Bloody Mary Shrimp Gazpacho with Avocado

Since Summer is a comin’ and I’ve still yet to lose all this baby weight, I decided to start another Whole30 challenge next week.  Really it’s because I am addicted to all things sugar to include baked goods, candy, and bread, not to mention I am mildly obsessed with cheese.  I try to eat well but completely lose it when cheese and crackers or wine or chocolate truffles (I could go on all day!) come my way.  After I completed my first Whole30 back in October I noticed that I just generally felt better, had lots more energy and, best of all, I wasn’t craving anything.  I ate when I was hungry, drank when I was thirsty and slept when I was tired.  Usually I deal with all of these signals by snacking and climbing on the sugar roller coaster.  Let me tell you what a relief it was to leave that crazy ride behind!  It also didn’t hurt that I lost about 16 lbs but, more importantly, all of the swelling went down from the birth of my second baby.  Finally my wedding ring fit and my fat jeans did too.  And it’s not just me.  My husband has completely been taken off one of his cholesterol medications and my Mom has been able to control her intestinal issues while losing over 40 lbs.  I’d like to note here that we switched from a strict whole30 mentality and began following a paleo diet.

So…just what is Whole30?  Created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and detailed in their book It Starts With Food, it is a whole food cleanse that allows you to eat as much as you want but only of whole foods.  There are a lot of things you can’t eat like grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, alcohol and anything processed and you are strongly encouraged to eat grass-fed, free-range, cage-free, hormone free meat.   Pork, chicken, beef, bison, fish…most all meat is ok.  What is most important is that it was raised like it was for our Great-Grandparents!  Each meal should consist of organic vegetables, protein and good fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil.  I try to eat organic as much as I can and choose to eat less meat so I can afford to get the good stuff.  Clean eating at its best people!  All the official info can be found at the Hartwig’s site Whole9Life.com.  Michelle over at Nom Nom Paleo also has a very detailed explanation of the program as well as her journey through several challenges with recipes.  You can read about it here.

At this point I know you are asking yourself what the heck CAN I eat, right?  I said the same thing!  I was astonished to find that we ate better than we ever had before.  Finally our dinnertime seemed like it was prepared by chefs instead of our good friend the microwave.  We were making chicken pad thai, jalapeno chicken burgers topped with bacon and guacamole with a side of sweet potato fries, roasted salmon with mango-avocado salsa, and pork carnitas.  Seriously good eats.  It requires some planning (no more reaching in the pantry for a snack) but by creating a weekly meal plan (I get my inspiration from Pinterest) and planning to make extra, you’ll have lunch and dinner taken care of.  Breakfast is always a challenge because eggs lose their lustre after about two weeks…then you don’t want to see another scrambled egg again.   That, alas, is for another post.

In the weeks to come I will share with you my favorite recipes and direct you to my most frequented blogs.  To start off our healthy living challenge, I’ll share with you the gazpacho recipe we served at Adelea’s.  People would seriously call to see if we were serving it that day and I had a list of guests to call or e-mail if it was the soup of the day.  This is a great way to embrace all the wonderful things that are popping up at your farmer’s market while getting in your veggies, healthy fat and protein.  Easy.

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Bloody Mary Shrimp Gazpacho with Avocado

Recipe based on Joyce Tuggle’s Gazpacho

Serves 8+

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

4 cups tomato juice

2 avocados, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon horseradish

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or more if you want additional heat)

Tabasco, as much or as little as you want

1 lb shrimp, sautéed in water until pink,  chilled

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Direction:

Chop all vegetables to be similar in size.  Combine all ingredients (except shrimp and avocado) and let chill in a non-mettalic bowl overnight.  When ready to serve, top with avocado and shrimp.  Gazpacho can be stored, tightly covered, in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.  If not following a paleo diet, croutons and sour cream make for a yummy garnish.

Pretty in Pink Baby Shower

In preparing to throw my sweet cousin and his wife a baby shower, I have gone through all of my past soirees for inspiration.  I ran across these gorgeous pics of a shower thrown at my bistro several years ago and I realized that I never wrote a post about it.  I’ll admit that while I did come up with the champagne bar and the mini cheesecakes everything else was designed by the super creative hostesses!  They had such attention to detail that it really made the party something special.  I hope these ideas will inspire your next celebration!

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Gluten Free Flax Seed & Oat Pancakes

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As many of you who have kids know, sometimes the old pipes (or maybe I should say new pipes) just don’t work.  Our little Ren has this issue so we have made it our quest to get as much fiber into him as possible.  One way we do that is with these pancakes.  We try to feed him gluten free most of the time and these pancakes are so good he will never miss the flour!  I found this recipe on yummly.com and have adapted it to fit my little guy.  We’ve packed prune juice and prunes into this recipe and sweetened it with agave so I don’t have to give my 14 month old syrup.  He absolutely loves these things!  

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I make them each week and usually try to flavor them a bit differently so he doesn’t get bored.  Recently I added cocoa for some chocolate pancakes (1/4 cup) and this week I’m making pumpkin.  They are pancakes so you can be as creative with the add-ins as you want…just add more prune juice if you need it.  As soon as you cook one, you’ll know if you need to add a bit more liquid or a bit more almond flour.  This batter is also fun to mix and a great way to get your older kids cooking!  

Gluten Free Flax Seed & Oat Pancakes

1/2 cup oats (ground in a food processor or spice grinder)

1/2 cup almond flour

3 tablespoons brown rice flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 dash nutmeg

1/4 cup flax seed (ground)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup whole milk or almond milk

1/2 cup prune juice (with pulp)

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons agave

1/4 cup prunes, minced

Butter

Mix all ingredients together except for butter in a mixing bowl.  

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Heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Spoon batter into pan in silver dollar size pancakes or whatever size you choose.  For kids, smaller is better.

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 Cook until bubbles start to form on top and then flip over.  Continue to cook until cooked all the way through-about 3 minutes.  Enjoy!    

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

As Fall approaches, with what I hope is a huge cold front, I’m in the mood for some heart warming Gingered Butternut Squash Soup.  I know many of you wait for our Fall menu to debut at the restaurant each year so you can get your fill of this soup.   I thought what better way to celebrate my favorite season than by giving you the recipe?  It’s yummy and you can make it healthy by using fat free half and half in place of the cream.  I say we’re getting ready for sweater season so use the cream but you do what you want.  My attitude is probably why I’m still most comfortable in my maternity pants.  This is also a great recipe to make a double batch of and freeze.  Just freeze the base before you add the cream.  You’ll add that when you reheat it.  Enjoy! Image

Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Apples

Ingredients
2 butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced onion
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 apples, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray baking sheet with oil and place squash, cut
side down, on baking sheet and bake until very soft, about 45 minutes.

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Let cool and remove squash with a spoon. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons
vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Sauté carrots for 5
minutes and then add onion and celery until soft, about 3 minutes. Add
ginger and garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute.

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Add chicken broth and squash and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place soup in
small batches in a blender and blend until smooth.

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Return to pot and add cream and salt and pepper to taste.

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For caramelized apples, melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and
sauté apples until tender, about 10 mintues. Add as topping to soup.

* To make this vegetarian, simply swap vegetable broth for the chicken.

Mango Spinach Pops

Many of you Mom’s have requested that I make some items to help you sneak in some veggies.  I think these Mango Spinach Pops are a perfect way to get them to eat a fruit AND a vegetable!  This technique can easily be adapted to use all kinds of fruits and veggies your kids already like.  If they are super picky try to stay in the same color family as your base fruit.  I put mango and spinach together because my kid likes them both and you can’t taste any spinach at all because the mango is so strong.  For instance, fresh berries would be a great choice and you could easily add pureed zucchini or beets to the berries with no one the wiser.  I made a batch with Beets and Berries that turned out wonderfully at the same time I made these Mango yummies.  

We picked up these cheap popsicle makers at IKEA for around $5.  I know Williams Sonoma has a fancy version right now that lets you make designs and freezes the pops on the counter while the kids watch but my cheap version works just as well.  

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First I pureed the mango’s (about 3 large mangos, peeled and cut into chunks) with the spinach. The ratio was 3 parts mango to 1 part spinach. You can put as much spinach or as little as you think can get away with.  Ren is pretty much okay with anything so I made these pretty spinach-y.  

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Once the mixture is smooth, pour it into the popsicle molds leaving room at the top to allow for spill over when you insert the stick.  I also made a beet and berry puree.  It was so gorgeously red!

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Now just freeze the pops for at least 4 hours and you have an easy, healthy snack for your kids on those crazy hot Summer days.  The main thing I like about making these myself is that I don’t have to add any acid to the mixture or other preservative that will give it a shelf life.  I know exactly what I’m giving my kid.  I’m already looking forward to next Summer when Ren is making a mess with these because he wants to hold it himself.  Enjoy and remember that this concept invites you to try different combinations.  The possibilities are literally endless…  

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California Dreaming

California Dreaming.

California Dreaming

ImageWe have just returned from one of the most beautiful weddings in one of the most beautiful locations I have ever had the pleasure of attending.  My cousin Paul took the lovely Samantha to be his wife at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara.  We were wined and dined the entire weekend and even stayed an extra day to visit the San Ysidro Ranch.  Since I love event planning and this is it in it’s highest form, I wanted to share a few pics with you all to inspire your next event.  Congratulations Paul and Samantha!  May you live happily ever after.

We were greeted with a wonderful welcome gift as we checked into our hotel.  There was  a sweet note welcoming us to Santa Barbara from the B&G, koozies, water, candy and this awesome water color map of all the wedding events and things to see in Santa Barbara.  I love this map…it’s so cute!

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Bridesmaids Luncheon at Stella Mare’s

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The Rehearsal Dinner at The Perch at The Canary Hotel

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Hand lettered menus at the reception are beautifully coordinated with the centerpieces and table numbers at The Four Seasons.  The four course meal was a delight.

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I loved the table set up with one long table down the middle and round tables around it.  It was so intimate and made the large room feel like we were at a romantic dinner party.  I spied many a couple stealing a kiss or two along with the bride and groom.

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Even our son got into the relaxed elegance of the night with his bow tie and seer sucker suit courtesy of Janie and Jack.

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The groom is never far from his Dr. Pepper so his groom’s cake followed suit.

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The bride and groom arrive after taking pictures along the ocean and enjoying their guests during a wonderful cocktail hour where the most divine, local artichokes on crostini were passed.  We made fools of ourselves hunting down the servers for these little morsels.  I am not a bit ashamed.  I also failed to mention this took place on a picturesque patio that overlooks the Pacific…

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After dinner and cake cutting we moved into yet another room where we danced the night away.  The B&G kicked off the dancing with their first dance.

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Our last night we spent at the San Ysidro Ranch where we sipped local wine as we strolled through the gardens and then ate the most amazing Gorgonzola, Arugula and Pear pizza.  We ate lots more but the pizza is what I’m still dreaming about…well and maybe the Hot Fudge Sunday that came with house made caramel corn.  I’m seriously thinking of retiring to this exact spot.

We had a wonderful time in California and can’t wait to visit again soon!  I vote to make it an annual family vacation!

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I recently saw this on my friend Ebonie Bain’s Facebook page and decided it was too cute not to share. Just make and ice your cupcakes in whatever frosting color you wish, put a mini reese’s peanut butter cup top side down and top with a square of hershey’s chocolate, then make the tassel out of fruit roll-ups and you are all set.

Belton Veggie Guys

Belton Veggie Guys.

Belton Veggie Guys

In this crazy busy world I live in I love to find things that make my life easier.  Whether it’s paint that includes the primer or a kitchen gadget that makes cooking easier, I’m all for it.  At my bistro, we started the Adelea’s Farmers’ Market, Inc. several years ago but recently had to shut it down due to a lack of traffic.  Instead, we are now a drop off site for the Belton Veggie Guys vegetable delivery service.  These are three farmers who combined their growing super powers to provide everyone with loads of local veggies & fruits.  Finally!  Something that makes getting locally grown, organic vegetables super easy!  Like I said before, count me in!

Here is how this ingenious group works.  First you subscribe to their yahoo group by e-mailing beltonveggieguys@yahoo.com.  This gets you an e-mail each week with a listing of what items they will have on the next delivery day.  Here is the one from this week:

Swiss Chard……….$3.00 pound….GEF,VRU,F2M
Onions(large)……..$3.00 bunch….VRU & GEF
Turnips…………..$3.00 pound….GEF & VRU
Beets(Dark Red)……$3.00 pound….GEF
Beets(Chioggia)……$3.00 pound….GEF & F2M
Beets(Golden)……..$3.00 pound….F2M
Kale, Ragged Jack….$3.00 pound….GEF
Mustard Greens(curled$3.00 pound….GEF
Carrots…………..$3.00 bunch….GEF
Green beans……….$4.00 pound….GEF
Pepper,Sweet Banana..$2.00 basket…VRU & F2M
Pepper, Jalapeno…..$2.00 basket…VRU & F2M
Pepper, Cayenne……$2.00 basket…VRU
Pepper,Sweet Tabasco.$2.00 basket…F2M
Pepper,Carmen Italian$2.00 basket…F2M
Basil, Thai……….$3.00 bunch….GEF
Garlic(Shilla)…….$3.00 2 bulbs..GEF
Italian Herb Mix…..$3.00 bag……GEF
Rosemary………….$3.00 bag……GEF
Mint……………..$3.00 bag……GEF
Peppermint………..$3.00 bag……GEF
Oregano…………..$3.00 bag……GEF
Garlic Chives……..$3.00 bag……GEF
Parsley(flat)……..$3.00 bag……GEF
Parsley(curled)……$3.00 bag……GEF

Fresh Eggs………..$4.00 dozen……….GEF…………………$6.00 18 pack
Local honey……….$5.00 bear….Walker Honey……….$8.00 pint..$14.00 quart
Peanut butter/honey..$8.00 pint

Coming soon——-tomatoes, red onions, okra, eggplant, and more.

Not only can you pick out exactly what you would like to receive but you can also pick how much, a feature that is near and dear to my heart.  After all, who wants to be stuck with a pound of something you don’t like just because it came in your box?  Then you just e-mail them your order and where you would like to pick up everything (they deliver to Adelea’s and to Killeen as well as several Saturday Farmers’ Markets).  Then all you have to do is grab your veggies on your way home from work and figure out what do to with all that fabulous produce!  It’s the way we’ve been able to introduce so many items to our baby.  Here are the beets he is in love with!

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The Belton Veggie Guys were recently featured in an article in the Killeen Daily Herald, who also think their idea is genius!  You can read it here if you’d like some more convincing.  

Buy Locally Grown Food at Markets

Hopefully this helps you to add seasonal, locally grown produce to your daily routine!  Kudos to Anthony Marshall of VeggiesRus (254-718-9971), Brent Doty of Farm2Market (254-231-6709), and Jeff Oaks of Green Egg Family Farm (254-718-7489) for coming up with such a fabulous service.  Happy Eating!

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