Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine Candy Skewer Bouquet

I love candy.  I love it soooo much that I wish I would have won the Golden Ticket to visit Mr. Wonka's factory.  I love to decorate with it more than I like to eat it.  I especially like decorating with it for holidays.  My family just doesn't get it that candy is for decorationg not eating!  Candy is bright and fresh and FUN!

This is a view from the top.  The bouquet is part of a centerpiece on my dining room table.  I wonder how long it will last?

I shopped for candy at the Dollar Store and and at another grocery store for some fun Valentine Candy.  Note:  There are very few tricks to making candy skewers.  Just make sure you use the thinnest skewers possible and add the candy with the pointy end.  Most foil wrapped chocolates are too hard to use.  Gummy and jell- type candies and marshmallows don't mix.  Once you have put on a gumdrop, the marshmallows won't slide down. 

Have some fun with those you love making some Valentine Candy Skewers!

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Friday, January 28, 2011

I've Been Published Two Ways -- Blog2Print and Simple and Delicious Magazine!

I won Cathy's, hostess of the enticing blog Wives With Knives, giveaway back in the fall for a $40 gift certificate for a Blog2 Print book.  Cathy hails from Portland and is a creative cook; her most recent posts are Cheese Souffle and German Chocolate Macarons; I admire those with the patience to master macarons. 

After a lot of thought, I decided to print up Zoulah's Halloween posts; she really was quite a busy gal and did twenty-nine Halloween posts.  You can choose a hard-cover or soft-cover; I chose a glossy hard-cover with Zoulah's picture on the front and a mosaic of her work on the back.   There are many cover colors to choose from.  You can print a soft-cover book for as low as $14.95. 

I also chose the option of having my text resemble more of what my blog looks like; there is also a less expensive option of compressing the text. 

Next Halloween, when I am in the kitchen, I will not have to be running to the computer to look up Zoulah's recipes.  Thank you Cathy and thank you Blog2Print.  The process was very easy and it is very fun to have a book of my, well, Zoulah's work!  Zoulah's head is getting quite large about this.

Back in May, my 16-year-old son Skyler asked pestered me relentlessly to enter a recipe in one of the "Taste of Home" contests.  After much prodding, I entered two of my recipes for the Citrus Contest.  One day last summer someone from "Taste of Home" called and asked for clarification on my recipe instructions.  At the time, my family and I laughed and said, "well, one way to lose a contest is to not have clear instructions!"  The other day I received a copy of the magazine February/March 2011 "Simple and Delicious" and was notified that my recipe for Key Lime Bites was a runner-up, amongseven others, in the Citrus Contest!  It's just a simple little recipe.

Their photography of my Key Lime Bites is so soft and beautiful.  You can click HERE for my recipe.  They made my cookies look sooo good; I have a few things to learn about presentation and photography.   My son Skyler says that I think that I am "all that and a bag of chips" -- mostly I was just suprised.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crazy-Good Lemon Chicken

You know a recipe has to be good if you have been making it for over the past 25 years!  My family keeps asking for it and I usually try to appease them and make it once a year.  No, this Lemon Chicken doesn't whip up in minutes, because there is deep frying involved, but it is worth the time. 

Lemon Chicken was featured on my Chinese New Year's Table yesterday.

This recipe and I go waaaaay back. 

  • My sister Jacqueline, Purple Chocolat Home, and I used to hold Chinese feasts and invite my brothers and various roommates to dinner.  We were all living, except my eldest sister Jean, in the same town then.  I learned then that Jacqueline is speedy quick in the kitchen.
  • Then there was the time that my roommates and I invited some of our guy friends to a Chinese feast at the soon-to-be retirement home of my roommate's parents.    We made Lemon Chicken and some other Chinese Dishes.  There wasn't a phone in the home yet and there were no cell phones back then.  We waited and waited for the guys to come.  After about an hour, we decided to begin eating.-- yes, we did!  By the time they showed up, there really wasn't too much of the feast left!  We did still remain friends.
  • I also made Lemon Chicken one year for a Family Feast for over 20 people during the 2002 Olympics that were held in Utah.
  • I served Lemon Chicken, and had the girls help deep fry, at my daughter's 9th Chinese birthday party.  See the dragon cake I made below.  It's a pre-blogging picture.  It's just a Bundt Cake cut in pieces.  The long dragon tail is filled with candy and tied with ribbon. 

 Recipe for Lemon Chicken

Note:  I adapted this recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook Chinese Cooking, by Leeann Chin printed in 1981.  I think the book was a gift from Jacqueline or my mother.  This recipe makes enough chicken for a feast, you may want to halve the recipe if just cooking for a small family.  To decrease preparation time, you could cook the chicken in larger pieces and then cut the chicken into smaller pieces before serving.  I never do that because we LOVE the batter.

3 pounds of chicken, cut into small pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
Serve over cooked rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking solda
1 teaspoon salt
Lemon Sauce
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup honey
9 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice -- don't use concentrate
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons catsup
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash of white pepper
Peel of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoon cold water

Lemon, thinly sliced for garnish

1.  Marinating Chicken:  Place chicken in 13 x 9x 2-inch glass baking pan.  In separate bowl, put together the ingredients for the marinade, as listed above.  Turn chicken to coat both sides.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken from marinade.

2.  Lemon Sauce:  While chicken is in the refrigerator, add the lemon sauce ingredients, as listed above, except the cornstarch and the water, until mixture is brought to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil.  At this point, in a small prep bowl,  add the cornstarch and water together and mix well.  Then add cornstarch mixture to sauce.  Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, about 10-20 seconds.  Remove from heat and remove lemon peel; you can put mixture through a fine strainer.

She isn't pretty, but my electric wok gets the job done.  I think my sister-in-law Lisa gave me this wok, but awhile back the thrift stores had tons of electric woks. 

3.  Deep Frying:  Heat vegetable oil (about 2-3 inches) in an electric Wok (or other electric deep-frying appliance) to 350 degrees.  Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, in the batter.  Before you place each piece of battered chicken in the hot oil, shake off the excess batter.  Fry 8-10 pieces at a time, until lightly brown -- about 2-3 minutes.  I usually find that the first few pieces take longer to cook; after the process gets going, the oil is heated up and the chicken cooks quicker.  Remove and drain chicken on a paper towel-lined jelly roll pan.  I frequently check the chicken for doneness, by cutting the pieces, to make sure there is no pink color.  To keep the deep-fried chicken warm, put jelly roll pan in a 200 degree oven with foil over the top. 
Happy little chicken pieces sizzling away.

4.  Arrange deep-fried chicken on a platter, pour Lemon Sauce over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices.  I usually have extra sauce and I serve it on the side.  Serve with cooked rice.

I hope you make Lemon Chicken and serve it to those you love.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chinese New Year's Table

Gung Hoy Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year's begins on February third.  Our family celebrated a little early and had a Chinese New Year's feast this week.   This year is the year of the rabbit.  The Chinese call the New Year's the Spring Festival.  The Chinese character below means Spring.

Image from ChinaPage.Com

I love making and eating Chinese food and it is fun to set a Chinese table; welcome to Tablescape Thursday.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a Chinese New Year's Parade in San Francisco once; but celebrating it at home can be fun too!

My individual placesetting.  I have drawn upon some traditional colors in Chinese culture.

This is my dish stack crowned with wooden chopsticks.  I am fairly good at using them, how about you?  I have included a fork for all of your that aren't comfortable using chopsticks.

I am not sure if a plaid napkin really fits in, but I liked it on the table.

Is this working for you as a Chinese Lantern?

I bought these brass Chinese characters many years ago in San Francisco's China Town

We feasted on lemon chicken -- it is my favorite Chinese main dish recipe.  It is a bit time-consuming to make, but worth every minute.  I have made it about once a year for about the last 25 years. 

Jacqueline, Purple Chocolat Home, and I have made this many times together as one of the menu items for a family Chinese feast.  Lemon Chicken is a family favorite.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Red Couch Recipes and that you will have a prosperous Chinese New Year!  Grab an orange.  In China towns all over the world, they will be stocking up on oranges as they are a symbol of prosperity.

Table Information:

Placemats, Black Dinner Dishes, Red Dinner Dishes, Flatware, Red Ramekins,Black Wire Basket:  Wal-Mart
White Salad Plates:  Smith's Grocery Store
Red Goblets:  Costco
Red Plaid Napkins:  K-Mart
Napkin Rings:  Style Sisters
Lantern:  Pier 1
Brass Chinese Characters:  SF Chinatown

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Panini Navajo Tacos

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes! 
The letter of the week for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday is P for Panini Navajo Tacos.  This is a favorite meal with the Red Couch Children.  They like to grill and make their own Navajo Taco; they like chili right out of the can for this meal.  You can deep fry it, but we find that using our Panini Maker to make the "fry bread" is much easier and hopefully more healthy.

Recipe for Fry Bread

2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and milk.  Mix well.  Separate dough into balls, about 7 balls.  On floured surface, roll dough into circles with rolling pin.  Just add a little vegetable oil or olive oil to your Panini Maker.  When you grill the "fry bread," make sure you don't close the lid.  Closing the lid will smash the bread too much.  When one side is toasty brown, just flip it over to grill the bread.  Drain on paper towels.

Here is the "fry bread" ready to be topped.  You could also use a George Foreman Grill or just an electric fry pan or large skillet on the stove.  The "fry bread" is ready to be topped.

Navajo Taco Toppings

Chili --we usually use two cans of chili (15 ounce) for our family of five
Grated Cheese -- I used feta because I had some in the fridge.
Sour Cream
Green Onions
Salsa, if desired
Guacamole or Avocado, if desired.

Thanks for relaxing on my Red Couch today!

Posted with the following:  Weekend Wrapup

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine Cupcake Tic Tac Toe

Hello and Welcome to Red Couch Recipes! 

How about playing a game of Valentine Cupcake Tic Tac Toe with your favorite sweetie?  The best part about it is that these are edible X's and O's -- Kisses and Hugs!  How about the winner gets to eat all their cupcakes -- well, maybe just the three in a row?  Looks like the lucky X's (Kisses) win this game!

Of course if you are not in the mood for Tic Tac Toe, how about
spelling out words such as LOVE, BE MINE, HUGS?

However you choose to create, these cupcakes are fun and easy to make!

All you need are your favorite cupcakes, buttercream frosting, and cinnamon candies.

Here's a recipe for Buttercream frosting, if you need one

Blend together 3/4 cup room temperature butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract, and 3-4 tablespoons water. You may need to add extra water, depending on how thick you want it.

I think you will find that this game of Tic Tac Toe really ramps up the old traditional game.

Usher in the Valentine's Season by making some cupcakes today!

I found this concept in a Martha Stewart's Children's Magazine from about 10 years ago.

Thank you for stopping by Red Couch Recipes!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Scripture Power -- Hebrews 13:5

Hi, everyone and Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

My family and I have been reading the New Testament together.  Recently, as we were reading Hebrews, we came across this scripture:

"Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said,
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." 

Hebrews 13:5, King James Version

I knew when I read Hebrews 13:5 that this scripture was for me! I had read this scripture before but I had never really taken note of it.  I was really anxious about something in our lives, but when I read this scripture I felt comforted that I should be "content" about the situation (be content with such things as ye have).  I loved that the scripture said "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  The situation has not improved, but I have found peace and contentment because of this scripture.  Indeed, scriptures can have great power in our lives.

These pictures were taken in my backyard when we used to live in Lindon, Utah.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jiffy Pop Popcorn Snowman

Why don't you sit down on my Red Couch and rest for a few minutes?

January is the perfect month to celebrate snow and snowmen!  Yesterday I got together with my Activity Day girls (church) and made these cute little guys.  Remember Jiffy Pop Popcorn when you were a kid?  I love how it pops up into a silver turban.  I received the pattern from my mother-in-law Geniel.  The girls enjoyed making them and they were super easy to make.

  My daughter and I enjoyed making the Jiffy Pop Popcorn; I haven't had it in years.

Materials and Instuctions:

1 container of Jiffy Pop Popcorn
Black Cardstock
White Cardtock
Orange Cardstock
Ribbon or Plaid Cardstock

1)  Trace a circle around the top of the Jiffy Pop Popcorn container on white cardstock; you will have to cut it a bit to fit under the black metal rim.  This is for the face of the snowman.  2) Cut out an orange nose.  Cut out five black pieces for his coal  mouth.  Cut out two larger black pieces for his coal eyes.  Glue the mouth, eyes, and nose on the snowman.  Appy blush on his cheeks.  Gently pull back the black metal cuff of the Jiffy Pop Popcorn container and insert the face of the snowman.  When the snowman face is in place, fold the black metal cuff back to its original position.  3)  Cut out two pieces of black cardstock in the following sizes:  7 x 2-1/2 inch and 3-1/2 x 4 inch.  The first one is for the brim and the second is for the hat.  Glue the hat on the brim and then glue to the snowman face.  Then glue on ribbon or patterned cardstock for a decoration on the brim.  Sit back and enjoy your creation.  

Have some fun in the snow today; it won't last forever!

Posted with the following:
Feature Yourself Friday, I'm Lovn' It, Weekend Wrapup, Skip to My Lou, Take-A-Look Tuesday

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snowmen Season Tablescape

Welcome to my Red Couch.  Sit Down and relax as you take a peak at my Snowmen Season Tablescape!  Welcome also to Tablescape Thursday.  After all the Christmas decorations are put away I bring out my snowmen for the whole month of January.  My snowmen don't want to compete with all the other decorations; they want their own month.  I gladly give it to them as it helps brighten the cold and dark January days ... and no we HAVEN'T received any snow lately!

I have to keep on stopping my snowmen from jumping into my transferware -- they feel like they would make a perfect addition.

I always like to give a bubble glass view if I am using my bubble ware.

The sun is streaming throught the windows.  Flanked by snowmen on both sides is the new candle holder my daughter Tati gave me for Christmas.

Here's a side view.

What sweet faces they have!  They are saying enjoy the snow and making snowmen as the weather won't last!

A front view.

Table Information:

Placemats:  Wal-Mart -- yes, I use them a lot!
White Dinner Plates:  Gibson
Salad Plates and Cereal Bowls:   Brook Pink by Churchill -- given to me by my daughter for my last birthday and bought at Ross.
Clear Bubble Glasses:  Tai Pan Trading
Silverware:  Wal-Mart
Napkin Rings:  Style Sisters
Napkins:  Wal-Mart
Snowmen:  Given to me by my sister Jeannie about 10 years ago 

Another shot of the sun streaming in.

Thanks for dropping by to see my Snowmen Season Tablescape!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Orange Cake

Hi and Welcome to Red Couch Recipes! 

Welcome also to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday where the letter of the week is "O" for Orange Cake.  I hope you are enjoying citrus fruit which is at its peak right now.  My husband and I are always in search of good oranges or mandarins.   When we used to live in Northern California we would visit a farmer and buy an embarassing amount of  satsumas, also known as seedless mandarins.   Made with oranges or mandarins this cake is a bright and fresh cake to make on a wintry day.  Use freshly squeezed orange juice or a good quality packaged orange juice, such as Tropicana.

I used the Nordicware Cupcake pan, but a normal Bundt pan will also work well.  This recipe is from the Silver Palate Cookbook.

Cake Recipe
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
Grated zest of two oranges
1 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Glaze Recipe
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a Nordic Ware Cupcake pan or 10-inch Bundt pan -- I always use Baker's Joy when making cakes.  Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar, beating until light.  Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, and the orange zest.  Mix the flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the batter.  Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the batter.  Pour batter into the prepared pan (s).  Bake cupcake pan for 10-12 minutes and 10-inch Bundct pan for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sides of cake shrink away from the edges of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool cupcake pan for 5 minutes and 10-inch Bundt pan for 10 minutes, unmold on a rack,and drizzle with Orange Glaze while warm.  To make Orange Glaze, combine orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan, and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a light syrup forms.  I did double the glaze recipe when I baked the cake in the cupcake pans.

Enjoy some CITRUS fruit this week!

Posted with the following:

Tasty Tuesday