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.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christmas Gift List

Well it is getting to that time of year again, you know where you can start saying to your kids, "Put it on your Christmas list." and actually intend to remember it. I have actually had both my kids write their list down this year because it is a good exercise in writing if nothing else. However, I always feel a bit like we have too many toys and are blessed enough to have all grandparents plus a set of great-grandparents and others giving gifts so I try and come up with a plan for how to make the season more meaningful and not just about getting a bunch of toys.

Now you may already know that I am not particularly religious, but I do really like celebrating the season, giving, and using Christmas as a time to learn about what our ancestors (and closer relatives) think about the season and how they celebrate it. One thing I want to do this year is really use it as a way to teach about another culture, and I want that to learn about one we share ancestry with. So I have chosen to look around for information about Danish Christmas traditions.

I really like the idea of making ornaments our of paper, finding a way to feed some wild animals, probably by putting bird feeders out, celebrating the advent by having both a countdown calendar (which we always do anyway) and an advent wreath. I am thinking I will get one of the advent candles which are a big candle that you light once a day until it burns down to the next days number.

In the past I have done the weekly advent but we celebrate each week with a theme that I very loosely try and fit with some of the things that week represents (like joy). We always spend the first week of advent getting our Christmas tree and decorating, the third week always seems to be the weekend of the Illuminatta Regatta float down in Salem, and then we try and fit some other family fun.

SO back to the Christmas lists (which is kind of put together for the Grandparents, Aunt and Uncle, and so I remember what is on the list, but also to inspire you), my daughter (age 6) really wants a sister and a puppy, ha.
Here are a few other things she wants:
A princess dress, these are pretty well used at our house!

Really that is all that is one her list, but we also love the OMSI membership my Mom gets us most years (all of them so far really). 

She also has added these animal figures to her list, we have a couple already but she pretty much would love to have them all as I am sure you can imagine:

I am sure she would also love tickets to go tubing at Mt. Hood as well. She also enjoys art and would probably enjoy a keyboard. 

We are in need of more of our favorite multipurpose crayon/pastel/watercolor called Colorix they are so easy to use and create lovely bright colors:

My son (age 9) has filled his list with mostly Transformers. 
He is very specific in the ones he wants they are all part of the Mechtech weapons system. 

However after walking a friends dog for them while they were out of town he is instant that all he wants is money to go toward getting a new dog.

He also really wants squish balls, kind of like stress balls:

iTunes gift cards are now on his list since he got an iPad mini.

He also wants a Lego Star Destroyer.
My son also really wants stuffed animals that are not bears, polar bears, or a penguin. 

My husband is really hard to shop for and I find I never know what to get him, I think it is safe to say that is true for others close to him as well. Generally he likes Teavana, Jamba Juice, and getting a new suit each year. I am thinking this would be a good fit for over our mattress this year:

Sometimes it is easier just to get things that I know he needs and goes through a lot such as:
Tennis grips
Of course I am not totally sure what the best brand is so possibly an amazon gift card would be better. Haha!

He has also taken up learning the cello and I think these would be helpful in learning the correct finger placement:

A similar set for each of the kids violins would be great as well.

I not really wanting much either. I would like to try out these lenses to attach to my phone lens:

What are your family Christmas traditions and gift wish lists this year? 

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.