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 Party Foods!

      Cheese-y Pasta Bites

    Seafood Guacamole

   Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts    

        Sausage Roll Bites 

   7-Layer Mediterranean Dip   

Pasta Squares with Pepperoni and
                      Olives

      Artichoke Spinach Dip 

  Cheese-y Beer and Mustard Dip   

        Baked Mozzarella Sticks       

      Cheese-y Beer Popovers         

        Olive Cheese Bites

       Crab and Avocado Rolls
            Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
 

       Parmesan Munchy Mix

    Artichoke, Spinach and Goat                Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms     

3-Cheese Crostini with Italian                                  Sausage                

        Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
  


Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

    Toasted Pine Nut Hummus       

                Pizza Sliders    

... 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/ .

 

 

Tuesday
Feb172015

Keeping on...

There have been good days and there have been not so good days and Mom is still struggling to stay in the game.  In the meantime, my Circle B life remains on hold.  The bulk of my food prep these days revolves around peeling the lid off a bottle of Ensure and which flavor will perhaps spark a little more interest this time. I do miss my kitchen and cooking and all of you.  Thank you so much for all of your amazingly kind and supportive comments and emails.  I know this is somewhat of a universal experience that so many of you have already been through.  Your words of wise counsel have not been wasted.  Thank you.  Thank you!

it's becoming clearer each day the ways in which this experience is teaching me things I did not know about myself.  I have promised myself to make the best use of this time for me.  Big lessons in being brave and fending off guilt and not letting fear get the best of me.  Hope and optimism heal.  More of these lessons to come.  Hope to be back here soon.  I really do.

Patrice

Tuesday
Feb102015

Life Can Be Like This Sometimes...

Instead of cooking and photographing and writing this last week or so, I've been sitting beside my Mother's hospital bed, willing her to recover from congestive heart failure. I'm happy to report that this 90-year old woman has apparently only used up 7 of her 9 lives, and today has turned the corner and recovery looks probable rather than questionable. I just left her bedside in the ICU where she was fixing her hair, applying a little make-up and trying to figure out where she left off on her kindle book.

I could write volumes about the brave, caring, compassionate and talented nurses and doctors, some of whom have sat on her bed, holding her hands, speaking in soft whispers, reassurring her that she could indeed pull through. One does not go through an experience like this without being changed; I am only beginning to discover what that might mean for me. Mom still has a pretty long road to recovery, but I will be returning to my blogging and cooking and you all very soon. Until then....

Thursday
Jan292015

Circle B Sweet and Spicy Party Wings

 

I’ve been trying to work up some excitement about the upcoming Super Bowl and failing rather miserably at it.   It’s really not all that fun if you don’t have a team to root for, and it’s nearly impossible if you’re sort of rooting for both teams to lose.  I’m still mad at the Seahawks for beating our beloved Packers (I should be mad at the Packers for losing that one, but for now, I’ll just channel my misdirected anger towards the Seahawks), and I’m not much of a Patriots fan, especially now with the whole deflate-gate scandal, which I don’t know, I can’t even get all that worked up about that either. 

But, it’s an event, and it’s an event with food, so I’ll be there.  With wings.  Curious imagery aside, I’m not in the least apologetic for going wings for the super bowl, even though it seems so cliché.  There are just some things you don’t mess with and iconic super bowl foods fall squarely into that category… nachos, sliders, chips, dips and wings.  It’s like turkey at Thanksgiving, burgers on the 4th and eggs at Easter… you don’t mess with tradition, right? 

Well, actually, one might claim a bit of latitude when it comes to super bowl party food, and we usually have a fairly odd mix of new and old favorites.   But for the purposes of our discussion here, we’re sticking with the traditional, and that means wings.  These have been our go-to wings for a few years now, so I think it’s high time I shared them with you on the off chance that you’re still in the planning stages of your super bowl fete.

 

Sooooo, these wings… sweet, sticky, spicy (if you want), totally scrumptious and really quite easy to throw together.  If you’ve got a lot of people to feed, you can save a little coin by buying the wings whole and cutting them yourself, or geez, you could just keep them whole or buy them already cut, whatever.  It'll all be good. I chose to cut them myself and it took like 4 ½ minutes to do 2 lbs, and here’s how you do it… I’m not a butcher, so I don’t know the correct terminology for the joints and all, but if you place your knife at that bendy part there, and cut, you’ll get a nice, clean cut...

 and two wing pieces.

Then, if you cut over there at that other bent part, you can cut off the little tip (and save those little ends for stock or something).

Then just place some flour and cornstarch in a paper bag, 

Throw in your wings, shake em up good and then dump it all into a strainer and shake again to remove the excess flour.


The wings now go onto a baking sheet with some salt and pepper 

And then into the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once if you want. 

Honestly, I just wanted to eat them right there like that straight out of the oven and I’m going to do that someday, but not today.  These wings need sauce!

So we're going to mix up the sauce ingredients - balsamic vinegar, honey and sriracha.  Originally, the recipe called for 1/4 cup of sriracha sauce, and if you enjoy setting your hair on fire, go ahead and add the full amount.  I've knocked it back to 2 tablespoons which seems spicy enough without having to stick your head under a faucet.  The wings then get thoroughly coated with this wondrous sauce then back they go into the oven to finish baking and getting all caramelized, a little crispy and totally luscious. 

You don’t actually need to dip these in anything, but a nice blue cheese or ranch dip is traditional and delicious, so you might consider that a possibility.  I like to combine some of my yogurt cheese with a little ranch dressing and softened goat cheese and that makes a pretty killer dip too. 

I have to say, it helps cut through my super bowl ambivalence a little to be throwing together some good eats, and these wings will no doubt brighten the mood. 

Well, that and some possibly entertaining commercials, a glass of wine or two and a little Katy Perry thrown into the mix.  I could get into that. Here's the recipe...

Circle B Sweet and Spicy Party Wings

Click here for a printable recipe

Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 lbs wings (cut in pieces, if desired -see blog photos)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like them)
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper
Blue cheese or ranch dip for serving 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with Pam. 

Place about 1/3 cup flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a paper bag.  Shake to combine.  Add the wings and shake to completely coat.  

Dump the wings into a wire mesh strainer and shake off all of the excess flour. 

Place the wings on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Bake the wings for 15 minutes and then turn them and sprinkle with more salt.  Return the wings to the oven for another 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey and sriracha sauce.  Remove the wings from the oven and place in a large bowl.  Pour most of the sauce over the wings to coat well and place them back on the baking sheet.  Bake for about 15 or 20 more minutes, turning and basting until they’re dark and the sauce has caramelized.  Serve warm or room temperature with the dip of your choice.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Saturday
Jan242015

Mixed Greens Salad with Clementines, Avocado, Roasted Shrimp and So Much More

 

I can’t even think how long ago we first started making the original version of this salad, but it has to be at least 20 years ago.  I think it’s probably more like 30 years ago, and it might be possible that it’s older even than that.  Whatever.  Suffice to say it’s probably been in my recipe file since I was 2 or 3.  The original recipe called for salad greens, canned mandarin oranges and sliced avocado, mixed with a sweet and sour dressing and sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds.  It was such a good salad and we made it pretty often back in the day. 

Over the years I swapped out the canned mandarins for fresh clementines, or navel oranges when clementines weren’t in season, and added a sprinkling of goat cheese or blue cheese.  I haven’t messed with the salad dressing, as that would be pointless.  It’s perfect…sweet, sour, delicious.

But then last night, wanting something a little lighter for dinner, I thought I’d turn our beloved salad into a main dish by adding roasted shrimp and dressing it up a bit further with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.  And boy howdy, if our humble little salad from the ‘60’s didn’t morph into something rather glamorously sophisticated!  And not coincidentally, even more delicious! 

There’s definitely a lot going on in that salad bowl– seven ingredients might seem a bit excessive.  But every flavor and texture either holds its own or plays very nicely with everyone else, creating a lovely salad that’s deliciously complicated, yet well-mannered and remarkably harmonious.  Not a bad looker either.  Here’s the recipe…

Mixed Greens Salad with Clementines, Avocado and Roasted Shrimp 

Click here for a printable recipe

This is such a deliciously versatile salad.  You can easily leave out the shrimp and serve it as a tasty side dish.  I sometimes swap out the goat cheese for blue cheese with really delicious results.  Be sure to add a good portion of the goat cheese to the salad before mixing and adding the salad dressing.  The goat cheese blends a little with the dressing to add a bit of creaminess. The salad holds pretty well in the fridge for up to ½ hour before serving.  Oh, and be sure to serve it with some fresh, warm, crusty bread.

Serves 2 as a main course salad 

4 cups of romaine and leaf lettuces torn into small pieces
2 clementines, peeled and segmented
1 avocado, sliced
¼ cup slivered toasted almonds
3 oz goat cheese, divided (see headnote)
½ lb raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup pomegranate seeds (optional) 

Sweet and sour dressing:
½ c oil
3 T wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
2 T sugar
½ t salt
½ t dry mustard
2 tsp grated or minced onion or shallots

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a small-ish baking sheet with nonstick spray. 

Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to emulsify.  Place the shrimp in a bowl or ziptop bag, and pour a little of the dressing over the shrimp.  Mix well, cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about ½ hour.  Place the rest of the dressing in the refrigerator to chill. 

Remove the shrimp from the marinade (discard the marinade) and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper.  Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the shrimp have just turned pink and are barely cooked through.  Be careful not to overcook them.  Place the cooked shrimp on a plate, cover, and refrigerate while you assemble the salad. 

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, clementines, avocado, slivered almonds, and 2/3 of the goat cheese.  Add the chilled shrimp and just enough of the dressing to coat everything really well.  Sprinkle the salad with the remaining goat cheese and the pomegranate seeds, if using.  So nice if served with some fresh, crusty bread.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Friday
Jan162015

Cheese-y Pasta Bites

Over the past few years we’ve kind’ve taken the football party and elevated it to the sort of gastronomical excesses that belie our deeply-held beliefs in a healthy, wholesome diet.  The football party is our one concession to gluttony and indulgence and the always-interesting challenge to see just how many platters and bowls of food can fit on every available horizontal surface.  

As you can imagine, we’ve amassed quite the repertoire of appetizer recipes, and this little bite of heavenly deliciousness is sort of a take on our pasta squares that are almost always a part of our game day food fest. As much as I love those pasta squares, these little pasta bites might edge them out for a spot on the Super Bowl table this year.

But, while snacking on these a little while ago, I got to thinking that they would also be ever so cute for a brunch buffet or a wedding or baby shower and would make a great app for a cocktail party.  Do people still have cocktail parties? 

So what exactly are we talking about here?  Well, you're just going to be cooking up some angel hair pasta and then mixing that with eggs, cheese and seasonings and then baking them in mini muffin tins until the centers are cheese-y and bubbly and the edges are brown and crispy.  They really are a cinch to make and come together in just over 30 minutes, and are best eaten straight from the oven while the edges are still crispy.  But re-heating is easy, and they store well in the fridge, so making them ahead is a perfectly fine option. 

I guess that about covers it.  Anytime I can merge my pasta passion with a fun little finger food, I’m all in.  And I’m definitely all in with this one.  Here’s the recipe…

CHEESE-Y PASTA BITES

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe inspired by one from Proud Italian Cook

This recipe is basically a template for you to create your own variations of these incredibly delicious little appetizers.  The only constant here is that for each 8 oz of pasta you'll use 4 eggs.   You can increase the amounts of cheese or sub out the Italian blend for blue cheese or goat cheese or add more spinach or use kale instead.  You can make them spicy or not, or you can add your favorite herbs.  You could also top them with a little dab of marinara sauce or pesto before serving, but no matter how you make ‘em, they’re best right out of the oven. 

Makes about 40 mini appetizers 

8 oz angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
4 eggs
½ cup (or more) grated Italian cheeses (provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, asiago)
¼ cup (or more) feta cheese
¼ cup (or more) chopped spinach (frozen, thawed and squeezed dry)
1 tsp black pepper (or crushed red pepper)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese for topping 

Preheat oven to 370 degrees.  Spray 2 mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. 

Cook the angel hair pasta in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes or until al dente.  Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. 

In a large bowl beat the eggs with a fork and add the remaining ingredients, except for the parmesan for topping.  Mix in the cooked pasta and stir to combine thoroughly.  

Place a tablespoon or two of the pasta mixture into each muffin cup and sprinkle with a bit of the grated parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a serving platter.  Serve them warm with an optional dab of pesto or marinara sauce.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment