Monday, March 24, 2014

Cookie Con 2014

Dear Readers, I have just come back from the most wonderful convention -- Cookie Con. 2014, held in Salt Lake City, Utah!  This is an annual gathering of cookie decorators, or should I say artists.  I must say that it was the most fun convention  I have ever attended.  My fellow cookie attendees were some of the nicest, fun-loving, and friendliest people I have ever met.  I guess people who love sugar and cookies are just the happiest and most fun people.  The wonderful cookies above, my favorites, were decorated by two women with a company called Sugar Bliss, located in Salt Lake, Utah.
About 450 women and two men came to the conference from 44 states and about 14 foreign countries.  A highlight of the conference was the Sugar Show where conference attendees brought their cookies to be judged in 4 categories :  Spring, Anything Goes, My Hometown, and Once Upon a Time.  When I walked into the Sugar Show and saw the amazing work of the cookie artists, I thought, "I am sure glad I didn't bring any of my work!"  My fellow attendees are amazing cookie artists!

A Sampling From the Sugar Show
This cookie won an instructor's award, and it was made by one of the two male attendees.

Beauty and the Beast never looked so enchanting!

The 3-D dragon was amazing.

The detail on this carousel was awe-inspiring!

In the category of My Home Town, these cookies by Sugar Bliss captured my heart.

There were cookies for all occasions.

The details on these playing cards was a sight to behold.  They were a favorite with the attendees.

These cookies looked like they belong on the wall.

These are as sweet as can be!

I loved the stained glass look on this Arizona cookie.

As attendees we were asked to judge these cookies in the four separate categories , and on the last day of the convention the  top three in each category were given cash awards.
I attended the convention with my sister Jacqueline (right) and her daughter Jessica (left).  They are posing with the cookie personality Arty McGoo who gave a fun and entertaining keynote address which included extremely clever video spoofs of popular movies and shows on their
"Cookie Vision" channel.   
We attended cookie decorating technique classes, which were informative and fun. 

This convention speaker gave an extremely interesting presentation about the development of her cookie store, and mail order business  in Wilton, Connecticut, The Painted Cookie.   I am never going to open a cookie store, but if you are, she had all the experience.
On the last day we were finally able to dive into cookie decorating.  We were given cookies iced with royal icing and non-iced cookies and stations were set up in a ballroom stocked with cookie decorating supplies.  We were also given a "mystery-shaped" cookie and were asked to decorate it and enter it into a judged competition.
Once again these talented attendees did not disappoint!  The following were a few of the entries.

Here are my cookies!  I enjoyed the day of decorating.  I am only just a beginning decorator, but I was able to try some different techniques such as stenciling, embossed cookies with fondant, luster dusting, wafer papering water coloring, and painting Springerle.
The convention attendees were super friendly and very helpful.  These two cookies were done by my fellow attendees.  I stopped, admired their cookies, and asked them about their techniques.  They were happy and willing to share -- no trade secret techniques here!

The organizers of this conference knew how to make a fun convention  for everyone.  Each of us received a fun "swag bag" filled with cookie decorating paraphernalia.
Door prizes were given out during the conference sessions.  I won a huge top of fondant and a traffic director (gag gift).  My niece Jessica won an air brush with a raffle ticket!  A Copy Cake and two Kitchen-Aids were also given out during the convention!
My Cookie Con goodie bag and winnings.
In my former life, I was a research analyst for a non-profit organization in California which met the lobbying and training needs of city officials.  A part of my job was to put together meetings for fire officials, and to assist in putting together our annual conference, with over 4,000 attendees.  I have to say that our conferences were never this much fun!
Another highlight was meeting for lunch with another Utah blogger, Bonnie, City Home Country Home!  Even though I had never met her before, I felt like I knew her because I read her blog.  Thanks Bonnie!  Thanks also to the organizers, teachers, vendors, and to my sister Jacqueline and her daughter Jessica for making it so much fun!
 Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Tablescape


Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!  I don't know if there is one bit of Irish in my family, but we have always celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a meal of corned beef and cabbage, and really it is one of our favorite meals.  A bright green table is always a nice thing when the world is still so tan and gray outside
The green chargers were bought at an after Christmas sale at Wal-Mart for a quarter.  When I spied them I immediately thought of St. Patrick's Day.  The Andes mints adorning the plate are so perfect for St. Patrick's Day.  I tucked a bit of green checked fabric in the napkin ring to add color.
I stuiffed a bit of green in the glasses to add bling and color.

The apothecary jar is filled with green Jell-O Cookies, always a nice touch at St. Patrick's day.
The bright green plaid table cloth is from the famous Christmas Tree Shoppe.  I bought it when I went to Virginia last year.
I wish a wonderful St. Patrick's Day to you and yours. 
Posted with Let's Dish and Tablescape Thursday.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Roasted Red Potatoes and Cream

Dear Red Couch Readers I want to share with you something really delicious that has been a hit around my home lately!  It is really so very simple that I blush in telling you the "recipe."
Just cut up some red potatoes...I cut them in half again....
 Place potatoes in some ramekins.  The ramekins I used are rather large.  I probably added about 1.5 potatoes per ramekin.  I made 5 ramekins and then poured cream, about a cup for the five ramekins.   Season with salt and pepper.   Place the ramekins on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, every once in awhile moving the potatoes around.  You want to make sure you bake them until the cream turns a lovely brown.
Every time I serve this, one of my children will say, "What's in this that makes these potatoes taste so good?"  Of course it is the cream.  You could add some onion or cheese or bacon, but I love the simplicity of just the potatoes and cream This recipe is on our menu to stay :).
Try them I think you will love them!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wok Caramel Corn

Hello everyone  I am happy to bring you this fun, tasty, and easy caramel corn recipe today.  It whips up in about 5 minutes, and the result is sugared caramel corn deliciousness. 
Wok Caramel Corn
12-14 cups of popped corn -- I used an air popper.
1/2 cup butter --  I wouldn't recommend using margarine.
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons water
Place the butter, sugar, and water in a wok.  On medium to medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, all the while stirring constantly.  Return heat to medium, and then allow mixture  to boil for another 2 minutes, without stirring.   Then add popcorn and stir to cover popcorn.  Don't eat just yet.  Allow to cool until the caramel sugars somewhat.  Note:  You could make this without a wok, but with a wok it is so easy to coat the popcorn in caramel, and it is also fun!
My husband is working out of state this year.  One of his former students and wife have been so kind to him by including him in their family activities, inviting him to dinner, and basically amazing people!  When I was visiting him last month, Kyle had told me about the caramel popcorn they make.  When they invited us over to dinner, I mentioned I would like their caramel corn recipe.  Even though we had another dessert, Bucky, his former student, made us a batch, and I was smitten.  Thank you Bucky and Christy, I don't know what he would do without you!
This has been added to our Sunday Snack Recipes  --  delicious, easy, and with ingredients we always have in our cupboards.
Thanks for dropping by my couch!