Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vertically Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Butternut Squash

For the chicken:

1 whole chicken, approx. 4 lbs.
3/4 c. kosher salt
1/4 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. savory seasoning blend (I used Penzey's Northwoods seasoning, but any other savory blend, like Old Bay) would work.
1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the squash:

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeds scraped out, and cut into 1 inch pieces.
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp.  savory seasoning blend.
1 Tbsp. olive oil


1. Add one gallon of water to a large bowl or pot. Whisk in the kosher salt until dissolved. Place the chicken in the bow/pot and refrigerate for four hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, loosen the skin around the breasts and legs. Rub 1 Tbsp. of the seasoning blend under the skin. Rub the olive oil over the chicken, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp. seasoning blend.

3. Place the chicken on a vertical roaster (or half full can of beer) in a large baking dish. Pour the chicken broth onto the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

4.  Drizzle the cut butternut squashwith olive oil, sprinkle the brown sugar and seasoning blend and mix with your hands. Place in the roasting pan containing the chicken. Bake for another 20 minutes.

5. Raise the oven temperature to 450F. Bake the chicken and squash for another 20 minutes. (The total cooking time for the chicken is 1 hour; for the squash it's 40 minutes.)

6. Remove the baking dish from oven. Take chicken off of roaster/beer can and tent with foil. Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then carve and serve with the squash.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pierogi Salad with Shaved Zucchini

I really like the combination of flavors and textures in this salad - the crunch of the raw zucchini, the tartness of the cranberries, and the warm, savory pierogi filling. Serve with your favorite dressing, although I think a balsamic vinaigrette would be best.


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 box frozen pierogies
1 medium zucchini
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
¼ c. dried cranberries
4 c. salad greens


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5-8 minutes, until the onion is starting to brown. 
  2. Add the pierogies to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until they are heated through and beginning to brown. 
  3. Transfer onion and pierogi mixture to a plate to cool slightly. 
  4. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until light brown (watch them, they can burn quickly!)
  5. Using a mandoline (or a sharp knife) cut the zucchini into 1/8 inch slices.
  6. Toss the onion and pierogi mixture, zucchini, almonds, cranberries, and salad greens in a large bowl. Add dressing and enjoy!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup - Heavy on the Broccoli, Light on the Cheese

This soup, which accentuates the flavor of broccoli and doesn't cover it with an avalanche of cheese, is one of my favorites. It's fast, pretty healthy, and very tasty. I normally make it over the weekend and reheat it for a quick weeknight supper. It freezes well, too.

The baking soda, which sounds like an unusual ingredient, helps the broccoli to break down and release its sulfurous compounds. What's left behind is nutty and sweet tasting broccoli. The arugula (the original recipe calls for baby spinach) gives the soup a bright green color. 

(Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen)


  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed (yes, they're edible!), peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  •  Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Table salt
  • 3–4 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 loosely packed cups of arugula
  • 3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
  • Ground black pepper


1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides (about 5 minutes), add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking. The broccoli will be very mushy and seem overcooked - it's supposed to be this way.

Sauteing the Broccoli
2. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve, sprinkling with extra Parmesan.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Zucchini Boats with Ricotta-Basil Filling

In a neverending attempt to add more vegetables into our diet, I've been researching zucchini recipes. I was trying to find something different, that didn't involve just slicing and sauteeing the zucchini. These were a great side dish - the zucchini had a nice crunch, and the savory, herb-filled filling contrasted nicely..

(Recipe adapted from


  • 3 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds) 
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil
  • 3/4 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves 
  • 1/4 c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Penzey's Northwoods seasoning blend (optional) 


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Slice the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Using a small spoon (I used a 1 tsp. measuring spoon) scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4 inch shell.
  3. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. 
  4. Place the basil, ricotta, parsley, mint, Parmesan, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until the herbs are chopped and the other ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Scoop the ricotta mixture into the zucchini shells, pressing gently. Sprinkle with seasoning blend and place in the baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!