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...

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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/ .

 

 

Saturday
Jul262014

Creamy Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes

 

Oh, man… creamy creamed spinach, summer’s fresh tomatoes, melted gruyere cheese… what’s not to love here?  That was a totally rhetorical question because there’s everything to love in these little stuffed tomatoes.  

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be all that enraptured with them, mostly because I wasn’t anticipating that a tomato baked thusly was going to hold up or be a very exciting vehicle for our spinach stuffing.  But yay for being wrong!  Sort of.

You see, the original recipe (thank you Katie Lee) had you cooking these for 25 to 30 minutes, by which time the tomatoes had softened past the point of loveliness, and were no longer able to perform their job of spinach-holder all that expertly.  But I could see the potential, and subsequently reduced the cooking time by half and then ran them under the broiler briefly to finish melting the cheese on top.  Perfection. 

I just erased 3 paragraphs detailing tomato types and how I switched up the stuffing ingredients, yada yada yada….  (Big yawn here).   

Let me be brief before I bore even myself to tears.  Roma tomatoes are best for stuffing, my revamped spinach stuffing rocks, don’t over-cook these and yes, we now have a rather excellent little spinach-stuffed tomato that will hold together and yet still be melty and delicious. 

Just one more thing before I let you go make your own little stuffy tomatoes… if you use a lot of frozen spinach as I seem to do, getting rid of all the excess water after it’s thawed can be a bother.  Somewhere along the way I picked up this trick, maybe you already have one of these, but a potato ricer is without a doubt god’s gift to perfectly drained frozen spinach.  After thawing, just plop it in the ricer, squeeze and you’re done.  You are now free to use your perfectly dry spinach however you please.  

And here’s the part where I confess that I may or may not have just eaten a bowl of that creamy spinach stuffing topped with some melted Gruyere cheese and been oh so very happy about it. Here’s the recipe…

Creamy Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe Courtesy Katie Lee, Food Network

These scrumptious little tomatoes are wonderful as a side dish to anything you might want to throw on the grill.  They're also great as an appetizer or a quick lunch.  I've made some changes to the original recipe, which you can see by clicking on the link above.

Makes 12 stuffed tomatoes


Ingredients:
6 medium-large roma tomatoes
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 to 3.5 oz soft goat cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Use a sharp knife to cut each tomato in half lengthwise.   Use a paring knife to cut out the inside of the tomato and then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. 

In a blender or food processor, puree the spinach with the goat cheese, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Gently spoon the mixture into each tomato and top with the gruyere. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  If the cheese has not sufficiently melted by this time, just run them under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment 

Friday
Jul182014

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread with Crumb Topping

It’s been a tough slog in the Circle B Kitchen these past few weeks.  I don’t mean to sound whiny or anything, but I think I’ve had to make like 5 loaves of cinnamon bread and we’ve had to eat them, all the while trying to figure out what needed tweaking to make the ultimate, most lusciously delicious cinnamon quick bread imaginable. 

It’s been exhausting, but I’m pretty sure we can finally declare success. 

You know how the good folks at Cook’s Illustrated will give you the blow by blow of every moment, each decision and change of measuring spoon for every recipe they’ve developed?  I’m not going to get quite that into it, but I will tell you that we started with a recipe for cinnamon quick bread that’s been languishing in the archives for about 67 years.   

It was a perfectly fine recipe.  The Husband loved it.  We both did, in fact.  But being the greedy, ill-tempered cook that I am, I wanted MORE!  I wanted a swoon-worthy cinnamon bread unlike any made before.  I realized this might be a rather lofty goal to be setting, but on I trudged,

making a couple of changes here and there which turned out an even more delicious loaf of bread.  Encouraged, I did that 3 or 4 more times, each time adding this or subtracting that and then finally adding a crumb topping and now we’re pretty sure we’ve come up with some of the best cinnamon bread in recorded history.   

Well, that's just our opinion.

You will have to be the final judge as to the merits of that statement, but one thing you will have to agree with us on… this is the happiest cinnamon bread you will ever encounter.  

Every loaf… all five of them… have come out of the oven with a great big smile plastered on every slice.  If I tasted this good, I’d be happy too.  Here’s the recipe…

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread with Crumb Topping

Click here for a printable recipe

This recipe accommodates an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan.  If you only have the larger 9 x 5 size, it will take a little less cooking time, so check it after 30 or 35 minutes.  You don't have to swirl the cinnamon sugar into the batter with a knife in step 3, but it disperses it a little which is nice in the finished loaf.  The buttermilk is an essential ingredient in this bread, the fresher the better.  I do not suggest substituting powdered buttermilk because you need the lift that's created when the buttermilk and baking soda meet up.  It creates a really wonderful texture!  And speaking of texture... this bread has a very moist, delicate crumb that will seize up if overcooked.  Every oven is different, mine was done perfectly at about 43 minutes.  I would suggest testing it at 40 and taking it out of the oven as soon as your toothpick is just barely clean.

Ingredients:
¼ cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Sugar:
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

Crumb topping:
¼  cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
¼  cup butter, melted
½ cup all purpose flour 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray an 8 ½ by 4 1/2 –inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan with a few inches of overhang (about 7 ½ x 13 inches), place it in the pan and then spray again with non-stick cooking spray.  This will make removal from the pan super easy. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg, and buttermilk.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly, and then pour 1 1/3 cups of the batter into the prepared pan. 

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle it over the batter in the pan.  Use a knife to swirl it though the batter.  Pour the remaining batter over the cinnamon sugar, smoothing the top with a spatula. 

Mix together the crumb topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the batter. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Grab the ends of the parchment paper and remove the bread from the pan.  Discard the parchment and place the bread on a wire rack to cool.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Friday
Jul112014

Paella On The Grill

In my humble opinion, the very best thing about summer is getting to cook outside.  Food cooked over fire tastes eminently more scrumptious, all smoky and delicious. We also love how grilling incites parties where they might not otherwise be happening, and how everyone sort of participates in the cooking, even if just as a spectator.

So when I planned to make paella on this particular evening, it seemed an awfully good idea to take it outside and not only light the grill, but get the brick oven going too.  You can never have too much fire where paella is concerned. 

We’ve been making paella for quite a few years here at the Circle B Kitchen, but it wasn’t until we took it out to the grill that I figured it was time to let you in on the action.  If you've made paella before, you know how fun and not at all complicated it is to throw together.  

The prep work might take a bit of planning, but that’s pretty cinchy too.  We think it's the perfect party meal and will not only feed the friends you invited over, but all of your cousins as well.  And there will still be leftovers.   

So paella is Spanish in origin, as you probably already know, and is basically a rice dish, but I’m pretty sure they had a hard time deciding what kind of meat should be featured, and so they just threw it all in.  Or maybe that’s just us.  This time we used chicken thighs, chorizo, shrimp, calamari and mussels.  You could also use just about any kind of sausage, scallops, clams, lobster or whatever else sounds good in the moment. 

Once you have your ingredients all prepped and at the ready, it’s just a matter of stirring them into the pan, one at a time, layering flavors and then letting it simmer away while the party kicks into gear, all the while munching a few apps and sipping something cold until your paella is done and great spoonfuls of golden rice, smoky sausage and grilled seafood are piled onto plates with shards of crusty bread to soak it all up.  That right there is why we love summertime cooking.  Here’s the recipe… 

Paella On The Grill

Click here for a printable recipe

This paella can be made on the stove, on the grill or in a brick oven.  We've made it every which way and it's all good.  (This time we started it on the grill and finished it in the brick oven).  We love the deep, smoky flavors that develop as it cooks on the grill, but it's also delicious cooked on the stovetop. Although it is sacrilege to cover paella as it cooks, we really like to put the lid on the grill for that last five or ten minutes, which gives it time to absorb even more of those smoky flavors as the rice finishes cooking.   We use a 15" paella pan, but you could use a large flat-bottomed skillet of about that same size.

Serves at least 6

¼ cup (or more) olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
1 lb. Spanish chorizo, cut into chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
½ green pepper, ½ red pepper, ½ yellow pepper, sliced or diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your heat preferences)
½ cup white wine
1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1 bottle clam juice
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp saffron threads, crushed between  your fingers
2 cups arborio or Calasparra rice
16-20 uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can leave the tails on if you like)
About 20 Mussels
¼ to ½ lb calamari
Lemon wedges for serving 

Other optional additions include sliced green olives and peas.  You can substitute just about any kind of sausage for the chorizo and other seafood including clams, scallops and lobster

Directions:

Prepare the grill to about medium high heat.

Place a large skillet or paella pan on the grill and add the olive oil.  Brown the chicken thighs on both sides and cook for about 5-10 minutes.

Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or so or until they start to soften.  Then add the chorizo and cook until brown and crispy.  Sprinkle in the smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes and minced garlic and stir until well distributed and fragrant.

Deglaze the pan with the wine for about 2 -3 minutes and then add the tomatoes, broth, saffron, clam juice and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and then add the shrimp, mussels and calamari, nestling the seafood partially into the rice and broth.

Simmer, uncovered, without stirring for about 20 minutes. (We like to put the lid over the grill for the last 5 or 10 minutes to allow the smoke to permeate the paella).

Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with lemon wedges and a fresh, crusty loaf of bread.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Wednesday
Jul022014

It's Mulberry Season!

 

Our two-year old grandson, who lives on the upper part of our property with his parents, wanders down outside most mornings with purple lips and purple fingers, happily munching on a few of the mulberries growing on branches low enough for him to reach.  The first time he told us he was picking mulbabies, we knew they would always and forever be known as such. 

We have 7 or 8 mulbaby trees growing about the place.  I can see 4 of them from my little window here where I work.  It makes me think back to the days when we first bought the place (’02), and coming from California, had no idea what a mulberry was.  We didn’t even know if they were edible and did the old “you try it first, no you try it!” routine until one of us finally did try one, and the rest is history.  It is just a fact of life here in June and July that your fingers will be purple.  Mulbabies are irresistible little things. 

It wasn’t long after we discovered their deliciousness, that I created this mulbaby cobbler, which is still the first thing we do with them with they ripen. This year, though, we ventured out a little, and my daughter-in-law made mulbaby jam which is like the best thing ever.  I’m down to my last 2 jars and I can’t abide the thought of a morning without that jam.  Sigh.

And then I got it in my head to make this mulbaby tart and it was so good and so luscious that I thought that if you have a surplus of mulbabies at your place, you might want to get one made for yourself. 

I do realize that half of the U.S. does not grow mulbabies (the western half), and if  that’s where you find yourself, you can substitute blackberries, olallieberries, or any other berry-like fruit in the tart.  But sadly, I can't imagine the jam without mulbabies.

If you aren't lucky enough to have access to mulberries where you are, here's a great resource for buying dried mulberries. which sound delicious.  They can also be reconstituted and used for baking. It's also where I learned that mulbabies are a new superfood!  Delicious AND good for you!  Yay!!  Here are the recipes…

Sophia's Mulbaby Jam

Click here for a printable recipe

6 cups mulberries
3.5 Tbsp lemon juice
7 Tbsp pectin
5 cups sugar 

Cook mulberries over medium heat for 10 min to loosen juice. Smash or run through a food mill. Add the berries, lemon juice and pectin to a pot over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil that can't be stirred down.

Add all of the sugar and return to a full boil. Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and skim any foam, if necessary. 

Ladle into sanitized jars and process according to your altitude. At sea level we hard boiled the jars for 10 min. 

Mulberry Tart

Click here for a printable recipe

Do not be dismayed by the length of this recipe.  I know it looks daunting, but it really isn’t.  You can make the filling and berry topping well ahead of time which will make this a snap to assemble. 

Although this is delicious with mulberries, you can also use blackberries or blueberries for the topping.  You will need a 12” tart pan with a removable bottom, but a smaller tart pan will also work; you will just have some leftover ingredients which is not a bad thing.  If you are using berries other than mulberries, I suggest you taste and add a little sugar to the topping if needed.  

Makes one 12” tart 

For the crust: 
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 eggs (one egg is for brushing crust)
1 egg yolk
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces 

For the filling:
2/3  cup sugar 
1/4  cup cornstarch 
1/4  teaspoon salt 
2 ½ cups milk 
4  large egg yolks 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or more, if desired) 

For the mulberry topping:
2 ½ cups of mulberries
½ cup of blackberry or mulberry jam
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt 

Make the topping:

In a medium saucepan, heat the jam over low heat until melted.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate until chilled and the sauce has thickened slightly. 

Make the filling:

1.  In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks. 

2. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir the butter and vanilla into hot custard.  Cover and let cool somewhat before assembling the tart. 

Make the crust: 

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl.  

Beat together 1 of the eggs and the yolk in a small bowl,then add eggs, along with the butter, to the flour mixture.  

Cut butter and eggs into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can do this in the food processor).  

Transfer to a clean surface and, working with a handful at a time, knead mixture with the heel of your hand into a smooth dough.  Gather together and knead briefly to form a smooth ball, then dust with flour.  

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round, then carefully ease into a 12” tart pan.  Run rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off overhanging dough, then prick crust with a fork.  

Line dough with parchment paper, add pie weights and bake on a cookie sheet until edge of crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  

Beat remaining egg in a bowl.  Remove parchment paper and weights from crust, brush bottom with egg, and continue baking until crust is golden, 5-7 minutes more.  Let the crust cool for about 20 minutes before assembling the tart. 

To Assemble:

Remove the crust from the tart pan and place on a serving plate.  Spoon the cooled custard into the tart shell and then spread that with the mulberry topping.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Sunday
Jun292014

Chorizo Frittata with Chickpeas and Spinach

It is my sincere belief that frittatas are nothing short of heroic work horses that more than pull their weight when it’s crunch time in the kitchen.  Nothing planned for dinner?  No problem… grab some eggs and whatever the heck else you’ve got in the fridge or pantry and you can have dinner on the table in minutes. 

One of the reasons I think that frittatas are such an awesome meal choice is that it’s really kind’ve hard to mess them up.  They accommodate just about any ingredients; they’re good hot, warm or cold and great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They can be super healthy or scrumptiously indulgent and you really don’t even need a recipe.  OK, so that there would be like 6 reasons to love and appreciate the humble frittata. 

And among all of those frittata possibilities, this has become my all-time very favorite so far.  I came across the recipe on the Food 52 website and couldn’t wait to get it made because it also involved two recent favorites of mine…homemade chorizo and freshly cooked up chickpeas

And I couldn’t resist topping it with a little of that romesco sauce we made not long ago. 

(shameless plugs for previous posts, but they were seriously awesome contributors to the deliciousness of this frittata).

 

I’m not sure I can even tell you specifically why this frittata tastes so much better to me than others that I’ve made.  Obviously, it's got some pretty scrumptious flavor combinations going on, but somehow the way that these ingredients interact with the eggs also creates a very wondrous textural experience. It won my heart and it may just grab yours too.  Here’s the recipe…

Chorizo Frittata with Chickpeas and Spinach

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy Food 52

This is has become one of my all-time favorite frittatas.  I used chickpeas that I cooked up from dried and they were impossibly tender and lovely in this.  I also used my homemade chorizo which we thought was rather killer.  This recipe calls for the more traditional Spanish chorizo that comes fully cooked in links.  If you use the Mexican-style chorizo sausage, just remove it from the link casings, crumble it into the pan and continue with the recipe, making sure to cook it all the way through.  I've also used frozen spinach instead of the fresh, and it works great.  Just be sure to thaw it and squeeze it thoroughly dry before adding it to the pan.  It really doesn't matter what kind of spinach or chorizo you use or whether your chickpeas are freshly cooked or canned, this is a crazy good frittata!

1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 roasted red pepper
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup of diced chorizo (see headnote)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 big handfuls spinach 
5 eggs, beaten
salt 

1.  Finely chop the onion and garlic and saute in a frying pan in a good glug of olive oil until soft and fragrant.

2.  Dice the red pepper and chorizo into chickpea-sized chunks and add to the pan with the chickpeas and paprika.

3.  Saute everything together until the orangy paprika oils run from the chorizo.

4.  Add the spinach and keep stirring until it wilts and everything starts to meld together in the pan.

5.  Add the eggs and stir gently to incorporate the eggs into the whole mixture, then allow to set over a medium heat.

6.  Preheat the broiler, then slide the whole pan under the broiler to set the top of the fritatta, it will only take a minute or two to become light gold and puffy.

7.  Gently loosen from the edge of the frying pan with a knife then place a large plate over the pan and invert the fritatta onto it. Then place another plate on top and invert once again so the glossy grilled top of the fritatta is on view.

8.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

9.  Allow to cool slightly before slicing into canape sized cubes or wedges. Serve hot or room temperature as a tapas or with a salad.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment