Ringing in 2016 with Cheese Boards and Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year friends!

Hope you all celebrated 2016 as enthusiastically as I did! Currently detoxing with Roots Pressed Juices’ Hydrate situation – cucumber, lime, mint, apple and ginger. Bottoms up!

This year (Technically last year, we’ll say Thursday night) we hosted a few friends for New Year’s Eve, so I decided to do the right thing and put together a cheese board. Now, to preface the situation, you should know that I have an extreme cheese board obsession. I love all cheeses, old, blue, sharp, soft…etc. etc. so cheese boards hold a special place in my heart. I’ll need to post a roundup of my favorites in Dallas, as I have tried many a local platter of this delightful dairy product. I digress.


Now on New Year’s Day, we eat black-eyed peas. I can’t speak to whether or not these actually bring good luck, but as Michael Scott once said, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” Last year I kept it simple and made the peas with some roasted cabbage steaks. While that was pretty tasty, this year I decided we needed a little more substance to our meal. I came across The Young Austinian’s recipe for Hoppin’ John Bowls, Collards and Cornbread Biscotti. It looked super hearty and seemed to be just what we were needing after a night out, so I put my own spin on it using Benevolent Bacon.

The cheese board was, of course, super easy to assemble. I’m loving my new slate cheese board from C&B, so I wrote the names of the cheeses and other additions in chalk.

Cheese board perfection!

Cheese board perfection!

I try to provide cheeses that guests will enjoy, so while I do enjoy cheeses like blue cheese and gorgonzola, I left them out this time because they aren’t crowd favorites with my crew. I opted for:

  • Goat cheese 
  • Fig and orange jam
  • Havarti dill – My very favorite cheese!
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Almonds
  • Crackers, of course. 

You should have seen this thing after a few hours…the goat cheese and fig and orange jam were a great pair. I found the jam in the cheese section at Central Market, which is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon IMO.


Added a few fun NYE items from Swoozie’s, like these napkins, plates and swizzle sticks.

Now, I’m not sure how particular the rule about eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is, but I’m pretty sure having them within the first week of the year still counts. Here’s my take on The Young Austinian’s Hoppin’ John Bowls. They came together really nicely, like a soup (I replaced some of the water with veggie stock). We subbed jalapeño cornbread from Whole Foods for the cornbread biscotti, because New Year’s Day.

Black-Eyed Peas with Rice, Collard Greens, Crispy Benevolent Bacon and Jalapeno Cornbread

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound of dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed (you can find them already prepped for cooking at Whole Foods, btw)
  • A couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • Two cloves garlic, finely diced
  • A couple of bay leaves
  • Vegetable stock (you can also use five cups of water as the original recipe calls for, but I used three cups stock and two cups water since I removed bacon from the recipe)
  • One package of Benevolent Bacon or vegetarian bacon (or the real thing, you decide!)
  • Six or so collard leaves, stems removed and cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup of wild rice or brown rice (I used brown)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Frank’s Red Hotto Hunter’s delight! A recipe that actually calls for it 🙂

Black-Eyed Peas with Rice, Collard Greens, Crispy Benevolent Bacon and Jalapeno Cornbread


  • In a large pot, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and cook until the onions are translucent. Season with S&P.
  • Add the soaked and rinsed peas and combine.
  • Top with vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the peas are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Season with S&P to taste and set aside.
  • In another, smaller pot, combine the rice with 1 and 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tablespoon of butter and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the rice for 10 minutes.
  • Once the rice is cooked, add the collard strips and stir to combine. Continue to cook, lowering the heat if necessary, until the rice and collards are tender – about five to seven minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  • Cook the bacon in a skillet according to package directions. Extra crispy for me!
  • Assemble the bowls! Fill the bottom of a shallow bowl with the warm rice and collards mixture. Ladle on a few spoonfuls of the peas and some extra cooking liquid. Top with cooked, crispy bacon strips and a cornbread. Serve with additional black pepper and hot sauce on the side!

Cheers to a lucky 2016!


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