Category: Uncategorized

Baked Kale and Rice

Baked Kale and Rice
Print Recipe
This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Baked Kale and Rice
Print Recipe
This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cook the kale in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Then immediately drop in ice water.
  2. Squeeze dry and chop. Make sure all moisture is removed before you bake.
  3. Using the same cooking water, for flavor, boil the rice for 10 minutes. Drain and spread out to let cool. I use a baking sheet lined with paper towels. When cool, transfer to large a bowl.
  4. Preheat over to 375° and butter a baking dish. Dust baking dish with 2 Tbs. of parmesan.
  5. Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a small sauce pan and add almonds. stir until golden and add to rice bowl. Season with Salt and pepper lightly.
  6. Add remaining parmesan, ricotta, jarlsberg, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme an sage to rice. Add chopped kale and toss well. I use my hands to get every thing mixed in well.
  7. Transfer to baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.
  8. Serve immediately.
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

9/11 Memorial and Museum

I know that this is a food blog and it will be, tomorrow.  However, today my family and I toured the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. If you haven’t been, yet, go.  If you’ve only been to the memorial make the effort to go to the museum.  The architecture of the memorial and the two reflecting pools is amazing.  They are not only beautiful, but honor the victims in such a meaningful way, by using the actual footprints of the two towers that collapsed. There was lots of awe at all the artifacts that were preserved and lots of tears at the stories and just the plain magnitude of what happened to our country that day.  So simply, here are two pictures to share and I will write more about food tomorrow.

The Last Column.
The Last Column.
Trying to Remember to the Color of the Sky on That September Morning
Trying to Remember to the Color of the Sky on That September Morning

This Week in New York!

This week I am in New York for a Spring Break/College tour trip. New York is always a good excuse to try some new restaurants and see everything the city has to offer. To that end I will be posting a brief blog each day.

Last night, we ventured out to Brooklyn for an Italian dinner. I can’t imagine being in New York and not eating Italian but wanted the opportunity to try a different restaurant. We went to La Nonna, on a Yelp recommendation. It did not disappoint!

When we arrived we were greeted and sat immediately. Alex, our waiter, came over the table and let us know that there were quite a few specials tonight. As he described them, each one sounded better than the last. We settled on starting with a Margherita Pizza, then a fresh Caesar Salad. The pizza was good, but the Caesar salad was out of this world. I could tell the dressing was fresh made and what I loved was that you could really taste the olive oil, not just the garlic or anchovy. It will inspire me to re-work my own Caesar dressing.

To be clear I am not reviewing this restaurant but if I were, I would tell you it is worth the trip across the bridge. This is a family owned restaurant. Anna Morena, the owner came by our table and introduced herself. She was so excited that we had chosen her restaurant via Yelp and gave us a little snippet of her and her husband’s story. I feel like I have a friend in Brooklyn now. I apologize for no pictures. However, the food was so good it was devoured before I remembered.

Today we are off to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Book of Mormon and some more good food, and I promise pictures. See you later!

A Grown Up Pajama Party!!!

On February 17th, the Today Show did a piece on hosting a sleepover as a way to keep kids occupied during the Siberian Express. It made me think, even though 2015 is already filled with some great occasions; weddings, graduations and births; why not do our own pajama party for grown ups?!

I’m already excited! Lets start by inviting everyone in their coolest pjs. I love www.punchbowl.com They have such great and unique selections for invitations and once you customize your invite, they email them for you. If you like an old-fashioned touch, and want to send printed invites, I like www.paperculture.com

My favorite part, of course, is putting together the menu. Let’s do breakfast foods and trick them out for an evening party! No breakfast party menu would be complete without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary so break out your finest recipe and make a couple of pitchers. A Bloody Mary Bar is always a fun way to get your guest’s creative juices flowing. You could even have a contest for the best, worst and most creative Bloody Mary. Make your own Bloody Mary Mix, I’ve added one for you to try, if you don’t already have a favorite, and leave all the ingredients out for your guests to personalize their drink and for the contest. Be sure to have a couple of flavored salts to rim the glass. If you need more inspiration go to www.foodiecrush.com Heidi has some awesome ideas!

There’s a restaurant near me that makes an amazing Brunch Carbonara. Instead of long pasta, they use orzo (a rice shaped pasta) and they put a poached egg on top instead of mixing it into the sauce. This is a really sophisticated way to incorporate breakfast into a dinner menu.

IMG_2450

A sleep over staple is pizza. So for fun let’s do a Pizza Frittata. It is so yummy!

IMG_2454

I feel like we have to have something sweet to finish it off and of course what’s more breakfasty than Rice Krispy treats. I’m sure you have a favorite recipe you love. An old friend of mine told me the real secret is a freshly opened box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

Great! We have invitations, food, and drinks. Let’s have some fun! If you have a friend that is handy with a movie-editing program, have them cut together scenes from classic movies with sleepover scenes. There are movies such as Pillow Talk and Pajama Game but even Grease has a great sleepover scene. You can project the movie loop on the walls.

For our party I had everyone send over their top five party songs and hired a DJ to play them in the mix with other fun dance music. If you have a group that will get up and dance on their own, you’re set. If you feel like your friends might need a little motivation first, ask your DJ if he has party dancers. You can even call a local dance school and see if any of their students would like to help to get your guests moving. You only need them for an hour or so. Once the party gets going your guest will be on their own.

I think it is fun to give your guests a little gift at the end of the night. Krispy Kreme will do a two pack of donuts and you can add a package of instant cocoa mix or a small carton of milk. Another cute idea is to do hangover prevention kit. Be sure to include a packet of Tylenol, small bottle of water and a cookie.

Be sure to send me pics of your party using the hash tag  #pajamaparty.

Good Night!

 Brunch Carbonara

6 ounces pancetta, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound orzo

5 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-salt broth)

1/2 cup cream

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 Tablespoon thyme

salt & pepper

6-8 eggs, poached* or fried


In a large pan cook pancetta over a medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Leave one tablespoon of the fat, in the pan.

Add the butter to the pan and cook gently until it just starts to brown. Pour in the orzo, and stir until toasted and coated well. Pour in 4 1/2 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender but al dente and the stock has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. 
Stir in the cream and add the frozen peas, bring back to a simmer. Toss the pancetta into pan, and add half of the Parmesan cheese and all of the thyme. Stir well, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining stock so you have a nice creamy texture. Turn off the heat. Toss with half the remaining cheese. Top with eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with remaining cheese.

 *If you haven’t yet mastered the poached egg, you can use fried eggs. I l am really enjoying the trend of crispy eggs, fried in olive oil.

 

Pizza Frittata

4 Italian sausages

½ red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 scallions, sliced, include some green

½ cup sliced mushrooms

6 eggs

2 Tablespoons water or milk

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin

Pepperoni slices

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler

Cook together sausage and bell pepper, for about 5 minutes. Break up sausage with a wooden spoon.

Add garlic scallions and mushrooms. Cook until sausage is cooked through and veggies are tender. You can add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, if needed.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, water and seasonings. Pour over sausage mixture in skillet and cook until eggs are set and top is almost dry. This should take 10-12 minutes.

Arrange tomato and pepperoni slices on top, like a pizza. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Broil until frittata is puffy and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

You can slice wedges, like a pizza or serve whole on a warmed plate.

Bloody Mary Mix

1 good size lemon

1 good size lime

16 ounces Tomato Juice

8 dashes Tabasco Sauce

2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

16 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges in a shaker and then drop in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill rest of the way with ice. If you are adding the vodka ahead of time, add 1 cup quality vodka.

Shake to mix thoroughly .

A Last Minute Valentine Toast to Love!

Okay calm down! It is the afternoon of Valentine’s Day and you haven’t planned anything yet. It’s never too late to put something together. Get a pen and paper and make your list.

Your first stop in your local grocery store. You’ll need:

a box of powdered sugar

whole milk

whatever red cake decorations or candy they have left

the best milk chocolate they have (bar or chips)

a bag of mini marshmallows

graham crackers

Your next stop is to your nearest donut shop, to get plain cake donuts. You may want to see if you can pick up flowers somewhere too. However, if you are going for the puppy dog, “I forgot” appeal, pick flowers from your yard or somebody else’s.

Now that you are home, get out whatever oven safe pan you have and grease it. If you bought a chocolate bar, chop it up and put it in the bottom of the pan. For the chips just pour them in and melt them in a 325 degree oven. Give them a little stir every so often. Melting should take about 10 minutes.

When the chocolate is melted, pour the mini marshmallows over top and put them back in the oven, except under the broiler. Watch them closely and let them get to a nice toasted brown. Remove from the oven and serve with graham crackers, broken into sections, as a dip. If you have strawberries put these out with the dip to add color and romance.
IMG_2440

You’ve got the first great surprise for your Valentine. For another cute gift, lets decorate donuts! Mix together ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted, and 1 Tablespoon whole milk. You can add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, if you feel it is too thick. Just be careful, you don’t want it to thin out too much. You can also double the recipe if you need more. I like to leave the glaze white. You can add a couple drops of red food coloring, if you prefer.

IMG_2424

Dip the donuts, in a swirl motion, in the glaze and place on a rack to catch drips. While the donuts are still damp, sprinkle with your red decorations and let dry completely. I think it’s cute to package them in some sort of craft box. You can get them at Michael’s. You can even wrap an open shoebox in valentine paper. Just make it your personal creation.

IMG_2429

You are all set! Have a fabulous day or evening! And don’t forget to toast to love! XO.

Valentine’s Day – Decadence light

Valentines Day is coming and I would like to welcome you to stay home for dinner. There are a lot of different ways you can go when thinking about your menu. Some would say do all your most rich and decadent recipes. Others would tell you to make sure and have as many aphrodisiacs as you can. Still others would say cook what you know and do it well. Why not try and incorporate all of the above.

Let’s explore the concept of rich and decadent. Decadence is great and rich is even better but I don’t think I would build a whole meal around that. Let’s face it Valentines Day is suppose to incite love and intimacy. Think back, how intimate did you feel at the end of a heavy rich meal? Yep, you got it. So maybe we want to feature just one recipe that is rich & decadent. Dessert is always a good choice. Because it is at the end of the meal you won’t necessarily be tempted to over indulge.

For the rest of meal it is my humble opinion that you err on the side of lighter and cook what you know. So let’s delve into what I consider basics. These are the recipes that every cook should have in their repertoire. Food & Wine recently posted their list and it included roast chicken, risotto, and apple pie. You will eventually have you own list but I propose the following recipes be included. Have a great soup, a great cookie, and a great wow factor recipe. The wow factor is that one recipe you know people go crazy for, every time. It doesn’t have to be a hard, time intensive recipe just one you always get the reaction for. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.

Let’s start to build our Valentines Day menu. I love the idea of being cozy by the fire and sipping a soup and eating a sandwich. What is your favorite soup and sandwich combination? I love vegetable puree soups. You can make them with out cream and they can still have a rich quality. Even though soups are very popular, they still give the impression of being labor intensive and therefore, wow factor. Here is an amazing recipe for broccoli soup that is really easy to prepare but your guest will think it took hours.

 Broccoli Soup

4 cups of good quality (or homemade) chicken stock

2 cups water

IMG_2391_2

2 pounds (about 12 cups) of broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped

¼ pepper salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

In a large saucepan bring stock and water to a boil.

Add the broccoli; make sure the broccoli is completely covered. You can add more water if necessary.

Cook until tender. It usually takes about 8 minutes but keep an eye on it.

While your broccoli is cooking, puree the rinsed cannellini beans. You can use a blender or food processor. Set aside.

When broccoli is cooked, start pureeing in batches, with a little of the liquid at a time. Special note here: hot liquid expands and can be volatile. Pay attention to what your appliance recommends for maximum hot fill line.

Once you have pureed all the broccoli return it to the pan and whisk together with remaining liquid. Bring back to a boil.

Reduce heat and whisk in pureed cannellini beans.

Season with Salt & Pepper, adjust as desired

Serve immediately

This will serve about 6 people a good size portion

Of course you have to have a great sandwich to go with it. You can do a grilled cheese or pick your favorite. It’s up to you. You find that recipe and I will take care of dessert.

I love chocolate! It is the most sensuous of foods and of course it is an aphrodisiac. This recipe combines the richness of a chocolate brownie and the memory inducing taste of s’mores. I love serving this “deconstructed” but you can put it all together to make it yours, too.

S’mores Brownies

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup flourIMG_2388_2

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ chopped pecans (optional)

Melt together the butter and chocolate, let cool slightly

Mix the eggs and sugar together, until well blended

Temper egg mixture with chocolate and then blend mixtures together, well

Gradually add in flour, while mixing

Add in Vanilla then fold in nuts

Pour into a greased and floured pan. I used muffin tins but you could use a bread pan. (You can use muffin liners if so desired)

Bake in a low oven, 275 for 35-40 minutes. It will still be slightly “wet” when it comes out but will settle.

Cut marshmallows in half and place across the top of either each muffin or the loaf. You can brown the marshmallow under a broiler or with a kitchen torch. Serve over graham cracker crumbs and a garnish with a Hershey miniature.

I love this dessert. It is whimsical and decadent but not to rich. Don’t forget the wine or champagne and let’s raise a glass to love. Happy Valentines Day!

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It!!

Hi all! Recipes are created in any number of ways. Some come from places unknown in a cook’s brain, some are adapted with a personalization or two and some recipes we copy because they are just plain great as they are. That is how I feel about the Brown Sugar Chocolate Bundt Cake, I made from the December 2014 Southern Living magazine. But wait it gets even more conventional. The recipe was actually an advertisement for Kraft products. In this particular recipe they were spotlighting Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate.

It is rare that I don’t find a recipe and then change it up somehow. Seriously, it could be something as simple as adding more or less of an ingredient or changing the serving suggestion. Sometimes I start with somebody else’s recipe and by the time I’ve changed this or that, to make it my own, it is a completely different recipe. With this cake, I changed nothing. I thought it was that good.

When I make a recipe I try to imagine all the ways I can use it. This cake can be used traditionally as a dessert or as a coffee cake. The great thing is it bakes up quickly. As long as you keep these basic ingredients on hand, you can have a fresh baked cake with only about 30 minutes of preparation and an hour of cooking.

You can serve this cake as is or you can jazz it up by drizzling a little chocolate syrup over it, or serve with fresh whipped cream (see post from January 16, 2015). I hope you enjoy this cake!

IMG_2379_2

BROWN SUGAR CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

Topping:

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Cake:

2 ¾ cups All-purpose Flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 (4oz.) bar Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350

Stir together pecans, butter and sugar for topping. Using a fork sprinkle in a large greased and floured Bundt pan.

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar granulated sugar, and vanilla, at medium speed, until fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, incorporating after each, until just blended

Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Try to start and finish with the flour mixture.

Beat at low speed until just blended. Scrape down as needed.

Fold in chocolate and spoon into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes until a pick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes then turn out and cool completely before serving

Pound Cake a rich tradition and history!

Full Disclosure, I was raised in California by a southern mom. Many parts of our great country claim food as part of their culture. For southerners it is part of their soul. I could go on about numerous southern dishes. However, my most vivid memory is of Aunt Rosie’s Chocolate Pound Cake. I remember tasting it the first time. I was probably around 5 years old. We walked to Rosie’s after church for “dinner”. I ate my meal particularly fast since I could see the cake, sitting there waiting for me.

It was a simple cake. There were no decorations of fancy swirls in the icing. It was a round cake, made in a tube pan, with a chocolate glaze poured haphazardly over it. IT LOOKED GOOD!

As a kid most sweets are devoured quickly. I realized after the first bite that this cake required time and attention. The cake was so dense and didn’t crumble like a regular cake. The taste was sweet and stayed in my mouth long after I finished swallowing. The icing had a rough texture but at the same time it was smooth. I noticed that it was a light brown cake, not dark like a devils food cake. I wanted more cake and I wanted to know more about THIS cake.

Several years ago, as my grandparents were preparing to move out of their home and after my great aunt had passed away, my mother asked if there was anything in particular I would want from either home. “YES! I want the recipes!”.

I had no idea that there would be so many old cookbooks, binders of handwritten recipes and a 12X12 box filled with scraps of paper of handwritten recipes, bank books with recipes scrawled on the back cover and a collection of newspaper and magazine recipes that I am sure the editor of Southern Living would kill to have. These recipes made real the folklore of our family. Finally having these recipes offered me the opportunity to connect with my ancestors in a way I never could before. The recipes that called for a “Granny’s hand full of sugar”, made me realize how petite my great grandmother was compared to the rest of us. These recipes helped me to imagine Granny standing in the very kitchen that my Great Aunt Rosie made my favorite Chocolate Pound Cake. Now I have that recipe and can stand in my own kitchen and share baking it with my daughters.

As I was making my way through all of these recipes one thing stood out to me, Pound Cake. I knew that my family loved pound cake. We ate it at almost every occasion and even for no occasion at all. It was always available at all of our homes. You could walk into any aunts or cousins home and have a slice, at any time.   We had regular pound cake and chocolate pound cake. We had pound cake plain and pound cake with whipped cream or frosting. I quickly realized that, at least for our family, there were many, many ways to prepare pound cake. I started to wonder if there was one standard way to make pound cake and just what the history of this versatile cake was.

The first mention of “pound cake” comes in the 1700’s. As you might suspect the name comes from the ingredients: a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. This was intentional and practical, since most commoners didn’t read and conventional measuring tools hadn’t been created yet. Most cooks had some sort of scale in their kitchens.

Later in the century there was evidence of changing pound cake recipes. In the first American cookbook, there are two recipes for pound cake. The first stays true to the original. The second adds rose water and brandy. They also separate the eggs, in the second. This indicates they are looking for a way to lighten up the cake by beating the whites separately and then folding them in. By 1891 Southerners are calling pound cake their own and by the 1900s we are using leaveners to lighten the cake.

What is it about a pound cake that is so intriguing and long lasting? At it’s most basic form it is an easy cake that anybody can bake. The humblest of no-reading servants to the most confident of chef have made this cake. It probably started as a practical recipe. Let’s face it a cake that is made of four pounds of ingredients is going to serve quite a few people for quite a few days. The pound cake is a most versatile baked good that can be served at every meal from breakfast toast to and extravagant after dinner dessert. Have you ever had a piece of pound cake toasted and slathered with butter or strawberry jam? Magic! My mouth is watering already!  So today I share that first chocolate pound cake recipe with you.

“If you’re afraid to use butter, use cream.” – Julia Child

IMG_2329_2

Rosie’s Chocolate Pound Cake

3 cups sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) butter or margarine

1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)

6 eggs

3 cups Flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup whole milk

2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together butter and shortening with sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, blending after each.

Soft together all dry ingredients.  Add dry in gradients to butter mixture in thirds alternating with milk. Add vanilla.

Bake in a floured and greased tube pan for 1 hour 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting

1/2 cup shortening or butter

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

2/3 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir all ingredients together over medium heat and dissolved, about 2 minutes.  If it is too thick add 1 teaspoon cream.

Let’s try something new!

When I was putting together my thoughts for this blog, I thought about what I want to teach you. More than anything I don’t want you to be afraid to try. It sort of took me back to the Sound of Music and “…Let’s start at the very beginning…”.

Well it is a very good place to start. So with that in mind I am going to encourage you to try something new at least once a month. I’m not talking about anything outrageous or complicated. It can be quite easy. As a matter of fact some of my best and most praised recipes are E-A-S-Y. And as any infant knows you must walk before you run, bet everybody is SOOO impressed when you walk.

So let’s keep it simple. Let’s make Whipped Cream. Chances are if you are reading this blog you may know how to make whipped cream. You also know how easy it is to buy a can of Reddi Whip or a tub of Cool Whip. Whatever level you are at let’s take it up a notch!

If you have NEVER done this, here is what you will need, at minimum:

A whisk or some form of electric beater

A pint of heavy whipping cream

IMG_2190

Are you looking for the rest of the ingredients? Nope that’s it. Of course you can take it further, but let’s start here. Ready?

Pour the cream into a metal bowl. Make sure the bowl is col. At the very warmest it should be room temperature. You could chill it for about 5 minutes, if you want. The reason you want the bowl cool is it helps the cream set up faster and cool whip cream is way better than warm. If you live in warm temperature climates, you could consider putting your bowl in another bowl filled with ice, but it is not necessary.

If you are using a whisk, you are going to need a certain amount of stamina and strength.   It can be done; this is how they teach it in culinary schools all over the world. You can also use an electric hand or stand mixer. Start out slow and then gradually speed up. You will start to see the cream get thicker and come together. Once it starts to thicken watch it carefully. This is the only part you must be patient. If it gets too thick or beaten it will start to look like curds or sour milk. It will taste fine but will be unappealing to the eye. Boom! You’re done! Use a big spoon and heap it onto a slice of pie, ice cream or shake.

You can jazz it up from there. If you want it sweetened, you have two choices. You can buy the cream pre-sweetened, “Cook’s” make a nice one, or you add sugar yourself. I personally prefer powdered sugar. The cornstarch in powdered sugar adds a stabilizing quality to the cream. You can use granulated though. I start with 1 tablespoon and gradually add in as much as needed. Be sure to taste after each addition. Sweetness is a personal preference as well. You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla for a little depth of flavor.

For serving, you can spoon it on or you can put it in a piping bag with a star tip and you will have an elegant presentation. However, you do it, make it yours!

This was our first but not our last, Try Something New project. Don’t be afraid. As the ad says… Just Do It!

IMG_2196

The only real stumbling block in cooking is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a “what the hell attitude”. – Julia Child

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year! I’m sure you have been talking with your friends about your resolutions just as much as I have. Every year I write numerous diet resolutions in my diary. When I find myself starting to “fall off the wagon,” I usually say things like “never trust a skinny chef.” Although that piece of advice might have been true years ago, our society is now moving in a direction where eating healthier and being aware of what you are consuming is the new “yum!”

To help you stick to your new year’s diet resolution, look out for my modern twist on making traditional recipes healthier for you and your family! Don’t get me wrong – this is not a diet blog; I just feel we could all use a little help here and there. I want to show you that with slight adjustments to your everyday food cravings you can easily make delicious dishes that will keep you fit for 2015! We will explore all of it as we move through the new year.

I promised that you would get to know me and I would share some history. Here is your first lesson: my mother is from Georgia, and there are very few things that are as traditional as preparing the dish Hoppin’ John for a southern new year.

With that being said, there are so many stories of the dish’s origin and just as many recipes for it as well. The most common version of how this dish came to be deals with the story of when the slaves were fed black-eyed peas on the ships over from West Africa. Rumor has it that the slaves then cultivated the peas once they arrived in America. They often were given work off the week between Christmas and New Years since there were few crops to harvest. Since there was an abundance of rice during this time they often cooked up a blend of rice and beans to celebrate the holiday. Over time the superstition developed that eating this mix would bring you wealth and prosperity in the new year.

There are lots of tasty recipes for the Hoppin’ John dish out there. Some recipes include ham hocks, rice, and a healthy dosage of tender, love, and care while cooking. I use a slow cooker to ensure my Hoppin’ John dish is cooked in a healthy and efficient way. I also like to prepare this dish right before I get ready to go out for New Year’s Eve. It is ready to go when you get home, and it is the first thing you eat in the new year. You can also set it when you get home and it is ready in the morning. Hoppin’ John also makes a great hangover cure.

Life itself is the proper binge~ Julia Child

IMG_2147

Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John

2 (16-ounce) packages frozen black-eyed peas

1 1/4 cups sliced green onions, divided

2 cups hot water

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper

2 teaspoons Franks hot sauce

¼ teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 vegetable-flavored or chicken-flavored bouillon cube

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes, with liquid

1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste

2/3 cup uncooked converted rice

Place peas, 3/4 cup green onions, 2 cups hot water, and next 6 ingredients in slow cooker; stir well.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or low for 6-8.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and rice; cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour or until peas and rice are tender and most of liquid is absorbed.

Garnish with remaining 1/2 cup green onions.

%d bloggers like this: