Hey everybody!  Check out the Matters and Musings page for an awesome recipe for homemade hand cream!
 

Welcome to the Circle B Kitchen!  We love that you're here and hope you'll browse the site and grab some recipes.  The Circle B Kitchen has been blogging since September, 2009.  We have loads of recipes and thoughts on food to share in the coming weeks and months, so come back and check in often!  We love hearing from you and hope you'll leave a comment or shoot an email our way.  Whether you have questions about a recipe or the site in general, please let us know...

 Contact me at
pberry@circle-B-kitchen.com

Find a Circle B Kitchen Recipe 

Our Favorite Things For Fall...

       Homemade Apple Butter!

      Caramel Pumpkin Custards

       Oven Roasted Applesauce

Turkey (or Chicken) Enchilada Soup

              My Fall Apple Crisp

   New England Clam Chowder

Spiced Molasses Pumpkin Bread

                 Apple Tart Tatin

   Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce (Yum!)

       Apple Ginger Pudding Cake

      Bean and Barley Veggie Soup

Foil-Wrapped Pears with Caramel                               Sauce

         Creamy Artichoke Soup

   
             Brown Sugar Pie

       Pumpkin Apple Stresel Muffins

Apple Molasses Gingerbread Cake

... and just in case you were wondering...

       

 

Our oldest daughter, Erin, has been riding, training and showing horses since she was a teenager.  She graduated from Colorado St. University with a degree in Equine Science and is now Financial and Administrative Manager for HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Association), which provides therapy through horseback riding for children and adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, brain tumors, head injuries, blindness, autism, and strokes.  For more information or to donate to this amazing cause, please visit http://www.hetra.org/ .

 

 

Friday
Sep122014

Mini Blue Cheese Popovers

 

It may be self-evident from a cursory glimpse of the Circle B recipe index that we’re sort of partial to the popover.  We’ve made these savory popovers (and these ones too), and sweet popovers and the ubiquitous Dutch baby, which is nothing more than a giant popover that's so good and so easy to throw together, it qualifies for breakfast around here several times a month.

But being firmly esconced in the school of "one can never have too many popover recipes", we've added yet another to our ever-growing repertoire.  And this magical little popover has won our hearts and carved its own special place in our little Circle B world of popovers.

And what, you might ask, makes these little popover babies so special?  Well, for starters, as they bake, the outside bits gets all crispy on the edges, while the inside retains that soft, cheesy quality that makes popovers so dear to our hearts.  If you’re a blue cheese-ophile, might I suggest you grab your mini muffin pan and get to baking.  These are simply heavenly little bites of blue cheese goodness. 

Add more blue cheese if you dare, or put in a little less if you don’t.   You can use any kind of blue cheese that you like here.  I used a super creamy, and oh so tasty Point Reyes Blue and it was nothing short of divine.

Serving suggestions run the gamut from football party to fancy dinner party to baby shower, wedding shower, bar mitzvah, office party, birthday party, brunch or happy hour, which has been our favorite application thus far.  But I can also imagine these at breakfast with a spot of jam, especially if you make the batter the night before and just bake them off in the morning. 

But truth be told, one need no excuse or lofty purpose for making these other than to savor some scrumptious blue cheese popover deliciousness.  Here's the recipe...

Mini Blue Cheese Popovers

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine 

I made a few changes to the original recipe, which I felt was sort of lacking in the flavor department.  I doubled the amount of blue cheese and added more salt, and what we have now are some lovely little popover flavor bombs.   Feel free to add more blue cheese if you really love the stuff, or maybe just choose a stronger blue cheese like gorgonzola.  You can leave out the thyme if you like, but it does add a nice, subtle herbal note.  Also, I’ve made these several times and didn’t feel like it made any noticeable difference to refrigerate the batter before baking, as the recipe directs, so you can make your own call on that.  It might be convenient to make the batter early in the day to bake off later, so that’s a plus.  The recipe also said to fill the muffin cups to the top, but I thought they came out better if they were filled a little less than that (see above photo).  The popovers seemed to hold their shape better, especially if you cut back on the milk by a tablespoon or two, which I do. 

2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I use just a couple tablespoons less than 1 cup which helps them hold their shape)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, flour, salt and pepper.  Whisk until all of the lumps have disappeared.  Whisk in the cheese and thyme.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day (see headnote). 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Position oven to rack to the top third of the oven. 

Spray two mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray and fill each cup almost to the top with the chilled batter.  Bake popovers until golden and puffed, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Serve immediately (preferably with a cold beer or glass of wine).  :-)

Makes about 22 mini popovers

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Friday
Sep052014

3-Berry Crumble

I know you’ve all been there… You have this amazing food experience that is inextricably woven with a memorable setting, an incredible dining partner or just an unforgettable mood or ambiance that leaves you wondering if that meal or that certain dish might have tasted differently in another setting or at another moment in time or with someone else.  

Such was the case for me with this scrumptious berry cobbler.  I threw it together on a whim just because I had berries I wanted to use up and I’d had this recipe in the file for like 30 years and it was time to get it made up.  I only had enough berries to make half a recipe, which was fine because it was just the two of us.  When I tell you that this is an easy dessert to assemble, I'm not even kidding... 10 minutes tops  No crust to make, nothing tricky, especially if you've got a food processor.

So after watching the most recent episodes of Outlander a couple of weeks ago, we grabbed two spoons and that little cobbler up there and went out onto the porch on a warm summer’s evening and proceeded to eat the entire thing, all the while being serenaded by a million crickets and entertained by the last couple of fireflies of the season, twinkling and dancing in the moonlight. 

We were completely and totally blown away by how good this cobbler was and were still talking about it the next morning.  But I had a niggling sense that on such an evening at such a moment with that particular guy sitting next to me, a bowl of cheerios might have seemed magical. 

So before I could sell this to you as the spectacularly delicious dessert I remembered, I was just going to have to make it again.  To determine if it was as good as I remembered, I wanted an objective experience of this cobbler and decided to take a scientific approach in order to be completely sure.  I hadn’t thought to eat this second crumble by myself in a dark room, but I sort of planned that this taste test would be a bit more clinical than our experience two weeks ago.

So last night after we finished watching the most recent episodes of Outlander, we grabbed a couple of spoons and headed out to the porch and a gorgeous summer evening in which a million crickets serenaded us with... um.  I pretty much suck at science.  But lucky for us, I am apparently very good at making berry crumbles.  It was every bit as good as we remembered, but to be truly convinced, I guess you’ll have to try it for yourself.  Here’s the recipe…

3-Berry Crumble 

Click here for a printable recipe

This is such an incredibly delicious dessert for so little effort.  The crunchy, caramel-y topping is just ever so good next to those sweet, juicy berries.  I added a little mulberry jam to the fruit and it created a wonderfully jammy texture to the fruit.  As I mentioned below, you can quickly and easily make the crumble topping for this in the food processor.  One note of caution... do not use more berries than the recipe calls for as that will throw off the ratio of crumble to filling which makes this so good.  If you're making 1/2 recipe, reduce the baking time to about 25 or 30 minutes.

4-6 cups of fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4  cup blackberry, blueberry or raspberry jam (optional)

The Topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick cold butter 

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Toss the berries with the flour and sugar and stir in the jam. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish, preferably rather shallow (more surface area for the crumble). 

For the topping: Mix together flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut butter into small pieces. Using your hands, work in butter until large, moist clumps form.  (you can do this in the food processor, pulsing several times until you have pea-sized clumps). 

Crumble the topping over the berry mixture. 

Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and light golden brown. 

Serves 6-8

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Friday
Aug292014

It's Tomato Time!

 

It's the height of tomato season and for us tomato lovers, that means it's time to make all of our favorite tomato products!  Although many of our tomato plants here at the Circle B Kitchen have been decimated by all the rain we've been getting this summer, we're still picking romas and San Marzanos, and today I'm making as many jars as I can of one of my very tomato things... tomato jam.  I'm also making tomato paste because homemade tomato paste is the bomb. Whether you've got tomatoes coming out of your garden, or the farmer's market, or you're stealing them from your neighbors, I thought I'd share some of my favorite tomato recipes with you so you can get to cookin' too.  Just click on a photo for the recipe.  Happy cooking!!

Homemade Tomato Paste

 


Tomato Jam

 

Triple Tomato Eggs (YUM!)

 

Tomato Pesto (killer pasta sauce!)

 

Creamy, Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes
(great BBQ side dish!)

 

Slow Roasted Tomatoes (YUM!)

 

Summer Tomato Tart
(There's a creamy cheesy layer under those beautiful tomatoes)
(this photo was taken just before being baked)

 

Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese (a personal favorite)

 


Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce

 

Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
(A beautiful take on the classic caprese salad)

So there you have it, folks!  Some super wondrous things for you to do with this summer's bounty of fresh tomatoes!  Have a fun and delicious Labor Day weekend! 

 Click here to ask a question or leave a comment 

Saturday
Aug232014

Old School Stuffed Peppers

  

We’re goin old school today, people.  We’re stuffin peppers, but we’re gonna get all retro with it.  And by that I mean we’re going back to the 1950’s, which is, I know, waaaaay before your time.  But not before mine.  That was my time.  Well, it was my time to be little, but not so little that I didn’t even then know a thing or two about stuffed peppers.  Mom made them with fierce regularity, in spite of the fact that my Dad couldn’t stand to be in the same room with a pepper.  Of any kind.  And back then, all we had were green peppers (no colors yet - like the TVs).

(Before we began, I got everyone assembled for a group photo)

Fast forward several hundred years to the 90’s when we were living happily on the Central Coast of California, 3 kids in the house and an Armenian neighbor just down the street.  Every Christmas, Louise would invite us to her place, along with a few other neighbors and create a magical Armenian feast for us all which began with mezze of hummus, string cheese, olives, cracker bread and wine and always, always, the meal consisted of stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, stuffed zucchini and anything else she had handy to stuff, because that’s what Armenians do.  They stuff things.  To say that I loved that meal would be such an understatement.  The aromas of those peppers baking in the oven was intoxicating.  

Back to the 1950’s for a minute… my parents were friends with several Armenian families, so I grew up eating Armenian from a very young age… lahmajoon, buregs, pilaf  (oh, the pilaf!), baklava, and yes, stuffed peppers.  This food, people, it was absolutely incredible. 

So when Louise would make these Armenian feasts, it was an emotionally nostalgic event for me and she knew how much it meant for me to be eating the foods of my childhood.  One Christmas, along with the feast, she tucked a copy of her treasured Armenian cookbook into my hands and conferred upon me an honorary Armenian name… Berryjian.  To this day I refer to that little cookbook often.

So Louise and all of those beautiful Armenian Moms and Grandmas taught me how to stuff peppers the old school way and it’s how I still do it.  At this point you’re probably wondering what’s so retro about these peppers anyway?  And the answer to that question is not so much in the ingredients, as in the method. 

Before I decided to post these peppers, I did a little research and found that almost every recipe I came across (including Cook’s Illustrated and Bon Apetit) asked you to first blanche your peppers, and have your meat and rice cooked before stuffing, and then bake them for a short  20 or 30 minutes, which I think makes for a very pretty stuffed pepper, very neat and tidy, but, in my opinion, perhaps not the most flavorful.

I’ve stuffed a few peppers in my day and have tried this method, but, in my opinion, the flavors of the meat and rice and peppers tend to stay separate, which doesn’t happen when you follow the age-old Armenian method of combining all of your ingredients and stuffing everything raw and baking it all together for a much longer time, and all of the flavors and textures are transformed and influenced by the others and it gets a little messy and oh so very delicious.  As the rice cooks, it absorbs the flavors from the meat and the peppers and I truly believe this is how a stuffed pepper should taste. Oh, and did I mention how very much easier this method is?  It’s very  much easier. 

I have updated the ingredient list just a bit and added parmesan cheese and substituted jasmine rice for the classic white rice.  I usually use marinara sauce, but plain tomato sauce works perfectly fine as it, too, gains flavor from everyone in the pan as it bakes.  A final sprinkling of cheese is another addition, but one I wouldn’t do without. 

As you can see, I also stuffed some poblano and anaheim peppers using the same method, but different stuffing ingredents.  That recipe is included below.  These were so incredibly good!!

So that’s the long story that I could’ve made much shorter, but thought you’d like to know…stuffing peppers the old school way pretty much rocks.    Here’s the recipe…

Old School Stuffed Peppers

Click here for a printable recipe

The beauty of this stuffing method is that everything gets mixed together and stuffed into the peppers raw, which is how the Armenian Moms and Grandmas taught me.  If you happen to have 2 cups of cooked rice on hand, you can use that instead of the raw rice - it works fine.  And feel free to mix up the ingredients however you like... you can use Italian sausage for half of the ground meat, or use any kind of rice you like, although if you use brown rice, you'll have to cook it first before adding it to the stuffing mix.  I like to use a spicy marinara or tomato sauce, but you could also add crushed red pepper to the mix for a little more kick.  If you would like to stuff one of those huge zucchinis from your garden, I've included a note at the end of the recipe for that.  And, of course, I've also included a recipe for those awesome stuffed poblanos and anaheims.  Enjoy! Oh, and one final note... ground turkey has a little more moisture to it than ground beef, so if you use ground beef to stuff your peppers, you might want to add a little extra sauce or water to the stuffing mix to ensure that the rice has enough moisture to cook through.

Serves 4

4 medium-sized bell peppers, any color (s)
1 egg
1 medium onion, chopped fine
½ cup marinara sauce or tomato sauce (spicy is good)
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese (I use a combination of the two)
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ cup jasmine rice (see headnote)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 lb ground meat (I use ground turkey)

1 1/2 cups tomato or marinara sauce
1 ½ cups grated cheese (jack, fontina, provolone, or a blend of Italian cheeses)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Slice the peppers in half lengthwise (so you will have 8 halves to fill) and clean them of seeds and ribs and trim the stems.

Beat the egg in a medium bowl and then add the rest of the stuffing ingredeints, except for the meat. Mix well and then use your hands to thoroughly mix in the meat until it's well combined.  Fill each pepper with the meat mixture (I used my hands) and place the peppers in the prepared baking dish.  Pour the the marinara sauce or tomato sauce over the top of the peppers and then drizzle them with a little olive oil and a final sprinkling of course salt and cracked black pepper.

Cover the baking dish with foil and seal tightly.  Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes and then remove the foil and top each pepper with the grated cheese.  Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  If you'd like a little more color, you can run them under the broiler for another couple of minutes.

Let cool briefly before serving. 

Stuffed Anaheim and Poblano Peppers 

I used leftover Mexican rice (already cooked) to stuff these peppers rather than raw rice as in the above recipe.  These would be so good with the addition of chorizo or leftover taco meat too!

Serves 4

2 large poblano peppers
4-6 Anaheim peppers
2-3 cups of Mexican rice (here’s my recipe)
½ cup salsa (here’s my recipe), plus extra for topping
1 cup of diced jack cheese (or more if you want them really cheesy)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray an 8x10 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

Slice the poblano peppers in half lengthwise (so you will have 4 halves to fill) and clean them of seeds and ribs and trim the stems.  You can do this with the Anaheims as well or you can cut the stem end off of the Anaheim and use a paring knife to clean the cavity of seeds and ribs. 

Mix together the rice, salsa and diced jack cheese. 

Fill the poblano and Anaheim halves with the rice mixture and place in the baking dish.  (If using whole Anaheims, use a small spoon or your finger to stuff the rice mixture down into the cavity.) 

Top the open pepper halves with a little more salsa and then cover the pan with foil.  Seal tightly and bake for 30 minutes. 

Cool slightly before serving.  

Stuffed zucchini 

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise.  Use a knife to cut out the center of the zucchini, leaving a ¼ border on the edges.  Use a melon baller or grapefruit spoon to remove the center part of the zucchini, leaving a boat-like cavity in the center for stuffing. 

Place a good amount of stuffing into each zucchini half and place them into the prepared baking dish.  Top them with a little marinara or tomato sauce and a good drizzle of olive oil and then proceed as directed in the stuffed pepper recipe.  

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment 

Friday
Aug152014

Berry Cobbler Redux

If I had a list of the most loathsome experiences to be avoided at all costs, the flu would most definitely be at the top of that list.  But I never got around to making that list so I forgot to avoid it all costs and the last couple of days have been particularly unfun.  As you might expect, I have had no appetite or desire to cook or photograph food or talk about food, so to keep you amused until I return to my post here, I thought I'd bring back one of the most popular recipes on the Circle B blog.

 This is an amazingly scrumptious cobbler made famous by Walter Scheib, White House chef during the Clinton and Bush years, and a definite favorite here at the Circle B Kitchen.  With it being berry season and all, I thought you might want to get one of these made up; it's about the easiest cobbler you will ever have the pleasure of throwing together.

I'm sure I'll be back in eating/cooking/blogging form soon.  In the meantime, here's a link to the original post and the recipe...

White House Berry Cobbler