Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dutch Baby and Golden Puff Pancake

This delicious Dutch Baby Recipe was provided by Kroger Grocery Stores to start the season off right!

This is the first week of 2017. I received some mail and spotted my Kroger coupons and recipe book that I receive throughout the year. My friend invited the family over for a delicious enchilada dinner and while she cooked, I took it to peruse. One of the articles that they featured was titled 1 Skillet, 3 Breakfasts.  Without sounding goofy, it was love at first sight. Whoever took the pictures were fantastic as making me want to get in my kitchen, dig out my cast iron skillet (which I shamefully admit rarely gets the love and attention that it deserves as a cooking tool in my kitchen), and get to cooking.
I couldn't wait to try this one.

We were scheduled for snow in the South this weekend, so I made sure that I had all of the ingredients before trying to create something like this. I don't have the flexibility of running out to the store if I am not skilled at driving on ice. 

I changed a few things to make it more mine, but the credit all goes to Kroger for their awesome recipe. These pictures are mine. 

After taking it out of the oven, I sprinkled powdered sugar and added strawberries.

Dutch Baby - The Golden Puff Pancake
(modified from Kroger's my Magazine, my substitutes are noted with *)

3 large eggs
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened, Almond Coconut Milk (40 calories per serving) *
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2  tsp. vanilla butter nut extract *
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
Powdered sugar
Fresh or defrosted strawberries to top (Kroger's magazine showed blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter in the pan by placing the pan in the oven. Mix eggs, flour, almond coconut milk, sugar, vanilla butter nut extract, and salt. Take the pan out of the oven, careful to coat the pan with the melted butter. Add batter. Some of the butter will rise to the top. (This probably adds to the deliciousness.)

Bake in the oven for 30 min. You may wish to shorten the time if the pancake is raised and golden. 

It was exciting to see the almost finished pancake!

Allow to cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on it and place strawberries on top. It should be absolutely mouthwatering to look at when you are finished. 
I moved the Dutch Baby to a large plate and used a pizza cutter to slice quickly through the pancake. I placed them on smaller plates to drizzle sweet syrup over each serving.

Breakfast is ready! Add the syrup.

The recipe recommended refrigerating any left overs. 
For us, there were none! 

This will be a recipe that we add to our family recipe book. 

Thankful Salad

Originally, I didn't have a name for this salad. I made it on the fly right before our Thanksgiving Meal this past year and it was a hit with my brother-in-law. He actually finished the rest when he and his wife came back in the evening to drop off my daughter! (That's what good food is supposed to do! Keep you coming back for more.)

Last night, my daughter specifically requested the salad by saying, "I want the salad you made for Thanksgiving."

When I thought about it, I realized that she meant that simple corn salad that was fresh and simple. It is really good for any season and good enough to have thirds.

When preparing the Thankful Salad, I selected the Vegetable Chopper because of the ease and neat little pieces that are cut and can easily be mixed in a bowl. Chopping this yourself can be time consuming, but certainly still have the same flavors.

While I did use canned super sweet yellow corn for this recipe picture, I highly recommend canned white shoe peg corn, keeping in mind that fresh corn is really the best. The challenge is that fresh corn is not always readily available in my refrigerator (or yours) and cutting it off of the cob can be more time consuming, not to mention more dangerous than you really want to take on in the 3 minutes before you have to have dinner on the table. (Those who know me know that 3 minutes is more like 10.)

Thankful Salad
Thankful Salad, mixed and ready to serve!

1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced.
1 large tomato, sliced into chunks for the Vegetable chopper
1/4 - 1/2 of an onion (depends on your like level of onion and the pungency you enjoy...), sliced into small enough chunks for the Vegetable chopper
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (you can back off or add more if you prefer) *
salt and pepper to taste if desired

non-reactive medium sized mixing bowl
measuring cup
cutting board
Mixing spoon
Serving Spoon
Serving dish (if you are going to be serving this for a special meal)


You may dice or use a Vegetable Chopper (similar to the Vidalia Onion Chopper) to chop the cucumber, tomatoes, and onions. If you use the vegetable Open can and drain the corn. Place all ingredients into a food safe bowl and mix. (Take care that you use a non-reactive bowl because you are working with acidic foods and they can absorb other undesirable flavors.) Pour in the apple cider vinegar. Mix. Add salt and pepper according to taste if you so desire. You can chill or serve from this.


Keeping Healthy: You could easily substitute fresh lime juice from 1 - 2 limes and mix.

Make it creamy with some extra calories: You could easily substitute 1 Tbsp. mayonaise (Duke's is my favorite), 2 Tbsp. of sour cream, and 2 Tbsp. of vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maintain Vs. Letting It Go

Over the last year, I have made small changes that have effected the way that I am able to live.
This is a quick overview of each small change. I will elaborate more later about how much of an impact that this has made on my time and life. 

1. Moved all of the kids' toys upstairs.
This was not as hard as it might sound. I still have a small basket downstairs that I occasionally throw some toys inside, but I no longer allow the toys to be scattered throughout or along the perimeter of the family's great room. I also spent time locating the pieces that matched each farm set or food set so that they could be appropriately placed. We had a change in the family where a family member moved out and we were able to give each child their own room. It made more sense that they keep their toys in their room. Some of the toys were purged for age appropriateness, and some were kept just in case there is a third Renfro (still hoping here.) I would much rather value the space for being open and what we can do in it than what it can hold. The kids continually bring down their toy baskets from upstairs and then will put away their toys with some encouragement from me.
This has decreased my clean up time by 15 minutes easily, and we can enjoy the space better.

2. Clean the kitchen nightly (or every other night), including washing all pots and pans and dishes.
While this is a no brainer for many people, this was more challenging to keep going. Being honest, I would rinse the pots and pans, but they might sit there up to two weeks if we were busy. However, every time I looked at the sink, it just became a constant reminder of something else that I had not done. Another thing that I needed to do:

"Clean the sink."
"Ah, those pots and pans...still there."
"Does anyone else see these sitting here?"
"Saturday. Yes. Saturday."
"Why are they still here?!"

So now, instead of doing them after my kids get a bath at night, I do them before they shower. This makes me hurry through getting the table cleaned off with a little guilt effort to encourage the hubs to clean, too, If I cooked. "Cook don't clean." Which has now turned into a running joke because my husband's recent response was, "Since when?"
I let them air dry during showers and homework time and then try to put them away before I break down and go to bed.
Then I have a clean kitchen and a clean sink. And no ongoing reminder because the task is completed, done, and finished.

3. I redid how we keep up with bills paid and all of those papers that I receive from work, my child's school, etc.
When we receive papers, I stack them. It is the fastest way for me to clean up. However, when we become busy with the daily tasks that do and will happen, I cannot keep up with the amount of junk mail, letters, pictures, bills, and small pages that have to be kept. I was reserving them for when I could really deal with the ordering of everything. I could always locate what we needed, but I was getting tired of the fact that it was still taking too long to locate a form or a paid bill. Not to mention that I would spent two full afternoons sorting and then filing and shredding all of the paperwork into the correct locations. Thankfully, I no longer have to go through the stack of papers every three months. I take the mail we get and go through it weekly, if not daily. I place the papers in one stack on the desk in the loft. When I get a chance, I sort them according to filing cabinet, magazines, kids' papers, family binder and trash. Easily done in 10 minutes or less. 

4. Use an organizer to keep track of my tasks that I need to get done.
It took a while for me to review organizers that I liked to keep track of the things I have to get done for me. I hated the constant thoughts of what had to be done and not feeling like I had really done anything when I ran out of time. I knew I had spent a good deal of time working on cleaning or taking care of my family's needs, but what did I really do? I found this type of organizer on one of the Pinterest sites and created my own list. I print it and put it inside my planner every week. Whether I use it to the fullest, I still have a way to maintain my routines and remember what I have to get done before the next day. It is simple for me to mark if I did or didn't complete the task. It also helps me set goals for cleaning and next day preparation. 

5. Use organizational apps.

Google Keep, Quicknote, and Evernote
I use Google Keep to keep track of tasks and lists that I need. I use Evernote as well. Both function with reminder possibilities and allow you to add notes and pictures. Both allow you to even record your voice for reminders. I keep track of kids' clothes sizes and what I have to complete quickly. Quicknote lets me save a screenshot on my phone for future notes. (I make a lot of notes.)

Remember the Milk
My husband and I can quickly add to our shopping list for when one of us is out. We can scan our empty or almost empty containers' bar codes so  that they can be quickly added to our list. We then sync them for the other. This is perfect when my husband runs his Saturday errands and is willing to pick up the groceries while I stay home with the kids and take care of cleaning.

Libib is a really cool app that lets us keep track of  our collections. We keep track of our DVD, CD, and book collections. All I have to do is scan and add it to the list. It registers to an online location and syncs with information about the movie or music. So easy.

Love. Love. Love. I have so many boards that I am embarrassed to admit how many that there are. I organize articles, quotes, and ideas according to the way I set up my boards. My favorites include food, of course. As I cook something, I copy it to the board Food - I Cooked And Ate It. This way I can keep track of a recipe until I can copy it into the family recipe book. 

6. Plan for upcoming events.
I found a really cool graphic organizer in Word Online. I added it to the Family Binder and placed one for each month in the clear pockets. As I know that we have some large bill due (like an annual event like taxes), I place those documents into that month's checklist. Or if there is a family member's birthday, I might place their birthday card in that folder so that I can remember to send that sucker early. (Remember that was a goal from last year, which I am probably achieving 50% more often than I was before I started this process.)

7. Use a notebook for work. 
My daily tasks for work vary from day to day. I keep a running to do list and mark it off and sometimes will date when I completed it. I review it weekly and use it to keep a log of what I did complete, too. Where did I find my notebook? After much searching, I finally decided an inexpensive hardback notebook from Walmart was perfect. I then ordered from a local business a monogram for my notebook. Cost - $10.00 total. I added a folder to the back of the book with some glue so that if I had a note card or handout from a meeting I could keep track of it for quick reference. 

This started last year. This was perfect. I now have gotten into more of a routine using it and keeping up with everything. I still miss things, but this helps me stay up to date and not have so much running around in my head that I can be present...(ahem) more present in every day conversations with my friends and husband. When I run out of space, I buy another notebook without breaking the bank. It works for what I need it to do.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkin Butter Cake

Pumpkin Butter Cake

1 yellow butter cake mix
2 eggs
1 can of canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup of softened butter 
1/2 tsp. of Pumpkin Pie Spice seasoning

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 -45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Serve and enjoy. 

If you prefer, you could drizzle a caramel icing over the top.