Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Last February, the American Women’s Club of Antwerp celebrated its 89th anniversary at our annual Founder’s Day luncheon. An elegant affair, as always, we traveled through the decades celebrating fashion and the history of the club. We were invited to dress in the decade of our choice, applauded the women of the club who were celebrating significant anniversaries, and concluded the already-sophisticated meal with a luscious slice of red velvet cake. The cake was homemade by our Activities Director, Ariadna and I messaged her afterwards for the recipe. Months later, my son turned 7 and he requested red velvet cupcakes

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Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa

It’s that time of year again. When my local SPAR grocery store stocks Ocean Spray cranberries in that familiar packaging, making my heart flutter. I’m not sure what the Belgians do with the cranberries, but this Texan knows quite a few ways to prepare them. (Jeweled Cranberry Bread, anyone?) I buy a bag every time I go to the store and put the ones I don’t use immediately in my freezer. I started experimenting with cranberry salsas in October. I took a batch to my writing group in the Netherlands and while the guys in the group gobbled it up,

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Yummiest Yams Ever

Yummiest Yams Ever

I first ran across this recipe years ago when I was prepping for Thanksgiving dinner in my home in Texas. I’m pretty sure I was pregnant with my first child and hosting my parents, my husband’s dad, sister, and a few rowdy nephews in the mix. It’s so sweet and fabulous we had dessert leftovers before we had leftovers of this. It’s become a Thanksgiving staple ever since. My printed sheet has gone across the ocean three times, is all stained with water droplets, and now graffitied with metric measurements. So. You know. This one’s a keeper. Preppin’ 3-4 large

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Pecan Pie Cookies

Pecan Pie Cookies

One of my best friends from Texas sent me a Southern Baking magazine this year for Valentine’s Day. I’ve worked my way through lemon pound cakes in the spring and blackberry cobblers in the summer, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the pecan pie cookie recipe for the past few months. Waiting. Anticipating. For the day when it would be perfect. I whipped these little jewels up on Thanksgiving Eve and I’m pleased to say, they were the perfect addition to a simple, but sufficient Thanksgiving. I halved the recipe because 60 seemed too exuberant a number (and 4

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Baby Blues Traveler

Baby Blues Traveler

I walk to my friend’s house with a pot of bright pink flowers in my hands. I press the doorbell. Her shadow steps over a baby on the floor, points to her daughter on the couch, and approaches the door. She smiles. But not really. I give her a fierce hug and hold the flowers out to her. “I thought you could use these,” and tears brim in her eyes. “Is it that obvious?” she asks. “Um, yeah,” and my eyes water – her weepiness is contagious. She’s the second friend I’ve talked to in a week that just returned

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Taste of Freedom

Taste of Freedom

“I can’t even imagine. . .” my friend says to me as we weave our six children across the road – dodging bikes, buses, and cars. The De Valk windmill – the symbol of Leiden – towers above our chaos with indifference. My friend has just returned to the Netherlands after a five year stay in America. We met years ago when we both lived in the Netherlands and had only four kids between us. When she messaged me a few months ago announcing her family’s plans to return I did a little happy dance. I’ve found that American Moms

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Getting “Fat”

Getting “Fat”

“Have you heard of the Two Fat Expats podcast?” my Australian mom-friend asked me as she sips a cup of coffee. She has a baby on her hip while our other four children are running around my kitchen. “Go outside, guys! Outta the kitchen, this is mama-talking time,” and my three children lead her little girl out into our garden. I flip homemade tortillas and scramble eggs. “No, I haven’t. Fat Expats?” and I laugh. “Yeah, yeah – they’re brilliant,” and I make a mental note. Two Fat Expats. That will be easy to remember. The next week I’m ironing.

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Puppy Love

Puppy Love

The minutes tick by on the dash. “Where are we going? Where are we going?” our children chant from the back seats. “Nowhere, yet,” my husband mumbles. “And don’t say anything, in case we don’t make it on time,” the GPS estimated arrival time edges closer to our destination’s closing time. “You think I don’t know that?” I roll my eyes but release an anxious breath. The sun is blinding as it descends during rush hour traffic.  “Don’t worry,” I whisper. “We’ll make it,” and I pat my husband’s hand. “And if we don’t, well. It just wasn’t meant to

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Goldfish, Cowboy Hats, and The Hokey Pokey – America 101

Goldfish, Cowboy Hats, and The Hokey Pokey – America 101

My phone alarm sounds at 11:25 a.m. – ding ding ding ding ding. I throw on my coat, adorn my earphones, and head into the cold – popping a King Mint into my mouth as I haul the empty stroller down our front steps. The sun is shining – that bright globe I’ve missed so much. My boots click on the cobbled road as I cross the street, passing by a lane of Antwerp city bicycles ready to transport anyone from here to there. I walk at a clip place – I have a habit of always cutting it close.

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Garden Noodles

Garden Noodles

  So this takes the traditional idea of plain pasta and makes it something special. A bit of olive oil and whatever herbs you have in your garden, fridge, or growing on your windowsill – make these noodles fabulous. Tuck them under my White Wine Coq A Vinny or Belgian Beer Stew to complete the meal. Preppin’ 10-12 ounces (300-350 grams) wide egg noodles (or Italian tagliatelle works too) 1 cup (25 grams) loosely packed fresh Italian parsley, minced 1/2 (15 grams) cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves 2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives 2 Tablespoons butter 2 Tablespoons olive oil

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