Easy Orange Chicken

Orange chicken

We love Orange Chicken at our house, but really don’t like the breading that most Chinese restaurants have on their chicken.  I wanted to come up with a recipe that was easy and tasted like the restaurant style of Orange chicken.  I tried a lot of combinations, using orange juice, and orange juice reduction that I added a little sugar to, added extra orange zest, but it just seemed lacking.  Then one time while I was playing with the recipe, and found that someone had finished off the orange juice, I grabbed a jar of orange marmalade and used that instead. It was so easy, I thought I was cheating.  The ending result was what we had been looking for.  Thick sauce, plenty of orange flavor, and a little better than what we got at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  And so here is the result of that experiment.

5 – 6 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into chunks (if you prefer slices, you can do that)

3 tablespoons minced garlic

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1 jar orange marmalade (homemade is better – use a 8 ounce jelly jar)

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)

1 tsp. minced ginger

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 3 tablespoons water

In 2 tablespoons oil, brown chicken, a little at a time, keep cooked chicken warm while cooking the rest.  Cover bowl with foil to keep warm.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and sauté garlic and ginger.  Cook 1 minute.  Be careful not to over cook garlic or it becomes bitter.  Add soy, marmalade and red pepper flakes.  Bring to boil and then pour in cornstarch slurry.  Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until thickened.  Add chicken and stir to coat in sauce.  Serve over rice and can top with thinly sliced green onions.


Orange Marmalade

orange marmalade

I like Orange Marmalade on whole grain toast for breakfast.  I have bought marmalade at the store, but it is kind of dull tasting and doesn’t begin to compare to the fresh taste marmalade from your own kitchen has.  I’m not one for a lot of spice, but will sometimes add a little chili pepper (about 3 dried peppers) to the oranges when making this for my friends that like spicy things (be sure to remove the dried peppers once the oranges are cooked and soft).  It’s a thing to have in your kitchen cabinets.  Good for glazing a pork loin or ham.  We use orange marmalade in our Easy Orange Chicken.  I also use it in my Orange breakfast muffins.

2 1/4 pounds of oranges (not navel oranges), thinly sliced and seeded

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

6 cups water

9 cups granulated sugar

Cut orange slices into quarters and combine oranges, lemon zest and juice and water in a large pot.  Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes.  Partially cover and boil gently for another 30 minutes until fruit is soft.  Remove cover and bring back to a boil over med high heat, stirring constantly.  Gradually stir in sugar, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.  Boil hard, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and test to see if jel stage is reached.  Using a cold metal spoon, dip into marmalade and turn sideways.  If marmalade sheets off of spoon then it is ready.  If it drips off spoon, put back on heat and boil for another 5 minutes.  Once jel stage is reached, skim off foam.  Ladle into hot jars, remove air bubbles and wipe rims.  Place hot lids on top of jars and screw on bands.  Place in canner, making sure hot water covers tops of jars.  Bring to a boil and boil 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let sit another 5 minutes.  Remove to rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stawberry Jam

stawberry jam

Now that the cherry and blueberry jams are done, need some strawberry.  That’s my youngest son’s favorite type of jam.  I usually make this one plain, but sometimes put a tablespoon of Grand Marnier in.  The orange just gives it a slight kick and makes it a little special.

4 cups strawberries, sliced and crushed

4 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 package powdered pectin

5 1/2 cups sugar

In large pot combine strawberries, lemon juice and pectin.  Stir until pectin is dissolved.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once, stirring till dissolved.  Once it comes to a full rolling boil again, stir constantly and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off foam.  Ladle into hot jars to 1/4 inch from top.  Wipe rims and put hot lids on top and screw on bands. Place jars into canner, making sure hot water covers the tops of the jars.  Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.  Turn off and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove from canner and place on rack to cool.

Blueberry Jam

blueberry jam

Today is going to be a jam making day and since I have a bunch of blueberries, and am out of blueberry jam, guess that would be a good jam to make.  As I said in my previous post, have my Ball jam maker and so it is now a breeze to make jam.  I can post these recipes, while waiting for my batch to finish.  Pretty great. Remember, if you have one of these wonderful jam makers, cut this recipe into fourths and add 1 tsp. butter to fruit (this reduces foam).

5 cups mashed blueberries

1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 package regular powdered pectin

7 cups sugar

In a large pot put blueberries, lemon juice and powdered pectin.  Stir until pectin is dissolved.  Bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently.    Add sugar all at once and stirring constantly, bring back to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute..  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Discard foam.  Ladle into hot jars and remove air bubble with a knife.  Wipe off rims of jars and place hot lids on top of jar and screw bands down until tight.  Place jars in canner, making sure hot water covers the tops of the jars.  Bring water to a boil and process for 10 minutes, then remove lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes more.  Remove jars to rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Sweet Cherry Jam


sweet cherry jam

I have always made my own jams and jellies.  You just can’t match the taste of homemade jams and jellies. You don’t have to worry about what is in them. Jams and jellies are some of my favorite things to make.  You can really experiment with the ingredients and come up with something entirely different.  The only drawback was the standing over the large pot of boiling fruit, stirring constantly, with the hot steam blowing up at you.  I always make my jams in an all day jamfest, ending up with enough jam to last all year and share with family and friends.  Well, until recently.  I have a new appliance, the Ball Jam Maker.  I love this appliance.  I can make jam every day if I want.  No more setting aside a weekend to make jam, ending up too exhausted after to even think of making dinner. With this appliance, I just put everything into the pot, turn it on and go do something else until it beeps.  Then pour the jam into jars, process it in a water bath and then let them cool.  I don’t have to stand over a hot-pot of boiling fruit, stirring.  The machine does it for me.  I can use my own recipes, I just have to cut them in fourths.  Who ever came up with this idea is brilliant.  So since I was making jam this weekend, thought I would share some of my recipes.  These are the regular recipes that I use to make regular batches.  If you have one of these wonderful jam makers, just cut it into fourths.

4 cups chopped pitted sweet cherries

4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional – sometimes use it, sometimes don’t)

1 package of regular powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

In a large deep pot combine cherries, lemon juice and cinnamon, if using it.  Mash all with a potato masher.  Whisk in pectin until dissolved.  Bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly(see what did I tell you)  Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Discard foam.  Ladle into hot jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles with a knife.  Wipe rim (the lids won’t seal properly, if rims are not wiped clean) Center hot lid onto op jar and screw band down until tight. Place jars into canner and make sure they are completely covered with hot water. Bring to boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove lid of canner and wait 5 minutes more.  Remove jars and allow to cool to room temperature.  Makes about 6 8 ounce jars of jam.

Note:  I have also added 1/2 tsp. cloves or 1/4 cup amaretto liqueur to the recipe to get a different flavor.

Pumpkin Pecan Biscuits

pumpkin pecan biscuits

When I have cans of pumpkin or pumpkin in the freezer I make these.  I serve these a couple of different ways.  Usually just plain, with plenty of butter or pumpkin butter (serious pumpkin overload).  Sometimes I want them to be sweet, so I’ll make a powdered sugar glaze with a touch of cinnamon and pour that over the biscuits to sweeten them up.  Sweetened, these make a great breakfast bread.  Without the glaze these work as a bread to go with a chicken or ham dinner.  Either way, they are wonderful.

2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into cubes

1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

2/3 cup pumpkin

1/3 cup. half and half

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Sift dry ingredients.  Cut butter into flour mixture.  Stir in pecans.  Add pumpkin and half and half.  Mix into a stiff dough, do not overwork the dough.  Put dough onto a lightly floured board and work any remaining flour into the dough.  If needed, you can add a little more flour.  When I use my frozen pumpkin, it needs more flour.  With canned pumpkin, it usually doesn’t.  Pat dough out to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into biscuits and place onto baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  Serve hot with lots of butter.

Potato Doughnuts

potato doughnuts

When my children were small, I made these at least once a week.  Some mornings I would take a short cut and just drop the dough by spoonfuls into the hot oil and make potato doughnut drops.  Either way, they loved these.  They are best eaten right after they are made.  They never lasted to the next day in our house, but if you keep them till the next day, put them in a brown paper bag, sprinkled with water and heat in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.  They taste like you just cooked them.

4 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/8 cup oil

1 cup mashed potatoes (I would save a cup from a dinner and freeze it till I made the doughnuts)

1 cup sour milk (or add 1 tsp. vinegar to 1 cup milk)

Cinnamon sugar – 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients.  Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add oil, potatoes, and milk.  Beat till smooth.  Add dry ingredients.  Chill.  Roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut with doughnut cutter.  Fry in hot oil (about 190 degrees) until golden brown.  Turn over and fry other side.  Drain on paper towels and then toss with cinnamon sugar to coat both sides.