LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — What's your traditional Christmas Day meal look like? 

How about spicing it up with something new! Food blogger Debbie Arnold has a couple of yummy recipes to share, including soup, chili, and a salad!

Delicata Squash, Cranberry, Pomegranate and Arugula Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients For the Salad

  • 2 medium delicata squash 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 heaping cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted almond slices (substitute pumpkin or sunflower seeds or candied pecans)
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 ounces crumbled feta or shaved parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Instructions for the Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Slice the squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds and discard. You do not need to peel the squash.
  • Cut each half into 1-inch slices. Drizzle the squash slices with a generous tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Toss to combine.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender and golden, flipping halfway.
    In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, toast the pecans, stirring frequently, until they are just toasted.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cranberry balsamic vinegar, and honey with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cool the squash for 10 minutes or so.
  • Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.
  • Sprinkle in pomegranate arils, dried cranberries, and red onion slices; toss gently to combine.
  • Sprinkle top of salad with cheese and serve.

Note: The salad can be made ahead except for the addition of the vinaigrette. Just before serving, toss the salad with vinaigrette.

For the Vinaigrette Maple-Cranberry Balsamic vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (Try pumpkin seed oil if using pumpkin seeds.)
  • 1 tablespoon  cranberry balsamic vinegar (substitute balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon real maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions for the Vinaigrette

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard with a pinch of salt and pepper. (You can use a mason jar with a lid to shake the dressing as well.)

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Loaded with lots of flavor from the spices, beans, and Rotel (or tomatoes), this chili is a healthier alternative to its meatier cousins. You won’t miss the meat, however, and will benefit from the addition of the ancient grain, quinoa which is a complete protein.

Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 32-ounce box vegetable stock (about 4 cups)
  • 1 15- ounce cans black beans rinsed
  • 1 14.5- ounce can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes or Rotel 
  • ½ cup dried quinoa
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • serving suggestions: avocado cilantro, crema, cheese, guacamole

Instructions

  • Heat a large heavy bottom pot with the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sweet potato, onion and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin and salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the stock, tomatoes, black beans and quinoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir everything to combine.
  • Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Cook for 30-40 minutes until the quinoa is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft and the entire mixture is slightly thick like a chili.
  • Add the lime juice and remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt as needed.
  • Garnish with avocado, cilantro, crema or cheese before serving.

Lucky Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens Soup {Slow Cooker)

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients for the Soup

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 pound Petit Jean Meats Hickory Smoked thick-sliced bacon, chopped* (Sub in some hog jowl to keep true to tradition.)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided use
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Petit Jean Meats hickory-smoked ham or smoked sausage. Smoked turkey is also nice.)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can of Rotel
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or save some of that bacon fat)
  • 3 bunches collard greens, tough stems, and ribs removed (tender ribs can be left), leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or Aleppo pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked Riceland long-grain white rice, prepared according to package directions (optional)

Instructions for Soup

  • Rinse peas with cold water; set aside to drain.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Do not crisp. Remove and set aside to drain.
  • Add onion, garlic, minced jalapeño, celery and carrots to bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, add rinsed and drained peas, rendered bacon and onion mixture. Add 6 cups chicken broth, chopped ham or whatever pork you are using and Rote.
  • Stir in kosher salt.
  • Cook on low for  8 to 10 hours.
  • Prepare rice and set aside.

Instructions for Collards

  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven with lid about 30 to 45 minutes before serving, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add collard greens, cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add 2 cups chicken stock. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or more until cooked down.
  • Season with brown sugar, garlic and onion powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
  • Taste soup for seasoning.
  • Serve soup over rice (if using) and top with a spoonful of collard greens.

Note: Smoked turkey leg or wing meat may be used in place/in addition to the pork if desired.

Enjoy lots of good luck!

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