Thursday, June 30, 2011

Patriotic Piggies

Wishing you a great 4th of July from Red Couch Recipes.

Talley's cute little piggies!

My daughter and six of the girls her age came to my home for Activity Days (LDS Church program for girls 8-11 years) and we talked about being a good citizen and the reason we celebrate 4th of July.  I painted all of their toes in patriotic colors and applied the little flower stickers and sealed them with clear fingernail polish.  As you can see from the top picture, I got in the mood for the 4th of July and painted my piggies too.

From my Piggies to yours, have a great 4th!

Posted with the following:  I'm Lov'n It

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Liberty Blue for the 4th of July

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes and my Liberty Blues Tablescape for the 4th of July!

The Liberty Blue line was produced for the United States' Bicentennial in 1976.  They were an incentive for  customers of the Ben Franklin Savings and Loan and later were used as promotion items at grocery stores.  If I would have been older then, I would have been all over these.  As a young girl, I conned asked my mother to buy me a series of history books.  Later in college I wanted to become a history major, but felt that I couldn't get a job and took a different direction; I did get a history minor.  The dinner plates feature Independence Hall and other pieces feature historical people or scenes such as Monticello or Betsy Ross.  I love the border of the plate.  I first saw this pattern on Beth's, Beyond the Garden Gate blog and fell in love with it.  Thanks Beth for the tip; it is readily available on Ebay.

I tucked a Bachelor Button inside each napkin ring.  Last year my dear husband sprinkled wildflower seeds all over in the bare spaces of our backyard -- these Bachelor Buttons came back this year-- love them.  I bought the blue "daisy" bowl years ago.  It is very impractical as it cannot hold much -- it works to add color to the table.

I really, planned to do a table without red this week, but what would the 4th of July be without flags?

Here's the placesetting.

I hope you have a great 4th of July and take a bit of time to remember our founding fathers who bravely took the step to declare our Independence 235 years ago.

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Posted with the following:  Tablescape Thursday

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Fiendish Plot Involving Muddy Buddies

In hindsight I should have recognized this as a fiendish plot to derail our summer day, but as they say hindsight is 20/20.  The other day, Tati, my older daughter was craving Muddy Buddies.  Hey, aren't Muddy Buddies for Christmas?  I agreed we could make them, not realizing her motivation behind the plot.  Of course we didn't have the ingredients on hand and had to go to the grocery store.  Then, we came home to make the Muddy Buddies -- that was the end of productivity for the day.  Chores that weren't done, didn't get done.  I should have followed the famous maxim "Work Before Play."  That's how my summer days are sometimes.  How about yours?

Tati Sneaking Some Buddies

Recipe for Muddy Buddies -- From the Chex Website

9 cups Corn, Wheat, or Rice Chex or a Combination -- we used corn
1 cup milk chocolate chips (We are politically incorrect -- we don't like semi-sweet chocolate chips ;).
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

2.   In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.

3.  Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

We quickly bagged up some to give away.  Do you know that some people have never eaten Muddy Buddies?  We are talking about you Danielle -- we were glad to introduce them to you.

Thanks for dropping by (drooping too if you are tired) my Red Couch where you are always welcome to come and sit a spell.

Posted with the following:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Patriotic Popcorn Bars

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

Looking for a 4th of July treat that you can whip up in minutes and is sure to please your kids?  These popcorn balls fit the bill.  They are over-sized, fun and tasty.  If you have been around my blog at all, you know that I like to create with Jell-O; these popped into my mind the other day.

To make these giant-sized bars, you make the Jell-O popcorn recipe three times with three different flavors of of Jell-O.  I used cherry, berry blue, and lemon Jell-O.  I also used a dab of food coloring in the cherry and berry blue batches; this is optional.

Jell-O Popcorn Recipe
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small package Jell-O ( 3 ounce size)
Popcorn -- I used my air pop popcorn maker -- it makes 12-13 cups of popcorn.
Pop popcorn and place in large bowl.  Place syrup, sugar, and Jell-O in small sauce pan.  Stir well then bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1 minute.  Do not over boil as the mixture can turn hard. Pour over popcorn and mix well until the popcorn is covered with they syrup mixture.  Butter your hands and put popcorn in large baking pan and press firmly and tap popcorn down into pan.

Layer the popcorn flavors in a large pan.  My 13x 9 x2 was too small so I put them in a roaster pan.  Make sure you butter the pan.

Turn pan out on parchment or waxed paper.

Cut into large blocks.  I used both a serrated knife and an electric knife -- this was the only semi-difficult thing to do as the bars are very thick.

I thank you for dropping by Red Couch Recipes and I hope you make these for someone you love.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Country's Flag Tablescape

Welcome to my Flag Day Tablescape!  I love our flag and the colors of red, white, and blue. 

"My flag, My flag My country's flag,
I love to see you wave." 

The salad plates are by Warren Kimball, the "Spirit of the Flag" dishes sold many years ago at Target; there are four different plates.

My in-laws are very patriotic people.  This Flag Day my father-in-law lamented about the lack of flags out on flag day.   Of course, they had a flag posted in their lawn on Flag Day.

"My flag, my flag, my country's flag,
The banner of the brave."

The dinner plate is brown reactive ware.  I picked up eight dinner plates at Tai Pan Trading on clearance for ninety-seven cents each.  Each piece is individual and unique and they have such a pretty finish.

Here's the place setting.  We use these red "hobnail bowls"  all the time.  They are ovenproof and are great as over-sized ramekins for individual casseroles.  I picked them up at Michael's on clearance earlier this year for fifty cents.

"Wave on, wave on forever,
The banner of the free."

My "bubbly" glass view with patriotic straws from the Dollar Store.

Bandannas -- perfect for patriotic tables.  My red pots with geraniums and lemon thyme light up my deck table.

I've placed flags in the vent holes of the red lantern which make it look so festive.

"Wave on, wave on forever,
The flag of liberty." -- LDS Children's Songbook

Thanks for dropping by my "Our Country's Flag Tablescape at Red Couch Recipes

Posted with the following parties:  Tablescape Thursday, Summer Blog Party, Wow Us Wednesdays

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fireworks Cookies

Get ready for the 4th of July with these "Fireworks Cookies" -- they will add some pop, crack , and sizzle to your celebration.  When I spied the cover, of the current Martha Stewart issue, I knew I would be making a version of the featured cookies. So light up the 4th with these colorful cookies.

They are surprising simple, and forgiving to make.  Just whip up a batch of these "No-Fail" Sugar cookies and some Royal Icing.

No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

Roll to desired thick and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or just until beginning to turn brown around the edges. I like to roll them at least 1/4 to 1/3 inch-thick; they just taste so good thick. Also be sure to check them at 8 minutes with the first pan. Most likely, especially if they are thick and large cookies, you will need time, but just to be sure, check them early.

Royal Icing Recipe

Makes about six cups of icing

7-1/2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
6 tablespoons meringue powder
12 tablespoons warm water

Beat in a stand mixer for about 4-5 minutes until smooth. You may have to add a slight bit of water, if it is too thick for you to outline the borders of your cookies. If the icing is too thin, then add more powdered sugar. When adding water, do so carefully. You can use a decorator tip or bottle to make the outline. Outline your cookies and allow them to dry for at least one hour. For flow consistency, filling in your cookies within the outline, you will need to add additional water. Fill in with the help of the back of a spoon; back up the icing to the border. When all the feathered, firecracker or psychedelic details are added, let dry overnight.
Pipe an outline of the cookie -- this is a stiff version of the Royal Icing.  Flood the cookie with the back of a spoon and back it up to the outline -- see details above. While the flooded cookie is still wet, you can pipe the elements described below.  It is best to work with one cookie at a time.

Firecracker or Pinwheel Effect -- Bottom Left and Right Cookies

Flood cookie with white Royal Icing.  For the "firecracker" look, pipe concentric circles in your choice of colors.  The circles don't have to be perfect -- mine weren't :). 

With a toothpick, drag lines from the center circle to the outward circle. 

Psychedelic Cookies

Flood cookie with white Royal Icing. Pipe colors randomly on cookie. Drag toothpick in swirling motions.

Feathered Cookies -- Top Right


Flood cookies with white Royal Icing.  For the feather cookie, pipe lines across the cookie, then drag, with a toothpick, the piped lines from top to bottom.

All the Cookies

I have included a "hand-drawn" guide below for the firecracker or pinwheel cookies and the feathered cookies.

Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Bars

Hi and Welcome to Red Couch Recipes! 

I have been crafting a bit with Rice Krispies today.  I saw these fun Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Bars on the Rice Krispie website and I wanted to make them.  They were fast and fun to make.  Who doesn't like Rice Krispies, right?

I just made a batch of Rice Krispies -- I have listed the recipe below for your convenience, but do you really need it?

1/4 cup butter
1 (10.5 ounce) bag of marshmallows
7 cups of Rice Krispies

Meausre out Rice Krispies and put in large mixing bowl.  Melt butter in large sauce pan, then add marshmallows until melted.  Pour marshallow mixture into Rice Krispies and mix well.  Spread into 20x 13-inch baking pan and cool slightly.

Note:  I used a little less Rice Krispies than normal because I wanted a moister Rice Krispie mixture that would be easier to mold with.   The recipe made about 7-8 ice cream bars. 

I cut out a cardboard ice cream bar form and then used a knife to "cut it out."  After I cut out the ice cream bar, I worked with it a little bit to make sure that it looked liked an ice cream bar.  I put the cut out ice cream bar on the buttered form to reshape it a little bit.  Then stick a craft stick into each ice cream bar.  The form has butter on it so it doesn't stick.

I spread melted milk choclate on the bar and then while the chocolate was moist I put sprinkles on it.   Don't cover the "ice cream" totally with chocolate, allow some ice cream at the bottom to peak through.  Wait until dry until eating!

My youngest daughter, Talley, thought that these didn't look like ice cream bars because there were sprinkles on them, but it didn't stop her from eating them.

Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch. 

Linked with the following parties:  Take-A-Look Tuesday

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Matter of Marketing

It's really just a little matter of marketing, isn't it?   Recently, someone near my home had a "junk sale."  To advertise the sale, they put the little vehicle on the busy intersection near my home with the handpainted sign advertising their "junk sale."

A few days later, the same people decided to market their sale with a new professional sign saying "Estate Sale" and an American flag.

Would you rather stop by a junk sale or an estate sale?  It's just a matter of marketing.

Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Easy and Delicious Chicken and Sausage Paella

I first became acquainted with paella in my high school Spanish class.  We played endless games of Scrabble in Spanish and memorized endless dialogues.  Does the following dialogue ring a bell with anyone?   "Esta Susanna en casa?  Si, esta con una amiga...."  

I was the fortunate winner of a copper bottom paella pan from a contest sponsored by Michael West, hostess of  Designs by Gollum.    Thank you Michael!

See the clouds and my red geraniums reflected in the copper bottom?

I love the shape of the pan.

This is MY version of paella.  Traditional paella has seafood in it; seafood and I don't get along.  Have I ever told you about the time that I was coerced to eat an oyster shooter by my colleagues at a very fine seafood restaurant?   As soon as I ate it, I ran from the table.  They could have told me that you are not supposed to chew!  Okay, I didn't think I was eating Jell-O.  I digress, so this is my version of a sausage and chicken paella; it is delicious and easy to make.

Usually paella is seasoned with saffron.  Saffron is a very expensive spice; one bottle retailed for $18 at my grocery store.  So, I cheated and used Mahatma's saffron rice. 

Sausage and Chicken Paella

1 green pepper, diced in small pieces
1 onion, diced in small pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound hot Italian sausage, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place pepper, onion, garlic, sausage, and oil in paella pan or medium-sized dutch oven.  Saute until sausage is browned and thoroughly cooked.

1 pound chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 to 2-1/4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
2 packages of Mahatma saffron rice -- you could also use arborio rice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes -- depending on your heat tolerance

Sliced green onions
Sliced green olives

Add chicken, chicken broth, tomatoes, rice, and red pepper flakes to the sausage, pepper, and onion mixture.  Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour on low heat.  Garnish with onions and olives.

Note:  If you used arborio or long grain rice, you will need to kick up your dish with some additional spices, such as cayenne pepper or saffron. 

Now you know that yellow mushy rice doesn't make for a great photo.

Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch.

Linked with the following parties:  Foodie Friday

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Patriotic Cookie Tarts

Welcome to my Red Couch!  So glad you dropped by and so glad the fresh fruit season is finally here.  I was craving some blueberries, the first of the season, and came up with making individual cookie tarts.  The fruit was fun to cookie craft with and tasted delish!

I made the sugar cookie recipe here, via Sue at Munchkin Munchies; they are my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  If you are in a pinch, you could use refrigerated dough; but these are super easy to make; they are a no chill, no fuss sugar cookie recipe.  Cut cookies out in the desired size.  Frost generously with Cream Cheese Frosting; this really is a good frosting; some recipes don't add the whipping cream and the frosting ends up tasting too cheesy.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box of softened cream cheese (8 ounces)
1 half-pint container of whipping cream, whipped into soft peaks
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond flavoring -- you could substitute fresh lemon and adjust amount

Mix gently the softened cream cheese with whipping cream, powdered sugar, and almond flavoring.  Chill frosting for about 1/2 hour.   Then frost each cookie generously and decorate with blueberries and strawberries.  I think raspberries would taste good also; they still are a bit dear right now in our area.

Note:  The Cream Cheese Frosting recipe makes quite a bit.  If you do end up having more frosting than cookies, save it to dip strawberries in.

Posted with the following parties:  Wow Us Wednesday

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nancy's Butter Marinara Sauce

Woo-Hoo out there!  Have you been diligently attacking your summer reading list?  I just finished a very delightful book, Backstage with Julia, I would like to share with you.  The book was written by Nancy Verde Barr, who worked with Julia Child for her TV shows, cookbooks, and articles.  Julia maxim was that "cooking together is such fun" and Nancy was with Julia for 18 years sharing in the fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look into the life of Julia who loved food and had a such an enormous zest for life.  Julia gained fame with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and was one of America's favorite cooks.  In intimate details, Nancy tells us about her work with Julia, who she adored.  Nancy relates  Julia's support of her staff; she helped them make contacts in the food world and encouraged Nancy to write articles for food magazines and to write her own book.  As related by Nancy, a meal with Julia in one of her homes would have the guests helping to prepare the simple meal -- because "cooking together is such fun."

(Source:  Photobucket)

Julia was not enamoured with Italian cooking.  She pronounced the word pasta as (in past).  She did say that she liked Nancy's version of Marinara sauce.  Nancy's traditional quick Neapolitan tomato sauce began with olive oil, but when making it for Julia Child, she used butter -- what a surprise :).

 Nancy's Butter Marinara Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion minced -- I used a  Vidalia onion
One 28-ounce can Italian peeled plum tomatoes, lightly drained
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1 pound pasta, freshly cooked
1 pound cooked Italian sausage -- I added sausage for my meat loving family.
Parmesan cheese

1.  Melt the butter and oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium low heat; being careful not to let the butter color.  Stir in the onion, season with salt; and cook gently until it has cooked, being very careful not to let the onion brown or it will become bitter. 

2.  Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and break them into small pieces with your hands; then add them to the pan when the onions are softened.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the basil and a bit more salt.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add Italian sausage.  Sever over 1 pound of cooked pasta.

My daughters who are not fans of purchased pasta sauce, liked this.  Nancy says this serves two; with the addition of sausage and more pasta, this recipe served our family of five.

Julia had boundless energy and bristled when the "T" word (tired) was used.  Even though many times, their work would end as late as nine, Julia always would insist on a proper meal, which would mean preparing some kind of meat, chicken, or fish and vegetables. 

I loved reading about Nancy Verde Barr's adventures with Julia, recipes you won't find, only two, but plenty of interesting stories.  Published in 2007, you can find this book at your local library; I have also included a link to Amazon.

Enjoy your summer reading!

Linked with the following parties:  Wow Us Wednesdays