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!