Chicken Dinner!

Before we get to the chicken part of tonight's dinner, I'll start with our side dish.  I had a bunch of kale that I really wanted to use up and a few yukon gold potatoes, so I sliced up the potatoes and pan roasted those in a little olive oil.  Then I blanched the kale and added it to the pan along with some house seasoning salt and some red pepper flakes.  After the kale got cooked down just right and the potatoes were pretty much cooked through, I layered this in my cast iron skillet...

with some grated Gruyere cheese.  I'll bake that for about 20 minutes in the oven to get the cheese all melty and yum.

As for the chicken, I dredged it in some flour that I seasoned with house seasoning salt and then browned it in a little veg oil.  I'll throw this in the oven to finish cooking about the same time as the kale and potatoes and we'll be calling that dinner.  The end.

The verdict... the chicken was so yummy (sorry I didn't get a final photo after roasting), but we were both crazy in love with the kale and potatoes.  I wish I'd gotten a photo of it after it came out of the oven.  Man, this was some good stuff.

Sunday Pizza

It's not like we're in a rut here or anything, but if Saturday morning is Dutch Baby, then Sunday night is pizza.  And if that's a rut, may I please stay in it forever.  So yeah, it's Sunday which makes me want to make pizza and so that's just what I did.  Three of them.  I made 3 pizzas for the two of us.  😁  This one is an Italian sausage and olive, then I made the required pepperoni and for the other one I used some leftover spinach artichoke dip and spread that over the crust, and then topped it with slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkled on lots of ground white pepper.  There's no way to pick a favorite among them; we just can't wait to heat up the leftovers.

I think I mentioned this last time I talked about pizza, but I replaced my pizza stone in the oven with a pizza steel and dude, it is the best thing to happen to my pizza since we built the pizza oven.  Unfortunately, the weather doesn't always allow me to fire that up, so I have to rely on my oven through most of the winter.  I've got my pizza steel in the Aga and use the convection setting as high as it can go and it really does approximate the crisp crust I get in the pizza oven.  Yay!!

Saturday Morning Dutch Baby

Nothing says Saturday morning in the Circle B Kitchen like a fluffy, puffy Dutch baby.  It's definitely one of our favorite things to wake up to.  It slides right out of that cast iron pan onto a cutting board and then we slice it up and top it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar.  I also love it with just a dollop of lemon curd or blackberry jam.

And thus begins our Christmas...

December 1st sort of marks the beginning of the Christmas season here in the Circle B Kitchen and this year we're going to get it all started by making eggnog.  Industrial strength.  I like to get this made as soon as possible because it just gets better the longer it sits.  Also, the sooner I get it made, the sooner we can start drinking, which, as it turns out, has become our default response to the state of affairs in our great country these days.  No time for despair, people, just get some eggnog made.

We're following up our eggnog indulgence with the annual persimmon cookie bake off.  It just isn't Christmas without one of Grandma Lockett's persimmon cookies.

It's Taco Tuesday!! Again!

Yes, It's taco Tuesday here once again and it's the best and only way that I can think of to get ourselves through a Tuesday.  Of course, any self-respecting Taco Tuesday would be remiss to even think of beginning without a happy hour of chips, salsa and guacamole. 

So, of course, this is how we roll around here.  I made a quart of salsa...

And then opened up the most perfect avocado (big sigh) and used it to make some killer guacamole.  Tacos have a way around here of setting things to rights.  Balance and order have been restored, even if it's just within the confines of our little place.  Tacos for President.

Moroccan Meatballs

I'm not even sure what to say when I think I just experienced the most perfect meatball.  Ever.  I will not mince words here... I'm way big into meatballs and have made many of them in my day. Countless variations on the theme of ground meat mixed with egg, binder, seasonings, and I have enjoyed them all.  But today I think I may have eaten the grand mac daddy of meatballs.  I'll be posting this one soon.  I can't wait for you to taste these.

Garbanzo Extravanganza!

I'm in full on garbanzo mode today, people.  I pulled out some dried chickpeas this morning, soaked them, cooked them and then made this incredible sauce with them.  Sooooo good.

I love this pasta called mafalda, but it's so hard to find but it's what I imagined putting under this sauce.  I had some lasagna sheets so I cooked up about 10 of them and and then cut them into pieces and they were so good with this sauce.  Pretty close to mafalda!

This was a test for a post I'm working on and once I work out a few kinks, I'll have the recipe for you.  Without the parmesan, it's totally vegan.  It's creamy and tasty without cream and I think you're going to like this one.  Stay tuned!

It's Pie Day!!

It's Thanksgiving Eve which means it's Pie Day in the Circle B Kitchen!  yay!!  I'm making 3 different kinds of pie this year, starting with a traditional pumpkin pie.  Except for its size.  The puppy is coming in at 12" in diameter.  With 32 people to feed, you can't have enough pie.  My daughter-in-law, the pastry queen is making 2 different kinds of apple pie.  I've got the pie crust made...

And the filling (1 1/2) times my regular recipe filled the shell perfectly.  It's ready for the oven. Next up, I'm making a brown sugar pie!

Enormous pumpkin pie is done.

But I forgot to mention that before I even started pie-making, I got some rolls made and they're rising nicely.  Maybe another hour before they go into the oven.  There's one more giant pan of them that didn't get into the photo.  Hope we'll have enough.

Brown sugar pie is ready for the oven, but it's going to have to get in line.  One of the pans of rolls is ready for the oven and rolls wait for no one!

First pan of rolls came out of the oven...

Brown sugar pie made it into the oven.  Got a graham cracker crust made for my pumpkin cream cheese pie...

Cream cheese pumpkin pie is waiting its turn for the oven.  Right now there are 3 pans of rolls in there.

Brown Sugar upon its exit from the oven...

T-Minus 2 days...

We're ratcheting up the workload today.  Only 2 more days until Thanksgiving so no time to dawdle!  Today's list includes cooking one of the turkeys (I'll post all of that over on the main page of the blog), make the gravy, the brussels sprouts and kale dish and get the corn pudding made up.  So here's the 911 on the brussels sprouts...

Firstly, you can either buy your brussels sprouts shredded, or buy them whole and use the slicing blade on your food processor to get them to that state.  This makes quick work of that job!!  2-3 minutes tops!

Then I cooked some bacon and set the fat aside, but left 3 tablespoons of it in the pan.  To that I added half of the shallots and sauteed them until soft.  

Then I threw in half of the brussels sprouts and sauteed those for about 5 minutes.  

Then in went the half of the kale that I had already blanched, shocked in ice water and drained.  I sauteed this for another 5 minutes and then emptied the pan into a bowl and repeated the process with the rest of the kale, shallots and brussels sprouts.

Then I crumbled in most of the bacon, holding back a few pieces that I'll use to decorate the top.  I then stirred in some balsamic vinegar and put the whole shebang into the baking dish which was covered with foil.  I'll just throw it in the oven to heat through right before dinner.  Done!

Working on the corn pudding... more to follow....

Alrighty then!  Corn pudding is done and this is the largest corn pudding I've ever made.  Might be the largest one in all of history.  This casserole dish is the size of a small VW, so maybe you get the idea.  We'll hopefully have enough.

Roasting (and mashing) some SweetTaters

Got all of the grocery shopping finished up today and there are now two beautiful turkeys stashed away in the fridge, resting peacefully until roasting day.

But while I have a minute (or 120), I'm going to get the sweet potatoes roasted up.  I just wrap them in foil (two per pouch) and bake them for 2 hours at 300 degrees.  I wasn't even planning on doing sweet potatoes, but walking through Whole Foods I got this craving for some mashed sweet potatoes so after these are roasted, I'll skin them and mash them up with maybe a little maple syrup, browned butter and some thyme.  I'll let you know.  Creme fraiche would be nice in there too.

And I can't even tell you how good these came out.  If you like mashed sweet potatoes, you've gotta do this.  After your potatoes come out of the oven and they cool just a bit, the peels will slide right off.  Put the sweet potatoes into a stand mixer with the whip attachment and add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 6 tablespoons of melted butter, the leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme and 1/2 cup of creme fraiche.  Whip until everything's combined and your sweet potatoes are all whippy and you won't even believe how good.  I'm going to wish I made a lot more of these.  I'll post an official recipe in just a bit.

Smashing Some Taters!

We've got about 15 lbs of taters to peel and smash so it's awfully nice to get some help in the kitchen!  Five down, 10 to go!!!

Ella tried her best to be helpful but no, sorry, we weren't going to need the oven today.  

All 15 lbs eventually got peeled and cooked and then run through the ricer.  

Butter, salt and milk were stirred through and geez, I hope we'll have enough...

And so it begins...

Today the Thanksgiving cooking begins in earnest and I've already got a couple things finished and stashed away.  Firstly, I got the cranberry sauce done because that will keep in the fridge for like 30 years. And when it comes to cranberry sauce, I'm a purist.  When it comes to most of this meal, I have to admit to being a purist.  My cranberries must taste like cranberries, just cranberries, with just the right amount of sweet/tart balance.  So I start with a simple syrup that is equal parts water and sugar which I bring to a boil and to which is then added 1 package of cranberries that have been rinsed.

Bring this to a boil and then just let it simmer, uncovered, until the cranberries are cooked down.  I like to still have whole ones mixed in with the ones that are falling apart.  The longer you cook them the more the cranberries will cook down and the thicker they will get.  

So yeah, basically just follow the recipe on the back of the package.  Cranberries, done.

I also made some candied pecans that are going to top one of my pumpkin pies...

...in which pecans are mixed with light corn syrup (I use Lyle's Golden Syrup which is from cane sugar rather than corn), sugar, salt and pepper...

... and then baked until caramelized and ever so yummy.  You'll find my recipe HERE.

And then there's the stuffing...  I've made the croutons for stuffing eleven different ways, but when I found this stuffing from Boudin Bakery at Costco, game over.  I mean this beats all, in my book.

So I made 3 kinds of stuffing for this year.  This here one is a traditional stuffing with the onions, celery, herbs, etc.

This one is the traditional stuffing with cranberries, apples and bacon.

And this one is a cornbread stuffing with sage, thyme and my Tuscan Herb Salt.

For all of them I used homemade chicken stock and the aromas in my kitchen are pretty dang amazing right now.  Of course, they all need to get baked yet, but that won't happen until next Wednesday or Thursday morning.  Here's a link to my stuffing with cranberries, apples and bacon.

Taco Tuesday!!

It's taco Tuesday here at the Circle B Kitchen and we take it very seriously.  Corn tortillas are grilled and filled with ground meat seasoned with our own taco seasoning and topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese and hot sauce (Red Devil, please).

But no taco Tuesday is complete without a happy hour of homemade chips, spicy sour cream dip and homemade salsa.  

This is how we do Tuesdays.

Herb Salt from the Garden

The garden is winding down and if I don't pick these herbs in the next week or so, I'll lose them.  I grow rosemary, sage and oregano for the express purpose of making my Tuscan Herb Salt and I use copious amounts of that for a dry rub on my Thanksgiving turkey, so today was the day.  I picked a whole bunch of herbs, washed and dried them, and then processed them with garlic and salt and spread it out on a sheet pan to dry.

I'll leave that for about 3 days or so and then package it up in jars to use throughout the year.  I made a double batch today which will last quite a long time, but the good news is that there are still enough herbs out there to make one more batch before winter sets in.  If you've never made this, you will wonder how you lived without it once you have it.  You can buy your herbs and make this any time of the year.

It's Leftover Night!

It's leftover night here which means I'm taking our leftover spaghetti and meatballs and making a spaghetti pie for dinner.  I cut the meatballs into quarters, and then mixed the spaghetti with 3 beaten eggs and a good handful of grated parmesan cheese.

After I got that all mixed together, I placed it in a 12-inch baking dish and then topped it with some grated mozzarella cheese.  Then I baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I wanted the top a little crispier, so I stuck it under the broiler for another 5 minutes and it was perfect.  Leftovers never tasted so good.

Election Night Patty Melts

Testing out the ultimate recipe for a patty melt that will just knock your socks off.  This being election night, I totally need a distraction.  So I'm going to start by making some caramelized onions...

Onions have been caramelized, patties have been formed...

I'm making some oven fries to go with the patty melts and they're ready to get roasted...

Patties are cooked...

French fries are done...

and patty melts have been grilled.  They were beyond scrumptious and in a few days I'll have the recipe up on the blog so you, too, can enjoy some patty melt deliciousness.

Rainy Day Cooking...

It's been raining all day here and pretty chilly outside, which in knee-jerk fashion drives me straight to the kitchen.  Just pulled some granola out of the oven and it smells heavenly in here. As soon as it cools, I'll stir in some raisins and dried cranberries and we'll be stocked up for a few weeks.

Now I'm going to get some marinara sauce started and make some meatballs.  It's been awhile since I made this and the cold weather has me craving something hearty and cozy.  Spaghetti and meatballs are sounding just about perfect.

And need I say, yes, it was most excellently perfect.  Sigh....

It's Squash Night!

We're a bit up to our necks in squash here so tonight we're taking care of business.  I halved the spaghetti squash, drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper and then roasted it in the oven for about 45 minutes.  I'm going to shred it out of the skins and mix it with a little butter, salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

I also had this huge zucchini my daughter gave me.  It's been sitting on the counter for a week so it's time to get that cooked up too.  I sliced off the curvy end and then cut it in half, scooped out most of the squash meat and then stuffed it with a quinoa mixture I had on hand.  That was topped with some breadcrumbs, parmesan and jack cheese and a good drizzle of olive oil.

To go along with all of our squashes, I made some sausage bread which just happens to be one of our all-time favorite things to eat EVER!!

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Halloween Stir Fry

It's Halloween!  Yay!  Happy Halloween, everyone!  The grandkids are getting ready to get out and fill their buckets full of candy and we're sittin tight, enjoying the quiet.  We get no trick or treaters out here and to be honest, we don't mind a bit.  It's a perfect night for some stir fry so that's what's going down.

Tonight's stir fry features some cut up chicken thighs, red pepper, broccoli and cabbage all stir fried and then doused with my magic Asian sauce and then brown rice noodles get stirred into the mix.  The whole shebang is topped with chopped cilantro and we're calling it dinner.  We're also calling it outstandingly delicious!