Orange Chicken with Walnuts for Secret Recipe Club

Secret Recipe Club

This past week we were on Spring Vacation and it was glorious. The weather was a little cool for our taste - in fact, it snowed one night. But it sure seemed like the perfect time to break out the slow cooker for our Secret Recipe Club pick, Orange Chicken with Walnuts by Jamie of Our Eating Habits

Secret Recipe Club is a club of food bloggers who make each other's recipes (in secret) and then publish posts about them on the same day, known as Reveal Day (that's today!). When we got Our Eating Habits this month, we were excited because we remember Jamie making our Paprika Chicken and Potatoes back in February and she did such a lovely job.

This chicken recipe has everything you'd want in an "anytime" meal - it's made in a slow cooker so the prep is minimal and there's no standing over the stove, therefore it's super easy, but also it's so very tasty that you'll likely never order Chinese orange chicken for take-out ever again. The walnuts were a great touch, too - adding a nice crunch to the dish. Note: since there's only two of us, we only made four pieces of chicken but kept the remaining ingredients the same so we could have plenty of sauce to drizzle over our rice.

Orange Chicken with Walnuts
recipe from Our Eating Habits


2 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup orange marmalade
4 chicken drums and/or thighs
4-6 spring chives, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts

In a slow cooker, stir together the corn starch, chicken stock, teriyaki sauce, garlic and marmalade. Add the chicken and half of the chives. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice and top with the remaining chives and walnuts.


Spiked! Recipe Challenge: Limoncello Shrimp

When we learned about the Spiked! Recipe Challenge, we were intrigued for sure. But then we learned that this time the challenge was to make something with limoncello, and we had to join. We've made our own limoncello before (you can see the recipe here), and we've cooked with it as well. Our favorite dish we make with limoncello is Limoncello Shrimp. They make an interesting appetizer, or can be turned into a meal by serving over pasta or shrimp. Just have plenty of bread on hand to soak up that delicious, slightly boozy sauce. 

To see the other entries into this month's Spiked! Recipe Challenge, go here.

Limoncello Shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup Limoncello
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a saute pan, mix the oil, garlic, zest and herbs. Then heat the pan to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the mixture becomes aromatic (less than a minute). Then add the shrimp. Toss the shrimp and the herb mixture well, and cook until the shrimp become pink, 3-4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel and then return it to the stovetop. Add Limoncello to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and cream. Pour this over the shrimp. 


Taste of Manchester: Rocco's

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2014 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 13th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2014) for more information.

“Eat At Rocco’s.” That’s not just the website address; it’s our advice to you, as Rocco’s is the place to be most nights, including the night of the Taste of Manchester. In fact, Rocco’s has been a part of the TOM since the very beginning, and is one of the four Golden Ticket locations in this year’s event. Always showing great support of community events, the staff at Rocco’s is committed to giving back whenever, and however, they can, having donated thousands of dollars to local non-profit organizations.

Boneless Wings

We visited Rocco’s last Monday for their weekly “Half Price Wings and Cheap Beer” night, and as we feasted on delightfully crispy and flavorful boneless wings (half Cajun dry rub, half mild Buffalo sauce), we spoke to Chef “G” about his plans for the Taste of Manchester. Not only will they be serving up those famous wings (which come in a dozen different flavors), but also some Italian favorites from the Rocco’s menu including Sausage with House-Roasted Peppers, Chicken Francaise, Penne  with House Vodka Sauce,  and Eggplant Rollatini. It’s the ultimate Italian tasting menu!

Crab Cakes (photo by Holly)

French Onion Soup (photo by Holly)

Rocco’s is a Manchester mainstay not only because they serve great food at great prices, but also because they strive for excellence in pleasing each and every guest. There are weekly specials posted online and on their Facebook page. They are known for their delicious pizzas, which come in red or white or a variety of specialty styles, with over three dozen toppings available, as well as stromboli and calzones. 

Chicken Francaise (photo by Holly)

Fish and Chips (photo by Holly)

Shrimp Scampi (photo by Holly)

In addition to pizza and wings, the menu is vast and able to be personalized in many ways. There are appetizers, salads, Italian classics, fish entrees, BBQ ribs, chops, steaks, sandwiches and a kids’ menu. From make-your-own pasta-bowls, to choosing from a dozen burger toppings, to customizing your entrée with a choice of add-ins and/or proteins, Rocco’s aims to please.

Chicken Marsala (Photo by Holly)

Ravioli (Photo by Holly)

Baked Haddock (Photo by Holly)

The atmosphere is casual, comfortable and welcoming, with friendly service and plenty of regular customers. While we were there, regulars lined the entire bar, and we overheard one say to another that the Rocco’s Reuben was “out of this world” and so big she had to save half for lunch the next day. The neighborhood clientele and the friendly bartenders and servers make it a great place to hang out. One can choose to sit in the bar area (where you can snack on free peanuts), the pub-style seating area with high-top tables, or the dining room which consists of a mix of both booths and tables.

Rocco’s is open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is closed on Sundays. There is a parking lot out back and small counter for take-out orders located in back as well. Their menu, including weekly specials, is available on their website, and they can be reached at 860.645.7777. They also do party portions for large events. Eat at Rocco's! We'll see you there!

Special thanks to server Holly for taking photos for us!



Taste of Manchester: Center Perk

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2014 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 13th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2014) for more information.

When we heard last June that another breakfast and lunch place was opening on Main Street in Manchester, we wondered how it would survive. You see, there are quite a few breakfast and lunch places on Main Street. But the food being served up by sister-owners Kim Barnett and Chrissy Bedrossian, who were raised in town, is not your standard greasy spoon fare, but creative comfort food with a local flair, making Center Perk an exciting and welcome addition to Main Street’s recent revival, and to the Taste of Manchester.

At Center Perk, meats and vegetables are purchased from local vendors and farmers whenever possible, and any baked goods not made in-house are also purchased locally, including breads from Strano Bakery. What are made in-house are gorgeously giant muffins in a wide variety of flavors, like “triple berry” and “banana walnut.” We hear they will be sampling those muffins during the Taste of Manchester, too!

But there's more to breakfast than baked goods. Rather than plain French toast, Center Perk has the “Overnight” version – Texas-toast-sized slices topped with apples, brown sugar and pure maple syrup. Then there are pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, and specialties like “Eggs Benedict Florentine,” made with spinach and served with perfectly cooked homefries (or substitute sweet potato homefries!). And that’s just the breakfast menu. 

Eggs Benedict Florentine

Overnight French Toast

For lunch, Center Perk features salads, soups, burgers, dogs and specialty sandwiches. Another patron seated nearby told us that Center Perk generously donated several gallons of “Kimmy’s Chicken Noodle Soup” to a recent fundraiser she attended, and that “everyone was raving about it.” Participants at the Taste of Manchester will have the opportunity to rave about it as well, as this is another of Center Perk's tasting items for that evening.

Daily specials round out the usual menu, with fish offerings on Fridays, special omelet fillings (the “Bacon Lover’s Omelet” looked amazing), or, as we enjoyed on one Sunday visit, berry-filled crepes. The regular coffee is perfect, but cappuccinos and lattes are available, as are a variety of teas, juices and flavors of local Hosmer soda. There is a children’s menu, and of course, great homemade dessert choices. 

Berry-Filled Crepes

Bacon-Lover's Omelet

As far as décor goes, the walls are decorated with historical memorabilia featuring Manchester and Connecticut. Mismatched mugs and china plates, mason jar juice glasses, and dozens of different sets of salt-and-pepper shakers add to the café’s Victorian-sitting-room feel. Seating includes booths, tables and a small counter which looks into the kitchen. 

Center Perk is located at 639 Main Street and is closed on Tuesdays, open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on other weekdays, and open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekends are busy, so be prepared to enjoy your meal at a more leisurely pace. Their phone number is 860.474.5543. At the time this article was published, their website (www.centerperkct.com) was down, but menus can be found at the links below:


Taste of Manchester: The Hungry Tiger

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2014 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 13th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2014) for more information.

Everyone knows that The Hungry Tiger, which features live music every night of the week, is the best live music venue in the area. But not everyone knows that the food at The Hungry Tiger is as great as it is, and that’s a shame. The fact is that the father of Don (the current chef/owner) was a local chef who ran restaurants in Manchester from the 1950’s until he retired in 1999. It was in 1982 that he opened The Hungry Tiger and brought Don in to work with him. Don took over upon his father’s retirement, and this month the place celebrates its 32nd anniversary.  And in the restaurant world, that’s quite a feat.

So, let’s talk about the food. Long before there were gourmet burger bars with their ginormous burgers and gazillions of toppings, The Hungry Tiger was serving the 8-ounce “Tiger Burger,” a burger that received an honorable mention in the 2012 Hartford Magazine’s Best Burgers of Hartford County. And here, the meat is fresh (never frozen!) hand-formed Black Angus, and the fries are hand-cut. Need further examples of the quality of food at this place? They roast the turkey breast and brisket for their sandwiches, and cut their own “Cowboy” steaks, all in what may be the smallest kitchen in town.

The menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, those amazing burgers, comfort-food-style dinner entrees and even Sunday breakfast. Tuesdays feature a Burger & Brew special for $10, served from noon to 10. There’s also Wing Night on Thursday, Happy Hour Friday, and half-price apps on Saturday afternoons.

We loved the steak fajitas we had on a recent visit. The steak was tender and had a sweet-spicy flavor that balanced nicely with the grilled peppers and onions it was mixed with. They were served with fresh soft tortillas, shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream. We’re excited to say that The Hungry Tiger will be sharing samples of these, as well as their signature “Mac-Ham ‘n Cheese,” during the Taste of Manchester event. Speaking of fajitas, when it's Monday night at The Hungry Tiger, that means it's Fajita Night, when all fajita platters ordered between 5 and 10 p.m. are only $9.95.

So while The Hungry Tiger is certainly the Manchester mainstay for live music, there’s no reason why it should only be for music. They are open for lunch and dinner daily and are located at 120 Charter Oak Street. There's a small deck in front with tables, and a large patio and bar in back which is awesome for the block parties they throw in the summer and early fall. The phone number is 860.649.1195 and information about the menu, specials, and of course, the live music schedule, can be found on their website.

Oh, and don't forget - The Hungry Tiger is one of this year’s four Golden Ticket locations – restaurants that have participated in each of the five Taste of Manchester annual events. Visit all five “Anniversary” restaurants during this year's TOM and receive a special Golden Ticket raffle entry!  


Taste of Manchester: Pagani's Manchester Caterers

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2014 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 13th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2014) for more information.

For over 83 years, three generations of the Pagani family have been providing high quality food to Manchester residents. And this year, Pagani’s Manchester Caterers will bring samples of that food to the Taste of Manchester 2014

Pagani's specializes in Italian cuisine; case in point, they make their own homemade meat sauce (and we hear it's to die for). Nonetheless, their culinary offerings spread beyond the peninsula with items such as Swedish meatballs and Polish kielbasa, to name a few. Their storefront is located at 78 Maple Street in Manchester, CT, and they serve all of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts with a wide range of catering options to suit every need and budget. They are most well-known amongst local businesses for their "hot and cold 'pick-up' buffet." Yes, from buffet spreads to party platters to clambakes, not to mention full service dinners to order, Pagani’s aims to please. Wait-staff, serving utensils, and delivery are all available at additional costs.  

We had the chance to speak to Mr. Pagani during one of the brief moments he was not in the kitchen. He spoke about what they might serve at this year's Taste of Manchester: a nice Italian-style meatball with a side of pasta topped with their famous meat sauce. And we Manchesterians do love our Italian food. 

Pagani's easy-to-navigate website has all the information you need to plan your next catered event, including menus, photographs, and testimonials from customers. They can be reached by phone at 860.646.0037 or by emailing paganicaterers@yahoo.com. And to try before you buy? Well, come to the Taste of Manchester, of course!


Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India for French Fridays with Dorie

We truly enjoy being a part of the online food blogging community. We love having the opportunity to share recipes, tips, tricks, family traditions and stories about food and drink. Food is such a huge part of our lives. We are not the type of people who eat to live. Food is not just fuel for us. Rather, it is pleasure - not just the act of eating delicious food, but also the act of creating it and sharing it. It's how we experience other cultures. It's how we show our love and caring. And it's great to be in a "club" with others who feel that way.

That's why we joined French Fridays with Dorie, a group of cooks who all make the same recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table each week. Although we don't have the time to participate as often as we would like, this week we just had to find the time. It was a good week to do so, as the recipe was quite simple and easily made with a few basic kitchen ingredients. And also, because even though it's the end of March, it's still as cold and briskly windy as mid-January around here! So this week we, along with others around the world, made "Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India," accented with such warming spices as garam masala, turmeric and red pepper. Perfect for this terrible weather!

We won't post Dorie's recipes here, as we'd rather encourage people to buy the book. The stories that go along with her recipes are entertaining, the pictures gorgeous, and it's a great big book filled with plenty of amazing recipes, making it well worth the cost. But this week, there's a loophole, in that Bill Daley of Tribune Newspapers did a feature on online cooking communities and in the feature, he included this very recipe. Here is the link to that article, and a longer version of the article can be found hereBon appetit!