Friday, February 12, 2010

"My Valentine" Cranberry Chicken from Cleo Coyle

First a little announcement: if you are an apsiring writer or interested in the writing process, hop on over to Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog Mystery Writing is Murder and visit me there today. I'm guest blogging on the subject of "Genre Blending and Your Character's Love Life" (click here to visit). And now back to our regularly scheduled recipe...

Food is love. We’ve heard the saying for years. It’s especially true in our house because my husband and I often take turns cooking for each other, and we’ve both made and enjoyed the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Valentine’s Day for us will be a cozy, simple affair—a couple of candles, Sinatra on the stereo, a fireplace DVD in the TV, and we’re good for romance. So what’s to eat? Well, dessert is all set. We’re baking a truly amazing Chocolate Kahlua Cake from a recipe you’ll be getting on Sunday from Dead Air author Mary Kennedy, so check back on Valentine’s Day for that fabulous dessert recipe. The main event, however, will be my Valentine Cranberry Chicken.

For obvious reasons, poultry with cranberry sauce is a combination that thrums heartstrings in most Americans, which is also why I’m sharing my Cranberry Chicken in time for Valentine’s Day. The red of the cranberries evokes the bright crimson of the ubiquitous Valentine heart, and the sweet and savory flavors are reminiscent of festive American holiday meals, yet this dish can be ready to eat in under an hour. It’s easy and economical and just as good when warmed up for a meal the next day (or even the day after).

Jeff Smith was my inspiration for this recipe, which is really just an adaptation of his. He used chicken parts, but I find skinless chicken breasts a much easier and better version (you won’t miss the skin, either). I’ve also made some adjustments on ingredients and measurements to suit my taste. This is one of those recipes that you can adjust to your own palate, too, especially with the seasonings. If you really enjoy a sweet-hot combo, for instance, really kick up the cayenne to a higher level. If you don’t, leave it out completely.

"My Valentine" Cranberry Chicken
from Cleo Coyle

Serves: 4 (or 2 with leftovers)


4 to 5 skinless chicken breasts (or 3 to 3-1/2 pounds chicken tenders)
1 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with…
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup (approx.) canola oil (for frying)
One 14 or 16 ounce can of whole sweetened cranberry sauce (or make about 2 cups of sweetened sauce from fresh cranberries)
2/3 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 of a large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), chopped

1. Cut the chicken breasts into thirds and coat with the flour, which has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne for a little kick.
2. In a heavy, deep skillet, lightly brown the flour-dusted chicken pieces in about 1 cup of canola oil. NOTE: You are not cooking these through completely. This is a quick, light frying to cook the raw flour and give the chicken some color.
3. In a medium size saucepan, mix the remaining ingredients (cranberry sauce, orange juice, cinnamon, ginger, and chopped onion). Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
4. Pour the cranberry mixture over the chicken, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for about 40-50 minutes. The dish is done when the chicken is tender. (Chicken tenders will cook a bit faster than cut up chicken breasts.)
We enjoy this served over Basmati rice. If you don’t like rice, try plating it with a side of glazed carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, and/or freshly steamed and buttered green beans, add some crusty rolls, a French baguette, or sliced Italian bread on the side to dip into that sweet, tangy, cranberry infused sauce and you're all ready to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

And finally...

Thank you to Ingrid of The Conscious Cat. If you’re a cat lover, you’ll want to check out her site! Ingrid awarded this blog...

The Over the Top Blog Award!

The rules state that we must complete the questions with one word answers. Here we go!

Your Hair? – Caramel Latte-ish (with a latte help from Charlotte at the salon up the block!)Your Favorite Food? – Peaberry
Your Hobby? – Writing about coffee
Your Fear? – Decaf
Something You Aren’t? – A tea drinker
Where Did You Grow Up? – outside of Pittsburgh, PA
Your Life? – Caffeinated
Your Mood? – Wired
Your Favorite Color? – Coffee


  1. I love cranberries and this recipe looks like a winner, Cleo! It looks pretty on the plate, something we'd pay a lot for at a restaurant!

    I'm so excited to have you at Mystery Writing is Murder today! What an interesting post you wrote!

    Your Over-the-Top answers are too funny! And make me want to get another cup of Java. Which I'm going to do right now, in your honor...

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. First off, congrats to Julie! So well deserved. This recipe sounds delish- something else to do with cranberry sauce other than just plopping it out of the can. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cleo, what a romantic, lovely presentation of a recipe! Terrific! Love the cranberries.

  4. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Cleo! You are so sweet! And I just read your guest post at Elizabeth's blog and it's wonderful! Now, look at this recipe - Is there nothing you can't do? :-) I love the combination of flavors this one offers. And it's easy - which is the best of all. Can't wait to try it.
    Love your answers - you are one focused lady! ;-) I think I'll go have another cup of coffee in your honor, too!

  5. The recipe looks delicious and chicken is one thing I really like. I love your answers, especially your favorite color.

  6. I love the tanginess of cranberries with poultry. With the beautiful color this is Valentine perfect - and easy!

  7. Elizabeth - Thank you so much for the chance to guest post at your blog today. The comments from your site visitors are sparking quite an interesting discussion!

    Kaye - Thank you. Agreed - we are all so proud of Julie!

    Avery - Ah, romance. Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment.

    Julie - I owe it all to caffeine. LOL! It's all I can do to measure up to you, J. But that's what's so great about our blog. I know we are all inspiring each other in our own ways. :-)

    Mason - I agree - chicken is so versatile and (almost) universally enjoyed. it's easy to find in the grocery, economical, and healthy. I am always on the hunt for a new way to prepare it.

    Janel - Oh, yes. That combo really does it for me, too. Thank you so much for dropping in today and have a lovely Valentine's Day weekend.

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. I will definitely go check out your guest post, what fun. Love cranberries, excellent V-day idea. And thumbs up on the Sinatra!!

  9. This dish sounds fabulous, Cleo! It's making me hungry.

    Very clever answers to the Over the Top Award! LOL!

    ~ Krista

  10. Trix - Hey, there! Nice to see you. Sinatra does indeed set the mood. :)

    Krista - Ha! Thanks - they were fun to answer.


  11. Oh, yum. I have been on a real cranberry bender
    lately so this is perfect. Love the "latte" help
    from the hairdresser. Too funny!

  12. What a beautiful blog! I'm so glad I found you via Riley Adams.

  13. This is a definite keeper! Thank you for sharing.

  14. the recipe sounds fabulous - making me very hungry. I'm glad I checked out your blog from foodbuzz. Congrats on the new book, as well.

  15. Dear Cleocoyle, the valentine cranberry chicken looks divine! I also enjoyed your writing. OMG! Incredible presentation. Loved your site, very professional. Photos were crisp and clear. Recipes concise and easy to read. I shall be back for a bite of more.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers, Gaby
    You can visit me at