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 

Some of our favorite things...

Iced Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Pie

   Homemade Flatbread

Homemade Pancake Mix

       Spatchock Chicken...
Best EVER way to cook chicken 

   Crab and Avocado Rolls

Mini Maple-Glazed Donut Hole                  Muffins

   Pesto Salmon Burger

Raspberry-Nutella Bars

     Homemade Ravioli

    Olive Cheese Bites

              Pizza!

Spaghetti With Tomato Pesto

Parmesan Sesame Biscuits

Two-Minute Chocolate Mousse

  Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Homemade Enchilada Sauce 

Creamy Chive Risotto Cakes

     
Brown Sugar Pie 

The Best Homemade Dinner Rolls
                      Ever

Chocolate Bark with Granola and Sea Salt  

Nacho Cheese Burger

 

... 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
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

Saturday
Aug092014

Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese

The Circle B Kitchen has been ever so busy this week with Cousin Katie and her son, Eric, here to entertain us.  We’ve been cooking and eating nonstop.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  We do have breaks between the eating and cooking when we take a little time to talk about food and plan what we will cook and eat next.  Like I said, it’s been busy and at times even hectic fitting it all in.  

But I wanted to take a few minutes here before everyone wakes up and we start in on our breakfast plans to tell you about this tomato salad I made last week.  But before I even get to that I have to mention how absolutely lovely and awesome it is to at long last have the garden offering up some serious bounty.  I really thought we were going to lose all of our tomatoes (and everything else for that matter) a month ago after being pummeled with hail, freakish winds and over 4 inches of rain in the space of just a few hours, which totally flooded the garden.  After things finally calmed down, we were ever so dismayed to watch leaf blight begin to ravage most of our tomato plants.  We eventually lost about half of our tomato garden, but what we were able to save are now producing gorgeous fruit in the form of Purple Cherokees, Brandywines, sweet 100’s and of course, lots of romas. 

So I was ever so happy to come across Amy Thielen’s tomato salad recipe (from her new book, The New Midwestern Table).  Holy cow, this really is an incredibly amazing collection of flavors and so far my very favorite thing to do with our fresh tomatoes. 

There are only four components to this salad… the tomatoes, of course, the dressing, a few greens to scatter on top and a good sprinkling of blue cheese.  Sounds simple enough, which it is, but together they create an incredibly scrumptious plate of deliciousness.  You can tell I’m grasping for adjectives here, but what I’m hoping is that you’ll make this for yourself and collect your own adjectives, cuz it’s still early and I’ve only had half of my cup of coffee and floral adjectives don’t really come to me until after at least two and a half cups. 

I used tomatoes and greens right from the garden… mustard greens and arugula were amazing here… and an Irish Kerrygold blue cheese that was just dynamite.  But the dressing is really where this salad takes flight.  We’re only talking olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and red pepper flakes, but boy howdy, I’m not even kidding.  The tomatoes drink it up like crazy and the blue cheese gets in there and it all just dances in your mouth in very happy ways.  I think I’ve just about had enough coffee. 

I think I hear the rustlings of people waking and it’s about time to lay some breakfast plans and talk about lunch before we get our dinner menu in order.  In the meantime, I sincerely hope you will find your way to a plate of this tomato salad.  Here’s the recipe…

Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy, Amy Thielen, The New Midwestern Table

 Any combination of fresh, tasty tomatoes are going to work great here and the same goes for the greens.  Arugula is great, baby lettuces or herb lettuces are wonderful.  I've even used mustard greens.  As for the blue cheese, all I can say is the creamier the better.  I used a Kerrygold Irish blue and it was divine.  Oh, and the red pepper flakes are awesome in the dressing... more is better.

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 1 large lemon
1 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 3/4 pounds heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, cut into wedges
3/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small bunch watercress, stems removed
1/2 heads radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) crumbled blue cheese 

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients.  In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing, then arrange the tomatoes on a serving dish.

In the same medium bowl, toss the lettuces with the remaining dressing, then arrange atop the tomatoes.  Sprinkle on the blue cheese.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Saturday
Aug022014

Two Very Awesome Ice Cream Pies!

There’s really nothing all that mind-blowing about an ice cream pie in terms of culinary innovation; I almost feel funny even publishing a recipe for one.  You’ve probably made several yourself and have your favorites.  I will admit that we’re not exploring unknown culinary territory here.  That’s maybe why it’s taken me so long to get these up on the blog… is anyone really interested in something this simple and dare I say it… sort of pedestrian?  I’ve had this argument discussion with myself the last few weeks and finally came down on the side of “deliciousness trumps profound”.  

I totally agreed with myself and therewith decided you guys might too.  So here are two very delicious ice cream pie recipes that just beg to be made while summer’s heat requires desserts that are easy, frozen and do not require your oven.  OK, a tiny bit of oven might be required at one point, but it hardly counts. 

So here’s the lowdown on these two… one is made with an Oreo cookie crust, filled with cookie dough ice cream and topped with ribbons of chocolate sauce.  The other one (my personal favorite) has a crust that I made with waffle cones

and then filled with waffle cone ice cream and topped with drizzles of caramel and chocolate sauce.  An ice cream cone in pie form!  I know.  I sort of felt like a genius when I took my first bite (and no less smart with subsequent bites).

For those of you who’ve made lots of ice cream pies, you know how easy it is to throw one together, stash it in the freezer and forget about it until serving time.  If we’re talking about deliciousness to labor ratio, ice cream pies rate super high (very little labor/extreme deliciousness).  And they sort of look impressive.  Well, yours will look way more impressive than mine… I’m not all that proud of my caramel sauce application on that waffle cone pie; unimpressive actually.  You’ll do better. 

If you’ve never made an ice cream pie before, then I’m really glad you’re here because honestly you must get to it.  So good.  So easy.  The hardest part is finding room for it in the freezer (don’t even get me started).  Here’s the recipe…

Two Very Awesome Ice Cream Pies!

Click here for a printable recipe

Waffle Cone Ice Cream Pie

10 waffle cones (like Keebler)
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 container of waffle cone ice cream
Chocolate and caramel sauce for topping 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees 

Place the waffle cones in the food processor with the sugar and pulverize.  Spray a 9" pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Place crumbs with melted butter into the pie pan and mix well.  Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

Spread the cooled crust with softened waffle cone ice cream.  Freeze for a couple of  hours.  You can either drizzle the caramel and chocolate sauce over the top and then return it to the freezer or drizzle each slice when serving. 

Cookie Dough Ice Cream Pie

20 Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 container of Cookie Dough Ice Cream, slightly softened
Chocolate sauce 

Spray a 9” pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the Oreos in the food processor and pulverize until you have crumbs.  Put the crumbs into the pie pan with the melted butter and mix thoroughly.  Press into the bottom and sides of your pie pan.  Refrigerate for ½ hour or longer. 

Soften the ice cream slightly and then spread it over the crumb crust and place into the freezer for at least 12 hours.  Take the pie out of the freezer about 15 minutes before serving. 

Slice into wedges (you should get about 8 to 10 slices).  Can drizzle the chocolate sauce over the top in a lattice pattern or serve with the chocolate sauce on top.  

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment