Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cranberry Curd Tart With Pecan Cookie Crust Adapted From NY Times Recipe

Every single Thanksgiving I make a pumpkin pie and my families traditional Cranberry pie. Sometimes I add an additional pie to experiment with, but only if there are a lot of people coming. This year a friend posted a recipe from the New York Times that I just could not resist changing things up this year. So I did not make my traditional Cranberry pie and instead went with the Cranberry curd tart!

The recipe from the New York Times is a Cranberry Curd (think lemon curd) Tart with a hazelnut crust which I should probably be really enamored with being from Oregon and having lived on a hazelnut tree homestead for the first few years of my life. Alas, I have never fallen for the coveted Oregon nut so I decided from the get go to use pecans as an alternative which in my mind also makes up for the lack of a pecan pie.

My next dilemma was my lack of rice flour which is called for in the crust, rather than making the crust with a gluten flour I decided to substitute quinoa flour in place of the rice flour, which technically is a seed and qualifies it as a non grain, although I am sure some paleo diet followers would argue with that. Using the quinoa kept the recipe gluten free at the very least. 

What I ended up with really tasted a lot like a peanut butter cookie with a pecan flavor. It worked really well with the Cranberry curd. To find the original recipe go to:

All you do to create the pecan crust is substitute pecans for hazelnuts and quinoa for the rice flour.
I will definitely makes this recipe again I really liked it and I think it provided a new spark to the traditional meal.

If you are looking for quinoa flour for gluten free cooking Bob's Red Mill is great:

A couple notes, 1) I don't have a tart pan so I used a spring form pan and it worked just fine, but did not provide the pretty edge a tart pan does 2) I used a mini food processor with success so if you don't have the space for a full sized one, or don't want to pull the big one out the small version is fine, and 3) I somehow ended up with a bit runny curd, it tasted great, but I think I should have made sure my eggs were the size the recipe recommended and thickened it a bit longer on the stove.

These are the spring form pans I use:

and this is the little food processor I have:


Let me know if you try it and what you think.
What are you family holiday traditions? Do you have a special dessert you make every year or do you try something new each year?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Homeschool: Arctic Fox Report

We recently started learning about endangered species as a part of my son's third grand homeschooling. I had him pick out an endangered species to learn more about. We went to the library and checked out virtually all the books we could find on the animal he chose, which was an Arctic fox.

Next I had him write down some questions he wanted answered during his reading and when he found an answer he was to write it down under the question. Once all his questions were answered we started to write an outline going over the introduction, adaptions, etc.

Once he finished the outline we worked on a rough and then final draft of at report. He then chose to do a power-point presentation and record his voice over it as his presentation. Here is the result:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning Through Games

As I have written in previous posts I think games are a really great route  to learning new information. We have recently decided to start homeschooling our son who is in third grade. In doing this I really want to make learning fun for both our sakes, but also because I think fun learning is absorbed better.

So my first step was a search on Pinter eat of course, but my next two steps were a trip to Powell's Book store, the Learning Palace, and the library to search for books to help with creating a curriculum. I am not going to get into the too much more right now,  but I was really excited about one book I found at the library so I thought I would share that, because it is all about games to play to get your kids thinking and learning. I am excited to use this book and think it would be a great addition to any family library of games.


There are games for many levels, and subjects including reading, writing, math, memory games, and they how many of the games are great for developing other strategies for thinks like sequencing historical events.

I really like the descriptions of the skills developed and that they include a section they describe as including your older children, but looks more like helping your kids not be at eachothers throats the entire time to me, otherwise known as cooperation.

I am definitely adding this book to my Christmas list as I think it would make a great addition to our learning library.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Photographs for Sale Starting Now

I have been working for years on figuring out where to go with my photography. I have done portraits, events, and more as an exploration of this. I always have enjoyed it and will continue to do so, but in an effort to add to my families income I have finally made the jump into selling my photographs.

My passion for photography really centers around finding some peaceful time for myself to enjoy nature, so the photographs that I will be selling will be landscapes, macro-photographs, flowers, animals, and will be everything from more traditional looks at landscapes to abstract close up looks at flowers.

I am starting small with a collection of 5 photographs of a peacock that I just adore. The color in peacocks are some of my absolute favorite colors and I adore how this collection of photographs can work all together and all the way down to just one of them. For now I am going through Fine Art America to provide access to prints, framing, and even decorative pillows, iPhone cases, bags, and more.
Photography Prints

The above photograph is just one of the photographs in this collection of 5 I have featured right now. These particular photographs I think would work really well with the current trends in home decor and would make a great gift for the holidays. I really hope that you will check them out and share it around to help support this adventure and let your friends know you have found something unique, from a small business, that they may love.

Look for more to come, I plan on making additions to the gallery, or possibly some changes by making this a collection of things that could expand to include notebooks, jewelry charms, and other such things. I would love to hear what you might be interested in.

Thank you for your support and come follow me on Instagram, let me know you found me here and I will make sure to check you out too.
Also come follow me on my Facebook page:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse Parfait With Ginger Cookie Crumble and Ginger Chocolate Ganache

My lovely mother had her birthday last week in the midst of a really crazy week for me. We decided we would celebrate her birthday this weekend instead due to my other obligations. So today I took some time to create a dessert to take down to her tomorrow, lemon cheesecake mousse, with ginger cookie crumble, and ginger chocolate ganache was what I settled on.

I started out thinking I really wanted to make something that has ginger, lemon, and chocolate and thought a lemon cheesecake with a ginger Graham cracker crust and a layer of dark chocolate would be great, but this seemed a little too heavy for the hot August says we have been having in Oregon and Washington.

In my searches for cheesecake recipes I found a recipe for a lemon cheesecake mousse that seemed easy and decided I would create something with that. From there I was inspired by the crispy ginger cookies at Trader Joe's to create a crumble that mimicked a Graham cracker crust. I then added in a bit of chocolate ganache which I added a bit of fresh ginger to while hearing the cream and layered them all together.

The end product was a parfait with the punch of tart lemon, the slight spice of ginger, and just a hint of rich bitter chocolate. Over all it was a success.

The lemon mousse was a recipe I found on pinterest, I used the lemon curd from Trader Joe's for the lemon curd in my dessert. My Kitchenaide mixer did the trick of whooping the cream cheese until is was nice and smooth and making the whipped cream. The ginger cookies were also from Trader Joe's.

                                                          Interested in a kitchenaide?

The ganache was a recipe I found on pinterest as well, but I added in fresh ground ginger which I just freeze so it is ready when I need it. I find freezing it makes it easier to grate on my micro plane.
Everything is all set to drive down for celebrating my mom's birthday, including the special scarf I made her using one of my photographs.
Go visit my pinterest account at the recipes to try board to find the lemon mousse and chocolate ganache recipes, and here is the cookie crumble recipe and lemon cheesecake mousse parfait assembly inductions.

Ginger Cookie Crust Crumble:
1/2 box og Trader Joe's Ginger Cookie Thins Crumbled
1/2 Stick Butter Melted
1/4 c. Almond meal
Preheat oven to 275° F. While the over is heating line a cookie sheet with a slight edge with a nonstick cooking mat. Place the 1/2 box (one sleeve) ginger cookies on a cutting board in a plastic bag and roll over with a rolling pin until there are just bread crumb sized pieces. Alternatively use a food processor and pulse to create bread crumb size pieces. Place the bread crumbs with 1/4 c. Almond meal and the memories butter in a bowl and mix until it is all combined. Spread out in a thin layer on the cookie sheet and then bake for 20 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes and then every five minutes after.
This should create a crispy crumble that you can layer with the mousse.

To Create the Parfait:
Find 8 tall thin glasses and add 1 tablespoon of ginger cookie crumple top the bottom of the glass. Next layer a thin layer of the chocolate ganache, I put the ganache in a plastic zip lock and cut a small corner off and then pipped it over the cookie crumble.
Next add about an inch and a half of the lemon cheesecake mousse, filled by about 1/2 a tablespoon to a tablespoon of cookie crumble. Add another inch and a half, or fill to almost the top of the cup with more lemon mousse, finish with another 1/2 tablespoon of ginger cookie crumble.
Serve chilled. 
I freeze my ginger and the pull it out when I need to use some and just grate it on my microplane. :)

I love my silicone mat, it really is non-stick.

Here are some little plastic champagne flutes I found if you want to recreate this the same way:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fourth of July Lesson Using Red, White, and Blue Play Dough

In the week leading up to the fourth of July I planned a lesson for the kids that was entirely taught through the making and use of play dough. 
I wanted to combine a history lesson about the fourth of July, chemistry, math, art, and motor skill learning, because hey I thought of a plan that would do all these things so why not! :-) I crafted an activity that both teaches and is hands on fun for the kids.
So I set out to look for some good fourth of July activities to do with kids and kept coming upon goo and gak ideas. This sparked my thinking a bit and I thought, what a great way to add chemistry to our day.
I started thinking about it some more and decided I really wanted the kids to be able to make some flags and so play dough would probably be a great way to combine chemistry and sculpting for the kids.
Once I had this plan I decided to add taking about what chemistry is, and the different forms of matter. We talked about example of these things (solid, liquid, gas, and there is also plasma and another, but we stuck to the three basic ones). After discussing matter, we set out to do our own chemistry by making quick and easy play dough.
With our play dough finished we first made little beakers out of the play dough and put an initial over the top of each standing for either liquid, solid, or gas. Then I asked my oldest to fill the breaker up with play dough molecules as they would be if they were in their various states.
For the gas the molecules will be far apart, for the liquid they will be closer together, and for the solids they will be even closer.
After this we made three dimensional (8 year old) or two dimensional (5 year old) shapes with the play dough to practice our geometry skills.
Next we worked on making an American flag out of our play dough as well as fire works. I talked with the kids about when the fourth of July started and why we celebrate it. I am not convinced they picked much up for this, but that is why we repeat things over and over in new lessons and another year, right?
We still have a few days left until the fourth and so I checked out a few books with more about it and May plan some more activities about this United States holiday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Healthy Summer Treat for the Whole Family

Well Oregon and Washington are officially hitting hot summer days with  temperatures into the 90s and 100s. So we are breaking out our arsenal of sweet, easy, and cold summer treats. 

Of course one of the first things many people reach for in the summer heat are popsicles and ice cream which have their place at our house, but I prefer to try and find some healthy cold treatsas well. I do really like my Zoku popsicle maker for making quick healthy popsicles at home and my immersion blender to make frozen drinks like smoothies or frozen treats like all fruit sorbet. However one super easy and delicious summer treat is frozen grapes. 

I can not take the credit for thinking of this though. When I was working for a family over summer breaks from college the mother used to do this as a snack for her kids and it was so refreshing and wonderful that I have continued this summer treat in my own home. I have to reintroduce it every summer, especially to my son who is sceptical of most things, but after walking away from the first bite and saying it was horrible, he returned to say he wanted more and they were good. 

There is just something about them that feels extra refreshing when compared to other frozen snacks. I love them. All you do is rinse the grapes, pop the whole thing with the stem and everything, into the freezer and then eat them when they are frozen. For small kids I recommend cutting them in half after they have defrosted a bit, not too much though. They are hard and round so beware of choking hazards. Again cutting them in half helps a lot. 

Some of my other favorite healthy summer frozen snacks include smoothies and popsicles in my Zoku, there are some recipes in the tab above. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Learning: Fun Learning for Kids During Summer Break

My son has decided he wants to do school over the summer at our house. He wants to do this every day and include everything he would normally have at school. He decided he wants to go back school in the fall as the kid that knows more than anyone else (he laughed and said, well that will probably be a fifth grader). So starting on the first day of summer break we I am trying to come up with ways of making this fun for him and my younger daughter, who is excited by the prospect as well.

Here is how our day is breaking down so far. We get up, have breakfast, then do reading. I have them both read on their own and ask him to choose a longer book.

My daughter is going into kindergarten, but can read independently for the most part. Once they finish their book they are to identify a few things for the story they read. My son is supposed to write a mini book report with the protagonist, the antagonist the setting, the conflict, the moral, and the resolution.

After my daughter finishes her reading she is supposed to write the name of the main character and draw a picture of that character.

So far they are both enjoying this part of the summer learning and find it fun.

While they do their reading I clean breakfast up, have my morning tea or coffee, and make sure I have the plan for the rest of the day in order.

So far we have only done a few days of really putting this into action and I am not sure the kids will want to keep it up over all of summer and I only want to do it if they are enjoying it, so we will see how it ends up.

After reading we do other school subjects. Sometimes they are combined projects, other times they are field trips, or movies.

So on our first day we did math which included using ten pennies to add and subtract numbers one through ten for my youngest. For my oldest we learned the area of a square formula using foam paper cut into one big square and a rectangle, with enough smaller squares to cover each completely. I taught him how the area of a square is it's base times it's height. We used the small squares to measure how many square fit across the base and how many fit across the height. I then have him problems with drawings of squares to solve on his own. 

Next we decided to come up with a school mascot. We did research about the symbolism of various animals we were interested in and colors we liked. Then we choose our animal and colors and wrote down some of the important words each symbolically stands for and drew a picture of our animal and then made a flag including our colors.

This project included practicing compluter skills and online research, science, reading, a bit about differences between cultures, and art.

After recess and lunch we headed to the public library to check out books on our animal and then watch the movie they were playing for their summer program.

We also checked out a book on learning to draw, because that is something my son has been worrying hee is not good enough at. We decided a good way to make him feel better about it would be to learn more about how to do it.

Every learning project we did today we did with things we have around the house and could easily be adapted to fit other learning needs.

We will see how this develops over the rest of the summer.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Books for Kids About Divorce

Recently I have seen a lot of posts on the online Mom's group I am part of that have talked about how they are going through a divorce. When I was a child my parents separated and then did end up getting divorced. While I can't imagine it being any other way, I do know that feeling that others understand what I am going through has always helped me. 

While my husband and I are not getting divorced, but he is a divorce attorney in Portland, Oregon and so he goes to court to do divorces so in combination of seeing him go to court and hearing about these other Mom's in my Facebook group currently going through a divorce I have been thinking about what the kids of divorce might need to help them through it. 

One thing that I immediately thought of is books. Kids love books, they are a good way for parents to be close to kids, demonstrate others feelings, develop empathy, and spark conversation. If a parent reads a book to a their child about divorce it is bound to bring up may things to talk about as well as demonstrate to the child that the parent understands it might be hard to the child to be going through this experience.

I have come up with a short list of books that I found that talk about divorce, but there are many more out there.