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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Creamy Chive Risotto Cakes

     
Brown Sugar Pie 

The Best Homemade Dinner Rolls
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Chocolate Bark with Granola and Sea Salt  

Nacho Cheese Burger

 

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Entries in dessert (15)

Saturday
Apr052014

Coconut Macaroon Pie

You know how you sometimes have things all planned and locked in and you’re all ready to press the launch button and then without warning you get completely and totally yanked out of that plan by something so awesomely incredible that you get whiplash from the suddenness of the u-turn you just executed?  Yeah, me too. 

In fact, that very thing just happened to me yesterday.  No kidding.  I was all set to post some amazingly fun and delicious edamame recipes when I happened to be perusing the L.A. Times recipe section and came face to face with a photo of this coconut macaroon pie.  Within 2 hours I had one cooling on my kitchen counter.  It wouldn’t have taken me so long, but I decided to take some photos along the way… just in case. 

And boy howdy am I ever glad I did because that meant I could waste no time sharing this experience with you.  And what an experience it is.  I mean, it starts with how ridiculously easy this pie is to make.  If you happen to have some coconut in your pantry, then you probably can make it right now, especially if you’re one who likes to make your own pie crusts.  But maybe you have one of those in your freezer or something. 

The best part of the whole coconut macaroon pie experience though, is of course, that first bite.  I was totally unprepared for how those simple ingredients had conspired together to create this luscious coconut custard, topped with that crisp, browned coconut.  As much as I love coconut macaroons, and I do, I’ve never had one that tasted like this. 

And when I say this pie is easy, I mean it.  Easy as pie.  Sorry. 

Let’s start with the crust.  I’ve been making pie crusts for over 30 years, so I can pretty much throw one out in my sleep (here’s my recipe), but use a store-bought one if that’s your preference.

 Once you get your pie crust in place, 

we’re going to whisk together a couple of eggs, a little flour, water, salt, butter, sugar and coconut. 

And then we’re going to add my secret weapon to make this pie even more spectacular.  Ready? 

Yep.  Coconut extract.  It wasn’t in the original recipe, but I cannot make a coconut pie or cake without it.  We’re not talking imitation flavoring.  Your pie will be better if you leave that out.  No, we’re talking about the real deal… extract.  It’s a bit hard to find, but if you’re determined, you can order it online or find yourself a spice shop that carries it. 

Then we’re going to pour that lovely coconut mixture into your pie crust and sprinkle the top with more coconut. 

Then we’re going to bake it, let it cool and slice it up.  It’s that easy. 

Oh, and if you really must, but it sure doesn’t need it, you can drizzle your slice with a little chocolate. 

I hope I’ve persuaded you as to the deliciousness of a coconut macaroon pie.  My fear, actually, is that I’ve over-sold it.   Perhaps I’ve raised your expectations so high that no pie could possibly meet them.  This is, in truth, a very simple pie with very simple ingredients that just happens to be crazy good. Guess I’ll just stick with that.  Here’s the recipe…

Coconut Macaroon Pie

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Saddlebag Lake Resort 
  via the L.A. Times

As I mentioned in my post, I added coconut extract, but if you can't find it, I'm sure it will be fine without it.  Also, it took my pie the full hour to bake, and then I had to turn the oven up to 350 for the last 5 minutes.  Every oven is different, so check your pie at 45 minutes, but it may take a bit longer.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (not flavoring)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus extra for sprinkling over the top of the pie if desired.
Unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, sugar, coconut extract, flour, salt and butter. Fold in the vlaked coconut. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell, and top with a little extra coconut if desired to brown as the pie bakes.

Place the pie in the oven and bake until lightly golden and the custard is set (it will jiggle only slightly when tapped), 45 to 55 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. If the pie colors too quickly before it is set, loosely tent with foil.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Saturday
Feb152014

One Perfect Bite

I was watching a Top Chef episode not long ago wherein the chefs had been challenged to create “one perfect bite” for the judges.  Of course their little bites were mostly pretty complex in terms of flavors and ingredients, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes a perfect bite can be insanely simple and un-complex; this little Clementine being a case in point. 

There are few things that aren’t made better by a little chocolate, so this isn’t all that much of a stretch, but little Clementine segments really are the perfect little bite-sized vehicle for chocolate-dipping.  Adding some toasted almonds and a sprinkle of sea salt creates a lovely, complex burst of flavor that takes it right over the edge of yumminess into Greatness.  Well, that’s what I think anyway. 

So before the little clementines take their leave for another season, might I suggest taking them for a little chocolate dunk?  Here’s the recipe…

Chocolate-Dipped Clementines with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt

Click here for a printable recipe

You can use any kind of sweet tangerine for this.  I had some “Cuties” on hand and they worked well, but any seedless mandarin would be great.  And if you don’t have any flaked sea salt, you can use kosher salt or coarse-grained sea salt.  I prefer to eat these as soon as the chocolate hardens.  If they sit out too long, the tangerine segments have a tendency to start to dry out.  They’re still good, but not quite as juicy.  The measurements here a just approximations.  You can add more nuts or chocolate to suit your own tastes.

For 2 Clementines:

1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds (or more, if you'd like)
flaked sea salt for sprinkling

Peel the clementines and separate the segments.

Place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on a flat plate or baking sheet.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20-second intervals until they're smooth and melted.  Stir in the chopped nuts.

Dip half of each clementine segment in the melted chocolate and place on the wax paper.  Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt.

When all of the clementines are dipped, place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.  It will harden at room temperature in about an hour.  These are best if eaten right away.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Tuesday
Jan282014

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Popovers

 

Oh, popovers.  How we do love them.  They’re ever so scrumptious with their custardy center and crispy exterior, and they look so cute when you open the oven door to see them all puffed up and pretty.  If only you never had to take them out of the oven. 

Before I get to that, though, I must tell you that these are some of the best-tasting popovers you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.  Just a hint of brown sugar and vanilla and scented with cinnamon and quite honestly, I could eat several at one sitting.  The recipe says to sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar when they come out of the oven, which is a bit like gilding the lily, and perhaps more appropriate as a dessert popover than breakfast, but that’s just me.   I felt they needed no embellishment, but the powdered sugar looked sort of pretty.  They really are very special and you will want to make these for yourself to see just how special they really are.

…But.   Yes, we have to start this paragraph with “But”.  But… they are not beautiful.  I’ve made these three times now, and the first time I made them exactly as stated in the recipe.  The second time I made a couple of modifications.  The third time I tried using little ramekins instead of my popover pan.  But none of my sweet little popovers turned out like the photo on the Relish website.  I think they cheated and inserted some other popover photo because these popovers are not pale and delicate as shown in the photo.  No sir, these are brown sugar cinnamon popovers and they are ruddy- complected and rather earthy-looking and I just thought I should warn you. 

And then at the end of the recipe, it says to “serve immediately before they deflate.”  That is hilarious!  I mean they start deflating the moment you open the oven door, continue to deflate as you remove them from the oven, deflate further when you remove them from the pan and deflation intensifies as they cool.  You get the picture…  deflated, shriveled popovers.  Oh, but they’re so good.  I described these to my Cousin Katie the other day as soothing.  Simple, warm, soothing and oh so good.  And did I mention easy to make?  Two bowls and just a couple minutes of mixing and they're in the oven, so these definitely qualify as breakfast food.

After doing a little research, I’ve learned that perhaps using whole milk will prevent shriveling (I used 2%), and/or extending the baking time to 40 or 45 minutes will set the popover so it doesn’t shrivel or deflate quite as much, but that would also set the interior and we might lose our squishy center.  I'm pretty sure that the addition of brown sugar adds something to the mix that keeps them from holding their shape as they cool.  The addition of a little more flour might provide a bit more structure.  I may work on this some more, but to be honest, I’m afraid to mess with the recipe much more for fear of losing its textural personality which we so dearly love.  So I’ll leave it to you to decide.  If you like your popovers slightly sweet, crisp and custardy, and don’t find the site of a shriveled popover bottom abhorrent, these may just be the popovers for you.  Here’s the recipe…

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Popovers

Click here for a printable recipe

These really are amazingly good and just right for breakfast or a mid-day snack.  But as I mentioned in the blog post, they aren't beautiful.  If you can get past their appearance (serving them in little ramekins helps), you're in for a very tasty treat.  Also, I've made these in popover pans and in ceramic ramekins. They didn't rise as well in the ramekins, so I would stick with the popover pan or muffin tin.  If cooking them in a muffin tin, I would reduce the cooking time to about 10 minutes (after you turn it down to 350). Depending on how hot your oven runs, just watch them so they don't get too dark.

Recipe adapted from Relish.com 

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons powdered sugar 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt. In a large glass liquid measuring cup or bowl, heat milk until just lukewarm, about 30 second in the microwave. Whisk in butter, then vanilla and eggs. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture.

Place popover pans or muffin tins in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spray liberally with cooking spray. Divide batter among cups, filling until half full. Bake 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using. Serve immediately before the popovers deflate.  :)

Makes 6 full-size popovers or 12 muffin-size popovers.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Thursday
May162013

Circle B Coconut Pudding

Like most people, I’m all about ethereal desserts redolent with salted caramel or exotic fruits, speculoos-infused pastries or French macarons layered with some decadent ganache, but you know, sometimes you just want a bowl of pudding.  And here's one classy little pudding that isn’t so hip that it can’t deliver a truly comforting spoonful of homey deliciousness. 

A few weeks back I had a craving (yes, another one of those) that I just couldn’t put my finger on.  I absolutely knew I wanted pudding, but I so seldom indulge my sweet tooth, that I seemed to have lost the art of interpreting its signals.  OK, yes, I get it, you want pudding, but what KIND of pudding??  After numerous attempts to point out just about every pudding recipe I had and repeatedly receiving the negative head nod, I pulled out my recipe for coconut pudding and finally got it.  The big YES!  Coconut pudding was definitely IT!

I love this recipe. And I love this pudding.  I love it plain with just a bit of toasted coconut on top, but I also love it with a little layer of chocolate inside and maybe a few chocolate shavings mixed on top with the toasted coconut.

The big question when I went to make it was whether or not to put coconut IN the pudding.  In the end, I opted to keep the pudding smooth and creamy and just add coconut on top, and I think it’s best that way.  But if you prefer, you can stir a little coconut into the pudding itself for an extra boost of coconut flavor and texture.

The added bonus is for those who might be lactose intolerant… we’re making this entirely with coconut milk – no dairy.  There are eggs, so we can’t claim to be vegan here.  But if you would like to use a vegan egg substitute and leave out the butter, you’re good to go.

So just in case your sweet tooth cravings are trying to lead you to something creamy, luscious, simple and homey with just a bit of sophistication, here’s just the thing….

CIRCLE B COCONUT PUDDING

Click here for a printable recipe

This pudding comes out super luscious and creamy.  I've combined a couple of recipes to create it, but there are a couple of options for you to consider.  The first is whether or not to add shredded coconut to the pudding.  I prefer to keep the pudding smooth and creamy, but if you'd like to add a little more coconut flavor and texture, you can stir some into the pudding.  I've also added a layer of chocolate, which, of course, makes this yummy and decadent.  A few chocolate shavings on top makes it pretty speical.  Coconut extract really boosts the coconut quotient, but try not to use coconut flavoring which has a more artificial flavor to it.

Serves 4

2/3  cup sugar
1/4  cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2  cups lite coconut milk (about 1 1/3 cans)
4  large egg yolks
2  tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (not flavoring)
1/2 cup coconut flakes, divided

1.   In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Very gradually whisk in cocnut 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 the heat and s tir the butter, coconut extract, and vanilla into the hot pudding. 

3.   Pour the pudding into individual ramekins or dessert cups, or you pour it into one large bowl.  Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (to prevent skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Toast the coconut on a small sheet pan in a 375 degree oven for about 5-6 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it because it can burn quickly.  Stir once or twice if it starts to get too brown around the edges.

If using the one-bowl method, before serving, whisk the pudding until smooth; divide among four serving dishes.  Top with toasted coconut.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Wednesday
Mar202013

Chocolate Bark with Granola and Sea Salt

Whooo boy.   Not sure I've got much more to say than that.  I mean, you mix luscious dark chocolate with yummy granola and a little flaky sea salt and what’s not to love, you know?  So instead of mucking up this lovely moment of reverie with a bunch of words, maybe I should just show you how to make some incredibly scrumptious chocolate bark…

First you must start with some excellent chocolate.  Some dark, some light, whatever, it just must be of excellent quality…    

Then you're going to want some very excellent granola...

...and some nice flaky sea salt (or any favorite finishing salt will do)...

Then you will be melting your excellent chocolate over a pan of simmering water...

Until it becomes silky smooth and totally gorgeous...

Then you will stir in some of that yummy granola...

And spread it all out on some parchment paper...

Then sprinkle it with your flaky sea salt and a little more granola...

and then stick it in the fridge for an hour...

When it comes out, use a sharp knife to break the bark into shards that you can then share with someone you love or...

someone you like a lot.  Or no one.  Your call.  Here’s the recipe…

CHOCOLATE BARK WITH GRANOLA AND SEA SALT

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

I made a few changes to the original recipe, which I would definitely and highly recommend.  Firstly, I increased the amount of granola from 3/4 cup to 1 cup. You could even add more if you wanted.  I used my recipe for homemade granola, which was awesome in here.  The cranberries and raisins were SO good with the chocolate.
Secondly, the original recipe had you adding the salt in with the melting chocolate, which, to my mind, completely defeated the purpose of using a flaky finishing salt.  So I recommend sprinkling the salt over the finished bark before topping it with the granola.  I omitted the crystallized ginger and cocoa nubs, as I didn't think it really needed them.   Other than that, use whatever combination of dark/light chocolates you want, just make sure it's high quality stuff.  Enjoy!

Yield: One 9-by-13-inch sheet

Cook Time: 7 minutes (plus 1 hour to chill)

Ingredients:

Nonstick pan spray
¾ pound semisweet chocolate (62%), chopped
¼ pound bittersweet chocolate (82%), chopped
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (or to taste)
1 cup granola (here’s my recipe), divided
2 tablespoons cacao nibs, optional
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger, optional

DIRECTIONS

1. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick pan spray. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, allowing the ends of the paper to hang loosely over the short edges of the baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, add the semisweet and the bittersweet chocolates.  Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and place the bowl on top of the saucepan (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir the chocolate often until it is completely melted and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the bowl with the chocolate from the saucepan.

3. To the melted chocolate, add ¾ cup of the granola and stir to combine. Pour the chocolate-granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread the mixture in an even, ¼-inch-thick layer. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate with the sea salt and remaining ¼ cup of the granola, the cacao nibs and the crystallized ginger, if using, and refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour.

4. Remove the bark from the refrigerator and use the parchment overhang to lift it out of the baking sheet and set it on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to break the chocolate into pieces, then serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  (I'm sure it will last longer than that in the fridge if you keep it in an airtight container.)

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