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This past five day weekend was the best – we had a staycation! We mainly just lounged around a lot and figured out what home improvements we wanted to make over the next year. New Year’s Eve was the beginning of the break and Andrew smoked bacon and chicken, while I worked on the food after it was finished! The only thing we did that night was munch on all the noms, and watched a movie (Gone Girl).

Recipes from this weekend:

Maple Bourbon Bacon (same recipe from the first try)

Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon and Pork – for Good Luck throughout the year!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Carnation Café at Disneyland – this turned out more mashed potatoey than soupy, but still really good.

And because I’ve been on a jalapeño kick lately…

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers – we added garlic and paprika to the cream cheese filling!

Blueberry, Jalapeño & Cilantro margarita – just replace blueberries with blackberries, and add cilantro!

bacon sliced

Bacon after going through the deli slicer. Yes, we have a deli slicer…

Black-Eyed Peas

Black-Eyed Peas!

Ingredients
– 1 pound dried black-eyed peas (fresh or canned black-eyed peas can be substituted)
– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
– 6 ounces pork shoulder, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
– 4 strips thick sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
– 1 medium onion, small diced
– 4 garlic cloves, sliced
– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
– 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 4 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups water
– 3 bay leaves
– Hot-pepper vinegar, as desired

Directions
1. If using dried black-eyed peas, put them in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight, then drain the water and rinse. Alternatively, you can “quick-soak” the peas by bringing them and the water to a boil for 2 minutes. After this, remove them from the heat, cover the pot and soak the peas for 1 hour. Then, drain and rinse the peas.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork. Sear until the pork is browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bacon, onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion and garlic are lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and garlic powder. Cook until the entire mixture is coated with the spices, about 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and water and drop in the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

3. When the pork begins to fall apart, add the prepared peas to the pot and simmer until the peas are very soft, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

(Cooks Note: Using the back of a spoon, smash some of the peas against the inside of the pot then stir them into the mixture. This will break up some of the peas and give them a creamier consistency. Alternatively, you can puree 1 cup of the peas and broth in a blender or a food processor, then return the puree to the pot.)

Taste for seasonings, and add some hot-pepper vinegar, if desired. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the black-eyed peas to a serving bowl.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Disneyland Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients
– 1 pound bacon, roughly chopped
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
– 3/4 cup diced celery
– 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
-4 medium red potatoes, diced
– 1/4 cup flour
– 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
– Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
– 4 cups heavy whipping cream
– Optional garnishes: chopped chives, bacon bits, sour cream, shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese

Directions
1. In a 6- to 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp.

2. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving half for garnish. In bacon fat, cook onions, carrots, and celery until the onions are translucent. Add potatoes and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Whisk in flour and stir constantly over low heat until the flour is cooked and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken stock and half of the bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Over medium-high heat, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Mash some of the potatoes for thicker, creamier texture. Add whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Adjust thickness by adding water or stock. Soup should have a creamy consistency.

6. Season to taste, and garnish with toppings.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

Texas-size Jalapeno Poppers!

Ingredients
– 12 wooden toothpicks
– 4 oz (half of 8-oz package) cream cheese, softened
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or finely chopped green onions
– 6 jalapeño chiles (2 to 3 inch), halved lengthwise, seeded
– 4 slices bacon

Directions
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with foil or cooking parchment paper. Soak toothpicks in small bowl of warm water to prevent burning.

2. In small bowl, mix cream cheese and chives. Spoon mixture evenly into chile halves.

3. Cut each bacon slice crosswise into thirds. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each stuffed chile half; secure with soaked toothpick. Place on cookie sheet.

4. Bake 25 minutes or until bacon is crispy and chiles are tender. Serve warm.

Blueberry, Jalapeño & Cilantro margarita

Blueberry, Jalapeño & Cilantro margarita

Ingredients
– 2 shots (3 ounces) tequila
– 2 large spoonfuls agave syrup
– 6 blueberries
– 1 jalapeño slice (2 slices if you are feeling spicy!)
– 1 lime, cut in half
– cilantro
– blueberries and lime slices, for garnish

Directions
1. Muddle together blueberries, jalapeño, cilantro, the juice of one lime and the lime halves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, agave, a few ice cubes and shake vigorously.

2. Strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass. Garnish with several blueberries and a lime slice.

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