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Happy New Year!

In the United States south, it’s believed that eating black-eyed peas will bring luck for the new year and that’s something my family has done for every year that I can remember. The only exception was January 1, 1970—the day we arrived in Denver.  It was a time when stores actually stayed closed for the holiday—and the year my father had a heart attack that ultimately forced his retirement from the Air Force.

Hoppin’ John is the combination of black-eyed peas and rice.  My version of Hoppin’ John is less traditional than that served in the South, but is tasty and meets the new year’s day requirement of black-eyed peas.hoppinjohnsquares

¾ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 15-oz. can black-eyed peas, drained
cup cooked brown rice
¾ cup diced fully cooked ham
3 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pepper and onion in butter till tender; stir in next 3 ingredients. Stir in milk; cook and stir till bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in ¾ cup of the cheese and remaining ingredients. Turn into a well-greased 9x9x2-inch baking dish.

Bake in a 350° oven 30 minutes or till set. Top with remaining cheese. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into squares.

Makes 8 servings.

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