodies!) We made a batch of this yesterday and it is gone!

1 large can (28 ounces or so) diced tomatoes
One bunch of cilantro leaves, not the stems (or less if you desire)
1/2 small white onion (not yellow)
1/2 small fresh jalapeno pepper
3 cloves garlic
6-7 tablespoons white vinegar
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Put tomatoes, cilantro leaves, onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper in food processor.  Process for 10 seconds or so, depending on how small you want the vegetables.  Then add vinegar, salt, and pepper.   Adjust vinegar and salt to taste.

Our nephew Kurt has been in Mexico on a mission for our church for the past two years!  He comes home this week.  We are making the four hour drive to see him at his homecoming.  This recipe is a hats off to Kurt for his service.  He has loved the people and also the food!  Grandma asked him to bring home recipes!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Men Like Seeing Women in Aprons"

I LOVE MY NEW APRON!  DON'T YOU LOVE THE COLOR PINK??

I am participating for the first time in Pink Saturday.  You can link to Pink Saturday here: http://howsweetthesound.typepad.com/my_weblog/.  Come by and take a look at all the pink!Do men love seeing women in aprons?  If they do, is it chauvinistic to say so?  I love aprons!  I don't have many, but I love them.  When I am feeling serious in the kitchen, I like to wear one...it's like a uniform to me.  What do you think?  Do you like wearing an apron?
 

The quote in my blog title today is from the lovely Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  In the second novel of the series: "A Light in the Window," on page 354 Father Tim walks into the kitchen where Cynthia his girlfriend is cooking dinner. He looks at her and thinks: "Good L....d, what had she done to herself? She looked so positively breathtaking that he was stopped in his tracks. 'It's the apron,' she said, reading his mind. 'Men like seeing women in aprons.' He kissed her tenderly. 'Please!' she murmured against his cheek. "One mustn't put dessert first.'

 I read almost all of the Mitford series in January.  I especially enjoyed the first four books ( At Home in Mitford, A Light in the Window, A Common Life, The High Green Hills).  These books have been out for quite some time; but I just stumbled upon them in my local library.  If you haven't read the Mitford series, I will briefly summarize the first few.  Father Tim is a very beloved leader of his parish.  He is older and his life gets shaken up by the following events:
  • He gets diagnosed with diabetes.
  • A large dog adopts him.
  • He takes in a young 11 year old boy to raise from a tough background.
  • A very attractive female neighbor moves in as his new neighbor. 
You can find these lovely books by Jan Karon at your local library or I have included the link to Amazon for the second book in the series, "A Light in the Window," where I found the quote.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=A+ligt+in+the+window&x=16&y=27

I have included pictures of my new apron my 15 year old son bought for me for Christmas.  It is made by Flirty Aprons.  They have a kiosk in one of the malls 1-1/2 hours away from us.  They were having a sale after Thanksgiving and I also bought four for gifts.  I have included a link to their website:http://www.flirtyaprons.com/.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread Made Easy Using A Bosch Mixer

My mother used to make whole wheat bread.  I loved to get it hot from the oven and put honey and butter on it.  My children are no different than me.  They love my whole wheat bread when it comes fresh out of the oven.  They still prefer white bread, but I prefer having whole wheat bread as a staple. 

I have a grain mill and grind my wheat.  I even have wheat grown from my brother-in-law's farm!  HOW COOL IS THAT???  I believe it is hard red spring wheat.  We visited them at their Melba, Idaho home this past summer and saw their acres of wheat growing!  I even have a picture of my husband in the wheat fields, but I don't think he wants me to post a picture of him on my blog.  In May, during our visit, the fields were so green and beautiful!  Later in the season farmers stop watering the wheat, and the plant turns golden-colored.  They do this to allow the wheat to boost its protein levels.



The Mayo Clinic has a short article on the benefits of wheat bread (and whole grains) vs. white bread.  You can link to the article here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whole-grains/NU00204.  Basically,
wheat bread contains much more protein and fiber for about the same amount of calories.

I haven't always made whole wheat bread; I used to buy whole wheat bread at the store.  When we moved to a rural area in 2007, I couldn't find a decent whole wheat bread in town.  I tried making it, but it always came out heavy.  I just wasn't motivated to make it because I wasn't pleased with the product.

My husband presented me with a Bosch mixer on Mother's Day 2008 to enable me to make whole wheat bread.  The Bosch sat, and sat, and sat...I am a bit phobic about trying new things.  I am especially poor on following instructions.  My sister Jeannie, who lives in Texas, visited us in October of 2008.  She was only at our home for about 24 hours.  When she heard I had a Bosch and was letting it sit, she got it out and we made bread.  I have been making it ever since.  Thank you Jeannie!

Tips for Success in Making Whole Wheat Bread:

1.  Use Vital Wheat Gluten (or egg whites):  it helps to improve the quality and durability of the bread.  In Utah, Vital Wheat Gluten is readily available.  I don't know about the availability in other locations. 

Sorry, for the date on the gluten; I date almost everything!

2.  Use a Bosch Mixer.  I have a Bosch Universal Plus (800 watts).  I believe some Kitchen-Aid Mixers can also handle multiple loaves of whole wheat bread.  The Bosch kneads the bread dough mechanically.  I just don't have the arm strength, time or patience to knead whole wheat bread by hand.  Bosch mixers are not cheap, but they are durable and so versatile.  They cost about $400, but it is by far one of the best kitchen investments we have made.


3.  If you don't like the height of your loaves, try baking them in smaller pans or only make three loaves instead of four loaves with this recipe.  At first, I struggled with the look of my loaves.  They always tasted good, but I wanted them to look like bakery-store breads.  The dough just wasn't rising high enough in the pans for my taste.  I talked to my sister Jackie about this and she suggested baking the batch in three pans instead of four.  This did the trick for me! 

4.  Experiment and don't give up!  It took me about nine batches before I was pleased with the results.

Here is the recipe I use; it is from my sister Jackie.  Thanks Jackie! 

Whole Wheat Bread

Grind nine cups wheat.  I prefer hard red wheat when making bread: I like to use white wheat when making pancakes, waffles or muffins.  The Fresh Loaf Website has a great article on the different kinds of wheat.  You can link to it here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6985/wheat-red-vs-white-spring-vs-winter.  You can also just buy whole wheat flour at any grocery store.  Nine cups of what will make about 12-14 cups of flour.

Put the following in a Bosch Mixer:

2 Tablespoons yeast
5 cups warm water
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons gluten (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 of grinded flour

Begin mixing and adding the remaining flour.  Add flour until the dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl.  You may have a cup or so of the flour leftover...save for pancakes or waffles.  Mix bread at low speed for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

At this point, I take out the dough hook and let the dough rise in the Bosch bowl.  Cover and let rise until double.  The bread usually takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to double.  When doubled, punch down dough and divide into 3-4 parts.  Form into loaves by creating a rectangle and then rolling up tightly.  Pinch seam and tuck ends under.  Put in well greased (shortening) bread pans.  Make sure you grease the sides.  At this point, what you see is what you get.  The shape or contour of your loaf will not change that much;  it will only rise...so take care how you shape your bread.  Cover loaf pans lightly and let rise until about 1 to 1-1/2 inches above pan.   This usually takes 1 to 1/2 hours.  Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Put loaves on cooling rack and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Son is Bald!


My son and some of his friends at the high school got their hair shaved in support of and to raise funds for one of their fellow students who has lost her hair as a result of cancer treatments.  His blonde locks are all gone.  He just looks bald!  We think he looks like Lex Luthor in the Smallville series...ugh!!  Oh well at least it is not permanent and it was for a good cause! 

Spicy Asian Peanut Noodles


I got this recipe from the Picky Palate food blog.  This is the first food blog that I started to look at.   I can't find this recipe on her website anymore, but luckily I copied it off.  You can link to her website here:  http://picky-palate.com/.  She has a fun website.  This is a favorite of my family.  Some like it served hot and some like it served cold.

1 pound whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red or orange bell pepper.
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken breast
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1.  Cook noodles according to package.  Drain, rinse with cold water, place in large pasta bowl and toss with sesame oil.  Set aside.

2.  Place garlic and ginger in food processor until well chopped.  Add peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Pulse until well combined and slowly add hot water.  Set aside.

3.  Place olive oil in hot skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion and bell pepper for five minute or until softened.  Stir in chicken breast, cilantro and salt.  Stir until heated through.

4.  Add sauce and chicken mixture to noodles.  Toss to coat and garnish with peanuts and sesame seeds.

Serves 6

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Visions of Delight Cream Puffs


This is my Foodie Friday entry!  I haven't figured out how to get the tab on my website yet!

When I used to live closer to my sister Jackie, we would, on occasion, get together and bake something fabulous.  We would call them "Martha Stewart" days.  In memory of those days, my friend Jennifer and I got together to make her recipe of Cream Puffs.  They are really delicious.  I especially like her cream puff filling. Don't you just love the name of cream puff?  It screams of visions of delight!

The Puff Part:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

In a saucepan boil the first three ingredients.  Then add the flour and stir the mixture until it leaves the sides of the saucepan.  Cool the mixture and add the eggs, one at a time, all the time beating vigorously (good arm work out!).  Put on a cookie sheet in small rounds or oblongs in desired size.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until very slightly brown and cooked through.  WARNING:  Baking times vary.  Check frequently.  Take out of oven and cool.

The Cream Part:
1 package softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 box (3 ounce) of prepared French Vanilla pudding.  I prefer the cooked type.
1 cup whipping cream (whipped to consistency of whipped cream)

Add ingredients together and mix well.  Wait to fill the puffs until the chocolate frosting is ready.

The Chocolate Topping Part:
4-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla

You don't have to top the puffs with chocolate, but I prefer them with chocolate on top.  Mix powdered sugar and cocoa.  Add butter and vanilla to boiling water.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined.  Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.  Cool for 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture reaches spreading consistency.  In my experience, this is more than you need for one batch of puffs; you may want to half the recipe.

The Assembling Part:
Take puffs and cut in half (or almost cut in half leaving the backside still attached).  Fill with cream and top with chocolate topping.  Enjoy!

I Love Playlist.Com--I just Added a Playlist at the Bottom of the Page!

Hi!  I just added a Playlist at the bottom of my page--it wouldn't fit on the side.  I had so much fun adding music!  If you haven't added one yet, you should.  My playlist is an eclectic mix of all the music that I love.  Okay, so a few songs I couldn't find there, but there really are a lot of songs!  I set the settings so that mine doesn't automically start up when you enter my site...maybe you wouldn't appreciate Kermit's "Who let the frogs out...," but I do.  It is so easy to do, just go to Playlist.com.

Please Link to My Daughter's Springtime Tea Tablescape



My daughter posted this lovely Springtime Tea Tablescape at Tablescape Thursday Blog Party.  It is so lovely and she did such a good job and had such a fun time doing it.  There are a lot more pictures on her blog.  The link for her website is here:  http://polkadotpantrysweetsandmore.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fabulous Food Find--The most AMAZING MACAROONS!!!

 
If you love macaroons...you are going to LOVE these!!  I am looking for a recipe that duplicates these store bought stunners...can you help?


We live in a rural area.  There are no full-serve bakeries; only grocery store bakeries.  So imagine our delight when we stumbled upon these macaroons...they are in one word....AMAZING!  We found them in Smith's grocery store.  I wonder if Kroger carries them also?   I asked the Smith's baker about them.  She said that they get them frozen and bake them at their local store. 
They weigh about 4 ounces (or so they seem) and cost only 50 cents.  They are rich, dense, moist, and there are no apparent coconut flakes. 
I have tried several recipes over the years...but none were very good.  I have tried the sweetened condensed and coconut recipe and also one with marzipan (I adore marzipan), but they didn't turn out like these.   I have also tried the recipe that is basically like a Chinese almond cookie.

Does anyone have a recipe for a good, dense, moist macaroon?  I would love to have the recipe?  If you do, please e-mail me at the e-mail in my profile (redcouchrecipes@gmail.com). 
The pictures were taken by my daughter Tati for a tablescape she is doing for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Daughter's Sugar Cookies!


My daughter Tati made these sugar cookies the other night for a church group meeting.  I did NOT want to stop eating them; they were addictive!  I am not a huge fan of sugar cookies, but these were amazing and NOT floury tasting at all; the recipe calls for oil and butter.  They are NOT cut out sugar cookies.  She took them and rolled them into balls and then mashed them with a glass.  The recipe is from a lady named Margaret Poppe  who lived in Sacramento, CA.  This recipe was included in the recipe book that my sister-in-law Dawnell made of my mother-in-law Geniel's recipes.  You can find this recipe at my daughter's blog.  Just click HERE. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Minute Valentine's Day Idea

Hi! Happy Valentine's Day!

My daughter Tati has a blog.  She posted this cute and easy craft or gift for Valentine's Day.  She found this idea in the February Better Homes and Garden magazine.  It's fun and easy.  She is giving the votives away to her friends, dance teacher, and teachers at church.  They are filled with Hershey's kisses.  They could also be filled with a watch, bracelet, movie tickets, etc.  Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!  The link to her blog is: http://polkadotpantrysweetsandmore.blogspot.com/.






Thursday, February 11, 2010

Linzer Cookies


    

These cookies are so pretty!  The almond flour is so delicious!  I have wanted to make them for a long time but was always afraid of skinning the almonds...it wasn't so bad!  I suppose you could use almond flour.  I surprised my kids with these for Valentine's Day last year.  This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan. 

1 1/2 Cups ground almonds or hazelnuts (I used almonds).
1 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablspoons) butter
1/2 Cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

If you're starting from raw hazelnuts toast them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Then transfer them to a kitchen towel and use the towel to rub off as much of the skin as possible. Transfer the skinned hazelnuts to a bowl and shake out the towel outside so the skins don't fly everywhere.

If you're starting with raw almonds, blanch them.  Squeeze the nuts out of the skin and toast them in a 350 degree oven until they are dry and lightly golden but not browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Cool the nuts completely before grinding them. Pulse them in a food processor until they are finely ground.

Whisk the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, and salt together in a mixing bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the vanilla and almond extract. Add half of this to the butter, beat and scrape down the bowl, beat until combined then add the rest of the egg mixture. continue to beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until all the ingredients have been combined.

Divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap and chill, 2 hours in the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer (the dough can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or 2 months in the freezer).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Keep one disc of dough in the fridge and roll out the other disc. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out as many cookies as the dough can fit. Gather up the scraps with the second disc of dough and continue to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. Cut out the centers of half the cookies.

Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet and bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until the cookies are golden, dry, and firm to the touch. The cookies don't spread so they don't have to be spaced out too far apart. Cool the cookie sheets completely before baking a second batch.

Heat up some jam in the microwave or on the stove top until it it warm. spread about a half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of jam on the cookie and place a cookie with a cut out center on top. Lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

Come have a seat at my red couch and relax.  I was drawn to blogging because I helped my 13 year old daughter set up a blog.  I had fun doing it and decided that I would do my own blog.  Her blog is called Polka Dot Pantry Sweets and More and can be found at this link: http://polkadotpantrysweetsandmore.blogspot.com/.  Hop on over to her blog and see what's cooking.

I have been inspired to cook and bake by my mother Nedra, my mother-in-law Geniel, my Aunt Ionia, and my two sisters Jeannie and Jackie, and my sisters in-law.  I would like to record in recipes and photos the things that we bake and cook at our home.  So relax on my red couch and enjoy!

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