lucky black eyed peas

dry black eyed peas

Happy New Year!

In southern lore, black eyed peas are thought to bring good luck when eaten in copious amounts on New Year’s Day. So, in the midst of your New Year’s eve prep or New Year’s Day recovery, slow cooking them in a crock pot is awesomely lucky because it’s super easy!

Some prefer to soak the beans for 8 hours to break down the carbohydrates before cooking them and while I have done this before and it definitely reduces the slow cooking time drastically, I have found they are more flavorful when slow cooked from dry beans in chicken broth. For the vegetarians, you can substitute the chicken broth with veggie broth and omit the bacon. Also, this is an excellent “day 2” dish, meaning it’s even better the longer it stews in it’s own juices.

I reckon that the luck of this dish comes from the spice. But that could just be me…

I just can’t get enough!

I will be the first to admit I have a spice addiction – hot sauce in particular. I consider myself a connoisseur of spice. (Sounds classy, doesn’t it?) At one point, I realized that my hot sauce habit was costing me $6 a week. I found this phenomenal secret sauce and I was having it shipped to me directly from the manufacturers in Portland because I couldn’t find it anywhere within 300 miles of San Francisco. Ridiculous, I know! I saw things were getting out of hand so I (tried to) cut back. Then I was averaging about $3 on a good week (just half a bottle)… hopefully I have my habit under control.

This dish is spicy all by itself and definitely doesn’t need any extra heat. In fact, if you’re sensitive to spice, feel free to halve the amounts of jalapeño and cayenne.

Though optional, I recommend a dollop of sour cream on top to balance the spiciness. And for the full southern comfort, I always like having cornbread with this dish. For those gluten free like me, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix (available at most fine grocery or natural foods stores), and I use coconut milk and coconut oil in place of milk and butter. Super tasty!

Lucky Black Eyed Peas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 6-8 hours
Serves 8

6 cups chicken broth
2½ cups black eyed peas (rinsed)
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt, to taste
cornbread (optional)
sour cream (optional)

  • In a heavy pot or in a ceramic crock pot, sauté the onions, garlic, bell pepper jalapeño, bacon, and spices over medium heat until onion is translucent and bacon is cooked, stirring constantly.
  • Transfer to crock pot / slow cooker, add the black eyed peas and broth, stir it up, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  • If after 6 hours the peas are still not soft enough, turn the heat up to high and check on their tenderness and stir every 30 minutes until ready.
  • Divide into bowls with a piece of cornbread and a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

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lucky new year black eyed peas

I wish you health and happiness in 2013 and as always, your thoughts are welcomed in the comments section below~

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spicy coconut pumpkin soup

mmm...
Tis the season for pumpkin! And nasty colds…

There’s no better way to keep your immune system strong than indulging in this spicy soup. Pumpkin is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin A; Coconut helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, is good for the heart, and assists in proper digestion; Served over a cup of cooked quinoa, this gluten and dairy free *vegan dish offers complete protein.

Ever wondered how to chop an onion and not break down sobbing? Well, here’s the trick – after you cut the ends off and remove the outermost layer, slice it in half on the vertical and rinse it in cold water. Then go about your chop without a teardrop!

I learned another method from the cook I worked with in Italy. She said that if your eyes start to water, hold a piece of bread in your mouth. I’m not sure about the science of this one but it has worked, however not in cases where the tears have been streaming for very long. Do what works for you and if you have your own secret, please do reveal!

Another trick I learned from a friend which changed my world was how to peel ginger using a spoon. Before learning this, I always cut the skin off the ginger which resulted in losing a lot of usable root in the process. Using a spoon, apply just enough pressure to the surface to penetrate the skin and peel it as if it were a sweet potato. So easy!

There is a lot of spice in this recipe, between the serrano peppers, ginger, and the red curry paste, but I promise you it’s not too much – just enough to ignite your inner fire and keep you healthy and warm during the wet or cold months.

Spicy Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes
Serves 4

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small yellow onion (about ½ cup chopped)
2 serrano peppers (about ½ cup sliced)
¼ cup chopped fresh ginger
3 medium cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon salt
2 (15 ounce) cans of pumpkin puree (or make your own)
1 (14 ounce) can of coconut cream or milk
2 cups chicken or *vegetable broth (vegan option)
1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste
¾ cup chopped cilantro
1 lime

In a heavy large pot, melt the coconut oil then add the onion, peppers, and ginger and sauté over medium-high heat.

After 5 minutes, add the garlic and salt and stir frequently for another 5 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Turn to medium heat and mix in the coconut cream until it’s smooth.

Add the red curry paste and stir until it dissolves, turning the contents a pink color.

Next, mix in the pumpkin and broth. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, you can make the quinoa and listen to this fun little ditty…

When time’s up, remove from heat and add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, or use a hand blender to liquefy all the ingredients, blending in ½ cup of the cilantro.

Let cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Divide among bowls, adding cooked quinoa if desired, garnish with remaining cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime, and serve.

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Your thoughts are welcomed in the comments section below.