"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

“perfect roast chicken for a snowy day. . . “

DSCN0309Yesterday at the new Whole Foods market that just opened in Shrewsbury, the next town over, I was surprised to find “Bell and Evans” whole chickens for sale. The last time I was there, I looked for it but found only Bell and Evans cornish hens that were about two dollars more than Perdue at the Stop and Shop. My eyebrows went up when I looked at the price: usually it costs about $9 for a small chicken at Market Basket – and around $13 at Idylwylde Farms. When I flipped the chicken over, the price was $2.95 or 99 cents/pound for a 3 pound bird!  Yup. I bought two of them at $2.95 and brought them home, one for the freezer and one for dinner tonight. That’s an amazing price to pay for a whole Bell & Evans chicken. They’re tender and very tasty.

We’re supposed to have heavy snow today starting around noon and turning to freezing rain until 10: p.m. tonight. It seems like a really good time to have a roast chicken dinner – (as long as the power holds out) and for leftovers tomorrow. There are as many recipes to roast a chicken as there are days in a year. I like to make some Pepperidge Farm stuffing and bake Japanese sweet potatoes alongside. Some fresh carrots and onions placed around the stuffed bird provide a nice side vegetable garnish along with what’s left of the herbs growing in the north window of the house. At the last minute, I’ll saute some fresh zucchini and onion together. There will be lots of vegetables, a nice bird with drippings and stuffing!

Here’s my easy prep to make this savory dinner:

  1. Rinse bird in cold water and dry well inside and out with paper towels.
  2. Butter a roasting pan and set the bird on it; smear the bird with unsalted butter, add salt and cracked pepper to it.
  3. In a skillet, heat up a tablespoon of butter, saute a small amount of chopped celery and vidalia onion, add some Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing and stir. Sprinkle on some Bell’s Seasoning on the stuffing and add bits of chicken broth to moisten the stuffing – but not too much. Let it COOL.
  4. When cool, stuff the bird and set it in the roasting pan; cut up carrots and onions to place around the bird in the serving pan. Preheat the oven to 375-400 (my oven has been temperamental lately and I’ve been using a oven thermometer to gauge what it’s really doing rather than what it’s set on.)
  5. Once the oven temp is around 400 degrees, I’ll also add a couple of Japanese sweet potatoes on a separate baking sheet. These are delicious if they’re cooked long enough so that they’re fork tender.
  6. Place the bird and vegetables in the oven and roast until golden brown. The inside temp of the chicken should be around 165 degrees when tested with an instant meat thermometer. Take the dish out and shield it with some aluminum foil for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
  7. Scoop the stuffing from the bird and plate, adding roast chicken pieces and juices on top. Spoon up the vegetables and place around the chicken. Serve the baked Japanese sweet potatoes alongside.
  8. Make a simple lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing.  A snug, cozy meal for supper while the weather is inclement outside!

“homemade cream of mushroom soup . . . sort of” . . .

DSCN0305DSCN0308Our New England forecast for this Wednesday is for SNOW – starting midday and building until 10 p.m. tonight. For lunch today, I looked in the fridge for ingredients to make homemade soup. Usually, I make a tomato/broth based soup with celery, onion, carrots and a little macaroni. But today, there were only very large cans of stewed tomatoes in the pantry – and not much else to shore it up with.

In the fridge, I spied a half box of thickly sliced mushrooms which had served well for the brown rice tortilla pizzas we’ve been having for lunch. There was a can of cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard so mushroom soup it would be for our lunch. I chopped up half a leftover Vidalia onion; a tiny carrot and the fresh mushrooms. I heated up some Kalamata olive oil (from Trader Joe’s) in a small soup pot, added the vegetables and let them sizzle for a short time. Added a small splash of cooking sherry (too much is overwhelming) and stirred the can of soup into the pot. The mixture was pretty thick until I added a can of milk/water and stirred it well. Added some dried parsley that freshened up the soup and made it look more appetizing. Set the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

With the soup, I’m toasting some whole grain bread. We’ll spread it thickly with plain cream cheese. This soup is partly homemade with a can of prepared soup. Can’t get any easier than that! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . . !