Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lilacs in the Springtime Table

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

I went out in the backyard and to my surprise I saw that lilacs are blooming!   For the Utah dessert that seems early to me.  I am glad I didn't miss Lilac Time.
I added a little spray of lilacs in each bandana napkin.  These napkins are about the only purple that I have in my home. 
Just another view of the plates.  I thought the green dinner plates went well with the leaves of the lilacs.
Some clear bubble glasses and some green ones to add color to the table.
I broke out the silver for the occasion.
Just another view of the table.
Take some time to enjoy the spring time.  Are lilacs blooming in your area now?
Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fundraiser Cookies -- Wet on Wet Royal Icing Cookies

Hello Red Couch Readers.  I just wanted to give you a  peek of some cookies we made last night.  My daughter and her friend are going to San Antonio for FCCLA Nationals in July.  They won first place in Food Innovations at the State FCCLA competition.  Some of the funds for the trip are paid for by their high school and by the state FCCLA organizations, but, alas,  they must earn the rest.
They are selling these cookies at their high school to earn money for their trip to San Antonio.
The mascot at their  high school is a dinosaur.  They are called the Carbon Dinos. The big blocked C's are for Carbon High School.  The high school colors are blue and white, and we added a bit of violet to provide some additional color.   I learned at Cookie Con to use what I would call "themed colors," in other words, don't use every color in your cupboard.:). Last year, their mascot, the Carbon Dino,  received second place in the nation, in a contest conducted by USA Today, for best high school mascot.  The first place high school mascot was the Orphans from Centralia, Illinois.
My youngest, Talley, made Dina the dinosaur.  I love her and her pearl necklace.  I hope that Dina sells today.
Yesterday was their first sale date.  They did pretty well.  One male purchaser asked, in high school parlance, "How the h--- did you make these?"  They got a chuckle out of that.

In order to go to San Antonio, they will have to sell lots of cookies!  We all love the decorating process and it is so fun for the four of us to decorate together.  This is a time for free expression.  No mother telling them to do this or do that.  There IS  a mother telling them to try things, to experiment ,and express themselves.   I like that kind of mother, and should be it more often.  As we sit down to decorate, the chatter lessens somewhat, and we get into a "Zen-like" creative state.  Love it! 
Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mason Jar Lady Bug Cookies

Dear Red Couch Recipe Readers.  It's that awesome season again when lady bugs come out from their slumber.  Little boys and girls everywhere are enchanted by them and catch them and place them in mason jars. 
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These cookies try to encapsulate that memory of finding lady bugs.
As a young child, my oldest daughter Tatianna, loved ladybugs.  One day after a successful hunt of lady bugs, I heard her say "Stop, that's enough!"  I asked her what she meant.  She said that "She had prayed to find lady bugs and she had found a lot, and she didn't need help to find anymore!"  Oh, those were the days.....
Several years we also bought lady bugs and released them.  Even though we followed the directions,  letting them out just before dark,  those lady bugs seemed to like our neighbors better than us!
If you would like to replicate these cookies, I have included a few tips on how to make them.  I received a mason jar cookie cutter in my swag bag at Cookie Con 2014.  It was from the Cookie Cutter Company.  Just search on the Internet to find sources for mason jar cookie cutters.
Make the cookies using a mason jar cutter, and then float them with royal icing, allowing them to dry overnight. 
At this point, color some of the royal icing, float consistency, red; I used Wilton's Red Red.  Pipe the icing into red circles for the lady bug bodies.  I used a Wilton 12 tip.  Make more than you think you will need, to allow for mistakes.  Pipe them in different sizes because lady bugs come in different sizes.  Allow them to dry overnight as your mason jar cookies are drying.
 The next day, spray the dried cookies  with the Pearl Wilton Color Mist, just to add a little bling.  The picture shows the cookies just after they have been sprayed, and before they are dried.  It only takes a few minutes for the cookies to dry. 
When the cookies are dry, take some white fondant and color  it gray.  I used the Americolor black. Then cut out the "lid" portion of the mason jar. 
Spray the "lid" with the Pearl Wilton Color Mist to give it a shiny appearance, then dab a bit of water on the back of the lid and place it on the mason jar cookie
Color some royal icing green; I used Wilton leaf green.   Pipe some grass in the jar using a grass tip (Wilton 233 tip).  Add a bit of baker's twine around the lid of the jar.  The twine was available at my Wal-Mart in the craft section.

Using a food marker, add the details to the lady bugs.  These food writers are available online.

With royal icing, glue the lady bugs into the jar.

Happy Spring from Red Couch Recipes!
I also made some quilted mason jars using the same cookie cutter. 
Thanks for dropping by!
Posted with Foodie Friday

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sometimes the Easter Bunny Delivers Cookies

You know Mr. Easter Bunny is not all about chocolate eggs; sometimes he likes to deliver cookies.  Last night my girls and one of their friends sat down and decorated cookies.  It was a nice evening of working with royal icing and decorating.  Perfect, I can't say they were, but we are learning.  as they said at Cookie Con -- "It is jut a cookie!"   Just look at that fancy pink and white shirt  designed by my 13-year old daughter.

The big bunny delivered these to some friends.  Hope they like cookies for Easter.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Forsythias and Eggs Easter Table

Welcome to our Forsythias and Eggs Easter Table!  The forsythia at our home is in bloom and is brightening up our property and life.  You always knows when the forsythia is in bloom that spring is here.
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I have had this venerable and honorable Mr. Rabbit for years.  Today he is carrying a load of forsythia instead of his usual load of eggs. 
I was a bit worried our forsythia wouldn't bloom this year because we had so little moisture, but fortunately, it did bloom!
Don't worry, he knows where his delivery of eggs are.  He will make it to your home this year :).  Some of eggs  have been skewed around the table.
A little view of the springey napkins.
I love these green glasses.  C'est magnifique, they are plastique!
How about some white chocolate mousse eggs?  Click here the recipe and instructions.  Around here, they are a family favorite around Easter
Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

White Chocolate Mousse Eggs Dessert Tutorial

Hippity Hoppity, Hippity Hoppity, Easter is on it's way!"  Here at Red Couch Recipes we have a very delicious dessert for Easter Sunday.  It is designed to look like the Cadbury Eggs, so popular at Easter.  The white chocolate mousse is killer --- it really is!  The lemon curd "yolk" center goes so well with the mousse, and adds a little bit of tang.  So delicious even the Easter Bunny would approve of these himself.

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My very talented friend Shannon used to host a local cable television show that features cooking and crafts.  A few years ago I was one of her guests when she made these White Chocolate Mousse Eggs, and we have been making them ever since at Easter. 
The dessert is comprised of a chocolate egg shell, white chocolate mousse, and lemon curd.  I will take you through the steps.  None of it is difficult.  Making the mousse generates a few dirty dishes, but it really is an excellent tasting mousse, well worth the effort.  But if you are not in the mood for making a homemade mousse, buy a mix.  So let's start with the chocolate egg shells.
Chocolate Egg Shells
1.  Blow up water balloons.
2.  Melt some good quality milk or dark chocolate chips in a medium -size glass bowl in the microwave.  We used milk chocolate chips.  Melt the chips first for about 30 seconds, then stir, and then return to the microwave and melt another 10-15 seconds, and then stir,  repeating the steps until the chips are completely melted.  Be careful as the chips can be easy to burn. 
3.  Then take an offset spatula, or the backside of a spoon, and spread the chocolate around the bottom of a small water balloon.  You don't want to make the egg shell too large.  You can also dip the bottom of the balloon in chocolate which will give the chocolate egg shell a cleaner look.  I like using a spoon because it gives it a more rough look.
4.  Place the chocolate covered balloon on a goblet or a half-pint sized mason jar to dry.
5.  Take the chocolate covered balloons  and place them in the freezer or refrigerator until the chocolate is firm.  The chocolate covered balloons should be ready for filling in about 10 minutes or less if you place it in the freezer, and a bit longer if you place it in the refrigerator.
6.  Pop the balloon and peel away the balloon from the chocolate shell.  Set aside the chocolate shells.
White Chocolate Mousse Filling
Adapted Food Network Recipe
7 ounces white chocolate chips -- I used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/4 cups heavy cream, divided into 1/4 and 1 cup portions
1.  In a large glass bowl, place the chopped white chocolate  and set aside.
2.  Add the egg yolks and sugar to a small bowl and whisk until pale in color.
3.  In a saucepan, over low heat, bring 1/4 cup of the cream to a simmer, and slowly add the cream into the yolk and sugar mixture to temper.
4.  Pour the creamy mixture (the egg, sugar and cream) back into pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of it.  The mixture should be quite hot, hot enough to melt the chocolate chips.
5.  Pour hot mix into a fine mesh sieve placed directly over bowl with the chopped chocolate. Stir until completely smooth.  Then set aside.
6.  In another bowl, whip remaining 1 cup of the cream to almost stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the white chocolate mix to lighten and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

With a spoon, fill the chocolate shells about half full.

Place a small amount of lemon curd in the center.  We used Trader Joe's Lemon Curd.
All of the steps can be done ahead except for adding the lemon curd.  After about 30 minutes or so the lemon curd does tend to sink down into the mousse, so place the lemon curd on the mousse right before you serve the dessert.
I hope you make this dessert and let me know how you liked it. Thanks for dropping by my Red Couch.
Posted with Foodie Friday

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meringue Baskets With Sorbet and Raspberry Sauce

These little Meringue Baskets are such an elegant and delicious dessert.  Truly, this is one of the best desserts we have had around here in awhile.  I love the crackly outer party of the meringue with the chewy center;  the sorbet melts together with the meringue into sensory delight!  Of course, I also swoon when any dessert is adorned with raspberry sauce -- natch!

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I was perusing the blog City Home Country Home, by Bonnie, who is a fine cook and needlewoman, and saw her little meringue baskets filled with lemon, cream, and berries.  Inspired by her baskets, I came up with this concoction.

I must confess, I am not the best meringue maker. The meringue for my baskets was probably not stiff enough but they still turned out, in taste and looks, just fine.  They really do whip up quite quickly.  However, you could also buy some meringues and use them instead of making the baskets. 
Meringue Recipe and Technique for Making Baskets:
 Recipe from Joy the Baker

4 egg whites from 4 large eggs
1 cup of superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla -- the good stuff
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Put egg whites in a medium-size bowl and beat until the egg whites form a soft peak.  Then begin to add sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, until fully incorporated.  Beat until egg-sugar mixture forms stiff, but not dry, peaks and the egg whites look shiny.  At this point you can turn your bowl upside down and the egg white mixture won't fall out.  Take a bit of the mixture and rub it between your fingers.  If it is quite gritty, you may need to beat some more.  Then beat in the vanilla.  Then add corn starch and the vinegar, just using a spatula, to fully incorporate into the egg white mixture.  If you want individual baskets, place the mixture into a piping bag with a tip with a large opening.    I used a 1 M tip.    Then pipe mixture into 3-inch circles.  You can trace circles on some parchment paper, and then flip the parchment around (to avoid getting pen on your meringues) and begin piping.  Then pipe around the edge of the basket to provide a rim.  As you can see, my meringue could have been more firm.

For individual 3-inch baskets, place in a 250 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes.  I like the meringues to be quite light, not really brown at all.  Then turn off the heat and let them sit in the oven for about another 1.5 hours until  cooled off and dried.  After cooling and drying the meringues should be crackly on the outside and chewy on the inside, in other words, pure heaven!

Meringue Making Memos

1.  Make sure all your equipment, such as beaters and bowl are clean and grease-free.
2.  Beat your egg whites until you have soft peaks and then begin to add your sugar.
3.  Use superfine sugar.  You can make this by putting your sugar in your food processor and processing for one minute. 
3.  Make sure you add your sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, rather than adding it all at once, making sure to incorporate each tablespoon. If you add the sugar all at once, it will weigh down the egg whites. 
4.  When you think you are done beating your meringues, take some of the mixture and rub it between your fingers.  If it is quite gritty, beat a bit more 

 Raspberry Sauce Recipe:

 Take raspberries and puree in blender.  If using the 12 ounce package of frozen raspberries, thaw first.  Add some sugar to taste, from about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, and about 1 tablespoon of corn starch.  Place berry puree in small saucepan and on medium heat bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  If you want seedless sauce, place berries in a wire sieve and put a bowl underneath sieve.  With a spoon or spatula, push puree against the sieve and continue doing so until the seeds are mainly dry.  My daughter made the raspberry sauce for this and she didn't add very much sugar, and I loved the tartness of the sauce. 

Place some raspberry sauce in a piping bag, or in a Ziploc bag with a small hole cut in the corner, and pipe some sauce into a fun design.

Take a meringue basket and place some whipping cream on it.

Place your meringue on the raspberry sauce.
Place small scoops of sorbet on the meringue baskets.  We used lemon, mango, and cherry.  Yum!

We love the Smith Grocery Store house brand.  It is delicious, and is usually on sale for less than $2.00 for 16 ounces.  They have lemon, mango, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and a pomegranate. blend.  Then add some more raspberry sauce.  Yum!  I especially love the raspberry sauce with the mango sorbet.


I hope you make some little baskets for you and yours!  

Posted with Foodie Friday.