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Mornings are hard

Mornings are hard.

Weekdays are a rush of getting the kid fed, making school lunches, making sure backpacks are packed, getting off to work…..

Weekends are days you want to sleep in…except the kids don’t seem to be on-board with that idea and are up by 6am anyways!

After years and years of fighting against early mornings and sleepless Mommy-Nights, struggling with early school buses and work place drudgery….I am happy to tell you that I have found the solution.

COFFEE!!!!        (of course)

Now, the best part of waking up……for me…is not the brand name of coffee that’s in my cup – it’s the creamer that I choose to flavor my coffee with! Sorry black coffee drinkers, I like my flavored creamers!

Now, there’s a lot of reasons to make your own coffee creamer mix – avoiding unnecessary chemicals and preservatives, lower cost, tweaking the flavor to your own preference…

Here’s a few of my favorite homemade coffee creamer recipes – I hope you like them!

 

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Classic French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

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Cinnamon Coffee Creamer

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Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

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Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer

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“Bailey’s” Irish Coffee Creamer

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Fruit Fly Invasion!

So, this week we were invaded by fruit flies.

I bought some figs from the local produce market here, and it turns out one of them in the bottom of the container was rotten. A smart person would have gotten home and transferred the figs from the store container to her own bowl (so she could find the rotten fig at the bottom of the bunch), but it turns out I’m not that smart person.

Let’s just say…..lesson learned.

At first I thought I could just swat them. I woke up on Wednesday morning and saw a small flying speck out of the corner of my eye. I tracked it down and SQUISH! ..but then in a few moments I saw something else out of the corner of my eye again! SQUISH!  It was infuriating!
I recruited the kids and next thing you know we were all on a bug hunting frenzy. We must have taken out at least 30 tiny fruit flies.
Problem was, they were still flying in and out of our sight!

WHAT HAPPENED!!!!???

Well, I traced the source to the figs and those went right out to the dumpster, but now we still had to deal with the problem in our kitchen.

A quick google search gave me all the details on the life cycle of fruit flies, how high school students study fruit flies for hereditary factors, and how fruit flies like rotten fruit. ….great….but a random conversation with an elderly neighbor brought up the topic and she swore by her Grandmother’s Plan from the Old Country (though what country the Old Country actually WAS was pretty vague…). Anyways, she told me to pour some apple cider vinegar into a short mason jar, put plastic wrap over the top, and poke some holes in it. The flies will be attracted to the smell and get stuck in the jar and drown.

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I sent Hubby to the hardware store to do **something** to fix the problem, and in the mean time I tried the vinegar jar thingy.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the vinegar jar almost immediately caught a dozen fruit flies! It was crazy! And there were a few walking around the top of the plastic wrap that were clearly interested in the smell and just hadn’t fallen into the holes yet. ((my kids were FASCINATED watching the bugs get attracted to the jar and then climb in and then fall in….better than reality tv!))

Hubby came back with some sticky tape type thing to hang from the ceiling that supposedly catches flies, but for the $3 per roll he bought, they didn’t do anything to actually attract the flies. If one was dumb enough to happen by the super strong glue tape they got stuck – but that was about it.

Another method I tried was the smashed banana funnel.
In this one, you smash up a banana (did you know fruit flies LOVE banana?? Yup. Learn something new every day). Anyways, you smash up a banana and stick it in the bottom of a jar. You fold some paper into a funnel shape – you know, large at the top, tiny hole at the bottom – and you seal it shut with plastic wrap or tape.

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First – – – Yes. Yest that is a sheet of my daughter’s homework that I folded up to make the funnel shape with. Sorry Ms. R. if you’re seeing this!!!
Second – – – this method totally worked and got the fruit flies in there…the problem is….now what!? The flies in the vinegar jars drown and die. These guys? They’re still happily eating nasty mushy old banana and flying around in their little trap. Do I wait for them to die off? I happen to like the vase I used as the jar so I’m not going to just chuck the whole thing….
….as of right now, the jar, the nasty rotting smashed banana, and the trapped flies are still sitting on my table waiting for me to come up with some sort of End Game for this little experiment. If you have any solutions as how to get the flies outta here and yet still save my vase, please let me know!

*sigh*

So yeah. That was our journey this week.
This weird little food blog page is posting today NOT about a great new food recipe we found, but instead about what can happen when you buy food and things go horribly wrong.

Come on, you know we’ve all been there in the past.

Now you know what works for fruit flies. AND if you want a permanent conversation opener on your kitchen table, just catch a couple dozen fruit flies in a funnel jar because you can’t figure out how to end the situation!!

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A picture, a mother, and a nagging thought….

I started this blog, Off the Cutting Board, back in January of 2013.  It was a lot of fun sharing recipes and getting to talk about cooking with everyone – and I partnered this site up with Facebook and with Pinterest to get a broader reach to people.

About a year ago Facebook decided that they wanted money from people like me, and that unless I shelled out some serious cash (per post no less!), then anything I posted would only be exposed to less than 1% of the followers of the page. There’s approximately 4,400 of you out there – any post would only be allowed to be viewed by roughly 50 people.

I have to admit, I quickly became frustrated with the system and lost any motivation to continue. Off the Cutting Board sort of sat around in the shadows for a while and even though the blog site still got some good numbers in weekly views as people stopped in for a recipe or two, there was no new content added by me.

Well, then this happened…

My mother was scrolling through some pictures on my cell phone and she saw this picture:

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Yup. It’s a bucket of strawberries.  I take my two daughters strawberry picking every year at an orchard in Indiana about an hour from home.

The problem is, my mother sees this picture (and some cute ones of my girls while picking the strawberries) and she turns to me and says I should put this picture up on my blog and talk about it because people like strawberries………..

Well, I told her about how I feel like I’ve been all but disabled by facebook’s crackdown on pages and that I don’t show pictures of my kids on the site either way. That this isn’t a recipe or a tip on “how to best pick strawberries” or anything like that.

The conversation moved along and that was that…except…..Do you know how annoying it is that you can be in your mid 30’s and still have the things your parents tell you niggle their way into your mind!?  I enjoyed writing posts for this site. I enjoyed the feed back I got from you all and the opportunity to just have fun with food.

So here it is. An attempt to re-invigorate OtCB once again. Sans facebook.

Not exclusively recipes, though of course that’s a focus. But posts on food in general.

I have turned on the comments for the site, so let me know what you think.

What are you  into. Healthy foods? Easy foods? Family meals? Snacks? It’s back to school time – don’t make me take pictures of the kids’ lunch boxes every day…I don’t want to be one of them😉 Maybe just once in a while…

I’m still trying out new recipes all the time, we can try them out together.

What is food to you?
For some, food is a hassle to get on the table every night.
For some, food is just fuel for their body.
For some, food is an opportunity to gather around the dinner time and catch up with one another.
For others, food is something that they don’t have much time for during a busy day so it ends up being a quick meal in the car.

Just in my small circle of friends, I know of people making fruit smoothies for breakfast, people doing whole food nutrition diets, military diets, low carb and gluten free diets. People who love to try the latest exotic ingredient and others who just want to figure out what the heck their kids will actually eat at dinner time.

Let’s see if we can’t find a nitch here to enjoy all different types of meals and help eachother out with what we’ve learned along the way.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Maple Chicken and Veg

I’ve been working and tweaking this recipe for a while now. It’s a one-pot-dish (my favorite kind) and it involves chicken quarters (always very budget friendly) and some root veggies flavored up with some maple syrup (always yummy!)

This is a dish I tried on a whim not too long ago – and to my shock the 4yr old had seconds…AND thirds – the picky eater 6yr old ate her whole meal without endless talking and talking and talking – AND the Hubby who gets bored with chicken and hates potatoes asked if we could put this dish into regular rotation for dinner meals because he liked it so much!

You can change up the potatoes and vegetable to what ever you like, but I feel the carrots and sweet potatoes in particular really compliment the maple flavoring. Try to stay in the same tastes ;)  Hubby also really likes it when I add one large yellow onion cubed up.

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Ingredients
4 Chicken Leg Quarters
2 Red Potatoes
2 White Potatoes
1 Sweet Potato
3 Large (FAT) Carrots
20 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup melted Butter
salt/pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and gather all your ingredients along with a good cutting board and a trusty knife. You’re going to be doing some prep work on this dish – but I promise it’s easy and worth it.

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Prep your veggies. Peel your carrots, peel your potatoes, peel all those cloves of garlic. Peel EVERYTHING!! Some people like to eat the skins on their potatoes. If your family is of this crowd then CONGRATULATIONS! Your prep time has just been cut in half! My family on the other hand won’t go near anything that’s not fully peeled – – – I know, I know, pick your battles, right?

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Cube the potatoes and carrots into roughly one inch cubes. Try your best to keep everything about the same size. Place all those cubed vegetables into a large bowl.

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Combine the maple syrup and the melted butter together and give it a good stir. Slowly pour over all the cubed veggies in the bowl and then toss the veggies to get a good even coating of that mapley goodness. Set the bowl aside for a few minutes.
Pull out two large casserole dishes. Pam spray or grease the bottoms of them and place two chicken quarters into each dish. Salt and pepper the chicken.

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Scoop out your buttered and syrup’d veggies and sprinkle them around the chicken quarters in both dishes. Pour any remaining syrup from the bottom of the bowl over the chicken. Place in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes. Now you can sit back and relax while dinner cooks itself in the oven and the aromas of garlic and maple and chicken float through your home.

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And that’s it! That’s all there is to it! You get your delicious sweet veggies, some roasted garlic cloves, and some juicy chicken meat on a plate and chow down!  Enjoy!!!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Chicken, Dinner, Easy, Entree, Healthy, Kids, Potatoes

 

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Homemade Cinnamon Coffee Creamer

I was having coffee at a neighbors house one day when I was served up something completely new (to me at least) and totally unexpected. My neighbor’s husband had just returned from a trip to visit family in Mexico and he brought back some cinnamon coffee! I had never tried anything like it. It was a subtle flavor change but it was just somehow so warming and so rich that I proceeded to invite myself over for coffee nearly every day that week to have more!😉

This recipe is for a cinnamon flavored coffee creamer, not straight coffee itself, but it does a good job of replicating the warmth and taste I experienced without grinding up a stick of cinnamon and sprinkling it into your mug. I have to say, off all my creamer recipes – this one was BY FAR the hardest for me to come up with. You’ll notice that I use cinnamon extract and not powdered cinnamon or a grated cinnamon stick. Did you know that cinnamon doesn’t dissolve? I mean, EVER dissolve? If you make the recipe with the actual ground cinnamon, all the grounds float on top of your creamer batch. You can shake the batch to disperse the cinnamon but even then once it’s in your mug the cinnamon floats on top of your coffee and you get a few mouth-burning-ultra-cinnamon-y gulps and that’s about all. Basically, what it all comes down to is that no matter how much I wanted to use a more conventional cinnamon, we really do need to pick up an extract for this recipe to work.

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Ingredients:
1/2 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (save the other half in the fridge for your next batch of creamer!)
1 cup Milk (I used 2% because that’s what we have in-house)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 TBSP Cinnamon Extract

Directions:
1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Mix together really well, you don’t want the condensed milk to be a dense sludge on the bottom. Get your whisk out and give yourself a quick workout!
3. Pour it into any sort of container you like and store it in the fridge. It will stay fresh as long as the milk you added hasn’t met its expiration date yet.
4. Enjoy!

If you like this recipe, you may like:

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‘Bailey’s’ Irish Coffee Creamer

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Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

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Homemade Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer

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Homemade “French Vanilla” Coffee Creamer

 

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Apple Butter

Is there anything better than a large schmear of apple butter on a slice of fresh bread in the morning!? Every fall my family drives to a (relatively) nearby farm and goes apple picking. We come home with great memories…and buckets and buckets of apples!! At least a dozen of these apples are always put aside to become apple butter. We are barely even home from the apple orchard and my kids are already asking me if I’ve made the apple butter yet😉 There’s very little work involved other than prepping the apples, and if you’re the canning type, you can even water-bath can the fruits of your labor.  (See what I did there? Haha)

Apple ButterIngredients:
1 dozen medium sized Apples, peeled, cored, and cubed.
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice
1 Large Dollop of Honey – roughly 1-2 TBSP

Directions:
1. Prep your apples.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the apples, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix them together well to combine.
3. Dump it all in your crockpot and cook on low overnight.
4. In the morning, stir the mixture in the crock. Put the lid back on but prop it open a little with a spoon and turn it on high. Let it cook on high for a few more hours – I like to go for another three hours or so to get the thickness and color I prefer, but it’s really up to what you like.
5. When you’ve tasted the apples and you’re happy with the thickness and flavor, turn off the crock and let the mixture cool a bit. Pour it into the blender (or use an immersion blender if you have one) and add a dollop of honey. Puree until smooth.
6. Pour it all into a mason jar or other air tight container and store in the fridge.
7. Enjoy!!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Breakfast, Crock Pot, Easy, Homemade, Kids, Sweets

 

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Homemade Baked Beans

Baked Beans are a wonderful thing. They’re easy to make. They’re delicious. They travel well so you can bring them to parties, picnics, or events. Kids and adults alike will eat them as a side. And, my favorite part, the crock pot does almost all of the cooking work.

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Homemade Baked Beans
Ingredients:

2 cups Navy Beans
1/2 lb Bacon
3 TBSP Molasses
2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Directions:
1. Soak your beans overnight in water, covered.
2. Drain the beans and transfer into a pot and fill with enough fresh water to cover the beans. Simmer until tender – approximately an hour and a half to two hours. Drain the beans and **reserve the water**.
3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees if you are planning to bake the beans in the oven. If you are using your crock pot instead, you can just pull out your crock. 😉
4. In a sauce pan, combine the molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, and brown sugar. Mix to combine and bring to a boil.
5. While that is heating, pour your beans into either a 1/2 sized casserole dish or into your crock pot – whichever you will be using. Chop up your raw bacon into small bites and mix into the beans.
6. Once your sauce pan mixture reaches its boil, pour over the beans and bacon mixture and add just enough of the reserved bean juices to cover the beans.
7. If you’re baking in the oven, cover the casserole dish with foil and bake 3-4 hours until tender and add a little more of the reserved bean liquid half way through cooking if needed. I
If you’re using your crock pot, put the lid on your crock and cook for 6-7 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low. You might need to add some of the reserved bean water mid-way through the cooking.

 

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