Frugal Family Tree

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RSVP For The #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party 12/3 1PM ET

   

RSVP for the #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party

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#OneSmartDifference-Twitter-Party-Wednesday-December-3rd-1pmET-ad-cbias
Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do and we’re excited to host a party that is sure to be fun, talking about our beloved four-legged family members and the new Purina ONE Smartblends dog food!  On Wednesday, December 3rd at 1:00 pm ET, please join us for the #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing the 28-Day Challenge, and giving you a chance to win prizes!

We've had our Boston Terrier/French Bulldog named Chewy for a few years now, and he's brought so much joy to our family. We thought we were a one dog family, but that has changed. We have recently taken in a relative's dog for awhile, as they go though a life transition. This dog is over nine years old, and we want to help him be the healthiest and happiest dog possible. And what dog food we feed him is where it all starts.  We accepted the 28-Day Challenge and started feeding him the Purina ONE Smartblend: Vibrant Maturity 7+ Senior Formula.  Be sure and join me for the #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party where we will be talking all about our dogs and what is important to their health and learn more about the 28-Day Challenge from Purina ONE.

Join me and RSVP for the #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party on SoFabChats!


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DATE: Wednesday, December 3rd

TIME:  1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

PRIZES: 8 – (1) $100 Amazon e-gift certificates

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Amazon e-gift certificate

HOSTS: @OurHomemadeLife, @formulamom, @donnahup@FrugalFamTree, @_Karen

RULES: #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party Official Rules

RSVP & PARTY GRID: #OneSmartDifference Twitter Party Page



How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!
TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!

Patricia

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cooking One Of My Favorite Holiday Party Recipes, Mexican Meatball Soup

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SeasonedGreetings #CollectiveBias


I don't know about you, but I feel like this fall season is going by so quickly. I'm already pulling out some of my favorite holiday party recipes and getting ready to make lots of delicious party food for my friends and family.

One of my all-time favorite recipes is this Mexican Meatball Soup. This soup, along with cheese enchiladas, has become the traditional menu that we make every year for my son-in-law's birthday, which is on Christmas Eve.

My son-in-law, Jacob, has two brothers with birthdays also near Christmas, and so as a child, he never had a birthday party. In our family, my own children always had parties, so when he married my daughter, we started having a birthday party for him every year.


This weekend I decided to make some Mexican Meatball Soup for dinner. It's been so cold, and the thought of this yummy soup simmering on the stove sounded good.

One of the key ingredients to making the soup, especially the meatballs, is Tabasco. It enhances the flavor of all the ingredients, and gives it the perfect kick of spice that makes this soup tastes so delicious.

While I was shopping at Safeway, I picked up three kinds of our favorite Tabasco flavors, Original Red, Chipotle, and Jalapeño. It isn't just a condiment, but adds great flavor to stews, burgers, chili, meatloaf, and more.


The first step in making this soup, is to make the meatballs. I used to fry them, but now I just pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes, and it's so much easier.

To a pound of lean ground beef, add an egg, breadcrumbs, chopped onion, catsup, oregano, and salt and pepper. And for that extra special flavor, add Tabasco. I usually add 3 tablespoons and it's just the right amount. But you can add more or less, to suit your taste buds.

Mix up the meat into 1-inch round balls and pop in the oven. I have a hard time resisting eating a few when they are done, and have to remind myself they are for the soup. They are good!


Chop zucchini, carrots, and onions and put into a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes , then add salt, pepper and taco seasoning.

The Tabasco and taco seasoning add great flavor to this soup, without making it too spicy. I always use the Original Red flavor when I make this recipe, but I think the Chipotle or Jalapeño flavor would work well, too. I'm a big fan of all the flavors, and so is my family.


After the vegetables have cooked and slightly softened, add the beef broth, a can of corn, a can of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of cooked rice, and the meatballs. Then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons Tabasco, and then let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.

I have made this soup with and without the rice, and it's great either way. But the rice does make the soup stretch even further, something I learned one year when we had more birthday party guests than we expected.

And I always have the Tabasco on hand when serving the soup, for those who might want to add more.


I found Tabasco in the condiments and sauces aisle at my local Safeway. They were even on sale, which made me pretty happy because I love saving money when I can.


I really love cooking, especially during the holidays. And I'm always looking for ways to make my recipes taste extra special, and using Tabasco does that.

I'm looking forward to making my Mexican Meatball Soup and enchiladas again this year for my son-in-law's birthday, and having the whole family gathered to celebrate.

What dishes do you serve every year during the holidays and have become a tradition in your house?
Leave me a comment, I would love to know!

Recipe for Mexican Meatball Soup

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup onions, chopped small
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup catsup
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Tabasco Original Red flavor


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 cups beef broth
1 15-ounce can tomatoes
1 15-ounce can corn
1 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons Tabasco
shredded cheddar cheese for top if desired

Directions:

Mix together meatball ingredients in a bowl. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes, turning them once after 6 minutes. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil. Add the onion, zucchini, carrots, and garlic. Stir and cook for about 8 minutes, or until vegetables have slightly softened. Add taco seasoning and salt and pepper, stir.
Add beef broth, meatballs, tomatoes, corn, rice, and Tabasco. Stir together, let simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Taste, and add more salt, pepper, or Tabasco if desired.

Top with cheese, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Patricia

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

K'NEX 70 Model Building Set Review and Giveaway

                         I was provided with these products for my review. All opinions are mine alone.




Build anything you can imagine with the 70 Model Building Set! Includes instructions/ideas for 70 unique models using all Classic K'NEX pieces. Build cars, planes, sea creatures, and more. Loaded with over 700 K'NEX rods and connectors! Parts can be stored in the convenient storage treasure chest. Perfect for builders ages 7+. 


Features:
  • Includes instructions/ideas for 70 unique models
  • 705 Pieces
  • Convenient storage treasure chest
  • Ages 7+
  • Made in the USA

My grandson Jayden is seven years and loves to build things. He has played with K'NEX toys before and enjoyed them.

But he absolutely LOVED playing with this set. I was so amazed by the creative things he made, and  playing with the set really sparked his imagination. He played for two hours straight, and it was so great to see him so involved in using his creativity,

While kids play so many video games today, K'NEX is a wonderful way to inspire kids to use their imaginations in a more authentic way. Your kids will love playing with the K'NEX 70 Building Set, and you will love seeing them have fun with it.


Defeat the zombies and save your brains...on the Pirate Seas! This buildable replica of the Pirate Seas level in Plants vs. Zombies 2 includes special "rumble grid" action - turn on the battery-powered motor to make the zombies move down the rows towards the plants, just like they do in the game! Includes 1 Pirate Zombie figure, 1 Pirate Conehead Zombie figure and 1 Pirate Captain Zombie figure. Battle the zombies with the 2 included plants: shoot coconut ammo from a Coconut Cannon or launch a cabbage with a Cabbage-pult. Easy to follow building instructions included. For ages 7+. 


Features:
  • Buildable level from Plants vs. Zombies 2: Pirate Seas
  • 3 zombie figures: Pirate, Pirate Conehead, Pirate Captain
  • Coconut Cannon with shooting action
  • Cabbage-pult with launching action
  • Easy to follow building instructions included
  • Ages 7+
  • Batteries not included
What can I say about seven year old boys and zombies? They love zombies!! My grandson invited a buddy over to play with this the first time we opened it up. They were beyond excited to play with this.

It was easy to put together, and the boys just took off into playing with it with gusto. They especially loved how the battery-operated motor make the zombies move and helps create great ways to fight. It was great to see them using their imaginations to create scenes and dialog for their play.

Plants vs. Zombies is hours of fun for kids, and will keep them entertained while using their imaginations.

Both K'NEX 70 Model Building Set and Plants vs. Zombies would make great Christmas gifts for kids ages 7+, and I highly recommend the K'NEX company as a place to shop for fun, imaginative toys.

You can see all of their products on the K'NEX website, here.

I'm so happy to let you know that K'NEX is giving away one K'NEX 70 Model Building Set to one of our readers. Be sure to enter this giveaway for your chance to win this great toy, just in time for the holidays.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Nov. 19, 2014 and ends on Dec. 1, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.

Patricia

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Easy Vegetable Soup with Kale


I have officially become a soup snob. I didn't know this would happen when I started making all of my soups from scratch, but it did. And I'm glad.

I'm the kid that was raised on canned soup. Every day when I came home from kindergarten, my mother would have tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich waiting for me. Sometimes it was chicken noodle, or maybe bean with bacon, but the soup always came out of that familiar red and white can.

This was many decades ago, and I raised my own children on canned soup. I never had the time or the interest to make my own from scratch, and why bother when it was so easy to open up a can?


But then I started making my own soup. It might sound immodest, but I don't care when I say my soup tastes so much better than anything I ever ate that came out of a can.

I think it starts with the intention of making something delicious in my soup pot, with the olive oil, and the onions that seem to be the basis of most soups. It's homey, and it's comforting to know that with all the uncertainties out there in the world, I have made something that feels safe, feels reassuring.

That might be a lot to say about a pot of soup, but for me, it's true. And this easy vegetable soup with kale is just the soup I needed to make during the cols spell we have had the last few days.

Feel free to change the veggies up if you don't have all of them on hand. I do love adding kale to as many soups as I can because I like it and it's so good for you. Vegetable soup is one of my favorite soups to make, and this recipe is easy.

On a cold day, for me, there's nothing better than a hot bowl of soup. It's one of the small pleasures in  life that are important. And small pleasures make for a happy life.


Recipe for Easy Vegetable Soup with Kale

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups chicken stock
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 bundle kale, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic and salt. Stir occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, and bring back to a boil for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, kale, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Makes 6 servings.


Patricia

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Apple Pancake Breakfast Recipe


As we get deeper into fall, I want to start making more recipes that call for apples. I love apple desserts, and my apple galette has become a family favorite. But apples are so versatile that they can be used for breakfast, dinner, and other kinds of recipes.

This Apple Pancake is easy to make, even on a weekday morning when time is usually short. And with all the cold weather we've been having here in Washington State, it was so nice to have something warm and delicious to eat before going out for the day.


Feel free to use any kind of apples you have on hand. Be sure to slice them fairly thin so that they soften up while baking on top of the pancake.


Toss the apples in cinnamon, brown sugar, and a little melted butter. They smell wonderful already.


After you make the batter, pour it into a ceramic or glass pie dish. Then arrange the apples on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Recipe for Apple Pancake

Ingredients:

To make the pancake:

3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the topping:

2 apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the pancake ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Pour the batter into a well-greased ceramic or glass pie plate. Arrange apples on top of batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pancake is spongy but not wet.

Serves 5-6

*Recipe slightly modified from BBB blog.

Patricia

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe


Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter

Filling:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
 
 

I don't know about you, but I always have the hardest time deciding what desserts we should have for Thanksgiving. I know that pumpkin pie is always a favorite, but sometimes it can be a little too predicable.

Last year my daughter Samantha made this delicious pumpkin cheesecake and shared it here it on the blog. It's well worth re-sharing, and I'm going to be making it for Thanksgiving this year. The recipe is pretty easy and the results are amazing. It went quickly and our family loved it.

It serves about 10, depending on how you slice it. And your kitchen will smell delicious as it bakes!


Patricia

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cream Of Mushroom Soup


Since I am such a mushroom lover, Cream of Mushroom Soup is one of my favorites. There is just something so earthy and wholesome about this soup that makes it perfect for dinner on a cold fall evening.


The base of the soup is sautéed onions, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, and chopped button mushrooms. This smells so wonderful as the mushrooms cook.

I served this for dinner, along with a simple green salad, and warm garlic bread sticks. It was so good, and I was hoping there would be leftovers for lunch the next day, but no such luck. But I'm always happy when my family loves what I make them.


I topped the soup with roasted tomatoes that have been packed in olive oil. They are so delicious this way, and are really one of my favorite soup garnishes for creamed soups. You can find them at the grocery store in bottles, or like I did, at your store's salad bar. I just put a few in a container, and they are less expensive this way.

Recipe for Cream Of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons rosemary
1-1/2 pound button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 14 ounce cans chicken broth
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in olive oil

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and rosemary; cook over medium heat 5 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add mushrooms; cook and stir 5 minutes.
Add broth, bring to boiling. Reduce heat: simmer uncovered 5 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove bay leaves. Cool slightly.
In a blender, or using a hand-held blender, blend soup until almost smooth. Return to pot (if using a regular blender) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to boiling. Whisk in cream, heat through.
Ladle into soup bowls, and top with roasted tomatoes.

Makes 6 servings.

Patricia

Friday, November 7, 2014

Corn Pudding Recipe For Thanksgiving


 
Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. It's all about delicious food, gathering with family and friends, and giving thanks for all that we have in our lives. It's a day to remember that though things might not be perfect, there are still many blessings that me must not take for granted.
 
Thanksgiving used to be mine, where for decades I was the one roasting a turkey, cooking like mad, and making sure I had enough plates, wine glasses and clean tablecloths to accommodate everyone.
 
 It was crazy, expensive, and stressful. And it was some of the happiest times of my life. But after thirty five years of marriage, my husband and I split up, and it was the end of all those lovely Thanksgiving dinners.
 
The end of a marriage sometimes fills like the end of everything you know that is familiar, and you can end up feeling lost, alone, and asking yourself how did you get into this particular kind of hell. It takes time, a long time to come out of that tunnel and begin to feel like there is hope for a new life.
 
I'm getting there. And this Thanksgiving we will gather at my daughter's table to give thanks for all that we are blessed to have. I still have my five fabulous kids, four sweet grandchildren, and hopes for a much happier future.
 
I'm not cooking the turkey, my son-in-law does that, but I will be making this delicious corn pudding. It's creamy and tastes great, and is much fancier than serving plain corn. It's one of my favorite recipes to make for Thanksgiving.
 
I did publish this last year, and it was quite popular, so I thought I would share it again. I know many people have the very same menu year after year, but I think changing things up a bit can be fun. So give this recipe a try if you are a corn lover.
 

Recipe for Corn Pudding

Ingredients:


Olive Oil for greasing baking dish
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2-quart baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together corn, bell pepper, onion, cheese, flour, mustard, salt, and pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir egg mixture into corn mixture and pour into prepared baking dish. Bake until set, about 40 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Patricia

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Peppa Pig Peppa's Christmas DVD and Bonus DVD Review and Giveway

                          I was provided these products for my review. All opinions are mine alone.


I don't think that there is a bigger Peppa Pig fan in the whole world than my granddaughter, Ashley.
She adores watching Peppa, her little brother George, and Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig. And who wouldn't be charmed by this sweet pig family as they play games, go on adventures, and have silly, fun times with their friends?

The new Peppa Pig, Peppa's Christmas is an all-new holiday adventure where Peppa and her family celebrate the holiday season. You can watch as Peppa and George write letters to Santa, sing festive songs, decorate the Christmas tree, and even help out Santa himself.


Young children love Peppa Pig, and it's very easy to understand why. The stories are funny, sweet, and provide many teachable moments about kindness, sharing and love.

Ashley is almost three, but my grandsons are four, and seven, and they also love watching Peppa Pig.

 All the episodes are filled with fun and laughter, lots of snorts, and plenty of jumping in muddy puddles, too.


Besides Peppa's Christmas, there are eleven other episodes. They include School Bus Trip, Granny and Grampa's Attic, Zoe Zebra, and more.

This charming DVD is perfect to get you and your little ones into the holiday spirit. It is a lovely way to bring the cheeriness of Christmas into your house, and get the kids excited about this fun season.


Along with giving away one copy of Peppa's Christmas, a second DVD will be included in the prize,  Bubbles.

Watch Peppa's Christmas for holiday fun, and give Bubbles to your child as a stocking or under the tree gift.

I can't say enough what a big fan of Peppa Pig that I am, too. I happily watch Peppa Pig videos over and over with my grandchildren, and I never get tired of them. Peppa's Christmas has already been watched in our house many, many times. And it has already gotten us into the sweet magic of Christmas.

One reader will win one DVD copy of Peppa's Christmas, and a second DVD, Bubbles, will also be included as the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Nov. 5, 2014 and ends on Nov. 19, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Patricia

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fall Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting


 Pumpkin Cupcakes are a favorite in my family, and this recipe will make your kitchen smell delicious.
I think this recipe for the cupcakes and cream cheese frosting is pretty easy, and can be doubled, to make two dozen if you like.

This is absolutely my favorite time of the year to bake, and pumpkin desserts are my favorite. Yum!!


Recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 
Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, stir together first 6 ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, canned pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vegetable oil.
Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
1 8oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Directions:

 With an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl to ensure even mixing.
Beat in the vanilla extract just until mixed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until desired thickness. Frost cupcakes with a spatula, or spoon into a piping bag and decorate. Add decorative sprinkles if desired.

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

 

 
*This was originally published last fall, and was very popular, so here it is again. It's one of my favorite ways to use pumpkin.


Patricia