Pasta Fagioli

This one got pulled out of the "why don't I make this every night" file.  It's fall, it's chilly, and we're wanting something warming, soothing and ever so satisfying and boy howdy, pasta fagioli turned out to be the best possible meal for tonight.  I was so wishing I could just eat like 4 helpings, but alas, this is hearty fare, my friends.  It warms and comforts, but it also fills you up. In such lovely, homey and delicious sort of way.

I made a big salad and grilled some sourdough bread and I want to eat this meal all over again tomorrow night.

Asian Pasta and Meatballs

We're down to our last day here at the Circle B Kitchen Western Headquarters and it's time to clean out the fridge.  We've been here 3 weeks and have accumulated quite the array of ingredients, condiments and leftovers which I'm determined to use up before our departure. Last night's menu turned out to be a fun surprise.  I had some ground turkey in the freezer, some rice noodles in the pantry along with some leftover Asian sauce in the fridge, some cilantro and a few green onions gasping their last breath.

So the ground turkey went into some Asian meatballs that I roasted then simmered in some of the Asian sauce, the rest of which went into saucing up those rice noodles, which I decorated with those green onions and cilantro.  Mighty delicious "clean out the fridge" kind of meal.  

I am admittedly loathe to throw away food.  I mean, I have a thing about figuring out how to use every last scrap, so tonight I will see what comes out of a block of cheese, some tortillas, some avocado citrus sauce and 2 pears.  Hmmmmmm...

Rainy Day Cookies

It's been raining all day here at the Western Headquarters for the Circle B Kitchen.  If it weren't such a welcome event in this drought-stricken part of the country, we'd be sort of bummed. Nevertheless, we threw on our parkas and went for a very long walk along the ocean in the rain this morning and didn't mind getting ourselves a bit wet in the process.  This has been a stormy storm creating an angry, tormented sea which was ever such an amazing thing to see against this rocky coastline.

And then we came home and made cookies.  What is it about wet, rainy days that make you crave a warm cookie fresh out of the oven.  That's pretty much a rhetorical question that requires no answer.  Warm, fresh cookies need no explanation.  That, a fresh pot of coffee and a good football game have convinced us that rainy days, even when you're on vacation, can be a wondrous thing indeed.

Here's the recipe!

Sausage Bread

We made it here to the Circle B Kitchen West and are totally enjoying the ocean, family and the crazy abundance of fresh seafood.  You will see the results of one of my seafood cooking adventures on my next post.  But tonight I just had to throw together a big old loaf of sausage bread for everyone.  Man, this stuff is so good, people.  

Basically, it's just rolled out pizza dough covered with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and crushed red pepper.  Then it's rolled up, baked and after you slice it, you dip it in marinara sauce and try not to eat the whole thing yourself.  I made a big salad and that was dinner.  A most exceptional meal and fun time was had by all.  The end.

Clearing Out Frittata!

We're leaving super early tomorrow for the Circle B Kitchen West (scroll down the photo page to Circle B Kitchen West photos.)  After cleaning things out all day in preparation for a 2-week stay, tonight's dinner was a "clean out the fridge" frittata.  I had 1/2 an onion, 1/2 a red pepper, 2 breakfast sausage links, some bacon, some broccoli and some provolone cheese.  Oh, yeah, I also had 8 eggs, all of which went into our frittata.  And can I just say it was amazing!!!

Oh, and I cooked up a little angel hair pasta throw in too.  Then I cut the provolone into chunks and sprinkled that on top...

...scrambled up the eggs with some seasoned salt and parmesan cheese and poured that over the top...

Then covered and cooked it over a medium flame; depending on how many eggs you have in there.  I cooked this one about 14 minutes ...

...and then I stuck it under the broiler until it was beautifully golden and cooked through and oh my ever lovin goodness, so GOOD!!!

Triple Tomato Eggs!

So here's tonight's scenario... very little time for dinner prep; an abundance of eggs in the fridge; an abundance of tomatoes.  Turns out it's sort of a no-brainer that dinner would be the most excellent Triple Tomato Eggs!  We love this stuff, partly because it's so easy and partly because it's so de-lish.  Make sure you have lots and lots of crusty bread for dipping cuz that's what this one's all about... serious dippage.

Chicken and Veggie Sheet Pan Meal

After making and eating a 4-course Indian dinner last night for my son's birthday, tonight's dinner had to be easy, light and healthy.  The first thing I thought of was our chicken and veggie sheet pan dinner.  It doesn't get any easier and it's so veggie-laden and delicious and just exactly what we were craving tonight.

And when I say that it's easy, you have to believe me.  Otherwise I wouldn't have been even considering it tonight.  But we're just talking about marinating some chicken thighs and cutting up some veggies and then roasting them all until everything's all yummy and it creates this awesome sauce and if you haven't made this one, you really must.

Granola Chocolate Bark

Now that my granola jar is full, I got it in my head to make some chocolate bark because, well, who needs a reason to make chocolate bark.  Just because I can.  I picked up my favorite BAR of chocolate while at Trader Joe's.  It weighs over a pound so is perfect for this endeavor.  

It comes divided into little squares so it's really easy to cut up and toss into a bowl and into the microwave.  I know the recipe on this blog says to do this in a double boiler, but just ignore that.  I sometimes don't listen to myself.  Just put it into the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring a bunch of times until it's all melted.   Then just stir in 3/4 cup of your favorite granola.

Spread your melty granola chocolate out onto a parchment lined sheet pan about 1/4-inch thick.

And then sprinkle it with another 1/4 cup of granola and a good sprinkling of flaked sea salt.  Then pop it into the fridge for an hour or two.  When it's good and hard, you can break it into shards and store it in a sealed container in the fridge and always have something sweet to serve if folks pop in or you just need to quell the sweet tooth beasties.


The granola jar is about empty, which happens about every 10 days, so today is Make More Granola Day!  I shouldn't really give you the idea that it takes all day because in actuality it takes less than an hour and is about the easiest (and tastiest) and healthiest granola going.  

And it's so easy that you can (and will) make it without ever bringing out the recipe.  Here's the formula... 4 cups of oats, old fashioned, please
                2 cups of nuts (I use slivered and sliced almonds)
                2 cups of coconut
                equal parts of coconut oil and molasses

I just measure everything onto the sheet pan and then melt the coconut oil (about 1/3 cup) in the microwave and then add 1/3 cup of molasses.  Then that gets poured over the oat mixture and then stirred in real good.

Then it all goes in the oven (350) for about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your oven and how dark you like your granola.  Give it a good stir every 15 minutes or so.  And it comes out sort of like this...

After your granola cools for about an hour or however long it takes, you can add some dried fruit if you want.  I like to add raisins and dried cranberries (1 cup each).  The Husband likes his added to the granola at this point, but I like to add mine at the table.  I think they stay a little juicier that way.  But it's gonna be great however.  No matter.  We sprinkle it liberally, OK, we dump it over the top of our yogurt in the morning.  So good.

It's a Wrap!

We spent the afternoon at our grandson's football game, so by the time we got home, there wasn't much time to cook.  But we had some leftover salmon in the fridge and all the ingredients to make these black bean salmon wraps and it turned out to be the most perfect dinner imaginable.

I mixed that salmon with some chives from the garden, black beans, cilantro, and some tomatillo salsa and then mashed an avocado with lime juice salt and pepper.  After heating some flour tortillas a bit, I spread them with the avocado, topped that with the salmon mixture and then some feta cheese.  I then made some sour cream/hot sauce dipping sauce and we had ourselves an amazingly fun and scrumptious dinner.  

Dianne Salad for Dinner!

We've been working on electronics all day, replacing cables and connections and gawd knows what all to get things running more efficiently around here, media-wise.  It has required the removal of wall panelings and baseboards and molding and much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But the good news is that we're done and all is working and the better news is that we're rewarding ourselves with a big ol' Dianne Salad for dinner.  I've got the chicken cooking away...

The almonds are toasted...

My won ton strips are baked and crispy (but they're not really yellow like this; whatever)...

The dressing is made and all that's left to do is chop up a whole bunch of lettuce and assemble this beautiful bowl of delicious goodness.  Is it dinnertime yet?

It's App Night!

Every now and then we like to throw together a few apps and pour a glass of wine and call it dinner, and tonight is one of those nights!  Yay!  So far I've made some spinach-feta cheese rolls, which are basically spanikopita with puff pastry.  Those will get baked later on and then sliced up into little bite-sized rounds and they'll be ever so yummy.  

I've also made up some crispy shrimp with garlic and lemon and they'll get roasted at the last minute.  Then I'll drizzle them with a little lemon.  Amazingly good.

I'll have an assortment of olives and some smoked salmon and then for dessert I've made some coconut bark which is one of our favorite things.  More about that in a post coming very soon.  

Dinner in about 15...

It was one of those crazy, busy days here that didn't settle down until the dinner hour was upon us. Being of sound mind at some point in the last few weeks, I made sure that I was stocked with the ingredients to make this gnocchi and sausage one-pan skillet dinner.  It takes like maybe all of ten minutes to put together and why, oh why is it SO GOOD?!!? I don't even know or care what the answer to that question is, because it just is so good.  

Find yourself some gnocchi and once you've got that cooked (it only takes like 3 minutes)...


Just quickly saute your sausages until browned (I use a spinach and feta chicken sausage),

then, throw in some tomatoes (I used about 3/4 of a 14-oz can of crushed tomatoes) and your gnocchi, a little parmesan and whatever.  You can't go wrong.  Dinner's on the table in 15 minutes.  You gotta do this one, people.  Click on the link in the first paragraph to get the full recipe.

MNF and Nachos!

Tonight marks the season opener for Monday Night Football and to make it even more fun and exciting, our beloved Steelers are playing!  Yay!!  To celebrate, we're having nachos which have a sort of historic significance for us as relates to MNF.

Back when the kids were little, we're talking 1980 or 1983; right around in there, we would have our next door neighbor, JoJo, who was like our kids' second grandma, come stay with them and we would stake out a table at the Sawmill restaurant and watch MNF while eating nachos and maybe an adult beverage or two.   The nachos were awesome, but the salad bar still lives in infamy... best ever.  So tonight we had a big salad and then we dined on nachos and watched the Steelers play the Redskins.  Game is still going, so I don't have a score yet, but we're pretty much just loving the walk down memory lane.  :-)

Kabobs and Baby Taters!

It's a gorgeous fall day here and we're itching to be outside, leaning over the grill, so I've got some chicken marinating for rosemary ranch chicken kabobs.  I had some little baby red potatoes that I was going to throw on the grill, but decided instead to stuff them twice-baked style.  After cooking them, I hollowed them out with a melon-baller thingy and mixed the potatoes with some milk, butter, sour cream, spinach, salt, pepper and grated cheddar cheese.  

Then I topped them with a super yummy peppercorn white cheddar cheese.  I'll bake them off right before dinner.

These little potatoes were so good...

Skewers are ready for the grill...

And there's nothing like these little chicken kabobs.  If you haven't tried them yet, you really must. Really.

Bisketti and Meatballs For Dinner!

For dinner tonight we're reaching back into the archives for this scrumptious Oven-Roasted Spaghetti and Meatballs.   In this one, the sauce ingredients are thrown into a roasting pan and then the meatballs are set on top and the whole shebang is thrown into a hot oven for about 45 minutes.  What emerges is a super tasty sauce and some awesomely roasted meatballs.  

I just put it in the oven and in a few minutes I'll get the pasta cooked up.  That'll get mixed with the sauce and after a dusting of parmesan cheese, dinner will be served.  Mmmmmmmm.

Rainy Day Enchilada Sauce

Just got back from doing some grocery shopping and running errands when the skies opened up and we've got ourselves one heckuva rainy Friday afternoon. This has to be one of my favorite things about living in the Midwest... summertime thunderstorms!  So I'm taking this opportunity to get some enchilada sauce made up.  We've been out of sauce for a couple of weeks now so it's definitely time to get stocked up.  I usually use guajillo chiles but I've decided to add in a few pasillas this time around.  I'll let you know how it comes out.  

After cooking down the chiles, I pureed them and then ran them through a food mill to remove all the little bits.  If you're at all interested in making your own enchilada sauce, you would do yourself a big favor by investing in a food mill.  This makes quick work of those chiles and the sauce comes together in a snap!

Well, the sauce tastes incredible.  I can't really detect a discernible difference by adding the pasilla chiles, it just tastes so good.  I'm letting it simmer on low while I boil the jars and lids for canning.

Alrighty then, my sauce is in the jars and the jars are tucked away in the canner.  

Now it's just a matter of keeping the pressure at 11 lbs for about 15 minutes and then I'll have some awesome enchilada sauce to stash in the pantry.  

The rain continues, sauce is done and the only problem... I forgot that I was supposed to make a double batch.  Next time.

Fun in the Kitchen!

It's been a busy week here but I'm glad to report that baby Ella is all better and her Bumpa is back in the kitchen doing some recreational cooking today.  Sort of taking the day off from all the normal chores and duties of life and just cooking whatever grabs my attention.  I used to make my focaccia bread every few weeks, but it's been months since I've made it and I've missed it terribly.  So last night I made some starter and this morning I got the dough put together.  This is a really wet dough which makes it rather challenging to work with, but that's what gives it that iconic focaccia texture with lots of holes and great flavor and texture.  

The dough has risen and doubled in size, so I'm just going to cut it in half and stash half in the freezer.  I'll thaw that bit and bake it another day.  The other half is going in the fridge to sit for an hour or so until I'm ready to form my loaf.

Alrighty then, I've got my dough all ready for the oven...

And then how about some banana cake...

There were lots of ripe bananas in the basket this morning, so into a cake they went.  My scrumptious Ginger Banana Cake, to be exact.  As you might remember from the blog post, this is baked in a cast iron pan which gives it that crispy exterior.  Soooo good!!

This is one of our very favorite snacking cakes.  It's super moist with such awesome flavors. I like to just sprinkle it with powdered sugar and call it good.  Great for breakfast too!

Time to go see what other trouble I can scrub up in here...

Bumpa Chocolate Thunder

My sweet little 6-month old granddaughter woke up not feeling too well this morning and her Bumpa received the SOS call to maybe lend a hand.  Of course I was in the car and on my way in no time, the back seat laden with grocery bags, a cooler and everything I might need to maybe get some meals made up for these over-worked parents while I was there.

While Ella napped, I made a truck load of burritos to stash in their fridge and then was ever so happy to see a slow-cooker sitting on the counter.  I brought everything to make up some claypot chicken and rice for them and I've been wanting to try it out in a slow cooker, so it's hopefully going to get done in time for their dinner.  I'll let you know...

Several of you have been asking if they could make this in a crock pot or slow cooker, so now I'll hopefully have an answer for you.

(Yes, it worked great!  About 1 1/2 to hours on high and it was cooked perfectly!)

Once that was in the pot and underway, of course I had to make them some Chocolate Thunder Pudding.  Nothing heals the wounds of the day like chocolate pudding, no?

Ella is hopefully getting ahead of this little virus.  We've had lots of snuggle time and she's sleeping like a champ.   I'm feeling pretty lucky to get this time with her.  We all know how quickly they grow up.  Sigh.