“Travel Cooking with Bruce” ~ Conch Ceviche…from Beautiful San Pedro, Belize!

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 Check out our latest, impromptu, on the fly, taping of:

Travel Cooking with Bruce ~ Conch Ceviche from San Pedro, Belize!

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Fresh Conch Ceviche & Chips

Here, Chef Bruce shows us how to make Conch Ceviche – from our Kitchen in our new home  –

In Beautiful San Pedro, Belize!

Ceviche is much like Pico de Gallo Salsa, but made with a main ingredient of diced fish,

which is usually “cooked” by marinating in Lime Juice.

Fresh and bright, it is a Caribbean Favorite!

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making [and eating] it!

We make these videos just for fun, so please no critiques on my amateurish filming, editing or narration.🙂

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Beautiful San Pedro, Belize

Beautiful San Pedro, Belize

You can also Click the LINK BELOW to view it on YouTube:

***  Travel Cooking with Bruce ~ Conch Ceviche from San Pedro, Belize! ***

or – Copy & Paste this URL in your browser: http://youtu.be/sNrBIlBn-zg

Why We’ve Been “M.I.A.” ~ We Moved to a Tropical Island!

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Beautiful Ambergris Caye, Belize

Yes, you read that right. We’ve been “missing in action” – not posting much – because we were busy packing up or throwing out everything we own to move to a beautiful, palm studded, sandy beached Caribbean Island!

The first thing people ask is “Why?”. We’ve been visiting Ambergris Caye – an island off the coast of Belize, Central America – for several years. I first visited in 1993, and fell in love with it’s laid back vibe, friendly people and warm trade winds. After trying a few other destinations, I returned to “AC” in 2000, 2002, and 2003. It is not for everyone, but it set my personal bar of what I desire in a Tropical Caribbean Island Destination.

I met Bruce in 2005, and together we have traveled to many beautiful places. In 2007, I took him to my beloved San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. He too saw what I saw. We returned to Belize twice more that year – including once to get married!🙂 We continued to visit “Our other home, San Pedro” two to three times a year – and after more than 15 trips to our favorite quirky island, we decided it was time to make it our real home.

Me & a Pineapple Mango Smoothie at Wild Mangos in San Pedro

So, back to “Why?” There are a lot of reasons why life points us here or there. But if that isn’t answer enough, ARE YOU LOOKING AT THESE PHOTOS??? Pretty good reason, huh? Haha! People say to me that these photos look like post cards. Nope. I took them with my phone, so this is really how it looks:

At Grand Caribe Villas, North Ambergris Caye

If that, and the warm, humid, breezy tropical climate wasn’t enough, there is the fresh food!

 CLICK HERE to read about buying fresh seafood in San Pedro, like this succulent Caribbean Lobster:

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Caribbean Spiny Lobster Tails

There is also lots of fresh tropical Fruits and Vegetables, available at various stands up and down the island.

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Bruce at an island produce stand

Additionally, San Pedro hosts several interesting cultures and cultural events of Belize, including the Garifuna and the Maya.

Maya Celebration Dancers on 12/21/12

Clean air, crystal turquoise sea, bright stars, and even fresh coconut water!

How to Get Coconut Water in Belize

So, forgive us for not being around much lately while we packed up to move 1500 miles south to settle into our dream home in San Pedro, Belize. Hope you continue to follow our culinary (and new life) adventures from San Pedro, Belize!

Bruce & Me in Tres Cocos, Ambergris Caye

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Easy All Natural Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Butter Creams

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Hand Dipped Vanilla Butter Creams, Plain and with Sea Salt

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Cutting right to the chase, I LOVE chocolate. 

I don’t know if it’s every woman, or just me, but I crave it – and eat it – every day. Mostly, I am content with a few squares of my beloved Chocolove Premium Bars, or natural chocolate covered dried cherries we get from the Organic bulk bin section at our market.

But some days, I really want ooey, gooey, hand-dipped ‘Candy Shoppe’ Chocolate

But alas, the “good” Candy Shoppe is 20 minutes drive away, and a box of delicious Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Butter Creams costs nearly $20!😦 What’s a girl to DO??

Last spring,, it came up in conversation with my Mom that I love butter creams so much, I had broken my no-artificial-chemicals-in-food rule to eat a few Zitner’s Butter Cream Easter Eggs (a Philly Area Tradition). I don’t usually get food guilt, but I had it with these. Because I wanted more.

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Mom said, “My friend So and So told me that she makes Butter Creams from scratch. She is no Betty Crocker, so I bet you can make them too.” Um, thanks, Mom? Lol. So I googled a few recipes, and gleaned together one that isn’t exactly Candy Shoppe perfect, but is EASY to make and TASTES terrific.

So, without further adieu, Let’s make Chocolates!

 All Natural Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Butter Creams

(Makes 20 Chocolates – Recipe Can be Doubled)

*  Filling Ingredients: (I used all organic versions)

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Organic Ingredients

2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted

4 Tbsp Butter, Softened

1 tsp Good Quality Real Vanilla Extract

1 + 1/2 Tbsp Heavy Cream

Dash of salt

1 sheet pan lined with waxed paper, lightly greased with butter

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients. Mix well until creamy in appearance, yet firm enough to hold it’s shape. If it is too loose, add more sugar.

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Firm but Smooth

If it is too tight, add a drop or two more cream or vanilla. Taste and adjust to your liking, if needed.

Place in fridge for 5 minutes to make it a little more firm and easier to handle.

2.Spoon a small amount of chilled mix into your hand.

Working quickly so it does not melt, form into ¾ inch balls and place on the wax paper lined sheet pan.

3 . Pop into the Fridge while you make the chocolate coating

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Vanilla Filling, Ready for Fridge

* Chocolate Ingredients:

1 Cup All Natural or Organic Chocolate Chips

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4. Over a double boiler, just barely melt  about 80% of the chocolate. Pull off heat and stir with spatula or wire whisk until completely melted. Work with spatula until it is almost cooled to the touch. Add in the remaining 20% of the chocolate, Stirring until again completely melted and smooth in appearance.

5. Remove Cream Balls from Fridge. Carefully push all to one side of the greased tray.

6. Working quickly enough so the chocolate does not harden, dip each cream ball into the chocolate, turning or spooning to coat completely.

Place back onto greased sheet pan. To make fancier, spoon small amounts of leftover chocolate on the tops of each, using tip of spoon to create a swirled design.

7. When all are dipped, pop back in fridge 15 – 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

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Chilled Chocolate Butter Cream Candies, Ready to Serve!

8 . ENJOY!!  :)

* Variations: Get Creative! Try replacing half of the vanilla extract with orange, raspberry, cherry, mint or almond extract or essence. Try them with mixing ins, or toppings, such as toasted coconut,mini chips, sea salt or finely chopped nuts. You are only limited by your own imagination!

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Try Different flavors!

Poached Pears w/ Condensed Milk & Chocolate Ganache ~ Yum!

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This easy, elegant looking dessert recipe is another example of how to create something delicious to eat with whatever ingredients you already have on hand.

We both wanted dessert. There were three local pears in a bowl that had to be used, like, now. Bruce said “I can poach them in simple syrup.” That sounded good. I said, “I have an open can of sweetened condensed milk, a new bag of chocolate chips, and a little heavy cream left. I have an idea!” ***

Poached Pears with Condensed Milk

& Chocolate Ganache

METHOD:

He peeled the pears, then poached them in boiling sugar and water. Then we cooled the poached pears in the freezer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, Bruce heated the heavy cream over a double boiler, and folded an equal amount of chocolate chips into it. He drizzled the cooled pears with sweetened condensed milk, and then the ganache. I sprinkled a small amount of raw sugar over it, just to make it glisten.

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That’s It! It couldn’t be easier!

We just threw this together with what we had, and it was FABULOUS!

I mean, lick the bowl fabulous. :p

Remember – You CAN go into the kitchen with no ideas, and still come up with something great. You will never know how good you are at it until you try!

All it takes is to Be Creative!

Please feel free to share your photos, recipes or ideas with us.

If it worked and looks good – we’ll post it here

giving YOU full Photo or Recipe Credit!🙂

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*** For our CHOCOLATE GANACHE RECIPE, click here!

Tangy Chicken in Lettuce Cups Recipe!

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Tangy Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Chicken in Lettuce Cups is a fun casual meal for family or friends.

This juicy dish is served family style, and to be eaten with your hands.

Roll your sleeves up, grab some napkins, and dig in!

We Love these, and hope you give it a try!

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Sweet & Tangy Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Makes Appetizers for 4, or Dinner for 2

* Equipment:

Large Wok or medium sauté pan

Tongs, wood paddle, chef knife

Little bowls or dishes for fixings

Ingredients:

3 T oil (peanut or Sunflower is preferred)

6 boneless chicken thighs

1/4 cup flour placed in soup bowl or mixing bowl

1 T chopped Ginger

2 T Honey

1 T Hoisin

1 T Ketchup

1/2 Lime- juice only

1 T light soy sauce

1 T Marie Sharp’s [or your fave] mild hot sauce

1/4 cup water

Side Condiments:

1/4 cup sliced scallions (optional)

1/4 cup lightly chopped cilantro

1/4 cup choice of diced pineapple, red pepper, carrot, onion, chopped peanuts, etc as condiments (as few or as many as you like)

20 lettuce cups (butter or bib lettuce, or Swiss chard leaves) – place on dinner plate

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Chicken in Lettuce Cups
~ Plated to Serve ~

* Method:

  1. Put wok on medium fire
  2. Add oil
  3. Dust chicken thighs in flour
  4. Place chicken in wok and cook to golden brown on one side
  5. flip chicken and cook to brown color on the other side
  6. Turn down heat to low and add ginger and stir with wood paddle, then add honey, Hoisin, ketchup, lime juice, soy sauce, and hot sauce. And continue to stir for maybe a minute
  7. add water and stir.
  8. As soon as chicken is fully cooked, use tongs to remove chicken and place on a cutting board – let the chicken rest for 5 minutes
  9. Using chef knife, slice chicken and place in a bowl
  10. Plate up chicken & condiments, serve and enjoy!

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Twice Cooked Pork & Pineapple – A Tasty 30-Minute Meal!

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Twice Cooked Pork and Pineapple

“A Delicious 30 Minute Meal”

Twice Cooked Pork & Pineapple

Its noon, and I’m hungry,
If you follow us, you know my routine by now.
Off to the kitchen to see what I already have in the fridge and pantry that needs to be used up.

I see 1 cup of Belizean rice that I think I bought in Belize last year, a bottle of oyster sauce that has maybe 2 ounces left, one 4 ounce filet of cooked pork (left over from making steamed pork buns), a carrot, a chunk of ginger, one lonely clove of garlic, some chunks of cut up pineapple, a half red onion, and fresh broccoli stems with no flowers (I save the stems for soup). ~ Chef Bruce

Perfect.

These ingredients can easily make a really tasty meal for two, in only 30 minutes.

Ready? Let’s get Cooking!

Twice Cooked Pork & Pineapple

 The Rice Step: (28 minutes total)

  • 1 cup rice & 2 cups water

Rinse rice and drain.

Bring to a boil 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Add rice and a pinch of salt, then place a tight fitting lid on saucepan. Reduce flame to low or simmer. Do not lift the lid. No peeking!

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Present Rice by Packing in Mold,
Then turn Rice out on a plate

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…Like this!

Simmer Rice on low for 18 minutes;

then let the rice rest – with the lid still on – for another 10 minutes.

In 28 total minutes, you will have perfectly cooked rice.

Method:

  • 4 ounces cooked pork, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (loin, shoulder, round are all fine). Sliced cooked beef would work fine as well
  • 1 T corn starch mixed with 1 Tblsp water
  • 1 Tblsp Gochujang Fermented Red Pepper Paste OR Sriracha Sauce.

Red Pepper Paste

– Mix all ingredients together in a large dish or container.

Marinate the pork (10 minutes):

While the meat is marinating, Prep the veggies and Sauce (15 minutes):

2 Tblsp fresh peeled ginger, sliced into coins

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 carrot, cut into thin coins

Healthy Ginger

Healthy Ginger

1 handful of pineapple chunks

1/2 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems

1/2 onion, sliced

2 ounces oyster sauce

1 Tblsp soy sauce

2 ounces water or beef stock

3 Tblsp oil

* Time to Cook (5 minutes):

  1. Place a 12 inch wok on high flame, add the oil. Roll the wok so the oil coats the surface of the wok. When oil starts to smoke, add the marinated pork slices so they are separated in the wok. Cook the meat on one side to get some color; then flip the meat and cook on the other side.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and stir all together for 30 seconds; then add the veggies and stir 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pineapple chunks, soy sauce, oyster sauce, water and stir together about 30 seconds. Remove from the wok and serve with rice
  4. Plate, Serve, and Enjoy!

That’s it! In 30 minutes, you made a wholesome & delicious meal for two.

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Same basic dish, using different ingredients

On a busy work day, you too can be a hero by cooking a tasty meal
with food items you already have in your home.
Your grandma would give you a thumbs up for being frugal,
and you get a warm, home cooked meal. Win / Win!
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If you like, please feel free to contact me  with a list of ingredients in your home that need to be used,
and I will respond with an easy recipe. Teamwork!! ~ Chef Bruce