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

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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/ .

 

 

Wednesday
May182016

In the Meantime....

Hey guys!  I've got some good news and some bad news today.  Let's get the bad news out of the way, shall we?  The bad news is that I don't have a new, delicious, highly original, mind-blowing recipe for you today.  Sucks, right?  Well, yeah.

So let's get on with the good news.  The good news is that we've been totally embroiled in a Circle B Kitchen renovation lo these past few weeks and we're almost done!  OK, I'll admit that this good news is a bit self involved.  I mean, why do you care if our kitchen renovation is about complete? Maybe the fact that we're nearing completion means I'll get back to cooking and blogging that much sooner.  That's sort of good news.

OK then, as a consolation for the fact that there really isn't really any good news, I'm going to re-post a recipe from the archives that is actually quite delicious, pretty original and very mind-blowing.  It's one of our favorites here in the Circle B Kitchen and, since it was posted several years ago, you may not have seen it and so maybe it will be like new to you and you will sort of forgive me for not posting something this week.

If you haven't made our BACON GUACAMOLE SALMON BURGER yet, then I say get thee to the market and get on this because you will indeed be very very glad you did.  Scrumptious does not begin to cover it.

We're heading into grilling season (if we aren't already there) and Memorial Day is less than two weeks away and trust me on this, you want this one on the menu.  All summer long.

OK then, I'm going back to sanding and oiling countertops and you just make yourself that burger up there and enjoy yourself.  I'll be back really soon with something new, delicious and awe-inspiring. And maybe a few photos of our new kitchen!

XOXO

Patrice

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Wednesday
May112016

Teriyaki Salmon Noodle Bowls

 

The last few weeks have been a teriyaki fun fest here in the Circle B Kitchen.  Once I get an idea in my head (like perfecting the ultimate teriyaki sauce), it's a pretty good bet we'll be dining on teriyaki noodles until I get it right.  And I've gotta tell you there are worse things than eating teriyaki salmon noodles every week (The Husband has seemed fairly jubilant every time he gets a whiff of this in the kitchen). Even when it's not exactly just right, it's still awfully good, but when you do finally get it very right, once a week might not seem often enough.  

So, I just have to tell you that getting from point A (imagining the perfect bowl of teriyaki salmon noodles) to Point Z (actually dining on the perfect bowl of teriyaki salmon noodle bowls) became way more complicated than I ever imagined when I set out on this quest.  Firstly, I was focused on the sauce.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems like most bottled teriyaki sauces are either too sweet or one-note or just basically kind've uninteresting.  A little research turned up a goodly amount of information on this subject, which boiled down to the fact that in Japan, at its most basic, a good teriyaki sauce creates a perfect balance between sweet and salty.  

Simple enough to say, a little harder to achieve, but we accomplished this with a delicious combination of soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger.  

Once I got the sauce just right, I moved on to the noodle component of our bowls, which began at the Asian Market and where I found that I had more than a few noodle options to choose from (and this didn't include the fresh and frozen noodles).

My spinning head is not visible in the photo.  But I soldiered on, and after a very enlightening conversation with a noodle expert there, I chose 3 or 4 options with which to experiment (a rice noodle, a Chinese Egg noodle, a ramen noodle and yaki-soba).  I already had some lo mein noodles at home to use as well.

 

 

 

A few more trials ensued, after which I came to the conclusion that there are few bad noodle options. But there are definitely some that are better than others.  Our favorite turned out to be a fresh yakisoba noodle that they actually sold from the freezer.  There are shelf-stable yaki-soba noodles sold with the dried noodles, but avoid these at all costs.  They do not hold up well and have little or no texture or flavor.  (With the ramen and Yaki-soba, just discard the flavoring packets that come with the noodles.)

We loved the ramen noodles, but a word of caution here... always check the back of the package. Ramen noodles are deep fried before drying so they tend to be rather expensive calorically.  My favorite Japanese ramen had a whopping 20 grams of fat per serving.  Yowsers!!  I'm guessing that the flavor packet carried a few of those fat calories, but still.

 


 

I did a little more research and found these organic ramen noodles with 1 gram of fat (they're baked, not fried) and they were very good! 


Many Asian noodles take only a couple of minutes to cook or heat through, so follow the package directions carefully.  Our yaki-soba noodles just took a quick dunk in barely boiling water to loosen before adding to the pan with the sauce.  Overcooked or soggy noodles are not welcome here.  Of course, in a pinch, spaghetti noodles can work as well.

Once we got the sauce and the noodles figured out, there was the question of the salmon... cut into chunks before marinating?  Leave the filets whole?  Do they need to marinate at all?  I ended up liking to leave the filets whole before cooking and decided that I also liked not marinating them best of all.  It was nice to taste the salmon along with the sauce.

In one of my trials I stir fried a little broccoli in with the noodles and that was awesome.  I highly suggest this, although just about any veggie or combination of veggies would also be great.

So, basically what emerged from my trials is a lovely teriyaki sauce tossed with sesame seeds and springy, tasty noodles (and veggies, if you like), then topped with a perfectly cooked salmon filet, drizzled with more teriyaki, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion.  And maybe the best part is that the whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes.  

Of course, our teriyaki sauce would be equally lovely on shrimp or chicken (you could also make this into a teriyaki rice bowl) or grilled meats, fish or veggies and it keeps really well in the fridge for like decades.  I wouldn't want to test that last thing out, but make extra so you have it on hand to drizzle over rice or leftover veggies or stir into soups or over meatloaf.  You get the idea.  Here's the recipe...

Teriyaki Salmon Noodle Bowls

Click here for a printable recipe

One of the fun things about these noodle bowls is playing with different kinds of noodles.  You can use ramen noodles, rice noodles, Chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.  One of our favorites is yaki-soba noodles.  You can usually find them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (just discard the seasoning packet).  There are shelf stable versions of yaki-soba, but I would avoid those as they don’t hold up well in the pan.  

Serves 3-4 

INGREDIENTS:

10 oz Asian noodles of your choice (see headnote)
3 or 4 6- oz salmon filets, skin and pin bones removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 or 2 green onions, thinly sliced 

For the Sauce:

1 tablespoon cornstarch + ¼ cup water
½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup water

DIRECTIONS: 

In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper, garlic, ginger, mirin and ¼ cup water; bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch mixture until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Set aside. 

Heat olive oil in an oven- proof skillet over medium high heat. Brush the top of the salmon filets with the teriyaki sauce and then place top side down in the skillet.  Brush the other side of the salmon with more of the teriyaki sauce, cook about 4-5 minutes and then turn the salmon over and cook another 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filets.  

While the salmon cooks, cook your noodles according to the package directions.  (Some Asian noodles only require soaking to soften.) 

Remove the salmon from the pan and keep warm. 

To the pan add the cooked noodles and about ½ cup of the teriyaki sauce.  Using tongs, mix the noodles with the sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame seeds until the noodles are completely coated with the sauce, adding more sauce as needed. 

To serve, place noodles in a shallow bowl and top with a salmon filet.  Drizzle with some of the teriyaki sauce, another sprinkling of sesame seeds and some chopped green onions.

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Wednesday
May042016

Cinco de Mayo!

Seeing as how tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo (a big fave in the Circle B Kitchen), I thought I'd give you a few ideas for your Mexican fiesta, which, of course, you're totally doing, right?  I know we are!  

This year we're going to nosh on a few Mexican-inspired apps and wash it all down with these incredibly delicious margaritas.  Of course, a cold Corona with lime would be perfectly acceptable too.

We have an array of possible app choices, so I'll just throw out a few of our favorites and let you take it from there.

First up, no Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without chips (here's our recipe if you'd like to make your own)...

and some yummy salsa and guacamole.  How 'bout some ridiculously delicious seafood guacamole...

Any kind of chips go well with our Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (coctel de camarones)!  And then we have a couple of quesadilla options; both worthy of your time and party table...

Chipotle Chicken and Avocado Quesadillas are amazingly good, as are our..

Shrimp Quesadillas with Avocado Citrus Crema.  These are totally irresistable.  But you could also go this route and make some Enfrijoladas...

If you're still in a quandry, how 'bout some quick and easy enchilada stacks...

...or some of the best fajitas you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting...

Or seriously, you should just make these incredible salmon tacos...

...for which you will most certainly want to be making your own tortillas...

Well, that should give you something to think about over the next 24 hours.  Choose wisely, Grasshopper, but mostly have yourself an awesomely fun and delicious Cinco de Mayo!!

XOXO,

Patrice

P.S.  There are LOTS more Mexican dishes to choose from if for some unearthly reason the aforementioned haven't given you quite enough options.  Just click here.

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Saturday
Apr302016

Pizza Monkey Bread

 

Sometimes you just have to set aside your plans for that kale and quinoa salad, kick off your shoes, pour a glass of wine and make yourself some monkey bread.  You will not regret this decision, at least not until tomorrow.  But tonight!  Tonight will be fun!  And that's what this is, people; maybe sort of too much fun...little balls of pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella cheese, rolled in olive oil and then parmesan cheese and stacked into a pan to be baked until golden and then pulled apart, one little ball at a time and dipped in warm marinara sauce.  You in?

The idea for this has been rattling around inside my head for so long, I had to finally just get it made and now I wish I hadn't waited so long, but I'm awfully glad I didn't wait any longer.  It's one of those incredibly wondrous culinary experiences that you think about long after it's over.  Partly because you know you ate too much, but mostly because you can't wait to do it again.  The Husband is still talking about it in reverential tones reserved only for great architecture and golden summer days.  See?  We're not kidding around here.

And honestly, it's so easy to throw together.  You can use your homemade pizza dough or some good store-bought or pizzaria dough and then...

And that's pretty much all there is to it.  Well, not really.  There's so much more to it but you'll get to find that out when you have this platter sitting in front of you.  Here's the recipe...

Pizza Monkey Bread

Click here for a printable recipe

Just a couple of tips… if you’re going for a good cheese pull, you’ll want to use regular mozzarella, like string cheese, rather than fresh mozzarella.  Also, I got all of my dough balls stuffed before rolling them in the olive oil and parmesan; just a little neater and easier.  Also, I used a 10-inch springform tube pan which made removal easy, and I made 3 layers of dough balls.  Baking times may vary based on the size of your pan and how many dough balls you make.  Enjoy! 

Pizza dough (homemade or store-bought –here’s my recipe)
Small mozzarella balls, cut in half or string cheese sticks cut into pieces
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Marinara sauce 

Spray a tube pan, springform pan, bundt pan or angel food cake pan with cooking spray and set aside. 

Place about ½ cup of olive oil in a little bowl and about 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese in another bowl. 

Pull off a little piece of pizza dough and form a ball around 1 ½ inches around. 

Make a little indentation in the middle of the dough ball and stuff the piece of mozzarella cheese inside.  Pull the dough up and around the cheese to enclose it and then roll the dough into a nice round ball.  

Roll the dough ball in the olive oil, then into the parmesan cheese and then place it in it in the prepared pan. 

Continue making little dough balls like this until your pan is about ¾ or 2/3 filled. 

Cover the pan with a cloth and let the dough balls rise for about an hour. 

While the dough rises, place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. 

Remove the cloth and place the pan in the oven.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the dough balls are golden and spring back when touched.  

Let cool briefly and then turn it out onto a serving platter.  While still warm, pull little dough balls off and dip them in warm marinara sauce.

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Sunday
Apr242016

Creamy Orzo with Shrimp and Spring Peas

 

This is what happens when you spot fresh spring peas at Trader Joe’s and you must have them because after 6 months of Midwest winter, anything spring-related is essentially seductive and irresistible.  

Peas, asparagus, artichokes... they're all irresistible at the moment and happy harbingers of life without coats, boots, scarves, gloves and there's flip flop weather ahead!!  And then. of course, the question arises as to how best to celebrate these little beauties. 

One might easily just do a quick sauté with nothing more than a little butter and a sprinkling of salt and it would be perfectly lovely.  Or one might go big and create THIS!!

As it turns out, this is a seriously delicious way to celebrate spring peas or spring or just dinner or nothing at all.  It is celebration itself… a lovely concoction of orzo, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, a little lemon, some spring veggies and perfectly cooked shrimp.   

It's pretty much a one-pan meal, except that you'll be boiling your orzo separately.  So two pans. Hopefully, you're down with that, because I honestly don't think you'll find this burdensome.  I'd be willing to use, say, 5 or 6 pans; it was that good.  But only 2 pans and a few minutes will produce this incredibly scrumptious spring meal.  Veggies are optional and swappable, which also makes this an any-time of year thing.  

Here's the recipe...

Creamy Orzo with Shrimp and Spring Peas

Serves 4 

This is an amazing one-pan meal that is amenable to any veggies you would like to add.  I used asparagus and spring peas, but zucchini would be great too.   You can easily make this in one skillet (besides cooking the orzo), but you can also transfer it to an oven proof serving dish before adding the shrimp for a nice presentation. 

1 1/2 cups orzo
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 oz fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 lb asparagus
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3/4 lb extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Another 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
fresh basil and lemon wedges for serving (optional) 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to broil 

Place the shrimp in a bowl or ziploc bag with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Squidge around to be sure the shrimp are all coated.  Set aside.


Bring about 5-6 cups of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt and then the orzo.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, then drain. 

While the orzo cooks, snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and discard (or save for stock).  Cut the tops off the spears and then cut the stalks into small pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a medium-large (10-12 inch) oven-proof skillet.  Add the shallots and saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Pour about 1/4 cup of water or broth into the pan and add the asparagus pieces and the peas.  Shake the pan to evenly distribute them and then cover and simmer for about 3 minutes to par cook the veggies.   The water should be almost all evaporated.  Remove the pan from the heat.   

Add the orzo to the pan along with the goat cheese, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and the chicken broth.  Stir to combine really well and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.  Taste for salt, pepper or if you would like to add more lemon juice. 

Remove the shrimp from the bowl or bag and place them on top of the orzo.  Place the pan under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes or until the shrimp are just opaque and turning pink.  They will continue to cook a little after you remove them from the oven.   

Before serving, drizzle the shrimp with a little more olive oil and another little sprinkling of black pepper. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil and serve with lemon wedges, if you'd like. 

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