White Chocolate and Coconut Fruit Salad

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I love creating new desserts, especially when it means that I get to trick my boys into eating more fruit than they otherwise would.

One day I realized that we had apparently purchased too many bananas, apples and pears and that at the rate we were eating them, more than half would end up in the garbage. I detest wasting food so I set up shop in the kitchen to make a tasty, healthy snack. Here is what I came up with!

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So much fruit at the end of its shelf life!

White Chocolate and Coconut Fruit Salad

Makes:                       4 to 6 servings

Preparation Time: 15 minutes from start to finish

Ingredients:20160702_162024

  • 2 Apples
  • 2 Pears
  • 3 Bananas
  • 1 small bottle of cream
  • A pinch or two of sugar
  • 1/2 bar of White Chocolate with Coconuts from Lidl

 

 1. Peel and dice the fruit. Mix them all together.

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2. Whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy. Sweeten to taste with sugar.

 

3. Chop the white chocolate into bits.

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4. Arrange your glasses and begin layering your ingredients. Place a good layer of chocolate at the bottom of the glass, add a layer of whipped cream, then fruit, repeat until the glass is full. Finish the presentation with a pretty layer of chopped chocolate on the very top.

The children loved it! Usually I really have to force them to eat their daily bit of fruit but they kept coming back for more until the bowl was empty. I made it again a week or so later for a family visit and my goddaughter was ever so happy to help me chop the fruit in the kitchen.
White Fruit Salad

Let me know if you come up with any tasty variations of this recipe !

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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I adore baking, always have, always will.

For the most part, I have been very happy with what I can find in Belgium as far as baking ingredients go. There are plenty of stores which offer large varieties of flour and tools, however, there is one way in which Belgium has left me a bit frustrated.

Extracts.Read More »

DIY Bobbin Lace Pillow, Part 2: Supplies

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In part one of this series, I discussed my current lace pillows and the tutorials I found which inspired me for this project.

This is a supply heavy project, so this installment is just going to cover the supplies and tools which you will need to get your hands on.

  • 1 Laptop table from Ikea. It doesn’t matter too much which table you get. Make sure it has an adjustable stand and that the surface of the table is large enough for your needs. Some people have made this kind of pillow with the DAVE table but as it wasn’t available here in Belgium, I ended up using the SVARTÅSEN. ( 20 € )
  • A roll of pattern paper, gift wrap would work well too
  • a pencil
  • a coin (for tracing seam allowances)
  • 1 panel of high density styrofoam. This stuff is fantastic. You can buy it in the insulation aisle of most hardware stores. You don’t want the low density white stuff which is used in packaging because it will break down ridiculously fast with use. The green stuff is so dense that it will be mostly self healing for a good long while. ( 8 € )
  • Hot wire cutter for carving the styrofoam to shape. These are hard to come by. I found mine at AVA for 20 € but they can be found on Amazon as well. If there is enough interest, I will see about getting some on hand to stock my Etsy shop so you can buy one from me.
  • Superglue for gluing styrofoam. You have to make sure you get the right glue as the majority of superglues have solvents in them which will cause the styrofoam to liquify before your eyes. (6 € from AVA )

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  • Tie-down straps to vise the foam pieces together without leaving marks
  • 1 old blanket (old polyester fleece works great as it is nice and stretchy)
  • 1 yard of nice fabric for the pillow top. You want something in a neutral tone which will contrast nicely with your lace while being easy to look at for hours on end. Imagine staring at flourescent green fabric for a few hours…yeah, don’t do that to yourself! A solid colored fabric would look nice and utilitarian but if you want something fancier avoid any patterns which are too busy. I had bought my fabric about a decade ago for use in my historical reenactment outfits, long before I realized that it wouldn’t work at all for my time periods.
  • 1 yard of sturdy, contrasting fabric. You’ll be using it to cover the base of your pillow so it has to be sturdy enough to stand up to whatever surface you’re working on. I’ll also show you how to make a pillow cover from it, so don’t grab the most hideous fabric you have on hand either!
  • 1 wooden box which will fit in the back corner of the pillow. I bought a few extra before they went out of season and if you’re quick you can grab one from my Etsy shop.

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  • Sturdy pins for holding the fabric in place on the foam until you can sew it into place
  • Fabric scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Self adhesive velcro dots
  • A sheet of cardboard (or an old cereal box)
  • A bowl with a 14 or 15 cm diameter

Once you have gathered all of your supplies, set aside a weekend to make your pillow. In part three I will walk you through making your pillow as well as some accessories ( bolster pillow, pillow cover, and a handle to carry your amazing pillow everywhere you go.)

 

Faux Wax Seal Bookmarks using Polymer Clay

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Our wedding invitations had been a hit. The only complaint I’d overheard was that it broke people’s hearts to break that delicate wax seal.
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The more that people mentioned this problem, the more I started to think about ways to make more permanent versions of the seal which they could use long after the wedding.

I’ve always loved working with polymer clay and I thought to myself how easy it would be to make clay versions of the wax seals so long as I used fresh clay and conditioned it enough to take the impression.

Supplies:

I ordered a package of Sculpey’s Premo Effects Bronze clay and found that it was enough for 38 seals.

I bought a few packages of bronze eyepins at my local Veritas

Tools needed:

  • Needlenose pliers
  • a wire cutter
  • a pair of scissors
  • a glass pie pan for baking the seals

I used the lovebirds seal and the blue ribbons which were left over from the wedding.
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 How to:

 1.

The first step was to form the eyepins so that they would remain solidly placed in the polymer clay after baking.

I cut the pins in half with my wire cutters. Formed an eye on the straight half, and used my needle nose pliers to bend and loop the wire around so that the total length was less than the height of my wax seal. I did this to all the eyepins and then set them aside to await the next step.

2.

I experimented a bit to find the right amount of clay to make the impression into and found that a one centimeter ball seemed to work perfectly.

I rolled an entire package of the bronze sculpey into these little balls and set them aside. This helped to pre-condition the clay so I wouldn’t have to work it so much for the next step.

 

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3.

I poked a loopy eyepin into a ball of clay and then set it down onto a sheet of thick but flexible plastic.

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4.

Holding onto the eyepin with one hand, I gently flattened the ball of clay with the wax seal. I was surprised by how well it turned out. There were only a few of these that I had to take apart and try again.

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5.

I followed the instructions on the package closely and baked my seals at 275 °F (130 °C) for 30 minutes in a glass pie pan. I actually ended up taking them out around the 27 minute mark when I noticed that one was starting to look a bit burnt.

 

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6.

After the seals had cooled down, I used my wireworking tools to make sure that all the eyes were tightly closed.

7.

I used a piece of cardstock to make my ribbons all the same length. This is as simple as wrapping the ribbon around the cardstock once for each bookmark and then cutting through one edge of the wrapping.

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8.

I poked the middle of a length of ribbon through the eye (from front to back) and pulled the ends through the loop to form a tight little knot around the eye of the pin.

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9.

I cut the ends of the ribbon to an angle.

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All finished! You are not required to make bookmarks out of your seals. You can use them as pendants for jewelry, gift tag embellishments, brand labels. The sky is the limit!

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Of course, I couldn’t just send the bookmarks as they were, I needed to create some Thank-you cards to hold them. That walk-through can be found here.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

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My husband is a very proud Belgian. Belgian fries are the best. Belgian beer can’t be beat. Belgian chocolates have no equal.

However…

In the many years that we have been together, he has developed a weakness for a very American treat. He loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups more than just about anything.

Unfortunately, this happens to be one of the American goodies which is simply not available to your typical European. My family sends him PB cups for Christmas and his birthday, my friends on American Military bases know that the warmth of their welcome at our place depends on how many packages of PB cups they bring to pay for their stay.

Our supply is very limited and to be honest, what good is a husband if you can’t spoil them a bit and prove just how invaluable you are?

So I’ve done some research. I’ve looked at many copy cat PB cup recipes and I have finally figured out how to make them my own by cutting out the unnecessary ingredients until I was down to the three essentials!

Here is my recipe if you want to try your own hands at it.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients:

For the chocolate part:

200 g of Chocolate (I buy milk chocolate in large bars at Lidl)

1 tbsp of Peanut Butter (with the highest percentage of peanuts that you can find)

For the filling:

1 cup of Peanut Butter

1 cup of sifted Powdered Sugar (the sifting is important or you’ll get lumps later!)
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Tools:

Either a pair of double boilers or if you’ve got one, a crock pot for melting the ingredients

As many silicone mini-muffin cups as you can get your hands on

A flexible spatula

A teaspoon

Step-by-step:

 1.

Melt your ingredients. I prefer the crock pot method. Break the chocolate into little pieces and fill a clean glass jar. Stick your jar of chocolate and the open jar of peanut butter into the crock pot. Fill with water up to the rim of the shortest jar and set it on high until everything is melted.

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2.

Mix a tablespoon of the peanut butter into the melted chocolate

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3.

Use a teaspoon to coat the bottom and sides of the mini-muffin cups with the chocolate mixture leaving the rest in the crock pot to stay at a nice temperature for later

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4.

Refrigerate the muffin cups until the chocolate has set

5.

While waiting for the chocolate to set, mix the melted peanut butter and the powdered sugar together. Put the mixture in a container which can go back into the crock pot to stay workable

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6.

When the chocolate shells are set, fill them with the melted peanut butter mixture using a teaspoon and stick back into the fridge for a bit longer

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7.

When the peanut butter has set, use your teaspoon to cover the cups with a last layer of chocolate and pop them back into the fridge
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 8.

Once the cups are completely set, you can remove the silicone molds to wash and reuse

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How many you make depends on the size of your cups as well as how full you fill them. I usually end up with about two dozen before I run out of one or the other ingredient.
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You may want to keep the cups in the fridge if the weather is warm as they have a tendency to go a bit soft otherwise. You can easily keep a jar of chocolate and another of peanut butter mixture in the fridge ready to remelt to refill your stash as necessary!

Homemade Caramel Pralines

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I promised you some recipes to use up your caramel and I keep my promises!

Before you can make these, you need to find something to use as a mold for your pralines.

I was lucky enough to inherit a box of baking tools from dear Marguerite-Marie, Philippe’s crafty great-aunt.

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You can easily find similar molds at just about any home-baking supply store (if you’re in Belgium, go take a look at Aveve or even LeDiscount). If you can’t find molds then it’s time to be creative. Do you have a mini-muffin tin? Do you have a small ice-cube tray? Look around your house, I’m SURE you can find something with the right sized cavities.

It doesn’t get much easier than this recipe, trust me!

Homemade Caramel Pralines

Ingredients

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  • 200 g Milk or Dark Chocolate
  • Whatever you have left of your Sea Salted Butter Caramel, I was down to about a fifth of my original batch but it was more than enough to make almost 20 pralines

Tools:

  • Double Boiler or Crockpot (the crock pot makes this recipe much easier)
  • Chocolate molds
  • Various spoons

Step-by-step:

1.

Break the chocolate into chunks and fill a glass jar

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2.

Place the jar of chocolate and the jar of caramel in the crock pot, fill with water just to the rim of the shortest jar and turn on low.

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3.

When the ingredients are melted, use a teaspoon to coat the bottom and the sides of the molds. Refrigerate.

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4.

When the chocolate is set, use a teaspoon to carefully fill the cavities with the melted caramel. You can always add more but it is difficult to remove without messing up the chocolate shell so don’t put too much. When you’ve filled all the cavities on a mold, put it back in the fridge.

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5.

When the caramel is firm, use a teaspoon to cover the cavities on the mold. Try to keep the outline clean by not putting TOO much chocolate. Refrigerate

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6.

When the final layer of chocolate is set, take them out of the fridge and pop them out of the molds. Personally, I found these white plastic molds to be rather hard to empty. I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for flexible silicone molds to replace them. If you have the same problem as I did, try putting the mold into the freezer overnight and then blasting the backside (don’t get the chocolate wet!) with some hot water.

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All in all, I got about 20 caramel filled pralines and even though my husband took them to nibble on in bed last night I still have a few to offer to my colleagues today. Sweet!

Organizing our Blue, Bronze and White Wedding

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April 11, 2015 was not only our seventh anniversary but also the date of our wedding. There were many DIY components to our wedding as we were trying to save as much money as possible.

I have decided to share with you all of the resources I used to plan our wedding as well as some tutorials for the various projects I made. Perhaps they may prove as useful to you as they did to us!

The first step when one is planning a wedding is to get organized!

I signed us up for The Knot right away. This website has many checklists and inspirational photos to help you get an idea for your wedding. I was really hopeful about this site as I know many other brides who have used it. Unfortunately only an American couple will get the full benefit of what they have to offer. Mostly we used this site to look for ideas and to organize our guest list.

The next thing I did was create a board on my personal Pinterest account to brainstorm everything about the look of the wedding.

https://www.pinterest.com/mistyrae82/wedding-plans/

Every time I saw an image or link that I liked, I would pop it into the wedding board. Every few weeks I would make Philippe sit down and look at the board with me so that we could eliminate ideas which didn’t please both of us. This also helped me narrow down our colors and theme until we had something definate.

In order to have a physical place to keep track of our plans, I downloaded this free wedding planner from Worldlabel.com’s blog. They have so many free labels and printables there that I’m sure I’ll be a frequent visitor.

These resources were invaluable. I don’t know how I’d have kept everything organized without them!

Setting a date was easy. The first thing we had to do after that was find my dress.

Once we found the locations for the wedding and had everything reserved, we needed to create the invitations and a website. The website took a lot of thought since I needed to find a wedding site provider which would allow me to create both English and French versions for our various guests.

I finally found a great service. Twowed is a fairly simple wedding site creator but it is the only one I found which allows multiple languages for a great price. $30 for unlimited use is just about unheard of these days.

Here is our site so that you can maybe get some ideas for your own. We even created a facebook event since it’s thanks to Facebook that we found one another.

After deciding on a location for the reception, we had to create a plan for decorating the reception hall.

I wanted to prepare some wedding favors to thank the people who’d been invaluable during the planning.

The ceremony had to be planned down to the last detail… though that is next to impossible in Belgium!

Then it was time to start thinking of what I would do for thank-you cards and gifts.

Now that it’s all over, I need to start thinking of what to do with the photos and what I can do with the leftover decorations.