Happy Food is Homemade Food


Homemade Three Ingredient Dark Chocolate

Homemade Three Ingredient Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is basically woman’s best friend. It helps cheer up a bad day, celebrate a good day, and pairs just as well with breakfast coffee and pancakes as it does with dessert ice cream or wine. Plus, as an added bonus, it even provides you […]

Spinach Cheese Dip

Spinach Cheese Dip

I can’t be the only one to skip grocery shopping and have a ‘use up week’ before I head out of town. I am also sure I am not the only one to look into a perfectly stocked refrigerator and think β€œI have nothing to […]

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken (with a How-To Video!)

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken (with a How-To Video!)

Perfecting a Roasted Chicken is one of the easiest and always affordable ways you can impress someone that comes over for dinner. Let me tell you, I cannot count how many dry or rubbery or otherwise ill-prepared chickens I fed my husband trying to teach myself how to make a traditional chicken roast or a crock pot chicken recipes. It was many.

The one technique that has worked for me 100% of the time is a Dry Brine Spatchcock Roasted Chicken.

Dry-Brine and Spatchcock are two separate techniques that will help you create one of the most delicious birds you have ever encountered. I can almost guarantee you will want this recipe again and again!

The first thing to do with this recipe is to Spatchcock your chicken. A Spatchcock is the process where you remove the chicken backbone and break the breast bone so the chicken can lay flat during the roasting process. The video below will walk you thru the visuals of how exactly you can accomplish this πŸ™‚

The Dry Brine is essentially a salt brine method where you salt the meat directly then let time work magic while the meat rests for 8-24 hours in the fridge. You will skip the liquid part of traditional brining which will prevent potential salmonella contamination in your kitchen. You can also use smaller quantities because there is no water to dilute the flavoring. I first showed you an easy dry brine in my yummy Basic Pork Belly Roast recipe from this past January.

Once you have removed the backbone, you need to take a moment and loosen the skin. There is some really thin connective tissue that semi-attaches the skin to the meat. We want to separate them without actually removing the skin so we can add salt to alllllllll of the chicken meat. Lets be honest, we want alllllll of the chicken to taste good πŸ™‚

Now we are ready to add the salt! You will want to apply the salt both on and under the skin on both sides of the chicken. For a typical 3-4 pound chicken, I use one (heaping) tablespoon of salt, plus a touch more right before baking. My hubby eyeballs the salt completely when he makes this for me.

I try to get the salt evenly spread thru the entire chicken. I can most effectively do this when I keep a ‘wet’ and a ‘dry’ hand. I use the ‘wet’ hand (my left) to lift the skin and the ‘dry’ hand (my right) to add the salt. It will seem like a lot of salt, but please trust me that this will be one super yummy chicken! Make sure to reserve some salt for the outside of the chicken.

Once I have most of the salt distributed as evenly as I can under the skin, I take a moment and give the chicken a quick massage. Yes, I massage the chicken. At this point, the salt is still grainy. The quick massage gives me one more opportunity to spread the salt under the skin before the brining process really begins.

Put most of the salt under the skin, and keep a smidgen, say less than a teaspoon worth, to salt the outside of the chicken (including the innards part facing down and the skin facing up). We do want the skin to dehydrate a little because it adds to the making of crispy skin!

Now, we are ready to cover the chicken and let it brine away in the fridge! I have brined first thing in the morning and cooked it that evening for dinner, but most commonly I start a chicken brining just before bed and cook it the next evening!

**At least 8 but no more than 24 hours later**

Compound butter is an absolutely delectable way to add that extra something something to this meal. My favorite herb to add to this chicken is a rosemary; Italian seasoning would be a close second fav. The butter helps ensure the chicken is not only tasty, but also juicy! Compound butter is super easy too!

So easy in fact, it is literally just an herb of your choosing, plus softened unsalted butter! Note: because the chicken has already been salted during the brine process, you do not want to use any kind of herb mix that would add more salt. I think a two part butter to one part dry herb works really well for this chicken.

Sometimes during the summer I will use fresh rosemary from my garden. If I do use fresh, I reduce the amount of rosemary to about 1 1/2 teaspoons (or roughly half a tablespoon) because the flavor potency of a fresh herb is much more robust.

When your compound butter is well mixed, it is ready to add to the chicken!

Just like when we salted the chicken to start the dry brine process, we want to apply the majority of the butter under the skin. Our goal is for some of the compound butter to reach as much of the chicken as we can get it to. My next tip to ensure this?

Give you chicken another quick massage! This will, like with the salt, help ensure the compound butter reaches the nooks and crannies. It also has the added bonus of getting a bit of butter ontop of the skin.

Lastly, we want to add that quick pinch of salt and we are ready to put the chicken in the oven.

Reminder: The major benefit of the spatchcock chicken is it can lay flat so it will roast up quickly and evenly. We want the oven to be preheated to a toasty 425 degrees and will bake the chicken for 45-55 minutes. I always double check the chicken with a meat thermomoter in the thigh and the breast to at least 165 degrees internal temp.

Despite the wordy article, I hope you can see how easy and how achievable this chicken is for you to prepare and impress with! Please let me know in the comments below how it turns out for you!


Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

  • Whole Chicken, 3-4 pounds
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, plus a pinch more
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon dry herb, unsalted OR 1/2 Tablespoon fresh
    • Rosemary is my favorite and Italian seasoning is a close second πŸ™‚
  • Kitchen Shears
  • Time
  1. Spatchcock your chicken (remove the backbone) and break the breast bone so the chicken lays flat. See video at top of recipe for assistance
  2. Clean up the inside of the chicken if necessary. Any odd bits can be saved with the backbone for a future batch of chicken stock
  3. Loosen the skin from the meat without removing the skin.
  4. Add most of the salt evenly to all parts of the chicken under the skin. Massage chicken briefly to ensure even salt distribution
  5. Sprinkle remaining salt on outside of the chicken (including skin and innards bottom side).
  6. Cover and allow brine process to happen while chilling in fridge for 8-24 hours
  7. Create compound butter with herb of choosing and evenly add under the skin to all parts of the chicken. Massage chicken briefly to ensure even butter distribution
  8. Bake in 425 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. Check for doneness with meat thermometer reading at least 165 degrees

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

I seem to have found myself on a bit of a tomato kick these past few weeks! I can explain! The tomatoes I have been growing all summer didn’t start producing ripe tomatoes until halfway thru August and have been going strong since! With the […]

30 Second Pizza Sauce

30 Second Pizza Sauce

My husband and I both work full time jobs, so sometimes (always) by the end of the week we decisioned out. More than once we have argued about Friday night dinner. Sometime in the past year or so we have started having “Pizza Fridays” to […]

Homemade Tomato Paste

Homemade Tomato Paste

Welcome all to the overabundant summertime tomato harvest what-do-I-do-with-them solution post!

Lets get real for a moment, any of us that have a home garden with multiple tomato plants has had a time when we have more tomatoes ripen all at once than we know what to do with! From this day forward, you will now know that a batch of homemade tomato paste is your solution! Spoiler alert: I started with 8 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, and ended up with a much more manageable 20 ounces of paste.

Personally, I am not at all against buying canned tomato paste or tomato sauce, as it is easy to find quality options at the grocery store for reasonable prices (and some of my favorite sauces start with two cans of diced tomatoes). Todays post is designed to help prevent you from tossing your lovingly home grown tomatoes due to spoilage.

I used a combination of all of the San Marzano/Heinz/Grape tomatoes from my garden, the cherry tomatoes from the volunteer plants at my in-laws house, and a few extra roma tomatoes from the farmers market. The San Marzano (photo far right) are an Italian style plum tomato. They are great for paste because when compared to other tomatoes, they have a much higher pulp to liquid ratio so the process of making paste goes faster.

To start this super simple recipe, first wash and give all the tomatoes a rough chop. Then put them in a blender and puree until the tomatoes are past the visual appearance of being smooth. I used a Ninja blender and the food puree setting for about 1 minute 20 seconds.

Once blended, my 8 1/2 pounds of tomatoes turned into approximately 4 1/2 quarts.

Next, I like to go ahead and remove all of the skin and seeds. If you have a food mill, this is the perfect time to use it! I simply use a fine mesh strainer and silicon spatula. I use the spatula to move the puree around  the strainer. The pulp and liquid passes thru the strainer and the seeds and skins stay behind (see last photo).

Using my method, this took me about 20 minutes to pass all of my puree thru the strainer. I put the leftover bits in my compost bin. Note: I poured directly into the fine mesh strainer, which then went to a regular strainer that was there for stability over the pot and allowed me to not have to hold the mesh strainer for the whole 20 minutes.

Now we are ready to get the tomatoes in the oven! Prepare yourself because this is a loooooong bake. Using a kitchen timer is an absolute must. The tomatoes go in the oven at 275 and need stirred every thirty minutes to prevent any burned edges.

The sheet trays really help out with the puree to paste baking process because of the large surface area for evaporation.

Essentially we are trying to evaporate and reduce the tomatoes as much as possible while trying to avoid changing the taste of the tomato. I see tomato paste as a pantry staple that can be used in any number of recipes so I do not want to do much to it! No Salt, no seasoning, no caramelized roasted bits…At the end of the day I want this tomato only recipe to still taste like a tomato and be versatile enough to fit equally well with in either an upcoming chili recipe or pasta sauce..

The first hour or so this the puree bakes, you probably will not notice much evaporation having taken place. I was about 2 1/2 or 3 hours into what ended up being a five hour bake before I started to notice the puree thickening. As the puree reduces into a paste, you should also notice the color become a deeper and deeper red. The photos above and the video below will both help you see the transformation take place πŸ™‚

Also: this smells amazing while baking! I seriously considered putting a pot of pasta on to boil halfway thru the bake time even though I had already eaten dinner! It was sooo tempting!

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla is one of those baseline flavors where if vanilla isn’t good, nothing else will be either. It is also the flavor that can get dressed up by nearly any ice cream topping or syrup,  easily be added to a warm piece of pie, or […]

Buttered Corn Bisque

Buttered Corn Bisque

Biting into a warm and buttery corn on the cob is always a great way to start a summer meal on the patio. With the summer growing season, the BEST corn has been showing up at my local stores and farmers markets the past few […]

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Sometimes you need a few slurps of a comfort food worthy hot soup. Sometimes you need to find something to do with five pounds of tomatoes that have ripened all at once! For years upon years growing up, I was convinced that tomatoes were yucky because tomato soup (from a can) was always so funky. This was of course the peak of my ketchup eating years and I was completely aware that it too was made from tomatoes. Regardless, knowing how to make your own tomato soup will definitely up your grilled cheese game! If my mom had served me this tomato soup, I probably would have been much better at eating my veggies as a kid!

Recently, my parent-in-laws bought a new house that came with quite the surprise come moving day: the garden plot was overrun with what seemed like hundreds of volunteer tomato cherry plants! Naturally foodie me rushed over at the first available moment to help alleviate the ‘problem’  …LOL!

Over the past two weekends between their volunteer tomato plants and the ones I have been lovingly caring for this summer, I was able to successfully harvest (at least) three pounds of tomatoes from their garden and a single tomato from mine.

Roasted Tomato Soup is a great way to use the abundance of tomatoes many of us have when everything in the garden seems to ripen all at once! I was able to use all of the cherry tomatoes from my in-laws garden plus a quart of my homemade chicken stock and the single tomato from my garden along with some basil and onions that I also grew! I also added about two pounds of meatier tomatoes from the farmers market to help thicken the end texture of the soup. In my opinion, you can really use any tomatoes you want.

As always, the first step is gathering all of your ingredients.

Once everything has been washed and cleaned, the tomatoes need to be cut to similar size pieces. For me, that meant halving the cherry tomatoes and dicing the roma and heirloom tomatoes. I am using about two thirds cherry tomatoes. The remaining third is the combination of roma and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.

The onions need to be cut also, but into bigger pieces to avoid burning in the oven. I am using half of a white onion leftover from another day of cooking along with three tiny onions that I pulled fresh from my garden.

Next, distribute the onions and tomatoes evenly between two baking sheets (cookie sheets with edges on all sides to prevent liquid spillage). Once distributed, add about a tablespoon of olive oil  along with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to each pan. I’d be willing to bet your little one would love to help with this since it means getting their hands dirty!

Mix thoroughly, then put both baking sheets in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

If your stock is frozen (like mine) you will probably want to get it thawing–I used a 6 qt dutch oven on low heat with a lid while the tomato combo was roasting.

Since the tomato combo will get to roast up for the next 45 minutes, this is a great time to start on any dishes you have already created! You get the double benefit of continuing to be productive in your kitchen, plus you have the awesome opportunity to enjoy all of the great smells as they create themselves!

Really, your kitchen will smell absolutely amazing while the tomatoes roast away and you will want to stick around just because it smells so good! You can tell the tomato combo is ready to pull from the oven when both the tomatoes and onions have softened drastically, begun to shrunk, and have taken on just a bit of color. The combo should slide away from the baking sheet very easily!

This next part is super easy! Add all of the tomato and onion combo to the warmed chicken stock! Make sure to get as much of the juice from the baking pans into the soup mix for the maximum flavor!

You have two options of how you blend this together. You can use an immersion (or stick) blender like me, or use a full size counter top blender. Both devices will get you the the same result–a lovely tomatoey puree. Personally I choose to blend with my immersion blender because it lessens the chance of me spilling hot liquids all over my kitchen and myself. I can be a bit klutzy in the kitchen at times!

Once the roasted combo has been blended (mostly) smooth, You will want to add your basil and blend again. I used one really big handful of fresh leaves from my garden; if using store bought basil, I would estimate you need the four ounce package most stores carry and remove the stems.

I recommended you let the soup rest for at least five minutes once the basil has been incorporated into the mix. The whole combo is a bit chunky now (sorry for lack of a more appealing word) and what I like to do is let the basil infuse itself into the soup. I would liken this to letting a bag of tea infuse the flavor into the water–same concept.

Once the basil is infused and your soup has an even better flavor, we can strain everything so it will be come a much smoother version of its current tasty self! (Note: if the texture of the basil and tomato seeds/skins do not bother you, this is an optional step.) I use a fine mesh strainer and a flexible silicone spatula, but a food mill if you have one would be perfect for this step! Basically I stir with and use the spatula to move whatever is at the bottom of the mesh strainer, and after a few minutes you end up with all of the yummy soup separated from the bits that keep the unstrained soup from having that perfectly smooth velvety mouthfeel we generally expect from a tomato soup. I put the strained bits into my compost bin.

I always add just a bit of half and half to this recipe. It really adds that extra something and keeps the tomato from being too bright and acidic. You don’t need much at all to accomplish this–about half of a cup will be plenty! Of course, heavy whipping cream can be a more indulgent addition, or 2% milk can add the flavor while keeping it on the lighter end! And if you are intolerant to dairy, you can omit it completely and still have a yummy soup!

And lastly, as with all of my favorite soup recipes, they freeze well! Today’s batch made about two and a half quarts total. I am freezing two quarts (each bag is about two servings) and keeping a 2-cup pyrex bowl for lunch!

Happy soup making!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

  • 4-5 Pounds of Ripe Tomatoes, rough chop
  • 1 Medium Onion, rough chop
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Quart of Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup/big handful of fresh basil (or 4 oz store package with stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup of Half and Half (optional)
  1. Gather and wash all of your ingredients
  2. Dice tomatoes to relatively even sizes
  3. Chop onions to even sizes (but bigger pieces than tomatoes to prevent burning)
  4. Distribute tomatoes and onions onto 2 baking sheets, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt, and mix well
  5. Roast combo in oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees
  6. Add tomato onion combo to warmed chicken stock
  7. Blend well (immersion or traditional blender both work)
  8. Add basil and blend again, let sit for minimum five minutes to allow basil to infuse flavor into warm soup
  9. Strain chunks away (fine mesh strainer + silicon spatula OR use a food mill)
  10. Add half and half (optional)
  11. Enjoy now, or freeze and enjoy later!


  • I think any type of tomatoes will work in this recipe, so use what is available and in season!
  • Straining the chunks of basil leaves and tomato skin and seeds out is optional. I prefer a really smooth tomato soup.
  • Also optional-the half and half. You can make your soup richer by using sour cream or heavy whipping cream, or lighter by using 2% milk or no dairy at all.
  • I do not need dairy alternatives so I do not typically keep them at my house regularly, so I have never tried any alternative options in place of dairy. I imagine some could work, but a vanilla flavored almond milk would probably be a bad place to start!

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

I am pretty sure Rachael Ray has told her audiences time and time again, buying a whole chicken can help your dollar go further at the grocery store. Today I want to show you a super delicious, budget friendly, incredibly easy Chicken Stock recipe using […]