Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peach Muffins with Praline Topping

Peach Muffins with Praline Topping

1 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar ( ½ cup for batter, ¼ cup for topping)
2 tablespoons molasses
½ cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup chopped fresh peaches
¾ cup chopped pecans ( ½ cup for batter, ¼ cup for topping)
1 tablespoon butter, cold


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place liners in 12-hole muffin tin.
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the molasses and sugar until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine ½ cup of sugar mixture, milk, oil, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture, stirring just to moisten.
  6. Fold in peaches and ½ cup pecans.
  7. Fill muffin cups ¾ full.
  8. In small bowl, cut together the remaining sugar mixture, pecans, and butter.
  9. Sprinkle over batter.
  10. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Coming up next: Crockpot Peaches!

Hugs and blessings~


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Six Word Saturday - It's Complicated!

Six Word Saturday:
"Why do I always over-complicate everything?"

A while back, I was in the position of administering a placement test to a potential Kumon student. This little boy was only 3-years old, quiet, and shy. I decided to break the ice (and test the waters) by having him draw a picture for me before testing. I offered crayons, but the child chose a pencil. OK. He then proceeded to draw a picture very similar to the one above.
I looked at the picture and told him how wonderful it was.
The child had no response.
"Why doesn't the man have arms?" I asked.
"I didn't want to give him any", the child replied in a whisper.
"That's OK", I said. "But he doesn't have a mouth. Is he happy or sad?" (That would be Miss Anne searching for information...)
The little boy was silent for many l-o-n-g seconds before responding "Sad", he said.
So I'm thinking "Rats. This is going to be a VERY challenging testing session!" (OK, in all honesty, I was not thinking 'rats'. I was thinking words innapropriate for a Kumon Instructor!)
I pulled myself together and gently asked the boy "Why is the man sad?"
Again, a VERY long silence. I was losing hope.
Suddenly, the boy looks up at me like I'm the biggest dummy in the world and replies in a strong voice "BECAUSE HE HAS NO ARMS!"
I laughed and we went on with testing.
Later, I thought about why I put so much emphasis on the details, rather than the big picture. I guess I do that with everything. I suppose I've always been that way.
I have the picture hanging up in my center to remind me NOT to overcomplicate things. It helps, but I'm still not "cured".
By the way... Tjhe boy's family enrolled him in both math and reading :-)
To participate in Six Word Saturday, please visit Cate (and my other SWS friends) at Show My Face.
Hugs and blessings~

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to Peel a Peach

It's peach harvesting time at my house, so get ready for a flurry of peach related recipes over the next couple of weeks. To help you prepare for this baking extravaganza, I thought I'd share a simple way to peel peaches. Ready... Set... Go!

1. Fill a large pot with water, maing sure water is deep enough to just about cover your peaches. Bring the water to a boil and gently drop in a few peaches. Leave peaches in water for about 30 seconds (more or less, depending on the ripeness of the fruit). 2. Using tongs, remove peaches from the boiling water and place them in a large bowl filled with ice water. The skin will easily slide from the peach with a bit of gentle encouragement :-)
3. Slice, dice, or bite... Your fruit is fuzz free and ready to enjoy!

Tomorrow's recipe: Peach Muffins with Praline Topping

Hugs and blessings~

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Six Word Saturday - Words of Wisdom

To participate in Six Word Saturday, please visit Cate at Show My Face. I'd love to see your six words :-)

Hugs and blessings~

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kumon Student Makes History!

POWAY, Calif. - (Business Wire) Pomerado Elementary School student Sansar Yogi, 9, makes history as the youngest student in North America to graduate from Kumon’s Math and Reading programs. Kumon is the world’s largest after-school math and reading program with centers in 46 countries. The curriculum includes thousands of worksheets covering pre-school to advanced high school material.

Sansar completed Kumon worksheets every day in addition to his school work. He mastered differential calculus, indefinite/definite integrals and differential equations in the final level of the math program and studied great works of literature from Shakespeare to T.S. Eliot, as well as interpretation and critique of literature in the reading program. Sansar’s passion for learning new things motivated him to work through the entire math and reading curriculum in just three years.

“It is a great achievement for a young child to have the skill, capability and dedication to achieve this goal, and to do so takes great effort,” said Hideki Kusuzawa, president of Kumon North America. “Every child can achieve their full potential through independent learning like Sansar.”
“Sansar was different from the other kids,” said his instructor Saeko Jalbuna, of the Kumon Center in Poway. “He has the ability to concentrate and persevere through challenging problems without becoming frustrated.”

Although Sansar is the youngest completer in North America, he is not the only one in his family to complete both the Kumon Math and Reading program. His older sister Sara, 12, finished the reading program last August and the math program in June.

As Sara completed the program, Sansar gained the extra motivation and encouragement from his family to finish the program. “My dad taught me what I needed to know and more,” said Sansar. “My mother encouraged me to keep going and my sister supported me.”
Last year, only 1,141 out of more than 250,000 students in North America graduated Kumon’s Math and Reading programs. Sansar is one of 669 graduates in North America this year but is the first to graduate before middle school.

Sansar and Sara’s mother, Manita said, “It’s a really exciting time for our family. I’m really proud of my children for tackling an enormous challenge all on their own.” Their father, Gopal, echoed these sentiments, “Sansar and Sara truly surprised us! We never thought our children would master these advanced levels at such a young age.”

Sansar leaves the Kumon program with words of encouragement for current and future Kumon students, “Even though it may be hard to finish the program, the benefits of completing the program will greatly help you in school.”

In addition to his academic interests, Sansar is a first degree black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. He also enjoys watching movies and reading books in the ‘Magic Tree House’ series. Sara enjoys running long distance on the track and field team and tutoring after school.

Sansar hopes to one day become a college math professor or work as an engineer for NASA, while his sister Sara aspires to be a pediatric surgeon.

As for how Sansar celebrated his completion of the Kumon Math and Reading program, “We held a big party, and I had a four-day sleepover with my friends,” grinned Sansar, remembering the event.

About Kumon Math and Reading Centers
Kumon [Koo-mon] is an after-school math and reading program that unlocks the potential of children by motivating them to achieve more on their own. Founded in Japan in 1958, the learning method uses a systematic individualized approach that helps children develop a solid command of math and reading skills. Through daily practice and mastery of materials, students increase confidence, improve concentration and develop better study skills. Kumon has 26,000 centers in 46 countries and more than four million students studying worldwide.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Six Word Saturday - Just Peachy!

Six Word Saturday:
Second Six Words:
(Recipes don't have to be for pie. Just something involving peaches. You can post your recipe or a link in your comment. All recipes and ideas are greatly appreciated, as it looks like we have a bumper crop of fruit this year!)
Please go see Cate at Show My Face to play along with Six Word Saturday and to see other players Six Word posts.
Hugs and blessings~

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Six Word Saturday - Symphony in a Pan

Six Word Saturday:
Do you know what a 'BTS' cake is? I thought I was being so creative when I came up with a decadent take on the old Jello poke cake to take to our family reunion last weekend... Until I did a little research on the internet and found bazillions of similar recipes! Imagine my surprise when I found the "real" name for this dieter's nightmare is 'BETTER THAN S^X CAKE'!!! (OK. I'm not really afraid of the "s" word, but I'm trying to keep things very family friendly around here.)

Anyway, I had to whip up my original(?) recipe and see for myself if really was BTS.

I did bring it to the reunion, by the way. I told some of the adults about the 'BTS' name, and the line for cake formed immediately! From the men, you could see some looks of serious contemplation. From the women, you could see some worry on their faces (due the caloric investment or the husband's reaction? I wonder.). Regardless, the cake was easy to make and was super moist, rich in chocolate and caramel, and, quite simply, delicious. I will absolutely make it again for a potluck or party :-)

I've printed my recipe below, so you can judge for yourself if it really is BTS. (Warning: Just reading the recipe may cause you to gain a few pounds!) In my "family friendly" spirit, I've renamed my version of this decadent delight:



1 box chocolate cake mix
6 oz. caramel topping
13 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. hot fudge topping, warmed to pouring consistency
1 tub whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed
1 4.25 oz. Hershey's Symphony milk chocolate bar with almonds & toffee chips, chopped


1. Bake cake in 9X13 pan, according to directions on box.

2. While cake is still warm, poke holes all over cake with the fat end of a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon. Holes should be 1-1 1/2 inches apart. Take care that you do not poke all the way through to the bottem of your cake or it will become soggy.

3. Pour caramel topping into holes. (Yes, it will probably spread over the top of the cake and look messy. No worries.)

4. Pour condensed milk into holes. (See note above.)

5. Pour warmed hot fudge as in steps 3 and 4.

6. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. (In a chocolate "emergency", this step can probably be ommitted.)

7. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, frost with whipped topping, and sprinkle Symphony bits on top. Enjoy!

Hugs and blessings~

To participate in Six Word Saturdays, please visit Cate at Show My Face. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No-Bake Bittersweet Mocha Cheesecake Bars


For Crust-
35 chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreo)
3/4 cup bottled hot fudge topping

For Filling-
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold strong coffee (I used a sleeve of Starbucks Via Instant Coffee in 1/2 cup water)
2 bricks (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. Line a 13x9 baking pan with foil, leaving a coule inches of overhang at the narrow ends of pan.
2. Make the crust: Pulse cookies in food processor until you have fine crumbs. Heat fudge topping and add to crumbs. Pulse several times to moisten completely. Press crumb mixture into pan and freeze while making filling.
3. In a small sauepan, sprinkle gelatin over coffee. Stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves and mixture steams. Remove from heat.
4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar at high speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in sour cream, the coffee mixture, and melted bittersweet chocolate until blended.
5. Pour onto crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or over night.
6. Cut into bars and garnish (chocolate covered coffee beans, chocolate curls, candies...)

Makes 48 bars. Enjoy!

Hugs and blessings~

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tips for a Successful School Year

New backpacks. Clean shoes. Notebooks with pristine covers. New teachers and friendly faces. All of these things are all part of the anticipation children have when they think about the start of a new school year. As summer winds down and children begin trading in their swimsuits and sleep-overs for school buses and homework, there are several strategies parents can use to ease any stress that might occur during the back-to-school season.
A successful school year can depend on how smoothly a child transitions from summer vacation. Here are some tips for helping your child make a smooth transition:
  1. Focus on the Positives. Talk to your children about their summer accomplishments. Recogize the skills they practiced, no matter how large or small. Did they learn to swim? Did they read a whole book (or maybe many books)? Did they go the whole summer without losing their house key or cell phone? Maybe your teen began babysitting this summer... Skills such as perseverance, time-management, responsibility, and independence will help them will help them succeed in school.
  2. Ask your child to write a short story about his or her summer experiences. This will give your child practice writing before the first day back in the classroom, and it is also a nice way to reminisce about quality time spent together. Pictures are an added bonus!
  3. Set up a study area for your child. It should be quiet and free of distractions. Make sure the area has "study supplies" (pens, paper, markers, dictionary, thesaurus, etc.).
  4. Establish a consistent homework routine at the very beginning of the school year. Help your child develop organizational skills by writing down his appointments, assignments, and activities, and by helping him break big assignments into small, manageable parts. Being organized is a key to being a successful student. Schedule daily homework time in your house so it becomes a part of your family's routine. This also helps children to see that homework is a priority in your home.
  5. Meet your child's teachers. Keep the communication open. Discuss goal setting with both your child and the teacher. This partnership of parent-teacher-child will be very effective in the development of healthy homework habits which will, in turn, help children have a successful school year.
  6. Give your child genuine and frequent praise. Praise your child's progress, and don't focus on perfection. Let them know that you believe in them, you think they are special, and you have confidence in them. Let your child know that you recognize and value their efforts, not just their final accomplishments.

Hugs and blessings~


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Santa Fe Bean Dip

My friend Bina shared this fun, healthy, and easy recipe with me a few years back. It's so awesome that when I get invited to potlucks, I'm always asked to bring dessert and Bina's Bean Dip! Since I made it for the reunion, I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Just a note though... The recipe makes a LOT of dip. No. I mean a lot. Like a massive salad bowl full of dip. The good thing is it saves well in the fridge, and can also be used as a side dish when you're serving Mexican food. Enjoy!



1 lb. bag frozen corn (white and yellow mix) - No need to thaw before making the dip

8 oz. Kraft Zesty Italian salad dressing

2 oz. jar diced pimentos

2 cans black-eyed peas - not "flavored" and not with lard

1 can black beans - same caveat as above

1 can Rotel chopped/diced tomatoes with green chile - Hot or Extra Hot

3 bell peppers - I used one orange, one red, and one green

1 red onion, medium

1 sweet onion, small

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 or 2 finely chopped jalapenos to add a little heat


1. Chop bell peppers and onions into small pieces and place in very large bowl. (Looks great, right? Very colorful! And yes, those are jalapenos sprinkled on top!)

2. Open all of the cans, drain the black-eyed peas and the black beans... but not completely. Add to bowl containing peppers and onions.

3. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.

4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

5. Serve with corn tortilla chips. I like Tostito's white corn Scoops because they'll deliver more of this delicious dip with less effort :-)

Hugs and blessings~
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