Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas to all my Red Couch Readers.
Today is Christmas, a time to relax after all the hustle and bustle.  I leave with you a few pictures of my Christmas tree.  I have decorated my tree like this for years, and plan to always do so -- we love it.
"The First Noel the angels did say,
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.
In fields they lay while keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel,
Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel!
I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!  May we always remember the true reason we celebrate Christmas!
I am taking a bit of break as my husband, who has been away for 10 weeks (and a day), must leave again soon.  I will post again soon.
Thank you for all your wonderful support!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Invitation to Sit at the 'Nice Table"

Welcome again to Red Couch Recipes!  Is there someone in your life, and I am sure there is, who deserves to sit at the NICE TABLE?  Or do you deserve to sit at the NICE TABLE?  Santa is right there, and as the song goes "He sees you when you're sleeping.  He knows when you are awake.  He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!"

Click HERE to view the post on the NAUGHTY Table. 
At the "Nice Table," you get to sit with Santa and have some milk.....
and some cookies.  These are the Anise Cookies that my Aunt Ionia made every December 24th.
I know of several people I would like to invite take a seat at the NICE TABLE.
It snowed 10 inches on Tuesday at our home.  In fact, it snowed soooo much that I couldn't go pick Mr. Red Couch up at the airport that night...and he had been gone for ten weeks.   He took a shuttle to his paren'ts home and spent the night.  To get to the airport from my home, you have to go through a long canyon, and when it snows it is sooo treacherous because the altitude reaches 9,000 feet.
At the NICE TABLE, your flatware is in these cute little Santa Pants.
My neighbor deserves to sit at the NICE TABLE!  He came and snowplowed my driveway for over an hour!
Then about 90 minutes later, there was 4 more inches of the snow on the driveway.  I left to pick up my daughter from high school swim.  "No, I am sorry but you can't go to the basketball game tonight, there is a blizzard going on..."  My house sits on a little hill and when I came back from picking up my daughter, my car wouldn't go up the hill.  So I am inviting my daughters who shovelled the snow around the car, and brought out some salt and poured it on the snow so that I could make it up my driveway.
The next day when I drove my daughter to school, I got stuck on some slippery ice.  I stopped and then I couldn't go forward.  My daughter Tati got out of the truck to try to push me...but to no avail.
I was stuck in the middle of the road blocking traffic!  Then a girl, who goes to my daughter's school got out to help push. My daughter doesn't really know the girl, but she says that she is so NICE  She is also very pretty, but NICE always trumps pretty, don't you think?
Then a mom in a van got out to help push me out....and success!  Don't you think the high school girl and the mom deserve to sit at the NICE TABLE?
Our high school is also situated on a small hill.  There was a line of cars from the high school to the little college.  I looked at my daughter and said", You better get out and walk because I KNOW I will get stuck on that hill."  The line of cars was stacking up because the cars couldn't get up the hill.
Tati told me later that there was a group of kids helping to push people when they got stuck.  They also get an invitation to sit at the NICE TABLE.
And finally, let us extend an invitation to the teachers, who didn't give the students tardies that day because of the icy conditions.
I am so thankful for the NICE people in this world! Little things like helping push someone out of the snow really do make a difference.
I wish all you NICE Red Couch Readers a wonderful and marvelous Christmas season.  Here at the Red Couch Home we are celebrating that Mr. Red Couch is home for while, and all is right at our home.  I am deeply aware that some of you may be facing serious problems and afflictions this Christmas and my heart goes out to you this Christmas. 
On another little note, Pottery Barn inspired me to make the little "milk glass snowmen."  I bought Starbuck's Cappuchino, it comes in a 4 pack at Wal-Mart.  We don't drink coffee at our home, and so I brought the 4-pack home and promptly put it down the sink!  I bought it for the little containers.  My son thought I was sooooo weird!  Anyway, you just glue on some buttons and tie around a little ribbon, add a straw, and some milk....and voila a little snowman!
Posted with the following:  Tablescape Thursday

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Perhaps They are Making Anise Cookies in Heaven for Christmas

Every year I watch a video of Christmas Eve 1986 at my Aunt Ionia's home and every year I cry for the memories, for the good times, and for the sorrow that those times have ended.  My Aunt Ionia hosted all of us at her apartment for Christmas Eve -- sometimes we would have as many as 30 people in her home.  As I grew older I helped her with the party preparations. 
Ionia was our Christmas Angel, she always made Christmas fun!  On her cookie tray there would always be Anise Cookies.  For weeks before Christmas she would make cookies, probably 10-12 different kinds.  She would store the cookies and fudge on the steps of her unheated attic.   Aunt Ionia passed away in 2003.  After her passing, my  cousin Cindy made a cookbook including all the recipes that she made, including a recipe for Anise Cookies.
In that cook book she wrote the following about the Anise Cookies:  "These are a long known favorite of Ralph's (my cousin's husband).  He always got his private box of these cookies and they were for him only (although we know Pat (my cousin) has done her best to find his stash).  Paul (my cousin and Cindy's brother) also loves these cookies and is working on perfecting the recipe.  For those of us who have tried to make these cookies, it is very difficult to get them as thin and crispy as Aunt Ionia.  Then, there is the debate whether they are better with or without frosting.  Either way, they are an annual Christmas favorite."
My cousin Cindy passed away a few years ago, and this year(2012)  my cousin Paul passed away.  My dear Aunt Maxine, mother to Cindy and Paul, has lost both of her children, and her husband died about 20 years ago.  As I was making these cookies, I wondered if Aunt Ionia was helping Paul perfect his technique in making Anise Cookies, and as I did this the tears flowed.  As for the debate about icing or just colored sugar, I would say I like them with the colored sugar because that is how Ionia made them. So again I wonder if they are really making Anise cookies in heaven this year?  I would guess that they are....
Some of my Christmas cookie cutters.  Nothing fancy here just Wilton, Ekco, and Cake Mate Cutters.  I do have some more substantial cookie cutters, but these are the kind Ionia would have used.  She also had some vintage metal ones.
Recipe for Anise Cookies
1 cup butter (no margarine)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Anise Oil (not extract -- see photo below)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2-1/2 cups flour
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter, eggs, and sugar.  Then add the anise oil.  Then mix in the baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and flour.
Mix well and chill.  I usually chill overnight.  Roll out and cut, making sure you cut a thin cookie.  Even if chilled over night, you will need to add some flour for ease of rolling out the cookies.  Sprinkle with colored sugar before baking.  Bake at 375  degrees for about 7 minutes. 
Joni's Notes:  This amount of anise oil might be too strong for some, but it is how she made them, and we love them.  To avoid anise oil transfer, do not store these cookies with other cookies.  Roll the cookies as thin as you can, and then watch them carefully to avoid burning, in the oven.
This is the oil I use.  One little bottle is almost 2 teaspoons.  In Utah, you can purchase Anise Oil at grocery stores.  If you cannot find it in your grocery store, it can be purchased online.
This batch is for our second son Chris, he loves Anise cookies too.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Bloggers Pray for Newton, Connecticut

I am joining other bloggers today, taking a break from posting and visiting other blogs in memory of the horrific tragedy in Newton, Connecticut.  The Red Couch Family has been praying for those that lost their little souls, and the protectors, the teachers and staff, at Sandy Hook.  My girls went to school wearing green in memory of those that were so tragically lost.  Green and white are the colors of the Sandy Hook school.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Making Snowmen in Memory of the Tragedy in Connecticut

We had our first snowstorm here -- about six inches.  Today my daughter Talley was out making snowmen, and I decided to join her in making them.  Like you, I am stunned and so horriby saddened about the terrible loss in Connecticut.  My daughter Talley is in the sixth grade.  Excited about life, excited about Christmas.  Like you, I feel helpless about the tragedy in Connecticut, but I decided to go join her, because life is too short.  Dirty kitchens and laundry and present wrapping and cookie baking can wait, but making snowmen with my daughter can't. 

Let us all pray for those who have passed on, for their loved ones, those that were injured physcially or emotionally, and for the whole Sandy Hook community.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Naughty Table

Welcome to our Naughty Table at Red Couch Recipes!
You better watch out or you may find yourself seated at the Naughty Table.  Have you been peeking, or unwrapping presents, to see what you will receive.  Have you been tasting the grapes at the grocery store before you buy them?  Have you been skipping flossing or exercising?  If you have, then take a seat at our Naughty Table.
"You better watch out.  You better not cry."
At the naughty table, you will not find candy, or sugarplums, but you will find COAL!
"You better not pout, I'm telling you why."
This coal is the real deal-e-o boys and girls, because I am living in an area that mines coal and uses it to produce energy.  No, this is not candy coal or Rice Krispie Coal Balls, like I have made before.  It is the real deal for those of you who are NAUGHTY, and NOT NICE!
Have you written your letter yet justifying why the Big Guy should come down your chimney and leave you presents and not COAL?  Each year, I have my children write a letter to Santa.  Okay, so they are getting a bit older and don't take it so seriously these days, but they did in the olden days.  We put the letter in these felt envelopes and leave it with the cookies for the Big Guy and carrots for his reindeer.
"Santa Claus is coming to town."
This is a picture of my son, now 18 years old,  putting a letter in the mailbox for Santa. and a transcription of that letter.  He was about 3-1/2 at the time.
"He's making a list, checking it twice."
In this letter, Skyler justifies why he should sit at the NICE table because, you see, he didn't hit Tatti over the head or shoot her:)!
 "Going to find out who is naughty or nice"
At this table we feature COAL BLACK goblets.
"Santa Claus is coming to town."
COAL black and white checkered napkins grace the Naughty Table.
"He sees you when you're sleeping."
COAL black mittens hold the silverware.
"He knows when you're awake."
Those sitting at the Naughty Table will eat off Coal black plates.
"He knows if you've been bad or good..."
On the Naughty Table, instead of candy for the centerpiece, there is a bag of COAL!
"So be good for goodness sake!"
When you are seated at the Naughty Table, you will be seated in COAL black chairs.
"You better watch out, you better not cry."
Just a shot that includes my Red Couch.
"You better not pout, I'm telling you WHY..."
If you have been good, (and I know YOU have), stay tuned next week for the NICE Table.
 Thanks for dropping by to take a seat at our NAUGHTY Table! 
Posted with the following:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Amazing Almond Rum Balls

Dear Red Couch Readers, it is that wonderful time of year, when your mind turns to dreams of making sweets for your loved ones.  You go through old magazines and recipe files, and with the advent of Pinterest, you pour over the Pinterest boards.  You think of these treats  as you lie in bed, drive in traffic, or take a shower!   Maybe this will be the year that you try making Venetian Bars or Linzer Cookies, or that smashing new fudge?
I have a new sweet for your to put on your list and make -- Almond Rum Balls.

 These rum balls are really dream-worthy.  Now these rum balls are not just your everyday kind of candy you make at Christmas.  This is the kind of candy that you bring out or give to your "bestest" loved ones and friends.  They have an amazing flavor and I love the crunch of biting into them and breaking the chocolate around the rum center.  The rum center is so addictive.
My favorite candy to make at Christmas is my husband's Grandma Utahna Felix's Vintage Toffee recipe.  I have made up to 24 batches at Christmas before.  You can find the recipe and directions to make this amazing toffee here, but these rum balls are a close second.
I am not a chocolate dipping queen like my sister Jacqueline at Purple Chocolate Home.  If you are like me, a non-chocolate dipping queen,  these are the perfect chocolates for your to make.  This is Jacqueline's recipe, and it is so good!  Thanks for this yummy recipe Jacqueline.  If you are a chocolate dipping queen like Jacqueline, you can find more precise directions for using tempered chocolate in this recipe on her blog.

 The recipe for the rum balls is fairly simple.
Almond Rum Balls Recipes
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-Ounce)
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1-2 cups dipping chocolate -- I use good quality milk chocolate chips.
3-4 cups chopped and toasted almonds or pecans -- you can quickly whir them in a food processor or blender. Today I used pecans, other days I have used almonds.  I prefer the taste of pecans.  To toast, spread nuts over a jelly roll pan and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Watch carefully, as they can burn easily.  Cool, then whirl the nuts in a blender.
 To make the almond-rum centers, put  the sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, and the extracts.in a large bowl in a mixer and mix well.  Store covered in the fridge overnight. 
Take the mixture you have refrigerated over night and make into small balls, less than one-inch (1/2-inch to 3/4-inch) in diameter.  Put a bit of flour on your hands to try to control the stickiness of the almond rum mixture.  Store the balls in fridge for an hour or so so that they are firm when you  are dipping them in chocolate.  You could also freeze the rum centers so they are easier to dip.
In large medium bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, in 10 second increments, being very careful not to burn the chocolate.  After each 10 seconds in the microwave, be sure to stir the chocolate as the chocolate is most likely melted more than you think.  Let the chocolate cool a bit before you dip the rum centers in the chocolate.  Jacqueline says that the chocolate should be cool when you place a tad bit on your bottom lip.  Dip the rum centers, and then try to flick off , with quick switches of your wrist, as much chocolate as you can.  If the chocolate gets hard while you are dipping, just reheat it in the microwave.

The nuts pictured below were hand-cut.  The rum balls pictured above had nuts whirred in the blender. 
Roll the chocolate-covered rum ball in the chopped nuts.  Then store the chocolate and nut crusted rum ball in the fridge.
This is a picture of the rum balls made with larger nut pieces.
Store all of the rum balls in the fridge until you give them away.  You should also give instructions to the happy recipient that the rum balls should be stored in the fridge.  Pack some up in pretty tissue and give them to a loved one.  The silver jingle bells have magnets attached, and are a little "happy" I am including in my Christmas goodies this year. 
On a Christmas side note, we have a huge basket of Christmas books in our Red Room.  I caught my 16 year-old reading a Christmas children's book to my 12-year old today.  As soon as I grabbed my camera, they hid.  Now of course my younger daughter can read, in fact she is a great reader, but since they were little my older daughter has read to her.    Sometimes they switch off reading.  they are just like me; I love children's books. 
Don't you just love the Christmas season?
I hope you are having fun in all your preparations for Christmas.  Thanks for dropping by the Couch.
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