Spicy Shrimp & Lime Soup with Avocado

Spicy Shrimp & Lime Soup with Avocado
Spicy Shrimp & Lime Soup with Avocado


2 cups Salsa (you can use your favorite store bought salsa-preferably one with lots of onion and jalapeno-or you can use my recipe below)
48 ounces of gluten-free Chicken broth
4 cups of water
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (80-20)
4 tbsp. Finely chopped Cilantro
Juice of 4 Limes
Olive Oil
1 Avocado chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 dashes of Gluten free Tabasco
Gluten Free Corn Tortilla Chips
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Extra lime for serving


Heat Olive oil on medium high heat until glistening.  Add salsa and heat on high until dry.  This will take around 10 minutes-give or take-just keep stirring and watching it.  (pour yourself a cold beer while you’re stirring) Slowly pour in the chicken broth and water and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil and add the lime juice, cilantro and salt and pepper and bring to another boil.  Boil on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add avocado and shrimp and boil for 3-5 minutes.  The shrimp will not take long at all to cook and you don’t want to overcook them or they’ll be rubbery.  If you’re like me and the soup isn’t spicy enough, then add 4 dashes of tabasco sauce.

Serve with crushed tortillas and Monterey jack  cheese on top with a wedge of lime and sprig of cilantro.  I hope you enjoy it.




13 medium vine-ripe tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno-Seeds removed
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together and use an immersion blender to blend everything.  You can make it really smooth. (restaurant style) If you have a picky eater in the house, blend until there is no trace of vegetable left.  🙂  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably 12 hours before serving.  This gives the salsa time to get to know each other.  Use within 3 days unless you are one of those awesome people that cans food. If you have a proper seal from canning this will hold up to 6 months unopened.  Enjoy!

PS  You may notice a few avocados that found their way into this bowl.  It’s always good to throw them in last minute.

Dustin’s Greenhouse

This year's team-Dustin's Greenhouse
This year’s team-Dustin’s Greenhouse

Where do you find strength?  Where do you find your self worth?  Some children in this world are not given the skills they need to flourish.  My brother-in-law, Freebird McKinney is one of the directors of Dustin’s Greenhouse. They believe in cultivating hope in the “under-served and under-recognized” in Guilford county.  www.dustinsgreenhouse.org  For the last ten years, Freebird has been involved with this organization.  He spends countless hours each year fundraising, teaching the kids to be more charitable, and training for their trips. This, of course, is outside of his teaching job, outside of him being a great parent and husband, and just being downright awesome.

This year the kids are going to the Yucatan.  They will meet and work with the Mayans. They have all been trained this year to scuba dive and will be diving on this trip.  Two of the kids didn’t even know how to swim last year. Traveling to other countries and learning about new cultures is what this organization is all about.  Understanding poverty on a whole new level, these kids come back with a new understanding of our world.

Last night was a fundraiser for this years group and we were lucky to have many of the previous kids, now adults, speak to us on how being a part of Dustin’s Greenhouse has changed their lives.  It was overwhelming.  My heart seemed to stop as I listened intently to these wonderful human beings.  From the one who spoke about staying with a family so impoverished that roaches and rats roamed around them while they slept, to not having bathroom facilities that we all take for granted, to being in a shark cage.  Can you imagine?  I can imagine, but wow.

I’m so honored to witness the growth that Dustin’s Greenhouse fosters in our youth.  They give opportunity where some might say none existed.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Please visit their site and if you feel so inclined, please donate to them.  You may just change someone’s life.


My awesome friends
My awesome friends
Future Globetrotters
Future Globetrotters


Celebrating With Daddy

Fishing with daddy seventies style.
Fishing with daddy seventies style.

I’m reading a book right now that a dear friend recommended.  It’s called Tattoos on the Heart.  It was written by Father Boyle who started Home Boy Industries.  http://www.homeboyindustries.org/ He’s been working with gangs in LA for close to thirty years now.  This book is full of his stories about the families that he has been able to save and the ones that he has lost. It’s funny and heartbreaking.  I find myself giggling and crying on the same page.

My reason for bringing it up is that I was blessed to have been born to parents who really wanted me and did everything they could to be good parents.  It hurts my heart to think of the children that Father Boyle looked after having such difficult lives; to not feel safe when they walked into their homes,  to not have three meals a day.  My father is not a rich man, but he certainly did everything he could to give his children and his wife a great life.  Well done, dad.

My dad is in his seventies now and still has not found a way to fully retire.  I worry about him.  My sister worries about him and my mom worries about him.  It’s time for him to relax.  He’s worked so hard for so long.  My heart is happiest when I see him swinging on the hammock with his grandbabies, or swinging on the porch swing with momma.  There’s such a sweet soul in this man.  I keep telling mom and dad that I hope they’ll save room for me in their mansion in heaven.

Yesterday was Father’s Day and we all went to the family cottage for the weekend to celebrate.  It started with me picking up momma Friday morning to drive her there.

Road trip with momma
Road trip with momma

We left early on Friday to get there.  Daddy had gone down early Thursday night after getting out of work so that he could open everything up.  Momma and daddy don’t have as much time together as they used to.  Mom and dad are living together part-time while daddy struggles to close his business and sell my childhood home.  Mom lives one block away from me and my sister is less than 3 miles away.  I love having her so close.  I feel better knowing that if she needs me, I’m close by and my sister’s children are able to get to know their grandmother.  If only we could get daddy here more.  Needless to say, they are anxious on the weekends to see each other.  They’ve been married since 1968 and up until a few years ago, they were living in the same town.  It’s been a hard transition for both of them.

Daddy watching the storm come in.
Daddy watching the storm come in.

I watched a large storm roll in Friday night with thunder rumbling in the distance.  My dad, of course had to walk outside onto the pier while I looked on in horror anticipating the lightning.

The rest of the family showed up late on Friday night and we did little more than hug, unpack cars and go to sleep.  Saturday morning we loaded up the kiddos on our boat and daddy took my sister and her husband over to our favorite spot on the beach.  It’a a little island where my dad taught us all to water ski as children.  We call it Ski beach.  We’re creative like that.  🙂

Jeremiah driving our boat.
Jeremiah driving our boat.

Our nephew, Jeremiah loves to drive the boat.  (Don’t worry, Uncle B is always right beside him and in control).  We spent most of the morning and early afternoon playing in the water with the kids and talking with daddy on the beach.  It was perfect.

Chicken fights are always fun.
Chicken fights are always fun.

My sister and brother-in-law cooked us all a fantastic meal Saturday night.  My nephew Jeremiah made dessert. He made it special for his dad and Papaw.

Jeremiah made a Father's Day pie for his dad and his Papaw.
Jeremiah made a Father’s Day pie for his dad and his Papaw.

I spent a lot of time hugging my sister.  I really can’t get enough of her.  I’ve finally joined the Fitbit world, so she and I spent a lot of time walking, too.  We are both pretty competetive.  I’ve challenged her today to a walk off.

Me and my sister.
Me and my sister.

So how did you spend your Father’s Day weekend?  I really enjoyed celebrating with daddy.

Cumin Dusted Tostones with Orange, Peach, Honey & Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Tostones:  Twice Fried, Cumin Dusted Plaintains with Peach, Orange, Honey & Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Tostones: Twice Fried, Cumin Dusted Plaintains with Peach, Orange, Honey & Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Ingredients for Tostones:

1 Large Ripe Plaintain
Canola Oil
S & P

Cut Plaintain into 1/2″ rounds and remove peel. Heat a frying pan to 350 degrees with enough oil to cover all of the rounds. Cook for 2 minutes, then use tongs to turn each of them over and cook for another 2 minutes. While cooking, put paper towels on a dish. Remove the plaintains and place on paper towels. Remove frying pan from heat during the next step. Take each fried round and use the bottom of a ramekin or pan to press down on each one so that they are half of their original thickness. Return pan to heat and bring back up to 350 degrees. Add plaintains back in using metal tongs and fry for 2 minutes on each side again. Immediately remove and place back on paper towels to drain. Dust them with salt, pepper and cumin. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Ingredients for Orange, Peach, Honey and Cilantro Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbsp. Peach Jelly
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1/2 Tsp. Chopped, Fresh Cilantro
Black Pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Serve with hot plaintains.


Tuna & Avocado Poke with Prosecco


Hello Tuesday.  I usually feel extra good on Tuesday nights, mainly because I feel like the two hardest days of the week are over.  As I fought my way mentally through this afternoon at work, the usual distraction had me day dreaming…food.  I mean, we have to eat, so why not make it extra good and nutritious.  Today I was in the mood for Poke.  I love it.  This is the version that I came up with tonight.  I thought it was delicious and I hope you do, too.

Tuna & Avocado Poke with a Kick

1 Pound Sashimi Grade Tuna Cut Into 1″ Pieces
2 1/2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Black Sesame Seeds
1 Tbsp. Chopped Cilantro
1 Tbsp. Chopped Jalapeno
2 Avocados Cut into 1″ Pieces
Juice of 1 Lime
Green Onions for Garnish
Wasabi and Soy for serving

Mix sesame oil, seeds, cilantro and jalapeno together in one bowl, add avocado and tuna and fold together or mix gently.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Add green onions and lime juice to the bowl before serving.  Serve with a side of wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.  This can be served on rice crackers for parties or lettuce bowls.

This was lovely paired with a glass of bubbly.


Ripe Peaches & Local Honey

Peaches with cottage cheese, honey, pepper and mint
Peaches with cottage cheese, honey, pepper and mint

Sometimes the simplest of food is the best.  Last night while I worked my way through the produce department, I was taken aback by the aroma of fresh peaches.  Yep, those delightful little orbs of deliciousness practically jumped in my cart.  Well, I gently placed them in my cart.  (beware of bruising peaches-they’re delicate)  They would have been pretty delicious on their own, but….I couldn’t stop thinking about my freshman year in college, when all I would eat for lunch in the cafeteria was the canned peaches in syrup with cottage cheese.  It has been forever and a day since I’ve had the combo.  Of course, peaches in syrup are a thing of the past, too.  My rear end can’t balance things like that with my wine consumption.  🙂  So last night after dinner, I cut those fresh peaches up and topped them with low fat cottage cheese, fresh, cracked pepper, a drizzle of local honey and a little mint from my garden.  It’s a great summer dessert.  It’s healthy, light and easy.  So that’s what you can do with your ripe peaches and local honey.  Enjoy!

The Weekend Recap

Before & After
Before & After

By now, you’ve probably figured out that my family has a place on the water.  It’s been in our family for several generations and it truly is our sanctuary.  My husband and I have been fortunate to go down every weekend for the past month.  We’ve been trying to knock out little projects each weekend, while also taking a lot of boat rides.  I really wanted to re-do the flooring in the upstairs bathroom.  The last time it was done was in the late seventies.  As you can see from the picture on the left, it was time to be replaced.  I went down a day ahead of my husband to get this done.  I’m very pleased with the results.  Of course, when I sent a picture to my parents, they responded, “It’s lovely, now please go enjoy your husband and take your boat out.”  They are obviously pretty, dang awesome.

Saturday morning with Mr. Sugarbears
Saturday morning with Mr. Sugarbears

After grabbing some breakfast and coffee, Saturday morning we headed out to the island.  Mr. Sugarbears was tickled, as usual to be on the boat.  We spent most of the morning throwing sticks to Mr. Sugarbears and enjoying the weather.  A little after lunch, people started showing up.  We ended up with great beach neighbors.  They had a great dog who really liked Mr. Sugarbears.

Gracie and Mr. Sugarbears
Gracie and Mr. Sugarbears

Saturday night, we went to our now favorite spot for dinner.  B had the Grilled Mako and Filet.  It was incredible.  We also shared a bottle of Syrah from the Rhone region.  Yummy.

Rhone Region Syrah
Rhone Region Syrah

We pressure washed off the porch Saturday afternoon and I painted some old furniture for it. It’s not amazing, but it’s much better.


It was a great weekend.

Island view
Island view