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 Things for Spring!

   Pesto Salmon Burger (YUM!)

Chicken with Artichokes and Angel Hair Pasta

Mediterranean Fish Fillets

   Greek-ish Salmon Salad

Spaghetti with Artichoke Sauce

 Chive Risotto Cakes with Lemon Aioli

Southwestern Salmon Tacos

Asparagus with New Potato Salad, Grilled Salmon and Buttermilk Dressing

Pasta with Asparagus and Egg

Mediterranean Shrimp Salad with Artichokes and Chickpeas

Sauteed Chicken with Clementine Salsa

 Grilled Chicken Kebob Salad

Grilled Bread and Shrimp Salad

Swordfish Provencal

Shrimp Salad with Avocado, Clementines and Pomegranate

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/ .

 

 

Friday
May222015

A Few Awesome Ideas for Your Weekend Barbecue!

 

Poblano and Cheese-Stuffed Burger with Mango Salsa and Guacamole

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!  Just thought I'd throw out a few stellar ideas for your grill/barbecue/picnic/outdoor party.  It's going to rain here most of the weekend, but we'll still get some grilling in.  That burger up top there is the Circle B Kitchen idea of a perfect burger and it gets made with religious ferver around here.  If you're looking for something a bit different and off the charts scrumptious, you've got to give that one a try.  Here are a few of our other very favorite barbecue foods.  Just click on the photo for a link to the recipes!

Bacon Guacamole Salmon Burger (oh my)

Nacho Cheeseburger!

Circle B Barbecued Chicken

Chicken Parmesan Cheeseburger

How 'bout grilling some pizza?

Pesto Salmon Burger!

Or Grill up some Paella!

And one of our very favorites...The Mushroom Turkey Burger!

And a few ideas for some sides...

Southwest Potatoes

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Feta Cheese

A scrumptious Tex Mex Pasta Salad

A Caprese-Themed Farro Salad


 Or a Corn and Avocado Salad

Or how 'bout a Pasta Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing?

Or this amazing Summertime White Bean Salad

That should give you a few ideas for your weekend grilling menus.  Happy grilling, happy eating, and Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Sunday
May172015

What to Do with Those Herb Oils

 

As promised, today's post will be completely devoted to ideas for using those herb oils and seasonings from last week's post.  You got your homework done, didn't you?  All your seasonings and herb oils are made and tucked away just waiting for a few awesome recipes, right?  No?  Well, hang on then, we might just change that real quick here.

So just to review, last week we made some super nifty seasoning salt to keep by your stove and use whenever you might need an extra bit of flavor to amp up your chicken, fish, veggies, potatoes, etc.  You can also mix some of that with some creamy Greek yogurt for an outstandingly delicious dip.  Another thing I've been doing with all the fresh asparagus out right now is to saute some in pan with a little olive oil and my seasoned salt for about 4-5 minutes.  Amazingly good.

We also made two herb oils - one was a spicy garlic oil and the other was a milder, yet still sort of spicy, herb oil. We talked about using those oils to drizzle on pizza, marinate shrimp, or to use for dipping focaccia or crostini or roasted veggies.

But today I'm going to offer you a few more stupendously amazing ways to use your new herb oils and seasoning salt, and first up is this ricotta cheese spread... 

We've sort of become addicted to this stuff, which combines fresh, creamy ricotta cheese, some of our spicy garlic oil and grated parmesan cheese to create a luscious, cheesy and perfectly spicy cheese spread.  Try to find a good quality ricotta cheese for this.  I like Oranic Valley's.  It's super creamy and fairly to close to homemade, which is my ultimate favorite.

So where was I... oh yeah.  This awesome ricotta spread that we love to slather on crostini...

.

But you knew I was going to figure out a way to work pasta into this, didn't you.  OK, yes, I did, and were we ever rewarded with one of our favorite pastas in recent memory.  Oh man, was this good...Italian sausage, penne pasta, our luscious ricotta spread and chopped kale.  I'm not even kidding.  So amazing. 

This was some seriously good stuff.

 And then I kept making more of this ricotta cheese and it ended up on a grilled pizza.  Oh yeah.  

Grilled pizzas have become one of our favorite things recently, and I've developed a super easy way to make them, which I've described in the printable recipe.  You can click on the above photo or the printable link at the bottom of this post to read about that.

Grilled pizzas are incredibly easy to make and versatile and lend themselves to all kinds of toppings, 

including this one with a good schmeer of our spicy ricotta cheese 

and then a couple handfuls of mixed greens and some chopped peppadew peppers, topped with some big gratings of smoked gouda (which seems to be invisible in this photo).

Yep.  That was pretty outrageous.

And then that jar of Spicy Herb Oil was just sitting there looking bored, so I dumped it all over some little bocconcini and set that in the fridge for a couple of hours to marinate.  I sprinkled them with a bit of kosher salt and then we devoured them in about a nanosecond...

And lastly, but certainly not even close to leastly, I like to marinate chicken breasts in the Herb Oil and grill them up to slice and keep on hand in the fridge for lunches and salads and stuff.

You could roast these, but once they're marinated for a few hours, I love throwing them on the grill pan which creates lovely grill marks and a nice grill-y sort of flavor.  Here's how I do it...

I throw the chicken into a ziploc bag with about 1/2 cup or so of the spicy herb oil and about 2-3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and let them hang out in the fridge for a few hours.  Then I throw em on the grill pan for about 5 minutes or so on each side.

Then I throw a lid on em and take them off the heat and let the residual heat of the pan finish cooking them.  This way they don't overcook or dry out.  (Have you noticed how much stuff I throw around the kitchen?)

It all depends on how thick the breasts are, but 10-15 minutes off the heat should be plenty of time to finish cooking them.  You can cut into the underside with a sharp knife to check and see if they're still pink.  If they are, then return them to the heat for another 5-6 minutes and let them rest before checking again.

Alrighty then, folks.  I think my work here is done.  I trust that you've got your herb oils in order and grill pan heating.  Here are the recipes...

Click on the links for printable recipes...

Spicy, Cheesy Ricotta Spread

Grilled Pizza with Spicy Ricotta Spread, Herb Greens, Peppadew Peppers and Smoked Gouda

Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage, Spicy Ricotta Cheese and Chopped Kale

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Monday
May112015

Circle B Kitchen Seasoning Salt and Herb Oils

 

If you’re anything like me (and of course you are), you’re basically ornery and ill-tempered at the end of a long day*when you only have minutes to get dinner on the table and your own hunger drives you to recklessly take shortcuts that ultimately compromise the quality of said meal, which in turn causes you to wonder why on earth you even bother to begin with.  That was maybe one of the most convoluted sentences I’ve ever written, but I’m going to leave it in cuz I sort of like it, and it does speak to the truth of how frustrating it is to cook flavorful, awesome meals when you’re up against the clock at the end of the day. 

Of course, this is the sole reason that wine was invented all those centuries ago, otherwise how would we get through the 5:00 hour with so few resources and so much hanging in the balance.  But even after our nerves have been soothed, we’re still left with the actual challenge of getting that meal together, and this is where a few good shortcuts can save a meal and the sanity of all concerned. 

And it's why I keep several seasoning options handy for just such moments.  In previous posts, I’ve already shared a couple of my standby seasoning blends – my homemade taco seasoning and Tuscan Herb Salt, neither of which I can ever be without.  And now I will share with you a couple more kick @*# seasoning shortcuts that have become indispensable in the Circle B Kitchen. 

And speaking of shortcuts, do you guys know about these freeze-dried herbs? 

I keep and grow fresh herbs all year long and use them with abandon, but there are just times when you don’t have the right herb or whatever, and these guys are a pretty great substitute for fresh OR dried herbs when the need arises.  They're in the refrigerated section of most produce aisles and I always have them on hand.

But in the homemade department, here’s what goes into my own personal Circle B Kitchen Seasoning Salt… 

I keep it in this little container that I repurposed from some sea salt, and it’s become a trusted friend when I need to amp up the flavor quotient of chicken, fish veggies or whatever.   

Oh, and this little container is awesome cuz it has one of those lids you turn to get different kinds of openings, like shaker holes or a big hole for pouring.  I also keep a jar of this (see top photo) for spooning and measuring.  You can tell I’m serious about my seasoning salt. 

I also keep on hand a couple of herb oils.  This one is incredibly versatile and delicious with a blend of dried herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, and rosemary, along with paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and a few crushed red pepper flakes.

You can use it to flavor sauces, or use as a dipping oil for crostini or to drizzle on pizza or create delicious pastas or drizzle on grilled meats.  The bit of crushed red pepper gives a nice kick in the behind to just about anything you add it to. 

And then there’s this spicy garlic oil that takes that kick in the behind and ramps it up to a full on punch in the face.

This stuff is super tasty on everything I mentioned above (and totally killer as a shrimp marinade), but delivers so much more when you need, well… more.

I keep all of these herb oils and seasonings near the stove (of course the herb oils are in the fridge, which is close enough) where I can grab them and create flavor – lots of flavor – when needed.  Quickly. 

OK, people.  This should keep you busy and out of trouble for awhile.  Next week I’m going to share with you some awesome things I’ve made using this stuff, so you’ll want to get your seasonings in order. Here are the recipes…

* Just to be clear, you and I both know that our ill-temperedness (does anyone even say ornery anymore?) is so rare as to be barely worth mentioning, but literary license was taken to make a point, which at this juncture I can't even remember why.  Best we just move on.

Circle B Kitchen Seasoning Salt

It's my considered opinion that every kitchen should have a House Seasoning Blend on hand to give a quick flavor kick to your favorite meats and veggies.  Of course you can buy seasoned salts, but why let someone else decide what your food should taste like?  You should most definitely personalize this as you see fit and even create your own version(s) to match your culinary personality.   

1/3 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons freeze-dried parsley**
 
Mix the ingredients in a jar and shake or stir to combine thoroughly.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
 
You can use this seasoning salt for veggies, chicken, fish, grilled meats, pork or just about anything you think needs a spark of flavor.  You can even mix it with sour cream for a tasty dip and it's awesome sprinkled liberally on grilled burgers or baked potatoes.

** Litehouse makes a line of freeze-dried herbs that are great to use when fresh herbs are not available or instead of dried herbs.  You can find them in the refrigerated section of most produce aisles. 

 

Spicy Garlic Oil

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart (The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

This makes an amazingly tasty oil for drizzling on pizzas or cheesy crostini.  It also makes a great dipping oil for focaccia or flatbreads and an amazing marinade for shrimp.  Once this is in your fridge, you'll find a million uses for it.  Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to make this as spicy (or not) as you'd like. 
 
1/2 cup olive oil 
2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)

Put all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Continue to simmer on low for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 30 minutes before using.  Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.  After it's in the fridge for awhile, the oil will solidify so take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you plan to use it.  Or you can run hot water over the jar or microwave it briefly to return it to a liquid. 

 

Spicy Herb Oil

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy of Peter Rheinhart (The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

This herb oil is so great to use as a marinade for fish or chicken or to drizzle over crostini or pizza.  Feel free to add more or less crushed red pepper to adapt this to your own tastes.
 

1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried or freeze-dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the above ingredients in a jar and shake or stir to combine thoroughly.  Refrigerate in an airtight container and use as desired, being careful to stir the mixture well before each use as the herbs will settle to the bottom.  After being refrigerated, the oil will become a bit solid. You can take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you plan to use it, run a little hot water over the container to return the oil to its liquid state, or heat it briefly in the microwave. 
Sunday
May102015

Happy Mother's Day!

Wishing all of you Mothers a very happy day filled with love, family and really good food.  It's a bit of a rough Mother's day here for this gal, but I know that Mom wouldn't want me to linger in sadness very long. And besides, I will be surrounded by kids and grandkids and all the love and fun a Mother could ask for, so a good day it will be.  Wishing you the same.  Patrice

Sunday
May032015

Shrimp or Salmon Avocado Spring Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce

It's spring!  Let's have rolls!  How 'bout some spring rolls?!  Interestingly enough, they're also called summer rolls.  Whatever.  I'm so ready for anything not called winter.  Spring comes late to this part of the country, but it's finally working its way into the landscape and I'm working it onto our plates, most recently in the form of these delectable little spring rolls. 

I was actually surprised at how easy these were to put together.  Once you've decided what you would like to stuff into your spring rolls (I've chosen a nice collection of flavors and textures), they're a snap to make and actually sort of fun. 

I settled on a couple of different spring roll versions...one with salmon, avocado, cucumber, carrot, mint, cilantro and herb lettuces; and then just swapped out the salmon for some roasted shrimp on the others.   

As good as these little rolls are, it’s the dipping sauce that makes the party.  I tried a few different recipes before creating this hoisin peanut sauce that I think is pretty killer. 

So without further adieu, let’s make some spring rolls.

First of all, you must purchase some of these spring roll wrappers.  I think most stores carry them anymore.  I found these at Whole Foods, but I’ve seen them at Target and I’m sure Walmart and other grocery stores have them.  Anyway, once you have all of your ingredients prepped… 

You’ll want to take one of those wrappers and soften it in some warm water. 

I soak mine for about 15 seconds or so.  It will continue to soften as you fill it.  And you will have the added advantage of not having to take photographs while you do this, so they won’t over-soften on you either.  You will want to work rather quickly. 

Place your soaked wrapper on a kitchen towel (I used a cloth placemat), but don’t try to work on a table or countertop, because these little wrappers are sort of sticky.  They’ll want to stick to most surfaces.  Some people have had success with a plastic cutting board, but I prefer the cloth surface.  A flour sack towel would work great. 

Then just start placing your stuffing ingredients in the center of your wrapper, keeping them in sort of a neat little pile.

Then fold the wrapper in at the sides 

And then over the top, 

And start rolling.

And then you’re done! 

 Now you can make your dipping sauce, which I totally encourage you to personalize.

I start with equal parts peanut butter and hoisin sauce and then add about half as much soy sauce and enough chili paste (sambal olek) or sriracha to create a bit of a kick, but add however much you think will fit your taste buds.  If you would like it a little sweeter, add more hoisin, more salty, add more soy; more peanutty, add more peanut butter.  And then thin it down with enough water to make a nice dipping sauce consistency, which again, is totally yours to personalize.

You can refrigerate your spring rolls for a few hours before serving, which is pretty convenient.  They make a great starter course for any Asian meal you might have planned, or a nice, light meal by themselves.  

We're deep into the joyness of springtime around here.  It's beautiful, it's green, it's warm and sunny when it's not raining, but mostly it's just not winter, which means it's time to put a little springtime on your plate.  I give you spring rolls...

Shrimp or Salmon Avocado Spring Rolls with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

Click here for a printable recipe

The ingredients listed below are as much suggestions as anything.  You may be able to make more than 12 with these amounts, but then again, maybe not.  You may certainly switch up the ingredients as your tastes desire - feel free to make them vegetarian and leave out the seafood altogether.  For sure make that dipping sauce taste just the way you like by adding more or less of each ingredient until you've got it just right for you!

To make 1 dozen spring rolls you will need...

12 spring roll wrappers
12 oz of cooked salmon or about 24 small-ish cooked shrimp (or some of each if you’re making both kinds)
1 large avocado, each half sliced lengthwise
1 hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks
3 carrots, peeled and grated
A good handful or two of spring mix or herb greens
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh mint
A little rice vinegar 

For the dipping sauce...

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste)
1 to 2 teaspoons of sambal chili paste (or to taste)
A little water if needed for thinning 

Prep your stuffing ingredients.  I like to brush the avocado with a little rice vinegar to keep it from browning while you make your spring rolls.  This also adds some nice flavor to the spring roll. 

Dip one of the spring roll wrappers in warm water (a 10-inch pie place works well for this) for about 10 to 15 seconds.  It will continue to soften as you work with it.  Place it on a kitchen towel or cloth placemat. 

Place a bit of the salmon or shrimp in the center of the wrapper and place a little of each of the other ingredients on top. 

Fold the wrapper in on both sides so they meet in the center and then fold down the top of the wrapper over the middle.  Roll it up and then place it on a try lined with parchment paper. 

Continue stuffing and wrapping until you have them all filled and then place another sheet of parchment paper over the top of the spring rolls.  Cover this with plastic wrap and then refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them.  You may slice them in half for serving, but they serve a little neater if left whole.

To make the dipping sauce, stir all of the ingredients together, adjusting the flavors as needed.  Thin with a little water if needed to make a good consistency for dipping.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment