Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peach Smoothie

Today was sunny and warm with a breeze -- can life get any
better than this?  I made this and then took it out on my deck to bask in the sun
like a cat. Oh, how I have longed for the sun.
The smoothie tasted so fresh, delicious, and healthy.

As I am enjoying the sun, I am mindful of the terrible storms
that have wreaked havoc on the lives of those in the South.
May we keep them in our prayers.

Recipe for Peach Smoothie

3 cups frozen, slightly thawed, peach slices
1-1/2 cup peach nectar -- I used Jumex found at Wal-Mart
1 cup vanilla yogurt

Put in blender and swirl until completely mixed together.  Serve right away.  Serves about 4. 
Fresh peaches would also be good, but they are not to be found in my area right now.

I am playing along with Michael Lee West's
Foodie Friday today.  Her main character Teeny, in the book Gone
With a Handsomer Man, is from the south.  Today we
have been asked to make something for Foodie Friday
that would fit along with her new book; I haven't
read the book, so there is no review, just a fresh
and tasty Peach Smothie that any Southern gal
would like.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloom Tablescape

I love the word BLOOM and all it encompasses.  Whatever, our lot or
circumstances in life, we must, for our own sakes, BLOOM!  In each stage of our life, we must show our colors and burst out into vibrancy.

I found these Better Homes and Gardens plates at Wal-Mart for a quarter; I bought ten :).

The rattan chargers were found at Wal-Mart for fifty cents.

Just BLOOM!  One of my daughters had been working for two years to make a team.  She recently tried out, with never a thought that she wouldn't make it, and didn't make the team. After the tears and disappointment, she too must bloom.  Not in the direction she had dreamed of for two years, but in a different direction.  And who knows, maybe a much better direction.....BLOOM!

I love the POP that the coral napkin rings bring to the table.  I found them at K-Mart on clearance last summer.

My sister Jean is blooming.  In February she lost her 17 year-old son Kevin. 
In her grief, she began to write beautiful poetry about his life and the blessing
that he was to their family.  She had never written poetry before. 
  Encouraged, she has also begun to write a series of children's stories, stories
that she used to tell her children when they were young.  Tucked away in her
memory for such a time as this.


Some may ask, why blog?  Well, blogging has helped me BLOOM a little.  It has helped
me bring out my creative side that got a bit sidetracked.  BLOOM!  My son delights
in telling people that a year ago, before blogging, I didn't even know how to "cut and
paste" on the computer.  BLOOM!

Have you read the book The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin?   It is a lovely book about
four very different women who rent a castle at San Salvatore on the shores in Italy.

The first time with the umbrella up this season.

If you haven't read the book, I would urge you to do so.  One of the ladies, Mrs. Fisher, is an
elderly lady.  While there at San Salvatore she begins to BLOOM.

"She knew the feeling because she has sometimes had it
in childhood in especially swift springs, when the
lilacs and syringas seemed to rush out into blossom
in a single night, but it was strange to have it again after over
fifty years.  She would have liked to remark on the
sensation to some one, but she was ashamed.  It was such an
absurd sensation at her age.  Yet oftener and oftener, and
every day more and more, did Mrs. Fisher have a ridiculous
feeling as if she were presently going to burgeon....Dignity
demanded that she should have nothing to do with
fresh leaves at her age; and yet there it was-- the feeling that
presently, that any moment now, she might crop
out all green."

In the magic of San Salvatore all will be seduced to change and BLOOM!

Thank you for coming to my bloomin' table!

Posted with Tablescape Thursday.  Also posted with Alphabe-Thursday where the letter
of the week is B for Bloom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter !

The first flower in my garden.

"He is risen!  He is risen!  Tell it out with joyful voice.  He has burst his three days' prison; let the whole wide earth rejoice.  Death is conquered, man is free Christ has won the victory."

First Verse:  He is Risen! text by Cecil Frances Alexander, Music by Joachim Neander

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lemon Brownie Bites

I hope some Spring weather has cropped up your way.  My husband
thinks that Spring got its name because the weather keeps
springing back and forth between warm and cold.

Last week at Foodie Friday I came upon this recipe for Lemon
Brownies at Mountain Breaths where the hostess Debbie sets a fine table.  I would love to go "cupboard shopping at her home."

Lemon Brownies
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; room temperature
4 eggs
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Additional lemon zest for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees/  Line the bottom only of a 9X13X2-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with Pam. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt; add butter. Stir together eggs, juice from 1/2 lemon and zest from 1 lemon; stir into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set, use a toothpick to check. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

This makes a very soft brownie.
Glaze:  If making brownies, only use 1 cup of powdered sugar.  When brownies are cool prepare glaze by stirring together powdered sugar and 2 tablespoon lemon juice.  You want a stiff glaze.  If too stiff add more lemon juice.  If making brownies then drizzle over brownies and sprinkle with additional lemon zest.
If you want to make the brownie bites, roll cooled brownies into bite-sized balls.  Make sure you don't include any light brown crusty parts -- save those for your children.  You want a smooth-textured brownie bite.  Then add 2-3 teaspoons of glaze to each brownie bite and work with hands to incorporate and re-roll back into ball.  Pipe glaze on each ball and while glaze is wet add lemon zest.  If desired, using a
sieve, sprinkle powdered sugar on the bites.
I hope you like them.  We thought that tasted like lemon truffles.  Thanks Debbie for the recipe!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coffee Filter Wreath -- Late to the Game

It seems as if everyone has made a coffee filter wreath, but me.  What a great looking wreat for under $3.00. I was inspired by one that I saw on the blog Little Brown House.  This comes together so easily and only takes about an hour to make. 

All you need are white or brown, as I used, coffee filters, glue sticks, and a wreath form.  I used about 175
coffee filters.  I bought the wreath at the Dollar Store.  Just pinch together the center of the coffee filter, as shown in the picture below and then add glue to the wreath form. 

It is so full and fluffy that it reminds me of hydrangeas. 

Thanks for stopping by Red Couch Recipes.

Linked with the following parties:  Motivate Me Monday, Take-A-Look Tuesday, Tickled Pink, Weekend Wrapup

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nedra's Gnocchi --- Tutorial

You are going to love my mother Nedra for this recipe.  My mother passed away over 21 years ago, but she still lives on in many ways, including her recipes.  She found the gnocchi recipe years ago and it is a favorite with our family!  To me, Gnocchi, are perfect potato pillows!  They are melt-in-your-mouth heaven.  Did I tell you?  This is a cheater version; you make it with a mashed potato mix I know, I know, I never make instant mashed potatoes, except when I make gnocchi.  I even lived in Idaho for awhile so I know a teeny, tiny bit about potatoes.  Trust me on this one, you won't know the difference between dried and fresh potatoes,   I would sing for these gnocchi; I really would.

It took me 70 minutes to make this Gnocchi recipe, including time to take photos of the process.  I tell you this because it would take you longer to drive to a restaurant and order it.  You also wouldn't get the satisfaction of hearing your husband say, "These are better than in the restaurant...."  It is also very economical to make; it could be considered "peasant food."

Recipe for Nedra's Gnocchi -- There are photos of the process below.
Prepare mashed potatoes for 12 servings using half of the water and milk as directed on the package.  My package ( I just used the Wal-Mart Mashed Potatoes) had me add milk, water, butter, salt, and the potatoes. Make sure that you do boil the water and that you add the dried potatoes before you add the rest of the ingredients.  You need hot liquid so that the potatoes reconstitute.
  1. Stir in about 1-1/2 cups flour, 1-2 teaspoons of salt and 3 eggs.  You need to be careful on the salt.  If you added some to your potato mix, taste the potatoes, before you add the eggs, and adjust the salt as indicated in step 1 accordingly.
  2. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough, with your hands, into ropes about 3/4 inches thick and about 8 to 10 inches long.   The dough should be smooth and soft, not mealy.  Just work with the dough a bit.  You may need to add a little bit of flour.
  3. Cut into 3/4-inch lengths.
  4. Use a fork to make the indentations on each gnocchi.  This will flatten the pasta a bit, so plump it back up with your fingers.  You want the dough to have the indentations to trap more sauce.  There is a tool for this that I don't have.
  5. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.  Add 1 tablespoon salt.  Place the gnocchi in the boiling water.  The gnocchi are cooked when they rise to the top.  This happens quite quickly and not all will rise to the top at one time.  Remove gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.  Serve with desired sauce.
  6. We like gnocchi best with a bit of browned butter, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs.  I used some German Thyme that wintered over.

Gnocchi Dough

Rolled and Ready to Cut

Cut into 3/4-inch Slices

After the Fork Markings Have Been Made

Lovely Gnocchi Waiting to Be Cooked

A platter of Perfect Potato Pillows

Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Green Tablescape

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes and Tablescape Thursday.  I am also posting this to Jam Hand's new blog party Hump Day Hoorah.

In Spring, the lovely color green surprises and delights us after the dull colors of fall and winter.

I love this shade of green; I think I have three shirts of this color. The little feetie egg cups were found at a local grocery store years ago; I have five different feetie cups.

After a long hard winter, green is so soothing.  My Aunt Ionia used to take us to the restaurant Spring Green, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright near Spring Green, Wisconsin.  The two words, spring and green, fit so well together.  The restaurant is no longer in business, but the building is the Frank Lloyd Wright Center. 

I made the green yarn balls for my "Grinch Tablescape" last December.  I love the green pop they add to the table.

Here's a photograph of my stack!  My engineer husband, orderly and efficient, is not fond of dish stacks; in his mind just more dishes to wash.   However, my sister Jacqueline, Purple Chocolat Home, loves dish stacks and so graciously gave me the white chargers and white salad plates a few months ago. 
This is their debut; white dishes are very dreamy.  Thanks Jacqueline!  I know I will use them often!

Here's a side view.

My centerpiece is a topiary flanked by faux chocolate bunnies.  "Hey little fella, stop nibbling on the topiary!"

We used to make these yarn balls when I was a child.   All you need is yarn, paper mache paste, and a balloon.  Blow up balloons in varying sizes.  For the paper mache paste, add 3 parts water to 2 parts flour in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, making sure to get out any lumps.  Cool and then drag the yarn through the paste and apply to balloon.  If you want to add some glitz, sprinkle with glue, before drying and shake off excess glue.  My home was shining around Christmas when I made these; there was glitter all over!  Let dry from 24 to 48 hours.  When dry, pop the balloon and pull through yarn holes. 

Here's my bubble glass view.

Thanks for stopping by my Spring Green Table!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Easter Jelly Bean Topiary

Hi!  Like many of you every once in awhile I just have
a wonderful, terrible urge to craft that must be satisfied.
Mainly I like to do kitchen crafts but when holidays roll around
I also like to do candy crafts.

This styrofoam ball has been loaded with candy corn at Easter
and gum drops at Christmas.  Now I have added jelly beans for Easter.

I found the pots at Wal-Mart on clearance this past November.  I painted them a wicker white and then distressed them.  I glued the jelly beans on with hot glue and then inserted a painted dowel in the styrofoam ball and into the urn (there was already foam in it).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jell-O Easter Egg Cookies

Although it may be storming
outside,  it is Spring in my Kitchen.

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes.

Yesterday, a horrible thing happened...I only had two mini-bags of cookies
and three lunches to put together!  My youngest daughter didn't get cookies
 in her lunch -- and she let me know about it!
This morning, being the wonderful and great mother that
I always am  -- :) I woke up early and played in the kitchen
making Jell-O Easter eggs. 
Today, I made sure that her lunch was packed with cookies. 
Let's face it, cookies can always brighten our day!

This is the pan I used.  I have owned it for many moons. 
It is stamped Wilton 1993.  If you don't have an egg pan, you can still play and
make normal cookies.

I am linking up with Beverly at Pink Saturday.  The strawberry Jell-O eggs are more pink than red.
I used lemon, lime,
and strawberry Jell-O to make my Easter egg cookies.  I am sure your
children and grands would like to make some. 
You can make them single colored.

Recipe for Jell-O Cookies

3/4 cup butter or shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 (3 ounce) package of Jell-o
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients.  If dough seems a bit dry add the tiniest amount of water.  Spray egg mold impressions with Pam that contains flour or Baker's Joy.  Press ball of dough in egg mold and press dough firmly to fit the egg mold.   Bake in 350 degree oven for about 6 to 8 minutes.  If you don't have an egg mold, you can make normal cookies.  Allow the cookies to bake longer from 8 to 10 minutes.  If desired, drizzle with powdered sugar icing.  Just add a very small amount of water to powdered sugar to make the icing.

You can make them multi-colored.. 
 I used lemon, lime and strawberry flavored Jell-O's.   
For two flavors, just combine two colored balls of dough;
for three flavors, just combine three colored balls of dough.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chocolate Bunnies in Spring

Welcome to my Chocolate Bunnies in Spring Tablescape and to Tablescape Thursday!

My chocolate bunnies welcome you to my first tablescape outdoors after a long winter for my poor bunnies and me!

I was so excited to set an outdoor table and remembered I had these bright placemats.  I think they were a quarter a piece on clearance.  Kathleen, do you approve?  I love going to Kathleen's site, Cuisine Kathleen, to discover all the bargains she finds.  It's like vicarious shopping -- much easier on the pocketbook...

It really is still a bit too chilly to dine outside, but the sun is shining and so beautiful.  These happy little guys and gals are soaking up the sun!  Faux chocolate bunnies are able to soak up the sun and remain intact.

The polk dot footed bowls were also a great buy I scooped up at Tai Pan Trading last year.

Here is a glass view.

I love this shot of my bunnies in silhouette.  Break out YOUR bunnies to herald in SPRING!

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Posted with the following:  Show and Tell

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maple Iced Cinnamon Rolls Tutorial

Hi and Welcome to my Red Couch!

Over the weekend our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, held it's Semi-Annual General Conference.  On this weekend we don't attend church and we watch the televised conference messages.  It's a weekend full of wonderful, positive, faith-filled talks that encourage us to take action to be better people.

 I usually try to make something special on General Conference weekends, and over the weekend I made Maple Iced Cinnamon Rolls.  I have been making this recipe for years.  Make sure you have enough people to eat these because they taste the best fresh from the oven!  Although not difficult to make, these take a little under three hours to make, but they are worth every minute of time.  You can also use quick-rise yeast to speed up the process; I didn't.  I have included some pictures of the cinnamon roll process.  Hope you enjoy.

Many moons ago as a parting gift to the staff where I had interned for the summer I made cinnamon rolls.  Their comment was, "We didn't know you could bake!"  They implied that I should have been baking and bringing cinnamon rolls in to the office throughout the summer.

Maple Iced Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Adapted from a Betty Crocker Recipe

The Sweet Roll Dough
1  package regular active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough easy to handle.  Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes or put in Bosch or Kitchen Aid mixer and mix for about 5 minutes on low.  Place dough in greased large bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.  Don't short the rising time!  Punch down dough.  This makes your basic sweet roll dough.

Cinnamon Roll Stuffing Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

On lightly floured surface, flatten dough with rolling pin into 15 x 9-inch rectangle. 

Spread dough with softened butter. 

Mix sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over dough.  Sugar and cinnamon spice make the cinnamon rolls so nice!

Roll dough up tightly beginning with the 15 inch side. 

Continue to roll dough.  Stretch and work roll to make it even.

Cut dough into 1-1/2 inch rounds making 12 to 16 cinnamon rolls.    I use a serrated bread knife to do the cutting -- it seems to work best.  In a pinch, I have also used floss!

Don't you just love the look?

Place closely on buttered baking sheet.  You can also place them separately, for individual rolls.

Let rise until doubled.  Look how nice and fat they are!  This only takes about 40 minutes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven, on a middle rack, for about 25 to 30 minutes. 

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon maple flavoring or flavoring of your choice.

While fresh from the oven, drizzle rolls with maple glaze.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and as always thanks for stopping by Red Couch Recipes!