Hey everybody!  Check out the Matters and Musings page for an awesome recipe for homemade hand cream!

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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Find a Circle B Kitchen Recipe 

Our Favorite Things For Fall...

       Homemade Apple Butter!

      Caramel Pumpkin Custards

       Oven Roasted Applesauce

Turkey (or Chicken) Enchilada Soup

              My Fall Apple Crisp

   New England Clam Chowder

Spiced Molasses Pumpkin Bread

                 Apple Tart Tatin

   Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce (Yum!)

       Apple Ginger Pudding Cake

      Bean and Barley Veggie Soup

Foil-Wrapped Pears with Caramel                               Sauce

         Creamy Artichoke Soup

             Brown Sugar Pie

       Pumpkin Apple Stresel Muffins

Apple Molasses Gingerbread Cake

... 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/ .




Kale & Spinach Bites


After last week’s cake debacle, my eating habits have been curtailed dramatically.  I guess that sort of holds true if you don’t count my birthday breakfast (including Mom’s amazing apple cake), my over-indulgent birthday dinner (birthday calories never count), and then my subsequent birthday road trip during which I pretty much ate with abandon and expended about 6 calories over 3 days, which was probably just from brushing my teeth.  But other than that, I’ve really cut back.

So this is as good a time as any to tell you about one of my favorite discoveries this year… Trader Joe’s Kale and Spinach bites.  Lordy, are these ever good.  They’re basically just little balls of kale and spinach spiked with some onion and parmesan cheese and coated with panko bread crumbs and baked so that the exterior has a little crispiness and the interior is soft and yummy. 

They’re simply awesome with a glass of wine instead of the fried cheese balls you would have liked, but decided against because of all the cake you’ve been eating.  And then there’s the issue of buying 2 or 3 boxes of these a week and even though they’ve gone down from $4.50 to $4 a box (10 per box), our love for them requires that we keep the freezer stocked and maybe it’s time I just figure out how to make them myself. 

So that’s just what I did, people, and they weren’t really that hard to figure out… just a cursory reading of the ingredients list and then some basic math (no algebra) and a couple (OK, 3) trials before I got them just right and now I have Ziploc bags full of them in my freezer.   

And you know what?  They might actually be just marginally better than T.J’s.  I’m not really sure how much money I might be saving (I think it's significant), but it makes me happy to know I can make these in great quantities and eat a few more than I might otherwise, and perhaps this is all leading to another episode of overindulgence, but much better that the object of my gluttony be kale and spinach, no?

So these make great appetizers, and a big platter of them would be so awesome as a counter-balance to the other platters of cheese-y, fried foods and stuff at your next football party.  Or think hors d’oeuvres for the holidays.  Like I said, we think they’re pretty great with a glass of wine, and I especially love that eating 5 or 6 of them might even be good for me. 

 Here’s the recipe…

Kale & Spinach Bites

Click here for a printable recipe

These little flavor bombs are super convenient because they bake up perfectly straight from the freezer, which means you can make them well in advance and quickly cook them up when you're ready to serve them. You can certainly cook them up before freezing them, but I think they actually come out better when cooked from their frozen state.

10-oz each frozen kale and spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
½ cup regular breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 cup chopped onion or shallots
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup panko breadcrumbs 

Line a medium-sized cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a medium skillet and add the chopped onion.  Sauté until cooked through and very soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Let cool slightly. 

Combine the kale, spinach, onion, eggs, the ½ cup regular breadcrumbs, 1 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until you have a smooth consistency. 

Spoon the spinach mixture into a medium bowl and form into little balls (each a little less than a tablespoon) and place on the parchment- lined cookie sheet.  

Combine the ½ cup of panko and remaining ½ cup of parmesan cheese in a bowl.  Roll each little spinach ball into the parmesan mixture, pressing the crumbs into the spinach ball so that the larger pieces will adhere.  You can easily re-form the ball if it gets a little out of shape in this process. 

Place the crumb-coated balls back on the parchment and when they’re all coated, place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until they’re solidly frozen.  You can now place them in an airtight container and return them to the freezer for future use. 

To bake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the desired number of frozen spinach balls on the paper.  Spray the spinach balls with nonstick cooking spray.  Place an oven rack in the top third of the oven and place the baking sheet on the rack.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they’re just starting to turn golden brown.  Let cool slightly before serving. 

Note:  If you would like to bake these as soon as they're made (not frozen), just bake them for about 15 minutes, following the instructions above.

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Apple Butter Spice Cake With Rum Icing

I’m just coming right out with it… I think I could eat a whole one.  I really do.  I think I might actually be able to eat a whole entire apple butter cake.  All by myself (because no way I’d do this in front of anyone).  Of course I would take dainty little bites and it would take me awhile and I’m just saying that because I don’t want you picturing me stuffing great handfuls of cake into my mouth and licking every bit of rum icing off the platter.  I have way too much self respect for such a thing.  But I’m just saying… 

Not sure exactly what it is I'm saying, but first, let me wipe the crumbs off my face with the back of my sleeve here.  Maybe what I’m saying is this is one of those cakes with magnetic properties that draws your fork back to the plate without your even noticing so that in no time at all, there is lots of plate and very little cake and, oh man, apple butter cake is sneaky good like that. 

An apt description might be that it’s sort of like the love child of a gingerbread cake and an apple cake, and if you love those two as I do, you hope like heck they keep having kids.  You know, I think I’ve had just about enough of that rum icing.

I will focus now and say with all seriousness that it’s fall and everyone is talking about comfort food, which this certainly is, but I say shouldn’t all food be comfort food?  That’s really the only kind I’m interested in.  But to be sure, an apple butter spice cake with rum icing would be great comfort if one were in need of such.  I think I best stop here before this gets any weirder.  Here’s the recipe…

(I almost didn't use this photo cuz you really can't tell how moist and ridiculously luscious this cake is, but I like that plate, so I decided to post it anyway.)

Apple Butter Spice Cake

This is a beautiful fall cake that's wonderful all winter long too.  Sort of gingerbread meets apple cake.  You can use homemade apple butter or any good store-bought kind.  I've given you a link to my recipe below.   Any good baking apple will work in this.  I used a jonagold.  And for the icing, you can certainly use all cream or milk and leave out the rum, but we loved the rum flavor with the apples.

1 cup apple butter (here's my recipe)

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large apple (see headnote), peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cream or milk
1 1/2 tablespoons rum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly oil a 10-inch bundt pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the apple butter, buttermilk, molasses, oil, egg and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt.  Break up any lumps of brown sugar with your fingertips.

Stir the dry ingredients into the apple butter mixture just until well combined.  Stir in the chopped apples and raisins.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan, smoothing the top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine was done in exactly 30 minutes).  

Let cool in the pan on a rack for a few minutes and then turn out to cool completely on a rack before icing.

Using a small whisk, stir together the powdered sugar, milk and rum.  After the cake has cooled completely, drizzle with the icing.


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Mushroom Galette with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese


About this time of year when most folks are thinking culinarily of apples and pumpkins and winter squash, I begin to think about mushrooms.  I have no earthly explanation for this, but as soon as I feel that bit of fall chill, I start to crave them.  I’ve already made our infamous mushroom burger and am about to make my not-so-infamous, not-yet-blogged mushroom fettuccine (I promise that will be forthcoming), and I have this on my radar for the weekend.  I'm also craving my creamy mushroom soup that I just realized I haven't posted yet; I need to get that up here too.  Lots more mushroom goodness to come, people! Oh, I hope you like mushrooms.

But yesterday I got around to making this beautiful galette that I’ve been planning since Labor Day.  Actually it was the week after Labor Day that I began to think about it and started jotting down notes about what and how and ingredients, etc.  I figured it would take at least 2 or 3 attempts, so I bought copious amounts of mushrooms and blue cheese and onions and to my everlasting delight, nailed it on the first go-round.  Fortunately, at the last minute, I decided to go ahead and get out the camera, and lordy, am I ever glad I did.  Cuz that meant I could share all of this deliciousness with you.

Oh man, I know I’m going to have a hard time describing to you how really incredibly good this was.  The flavors and textures all just sort of sang in harmony which blended nicely with the mmmmmmmmmm’s that were emanating from the table.  There were tender, mushroom-y mushrooms, fresh herbs, sweet caramelized onions and creamy, tangy blue cheese all encased in a flaky, buttery pie crust.  I know, I know.  I’m not even exaggerating.


But let’s talk about that pie crust for a minute, because it’s sort of the star of this whole shootin’ match. Use your favorite, which hopefully happens to also be homemade. (here's my recipe).  But if not, store-bought will work as well as a thawed sheet of puff pastry. 

Now you might be wondering when you would serve something like a mushroom galette.  We actually had it as part of an appetizer dinner that we do pretty often with a special bottle of wine.  So it would be great as a first course or appetizer, but it would also be super scrumptious as a side to roasted meat or chicken, a savory brunch dish, or a great late night meal for two.  It would also make a nice vegetarian option to any meal.  I can personally attest to the fact that it goes swimmingly well with a glass of lusty cabernet sauvignon. 

I do hope you have been deeply influenced by my powerfully compelling rhetoric and are even now adding mushrooms to your shopping list.  Here’s the recipe…

Mushroom Galette with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese

Click here for a printable recipe

While the directions for this galette might look rather long and tedious, it really is pretty easy to put together.  Like the Italian crostata, a galette is meant to be rustic and free-form, so don’t worry about it being too perfect.  I used my homemade pie crust, but you can certainly use store bought or a thawed sheet of puff pastry.  (I used 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of shortening, 1/4 cup of cold butter, and just enough water, about 6 tablespoon, to moisten it).  Any mushrooms will do in this, but I like the more flavorful crimini, chanterelle and shitake.  As for the herbs, use what is readily available to you – dried sage and thyme would be fine too. 

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or 4-6 as a brunch dish

½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 small-ish onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ tablespoons butter
10 oz mushrooms (any mix you like), cleaned and sliced (see headnote)
1 tablespoon butter, 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme) (see headnote)
1 to 2-oz blue cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 9-inch pie crust dough (see headnote)
1 egg, beaten with a little water 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees 

Melt the 1 ½ tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a 9 or 10- inch skillet and then add the sliced onions.  Saute until they start to take on some color and then lower the heat under the skillet to sort of a medium low heat.  Let the onions continue to cook and brown for about 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.  The onions should be a dark golden brown when they’re done.  If it seems to be taking too long for them to brown, increase the heat a little.  When they’re done, remove to a plate to cool. 

While the onions are cooking, place the dried mushrooms into the boiling water, pushing them down to make sure they’re all submerged.  Let these soak for about 15 to 20 minutes and then drain.  You can reserve the liquid for stock or soup if you like.  Chop the mushrooms and set aside. 

Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter with the tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over high heat and add the sliced fresh mushrooms.  Saute the mushrooms until they are softened and the liquid has mostly evaporated.  Add the herbs, a sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh black pepper and sauté another 5 minutes.  There should be no excess liquid in the pan.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings if necessary.  Place the mushrooms on a plate to cool and mix with the softened dried porcinis. 

Place a large piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Roll out the pie dough to an 11 or 12 –inch circle and place on the parchment paper.  Place the mushrooms in the center of the dough, leaving a 2 ½ to 3-inch border all the way around.  Top the mushrooms with the caramelized onions and then fold the pie dough towards the center, overlapping where necessary.  The mushrooms should be exposed in the center.  

Brush the crust with the beaten egg and a sprinkling of kosher salt and place the galette in the preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is just golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the top of the galette with the blue cheese and any fresh herbs that you might have leftover.  Slice and serve immediately.

 Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler

A sure sign that life has become just a bit too busy has to be the moment when getting sick seems something like a possible vacation.  None of us ever wish ourselves to be truly ill, but it seems I’ve contracted a chesty coughing virus that requires me to stop everything and rest.  Resting, and its distant cousin, relaxing, are a decidedly foreign concept in my life, so having it imposed upon me, is, dare I say it, a rather appealing prospect. 

And here’s the bonus… it’s fall and chilly and it just started raining and I can’t think of anything better right now than curling up with a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a pile of food magazines and cookbooks that I’ve not had the time to peruse.  And being a bit under the weather affords me an excuse to do just that, minus the guilt that might normally accompany such behavior.  I know myself well enough to know that the minute I’m feeling even the slightest bit better I’ll be up and working my way down the chore list once again.  But for now, I get to indulge a bit and it’s kinda nice. 

And speaking of nice, how about some scrumptious blueberry breakfast cobbler?  (shameless seamless segue into today’s post)… 

Actually, this cobbler was way beyond just nice.  It was so awesome and so delicious and just so right and exactly what I was hoping for on the morning in question, in which I had blueberries and was wanting something like coffee cake but not really wanting anything sweet and cake-y.  I was looking for something a bit more rustic and earthy so I grabbed a blueberry coffee cake recipe, left out the eggs, did a little layering, and what resulted was exactly what I was hoping for…something more related to a cobbler (which I am choosing to call it); a bit biscuit-y but still moist and oh so very good.  This rarely happens when I’m in the kitchen first thing in the morning, which makes this cobbler all the more miraculous. 

And who doesn’t love cobbler for breakfast?   But if baking first thing in the a.m. isn’t your deal (it really isn’t mine either), this can be assembled the night (or day) before and baked off in the morning, which qualifies it for rock start cobbler status around here. 

In the meantime, it’s still raining.  I’m going to go make some chicken soup and then it’s back to the couch.  My chore list for the day says “rest”, and I’m feeling very productive.    

Update to the above which was written several days ago… I'm so over the whole resting thing.  I’ve had enough rest to last me for the next decade, and yet, curiously, am still enjoying the company of this virus which the doc assures me will be with me for a few more days yet.  To cheer myself up, I’m making a blueberry cobbler for breakfast.  Here’s the recipe…

Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler 

Click here for a printable recipe

This scrumptious breakfast treat is loaded with blueberry goodness and has a slightly crunchy top from the sprinkling of raw sugar.  The recipe calls for fresh blueberries, but if you all you have are frozen, no worries.  If you’re going to make this in the morning, place your frozen blueberries on a cookie sheet lined with double paper towels the night before.  They’ll be nicely thawed and ready to use in the morning, turning them out onto a dry paper towel to soak up any excess moisture.  And don’t forget to put the butter on the counter the night before too!  If you'd like to assemble the whole thing the night before.  Just get it all put together, stick it in the fridge and bake it off first thing.  If it's still chilled from the fridge, it only takes 5 minutes longer in the oven.

You will need 3 bowls (1 largish, 1 medium and 1 smallish) and a 9-inch baking dish

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
zest from 1 large lemon (optional, but yummy)
7/8 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (see headnote)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon raw sugar for sprinkling on top 

Preheat the oven to 350º F 

Grease a 9” square baking dish 

1.  In the large-ish bowl, cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the buttermilk. 

2.  Place the blueberries in the small-ish bowl.

3.  Place the 2 cups of flour in the medium bowl, and then remove 1/4 cup of the flour and add it to the blueberries in the small-ish bowl and toss those together to coat the blueberries.  You can mix a tablespoon of sugar in with the blueberries if you'd like.

4.  Add the baking powder and salt to the flour in the medium bowl and whisk to combine. 

3.  Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir to combine.  The batter will be fairly stiff.

5.  Spread ½ of the batter into the prepared pan and then top that with the blueberries.  Using your fingers, place the rest of the batter on top, doing your best to cover the blueberries, but it’s OK if there are gaps.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top begins to brown ever so slightly (you don’t want the top to get very brown).  Let cool briefly before serving.  Note:  in my oven it takes 45 minutes to bake perfectly; 50 minutes if it's still a little chilled from the fridge.

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Gnocchi Skillet with Sausage and Tomatoes


I’m guessing that if someone suggested you could possibly serve a delicious, healthy meal that everyone in the family would love, and that this meal would require only 3 ingredients and 15 minutes of prep time, you’d be all over it.  Just guessing here, but if you’re the tiniest bit like me, these are the weeknight meals you live for.  Oh, that every dinner recipe in my repertoire were thus.  

I say 3 ingredients and I know you’re looking up at that photo and counting 4, but let’s call the fresh basil a bonus ingredient, because I’ve made it with and I’ve made it without and it's fine without.  Let’s be honest here, if it’s crunch time with hungry mouths to feed, chopping fresh basil might be expendable.  But just for the record, if you've got it and have the time to add it, you should.  And if even 15 minutes is a stretch and all you have are 12 or 13 minutes, you can also forgo the slicing of the tomatoes and open a can of diced tomatoes and it will still taste good. 

As a testament to its deliciousness, I think I’ve made this 4 or 5 times in as many weeks (my pantry and fridge are never without gnocchi and the appropriate sausages).  Of course I've tweaked it a bit here and there, nothing major, just the addition of a little marinara sauce if my tomatoes aren’t providing enough liquid to pull it together, and a bit of crushed red pepper for a little kick, which we love, and a final dusting of grated parmesan cheese, just because. 

But none of those tweaks will set you back on the clock and even coming in at 5 or 7 ingredients, I know you can bust this out in under 15.  Here’s the recipe…

Gnocchi Skillet with Tomatoes and Chicken Sausage

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

I made very few changes to this recipe because it’s quite delicious just as it is.   But I did make a few optional little tweaks such as adding ½ cup of marinara sauce at the end just to pull everything together a bit, and canned, diced tomatoes can sub for the fresh tomatoes, or you can use just about any fresh tomato you might have on hand if you don’t have grape tomatoes.  I usually add more sausage… my favorite comes in a 4-pack, so I just use the whole thing.  If you don’t have fresh basil, no worries, it’s fine without it, and a good dusting of grated parmesan cheese is ever so wondrous.  Be sure not to overcook your gnocchi… as soon as they float to the surface, I remove them from the water with a spider strainer and drop them into the skillet.  Also, any sausage will do here – just use your favorite. 

Serves 4 

1 pound gnocchi
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)
1/4 teaspoon (more or less) crushed red pepper (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese for serving 

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.

Heat a 10-inch or larger skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high. 

When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. (This is where I add crushed red pepper flakes).  Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined. 

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with a good dusting of grated parmesan cheese.

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