New Year’s Brunch

If good luck and prosperity are on your list for 2019, you are likely planning to indulge in a plate of collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Because brunch is one of my favorite meals and I love to embrace southern food traditions, I created this New Year’s Brunch dish that will leave you with a happy belly and hopefully a prosperous year ahead. If you prefer to eat your greens and peas like your grandmother prepared them, leftovers would be delicious in this brunch recipe the next day. Cheers to a healthy, happy and successful year ahead.

Ingredients for Gouda Grits:
2 cups water
½ cup grits
½ cup gouda cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon half and half
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Ingredients for Sautéed Greens and Peas:
2 cups water
1 bunch collard greens
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can of black-eyed peas, no salt added
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Ingredients for New Year’s Brunch:
¼ serving of Gouda Grits
¼ serving of Sautéed Greens and Peas
4 eggs, fried to preference

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add grits, stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add gouda, half and half, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese melts and set aside on low heat to keep warm.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, wash the collard greens and remove the stems. Add greens to the boiling water, reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain greens in a colander and use the back of a wooden spoon to gently press out any excess water.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add collard greens and sauté for 5 minutes, until tender. Add peas to the skillet of greens and stir to combine. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes until peas are warm. Add, salt, pepper and vinegar, and sauté for another minute, stirring to evenly coat.
  4. Add Gouda Grits to the center of four plates and top with Sautéed Greens and Peas. Top each plate with a fried egg and serve.

Servings: 4

A Smoothie for the Grinch

If the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has you feeling like the Grinch (it happens to the best of us), this smoothie is for you. Fuel up with this nutritious breakfast or enjoy as an afternoon snack. You will be ready to tackle the crowded stores on your next shopping trip or that pile of presents that need wrapping.

Sit back and relax with this green smoothie made of spinach, banana, pineapple, oats and almond butter, and you will feel more like a Who and less like the Grinch in no time. I hope you find rest this Christmas and enjoy healthful meals as you celebrate Christ’s birth and the magic of the season.

Ingredients:
1 banana, sliced and frozen
½ cup frozen diced pineapple
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons almond butter
½ cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Enjoy immediately.

Servings: 2

Note: If you have an abundance of fresh spinach or other greens you can freeze them by blanching for a couple of minutes, cooling, draining and storing in freezer-safe bags or containers. Ripe bananas are another great produce item to keep on hand in the freezer, and this is a great way to avoid food waste.

Tripple Chocolate No-Bake Christmas Cookies

If you are craving Christmas cookies and do not have time to bake this holiday season, you are in luck. With three types of chocolate, oats and peanut butter, this is my wreath-shaped-take on the classic no-bake cookie. Throw together this simple recipe and let it chill, while you finish decorating your Christmas tree, and you will be ready to relax with your cookie, a glass of milk and a Hallmark movie.

I once lived in a tiny apartment in Manhattan without a stove. I had the strongest desire to bake cookies during the Christmas season, so I purchased a hot plate and made no-bake cookies to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now these cookies always remind me of the magnificent Christmas decor New York City has to offer, much like the enchanted towns in Hallmark holiday movies.

Ingredients:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup chunky peanut butter
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup dark chocolate baking chunks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, milk, peanut butter, coconut oil and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, stirring until melted and smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in oats, vanilla and salt. Gently fold in chocolate chunks.
  4. Scoop around ¼ cup of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet using an ice cream scoop. With a small spoon, scoop out the center portion and add it back to the bowl of cookie dough. Use your hands to gently press the cookie into wreath shapes.
  5. Place white chocolate chips in a small saucepan set to medium-low heat. Melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. Slowly drizzle white chocolate over the cookies, creating decorative stripes.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until cookies are chilled and firm. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Servings: 12 (1 cookie)

Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans

Top these Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans with a little shredded mozzarella and you have the perfect side dish for your fish tacos or chicken enchiladas. They also make a great vegetarian protein for your main course. Try them in veggie tacos or simply add them to a cheese quesadilla or on top of a salad.

Dried beans are extremely simple to prepare and the slow cooker does most of the work in this dish. If you have leftovers they freeze well for a ready-to-eat protein on a busy night, just defrost and reheat.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry pinto beans
7½ cups of water, divided
2 garlic whole cloves
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and sort beans, removing any small stones, dirt or damaged beans. Place beans in a large stock pot and cover with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow beans to soak for up to 4 hours.
  2. Drain beans and place in a slow cooker set to high heat. Add garlic, chipotle chile pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne pepper to the beans and cover with 2½ cups of water.
  3. Cook for 4 hours, until beans are soft and tender. Discard garlic cloves and serve.

Servings: 6

Cauliflower and Mushroom Tacos

Make it a Meatless Monday with these hardy vegetarian tacos, stuffed with mildly spiced cauliflower and mushrooms and topped with sweet bell pepper sauce. This mostly hands-free meal is perfect for a busy week night, because you get 20 extra minutes to relax while dinner is roasting. Round out this meal with a side of pinto or black beans and Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. This is also a great make-ahead meal, especially if you are entertaining. Reheat the vegetables, make a pitcher of margaritas and you are ready to host book club.

Taco Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 soft white corn tortillas

Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce:
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), seeded and cut in half
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt

Optional Taco Toppings:
grated smoked cheddar cheese
avocado slices
chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic to the tray. Season with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, salt and pepper, and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
  2. Place bell peppers on a baking tray, cut side down and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly charred. Place peppers in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Add cayenne pepper and salt, and pulse to chop until slightly smooth with fine chunks of pepper.
  3. Serve cauliflower and mushroom filling in tortillas and top with roasted sweet pepper sauce and optional taco toppings if desired.

Servings: 4