Monday, November 25, 2013

Simple Hunger Games Birthday Party

My sweet daughter turned 13 this month, and we celebrated with a Hunger Games Birthday Party!  My daughter is a big reader, and we have tended to have book-themed parties in the past.  You can also check out her Harry Potter and Percy Jackson parties.  The Hunger Games or "Hungry Games," as we called it was an easy party to put together.  We tried to highlight food that was mentioned in the Hunger Games and also highlighted a few food items from the second book, Catching Fire.  This was not a complicated party; we concentrated on simple foods.  For the most part, I put it together in an afternoon. 
I used the cake as a table decoration.  The cake was an easy cake to make.  I made a triple layer vanilla cake, and frosted it with chocolate butter cream frosting.   I used gum paste, because I already had some, to make the flames and the mockingjay medallion. You could also use fondant.   Katniss was given a Mockingjay pin from a school friend, and the Mockingjay became a symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol.   I found a template for the Mockingjay HERE and cut it out with an exacto knife and added a bit of detail. "How to Cook That's  Mockingjay is so professional; mine is just a quick make.   I used Wilton's Gold Color Spray to get the shiny effect I desired.  The cake was not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination!
The colors of a Hunger Games party would be black, orange, yellow, and maybe red.  I went with this color theme.
For the "Hungry Games" food I searched the Internet and borrowed every idea I could.  I loved the squirrel meat, and so did the girls at the party.  They were just meatballs I picked up at the store.  Katniss, the main character was an excellent hunter.
One of my favorite "eats" was the Tracker Jacker nest.  This is just a Rice Krispies recipe using Cheerios instead of Rice Krispies.  This was about a five minute project, and I loved how it turned out.  The Tracker Jackers were seriously dangerous insectss.  I already had the chocolate bees as I am always toying around with putting together a Bee Tablescape.
In the background of this picture is a bow and arrow.  Katniss liked to hunt, and had great skill with a bow and arrow. 
We set out some nuts (actually sunflower seeds) and some dried blueberries, also called Nighlock in the book.  The Nighlock takes on great significance at the end of the book --- I won't do a spoiler, just in case you haven't read the book.
We also purchased some Nightlock Muffins.
We also purchased a couple of artisan breads as Peeta, Katniss' co-competitor from district 12, was a baker.
We also set out some candy coal (didn't get a picture), as many of the men in District Nine worked in the coal mines, including Katniss' friend Gale.  We also made Cornucopia rolls (crescent rolls). not pictured. 
We borrowed a few foods from Catching Fire, and included them.  In the second book Finnick, a main character, had a trident he used to fish with.
Finnick also, oddly enough, would eat  sugar cubes.  This was a fun addition to the eats because most of the girls had never seen sugar cubes before.
For drink we supplied the girls with Capitol Orange Juice because Katniss went to the Capitol and was exposed to many foods that were not readily available in District Nine.  She had orange juice for the first time and liked it.
We also served Tracker Jacker Nectar (water) in the beehive dispenser.
For games, since we called it the "Hungry Games," we had a contest to see how quickly the girls could eat a set amount of marshmallows.  They also split up in pairs to see how many fish they could catch in their mouths.  The real hit of the "Hungry Games" was the candy bar game.  It is always a fun party game.  You have a pile of candy in the center.  The participants take turns rolling dice.   Sevens, elevens, and doubles means you get to take a candy bar from the center, or steal one from someone else.  The game is done when the candy is gone from the center, or whenever you determine it.  Of course the fun is stealing from someone else.  I edited the photo as I don't have permission to post the pictures of the girls -- you have to be careful these days :).
Thanks for dropping by our Hunger or Hungry Games party.  It was a pleasure hosting nine happy, giggly girls.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Color Cookies

I  was just having a little fun in the kitchen today.  It was like playing with Play-Doh!  Such a colorful way to celebrate fall, and so easy and fun to make.
First make this easy sugar cookie recipe  -- no chilling and easy rolling out dough..

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 (almond is wonderful too)
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 un greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or just before they begin 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.  You might need more time,  but just to be sure, check them early

Then color the cookie dough in desired colors. 

Then pretend you are in preschool and "smoosh" the dough together, and then make sure you roll the dough with a rolling pin to compact the dough.  If you don't do this, the cookies tend to fall apart after baking.

Make sure you roll out the cookies nice and thick.

Happy fall to all my readers of Red Couch Recipes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cranberry Swiss Chicken

Dear Readers it is that time of year again, when I am so motivated to cook things in my oven. How about you?   Last night was a crazy kind of night because I had two meals going on.  For the family,, I was making this yummy, filling Cranberry Swiss Chicken.  It has sweet, crunchy, and creamy all combined to make it so delicious and so easy to put together on a busy evening.    I was also making  Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup (a family favorite) , and some potato rolls for a sweet neighbor who has been ill again, now with pneumonia  When he punctured his lungs recently, I brought him Bonnie's Cream of Chicken Noodle Soup and Jacqueline's Focaccia.  The other day he told one of my children that it was worth getting his lung punctured so that he could get the soup and bread!!  So cute!  I thought such nice compliments should be rewarded with more food, don't you?
I found this recipe on Pinterest that originates from the blog Jam Hands, and was adapted from an All-Recipes recipe, and of course I adapted it just a little bit too.
 Cranberry Swiss Chicken

Makes 4 servings
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (thaw before using)
 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup stuffing mix ( I just used Betty Crocker )
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup slivered almonds.

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts in 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish, and sprinkle with cheese.  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chicken soup, broth, and pepper.  Once mixed well, pour over chicken.  Place stuffing mix over chicken breasts, then add cranberries and drizzle butter over top.  Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes.  At the half hour mark, add the slivered almonds on top of the casserole.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Ultimate Samoa Cookies

Welcome Dear Readers and Friends of Red Couch Recipes.  Today I have 'cookied" up a really yummy treat for you.  You will love it I am sure!  Although they have the same name, they do not even resemble the "other" famous Samoa cookies.  They do take a little bit of fussing, but they are one amazing cookie!

There is this little bakery shop about 1-1/2 hours away from me that has some delectable sweets and the cutest name:  "The Sweet Tooth Fairy."  They have achieved a bit of notoriety with their cupcakes on "Cupcake Wars."  They are also known for their cake bites, but it is their cookies that we clamor for!  Most of all we are in love with their Samoa cookies.  But alas at times they don't even  have any available...sigh!
So today I bring to you my copycat version that even brought a hug from one of my children when they ate their Samoa.  I caution you.  These are really rich cookies, and for most of us a half a cookie will suffice. 

The recipe is comprised of a sugar cookie base, salted caramel frosting, and toppings and a bottoming.  Bottomings is a word, isn't it?

No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe  --My favorite 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 thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or just before they begin 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.  You might need more time,  but just to be sure, check them early. Remove from baking pan and let sit on cookie sheet a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack.  Notes:  I like these cookies to be soft, thick, and to have no brown on the bottom.  I roll out my dough between to wooden, square dowels to get consistently thick dough.
Salted Caramel Frosting Recipe

I knew that their frosting was a salted caramel recipe, and I found and adapted this cheater version that tastes so good.  I adapted this from Sally's Baking Addiction Blog.
1/2 cup ( 1 stick salted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups powdered sugar -- I used three. 
                             Add brown sugar, and half and half to a medium mixing bowl.  Then add salt and confectioner's sugar, little by little to achieve desired consistency.   

Just a thin layer will do.  Then allow chocolate to dry.

Take about 3 cups of coconut, reserve one cup.  Place 2 cups on a baking sheet and place pan in a  350 degree oven.  Bake until light brown, checking frequently and bringing the darker coconut from the edges into the center.  I put my baking sheet on the second highest rack in my oven, and this took around 15 minutes.  Then add the non-toasted coconut to the toasted coconut and mix together.   Note:  I looked up how to do this on the Internet and their directions just didn't work for me, so I gave you mine.


Toppings List:
Salted Caramel Frosting (Recipe Included)
 3 cups Sweetened Coconut
Milk Chocolate Chips -- I used a  12-ounce bag
1 Bag (11 ounces) of pre-wrapped Caramels -- I almost used the whole bag.

Frost each cookie with the Salted Caramel Frosting

Then add the melted caramels.  I melt mine in the microwave and sometimes add a tad bit of water.  After removing from the microwave, stir well and then drizzle caramel over each cookie.

Then drizzle add melted chocolate chips  I used a pastry tube for this.

I took  these to the bake sale at my daughter's swim team meet on Friday night.

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Autumntime

Welcome to Autumn at Red Couch Recipes.
This table stars my fall leave plates.  I bought them last year at Wal-Mart.  I like them paired with the red dinner plates.
"It's autumn-time, it's autumn-time, The leaves are falling down.

I used these chargers from Wal-Mart also.  They have had them for the past several years.
It's autumn-time, It's autumn-time.  It's all around the town.
I love the richness the two napkins, napkin holder, and pick bring to the table.  The napkin rings were from Kathleen, Cuisine Kathleen.
It's autumn-time, it's autumn-time, There's yellow, red, and brown.
The red goblets mimic the red of fall's splendor.  We don't get a lot of red, but wonderful yellows that paint the area .
It's autumn-time, it's autumn-time, bright colors can be found."
The song 'It's Autumntime " is by Rita Mae Olsen and is found in the LDS Children's Songbook.
My mother always had a cornucopia.  I love having one too.
I hope you take time to enjoy the colors of Autumn.
Thank you for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.
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