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 Party Foods!

      Cheese-y Pasta Bites

    Seafood Guacamole

   Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts    

        Sausage Roll Bites 

   7-Layer Mediterranean Dip   

Pasta Squares with Pepperoni and
                      Olives

      Artichoke Spinach Dip 

  Cheese-y Beer and Mustard Dip   

        Baked Mozzarella Sticks       

      Cheese-y Beer Popovers         

        Olive Cheese Bites

       Crab and Avocado Rolls
            Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
 

       Parmesan Munchy Mix

    Artichoke, Spinach and Goat                Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms     

3-Cheese Crostini with Italian                                  Sausage                

        Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
  


Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

    Toasted Pine Nut Hummus       

                Pizza Sliders    

... 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/ .

 

 

Wednesday
Apr012015

Closing in on Hard-boiled Perfection

 There have been many lessons to be learned from my experience with Mom over the last couple of months, and I hope to maybe talk about some of those at some point.  But not all of those lessons had to do with grief, death and coping with loss.  No, one of those lessons had to do with a major breakthrough in the cooking and peeling of the perfect hardboiled egg.  Hallelujah! 

As strange as that may sound, I have boiled and peeled enough eggs over the past few weeks to now consider myself something of an expert on the subject.  And with Easter on the horizon, I thought I’d share some of my new-found knowledge with you in case you might be gearing up for a little egg boiling, dying, hiding, peeling and eating this weekend. 

Early on in Mom’s hospital stay, I decided that eating hospital cafeteria food wasn’t going to cut it for me, even though they did have a killer salad bar.  No, I was going to have to bring my own food to get me through the day, and sometimes that meant food for Dad too.  And for convenience and nutrition, you really can’t beat a hardboiled egg, right?  Fortunately, Dad and I love them, so along with fruit and maybe some crackers or other healthy bits of things, hardboiled eggs became a mainstay of our hospital meals (that and tuna sandwiches). 

And while we’re big fans of the hardboiled egg, they’re actually not all that convenient if it takes 20 minutes to peel them, resulting in a pitted, gouged and mangled egg next to a pile of teeny, tiny shards of egg shell.  You all know what I’m talking about, right?  Well, what if I told you that the problem of unpeelable hardboiled eggs has been at long last solved and you no longer have to worry about that unsightly gray ring around the yolk either.  Oh, happy day, it’s true!  

I wish I could take credit for this momentous discovery, but no, that would be bad form.  All credit goes to the good folks at Serious Eats who did the pertinent scientific research and came up with this life-changing discovery, and here’s how it goes.. 

You know how we’ve always been taught to start the hard boiling process by placing our eggs in a pan of cold water and then bringing that water to a boil?  Well, as it turns out, that was all wrong.  Wrong, I tell you!!  The truth is, if you want an egg that peels like a dream, you must submerge it cold from the fridge into a pot of already boiling water.  

And no, the eggs will not crack if placed gently into the water. 

The pan is then covered and the eggs are simmered for exactly 11 minutes for a large egg

and then plunged into ice water for 30 minutes or so. 

 It may sound a bit violent, but these extreme temperature changes are what break down the membrane covering the egg white, which, if left intact, makes it nearly impossible to peel your egg.  I think this is very cool and am awfully grateful that someone (thank you, Kenji)  took the time to figure this out. 

And if you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ll remember a post I did back here in which I touted the wondrous benefits of baking your eggs instead of boiling them to achieve a nicely cooked, easy-to-peel egg.  And even though I’ve modified my stance just a bit on that, I am still on board with this method and here’s why… 

I understand now that placing an egg in a preheated oven does just about the same thing as plunging one into a pan of boiling water.  The extreme temperature change is at work in both methods.  But if you’re after a beautiful hard-cooked egg for say, deviled eggs, I’d go with the boiling water method.  These eggs come out so perfectly lovely.  But if you need to cook up a bunch of eggs for egg salad or potato salad or a similar recipe in which the eggs are going to be chopped, I’d go with baking them. 

Baking large batches of eggs in the oven is a breeze.  Just stick em in and let em go.  After about 25 minutes, you just take em out and plunge them into the ice bath and you’re done.  You can place them directly onto the oven rack or in a muffin tin, but where they touch the metal surface, there will be a small brown blemish.  Also eggs baked in the oven tend to have rather odd shapes as they do not move during the baking process and the egg sort of settles in the shell at weird angles. 

Conversely, while the boiling method turns out a nice-looking egg, it takes just a wee bit more babysitting.  Nothing too terrible, mind you, but you have to keep an eye on that water so that it stays at a nice, well-behaved simmer for the cooking time.  Once you get it there, you just have to check on it now and then to be sure it hasn’t gone from gentle simmer to raging tantrum while your back was turned. 

Now, here’s what makes me ever so doubly excited about all of this.  In spite of having 7 chickens out in the coop, I’ve always had to buy eggs for hard boiling because a fresh egg from the coop just will not peel properly.  I’ve never had any luck with it anyway.  Not until now, that is.  I’ve been hard boiling eggs from the coop by the dozens with this new method, and I’m happy to report that they’re as easy to peel as older, store-bought eggs  which saves me money, which makes me happy and want to cook up even more eggs. 

As to the photo way up top there, I pulled the eggs out of the simmering water at different times, starting at 9 minutes.  So the first egg was simmered for 9 minutes, the second one for 10 minutes and so on.  That last egg was cooked for 12 minutes, so you can decide how long to cook them depending on your preferences.  A soft-boiled egg will take 6 minutes.

So there you go, people!  Boil up as many eggs as you can this weekend.  Peeling just got a whole lot easier.  Here’s the recipe…

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Click here for a printable recipe

3 quarts water
1 to 6 large eggs

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Carefully lower eggs into pot and continue to boil for 30 seconds. Cover tightly, reduce heat to low (water should maintain a bare simmer), and continue cooking for 11 minutes. Serve immediately if serving hot. If serving cold, immediately place eggs in a bowl of ice water and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before peeling under cool running water. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Saturday
Mar282015

Mom's Honeyed Almonds

 

It just seemed sort of right that the first recipe I post after my long “sabbatical” should be one of Mom’s.  (Thank you, Lisa, for that inspiration).  There were several recipes Mom made often and had perfected to the point of being legendary, but she was perhaps best known for her honeyed almonds.  Her fudge was a very close second, followed by her tortilla roll-ups and last year’s popcorn balls.  Oh, those popcorn balls.  Simply sublime, I tell you.  Best I’ve ever had.  I found a recipe in her book that I’m hoping is the one she used, but it’s become just another one of those questions I wish I could ask her and could kick myself for not doing so sooner.  Of course I thought she’d be here to make them for us again. 


But I honestly can’t think of a better way to pay homage to Mom than to share her honeyed almonds recipe with you.  These are so addicting and so delicious that I often had to tell her I just couldn’t have them in my house.  One bite led to 24 and the slippery slope down that hill was just way too, well, slippery.  Her argument was always that they were good for you!  Almonds are most definitely healthy and the little bit of honey and raw sugar were scarcely cause for alarm.  She didn’t even count the 2 tablespoons of butter.  I would usually give in, and at any given time you could probably find a bag of these on my kitchen counter, in the pantry or stashed in a drawer where I would play the “out of sight, out of mind” game. 

But right about now I’m thinking that many of you who have been recipients of Mom’s almonds are smiling knowingly, yet simultaneously saddened to think that you’ve seen your last honeyed almond.  I may try and take up the mantle of honeyed almond maker, but not until I get as good at it as she was.  I’ll get back to you on that.  

In the meantime, if you love almonds… if you love roasted almonds, and especially if you love roasted almonds with a crunchy sweet exterior, you may want to give these a try for yourself.  Bet you can’t eat just one.  Here’s the recipe...   Thanks, Mom.

Mom's Honeyed Almonds

 

Mom made these so often that I think she could make them in her sleep.  for some reason, mine never taste quite as good as hers, but I think that's the way with most of our Mom's recipes, you know?

2 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup raw sugar

1.  Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and place in a cold oven.  Set temperature at 350 degrees and roast the almonds 15 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

2.  Spray another cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside

3.  Place the cup of raw sugar in a ziploc bag and set aside

4.  Melt the butter and honey together in a medium pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

5.  Add the roasted almonds to the pan, cooking and stirring for another 2 minutes.

6.  Using a slotted spoon, place the almonds on the prepared cookie sheet, spreading out to cool for 3 to 5 minutes.

7.  While still warm, put the almonds into the bag with the raw sugar.  Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it shut.

8.  Scrunch the almonds around in the bag, separating them and coating them with the sugar. 
 
9.  Spread them out in the bag to sit until they are cooled.

10. Remove them from the bag with a slotted spoon to remove the excess sugar. 

 

Thursday
Mar192015

And Life Goes On...

It sort of seems unimaginable that life really does go on.  But it does.  Dad is living proof of this as he bravely strides into a new reality that encompasses a life without his wife of 69 years.  And at 90 years of age, it is indeed an impressive and inspiring thing to see.  If he can do it, we certainly must as well.  And it’s for sure what Mom would have wanted. 

And things are almost all in place so that Dad can do what he can do and others can pick up the pieces of what he can’t.  My role in his life is slowly becoming less of a caretaker and more of an entertainment chairman, which is how I prefer it, and I think he does too. 

And all of that means that I am slowly returning to my Circle B Kitchen; not just to throw together a quick meal at the end of a busy day, but actually plan a meal and have the time to slice, dice, chop and sauté.  Glorious!  I don’t quite have the time for baking bread or pizza yet, but I see that coming and it thrills me no end. 

I don’t quite know where to start with thanking so many of you for the support you’ve offered me over the last few weeks.  I debated as to whether and how much to share on the blog of what I was going through with Mom’s illness and her eventual passing, but all of those questions fell quickly aside as the comments and emails of caring support kept coming through day after day.  It is still difficult for me to tell you how much it all meant to me, and what a lift it gave me to hear so many of you speak of your own experiences, or just offer comfort, caring words, and inspiration.  Thank you so very much.  Each of you.  What incredibly compassionate and kind people you are.

So the dust is beginning to settle a little and it feels good to get back to work.  Mom was so very proud of this blog and she would tell people she barely knew all about it, much to my embarrassment at times.  But she loved to cook and bake, and she left a notebook full of recipes that she printed out from the Circle B Kitchen, so I know she wouldn’t want me to stay away any longer than I must. 

I brought out my camera this morning and got reacquainted with it.  I felt pretty rusty, but it didn’t take long for things to start clicking into place again.  Not sure I’m really fully functioning in that department yet, but fortunately I have photos that I had taken before Mom became ill and I’ll have that post to you very soon. 

But getting to my computer and actually writing has probably been the most difficult challenge for me.  I knew I couldn’t just jump right in and start talking about the perfect recipe for whatever, although I’m very excited to start sharing those with you again.  It’s been so hard to even imagine how to put into words what this last 2 months has been like for me and how touched I have been by your dear generosity.  But now that I’ve finally begun, it seems a little easier than I had expected.  Thank you for your kindness and patience.  I’m very much hoping to be back here next week to talk about food!  Oh the joy! 

XOXOX   

Patrice

Saturday
Mar142015

In the Meantime...

Hey guys, things are just a bit busy here still.  We're all in the process of adapting to the realities of life without Mom (Gma).  The great-grandkids called her Gma, so that has sort of become her name.  The most difficult adjustment, of course, has been for Gpa, her husband of 69 years who is now facing an awful lot of quiet time.  Gma was a talker, so his life has been altered in ways that are ever so difficult to fathom.  I have been spending as much time with him as possible, knowing full well that I cannot fill the void that she has left, but maybe I can fill some of those quiet spaces that must be so hard for him right now.  Dad is doing as well as any 90-year old widower can manage under the circumstances, but the stroke that he had several years ago makes living without his wife even more challenging.

So we're all jumping in to love, support and keep Dad going through this most heartbreaking of life events.  As I said, he's managing fairly well, but until all of the support pieces are in place, I will continue to spend large parts of every day with him, which as you can imagine, still precludes any blogging efforts on my part.  I'm fairly certain that we are very close to getting him set up and I will be able to return to my little corner of the internet universe.  I do miss it, and you, so very much.  I hope you have not given up on me, but maybe I'll have to post some life-changing recipes in the near future to woo you back.  :-)

Before I sign off here, I HAVE to thank all of you who have sent such incredibly loving, supportive, and inspiring emails.  I so wish I had the time to respond to each of you individually and thank you in the way that you each deserve.  But please know how much each email has meant to me and how much I have appreciated each word, thought and wish for my well-being through all of this.  So many of you have been through similar experiences and your wisdom has been invaluable.  So many others have written just to wish me well or offer words of comfort, and I cannot thank you enough.  But I do thank you.  Very, very much.  I hope my next missive will be about something delicious.  Food.  A recipe.  Oh that sounds so fun.  XOXO  

Patrice

Saturday
Mar072015

And So It Goes...

I was so hoping that this would be a post about how we won the fight and Mom overcame untold hardships and an exhausting uphill battle to regain her health, but on Wednesday, she decided enough is enough.  Quietly, peacefully she said her good-byes and slipped away, surrounded by all of us here who loved her and will miss her greatly.  

It was a month of triumphs and setbacks, and through it all, Mom made it clear that she was willing to do the work, no matter how difficult, to restore her health and return home to her life with Dad. But it finally became clear to her that her lungs were probably not going to heal, and as things got worse, she made the choice to disconnect from the tubes and machines that were keeping her going.  Her final hours were a testament to her love and bravery, and those of us present will be forever changed by the experience. 

The family has gathered and we have celebrated her life and our own connectedness and affirmed the place she will forever hold in our hearts and lives.  It's as good an ending as anyone could possibly have written for the life she lived so well for 90 years.

Thank you each and every one who has left loving, supportive comments and sent untold numbers of caring and insightful emails.  I have tried to thank each of you individually, but if I have not, please know that your words have inspired and moved me and been a wonderful source of comfort these past few weeks.  The internet can be a such a cold, inhuman thing at times, but that's so not the case here in this little corner of that vast technological universe... you are best of the best and what makes the Circle B Kitchen one of my very favorite hangouts.  Hope to be back with you all soon.  XXOXO