Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Leftover Christmas Ham? Make Ham and Potato Soup!

I made a ham for Christmas and even after sending some home with my guests, still had a decent amount left. This was a quick and easy way to use it up.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2" dice)
1 c. diced, cooked ham
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 3/4 c. milk
Optional:  1 tsp. Penzey's Northwoods seasoning

Directions:
1.  Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven, or other large pot, over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook for 4-8 minutes until the onion is just starting to brown.

2.  Add the potatoes, ham, salt, pepper, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender (a paring knife should slip easily in and out.)

3.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4.  While flour and butter is cooking, microwave the milk on high power for 45 seconds.  Whisk the heated milk and optional seasoning  into the butter and flour mixture.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Congratulations! You've just made a roux, a thickener for soups and stews.

5.  Mix the roux into the dutch oven.  Cook soup over low heat for 1-2 minutes and serve

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Abby!


Cranberry Martinis

Serves 8
Ingredients:
4 c. cranberry juice
2 c. vodka
1/3 c. pomegranate liqueur
2 limes, juiced
1c. cranberries, frozen

Directions:

Mix the cranberry juice, vodka, liqueur and lime juice in a pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled. Pour into individual glasses and garnish with 4-5 frozen cranberries (they'll keep the drink cold instead of ice!)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Pineapple

Serves 4 (serving size – 2 slices)

Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. barbecue seasoning blend, divided (I used Penzey’s BBQ 3000.)
1 c. ketchup
¼ c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. siracha
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried mustard
½ tsp. salt
1 pre-baked pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 c. chopped pineapple
½ c. shredded cheese (I used gouda, but any cheese that melts easily would work well.)
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:
1.      Drizzle the chicken breasts with the olive oil.  Sprinkle ½ tsp. of the barbecue seasoning blend on the chicken and bake at 350⁰F for 30 minutes.  Let cool, then chop into ½ inch pieces.  Raise the oven temperature to 450⁰F.

2.     While the chicken bakes, make the barbecue sauce.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the remaining teaspoon of seasoning blend, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar, siracha, garlic, mustard and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. 

3.      Sprinkle the cooked chicken and onion over the pizza crust.  Add the barbecue sauce, top with pineapple, followed by cheese.

4.      Bake the pizza at 450⁰F for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with the chopped cilantro.  Let cool 5 minutes, cut into 8 slices, and serve. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pesto - The Other Pasta Sauce

Pesto is a tasty alternative to tomato sauce when you're cooking pasta. It's herby, nutty, cheesy and quick to throw together.  If you're growing your own basil, pesto is also a great way to use it up and freezes extremely well. Just pour it into a container, adda thin layer of oil to the top, and freeze.

Ingredients:
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (see note below)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano would be best)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Note:  Some classic pesto recipes call for pine nuts, not walnuts.  Pine nuts are ridculously expensive (around $6.00 for a 1 cup bag) and walnuts costs signifcantly less.  To me, the flavor is the same, and you're saving a lot of money!

Directions:
1. Heat the oil, nuts, and garlic cloves in a skillet over medium heat.


2. While the oil is heating, place the basil, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender.

3. When the oil starts to sizzle, remove the skillet from the heat (you're just heating the oil and lightly toasting the garlic and nuts). Add the garlic and nuts to the basil mixture. Pour the oil into a measuring cup or other container with a pourable spout.

4. Turn on the food processor/blender and let it run until the mixture is finely chopped. Slowly stream in the oil until a homogenous mixture is formed.  It should be a thin paste, not a runny sauce.

At this point, give it a taste. One of the best things about pesto is that it's very forgiving and you can play with the amount of ingredients as needed. Add more basil, salt, pepper or cheese to get it to the flavor you want. If it's too thick, stream in some more oil to loosen it up.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Severed Finger Cookes

Just in time for Halloween!
The recipe is from Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine.  If I made them again, I'd add either lemon zest or almond extract to the batter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Sunset Raspberry Peach Cocktail

1 shot peach liquor (such as 99 peaches)
1 shot raspberry schnapps (such as DeKuyper)
1 c. club soda

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice. 

Strain, serve, and enjoy

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Smoked BBQ on a Gas Grill? It's Possible!


I made Memphis Style Barbecued Ribs last night (the recipe was from America's Test Kitchen.)  It was the first time I ever tried smoking meat on my gas grill.  The setup was pretty easy; just some soaked hickory wood chips in an aluminum pie plate over one burner, and 2 more aluminum pie plates filled with water on the other burners.

The ribs developed a great crust, thanks to the spice rub, and had a great smoky flavor.  I'm looking forward to trying out more smoked meat recipes. One of the things I really like about americastestkitchen.com and cooksillustrated.com is whenever they have a recipe for the grill, they include directions for both charcoal and gas.  Happy Grilling!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust



2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 Tbsp. butter
3 leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. milk
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. Penzey's Northwoods Seasoning (optional)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
cooking spray
salt
pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is no longer pink. Remove pan from heat and place chicken in baking dish. (I used an 8 X 10 dish. Anything around this size would work.)
  3. Heat butter over medium heat in a dutch oven or other large pot.  Saute the leeks and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  4. Add the chopped garlic and cook for one minute, or until garlic is fragrant.  
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from them.  
  6. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. 
  7. Whisk in the milk and broth.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add the seasoning and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper
  8. Stir the vegetable mixture in the baking dish with the chicken.
  9. Roll out the puff pastry and drape it over the baking dish, so it hangs over the edges by 1/4 inch.
  10. Lightly spray the puff pastry with cooking spray.  Cut several slits so steam can escape.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.  Let sit for five minutes, and serve.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese (and Butternut Squash?)


When I saw this month's cover of Cooking Light magazine, promising "Favorites Made Healthy - Mac & Cheese - Creamiest Ever" I was skeptical.  I was even more skeptical, after reading the recipe, since one of the main ingredients that gave the dish its typical yellow-orange color was not cheddar cheese, but pureed butternut squash.  I'm a big fan of squash, but really didn't see how it would fit in this recipe.  

After making this, I couldn't be more surprised. This was the best macaroni and cheese I've ever made.  The combination of three hard cheeses (gruyere, parmgiano-reggiano, and pecorino romano) provided a great, nutty, salty flavor.  You can't taste the butternut squash, but it gave the dish a great creaminess. I'm definitely making this recipe again. It's great for potlucks, and very simple. Other than adding a sprinkling of paprika on the top right before baking, I followed the recipe as it was written. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I've always been a fan of Hostess cream filled chocolate cupcakes. I used to work in a grocery store and would often get the plastic wrapped 2-pack on my breaks.  When I saw this recipe on cookscountrytv.com and at americastestkitchenfeed.com I decided to give it a try.

These are so much better than packaged cupcakes.  They are incredibly choclatey, containing both cocoa powder and chocolate chips, as well as a small amount of instant espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor (for those people who don't like coffee, don't worry, you can't taste it at all.) 

The filling is a mixture of butter, vanilla extract and marshmallow creme (I used the Kraft Jet puffed brand.  The small 7oz. jar was exactly the amount that I needed.  The filling is also used to make the swirls on the top (I need to work on my piping a little bit.) 

Three people have tried them so far and absolutely loved them.  Cronk had one, then immediately went for a second one saying, "I'm used to them coming in packs of two...I can't just eat one!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thai Shrimp Stir Fry

I made a garlic-chile infused olive oil over the weekend and used that in this stir fry recipe.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the vegetables still had a crunch to them.  It was served over basmati rice.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hail Mary (and her Roasted Red Pepper Dip)


A few years ago, I was planning a party, and searching online for a unique dip recipe. I found one on allrecipes.com titled "Mary's Roasted Red Pepper Dip" and decided to give it a try. It came out amazing and it's been a staple at my parties ever since.

The recipe has only a few ingredients (roasted peppers, cream cheese, dijon, monterey jack, and a few others) and is very easy to make. I've tried it using jarred roasted peppers vs. roasting them myself, and you can't tell the difference. I've pureed the peppers in a food processor with the other ingredients, to give the dip a smooth texture, and also tried it just chopping the peppers, which made it more chunky. Either way was delicious.

It's great straight from the oven, bubbly and browned, or at room temperature. I also had a friend who used the leftover dip as a pasta sauce which also turned out great. Give it a try at your next shindig.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pancetta and Scallion Frittata

An easy frittata with pancetta, scallions, and onion and chive cream cheese.  Great when you're craving something savory for breakfast.


INGREDIENTS:
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 lb. pancetta, chopped
3 oz. onion & chive cream cheese
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper


DIRECTIONS:
In a medium sized skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until brown, about 5 minutes.  
Add the chopped scallions and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream cheese, italian seasoning, salt and pepper together.  
Add the egg mixture to the pancetta and scallions and cook over medium low heat until the bottom is set and the sides start to pull away from the pan.  The top of the fritatta will still be moist and not set.
Bake for 20 until puffed and golden.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grilled Eggplant Pasta Salad

This was the first time that I tried grilling eggplant, and was amazed at the results.  Break out a ruler when cutting the eggplant so that you get slices of equal size.  This will ensure that they cook evenly.

Serves 2-4

1 eggplant, cut into 1/2" rounds
1/2 lb. cooked elbow macaroni (or other small pasta)
1 lemon, zested
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing eggplant
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
10-15 basil leaves, chopped
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes


  1. Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and if you happen to have it, some Penzey's Northwoods seasoning.)  Grill the eggplant over medium-high heat for 7 minutes on each side.  Let cool slightly, then chop into 1" pieces.  
  2. While eggplant cooks, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Stream in the olive oil and mix until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  3. Add the cooked pasta, eggplant, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to the dressing mixture.  Stir to combine and enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coconut Rice - A Simple Starch Gets Transformed

I made coconut rice for the first time tonight and absolutely loved it.  I used regular basmati rice (any other kind of white rice would have worked) and replaced the cooking water with coconut milk and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  My preference is to cook with the light coconut milk, because the regular has so much fat in it.

As it cooked, the rice absorbed the coconut milk and got incredibly creamy.  It did cook quicker when compared to cooking rice with just water (about 15 minutes total vs 20).  I served it with a shrimp curry, and the flavors of the rice made it more than just a side dish.  Give it a try!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

With a homemade ranch dressing.


Abby at the Beach

We took Abby to the Fort DeSoto dog beach a few weeks ago.  It was a weekday, so the place was pretty empty.  The weather was perfect and the water was just the right temperature.  








Sunday, June 26, 2011

Caramelized Onions: Worth the Tears and Time


When onions are caramelized, they undergo a delectable transformation.  By slowly cooking the onions over a low heat, the moisture gets cooked out and the natural sugars develop and brown (the caramelized part.)  Caramelized onions are very versatile. I use them a lot in savory tarts, and they are the classic ingredient in french onion soup.  

One of the most important things to remember is that since the moisture is cooked out of the onions, they will really decrease in volume.  If you start out with your pot half full of sliced onions, you'll probably only have enough caramlized onions to coat the bottom of the pan when you're done.  In the pictures below, I used 3 medium onions, cut in half, and then sliced thin. If slicing onions is a tearful experience for you, just do it as quickly as possible, or use whatever tricks work for you. I've heard people say that slicing onions when they are really cold prevents a lachrymose (crying) experience, as well as having a metal spoon in your mouth.  There's even onion goggles.

After your onions are sliced, place them in a dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat, uncovered. Add a generous pinch of salt and give the onions a stir.  


You really won't see anything for the first 10-15 minutes, other than the onions steaming. Just stir them every once in a while, and you'll notice they begin cooking down.  


After about 25-30 minutes, the onions will start to brown, and you'll notice they will begin to smell sweet and not as "oniony."


When the onions start to brown, stir them often, and watch for the development of brown, crusty bits on the bottom of the pot.  This is known as "fond" (from the French word for "bottom" ) and it has tons of flavor.  You'll need to add a small amount of liquid (less than 1/4 cup) to the pan to loosen those brown bits so they end up in your final dish, and not stuck to the bottom of your pot.  You can use water, chicken/beef/vegetable broth, or any other liquid that your recipe calls for. Add it in and scrape the pot with a wooden spoon to get the fond up.  


Keep cooking and stirring the onions for 10-15 minutes more, deglazing as needed if the bottom of the pot starts to darken.  You'll know the onions are done when they're a deep brown, and a jam-like consistency. Remove them from the heat and enjoy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Spiceman Cometh

You probably can't see it, but the guy sitting across from me at the airport is from McCormick spices...check out the logo on the bag. I should ask him for samples.
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies!


The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.  It was somewhat different because you melt and brown the butter first, instead of creaming the butter and sugar.  The cookies were crisp on the edges, but chewy in the middle.  I also used a bittersweet chocolate chip (Ghirardelli) rather than a semi-sweet one.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

8 - 1/2" thick pineapple rings
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt
pepper


  1. Grill the pineapple over medium heat until it has distinct grill marks (about 5 minutes).  Let cool and chop into 1/2" pieces.
  2. Mix the chopped pineapple with the cilantro, honey, lime juice, and red pepper flakes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Turkey Bolognese - An American Bird in Italy

:



I had some leftover turkey in the fridge, so I made this bolognese (meat sauce) to use it up.  It's an interesting twist on a classic pasta sauce.

Turkey Bolognese

2 Tbsp.olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c. grated carrots
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 lb. mushrooms quartered (I used white mushrooms, but cremini would be good too.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 c. milk
1 1/2 c. red wine
1 -  28 oz.can crushed tomatoes
1 c. chicken broth
3 c. shredded, cooked turkey meat
1 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. basil, chopped
1 lb. cooked tubular pasta (such as rigatoni or ziti)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, carrot and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally,  until they are just beginning to brown (8-10 minutes.)
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the tomato paste and Italian seasoning.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in the milk.  Cook until it is reduced by half (about 5 minutes.)
  6. Stir in the wine.  Cook until it is reduced by half.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken broth as needed to reach your desired consistency (I liked it a little thick.)  
  9. Stir in the coked turkey meat.  Cook for an additional 20 minutes.  
  10. Stir in the cooked pasta, basil, and parmesan cheese.  Heat for 5 minutes and serve.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Herbaceous Dinner

Herb roasted (sage, rosemary,parsley) turkey breast, asparagus with lemon, garlic, and parmesan, and sweet potato ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce.  Yum.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Quick Fruit Smoothie

2 c. frozen mixed fruit (any kind, be creative)
1 8 oz. container Honey Almond Yogurt (or any other flavor you like)
1 c. water
1 c. cranberry juice

Whir everything up in the blender.  Quick, tasty, and good for you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Southern Inspired Dinner

Tonight's dinner was definitely inspired by flavors from the South:

The combination of these 3 dishes was amazing.  The pork was juicy and tender, the muffins had great flavor, and the slaw rounded out the meal.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Savory Salsa Tart

This is another quick tart that I came up with last week, trying to use up some vegetables in the refrigerator.  Here's how I did it:

Ingredients:
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa (I used a chipotle flavored salsa, but any kind would be good.)
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Place the zucchini, onion, and tomatoes on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the onions and zucchini develop a light golden color.

Roll out the puff pastry to remove any creases.  Fold in a 1/2 inch border on each side (this will rise as it bakes and create a crust for the tart.)  Prick the center of the tart a few times with a fork (this will prevent the middle  of the tart from rising too much.)  Spread the salsa on the tart, add the roasted vegetables, then the shredded cheese.   Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the crust is puffed and golden.

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Potato Roast!

This was a great way to use up some potatoes....sliced thin with a v-slicer, mixed with some shallots, drizzled with butter and baked until crispy.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fauna & Flora - Abby at the Botanical Gardens

I think that spring is the best season in Florida. The weather is typically beautiful, and it's the best time for outdoor activities.

Last Saturday we went to the Botanical Gardens in Largo with Abby (aka the crazy dog).  We had never been there before and were really impressed.  There are several different areas, including some nature trails and a wedding garden.There was also a long trail by the water, which had adirondack chairs in a few spots. It's definitely a great place to sit with a book and relax. Abby had a great time walking around and nosing some flowers. We also saw some turtles, plenty of lizards, and some fish.

The only surprising thing was how empty it was...unfortunately, I don't think that many people take advantage of the outdoors, and how enjoying it can be.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tarts - They're Not All Sweet

Some people think that tarts are only sweet dishes (lemon tart, pecan tart, etc.) but tarts can be savory too. A tart is basically just an open pie shell with a filling in it.  If you have basic ingredients on hand, you can quickly throw together a tart for dinner.

I like to use puff pastry for my tarts.  Puff pastry is made by repeatedly folding layers of butter in between dough. As the pastry heats in the oven, the butter releases steam, which causes the many layers to puff up.  The result is a buttery, but airy crust.  Frozen puff pastry is available in the freezer section of the grocery store and is really easy to work with - you just need to let it defrost in your refrigerator and keep it cold until you're ready to work with it.

You can use whatever combination of fillings/toppings in your tart.  I typically start with some kind of onion (yellow onion, red onion, leeks, scallions) which I slice, then saute in some butter until they start to caramelize.  That will go on the pastry as a base, and then I add additional ingredients.  Here's some combinations that I've made:

  • Leeks, ricotta, salami, and grape tomatoes
  • Yellow onion, gruyere, and potato
  • Red onion, zucchini, and fontina
The tart gets baked for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees until it's puffed and golden.  If adding any fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, I wait until the tart is out of the oven, so the herbs stay fresh and vibrant.  

Next time you're at the grocery store, grab some puff pastry, cheese, and vegetables to create your own quick and easy tart for dinner.  Once you make one, you'll see how simple it is and how many different combinations of toppings you can use.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spatchcock a Chicken? Should I Take it to Dinner First?

Sometimes you run into a recipe that requires you to do something you normally wouldn't or presents you with a term you haven't heard before.  Example - a recipe that I made for dinner tonight requires you to "spatchcock" a whole chicken.  While this may sound a little unusual, or possibly dangerous, it's pretty easy to do.

Spatchcocking (the term may have originated from "dispatch the cock" or kill the chicken) just means taking the backbone out of the bird.  This is typically done if the chicken needs to be somewhat flat, such as putting the chicken on a grill.  You only need a few common culinary tools:

  • A plastic cutting board (the germy chicken juices won't get absorbed by it). 
  • A sharp pair of kitchen shears - you can use a sharp chef's knife, but it's much safer with shears.
  • Paper towels
  1. Place the chicken breast side down on the cutting board. 
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  The less moisture, the less chance that the chicken will slide around when  you're cutting it.
  3. Using the kitchen shears, carefully cut along one side of the backbone until you've cut all the way through.  
  4. Repeat cutting along the other side of  the backbone. Remove it, but don't toss it! Freeze it so you have it on hand the next time you're making chicken stock. You are making your own stock, right?
  5. Flip the chicken over so it's breast side up.  Press down hard on the middle of the breastbone until you hear it pop, and the chicken lays flatter.  This is also a great way to relieve stress. The sun was coming in through my windows when I took the picture for this step.  I think it makes the chicken look very dramatic :).