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.

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 choclate 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. 

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 spoils 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. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Amazing Christmas Gift For a Kid to Make: Clay Bowl

Every year during the holidays I try and find something that my kids can gift to their teachers and Grandparents. I have had them give cookies, drawings, little baskets of snack foods, Christmas tree ornaments, and gift cards.

This year I attended a little craft fair that was aimed toward showing examples of crafts that people could make instead of buying gifts. They wanted to raise awareness about giving in a way that is not as commercialized and then making donations to people that are in a position of greater need than us. The cherish that was holding the craft bazaar was also accepting donations that could go to various charities, they suggested donating to a place that helps create access to clean water for people in Africa and organizations that help stop sex trafficking among others.

One of the crafts, was a Femo marbled bowl, this looked like something I would actually try and the might I thought about it the more I thought the kids could do it. I have also seen this craft following around the internet mostly on Pinterest.

I took my five year old to Michael's craft store and looked at the clay. After picking out a few colors, I was becoming too quiet that this was not something the kids could do because the clay is incredibly hard, and I do not say this lightly, it is like those really old bubble gum balls that just about break your teeth and make your jaw sore after the first ten seconds of chewing.

I was relieved when I found a mixed color package of this stuff called Pluffy by Sculpey. It is so much softer and my kids were totally able to work with. I also bought some of the harder clay for me.

My kids really wanted to make a video about how to make one so the instructions have those as well. :)

1) choose three or four colors usually having a base color of white or black is nice but it is up to you, we mixed in white but had an equal part of white as each other color.
2) cut off a piece of each color about the size of your thumb
3) sqeeze all the colors together into one "log"
4) twist all asking the log, squash it back together, roll it out, twist again
Christmas gifts for kids to make for teachers or grandparents. Clay bowl.
5) when you like how mixed the colors are, but so they are mostly still individual colors roll it out on a non stick surface like a piece off wax paper with a rolling pin, piece of pvc pipe, or a femo rolling pin, into a circle a quarter of an inch thick
This is an easy gift for kids to make for Christmas presents or teacher thank you gifts.
Making a clay bowl with a smiley face.
6) place over an upside down bowl that is oven proof and gently push the edges down, we used silicon cupcake molds.
7) bake according to the package directions each brand is a little different
8) allow to cool and then paint just the edge with gold acrylic paint.

 Here is mine, I made if for my Grandparents that have just moved out of their dream house where they spent years sailing on Seneca lake:

DIY clay bowl with sailboat details.
Full disclosure: if you use the amazon link I will get a small percentage of the cost of what you buy, this goes for the search link on the side bar as well. However the cost to you is the same either way. My kids loved this project and were so excited to make their friends and teachers a gift. My daughter would not even wait to give it to them. I would love to see results of yours if you do make them. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice Craft: Stained Glass Sun

This last week we talked about the sun and the up coming summer solstice. We made a sunshine to put up in our window and see sun shine come through the colors. All you do is cut a circle in the center of the paper plate and some strips of red, yellow, and orange tissue paper and glue them over the opening. 

We thought about crinkling up more tissue paper and putting on the outside ring, but we ran out of time before we had other plans. :) We liked how the over lapping colors created different shades of oranges. This was a really easy craft.