Killing Fruit Flies

B and I recently started making coffee in the mornings. After more than a year of being married, and having received a coffee maker as a wedding gift, we finally have started using it. And it’s great! B doesn’t have to spend $3-$4 on a Mocha each morning, and if I want, I can even add almond milk to a cup of mine. It’s been great – until we discovered that fruit flies love coffee grinds.

After a week or so of coffee grinds (and not too much else)  laying in our garbage, and a few nights not home, I opened the trash can and out flew a gazillion fruit flies. No exaggeration – there were literally a gazillion fruit flies that flew into my kitchen. GROSS! This was more than one week ago. And I haven’t cooked at home since then.  But today, they are all gone! How did I kill them all?

Vinegar and dish soap. I think there’s a saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar but in my case, vinegar did the trick! Here’s an easy way to keep away/kill those pesky fruit flies by just using supplies you most likely have on hand in your kitchen.

A Recipe for Killing Fruit Flies (I know it’s not the usual type of recipe posted here)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 tbs of vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, but heard the cider vinegar works well as well)
  • 2-3 drops of dish soap

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together vinegar and dish soap in a small bowl/jar.
  • Set bowl near where the fruit flies have  been flying around.
  • Wait and let the flies get attracted to the smell of the vinegar. They’ll likely fly around the area for a little while before actually diving into the vinegar. The dish soap helps catch them — vinegar alone won’t do the trick.

Before:

After:

Sorry for the gross photos. But you get the idea- it really does work! One week later and I’m pretty much fruit fly free.

My mom keeps a small glass of this concoction next to our fruit bowl at home.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oreo Bars

Last weekend, B and I went camping with a few friends. Each person was in charge of bringing a specific food item, and in addition to bringing lunch for Saturday, we were slated to also share in bringing dessert. In fact, next to desserts, the list read, “Snacks & Desserts – Everybody bring some, but I have high expectations for Melissa’s desserts.”  Yipes! So the pressure was on. So not only did I bring the AMAZING cookie dough balls  (which were a hit) – but also decided to bring some Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oreo cookie bars! Who doesn’t like peanut butter AND Oreos?

peanut butter chocolate chip oreo cookie bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oreo Bars

(Inspired by Picky Palate)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg (per usual, I used 1/4 c. Egg Beaters)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 c mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips
  • 2 cups mini Oreos

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar and peanut butter. Mix well.
  3. Add egg and vanilla; continue to mix.
  4. Add flour, baking soda and salt to wet ingredients, and combine until a sticky yet firm dough forms.
  5. Add chips and mini Oreo cookies and stir lightly with a spatula so the Oreos don’t crumble.
  6. Transfer dough to prepared baking dish. Dough will be sticky – I had to use my hands to spread it out on the baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  8. Cool before cutting. Serve with milk – or if you’re like me, bring on your next camping trip because they definitely traveled well!
peanut butter chocolate chip oreo bars!

it almost looks like a square pizza!

Oreo peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Ready to enjoy!

The weekend where I slept in a tent

I’m not an outdoorsy type of person. Yes, I love hiking, running, sunning myself, going for walks – but there are also a lot of things that I don’t like about the outdoors, like bugs, wildlife, dirt and nowhere to plug my phone. So when B and I hit the road Friday for a weekend of camping at Tygart Lake State Park with two other couples (Steve & Emily; Dave & Anson), I wasn’t sure how I would do. We were sleeping in a tent, on a campsite with no lights or even electricity – and no bathrooms!  How would I check Twitter and Facebook if I couldn’t charge my phone? How could I use Instagram if we had no reception?

So Friday night, I turned off my phone and unplugged – literally – for the weekend. And of course, it was amazing. The weather was perfect – cool, crisp and clear – and the campsite was great – not too crowded, had great hiking trails and a beautiful lake within walking distance.

So what did we do to keep ourselves occupied without our phones? Friday night we got in late, B put up our tent (in the dark!) and we got to Steve & Emily’s campsite just as dinner was ready. They had made dinner (yes, cooked over the campfire!) and we spent the night eating, drinking and catching up by the campfire. I slept like a baby in our tent and sleeping bag – but it wasn’t a completely uneventful evening, as two raccoons invaded Steve & Emily’s campsite, fought over a closed box of Halloween Oreos, and then destroyed it. Whoops!  Good thing I had brought some peanut butter chocolate chip Oreo bars (recipe posted soon) to share … plus we still had our s’more supplies.

Tygart Lake Hiking - Group Photo

the group – minus B and Lily – during the hike

Saturday morning we all cooked breakfast over the campfire – eggs, bacon and pancakes – and then set out to explore the campground by hiking the various trails. We probably hiked about three trails and spent almost two hours checking out the area on foot. After hiking, it was B and my turn to make our meal – we had brought chicken sausages from the West Side Market and peppers & onions. Most of us passed out after lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing some more walking/exploring, playing games, drinking and then cooking dinner (hot dogs!) and roasting marshmallows.

Tygart lake photo collage

Sunday, after another campfire prepared meal of pancakes, bacon and breakfast sausage (notice a pattern in our meals?), we hit the road. I survived my first real tent camping experience – including two days without my cell phone, one day without showering (this is a big deal for me), and four campfire cooked meals (I’m really impressed with everyone’s campfire cooking skills).We all had a fabulous weekend and I hope we make it an annual thing! A weekend where I can’t religiously check emails and I can wear yoga pants the whole time? Count me in.

The entire group .. including Lily the Wonder Camping Dog

Hike to Tygart Lake

Best Banana Bread Recipe

I’m a creature of habit. Whenever I have old bananas, I make banana muffins. I think B sometimes deliberately leaves 3 bananas to turn brown, just so I’ll make him muffins. I’ve probably made this banana crumb muffin recipe 6 times already this year. Don’t get me wrong – the recipe is a great one, and each muffin (or two) makes for a quick and easy breakfast (and they freeze well!), but  it was time for something new.

So what else to make? After pining over recipes of banana cinnamon cake, banana peanut butter cookies, banana cream pie and more, I ended up with a tried and true recipe — banana bread. Only made one change to this traditional recipe – I sprinkled some peanut butter chips on half the loaf, and saved some batter for two small heart pans.

best banana bread - with peanut butter chips

Old fashioned banana bread

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (note – my butter was frozen so I nuked mine in the microwave for about 45ish seconds until it was soft)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten (note – I used 1/2 cup Egg Beaters)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 bananas, smooshed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas. Combine with an electric mixer.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
  4. Spray loaf pan with Pam or other cooking spray. Pour banana batter into greased loaf pan.
  5. Optional – sprinkle peanut butter (or chocolate!) chips on top of uncooked loaf.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

AND, since it’s B’s birthday – I also made two small heart-shaped banana bread loafs. Happy Birthday B!

peanut butter banana bread hearts

Wordless Wednesday: Words to Love

My friend from high school, Lauren, has a blog that I read every so often. Yesterday, she introduced me to Dallas Clayton – and I instantly became enamored with his words, poetry, artwork, and messages. So for today, I leave you with some words to live by and words to love, from Dallas Clayton himself. Hey, we all need a little advice from children’s books sometimes.

 

Easy Light Crab Cakes

The last time Giant Eagle had a seafood sale, I found myself buying a giant can of lump crab. It was nearly half price, and I love anything crab (crab nachos! Crab quesadillas! Crab dip! even fake crab krab) tasting, so how could I go wrong?
It sat in my fridge for a month, and I had visions of trying so many new crab recipes and making a glorious summer dinner — and instead, by the time I decided to use it, I found myself using my same, favorite, old crab cake recipe from my recipe binder (what I used pre-Pinterest days).

I’ve been making this recipe for years – it’s easy, somewhat healthy (hey, it’s based off a Cooking Light  recipe), delicious and even its leftovers taste great. That’s why I’m sharing it with you. enjoy!

Easy Crab Cakes
Modified from Cooking Light
Here’s what you need:
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed
  • 1/2 cup crushed crackers (about 12 crackers – I used Town House reduced fat buttery crackers)
  • 1 finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  •  1 teaspoon garlic powder OR 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites (I used AllWhites Egg Whites)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Set broiler to 425.
  2. Combine everything in a medium bowl. Yes, everything. Crab meat through egg whites.
  3. Divide mixture into 4-5 equal portions, shaping each into small crab cake patty.
  4. Place cakes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  5. Broil 3 inches from heat for 10-12  minutes or until browned (I cooked mine about 6 minutes on each side).
  6. Serve with your favorite crab cake dipping sauce!

I tend to make a dipping sauce, and asparagus, to go with my crab cakes. My favorites are a sriracha mayo sauce and a garlic dijon aioli. This time I made both 🙂

light crab cake recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Today, in addition to watching the Browns game, doing laundry, going for a run and doing some work, I was a baking and cooking machine. I roasted tomatoes, made fresh pesto, baked banana bread and even made some cookie dough balls. That’s right – cookie dough balls. Who needs cake balls when you have these tasty treats? And of course, they’re egg free – so not only delicious but a safe way (and perfect excuse) to indulge in the best part of baking – cookie dough!

chocolate covered cookie dough bites

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

(borrowed from this recipe)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used 1% but may try almond milk next time)
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz bag of milk chocolate candy coating

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add milk and vanilla and mix on high speed with an electric mixer (or your beloved KitchenAid).
  2. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  3. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  4. When dough is firm enough to handle, form dough into 1″ round balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Place dough ball-filled sheet in freezer and let chill for  at least 30 minutes (I went for a run and let mine chill for about an hour).
  6. After cookie dough balls have hardened in the freezer, it’s time to dip them in the melted chocolate! Melt chocolate candy coating in the microwave or according to package directions. Using a toothpick, dip cookie balls into melted milk chocolate and coat completely.
  7. Return chocolate-covered balls to parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill until set.
  8. Enjoy! They’re pretty awesome.

chocolate chip cookie dough balls