Recipe: Simple Weekday Dutch Baby (Baked Pancake)

dutch baby I’ve mentioned in the past that my husband is the breakfast-maker in our home, but only on Saturday mornings. He makes up a big batch of pancakes, waffles, or French toast, and we eat them throughout the week. Once we run out, the kids have toast, cereal, or oatmeal. I’m great at making dinners (and even breakfast for dinner!), but hot breakfasts just seem so complicated for a weekday morning, especially since our mornings are filled with homeschooling, therapy sessions, and doctor’s appointments, so A.M. time is at a premium.

One of our favorite breakfast restaurants serves German Pancakes (also called Dutch Babies), and after craving them while pregnant with Junior, I knew I had to find a way to make them at home. I found a recipe and tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes. It’s ridiculously easy, and Tater could literally eat an entire pan on her own. It’s perfect for busy mornings, since prep time is less than 10 minutes, and it can be on the table in less than half hour.

Baked German Pancake (Dutch Baby) adapted from Melissa d’Arabian
serves 2-3
(unless you’re my daughter, in which case it serves 1)

-3 TBS Butter
-3 Eggs
-3/4 C all-purpose flour
-3/4 C warmed milk (I use coconut milk, and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds)
-4 TBS white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
-coarse sugar or powdered sugar for serving

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-In a blender, add eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and vanilla and mix until well combined.
-Place butter in an oven safe 12″ pan (I use a 12″ cast iron skillet) and place in the oven for 3 minutes, or until butter is melted.
-Pour batter into the pan, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and pancake is cooked through.
-Remove pancake to a platter and slice into 6 pieces. Sprinkle coarse sugar or powdered sugar over the top and serve with lemon wedges.

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Book Review: Having a Martha Home the Mary Way

As a homeschooling mom to two young kids–one with special needs–I know how hard it is to keep the house clean day after day. In fact, most days I go to bed with toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. It’s like a never ending cycle…Clean, cook, laundry, clean, cook, laundry…throw in almost-daily therapy and doctor appointments and homeschooling, it never ends! I grew up in a spotless home. My mom was Mrs. Clean, so my expectations for a clean house have always been set very high–but, alas, I was not gifted with the Efficient Cleaner Gene (I think that’s an actual thing), and it seems like I have to work three times harder than most people to get half the result.

Sarah Mae is a funny and down-to-earth lady who shares her own struggles with keeping the house clean in her new book Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, and how she changed her attitude about cleaning. Instead of looking at housekeeping as drudgery and toil, she began to look at it as a way to bless her family and to show them love.

Mary and Martha refer to the biblical women who were entertaining Jesus at their home one evening. Martha was running around trying to get everything done, while Mary was sitting with Jesus, just enjoying Him. Martha chastised Mary, while Jesus commended Mary for spending time in His presence. However, both women had important roles–in this fallen world, things turn to chaos pretty quickly if we’re not constantly cleaning up our living spaces. I know in my house, two days of not cleaning results in about a week’s worth of extra work! But, at the same time, sometimes choosing to just “be” with God and/or our families is the “best yes”. Sarah also shares that taking care of our homes can be a manifestation of taking care of our hearts.

Sarah Mae has taken the best aspects of both Mary and Martha in Having a Martha Home the Mary Way. The book is based on Sarah’s blog series entitled 31 Days to Clean. The book is broken into 31 chapters, one chapter per day for a month. Each day starts with a short story about Sarah’s cleaning journey, where she introduces the goal of the day, why it’s important and tips for achieving it. Then, there is a Mary Challenge, a devotional area and scripture relating the cleaning goal to nurturing our soul. Finally comes the Martha Challenge–the actual cleaning or organinzing task of the day, along with step by step instructions on what to do and how to do it.

This book is written with the assumption that the reader needs to get organized. It doesn’t have a full day cleaning schedule, and the “task a day” is mainly just to get your house purged and heading in the right direction. If I only did the Martha Challenge everyday, my house would be an absolute disaster because it doesn’t include “regular” cleaning. Some of the Martha Challenges include cleaning out the bedroom closets, cleaning out the bookshelf, purging toys, and cleaning out the refrigerator. I still need to do dishes, laundry, and regular cleaning every day to keep the house looking halfway decent.

The Mary Challenges focus on getting your heart in the right place. It’s about getting you to understand that cleaning doesn’t have to be a necessary evil–it can be a way to thank God for His blessings and being a good steward, and also to show our husbands and children that we value their comfort.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love some of the references to laziness at the beginning…insinuating that a messy house was caused by laziness. (Though at the end of the book she says that being tired and being lazy are totally different and only we can judge our own hearts.) I know for me, I’m in a season of life where a spotless house just isn’t going to happen. I don’t sit down until after 8pm most days (collapsing exhausted onto the couch), having spent the day working hard trying to get everything done, but the house still isn’t up to my standards. I did like how she brought the “heart” into cleaning. I had never considered that cleaning could show love, and I appreciate that perspective.

*I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

My Overnight Getaway (and Admitting How Much of a Nerd I Really Am!)

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Not long ago, I had the opportunity to head up to Seattle for a day  or two by myself. (I’ll tell you the super fun, albeit nerdy, reason in a minute.) Since I have never been away from both of my kids for longer than a 5 hour span, I was equally excited and terrified.

My husband volunteered to take the kids to work with him for two days (I just LOVE that man), so I could have the opportunity to go up. So I left my house at 8am on a Tuesday morning (my kids couldn’t understand that mommy was going to be gone for an entiiirrreeeee night), got settled on the airplane for my 10am flight, and took off. Wait for this…I READ. A BOOK. ALONE. It was like a 3 hour flight or something…I don’t actually know how long it was, because I was so blissfully engaged in my book and the music coming from my headphones without anyone yelling that they need a snack or they need to pee or their ears hurt or they forgot their favorite doll’s left shoe.

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I got into Seattle, and my first stop was Costco, naturally (much like Canada last year) but I wasn’t that thrilled with it. I got a jar of Salmon Rub seasoning, but everything else was similar to my local Costco.

I drove a few miles into the City, and checked into my hotel. I stayed at the Inn at the Market, a charming little boutique hotel right in Pike Place Market. Since I despise driving in downtowns (one way streets and pedestrians stress me out), I wanted to stay within walking distance to the famous indoor/outdoor market and all the shops and restaurants. I loved the view from my room! I splurged for a water view and am glad I did. Although, coming from San Diego, I wasn’t used to the cloudy, dreary skies.

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Since I arrived in Seattle right about lunchtime, I had the entire afternoon to myself. (Without children, mind you. I didn’t know what to do with myself!)

I wandered around Pike Place Market. There were a lot of interesting novelty shops, little restaurants, and there’s a daily craft fair with artisans selling everything from homemade jams, to hand sewn aprons, to animals carved out of the ash of Mt. St. Helens.

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For dinner, I had some of the best clam chowder ever at Pike Place Chowder.

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After dinner, I went back to my room to read and study (more about that in a minute!)

The next morning I woke up and wandered around the market again. I got some Crumpets from the Crumpet Shop, and even brought a pack home to freeze for later, they were so amazing.

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I also bought a huge filet of Wild King Salmon that had just been caught the day before from the Pike Place Fish Market, and had them wrap it in dry ice and newspaper to bring home (Tater loves salmon!)

I had to leave the Market by 10:30am to reach my next destination at a hotel downtown. I checked out of the hotel and headed out, giving myself an hour to go three miles. (I told you that one-way streets and pedestrians stress me out. It took a half hour to get there, thanks to some unfortunate wrong turns.)

At 11:30am, I walked into a hotel conference room, took a deep breath, and sat down along with about a dozen other well dressed folks. I was the youngest in the group, but still confident.

I had been invited to a live interview for a Jeopardy! contestant search!

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I had passed the online Jeopardy! exam last year, and after some back and forth regarding my schedule (I had been out of town for the original interview last Fall), was invited up to Seattle for a live interview and another exam.

I think I did well–I even got to play a mock live game using a real Jeopardy! buzzer. I won’t know whether I’m going to appear as a contestant, but I’m in their active file for the next 18 months, so hopefully I will get chosen and notified soon. Appearing on Jeopardy! has been a dream of mine since I was 11 years old. My dad and I watched Jeopardy! together every single night from the time I was in 6th grade until I got married and moved out.

After the interview, I rushed out to the airport to try and catch an earlier flight home (I finally got a night away from my kids and I missed them to death and just wanted to get home!) It was interesting…but I made it. Let’s just say that I may have lost a shoe somewhere running through the middle of SeaTac, and had to jump through the train doors as they were closing on me to make it to my gate just as they were closing the doors to depart.

It was a fun evening away, (thought I sure missed my family), and hopefully I will have news about Jeopardy! soon. I’ll keep you posted!

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Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day Blessings

Growing up, The Berenstain Bears was my favorite book series. Now that the original authors, Stan and Jan Berenstain have passed away, their son Mike has taken over and has turned the popular series into books of faith, called Living Lights. I always enjoy when a new Living Lights book comes out, as we have collected most of the books in the series.

Mike Berenstain’s newest release is titled The Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day Blessings. I gave it first to my 7 year old to read to get her review, and then I read it myself.

It’s Spring in Bear Country, nearly Mother’s Day, and Brother, Sister, and baby Honey Bear want to do something special for Mama Bear. With Papa’s advice, they decide to surprise her and Gran with brunch at the Bear Country Inn. The cubs have to keep it a secret. They all wake up on Mother’s Day and the cubs tell Mama how special she is and how wonderful she is to them. As they’re driving through town on the way to church, they pass many other mothers of all shapes and sizes and in various professions surrounded by their cubs. Mama Bear explains that mothers can be doctors, homemakers, police officers, and even farmers, and that the most important thing on Mother’s Day is to have their cubs near. Mama explains how all mothers work hard to take care of their families and their cubs.

My 7 year old enjoyed this book–she is quite a fan of The Berenstain Bears series herself, and I also enjoyed it. The illustrations are, as always, adorable, and the message that moms are blessed to have their kids and kids are blessed to have their moms was well taken.

With Mother’s Day coming up soon, this was a cute little book that my little cubs will enjoy reading over and over.

*I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz Publishing and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Behold the Man

I have been a big fan of the Brock and Bodie Thoene novels for many years now. I have read at least 30 of their books, and always look forward to their newest novels.

Behold the Man is the third and final book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, a fictional series that takes place in Israel during the time of Jesus. I enjoyed the other two books, When Jesus Wept, and Take This Cup, but I think Behold the Man was my favorite of the three.

The novel actually begins in Rome, where we meet Claudia, the daughter of Tiberias Caesar, her 8 year old lame son, Philo, her former lover, Roman Centurion Marcus Longinus (a carryover from a previous series, the AD Chronicles), and Claudia’s husband, the infamous Pontius Pilate. We find out that Claudia was ripped from the arms of Marcus and was forced to marry Pilate. After a series of mistakes from Pilate, Caesar sends him, along with his family, to Judea to be the governor.

Claudia, who is half Jewish, tries to find out the truth about this miracle worker, this Jesus. She meets the historian Josephus and studies the prophecies under his tutelage. At the same time as Pilate’s move, Marcus is also sent to Judea, and he and Claudia are tortured, knowing they can never be together again.

This novel takes place over a year’s span…from the time of John the Baptist’s ministry through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The overriding message in Behold the Man is “hope”. Hope for truth, love, and healing (physically and spiritually).

Pilate is portrayed as a cruel and heartless man who has no affection for his wife and son other than to hold power over them. Marcus is the strong and steady Centurion who wants to seek out the truth. Claudia is a woman who desires unconditional love, and Philo is a tender hearted little boy who inspires those around him. Each one of them encounters Jesus of Nazareth, and each of their lives are forever changed as a result.

I enjoyed this book. True to Thoene fashion, there is a lot of background information and some scenes take a while to work up. But, despite the slower pace, the writing flows nicely and it’s an easy read. I do wish the Epilogue were more satisfying, however, since this is the last book in the series. I had a lot of questions about the main characters that were never answered. Otherwise, Behold the Man was an enjoyable book and I look forward to the Thoene’s next series.

*I was provided a free copy of this book from Zondervan Publishers and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.