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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

 

Food Availability Influences Your Diet!

Want to know a totally successful sneaky trick I play on my kids and my hubs everytime I grocery shop? (the trick actually works on me too….)

When I get home from the shop, I chop and wash and prepare most of the fruits and veggies as much as I can and place them into small deli type containers. (We save them from buying pickles and parm cheeses and the like.)

I slice up a few apples and container them.
I slice up a few pears and container them.
Wash and container blueberries or strawberries or other fruit.
I slice up some celery, pour a little ranch or a little peanut butter in the bottom of a container and stand the mini stalks up in there.
I slice up some carrots and again with the ranch or just plain.
If I got any chunks of cheese I’ll cube it up and container it – same goes for the meat ends I get from the deli.
I stem and wash all of the spinach or lettuce I buy and stick it in a zip lock bag, ready to be made into a salad.
I hard boil some eggs and put them in a bowl right next to the spinach/salad greens to make the salad look more appealing.

In the pantry I have a large bin like container that you cannot see through. I keep it up high, out of sight, and closed. In there is all the sugary junk food. Girl scout cookies, junk food that Grandmas bring over, valentine’s candy….stuff I prefer my kids not eat but I keep on hand to dole out as treats in moderation.
On the shelves, especially the lower ones right at my kids’ height, I keep all of the un-prepped fruit/veg/bananas. Containers of ready-to-go raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, peanuts, popcorn kernels and things like that.

It sounds silly, but 99% of the time everyone quickly settles on snacking on whatever is easily found and quick to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I often stash a bag of potato chips in the “junk food bin” and snack on it myself after the kids are in bed…trust me, I’m no where near as healthy eater as my kids or as I ought to be…I don’t really care much for snacking on the good stuff ;-D Just don’t tell my kids that!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

When you find a winning concept…stick with it!

Tacos. I love them. We make a lot tacos. Ground beef is always reasonably priced, or we have leftover rotisserie chicken to use up – and we keep a stash of homemade taco seasoning on hand so it’s ultra easy to just brown up the meat, add some seasoning, and serve up a meal. Cook up some rice or beans and you can even make your beef stretch that extra distance and help save a buck. Substitute in spinach for your lettuce and gain some extra flavor and vitamins too! We probably make these almost once a week!  Tacos for hubby and I, quesadillas for the kids, and leftovers for later.

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I don’t know what it is…but kids just love quesadillas! In my mind, a quesadilla is simply a flour taco that looks like someone sat on it and flattened it. It’s the same exact food, just smooshed, right?

Well, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t HAVE to understand it. It’s easy to make, reasonably healthy, and my kids will eat it. Why question it!?

Quesadillas - beef and spinach

The way I see it, if you find an idea that works for you, go for it! This gets meat (often a challenge) and some spinach (they love it) into my kids with no complaints AND it allows us to all share the SAME meal at the SAME time! Win!

Here’s the thing though. You need to take your concept and get creative! My kids won’t eat wraps. But you know what? If I flatten it out and cut the same wrap into triangles and call it a quesadilla…they chow it down! Peanut Butter and Banana “quesadilla”?  Sure!! Why not! Salami and cheese “quesadilla”?  Yup, you know it!

Be creative! Have fun! You’re supposed to LIKE eating too…keep it simple and try and eat the good stuff and while you’re at it, teach those kids what the good stuff is too!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Always grate your own cheese fresh when you can!

Do you know why it’s important to grate your own cheese whenever possible? Did you know they put wood pulp into bagged grated cheese? Yup. They do. That’s how they keep it from clumping together (like you see when you grate your own fresh). They of course don’t label it wood pulp on the back, that would discourage sales. “Cellulose” is how it’s on there. And often you’ll see the mysterious “anti-caking agents” in there too…whatever the heck those are!

Grating Cheddar

I give in and use pre-grated on occasion…sure! As a quick topping on tacos and such it’s alright. But if you want your cheese to be melty? Or creamy in a sauce? Saaaay for a soup or mac and cheese?? You HAVE to grate your own. Otherwise it’s all grainy and nasty. Yuck.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Fresh Bread

We have recently decided to make fresh bread here daily (or as needed) instead of buying a loaf of Butternut or whatever’s on sale at the store. The bread we make is DELICIOUS and filling – and we make it 100% from scratch so I know there’s no added preservatives or artificial flavoring or any other garbage.

Homemade bread!

We figured making this switch would also save us quite a bit of money – as we were going through about two loaves a week of the store bought stuff.  The only problem is…..this stuff is soo good that I think we’re eating even more of it than we would of the store stuff! My kids drag me into the kitchen several times a day and ask me to slice them a hunk of the fresh bread! Hubby’s just as bad! And I think we’re all looking for excuses to have sandwiches of some sort for every meal so we can eat it on our bread!

We’re experimenting with adding more and more whole wheat flour and less white flour to try and help it be a little healthier, but I’m starting to think our delicious new money saving habit might be pretty bad for the waistline!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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