Happy New Year


I love New Year’s Day. From the parties, noisemakers, confetti, champagne, and the iconic ball-drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve seems to get all the attention. While all of that is fun and games, I adore a quiet New Year’s Day spent at home with our little family watching the Rose Parade in front of a nice fire, listening to Bowl Games droning on in the background while I prepare a traditional meal, and looking forward to the main event. The HGTV Dream Home Special, that is!


I like to use dried blackeyed peas as fillers in my candle hurricanes in this mantlescape as a nod to New Year’s tradition. Speaking of food traditions, let’s get to the New Year’s meal.  Beans or peas are on many families’ menu as they resemble coins. Blackeyed peas are the legume of choice in the south in a dish called Hoppin’ John served with cornbread. This hearty fare also incorporates pork which is also eaten as a symbol of progress by way of the animal continuing to “root” along and wealth because of its rich fat content. Cooked greens, ranging from collard greens to cabbage are eaten to represent money. My take on the green portion of the meal is coleslaw. Why, I don’t know, but thinly sliced home fried potatoes round out our meal.

Hoppin’ John

1 onion
2 carrots
2 ribs, celery
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 lb. breakfast sausage or smoked sausage, browned and drained
1 package, frozen blackeyed peas
1 package, long grain and wild rice
4 cups, chicken broth

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Start by chopping vegetables into a fine chop.

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I used the food processor to shred the ones in this photo. Then, add them to the soup pot with butter or olive oil to saute until tender.

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Add in your browned sausage.

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And your blackeyed peas.

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And your rice, with the seasoning packet.

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Finish with your chicken broth.  You can use a carton, but I make mine when I roast a whole chicken and freeze it to use when I need it.  More about that here.

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Finished product.  Yum!  I can smell it already.

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I always look forward to this simple meal after the rich dips and desserts of Christmas have come and gone.  It is a carb-laden feast, but the healthy fare starts on January 2nd at our house.  The interior Christmas decorations have all been packed away and it is time for a clean slate.That is what we all love about a new year, isn’t it?  The old has been wiped clean.  The year before us full of possibilities for us to experience, achieve or change.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  Make the most of yours in 2015.





Menu Plan Monday – March 10 – 16


Welcome to the first edition of Menu Plan Mondays!  Surely, you have read about the many benefits of a family meal time.  These are just a few: 


  • ·         Healthy eating habits


  • ·        Better social skills


  • ·         Stronger bond and family unity


  • ·         Builds conversational skills


  • ·         Decreases risk for obesity


  • ·         Reduces risk for drug or alcohol use among teens


  • ·         Helps academic performance


  • ·         Creates a place for parents to share family values


  • ·         Creates a place for kids to share problems

So how exactly can we make this happen at the pace of life we tend to assume today?  Setting family dinner as a priority and making a plan!  You can’t eat what isn’t in the house, and you won’t have what you need without a good plan.

I’m sharing my family’s plan here with you.  I hope you will take a few of these suggestions and incorporate them into your plan.  Don’t get bogged down in the details but do jot down a plan for the week to make more time to focus on what is most important at the table, your family. 

Monday – Salisbury Steak with Brown Rice and Steamed Vegetables


Tuesday – Crispy Chicken Tortilla Rollups with Simple Southwest Tossed Salad


Simple Southwest Tossed Salad

Green Leaf Lettuce, chopped
Cherry Tomatoes
Black Beans, rinsed and drained
Frozen Corn
Green Onions, sliced
Shredded Colby/Jack Cheese
Tortilla Crisps

Wednesday – On Wednesday nights, our church offers a catered meal and a reasonable price.  This allows our family table to include members of our church family as well.  Since this is a night our family is out of the house, I would offer a simple one-dish meal if this meal was not offered. 

Thursday – Barbecued Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, and a nice Succotash (throw in a mix of the vegetables you have on hand such as frozen baby lima beans and corn with fresh mushrooms sautéed in a skilled with a little butter or olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper).

Friday – Our local Catholic community has a Friday night Fish Fry on the first three Fridays of Lent in their Parish center.  We will be having our choice of Fried or Blackened Fish Sandwiches with side offerings of Baked Potatoes, Fries, Green Beans, Slaw or Mac and Cheese.  Pick up a box dinner and make it fun and easy on yourself for a relaxing Friday night!

Saturday – Garlic Lime Chicken, Angel Hair Pasta with Herbs Pasta Roni, Italian Salad

Watch Leanne Ely teach you how to make her delicious Garlic Lime Chicken here!


Italian Salad

Green Leaf Lettuce, chopped
Grape Tomatoes
Black Olives
Purple Onion
Parmesan Cheese
Italian Dressing

Sunday – Hoppin’ John Soup with Cornbread and Coleslaw

Hoppin’ John Soup

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 pkg. frozen blackeyed peas
1 box, Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice (with seasoning packet)
1 lb. breakfast sausage, browned and drained
4 c. chicken broth

Melt butter or heat olive oil in a large stockpot and sauté onion, carrots, and celery until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer until hot and flavors blend or add all ingredients to crockpot on low setting for two hours.  Serve with cornbread.

Looking Ahead

Don’t forget that St. Patrick’s Day is coming next Monday.  St. Patrick’s Day at our house calls for Corned Beef and Cabbage served with Beer Bread.  If that doesn’t work for your family, try to expand your horizons with a Shepherd’s Pie or Mulligatawny Stew.

Until next week, enjoy!