Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Flooding: Today we won't just talk about service, we will go out and do it.

The text came early Sunday Morning from our Church Bishop.  Church services were cancelled.  Overnight the river had overflown and flooded about 15 homes in our community.  Our beloved Bishop said , "Today we are not going to just talk about service, we are going to go out and serve. "  He instructed us to go help our community members in need.
So my daughter and I donned our rain boots and came armed with shovels and buckets.  These boots were so essential; everyone should have a pair.  Many came with just tennis shoes. 
We got to the scene and soon realized that there wasn't enough work yet.  The heavy equipment hadn't come on scene yet.  They needed to suck out water out of the homes and yards, before we could get in there to haul away things.  There were lakes in front of and in back of their homes and lakes inside their homes.  Thirty sheep were lost in the floods.  Another 30 homes in our general community were flooded.  A trailer park was flooded and people were evacuated by boats.
So we went home and baked for several hours.  We knew that people would be hungry.  We made about 10 dozen cookies.
When we got back to the scene, the road was blocked off, so that the heavy equipment could do their work.  All of the labor and machinery was donated, and people were happy to be of assistance.
We mainly hauled away wrecked items. We hauled away sheetrock and insulation.   We sandbagged.  People were there trying to save what they could and were washing off items.  Mostly, if it was in their basements, it was a total loss --- photos, genealogy, wedding dresses.  One of the men I knew (our LDS Stake Patriarch) had his home flooded and he was going around with a smile.  I told him how sorry I was, and he replied, "It is just things, but I wish I had flood insurance."
The young were there to help as well as the old. 
There was no waiting around for the government to help.  It was just neighbors helping their neighbors.  Women from the community brought food, as well as the Red Cross.
The news agency from 2 hours north came to report.  This is my daughter to the right and a family friend.
People worked and worked and even worked when it began to hail and rain again.
I could have taken pictures that showed the devastation more clearly, but out of respect for their loss, I didn't.
This is the community that I have lived in for the past seven years.  I cried when I moved here and I will cry when I will leave in two weeks.  I am moving to a much larger community where I will miss this kind of community spirit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple Spice Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting


Fall is officially  here now.  Perhaps you are like our family in the fall.  Every year we make several stops to the same apple farmer.  It just wouldn't be fall unless we were able to buy apples from this farmer.  He sells early apples called A-Connies, very similar to Johnathan apples.  We are on our third box!  My youngest says they taste like sunshine. These apples inspired her to take to the kitchen to make an apple cake.  She topped it with a simple salted caramel frosting that is perfectly suited for this lovely cake. 

From Tessa Huff, The Cake Blog
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all -purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 medium apples, peeled and chopped
Directions:  Prepare three (eight-inch) round baking pans and set aside.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place butter and mix on medium-high.  Add sugar and mix together until mixture is light and fluffy.  With the mixture on low, gradually add in eggs and vanilla extract.  Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate by adding in the dry ingredients and milk.  Stir in the chopped apples to combine.  Pour  batter into prepared baking pans and bake until done about 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool on baking rack.  Make Salted Caramel (see below) and frost cake.  Talley had additional cake mixture, so she baked a little cake and then crumbled the cake on top for a nice, warm look.

She adapted this  cheater version for this Salted Caramel Frosting 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 -- She 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.   Mix until well combined. 

This frosting tastes great on these Samoa Cookies.

Thank you for dropping by my Couch. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Happy Birthday to Tatianna!

 Happy Birthday to my daughter Tatianna today.  She is 18!  She came into this world in a spectacular way 18 years ago and these cupcakes commemorate that special event!!  So I guess you can guess that she wasn't born in a hospital.  Yes, she was born on a lawn en route to the hospital. 
So this year her sister, Talley, made "Babies on a Lawn" cupcakes to celebrate her birthday.  Her birth announcement read "On a moonlit night, under the stars so bright, Tatianna Larsen was delivered on a lawn, Oh what a sight!"
Happy Birthday Tati!  Life with you has been a grand adventure!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

Hi, I hope your summer is going well.  Ours has been a different one for sure.  Hospitals and doctor's visits seem to take up our time.  My son was recently hospitalized again,...hopefully he is on the mend.  I hope to return to being a more regular blogger soon.  I miss all of you!  Today I bring to you a really fast and delicious potato salad recipe.  It only has four ingredients and it is super yummy.  My daughter Talley made it the first time,, and we have loved it ever since.  I think it is the dry ranch dressing which makes it so tasty, and of course the bacon.  Trust me, you won't be able to keep your hands off this salad. 

I am sure this recipe was not original with me, but I do not have the source.  I always like to credit where I can.
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
4 pounds red potatoes, peeled, quartered and boiled until firm, but not mushy --  other potatoes will work but, reds are the best with this.
1 package dry Ranch seasoning
1 cup good quality mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
12 -16 ounces bacon, cooked and then crumbled
Cook potatoes and cool,  then cut potato quarters into smaller pieces.  Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add Ranch seasoning, mayonnaise, and bacon and mix well.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I we do!

Thanks for dropping by the couch!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kyle's Mint Mojito Slushy

Hot summer days call for cool summer drinks.  The other night my husband came up with this drink  It is sort of a version of a mint mojito drink, without the alcohol, and lots of crushed ice.  We all loved it, and have had it several times since.  A friend we had over for dinner said that the mint just makes it "over the top!"
Before I go any further, I want to thank you for all the good wishes for my son.  He dropped using a walker this past week -- that is progress!   He is now using crutches.  He drove for the first time in over 5 weeks for a little bit -- more progress!!  Hopefully in about 3 weeks he will be off the everyday IV antibiotics.
So my husband's recipe is very simple. 
Kyle's Mint Mojito Slushy
1 can (12 ounces) frozen limeade
Ice Cubes
4 tablespoons sugar -- add more or less according to your taste
About 30 small mint leaves -- we used peppermint leaves
Add the can of frozen limeade to an Osterizer container.  Fill the container with ice.  Then fill up the spaces of the Osterizer container with water to the top of the container.  Then add sugar and peppermint leaves, starting with 10 and then tasting, adding 10 more leaves then tasting, until you reach desired flavor.  Don't even think of using dried leaves. Blend until mixture is completely incorporated and the ice has been crushed finely and mixture is smooth.    Note:  At our Sprout's market they sell Mojito Mint plants; this would also be great, but we just used the mint we had growing in a container on our deck.
I hope you make this!  We love it.  Enjoy your summer day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hospital Stays, Amazing Medical Care, and Wonderful Visitors -- Why I am Not Blogging

Joni Culp Larsen's photo.

Dear Red Couch Readers, thanks for dropping by.  At the end of May my son became very ill.   Last Friday,  after three MRIs, two hospitals and a 12 day stay, two surgeries, and many other procedures, he came home.
Our hearts are so thankful for all his friends who came to visit him in our local hospital.  They were so fun and cheered us up.  Our hearts are also so thankful that when he was moved to a new hospital to get more specialized care. 1.5 hours away, we were near family.  They visited us, brought us treats, and we had a place to crash when we weren't spending the night at the hospital  They really cheered us up.   As you can see, even Miss Utah County and Little Miss Utah County came to visit!  Little Miss Utah County is Jaqueline's grand daughter, my great niece,
Our hearts are so thankful for nurses and doctors who have worked so hard to be where they are and for the expertise they bring with them.  Our hearts are so thankful for modern antibiotics that helped him get better.  He will be on IV antibiotic therapy for at least 4 more weeks; the antibiotic costs $15,000 per week, but we are thankful it is available, and that we have insurance to help us pay the costs of his health care.

Our hearts are so thankful to our Heavenly Father who answered our prayers, in that he is healed.  Thanks to the many who prayed and fasted for him.
Our orthopedic surgeon said he was within a week of losing his leg, so we are very thankful he didn't.  Yes, he has a lot of therapy to get back to where he was, but he will make it thanks to wonderful medical care, new antibiotics, and physical therapists.

So I will be back to blogging soon I hope. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

German Chocolate Cookies

Dear Readers, where has the month of May gone?   Really, it is one of my favorite months of the year.  We made these delicious German Chocolate Cookies for my daughter's high school graduation, and then have made them several times again.  They are simply delicious, and after eating them you think, "Well, I probably won't be making German Chocolate Cake ever again." You get the taste of German Chocolate Cake without the fuss.  
Tatianna is the second on the left.


The cookies are made with three steps
This idea is not original with me.  I am sure that I saw this idea somewhere on the Internet and it hid in the back of my mind until I wanted to make something different for Tati's graduation party. 
The chocolate sugar cookies are from Lila Loa's blog.  She was a presenter at Cookie.Con this year.  She is a wonderful cookie maker and her chocolate sugar cookie recipe is very good. 
 Step 1
 Lila Loa's Chocolate Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening -- I didn't add this; I added 1/4 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa
3 or 3 1/2 cups flour (see below for guidance)

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking powder and salt and mix again. Stir in the cocoa until well blended. Add flour 1 cup at a time. She advises that if you are going to make the cookies right away only add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour.  If you are going to chill them or make them on another day only add 3 cups.  The dough will be soft and look all wrong, and she advises not to add more flour.  I have only made them when I am planning to bake them right away.  Bake at 375 F for 6 1/2 minutes. She rolls her cookies 3/16-inch thick.  This makes a very nice cookie -- it doesn't spread a lot.  It makes about 12 large cookies (I double it).    I always under cook the cookies a little, and then I let them cool on the pan for about 10 minutes.  I then place them on a cooling rack for at least and hour before decorating or frosting.
Step 2
German Chocolate Frosting
(via Betty Crocker)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1 -1/2 cups flake coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix sugar, butter, milk, vanilla , and egg yolks  in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thick, about 12 minutes.  After about 12 minutes, stir in coconut and pecans (sometimes I toast them).  Beat until spreading consistency.  Don't worry it if doesn't thicken right away; it will thicken as it cools.  When cooled, spread on chocolate sugar cookies.
Step 3
Melt chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk, in microwave in micro-wave proof bowl, in ten second intervals, making sure to stir after each time.  Take the chocolate and a fork and drizzle over the cookies.  Allow chocolate to harden, before serving. 
I made some royal icing cookies with this chocolate cookie recipe for a friend who just had a baby.

These cookies are notes made for Tati's piano teacher.  She just had her last piano recital.

Thanks for dropping by my couch. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Golf Anyone?

Hello, so I have been a bit missing this May from the blogging world.  So it is not exactly because I am a lazy blogger.....well, some of my absence is, but of course I do have excuses!  Before I go on to the golf ball cookies, I would like to share a bit of what if happening in our Red Couch life.
My husband and I took a trip back east to Virginia to our son's medical school graduation from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Here is the proud graduate with his wife.  They are moving to Pennsylvania for his intern year in internal medicine and for his three year residency in dermatology.
Of course we got to visit with the grandchildren!  So fun and cute!
We also were able to visit Mt. Vernon, the home of General George Washington and his wife  Martha Washington.  After he left the presidency, George Washington did not like to be called President Washington, but preferred to be called General Washington.   I am a history buff, so of course I loved visiting Mt. Vernon. 
Now on to the golf cookies. I just want you to know that I will always take a golf ball cookie over golfing anytime, any day! So all you need are some small sugar cookies.

A bit of fondant....
 Roll out the fondant, and then press a sheet of Legos into the fondant and cut it out again.  If your cookies have spread, you must use the circle cutter that is the next size up.

Next we are on to our oldest daughter's graduation from high school....in three days.
As you can see, she is a bit excited to be graduating and starting college.

My daughter's graduation photos were taken by Kylie Elizabeth Photography.

Life is not always full of such fun and good happenings,, such as graduations and travel, but when they do occur we should celebrate them as much as possible.
Thanks for taking time to visit us at our Red Couch.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bubble Gum Mason Jar Cookies

Dear Red Couch Readers.  No, my blog is not turning into a cookie blog, but there sure are a lot of cookies showing up on my page recently.  My daughter is fundraising to go to FCCLA Nationals in San Antonio.  About half of the trip is paid, but she is earning the other half.  There is a lot of cookie making going on in our home these days.
She takes orders and also sells them at the high school.  I think these Bubble Gum Mason Jars are so cute!
Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

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.