Slow-Cooker Spicy Orange Marmalade Chicken


We have been eating a lot of frozen Chinese Dinners in our house lately – at lease once a week. Beef and Broccoli, Orange Chicken, General Tso (a Chinese-American dish). It was time to do a little Chinese cooking from Scratch cooking.

While this chicken is cooked up in a slow-cooker; it’s not one of those start it in the morning and forget about it dishes. For one thing, it will cook on low in about 4 or 5 hours; and it does require a little finishing work at the end. This is more along the lines of start it at about noon, then putter about before returning to finish everything at the end. It does give you some free time (always welcome) without complete freedom. If you have teenagers in the house; this is a great dish for them to take on the responsibility of cooking the family meal.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Orange Marmalade Chicken
4 lbs Skinless Chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
Flour for dredging
1 can orange juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/4 Tablespoon Red Chili Pepper Flakes, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Green onion for garnish

Remove visible fat from chicken thighs and roll each in flour until well coated. Set chicken thighs in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Combine 1/2 orange juice concentrate, marmalade, soy sauce, garlic and ketchup in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add 1/8 teaspoon (about a pinch) of Red Chili Pepper Flakes.

Pour sauce over chicken thighs. Cover slow-cooker and cook on LOW setting for 4-5 hours.

Remove thighs from slow cooker and place in a rimmed serving platter. Cover chicken with foil and hold in a warm oven. Ladle sauce into a sauce pan. Add remaining orange concentrate and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let cook until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste sauce, add additional Red Pepper Flake if desired.

Remove chicken from oven. Spoon some of the orange sauce over chicken, garnish with green onions. Serve with additional sauce on the side.

Honey and Cinnamon Carrots


Every year, we attend a gathering of Pirates in Vallejo, California. We go for two reasons – the music (mostly a lively bunch of tipsy Irish Bands belting out their favorite Whiskey Songs) and the food. Kiddo really enjoys the battle of tall ships in the bay and we all love just being near the water. There’s something about being near the ocean that seems to connect with our souls.

One of my favorite “plates” is the mesquite grilled Quail served over a bed of wild rice. One of my least favorite sides are the creamed spinach that also comes with the quail. While the spinach is colorful, there’s something about mass-cooked spinach that lacks flavor and texture. It’s sort of this bright blob of green on my plate.

I get it, I really do – the simplicity of the spinach. This is a gathering of pirates in Victorian times. The blob of spinach is fitting, although not very appealing. Recently, I wanted to recreate this plate, skipping the blob. That’s when I came across a very simple serving of carrots. These have flavor and are just as colorful as the spinach. Great with grilled quail, or roasted chicken. I’d even include them with a Thanksgiving Turkey or Easter Ham.

Honey and Cinnamon Carrots
1 package (16 ounces) frozen sliced carrots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Cinnamon Sticks for garnish

Cook carrots according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the honey, butter and cinnamon until butter is melted; stir to blend. Taste and adjust cinnamon, if necessary, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time.

Drain carrots well; place in a warm serving bowl. Drizzle with honey mixture. Place a couple of sticks of cinnamon into the dish for garnish.

Super Easy Chicken Mole


This past weekend, we had grilled foods on the menu for both Saturday and Sunday’s supper. The weather had been holding nice and steady for mid-October with warm days and cool evenings. One of the more difficult things about this time of year is planning too far ahead. The weather turned. We knew it was going to turn, but none of the news stations seemed to agree as to when and how. Some said wind with a chance of showers. Some predicted light rain in the morning hours, others gave us the chance of heavy rains in the overnight hours. (I’d love to have a job that allowed me to be wrong so often and keep my job!)

Saturday the sky was a nasty, threatening gray. By mid-afternoon, the winds were high, making outdoor cooking just about impossible. Sunday brought heavy rains (it was supposed to be scattered light showers). That meant a last-minute “shuffle” in the menu before heading off to the market. Darn, I had my mouth all set. Oh well, good excuse to dine out on Saturday night. Sunday brought out a recipe I’ve shared before – Cheater’s Mole. mole-ready-to-serveWhile this is similar, with the same basic short cut, my usual Mole Sauce wasn’t available. Same brand, just not the concentrated variety that comes in a jelly jar. This mole sauce comes in a carton “ready to use”. Hum, might have to do a little tweaking to the sauce for that nice, full flavor of the concentrate without all the extra work involved to make my Cheater’s Chicken Mole. Nothing like being flexible. I’ve pushed off the Grilled Quail  and Spice Rubbed Tri-tip for next weekend . . . we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s one of Hubby’s all-time favorite Mexican Dishes, with a few alterations.

The upside to using the Ready To Serve is that it is easier to work with. The down side is that, left alone the Ready To Serve Mole has a chalky finish and isn’t nearly as spicy as its concentrated counterpart. To dilute with broth creates a finished sauce that is thinner than we like. (Adding broth a little at a time and tasting after each addition, it took half a can of broth to eliminate that chalky after taste).

Super Easy Chicken Mole
2 Cartons Dona Maria Ready to Serve Mole Sauce
½ Can Chicken Broth
¼ Teaspoon Chipotle Pepper Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin Seasoning
4 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty mole sauce into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 can of broth to the bowl. Whisk until blended. Add seasonings, whisk until well blended. Set aside until ready to use.

Cut chicken into large chunks, about 1 1/2 inches and place in a large casserole dish. Pour sauce over breasts. Cover with foil and bake 1 ½ hours. Uncover and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes to help sauce thicken slightly. Breast should be very tender.


Serve with warm flour tortillas, Spanish Rice and Refried Beans.

Grilled Polish Sausage with Sautéed Onions and Peppers


One of the things I love about County Fairs or Street Fairs are the grilled sausages. Hot links, Bratwurst,  Polish Sausage – while the “sausages” vary in type and seasoning, the cooking method is pretty much the same. Grill and serve. Pile on the sautéed onions and peppers and enjoy.

Not all “fair” foods offer the grilled vegetables. In my opinion, they are missing an important condiment, opting for convenience instead. I get it – much easier to put chopped onion on the condiment table. These can be used on the sausage, dogs and burgers. Yeah, you can spread some raw onions on your sausage, but it’s really not the same thing.

Sometimes I’ll sautée only one or two peppers, other times I’ll cook up all the colors of the rainbow, whatever the mood and availability. Most of the time, having a variety of pepper isn’t an issue. I like to use medium to small peppers with a large onion. That way the amount of peppers to onion is about even. If smaller peppers aren’t available, cut peppers in half and reserve remaining pepper for another recipe.

Grilled Polish Sausage with Sautéed Onions and Peppers
6 Polish or Spicy Sausages
1 White Onion, sliced into strips
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
6 Steak Roll or other Buns
6 Tablespoons Brown Spicy Mustard

Preheat grill. Slice Onion and Bell Pepper into strips. Place vegetables in a saute pan over medium-low heat, saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

When grill is ready, grill Polish Sausage. Turn Polish Sausage as necessary until heated through and skin begins to blister nicely, about 10 minutes or so.

Open buns and spread 1 tablespoon mustard on buns. Place sausage on buns, top with sautéed vegetables and serve.

Optional: Use Hot or Spicy Sausage in place of Polish Sausage.

Barbecue Chicken and Vegetable Foil Wraps Two Ways


The beauty of these moist barbecued Chicken Breasts (besides cooking up with the veggies) is that you can grill or bake your little packages of flavorful delights. The prep work is minimal, a little chopping, slapping on the sauce and folding the foil packets. Then it’s just a matter of cooking indoors or out.

grill-panTalk about easy clean up! A cutting board, a grill pan, a knife and some dinner plates to rinse. What could be easier?

If you don’t own a grill pan, it’s a worthwhile investment. Food cooks up nicely, with beautiful markings. Great for all sorts of things such as grilled sausage, vegetables and just about anything that needs markings. The beauty of a grill pan is that you need not worry about food falling through the grill and into the fire. I love my pan.


Barbecue Chicken and Vegetable Foil Wraps Two Ways
8 aluminum foil sheets large enough to wrap around one chicken breast with Vegetables
4 (4-ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2-cup barbecue sauce (use your favorite)
1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 asparagus spears
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

For each foil pack, prepare two sheets of aluminum foil; place the sheets one on top of the other for durability.

Heat Grill Pan over medium heat. Lightly oil pan to prevent food from sticking. Grill vegetables for a few minutes, just enough to sear vegetables and give them some nice grill marks. Set aside until ready to use.

Brush Grill Pan with a little more olive oil. Sear and mark chicken for that nice presentation.

Place one chicken breast on each stacked pair of foil sheets; season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Brush each chicken breast with 1 to 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

Divide equally and arrange vegetables around each chicken breast; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle chicken and vegetables with little olive oil.

Fold the sides of the foil over the chicken, covering completely; seal the packets closed. While chicken cooks, heat barbecue sauce over low heat to serve with finished packets. When ready to serve; place warm barbecue sauce in a small bowl and serve with chicken for additional sauce as desired.

To Cook on a Grill:
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Transfer foil packets to the preheated grill rack and cook for 30 minutes, or until done, turning once.

Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes. Open packets at one corner to create a small spout. Drain excess liquid, seal shut.

Serve while still wrapped in foil.

To Cook in the Oven:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer foil packets to a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until done.

Remove from oven and let stand few minutes.  Open packets at one corner to create a small spout. Drain excess liquid, seal shut.

Serve while still wrapped in foil.

Conchiglie Pasta Kissed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Red Wine


This spicy Pasta dish has been one of those recipes that has been on and off my menu planner for weeks now – since most of the ingredients are those always on hand, it was easy to push out when life does what it does and things get in the way.

The night we planned to cook it up, Kiddo surprised me. He said for me to sit down and let him do all the cooking. Couldn’t argue with a great offer like that. He read through the recipe and asked if he could make a few adjustments. Go for it. Kiddo increased the garlic and the wine, toned down the red pepper flakes and came up with a recipe that was in keeping with the overall spirit of the original, but with his own take on things. When it came time to clean up the kitchen,  I had to laugh. Hubby said there were nearly as many dirty bowls, chopping boards and knives in the sink that would have been there had I been cooking.

Conchiglie Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Red Wine
16 oz Conchiglie pasta (Shell Pasta)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried Red Chili flakes
1 package (5.5oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (½ cup when chopped)
2 large Italian tomatoes, finely chopped (2 cups when chopped)
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely shredded basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat large pot of well-salted water for pasta. While water comes to a boil, gather and prepare all the ingredients. Cooking times are quick, so have everything at the ready.

DO NOT start cooking your ingredients until water for pasta comes to a boil. Timing is everything.

Heat oil in a heavy based skillet over medium heat and cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add garlic and stir for one minute.

Meanwhile boil pasta in plenty of salted water as per packet instructions until al dente, about 9 minutes. Remove 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain remaining water from pasta, keep shells warm.

Increase heat skillet to medium-high. Add the Red Chili Pepper Flakes, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes and cook 5 minutes, stirring.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the red wine, reduce heat and cook until absorbed, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Add 2/3 of the grated cheese, basil and 1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the tomato mixture, heat until piping hot and then toss in the pasta. If necessary, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time. Adjust seasoning and serve hot with the rest of cheese on the side.