Frugal Family Tree

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

I really love chocolate, and somehow chocolate and zucchini just don't go together in my world. Except they do in this marvelously rich, chocolate zucchini bread that is filled with flavor.

The zucchini has been coming out of our garden quite regularly, and this is the first summer I've really embraced cooking with it. It's so versatile, whether you are using it for dinner, dessert, or snack recipes.

It's healthy for you too, of course, and I feel good when my family is eating their veggies. This recipe calls for a cup and a half of grated zucchini, which is about one medium sized zucchini.

This recipe calls for chocolate chips and cocoa powder, and it really packs a chocolate punch. It's moist and so, so good.

If you don't have homegrown zucchini from your garden to use, the farmers markets are still filled with them, and it's a nice way to end the summer, by making this yummy, chocolaty bread.

Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread


3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup applesauce
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened  cocoa powder
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup semi chocolate chips
baking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Stir in applesauce.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating just until moist. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
I first published this recipe last summer. Since the zucchini has started getting ripe in the garden again this year, I thought I would share it again.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dune Jewelry Handmade Beach Sand Inlet Cuff Bracelet Review

My childhood was full of trips to the beach. We have always lived on the west coast and enjoyed the Pacific Ocean all summer long. Anytime I am feeling over stressed I think of or even go to the beach for renewal. The reminiscence of sunshine filled days, the smell of the salty air and the sand beneath feet remind me of one of my favorite quotes, "life is like the ocean it can be calm or still and rough or ridged but in the end always beautiful". When I came across Dune Jewelry a company that makes handmade jewelry containing sand from your favorite beach you select from their sandbank or send in your own sand I knew it would be something special to have. I love the concept of jewelry that is connected to a memory from the beach.

 There are so many beaches that hold a special place in my heart I had a hard time choosing just one, but Redondo Beach CA was the one I selected. As a kid my family and I went to Redondo many times. My Dad grew up there and the stories he told us on the drive there about his childhood always fascinated me. He told us about how he once rescued a wounded seal and it recovered in the bathtub, how they would skip class to go surfing, and the one I now realize as an adult was not true, the climbing a big hill to school in 10 feet of snow. He did show us the big hill leading to school, but I now know it does not snow there! I had my own adventures at Redondo Beach with my siblings while my Dad and Mom watched from the shore. I remember my older brother and I being taught how to body surf by a random local surfer lady. She opened my eyes to a whole new way to see the little waves I was jumping in. I can still picture my older sister standing on the shore freaking out about how cold the water was while my brother and I dove right in.

As a teenager my Dad took my sisters and I back to Redondo where my sister and I realized there was an arcade under the pier with rides and all the whole time. I giggle a bit about that one since my parents were smart to not let us go there. I am grateful they never took us in since I think it would have ruined our true beach experiences. Hearing my Dad tell my son the "seal in the bathtub" story when he came to visit made me overwhelmed with joy. Its the stories and life experience we pass down to our children that they remember the most. As I was having this bracelet made my Dad has gotten much sicker and having kidney failure making the memories even more precious and reminding me I want my own son to stick his toes in the sand at Redondo Beach. The Silver Cuff Bracelet with the sand from Redondo Beach makes all that joy I felt with those memories right there.

I have been wearing the bracelet to work a few times a week since its simple design and silver color seem to match so much of my wardrobe. I have received many comments on the uniqueness of the jewelry and hearing people tell me their beach stories has been great. Not only do I now have a lovely piece of jewelry to wear I have captured memories in sand that I will treasure forever. Now my only problem is I want like 10 more pieces of jewelry! My birthday is coming and I already know 2 sands that I would love to have a piece made for and those both have beautiful memories attached to them.

Some information about Dune Jewelry:

  • Dune Jewelry the Original Beach Sand Jewelry Company® is very unique because their patented designs are custom made with beach sand!
  • With Dune Jewelry you have a choice of thousands of sands worldwide, spanning all 7 continents. 
  • New this year a custom wine bottle stopper!  Who doesn't love wine?  The Dune Jewelry custom wine bottle stopper is is the perfect gift for the holiday's or a special occasion you may be celebrating.   
  • All of Dune Jewelry's items have a lifetime warranty, come with care instructions and literature that indicates the source of the sand.
  • There is something for both men and women in the Dune Collection.
  • Dune Jewelry is available to purchase online and at various retail stores nationwide.

Dune Jewelry creates tangible reminders of life’s greatest moments.  Everyone has a beach memory. It could be a childhood memory, a place you and your friends met each year, it is where he proposed, it is where you had your beautiful destination wedding, or maybe it was where you spent your honeymoon. Dune's unique custom and personalized collection is something that will provide cherished memories all year long.

You can see more of the jewelry designs by following Dune Jewelry on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.

I would love to hear your favorite beach memories, please feel free to share in comments :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Strawberry Scones Recipe

One of my favorite parts of summer is all the luscious berries available at the grocery stores and farmer's markets. I am a big strawberry lover, and so is my family. So, I'm always on the lookout for yummy recipes that can incorporate them.

These Strawberry Scones are delicious, and if you've never made scones before, this is an easy first recipe to try. They can be made without the powdered sugar drizzle on top, but I like adding it for a little more sweetness.

Instead of using foil, I always use parchment paper for baking. The foil always sticks, so it's great to be able to just lift the scones out of the pan when their done, without sticking.

Recipe for Summer Strawberry Scones


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, very cold and diced small
1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup half & half or vanilla coffee creamer
1 egg

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk


Place oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add diced butter pieces, and with a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in strawberries.
In a small bowl, whisk together half & half, or coffee creamer until smooth. Stir cream and egg mixture into flour mixture until combined. Using your hands, press the dough together to form a ball.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7 to 8 inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 triangles.
Place on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Place on a wire rack when done.
To make the drizzle, stir together the powdered sugar and milk.
 Drizzle over warm scones and serve.

Makes 8 scones.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle on DVD #CuriousGeorge

*received a copy of this movie to facilitate my review, all opinions are 100% my own

Curious George is a loved character in my family. As a child I loved reading the books, now my son enjoys the books and movies. The newest movie Curious George 3 Back to the Jungle George is selected to go on a space mission but things go all wrong when he does not behave as he should. He crash lands in the African jungle and meets all sorts of friends along the way as he waits for Man with the Yellow Hat to find him.

My son as always giggles at the antics of George. He is a little monkey himself always being silly and messing with stuff just for the curiosity of it. Man with the Yellow Hat tries to teach George about being cautious and that was a great way to be able to bring up what it meant and how my son could try that too. While out shopping this week I have mentioned to my son while he was monkeying around that we need to try to be cautious like George should, he did settle down a bit.

The movie is cute and fun for all the Curious George fans in your family. There are a few fun ways to interact with the famous curious monkey with the Photo App Photo With George for free.

Here is the picture my son and I made with the photo app from his visit to Dino Days in Sacramento. Photo bombed by George and my son's favorite animal a giraffe. We laughed how it looks like the giraffe is trying to eat the leaves.

You can also follow Curious George on Twitter and Facebook


Friday, June 19, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Recipe

Peanut butter and chocolate are two of my absolute favorite combinations. What's not to love, right??

The other day my grandchildren asked me to make cookies for them. They love eating them, and I love baking for them. It's fun being a Nana who bakes for my grandkids, and I know we are building loving moments shared together, that will stay with them always.

These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are really delicious, easy to make, and perfect for kids and adults. I can see taking them on picnics this summer, and fun to take and share with friends for a beach lunch or dinner. And in the fall, they would be the perfect milk and cookies after-school snack.

Lining the pan with foil for them to bake in, makes them easy to lift out and cut into squares. Store them in an air-tight container to stay fresh, if you have any leftover.

Recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini size
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9X9 inch baking pan with foil, with foil hanging over 2 sides so that it can be lifted out when bars are done. 
With a hand or electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg and mix. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients on low speed, mixing until a dough forms. Mix in the chocolate chips, and then scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
Bake for 20-22 minutes. The edges should be starting to turn light brown.
Let the bars cool in the pan, and then use the foil to lift the cookie out of the pan to transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars.

Recipe inspired by Lovely Little Kitchen, but I made my own changes to the recipe.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Southwestern Pasta Salad Recipe

I adore pasta salads, especially in the summertime. They are so versatile, and can be eaten as a main dish, or as a side. And they are usually pretty easy to put together, and most travel well for a picnic at the beach, or a barbeque at someone's house.

This Southwestern Pasta Salad has a nice spicy kick to it, and you can heat it up even more with the addition of some red pepper flakes. The black beans and tomatoes give it a healthy boost.

I've been trying to incorporate black beans into my recipes lately because of their great nutritional value. I do actually like the taste of them too, so I've included them in tacos, soups, and green salads.

But back to this yummy pasta salad. My family and I ate it for dinner out on the deck with steaks that my-son-in-law grilled. It was perfect with them, and there was enough left over for my lunch the next day. It will make about six portions for a side dish.

Recipe for Southwestern Pasta Salad


3/4 pound rotini colored pasta, cooked and rinsed so that it is cool
1 can (15oz.) black beans
1 can (10 ounces) RoTel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper


In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, taco seasoning, and black pepper.
Add the cooled pasta, black beans, tomatoes, and corn. Mix together well, making sure everything is incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours, so that the flavors can blend together nicely.

Makes about 6 side dish servings.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Easy Glazed Cinnamon Streusel Muffins



Cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, and it reminds me of fall, and all the coziness that comes along with that season.

These great tasting muffins are topped with a cinnamon streusel and powdered sugar glaze that will make your morning start off on a happy note.

Besides tasting so yummy, they are super easy to make. They are made with Bisquick Mix, that old favorite from so long ago, and one my mother always had in her cupboard. I grew up with pancakes, muffins, waffles, and more made from it, and I am actually a bit nostalgic about it.

I do enjoy baking from scratch, but sometimes I pull out the Bisquick for an easy recipe like these muffins. And if you have any left over, a quick 15 seconds in the microwave makes them totally fresh allover again.

Recipe for Easy Glazed Cinnamon Streusel Muffins


1/3 cup Bisquick Mix
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons firm butter or margarine

2 cups Bisquick Mix
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, mix together streusel topping ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix muffin ingredients until well blended. Spoon into paper liners, about 2/3 full.
Sprinkle with topping. Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Let muffins cool before glazing.
To make the glaze, mix the tablespoons of milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over muffins and let set before eating.

Makes 12 muffins.

I posted this last year, and it was a favorite, so I'm sharing it again. Enjoy!!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Fun with Kids Fashion: Chooze Shoes

 *I was sent a pair of shoes for my review, all opinions of this product are completely my own.

Creativity and uniqueness are encouraged in our house. I am a mom who is not concerned if everything matches, I think mismatching is a fashion statement in itself. My son seems to have inherited my outside the box style and I love that. I have found a company that also feels the same way about choosing to be different with style. Chooze is a company that purposely mismatches its shoes and other items to foster uniqueness in kids. I think the idea is awesome!

This summer my family created a Summer To Do list and one of our items is plant a container garden. We want to have the choice to put in our own soil mixture and plant foods that are organic. Plus how fun is it to eat food you have grown yourself. My son is in charge of watering the plants each day and it has given him a confidence in watching something he nurtures grow. Just like the choice he made with his shoes, to have ones that do not match give him the confidence to wear something unconventional. A kid at the park mentioned his shoes did not match and he smiled so big and said "I know, I love them". The kid smiled back and they both took off running to playing.

I consider myself well informed about kids shoes. I know that flexibility and lightweight are key to shoes for little feet. I would definitely say these shoes are good for both of those. Many casual slip on shoes on the market are too stiff and heavy for kids. Its like they are adult shoes just made smaller. Chooze shoes are made for kids being lightweight and having the flexibility needed for playing at the park and going out and about. They also have an anti microbial removable padded insole and 100% vegan materials. Your child can be comfy and fashionable all summer long by giving them the choice to have Chooze.

The box the shoes come in are called art boxes that are made of recycled cardboard. Your child can color the pictures and designs on the box to make it uniquely there own. My son has decided his will be the new box he stores his crayons and markers in. I look forward to the other summer adventures we will have as we do more of our Summer To Do list and my son will be rocking his cool "Space" shoes as he calls them.

You can order Chooze shoes online directly from them or Nordstrom also carries them. Following them on Facebook and Instagram you can see the newest products and sales. They have just introduced backpacks, lunch boxes and this Fall, leggings.


Starting Summer Fun With My Recipe For Dr Pepper® Cherry Chocolate Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias

My grandchildren have officially started their summer vacations and that is something to celebrate around our house. No more school or schedules, or the many trips in the car everyday to get everyone where they need to be.

That's pretty exciting and we are all looking forward to having a great summer this year. So, to kick off the start to our summer of fun, I baked a cake. I love baking, and I've been hearing so much about baking with soft drinks that I decided to use one of my favorites, Dr Pepper® Cherry.

Well, I'm not exaggerating when I say this cake is absolutely, fabulously delicious!! My daughter and I both looked at each other in shock when we first tasted it. The chocolate is so intensified, with the hint of cherry in it, and I just love it. This recipe is a keeper, and I'll be making it again soon for a family member's birthday that is coming up.

Summertime fun means buying our favorite treats and drinks to have on hand. While I was shopping at Walmart, I thought I would surprise everyone with some  SNICKERS® Ice Cream Bars, Dr Pepper® Cherry, M&M's® Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, and some Skittles®.

If you'd like a chance to win a $100 Walmart e-gift card, be sure and enter the contest below. What a fun shopping trip that would be if you won!

Share a Little Funshine Sweepstakes

I enjoy making cakes for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions. I do think it's very much worth the effort of making a cake from scratch.

My grandchildren were super excited that I was making a cake to celebrate the start of their summer vacation, and I know I'm making a memory with them. Even though they are young, I know they won't forget this amazing cake and the day I made it for them.

This recipe is pretty easy to follow, but I do have a couple of things I want to emphasize. First, make sure you use a high quality cocoa powder because the chocolate flavor is so intense and you want it to be the best it can be.

Only let the Dr Pepper Cherry, cocoa powder, butter and sugar get hot enough to melt the butter, you don't want it to get too hot or boil. It has to cool down so that the eggs can be added, and you don't want the eggs to cook in a hot mixture.

And I did use canned frosting for this cake, which tasted great on it. With three little ones asking over and over when the cake was going to be done, I was happy to skip having to take the time to make frosting.

Recipe for Dr Pepper Cherry Chocolate Cake


 2 cups Dr Pepper Cherry
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

2 containers white frosting
1 jar Maraschino cherries, rinsed and dried
white sugar sprinkles (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease or use cooking spray on two 9-inch round cake pans.
In a medium saucepan, heat the Dr Pepper, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy–do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans about 30 minutes, then carefully run a thin spatula around the edges, then invert the cake onto a cake plate.
Frost layers, then put the cherries on top of the finished cake. Sprinkle with white sugar sprinkles if desired.

Of course when summer rolls around, I can't forget about our sweet dog, Chewy. He is very much a member of the family and deserves his own favorites, too.

I like buying him Pedigree Dentastix® Original and Pedigree Dentastix® Beef Flavor, for a treat he loves that also helps with his oral care.

Of course he can't have cake, but he can have a Dentastix® once a day to keep him happy and ready to jump in the car for some summer adventure.

The kids loved the cake, and I scored big Nana points because of how delicious it turned out. My five year old grandson, Liam, will start all-day kindergarten in the fall, and it's sort of bittersweet. They aren't babies anymore, and it's just as hard to see time passing with them as it was with seeing my children growing up.

So I want this summer to be filled with lots of spontaneous fun, family days, games, and favorite things to eat. And this cake got us off to a great start!!

You can find Dr Pepper® Cherry, M&M's® Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, SNICKERS® Ice Cream Bars, Skittles®, Pedigree Dentastix®, and more, all at your local Walmart.

 Click here to receive instant savings on M&M's®, SNICKERS® Ice Cream Bars, Dr Pepper® Cherry, Skittles®, Pedigree Dentastix®! Download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive exclusive content.

I'd love to hear your favorite ideas for making summer FUN!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Copycat Starbucks Lemon Bread Recipe

Lemon is one of my favorite dessert flavors, whether I'm eating out or making one at home. There's just something so good about the tangy fresh flavor of lemons that I really love.

My mom was a champion at making lemon meringue pie, but for some reason I've never made one. It's on my list of recipes to try this year, and of course I'll share it here.

When I'm at Starbucks, I'll often grab a little something to go with my coffee, usually a muffin or slice of something yummy. One of my absolute favorite treats there is the lemon bread. It's so good, always moist and lemony.

I really enjoy making quick breads and pound cakes so I decided to try to make a copycat version of Starbucks Lemon Bread. Nailed it, because this lemon loaf tastes just as delicious as the coffee giant's does.

It's really so, so good and goes great with coffee, tea or a cold glass of milk. My family really loved this recipe and it was all gone pretty quickly. I plan on making another loaf to take to a school picnic, and some for beach picnics this summer.

Recipe for Copycat Starbucks Lemon Bread


 3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For Glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x5-inch with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
  3. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
  4. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until just combined, don't over mix. Batter will be lumpy.
  6. Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes, or until top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter.
  7. Allow loaf to cool in pan on top of a wire rack for 20 minutes before turning out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.

I also like giving loafs of quick bread as gifts, and tired with pretty paper and a ribbon, they make wonderful end of the school year presents. It's a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for teachers, office staff, or someone special at your child's school. And I don't know anyone who doesn't love food gifts.