Solstice, the longest night of the year is now past and those of us in the northwest can look forward to increasing light as the winter proceeds.  Thank goodness!  I was talking to a friend at work last week that just moved up here from Texas. She is really tired of the gloom.  Everyone in the room came up with their own strategies for making it through the winter: use a full spectrum light. Take a trip .. Hawaii is nice, but Yakima will suffice! Or stick around but be sure to spend time outside preferably in a wide open place. My favorite place for a walk or a run is anywhere near the waterfront.   Rain or shine there is always a chance for a rainbow.  Of course I had to be the one to throw in some advice, wanted or not about foods to eat in winter and it’s really pretty simple:  go for the bright colors!

A few days ago I opened up the freezer drawer and saw a bag of frozen apricots winking at me like frozen suns, bright and round. I grabbed them out and let them defrost.  Since then I have added these bright reminders of summer to my breakfast cereal, and salads and here is a recipe for roasted chicken that combines both winter oranges and apricots making a sweet and savory finger licking delicious entrée.

Roasted Chicken Pieces with Apricots, Olives and Oranges

From Molly Stevens’ All About Roasting

Serves 4. Time required: 6-24 hours for marinating and 45 minutes for roasting

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs honey

1 ½ tsp dried oregano

1 ½  tsp paprika, sweet or hot

1 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper

1 small naval orange

½ cup pitted olives, mixture of black and green

3 ½- 4 pound chicken cut into parts, or 3 pounds of thighs and drumsticks

1 ½ cup frozen apricots, or ½ cup dried.

Marinate the chicken: whisk together the vinegar, oil, honey, salt, pepper, oregano, pimento and 1 tsp. of orange zest.  Slice the orange into 1/3 inch half moon slices and mix into the marinade along with the apricots and olives.  Coat the chicken pieces with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-24 hours in a sealed container.  Turn once or twice during the time to make sure all the pieces are evenly coated.

An hour before you want to eat, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Heat the oven to 375.  Line a baking dish with foil to make clean-up easier. Or better yet, if you have a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven, no need to use the foil and you will get a small dose of iron to go with the Vitamin C and A from the fruit.  Arrange the fruit and olives as a bottom layer on the foil, then place the chicken pieces in a single layer on top to protect the fruit from scorching.

Roast for a total of 45 minutes, turning the individual pieces once during the roast.  Roast until the meant is nicely browned on both sides and a knife can easily slice into the thickest part of the meat.  If you have a thermometer, it should read 170 when done.

Remove from the oven when done and transfer the chicken to a platter and scatter with oranges and olives.  If needed, you can de-fat the pan drippings and then simmer for a few minutes to thicken.  Adjust the seasonings, then drizzle the sauce over the chicken.  Serve with rice or couscous or some good crusty bread.  Add a salad with lots of dark greens like some chopped winter kale and you will be giving your body a much needed vitamin boost as well as a delicious meal!