Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zoulah Wishes You a Happy Hallowen!

Zoulah wants to wish you the happiest Halloween from Red Couch Recipes!

 I am wishing for trick or treaters.  We live on acreage and most trick or treaters don't come our way.  Only four tonight. 
My sixteen year old is hosting a Harry Potter party with a friend tonight.  We made ciokies these last night for the party.  They were quite independent about this party.  They planned, invited, shopped, decorated, and cooked and baked, for the most part, on their own!  I will show you their table display at a later date.

I know for some it is not a very Happy Halloween because of Hurricane Sandy.  In Northern Virginia, where my husband is working, today they are back at work.  He fared pretty well.  We pray for those who are not so fortunate.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Parmesan Tomato Basil Soup

Zoulah welcomes you to Red Couch Recipes! 
You can tell that  winter is approaching the Red Couch home.  Today I tarped the dog run where the chicken coop is so that the chickens can't get out.  I also winter fertilized the lawn, and pulled away all the dead flowers and greenery that died because of the freezing night temperatures.  Tonight we served a delicious warming soup for dinner.  This soup is so rich and flavorful that even my non-soup lovers like it.  It has four different vegetables that give this soup an irresistible flavor.  I highly recommend it.  This is the second time that Zoulah has made this for the Red Couch family.  It is perfect for a chilly evening.
I served the soup in these little bakers from Michael's that I bought last year.  I added a few croutons and a bit of pepper; I am a huge pepper fan!

Recipe for Crock Pot Parmesan Tomato Soup
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano
1 T dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
half and half, warmed
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1. Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to a large slow cooker. Or you can use a large dutch oven on the stove top.

2. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.  If using a dutch oven, bring ingredients to boil and then simmer until vegetables are soft for about 15 minutes.

3. About 30 minutes before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Add all back into the slow cooker or dutch oven.  Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, salt and pepper.  If using a slow cooker, you may wish to add more spices because the spices may weaker during the long cooking period

4. If using a slower cooker, cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve. If you are using a dutch oven, just cook until all the ingredients are incorporated, and the soup has thickened.
Zoulah's Notes:  One of the Red Couch children is tomato-phobic, so Zoulah took the tomatoes and ran them in a food processor for a few minutes.  She found this recipe on Pinterest which was from the blog Random Thoughts and Thrill hosted by Debbie.  Zoulah has made this for us twice.  The first time she used regular half and half and the second time she used fat-free half and half.  We didn't notice a difference between the two.
It is a tradition of the Red Couch Family to serve spider bread at least once during the Halloween season -- tonight was the night.   Sometimes he comes out looking like a sea turtle with a few extra legs, but we love him.  The head usually is the first thing to go.

We carved a few pumpkins over the weekend.  This one was carved by Tati.
I carved the ghost and did the drilling on the "disco ball" one.  My girls kept on spilled it, and it had the effect of a disco ball.

We made quicky and scary Halloween pumpkins for a church Halloween party.
Please turn your thoughts and prayers towards those in "Frankenstorm's" path. My husband who is living in Northern Virginia was told not to come to work today and tomorrow.  Today they lost power for awhile, but it is back on.  I do not think that Northern Virginia will be hit as hard as other areas.  He said he went to the store to get some peanut butter and bread so he would have something to eat if the stores close down!
Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hot and Spicy Peanut Brittle and Halloween Cooking Failures and Memories

As you might imagine, Zoulah is getting very excited for the big day.  Only four more days until Halloween!  At her "Bewitchen Kitchen" she stirred up some Hot and Spicy Peanut Brittle, and she can't keep her little green hands off of it!  You are going to love this little witch for this recipe she came up with.
 Halloween Kitchen Memories
 It all started with Martha....yes, you know Martha, as in Stewart.  About 15 years ago during the month of October, we had just sold our home in California, and we moved in with my husband's Uncle Bill for a couple of weeks until we could find an apartment.   Bill and I used to watch the Martha Stewart Show together.  That Halloween, on one of Martha's shows, she made peanut brittle.  I went out an bought a nice Taylor thermometer so that I could use it to make peanut brittle.  With my dandy new thermometer in hand, the first batch burned.  Undaunted, I tried again, and the second batch burned.  Determined to be successful, I tried for a third time and ditched the thermometer and used the old-fashioned "water" method and I had success!!

 I returned the $15 thermometer never thinking it could be my error!  Since then I have learned that you have to calibrate your thermometer.
So Zoulah and I decided to make some peanut brittle for my husband.  Zoulah, the spicy witch that she is decided to change it up a bit with some Hot and Spicy peanuts, crunchy coated, that she found at Wal-Mart!
Recipe for Hot and Spicy Peanut Brittle
1 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1 (10.5 ounce) jar of Hot and Spicy Peanuts
Pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Lightly spread butter on large baking pan and set aside.  Place sugar, light corn syrup, and water in a medium sized, heavy, saucepan.  Cook over medium heat to the soft ball stage (around 234 to 240 degrees).  Add peanuts and salt.  Then cook to hard-crack stage (around 300 to 310 degrees).  Stir in butter, baking soda, and vanilla.  Quickly pour onto buttered baking pan.  Spread out a little bit.  When cool and hard, break into pieces.
Peanut brittle ready to mail to my husband.
Zoulah's Notes:
Many peanut brittle recipes direct you to pull the edges of the peanut brittle so that you can thin it.  Zoulah likes thick peanut brittle so she skips this step.  To calibrate your thermometer, put some water in a sauce pan with your thermometer.  Bring the water to a boil.  When the water comes to a boil, note what temperature your thermometer indicates, then adjust accordingly. For example,  if water is boiling and your thermometer reads at 200, then adjust your candy cooking temperatures down 12 degrees. We live at 5700 feet above sea level, and water boils at about 200 degrees.  You generally subtract a degree for every 500 feet above sea level. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkins Elevated Tablescape

Zoulah wishes you a warm, wonderful witchie welcome to Red Couch Recipes and to her Pumpkins Elevated Tablescape.  Zoulah and I  have been infactuated with pumpkins for many years.  We love the color, we love to carve them, and we love to decorate with them.
Years ago I found these cute little salad plates at a grocery store.  The dinner plate is a basket woven reactiveware plate.
The table linen has cut-out jack-o-lanterns on it.  I bought it at TJ Maxx this year.  Zoulah warns you NOT to buy it.  The cut-out pumpkins are so fragile that it will be like a one-use tablecloth.
We entitled our tablescpae "Pumpkins Elevated" because we think they deserve more love and admiration!  We have put some pumpkins on candlesticks to elevate them.   Can you see that ceramic lunchsack Jack-O-Lantern?  My husband bought that for me years ago.  I was so thrilled when he brought it home.  We were just newlyweds then.  Another time he brought home one of those huge pumpkins; it was one of the most favorite gifts I ever received from him!  I am not kidding!!
Here's a better picture of the ceramic sack Jack-O-Lantern.  We also have a big black metal tub full of pumpkins and other fall-ish items.  It sits on our dinner table.
Here's a longish view of the table.  The Jack-O_Lantern serving plate was from Target years ago.  I have broke, in my moves, several other Halloween dishes from Target over the years ...:(.  They used to have such wonderful Halloween glassware.
Here's my "bubbly glass" view of my table.  The amber-colored pumpkins were bought at Tai Pan Trading years ago.
My mother-in-law encouraged me to buy the large "kettle" Jack-O-Lantern at a boutique near her home.  She said it was "me,"  I like to put dry ice in it and the "smoke" comes out its eyes, mouth, and nose.
Zoulah made some "pumpkin" candy for you.  She hopes you like it.  The ceramic Jack-O-Lantern graces the our deck table.  It was purchased many years ago from a Payless Drug Store in Californi.
If you visit us at our home, you will be greeted with lots of pumpkins on our porch and stairs.  Talley, the 11 year old Red Couche,  insisted we do it up big with pumpkins.  We went to a friend's home pumpkin patch.  Here in the country, it is not uncommon for grandmas to plant pumpkins and then let their little grandchildren come pick a pumpkin!  I want to be a grandma like that!
At certain times, they just have a beautiful glow.
This poor one has lost its stem.  Zoulah and I do not like it when the stems break off.  Pumpkins without stems are like dishes with large chips in them!
our 11-year old has already carved a pumpkin.
It is good to have younger children.  Our older children are involved with many things outside the home, but thank goodness for Talley, she is still "into" the holidays. 
She wrote on our chalkboard and she, Zoulah, and I wish you a Happy Halloween season.
Thanks for dropping by!
Posted with Let's Dish and Tablescape Thursday

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Watermelon Jack-O-Lanterns

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!
A friend dropped by a yellow fleshed watermelon the other day.  Somehow our son Skyler came up with the idea of carving it.  He said that it was a lot easier to "gut" than a normal pumpkin.  Our porch is filled with lots of pumpkins just waiting to be carved.  I love bringing in our carved pumpkins and just enjoying each other lit by the glow of pumpkins --- my favorite part of Halloween!

Because Skyler totalled our truck this week, he has limited transportation.  He is home a lot more.  Oh well, he needs to give the girls a break ;)!  Tonight he made  Mummies with Moldy Dressing for our Sunday dinner.  I guess an car accident has some bright spots :).
Even though Zoulah is quite a traditionalist, she approves of this" Watermelon Pumpkin" and she wants to tell you thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Red and Black Halloween Tablescape at Red Couch Recipes

Zoulah wishes you a RED welcome to her RED  and Black Halloween table at RED Couch Recipes.  She decided to mix it up a bit and have red star in a Halloween table.  No she is not getting wonky, she still loves orange and black---the traditional colors of Halloween.
She has been a bit busy as the Red Couch family dodged a big bullet yesterday.   Our 18 year old  flipped our truck and came out of it with minor injuries; thank heavens he was wearing his seat belt.  Our truck is totalled, but we still have our beloved son.  The cab of the truck sustained the most damage on the passenger side, and thankfully he was driving solo.  Hold your loved ones tight and make it a firm rule to wear their seat belts.
Beaulah, Jacqueline's witch visited Zoulah recently and gifted her with these cute witch shoes.  Zoulah wasn't insulted because the "shoes do fit" her :)!  The red and cream socks peaking out of the shoes inspired me to do a red and black table.
I just set a fun spider web square on the table for a tablecloth.  I love these black doilies I put under the red hobnail bowl.  Zoulah screeched " Who would have "thunk" they have black doilies?"
Zoulah kind of has a "hobnail" theme going on here with the black hobnail goblets and red hobnail bowls.
Zoulah just bought the hobnail goblets at K-Mart and she was heard cackling, "How magnifique, they are plastique!"  For Kathleen's sake, I will tell you that they were $2 at K-Mart just today.  Sorry Kathleen, I do not get as good as deals as you do :(.  As I was checking out, I was asked to make a donation to a charity.  I hesitated, and then said yes I would donate.   I told the clerk I would donate today because my son just dodged a big bullet.  She replied, I better also because my son didn't get additional jail time.  Oh, the worries of mothers!
Zoulah drools over this "Trick or Treat" sign in cream and white.
Just another view of Zoulah's work!
What is on the menu you say?  Just a few of Zoulah's favorites.
She also added some "vampire blood" shots, non-alcholic of course, just for fun.
Zoulah, with her twin sister Beaulah, thank you for taking a rest on our Red Couch.
Ta-Ta for now!
Red and Black Table Information:
Spiderweb Square and Red Hobnail Bowls -- Michael's Arts and Crafts -- last year
Spider Glasses -- Smith's Grocery Store --last year
Black Hobnail "Plastique" goblets -- K-Mart today
Red coral napkin rings -- K-Mart last year
Red Dinner Plates and fabric for napkins -- Wal-Mart
White Salad Plates and Trick or Treat Sign-- Tai Pan
Flatware:  World Market
Witch Menu Sign:  Dollar Tree last year
Zoulah is partying here:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Worms in Dirt Cookies -- Sooo Bewitchingly Yummy!


Zoulah says soooo glad you zoom-broomed by Red Couch Recipes where Zoulah would like to share an absolute favorite and easy recipe, bewitched up for Halloween.  These cookies taste like a chocolate penuche to me, without the hassle of making penuche!  Zoulah will let you know her bewitching secrets!
The Red Couch family has been making these cookies for years; it is a Sunday evening favorite, 
Recipe for No-Bake Cookies
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup buitter
3 cups quick oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (we ususally use crunchy)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Before you begin, lay out some wax paper.  Place sugar, water, and butter in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and then let boil for 2 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and add peanut butter, oatmeal, and vanilla.  Mix together quickly and using a larger spoon scoop out into cookie-sized circles on the wax paper.  After slightly cooled, add the worms -- they will melt a little!
Now for Zoulah's secrets......
1.  Many no-bake recipes use milk, do not, not use milk! 
2.  Do not use regular oatmeal, you must use quick oatmeal.   If you use regular oatmeal, the oatmeal will not absorb into the chocolate- butter-water mixture!
3.  Make sure your vanilla, oatmeal, and peanut butter are pre-measured so you are able to to add them quickly.  Once stirred, make sure you work quickly to spoon out cookie mixture into cookies.
These are favorites with the Red Couch Family!  Thanks for zoom-brooming by!