Who Let the Dog Out? #3 – Maple Orange Chicken with Mandarin Ketchup

Posted on: March 23rd, 2014 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

“It’s just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn’t it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.” ~ John Grogan

The 3rd & final in a series of 3 dog “tails” written by Chef Janet Craig of The Satisfied Soul.

When I moved to Belleville, Ontario, I started catering dinner parties at a lot of larger homes in the county that were on the waterfront in very rural areas. One party had this little Sheltie and I was alarmed when my server opened the back door and let him out. This property was 5 acres in the middle of nowhere and I asked, “Did you ask anyone if you can let the dog out? Is the yard fenced? Do they have an invisible fence? OMG! What is the dog’s name?” Quickly, I picked up a lamb chop and waved it outside whistling like a jackass and fortunately, he returned.

While we avoided trouble that time, we may have done some damage later that night. While I was pulling a chocolate soufflé out of the oven, a chunk of it flew out of the pan. Before I could stop him, the dog snapped it out of the air while it was still piping hot. My server and I gave each other that “Oh no!” look. I immediately got him some cold water, but he didn’t even react. He seemed very happy with his illegal treat. 😎

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin Who Let the Dog Out?

Who Let the Dog Out? #3

Maple Orange Chicken with Mandarin Ketchup


Maple Orange Chicken

 4 chicken breasts
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp Noilly Pratt Vermouth
1 tbsp grated orange rind
1 tbsp fresh orange juice

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in a resealable freezer bag.

2. Combine maple syrup, Vermouth, orange rind and juice. Pour over chicken in bag and let stand 1 hour in fridge or up to 24 hours.

3. Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and grill chicken for 6-7 minutes on each side, covered, giving the chicken a quarter turn three minutes into cooking of each side. When chicken is cooked through, and no pink remains, remove from heat,

Mandarin Ketchup

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained (approx. 2 cups)
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
pinch cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Noilly Pratt Vermouth
2 tbsp maple syrup
hot pepper sauce, to taste
garnish – sliced green onions and toasted almonds

 1. While chicken is marinating, combine remaining ingredients except garnishes, in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Pour into a medium saucepan and cook over med-low heat for 40-45 minutes or until reduced by half. (Measures about 1 cup sauce.)

3. Serve warm or cold.

To Serve

Slice the cooked chicken and drizzle with the Mandarin Ketchup. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and toasted almonds to garnish if desired.

Chef Janet’s final thoughts:

Chef Janet Craig Cooking With Sin Maple Orange Chicken 2

I have an older Rottie mix who was a rescue dog and I realized the other day when I let her out on the deck, how old & frizzled she looked (much how I feel some days). She gave herself a shake and smiled at me over her shoulder and I realized like my clients, that dog was everything to me.

So I have had the pleasure of working in some great homes but I think the doggy part of the clientele is still the most fun.

Thank you for letting me share my stories and recipes. Maybe our paths will cross someday.

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Oven Braised Rosemary Sweet Vermouth Pork Blade

Posted on: March 2nd, 2014 by Carla Johnson No Comments

If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt. ~ Dean Martin

It started when I shared this hilarious image on my Facebook page.

Sinatra Martin Bourbon Burgers

Sinatra Martin photo

For the record, I take no credit for the above images. They are so popular on the Internet that it is impossible to find the original.

My friend Connie Campbell, of Growing, Cooking, Sharing is a consummate, always-inspiring culinary artist and when she saw the image, her creative mind started spinning out recipe ideas. It lead to this. She says you should feel free to adjust the amounts according to your palate.


Oven Braised Rosemary Sweet Vermouth Pork Blade

Serves 4-6

1 cup dry vermouth or more, depending on thickness of steak
2 small – med red onions or 3 medium shallots
4 or 5 pork blade pork steaks (1/2 inch thick) bone in or boneless
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. dried rosemary
coconut oil

1. Season pork

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add coconut oil

3. Cook onions until soft

4. Remove and set aside, add pork to skillet, brown both sides, then remove and place in large roaster

5. Add vermouth to skillet to loosen any brown bits. Add rosemary and onions.

6. Heat through, then pour over steaks, ensuring the steaks are almost covered.

7. Cover and bake in a 325 oven for approx. 1.5 hours or until tender.

8. Alternatively, add pork back to skillet and braise on stove top on low ensuring that the liquid is maintained. Add more sweet vermouth or water as needed. Braise for same length testing for tenderness.

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Vitamin ‘Eh’ Sweet Potatoes

Posted on: November 2nd, 2013 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment
“May you live as long as you like, And have all you like as long as you live.” ~ A toast to health

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin Magnetic Real Estate PhotographyTwo years ago I wrote about my Anna, Dr. Anna-Marie Ball in “My BFF & 7 Deadly Zins.” Anna was raised as a TCK (Third Culture Kid). She has a Canadian passport, but was raised in another country. The other country in Anna’s case was Zambia, Africa.  The last few years she has been living in Uganda working for HarvestPlus a global organization that “seeks to reduce hidden hunger and provide micronutrients to billions of people directly through the staple foods that they eat.”

Anna-Marie works in mostly rural communities in several different countries in Africa on a significant orange-flesh sweet potato project. Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many parts of Africa and the world, but they are often white with few nutrients. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A and make a significant impact on the developing bodies of children. Vitamin A does important work such as supporting the eyes, the skin and it strengthens the immune system to help the body fight off disease.

Before the potato vines arrive in Anna’s jurisdictions, an enormous amount of research and development goes into finding and creating the right strains, the right kind of potatoes to grow under various regional growing conditions. Anna’s job is to implement the project locally and there is nothing simple about it.

First, resources have to be in place to encourage farmers to grow the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Then Anna monitors to see that the crops are harvested properly and make it to the market. Once the potatoes are in the market, she has to make sure the infrastructure is in place to urge and support people, mostly moms, to buy them, prepare them and feed them to their children. Each step is crucial to the project’s success.

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin HarvestPlus orange fleshed sweet potatoes

Anna working with community members in a village

Recently at a community gathering in Mozambique, one of the local moms, exhausted by the presentations, sighed, “It’s so much work.” One of Anna’s co-workers became indignant and wanted to scold the mom. Couldn’t she see how important this was? This new orange-flesh sweet potato was for the betterment of her children and her family’s health. Before anything was said, Anna quietly intervened, “We are all the same. Many people in Canada don’t like to do the work necessary for their families to live healthier either.”

Image from Bono's site

I did not expect Anna to have any orange-fleshed sweet potato recipes with *sin* in it, but it turns out she does! Her project had recently submitted several recipes to Bono’s One project, and this is an extra one I am “tickled orange” to share here. Pretty sweet, eh?

Carla Johnson Cooking with Sin vermouth  Dr. Anna-Marie Ball

“Vitamin A” Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6

6 medium sweet potatoes cooked and peeled
3/4 cup of sweet vermouth
1/2 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons of butter

 1. Cut potatoes in half, length wise and place in shallow casserole.

2. Blend the vermouth with the jam, spoon evenly over the potatoes and dot with butter.

3. Bake at 350°F  for 30 minutes, basting twice


Photo credit:

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

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“The Morning After Sex” Scrambled Eggs for Two

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by Carla Johnson No Comments


The less I behave like Whistler’s mother the night before, the more I look like her the morning after.” ~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress

With a title like that, there couldn’t be a better day to post this than the day after Valentine’s Day!

My husband had a good group of friends as a teen and a lot of them have stayed close over the years. Growing up together in a small town instilled a special sense of community and closeness. Evenings were spent playing Dungeons & Dragons in someone’s basement or they would trek off for adventures in “the bush” and occasionally they hung out at the drive-in theatre.

Time has found the friends in different parts of the country and the globe, but they continue to maintain a nice loyalty to each other.

Wes is one of those long-time friends. He was quick to move to Toronto after high school. He loved the energy and diverse life of the bigger city. It gave him a chance to mingle with people from a variety of ethnicities. Becoming a French Immersion teacher naturally fit with his love of languages.





During his time off, Wes has volunteered with Project Overseas, a branch of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.



Scrambled Eggs

Wes and his Project Overseas team

He loved working with teachers in Grenada, Kenya, Liberia and Burkina Faso and while he went with the intention of helping them, he returned from each place deeply enriched with a greater understanding of himself and humanity.

Scrambled Eggs

Wes & Patrick

Wes and his partner Patrick enjoy the wide range of great restaurants and markets found in Toronto. They live adventurously here and abroad and make sure to treat themselves to good times and great food. Normally I explain the titles of the recipes with more details,but with a title like this, need I say more? 😉

“The Morning After Sex” Scrambled Eggs for Two


2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
100g young goat cheese
4 slices of your favourite toast

1. Heat the butter in a frying pan on medium-high and add the shallots. Stir until they are softened.

2. Stir in the vermouth then add the red pepper and mushrooms. Stir on medium-high until the liquid is reduced. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Whisk the eggs and milk together and add to the mixture in the pan and scramble.

4. Crumble the goat cheese into the scrambled eggs and continue cooking until the cheese begins to melt.

5. Serve with toast and hot fresh coffee.

Wes recommends you drink your coffee black with this breakfast!

Next Post… “2nd Half” Icewine & Tequila Martini

Vintage poster courtesy of