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Well ya’ll…. I think I’m back.

Maybe.

After a 7 month hiatus (can I even call it a hiatus??) I’ve been getting the itch to start blogging again.  But who knows, I could write this post and then take another 7 months off.  Let’s hope that’s not the case though. . .   

Originally, I took a break because, let’s be honest, we were living in a horrible tiny apartment with a horrible tiny kitchen that I hated to be in every second… both the kitchen and the apartment.  There was nothing even remotely inspiring about that kitchen and for that, I blame my hiatus.  Also…. sometimes I really wonder how many people even read this thing, but after looking at the numbers today, apparently people DO read this!  So… no time like the present!

Some things have definitely changed since my last post.  Brad and I bought a house in November and moved in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It’s an absolute dream come true.  We now live about an hour south of Nashville in a small town called Columbia.  They have a day called “Mule Day”.  Yea, we live in a country town that has a day devoted to mules and it’s sort of the greatest thing ever.  Our house sits on just under 2 acres of wooded land.  It feels more out in the middle of nowhere than it actually is, which is perfect for us.  It’s super quiet, we only have a few neighbors and on any given night, we can see more stars than you could ever imagine.  We are slowly but surely making our home, well… our home.  We built a fence in the backyard (yea, you read that right, we BUILT one), we’ve gotten most of our stuff unpacked and settled into position, and just yesterday and the day before, we painted the dining room and living room and finally got to hang up our wedding photo collage that we have missed so dearly.  This weekend we plan to tackle painting the kitchen which I am beyond excited about and over the next few weeks, we hope to get all the other rooms painted.  

Yes, we’ve been very busy.  But that’s how we like it!

The holidays were nice but very chaotic for us.  We had pretty much the same schedule we always do around the holidays, but this year it just felt more crazy because of the whole driving 5 hours thing.  We were so glad we got to see all of our family.  Unfortunately, Indianapolis didn’t get any snow while we were up there, so we have yet to see snow this winter.  But that’s probably a good thing, I’m just missing it.  

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For New Years this year, I decided I wanted to approach the menu a little differently than I have in the past.  See, we didn’t have the best luck in 2013, what with having to move unexpectedly among a list of other things, so I was determined to do everything I could to bring us some better luck with 2014.  So I made Hoppin John!  It’s a southern thing I guess.  But it has black eye peas and collard greens which are both supposed to bring you good luck in the new year.  Also, I heard something somewhere about it being good to eat things in the shape of circles, so I made donuts the next day.  Or maybe I just wanted to make donuts, who knows.  Anyway, I had never made Hoppin John or ate it for that matter, so I was really going out on a limb.  I got on Pinterest and searched for Hoppin John recipes and settled on a combination of a few different ones.  One was to be made in a crockpot with sausage links, which I didn’t want to do either of and the other I didn’t feel had enough to it.  So I combined the two to make, what I think, was a really freaking good Hoppin John!

It’s got a little kick to it from the jalapeno and the can of Rotel.  But if you wanted to, I’m sure you could skip the jalapeno and sub regular diced tomatoes for the Rotel.  But really- the spiciness makes it for me.  However, I am a lover of all things spicy, so I have a biased opinion.  Either way, it’s served over rice (I went with brown rice to make it a little healthier) and a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce.  I know it’s past New Years, but I am pretty sure this is a recipe I’ll make again any time of the year!

Happy New Year!  I hope 2014 is a great year for everyone!

Hoppin John
Makes 4-6 servings
Adapted from This Mama Cooks and Holley Grainger 

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can of Rotel Original Recipe
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
About 2 cups of collard greens, ribs removed, roughly chopped 
2 cans of black eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked rice
Salt
Hot Sauce

Cook the rice according to directions on package.  When done, set aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until a little bit crispy.  Add the onion and jalapeno and saute until soft.  Add the tomato paste and Rotel and stir until the tomato paste is mixed in.  Add the black eye peas and chicken broth.  Stir.  Then add the collard greens.  I didn’t measure how much I used, I just sort of eyeballed it.  When it looked like there was enough in there, I was done.  Simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes until it starts to thicken.  

Spoon the rice onto a plate and pour the black eye pea mixture over it.  Serve with hot sauce if desired.

That’s it!!  I forgot to tell you how easy it is!!

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