Frugal Family Tree

Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Brownies and Recipe

Saint Patrick's Day is on Friday but I just couldn't wait to make something green. I love brownies, and so do my grandchildren, so I made these to share with them.

Here is one of my favorite brownie recipes, and it is super easy to make. The recipe makes a big pan, enough for a potluck, or hungry grandchildren :)

Recipe for Quick and Easy Brownies


2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnut halves (optional)


Melt the butter or margarine and mix all ingredients in the order given.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes in a greased 9x13 pan.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe For Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Do you like macaroons?

I love them, especially if they are dipped in chocolate. I came across this super easy recipe for making some.

These are perfect for an everyday cookie to keep in the cookie jar, or fancy enough to put in a pretty package and give as a gift. I'll be giving some at Easter for sure.

The recipe calls for very few ingredients, so use the best available. I buy the sweetened coconut from the bulk foods section of my grocery store. It's much fresher than the coconut in packages.

You can also use white, or milk chocolate to dip the macaroons in. I used dark chocolate this time.

Recipe for Chocolate Dipped Macaroons


1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces dark, white, or milk chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, coconut, and salt. Add condensed milk and vanilla; stir until well combined.

Drop batter by tablespoonful, 1 inch apart, onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until just golden on bottoms.
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. When cookies are cool, dip top halves into melted chocolate. Let stand until set.

Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It's Just a Shirt

~Post by Laura

It's just a shirt is what I tell myself as I throw out a 8 year old t-shirt, just an article of clothing, no big deal, until my husband sees it in the trash and remarks, "You threw out your Peeps shirt !?!?"

Then the no holding back waterfall of tears start streaming down my face.

In reality it really is just a shirt but it's symbolism is deeply rooted in my path of Motherhood. I bought the shirt about 8 years ago because its silliness was so ridiculous I liked how it made me laugh. Its a brown shirt that says "chillin with my peeps" and an Easter Peeps candies on it. I do not really know why it made me laugh so much but it did.

I wore that shirt through my pregnancy, to doctors visits alone since my husband could not come from surgeries he had, in the waiting room at UCSF at 6 months pregnant waiting for my husband to come out of his final surgery.  I remember being up in the middle of the night feeding my son wearing my Peeps tshirt, laughing to myself that my newborn is one of my peeps now. Over the years it became my comfy go to shirt to lounge around in. When I found out I was pregnant again I was wearing that brown Peeps tshirt again, it was a relaxing day at home and I seriously thought no way was I pregnant but when the test showed up positive I thought now this shirt will be my lucky shirt.

After 2 months went by I lost the pregnancy to miscarriage. It was a very sad day and I remember blowing my nose on that Peeps shirt as I wept in my bathroom and after running out of Kleenex I reached into the laundry basket and grabbed the first thing I touched.

A few years went by and my brown Peeps shirt survived all the food spilled on it by my toddler, the swimming in our backyard pool since I was too self-conscious  to not wear a tshirt over my bathing suit and the countless times it had been washed.

Flash forward to about 2 years ago when my husband and I decided we would try again to expand our family. I got pregnant right away and was so happy for the blessing to provide my son the sibling he always wanted. I wore my Peeps shirt to my doctors visit to confirm my pregnancy and jokingly called it my favorite maternity shirt. I was so happy, so elated to be pregnant, I told my family, my co-workers, my customers, it was a wonderful feeling.

Just as I was almost 3 months pregnant I had to call out from work and rush to the ER, I had spotting and the knowledge from my last failed pregnancy had me frozen with fear. My son was scared that we were in the emergency room so I had my husband and our son go home. It was so hard to be there alone, I had none of my "peeps" with me.

I remember just sitting there alone and numb, all the bright lights, the sounds of beeping medical machines, I felt so doomed. The ER doctor looked up from the screen she was reading with a smile and said congrats there are twins in there. For a moment I had joy, excitement and then the realization that it meant I was going to lose two precious babies and not just one. I asked all the questions I could to give myself some sense of hope that it was just spotting and I was okay.

I was told to go home and rest, after all it was Mothers Day weekend and I was a Mom. I was back 2 days later and they confirmed I lost both the babies. Many tear filled days wearing my favorite comfy tee and not getting out of bed followed. Having my son hug me and remind me that babies go to heaven made me even more so grateful for the gift he is.

It's been about 6 months since I threw that tshirt away with all the happy and sad memories attached to it. I wanted to move on from all the pain and expectations that it represented to me. My husband and I have been discussing trying again to expand our family and I am looking at it with the same hope and joy as always, just without my  Peeps shirt, I don't really even like Peeps that much anyways.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Healthy Smoky Veggie Chili

It's really amazing how many kinds of chili recipes you can find nowadays. I usually make mine with ground beef because that's always been the way my family liked it the best. Once in awhile I would make it with chicken, and that was always yummy too.

But I have been looking for ways to eat healthier, and get out of the habit of eating meat on an almost daily basis. I'm sure you know what a struggle it is to change your eating habits, especially when you are trying to lose weight. And I have to admit that since I've moved to Nevada this last summer, I have put on quite a bit of weight. I don't even feel healthy at this weight, and my clothes have become way too tight. Time to do something about it, and so eating healthier is a big goal for me this year.

I picked up this amazing magazine from Better Homes and Gardens called Eat Well Lose Weight. I love it because it's filled with amazing low calorie recipes and information about healthy eating. There's so many recipes I want to make from it, starting with this great tasting veggie chili.

It passed the taste test with my son-in-law who is a real chili lover. In fact, he ate three bowls of it and said it was delicious. I love it too, and am going to make another pot and divide it into small freezer bags to have for lunch on the days I work as a nanny.

I did change a couple things in the recipe, I substituted black beans for the Great Northern Beans, and added a small can of tomato paste. I always try to add tomato paste to a recipe if I can because it's such an added health benefit. I think it made this chili even better, but the chili is just as wonderful if you make it according to the original recipe.

Recipe for Smoky Veggie Chili


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can Great Northern beans (or black beans), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
sour cream/shredded cheese optional


In a large sauce pan (or Dutch oven) heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet pepper and white onion; cook 4-5 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add beans and chili powder; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in next 4 ingredients (through cocoa powder).

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with toppings of choice, sour cream, cheese, green onion, or additional chili powder.

Makes 4 servings (1 1/2 cups each).

-Post by Patricia


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blackberry Yogurt Muffins

I haven't made the usual New Year's resolution this year to lose weight because it hasn't ever worked for me. After the first few days, and usually a whole bunch of salad, my resolution would fall by the wayside and I would be back to my old habits again.

Of course I now know that losing weight starts with a decision, a decision to change your life for the better in the long run, not just for a few days in the beginning of a new year. And so my decision has started with finding and making new recipes that are healthier and lower calorie, but still taste great. Because let's face it, if it doesn't taste good, we aren't going to eat it.

Which brings me to this recipe for Blackberry Yogurt Muffins, which are delicious and packed with good-for-you ingredients. These muffins include fruit, yogurt, oats, whole wheat flour and a few other simple ingredients. You can whip them up in the morning in a flash, and enjoy them all week long for breakfast, in your lunch, or as a snack.

You can also use different kinds of fruit in them, too. I have made them with blueberries and pears and they were all equally delicious. This recipe makes 12 muffins. When I made them with blueberries, I made a double batch and froze the second batch in the freezer for convenience. They defrost beautifully and are especially good if you pop them in the microwave for a few seconds afterwards.

These muffins are just plain yummy, and having one that is good for me and lower in calories really lets me fight the urge to indulge in those high calorie desserts that I love so very much. Every day the decision is mine to make, what I will or won't eat. And every day I'll keep trying my best.

Recipe for Blackberry Yogurt Muffins


1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup blackberries, chopped


In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, yogurt, oil, and egg. Beat well with an electric mixer until combined, let stand 5 minutes.
Sift in flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to blend. Fold in fruit. Fill paper muffin cups in muffin pan 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

-Post by Patricia


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. It's nice to be back here on the blog, I must say. I didn't mean to be gone so long, but my family and I were busy with guests visiting, the usual Christmas madness, and then just taking some time to relax a bit.

Since this is our first year of living in Nevada, we didn't really know what to expect as far as how cold the weather would be in the wintertime. My son and his wife have lived here for five years, and they kept telling us to expect a very cold and windy season. But when you move here in July and it's 110 degrees, it's kind of hard to believe.

It turns out they were definitely right, it's cold here in the dessert. I've been wearing my heavy jackets and boots and scarves most of the time. And it's soup weather for sure, so I've been busy in the kitchen making big batches of our favorite soups to enjoy.

I just recently made this Roasted Cauliflower Soup for the first time, and it's now one of my favorites. The recipe is very easy to make, and I really like the flavor of the cauliflower after it's been roasted in the oven with olive oil and salt and pepper. The cream gives it a rich and velvety texture, and if you are a fan of cream soups like I am, I hope you'll give this recipe a try.

I started making my own croutons with cookie cutters, and the stars are some of my favorite shapes. My grandchildren love them, and it makes them want to try new soups just so they can top them with stars, hearts, and flowers. Just use your favorite bread and cut out the shapes with small cookie cutters. Then put them on a cookie sheet and place in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes, turning once at 4 minutes.

Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup


4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small chunks
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
additional olive oil for drizzling
bread slices for making croutons (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cauliflower pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until edges are brown, turning once, about 18-20 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add roasted cauliflower to onions, then add chicken stock.

Bring to boil. Let boil 8 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, add heavy cream and stir.

Puree soup with immersion blender ( or regular blender). Drizzle lightly with addition olive oil, sprinkle with pepper, and top with croutons, if desired.

*Recipe adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine.

-Post by Patricia


Friday, December 23, 2016

Butterscotch Spice Cookies

I spent today making the last of the Christmas cookies to be boxed up to give to family and friends. I'm surprised that Christmas has gotten here so soon, it seems like just yesterday I was putting away the extra turkey and fixings from Thanksgiving.

These Butterscotch Spice Cookies are a cinch to make and smell and taste yummy. My granddaughter loved helping me make them because it's kind of like playing with play dough. You roll the dough into a ball and then roll it in powdered sugar. What 5 year doesn't love that?

Recipe for Butterscotch Spice Cookies 


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until combined. Stir in butterscotch chips.
Roll scoops of dough to make a ball, then roll in powdered sugar. Place dough 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets, Remove and let finish on wire racks.

Makes about 36 cookies.

-Post by Patricia


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Handmade Jewelry from Around the World: Novica Review and Giveaway #handmade4life

*I was provided complimentary items to review for this post. The opinions expressed are my own.

I have enjoyed Novica products for a few years now and I always love to support their artist with my purchases. I like that Novica is a company that brings together artist from all over the world to be able to sell their products online. I have many great products from Novica that are from Mexico including jewelry and kitchenware. This time shopping I wanted to try a different region of the world for my jewelry. I found an artist in Thailand that had beautiful jewelry, great reviews and sterling silver. I have sensitive skin and have to purchase silver or gold jewelry. Her pieces are affordable and light weight. I wear jewelry to work everyday and I am constantly needing new pieces to wear.

I had a hard time selecting which pieces to select for my review since Aoy has many beautiful items. I wear my hair down often at work so I decided on a pair of dangle earrings, Handcrafted Sterling Silver Dangle Earrings with Spirals Whirl. I love the movement of the silver balls and the whimsy of the spiral. They are very lightweight, somewhat delicate making them easy to wear for a full work day. They are very cheerful to wear and I enjoying sharing that I found them on Novica.

I have learned over the years necklaces for me have to be versatile. I have a few necklaces I have only wore a few times because they are so very specific in their style and I knew this time I needed to make a more practical choice. I wanted to have another piece of jewelry from Aoy in Thailand so I selected the Sterling Silver Pendant Necklace, Filigree Moon. I have received many compliments from my customers at work on the filigree motifs in my crescent moon necklace. I like that the pendant feels sturdy and well made, the ball chain is a bit fragile but I have other chains I can put the moon on if I need to.

My jewelry was handmade by a woman from Thailand who is lovingly called Aoy. Here is some information on the artist:

"At our workshop, we still work with our hands to craft our jewelry collections, because we believe it is our duty to preserve this ancient art form."
"Sawasdee ka! My name is Rudklow Patanaanunwong, but everyone calls me Aoy. I come from a warm family environment from Bangkok, though I am an only child. I hold Bachelor and Master Degrees in Economy from Northeastern University."

"My intention after graduation was to work for the Bank of Thailand, but I changed my mind when I met my husband. We got married and I moved to Chiang Mai, where my husband has a silversmith workshop. I began to work there to help him."

I am happy to share that we are hosting a giveaway for a $35 Gift Code to for one lucky reader. There are so many great items at Novica, more than jewelry there are gifts, housewares, clothing, bags, art and more.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
 *Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Dec. 22 2016 and ends on January, 6 at 12:01 am PST. Winner will be emailed and has 48 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.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Tart

Do you adore chocolate like I do? Maybe that's a silly question because it seems like everyone is in love with chocolate. Whether it's cake, or brownies, or candy, it seems like a real favorite with all my friends and family. Especially this time of year.

We've had quite a few people over for dinner lately, which is fun for me, because I love cooking and baking. And planning menus actually gets me excited! I'm no Martha Stewart for sure, but I do enjoy entertaining and everything it entails.

I needed a dessert last week for after dinner, and I really wanted something chocolaty. I had had this recipe for Flourless Chocolate Espresso Tart that a friend had written down for me, but I hadn't tried it yet. It's surprisingly simple and only requires six ingredients.

Well let me tell you, it turned out delicious. So rich and chocolaty, with the flavor of espresso coming through perfectly. Yum, is all I can say. Do use top quality ingredients if you can, because it really does make a difference.

If you want to impress guests or just indulge in your love of chocolate, I highly recommend you make this tart. I'm going to make it again on Christmas Eve to go with a couple of other desserts for when we have family and friends coming over. Oh, and if you like, you can add a little whipped cream on top to make it extra special.

Recipe for Flourless Chocolate Espresso Tart


4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoon instant espresso
whipped cream if desired


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan.

In the top pan of a double broiler, melt the chocolate over (but not touching) simmering water. Scrape the melted chocolate into a large bowl, add the sugar and melted butter, and stir to mix well. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift in the cocoa powder and espresso and stir until the batter is smooth and well blended.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the top begins to form a fudge-like crust, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Dust tart with cocoa powder, and top with whipped cream if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

-Post by Patricia


Friday, December 16, 2016

National Geographic Kids The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines Review and Giveaway #natgeokids #momsmeet

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

National Geographic Kids The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines have been wonderful additions to our home library. Being a homeschool family these are a valuable resource to us for facts and info that can lead to more learning. I am big on book learning first then using the internet to further explore on ideas. Books in hand make a difference for me and my family. I grew up in a house full of books and am grateful for it.

The Book of Heroes has been my son's favorite. My son loves to read about the men who have shaped the world and imagine himself as his own version of a hero. They even have a section on courageous kids to inspire little ones. This book has sparked his interest in learning more about people making a difference right now and in the past who have made the world better. I love reading this with him. We did not read the book cover to cover but instead have been skipping around chapters letting him pick what we discuss. The books include people from history and others that are also very relevant with current events. The layout of the book and colorful images really help keep kids interested.

My son had a few favorite parts of The Book of Heroes including Chapter 3: Game Changers. It is about men in sports, he loved this chapter. The inspiring stories of athletes such as Jessie Owens, Jim Abbott, Michael Jordan and Tony Hawk were fun to read. Inspiring Minds, Chapter 7, has been my son's top favorite chapter. He loves science and space. The list of 5 great geeks included his favorite game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who created Mario. Heroes of mythology, legends like Robin Hood and King Arthur, heroes in movies like Harry Potter and Star Wars, the book is full of so many diverse categories and people.

Topics on political heroes, human rights leaders, so many interesting facts and other people I had not heard of like the story of Chiune Sugihara a worker at the Japanese consulate in Lithuania during World War 2 who made thousands of visas for refugees to flee from Europe. I am a huge history lover and I loved reading the short stories of everyday people being heroes.

I liked how The Book on Heroes mentions notable women heroines in history as did The Book of Heroines mention men in the book too. A good blend of historical facts from men and women. Even heroic animal stories are shared in both of the books. My son loved the animal stories so much!

The Book of Heroines was fabulous to me, I wish I would have owned a book like this as a little girl. To see how influential and world changing some women can be is inspiring. My son was not as interested in the "girl book" as he put it, but at 7 years old I would expect him to be in his girls are silly stage. He did however enjoy me sharing some of the cool stories and pictures with him from the ones I selected to read.

He recognized Wonder Woman, Hermione Granger aka Emma Watson, Mulan, Oprah and a few other women and their stories but after reading the book I know there are so many other stories to share with him. Since he likes sports he thought Chapter 2 Gritty Girls was cool. He recognized the Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky from the Rio games we watched over the summer.

Heroes for Hire and Heroines on the Job were both chapters on heroes in the work force and were perfect chapters to read for our Social Studies work for the week. We have been learning about workers in the community and the difference of services and goods. It was great to have outside source book that was fun and on topic from what we were leaning that week. I have a few others chapters planned to use as an aid to our school learning.

National Geographic Kids The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines are for sale at Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and at National Geographic Store. They would make a perfect Christmas present for the kids in your life. My son loves them and so do I. The facts and stories shared are fascinating and a part of all of our history. In our family a hero is someone who stands up for what is right and makes decisions based on love My son looks up to my husband as his first hero and I could not be more happy about that!

According to the book the world has many meanings and many people can be called heroes in real life or fiction, in these books, heroes tend to share:

7 stupendous qualities:

• Heroes are courageous

• Heroes do the right thing

• Heroes have compassion

• Heroes are competent

• Heroes are inspiring

• Heroes never quit

• Heroes leap to action

National Geographic Kids is a great source of knowledge for your family. You can visit their website for games, videos, fun facts and more.

You can win a copy of both the National Geographic Kids The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines here on our website in the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts December 16, 2016 and ends on December 31, 2016 at 12:01 am PST. Winner will be emailed and has 48 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.
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