Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Food Post - Two recipes today, Orange Chicken and Hoppin' John

Our company has gone and we are back to eating in the kitchen off our every day plates, but still using what's left of the Santa napkins. 

I am sharing two recipes today so this post will be a little longer than usual.

The first dish I made was Orange Chicken a few days ago.  

The Hoppin' John I made last year but as we enjoyed it so much I will again be making it on New Year's Day.  No photo yet but I will add one later.    

I love my Crockpot, which I know I have  mentioned every time I post a crockpot recipe.  I have used it more in these last couple of years than in the last 10. Consequently the old Crockpot that I bought well over a dozen years ago is still as good as new, moreorless.   

As we were having company for Christmas I wanted to have a couple of easy dishes on hand to serve up quickly.  This one was perfect and I found it here at 'Mom's With Crockpots', written by Amanda.  It is always worth checking out the original recipe for any extra tips.

I served it up for the first time on Christmas Eve and it was a big hit, especially with the men who had seconds.  Yes, this is a keeper.

Crockpot Orange Chicken

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6 hours
Total time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients for original recipe:

1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into two-inch chunks
1/2 cup flour (Amanda used Oh My Gluten Free Flour Mix)
Olive oil for browning the chicken, cut into two-inch chunks
Dash of salt
6 ounces (1/2 can) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup


Dredge the chicken pieces with the flour and shake off the excess.

Throw away any remaining flour as this will not be used again because it had raw chicken dipped in it.  

On the stove heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken on all sides.

There is no need to fully cook the chicken, just sear it enough for the flour to stick and give it a nice coating.

Place seared chicken pieces into your slow cooker.

In a small bowl combine the thawed orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and ketchup, and mix thoroughly.

Taste at this point.  If you like your chicken a little sweeter, add more sugar.  I didn't think it needed it but this is entirely up to you.

Pour the orange juice mixture evenly over the chicken and toss gently to coat all pieces.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

Serve over white or brown rice.

I did as Amanda suggested and doubled all the ingredients so that I not only could use that whole can of Orange Juice Concentrate, but because I wanted enough leftovers to freeze for another meal.  Well, we didn't have any left to freeze but Gregg and I have just finished it off this evening.  Gregg made a delicious fried rice.  I love it when we both get in the kitchen as not only do we have a lot of fun cooking together, but he is an experimenter and he always seems to come up with a very tasty dish.  He didn't use a recipe, just what we had on hand in the pantry and fridge.  Beside the cooked rice there was a bag of the chopped cabbage normally used for coleslaw, sliced celery, beansprouts, grated carrots, sliced lotus shoots and once everything was mixed up, low-sodium soy sauce.  We do love Thai basil which he not only added to the stir fry but also put it on our plate.  We find it is a great palate cleanser.  

Now for the next recipe, Hoppin' John

Traditionally Hoppin' John is a southern dish and eaten on New Year's Day, because it is thought to bring a prosperous new year with lots of good luck.  The peas represent pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot (similar to our English tradition of baking a three-penny bit in the figgy pudding).  If you don't want that cracked tooth or refresh your Heimlich maneuver technique, that coin can be left under a dinner plate, and let guests sit wherever they want so that the lucky recipient can find the coin. That would be my choice.  On the day after New Year's Day any leftovers are now called 'Skippin' Jenny', demonstrating frugality in the hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.  

No one is sure of how the name originated.  One possibility mentioned was that the name is a corruption of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas, 'pois pigeons'.  

One of the first references for this dish can be found in 'Recollections of a Southern Matron' in 1838, another 'The Carolina Housewife' by Sarah Rutledge, published in 1847.  

I found the above information and much more here

I like to try different recipes.  I found this recipe here.  It goes great with Cornbread, which I learned is also a traditional part of the meal, as it represents the color of gold.  

Hoppin' John for the New Year - Yields 6 servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

6 slices smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup long-grain white rice
6 green onions, thinly sliced

In large saucepan cook bacon over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until crisp.  Stir in garlic, celery, bell pepper and onion. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.  Add bay leaves, tomatoes, broth, black-eyed peas, salt and Cajun seasoning.  Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook 1 hour or until peas are tender.  Stir in vinegar.

Meanwhile, prepare rice as label directs.

Serve black-eyed pea mixture over rice and garnish with scallions.

What did we think?  Another delicious recipe and one we will be making a tradition on every New Year's Day but by necessity I had to make a couple of changes.

I thought I had the diced tomatoes but when I came to put my hands on them, no diced tomatoes.  I did however have a pint of fresh cherry tomatoes and I tossed every last one into the pot.  

I still thought that the tomato-ey flavor might be lacking and found a 7 oz. can of tomato paste.  Into the pot it went.  From memory of last year's dish this one did not suffer.  In fact, the sauce was a lot thicker - due to the paste I'm assuming - and we both enjoyed it very much.  I'm thinking that sometimes when these changes are made it all works out for the best.  I can't remember how it compares with last year but I will be using these new ingredients next time.

As for the sliced green onions for garnish, I realized when I went back in the fridge to put the leftovers in, that I had forgotten them. We will be having this again tomorrow and they won't be wasted.

Added note:

Sandra at Mad Snapper left an interesting comment that I thought I would put it under the Hoppin' John recipe.  She said, "I will use bacon but the true way is to put a hambone with some meat left on it and let it cook off in the peas, no recipe, just boil the peas until done and put it over rice.  I read once that the Yankees destroyed the food in the south but left the fields of black eyed peas, thinking they were just food for the animals and we were lucky they did, so started eating them on New Years day for luck."

Thanks Sandra, that's another fascinating story about this dish and next year I will make it with the hambone.


  1. The chicken recipe looks lovely! I may need to break out the crock pot for this!

  2. The chicken recipe sounds and looks delicious, Denise. I am saving the link for the crockpot recipes..Thanks for sharing! Have a happy day and week ahead! I wish you and your family a happy,healthy New Year!

  3. YUM! The Orange Chicken sounds super!

  4. oohhhh I just love when you cook!!! that chicken sounds so good and so easy, two of my favorite words!!! hehehe.....I love my crockpot as well, especially when I can prepare something someone has recommended!!!

  5. since the day i was born 70 years ago, Black eye peas with hamhock, cornbread, greens were what we ate on New years day... last year we did not and we had a tough year money wise.. and now you reminded me i forgot to buy the black eye peas.. trip to the store and i will use bacon but the true way is to put a hambone with some meat left on it and let it cook off in the peas. no recipie, just boil the peas until done and put over rice...i read once that the yankees destroyed the food in the south, but left the fields of black eye peas, thinking they were just food for the animals and we were lucky they did, so stared eating them on New Years day for luck.

  6. The orange chicken sounds so good. We're always trying new chicken recipes! Happy New Year!!!

  7. Interesting recipes, and the orange chicken sounds delicious. Love that crockpot!

  8. The Orange chicken sounds (and looks) awesome! and Easy! I am not big on peas so not sure I'd like the Hoppin John - but I sure did find the info interesting!

  9. I've had chicken done very much like that. It is tasty.

  10. Looks good, and just in time for the holidays.

  11. Either, or BOTH would do nicely, D!

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  12. Great recipes. Never heard of placing a penny in food before. Lol.

  13. Ok, well it didn't seem tooooo dangerous calorifically speaking ( I know that's not a word) so I peeked.
    You know I have a problem with your recipe posts Denise! :)

  14. I want to try the Orange Chicken.

  15. This sounds delicious. Thnx for sharing!

  16. Thank you for sharing...the orange chicken sounds delish and something I know my Mr. would love. Interesting history with the Hoppin' John recipe! Both recipes sound amazing. xo Karen

  17. Before we moved south to Virginia, we had never heard of the tradition of Hoppin' John for luck in the New Year. Pat prepared them along with collard greens one year, but we not done a repeat meal.
    We wish you and Gregg all the best in the New Year and are happy to have met in person this year and loom forward to it again next year.

  18. What I love about having company is the leftovers!!!!

  19. Oh gosh! This looks so incredibly scrumptious!