Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Easy & Delicious Chocolate Frosting


This is a really easy chocolate frosting and it tastes great. It is also great for when you are “In a Pinch” like the other night when Hubby called and said he was going to pick up our goddaughter so she could stay over…could I possibly make a birthday cake for her?? Of course I did…in no time at all. I hadn’t made this frosting in a while so I forgot how good it was and especially how easy!

If you have trouble with the consistency, simply add milk if it is too thick or add more powdered sugar if it is too thin, but be careful…if you add too much sugar it will be too sweet. If this happens, just add more cocoa powder a little bit at a time until you get it to your taste preference.

If you are really in a hurry soften the butter in the microwave and combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix it all up…you don’t even need a mixer! I always use my mixer because I think the consistency is better, but if you are really in a hurry you could definitely just whisk away! 😉

This makes a TON of frosting, so you may want to cut the recipe in half. This is more than enough for a two layer cake (2 round 9″ cake pans). Don’t be alarmed by the amount of butter…it’s definitely not healthy in the least but it tastes awesome. My theory when it comes to cakes & frosting…might as well do it right. Later this week I’ll share some Slimmed Down versions of cake & frosting for those of you who are watching what you eat…but ultimately there is nothing like the real thing!

Quick & Easy Chocolate Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. In a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla. Then add the cocoa a little bit at a time until well combined.
  3. Add the milk and mix until light and fluffy.
2 Comments »

Girl Scout Cookie Fix & Why Slow Weight Loss Wins


Today was my Week 7 weigh-in with a loss of another 1.5 lbs. bringing my total loss so far to 13.5 lbs. Even though I strive to lose 2 lbs/week that has not been happening…and after indulging in some Panera Bread (why do they offer a ‘side of bread’ when you order a sandwich? I swear I wanted to say ‘apple’ but a craving for refined carbs took over!!) on Monday I thought for sure I’d only lose another pound so I was pretty excited to see that extra 1/2 lb. on the scale.

In last week’s weigh-in post I mentioned that it was probably time for me to start exercising….so some of you may be wondering how that is going….well it’s NOT!!! What can I say? I’ve been so worn down and have had allergy-related migraines for the past 3 days so it’s been a struggle just to make it to work each day. Hopefully I’ll start to feel better and I’ll have no more excuses! And hopefully that will help me get back to 2 pounds per week.

Even if it doesn’t….I am ok with that. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself. I read this article “Why Slow Weight Loss Wins” on the Weight Watcher’s website and it is a nice little reminder how losing weight too quickly will pretty much guarantee that you’ll put it back on. I can definitely relate to this because I’ve been through many diets and with a lot of them I lost pretty fast, but yet here I am back to my larger self….so obviously something went wrong. Maybe all those cliche’s are right…”slow and steady wins the race”, “one pound is better than no pounds”??

Anyway…on to the good stuff: Girl Scout Cookies! I am proud to say I survived Girl Scout Cookie Season unharmed…even though everywhere I turned there were cute little girls outside of stores asking me to buy and my co-workers had boxes perched on their desks…I did not eat any!! What is in those things anyway? Some form of Girl Scout crack?!?!

My favorite kind is Thin Mints and so when I came across Edy’s Light Thin Mint Ice Cream (Available for a limited time only!) at the grocery store I grabbed it and it tastes awesome!

I pair it up with Fiber One Brownies  for a “brownie sundae” that is low-fat, low-cal heaven! Have you tried these brownies? I was a little skeptical at first, but they are only 2 WW PointsPlus so I gave them a try and was blown away by how good they taste. They are sooooo chocolatey!!

So here is my recipe for a quick and tasty snack with a total WW Points Plus value of 4! Enjoy

Thin Mint Ice Cream/Fiber One Brownie Sundae(Makes 1 serving; 4 WW PP)

1 Fiber One Fudge Brownie

1/4 cup Edy’s Thin Mint Light Ice Cream

  1. Unwrap brownie and place in a bowl. Scoop out 1/4 cup of ice cream, place on top of brownie and indulge!!!

 

4 Comments »

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ahh, good old chocolate chip cookies. So many different types and I still have yet to find one I don’t like. Crispy & thin, moist & chewy, cake-like…I could go on and on.

This is my go to recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They are pretty thin so sometimes if I’m making them for other people I’ll add a little more flour. The recipe below makes a thin cookie, crispy around the edges, and chewy in the middle. I love cookies like this!

Chocolate chip cookies should be something everyone knows how to bake. And although I like to try out other recipes, you should always have your favorite “go to” recipe for these cookies. If you can produce a good chocolate chip cookie, you’ll make a lot of people happy!

Of course, I love many types of cookies, but I have to say that chocolate chip is by far my favorite. What are your favorite cookies? How do you like your chocolate chip cookies?

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yields 2 dozen cookies)

½ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chocolate chip cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using a mixer, mix the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla extract and egg and mix until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add this a little bit at a time to the mixer. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
2 Comments »

Nailed It! Or maybe not!!


Happy Easter!!!! I am wondering what types of wonderful Easter dishes you all came up with out there. Hubby and I decided to hit up a restaurant this year for Easter Brunch.  It was wonderful….but of course I couldn’t resist making us something special for the day. Since we both love Cadbury Crème Eggs (as mentioned in Saturday’s Post: Cadbury Egg Martini) I thought these cupcakes I found on Pinterest were a cute idea. The cupcakes are from www.mybakingaddiction.com and Jamie, the writer of this blog, tells you to use whatever chocolate cupcake recipe you like.

 Has anyone been seeing these photos on Pinterest?

That is totally what happened to me with these cupcakes!!!

 Here you see the cupcakes from Jamie on www.mybakingaddiction.com

Here you see my cupcakes!!! Oh boy!

I guess this is a good time to disclose a little secret….my food doesn’t always look the greatest…I am horrible at decorating baked goods and even my plating skills are atrocious. I’m slowly getting better…I’ve been practicing especially with the frosting and decorating and Hubby seems to have a good eye when it comes to “plating” dishes, so he is always willing to help out with that. Who doesn’t love a beautiful dessert? But, have you ever picked out the most gorgeously decorated cupcake from a display only to have it taste so-so? At least I can say, my food may not look the prettiest but nine times out of ten it tastes great!  To me, this is what ultimately matters, but as I grow as a cook I am realizing the importance of making my food look pretty.  When something tastes as good as it looks you will always have a perfect “10”!

Anyway, for my cupcakes I used my Devil’s Food go-to recipe…and I can’t remember exactly where it came from but it is a variation of the very popular Hershey’s chocolate cake with the boiling water (you know the one :)) However, since these were strictly for my Hubby (more about my “Slimmed Down” version later!) I decided to make a small batch. I’ve been pretty successful calculating recipes to make only 2-4 cupcakes, but based on how the cupcakes turned out I’d say my math was not 100% accurate (I never was good at math…thought I was finally getting better though?!) The first thing I noticed was that although they were moist, the texture of the cupcake was way too crumbly and they were crumbling all over the place. Instead of the top puffing up they spread out over the baking cup, making a mushroom like shape. Also, they did not turn out as chocolatey as they should have…however this was not such a bad thing because they took on more of a milk chocolate flavor, which went well with the candy theme.  By the time they were ready to be frosted, I just didn’t have the energy or desire to break out my icing bags and so I just tried my best to spread the icing on with a knife…which as you can see did not turn out the greatest.

All in all, however, when it came time to tasting them Hubby gave them a “4” out of 5 rating. He said they still tasted good despite their appearance. The one thing he did mention, however was that they were very sweet. In retrospect I could’ve taken into consideration the fact that Cadbury Crème Eggs are super sweet so it would’ve probably been beneficial to decrease the sugar in the cupcake just a bit. But if you don’t mind very sweet stuff (like me!) then it’s really not a big deal. The icing is just your basic vanilla buttercream and tasted great!

So here are the full recipes for the Devil’s Food Cupcakes & the Vanilla Buttercream. If you’ve got lots of Cadbury Eggs leftover from Easter, you can throw them in the cupcakes like the ones in the pictures.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes (Makes 24 cupcakes)

1 ½ cups unsalted butter

¾ cup cocoa powder

½ cup boiling water

2 ¼ cups sugar

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups cake flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside for later use.
  2. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in vanilla and then add eggs a little bit at a time beating in between each addition until well combined.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Whisk milk into cocoa mixture.
  7. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with the batter.
  9. Bake in the oven 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  11. Frost as desired.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3  cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. heavy cream

  1. With an electric mixer, mix together the sugar and the butter until well blended, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Add cream 1 tbsp. at a time and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, adding more cream if needed to reach desired consistency.
1 Comment »

Milkshake for Dinner!!


That’s right…I ate a milkshake for dinner! No, I don’t feel bad about it….thanks to my Slimmed Down version…a protein shake disguised as a milkshake!

Sometimes I crave ice cream…Cold Stone Creamery…McDonald’s Milkshakes or Wendy’s Frosty or Dairy Queen Blizzard….mmmmm.

Unfortunately I have to face the fact that I am no long 19 years old and giving in to these cravings is a really bad idea.  Especially eating these things as a meal (which in my younger years I’ve been known to do…Ben & Jerry’s for lunch anyone?). When I get these cravings, though, I just really don’t want anything else to eat. A friend of mine who is also a dietician told me once that these are called “food jags” and that this behavior starts in childhood…it is quite common for toddlers…but I guess there are those of us out there that never outgrow it. She blamed it on my parents for giving in to these jags…sorry mom & dad…but hey as long as it’s not my fault and it’s not totally abnormal! I mean, it’s not like I sit around 365 days a year eating ice cream products (wow, I’d probably weigh 700 lbs!!) for every meal. Don’t worry I go through all kinds of jags (it was Lucky Charms a few months back) and I don’t eat the same thing for every meal, even though sometimes I might want to.

Protein shakes are a good meal replacement so by adding a little candy and blending it with ice, I feel like I’m drinking a milkshake. I usually use regular Whoppers, but since it’s Easter I grabbed a bag of seasonal malted milk balls.

If you want to eat it as just a snack you can always omit the protein powder. The cottage cheese and milk makes a great base so the sky’s the limit when it comes to different flavors.

So how about you? Do you still have food jags? What is your biggest weakness when it comes to food?

 

“Whopper” (Malted Milk Ball) Protein Shake (WW Points Plus = 8)

1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp. malted milk powder

1 cup ice

1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

3-4 malted milk balls candy, crushed (or 6 “Whoppers Mini Robbin Eggs”)

1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder

2 tbsp. Splenda

  1. Place the candy in a small ziploc bag and seal. Gently crush the candy with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Set aside.
  2. Add all other ingredients to a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  3. Stir in the crushed candy.
  4. Serve and enjoy.
Leave a comment »

Chocolate Nutella Cookies


So a few weeks ago I finally gave in and bought a little sample pack of Nutella to see what all the hype was about. Even though I was a little scared of it…it turned out to be pretty good. I ended up buying a jar at the grocery store, but it had been sitting in the cupboard unopen for about two weeks. I had seen tons of Nutella recipes and decided cookies would be good. I went to the  Weight Watchers website to find a recipe (thought that would be a good place to start). So my inspiration for this recipe is from the Community Boards on WW which were a thumbprint cookie.

Now, if you’ve made thumbprint cookies before you know that they typically call for egg yolks and that just seemed like to much work for me at the time.  Plus, I didn’t want a huge batch because the last thing I need sitting around the house is cookies! It doesn’t really matter if they are only 1 or 2 WW points plus when you eat 12 by yourself…at one time! So having to reduce the ingredients in the recipe meant I had to figure out the egg yolk…and I just didn’t want to do it, so I used egg beaters instead because that was the easiest and quickest way to get the amount of egg I needed. I knew this would change the consistency of the cookie, but I thought why not be a little experimental.  Lastly, I was not really in the mood to be patient with having to refrigerate the dough and then roll the cookies into balls…I just wanted to get it all done at once. So I just scooped them out into the best round shape I could and made an indentation in the middle with a spoon.

When they came out of the oven they looked nothing like thumbprint cookies, but they looked and smelled good, at least.

Once they cooled and I was able to test them out I was pleasantly surprised. They were really rich and chocolatey and the Nutella on top added a nice dimension to the flavor.

Chocolate Nutella Cookies (Makes 15 cookies; WW Points Plus = 2/cookie)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp. refrigerated egg substitutes (i.e. Egg Beaters)

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

7 1/2 tsp. Nutella

  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt with a whisk.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and Egg Beaters and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until well combined.
  5. Scoop cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pressing down in the middle with a spoon to make a small indentation.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool. When cookies are completely cooled top each one with a 1/2 tsp. nutella.

 

2 Comments »

Celebrate Good Times with Slimmed Down Milkshakes


Today is a good day. “Why?” you ask. Well I’ve lost 10 pounds over the last four weeks! Only 30 more to go! Initially, when I weighed-in this morning, all I could focus on was that I only lost 1 pound this past week. I felt totally disappointed because I had been losing 2 to 2.5 per week. But then I told myself to get a grip and look at the big picture. I then realized I had lost 10 lbs. in one month, thus making me feel much much happier.

So to celebrate, today’s Slimmed Down Sensations are some easy and tasty milkshake recipes.

No celebration is complete without cake & ice cream, right?! I had been seeing cake batter this and cake batter that all over Pinterest and did an internet search on my own to find a cake batter milkshake. The one that looked the best to me was this one from Betty Crocker.

Of course, it had way too many calories for me to be able to enjoy and still stick to my diet, so I played around with it and came up with the version in this post.

And speaking of cake…has anyone tried the special edition Birthday Cake Oreo?

As soon as I saw them I knew I had to try them, but I put it off because I am trying to be a good girl and Oreo’s are not only one of my favorites but are one of my biggest weaknesses. To have a pack of Oreo’s in the house would not be pretty (could probably eat half the pack in one sitting, at least!). Today, however, I gave in and decided to pick up a pack anyway. These are 2 WW Points Plus per cookie, but soooo worth it!  Sooo goood!

I already make an Oreo milkshake, which is basically made the same as the Cake Batter Milkshake with a few minor modifications. Decided I would just substitute one birthday cake Oreo for the reduced fat one I normally would use. This bumped up the WW Points Plus from 4 to 5, but still not bad for such a yummy treat!

So here’s to shedding my first 10 lbs!  Yummmmmmmm!!!

Slimmed Down Cake Batter Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. vanilla (yellow or white) cake mix

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (i.e. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients except for sprinkles in a blender and blend until smooth and ice is crushed.
  2. Pour into a glass and stir in half of the sprinkles.
  3. Top with whipped cream and remaining sprinkles.
  4. Enjoy!

Slimmed Down Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Reduced Fat Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Slimmed Down Birthday Cake Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 5)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Birthday Cake Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
1 Comment »

Irish for A Day: Lucky Charm Cupcakes


Baking has always been something I’ve been pretty good at. Not to toot my own horn, but I can make some yummy baked goods (making them look pretty, however, is a different story). I haven’t been doing much baking lately because when I do bake all my willpower goes out the window and I will indulge in a cupcake (or two or three…but more like 6!)…and why is it that my Hubby will say he’s hungry for cake and then when I make one, he eats two pieces and never touches it again! Which then presents me with only two options 1) throw it away or 2) eat it myself (can’t freeze it because it just doesn’t taste the same)!

Most recipes for cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc. are just way too much for my small family of two. I was always scared to try to scale recipes down since baking is so much more technical than other types of cooking. Eventually, though, I did start “halving” my recipes, but still this was too much of a good thing for only two people. So, I started going even further with my calculations and scaled back to make just enough for two. I’ve never been great at math, nor have I ever liked doing it. So, I cringe when I break out the pencil and the calculator to start making the conversions, but am filled with satisfaction when I’ve done it correctly!

So that’s what I did yesterday. Even though I am not Irish and typically don’t do anything to observe St. Patrick’s Day, I kept seeing recipes for Lucky Charms cupcakes, and I thought I would try them out. I really didn’t find any recipes on the web that were all that special so I ended up using “The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake” recipe on the “Cupcake Project” website. I considered following the recipe exactly and using real vanilla beans, but it just seemed like a waste of money since I was going to be adding Lucky Charms cereal and didn’t really know how it would turn out. I scaled down the recipe to make only four cupcakes.

To me, baking is pretty straight forward if you can read and follow directions. If you are not someone who bakes a lot make sure you follow the recipe exactly and follow the directions the way they are written. Be careful not to overmix your badder. When baking, be sure not to over bake or your end product will be dry.

For the frosting, I used the recipe recommended on the Cupcake Project site. I again scaled this down to 4 servings and did not use real vanilla beans.

Don’t worry….my willpower held strong yesterday and I only made these beauties for my Hubby.

For myself, I made some “guilt-free Hungry Girl” cupcakes. I used her Vanilla Cupcake Recipe and just added 1/4 cup of Lucky Charms to the batter.  They were ok, but had a strange texture and I felt like you could taste the diet lemon-lime soda….but these are the sacrifices I’m willing to make to get myself ready for bathing suit season! 🙂

One last tip…something that I didn’t come across when looking for the Lucky Charms recipe, but wish someone would have mentioned…would be to add the Lucky Charms that are on top right before serving. After I frosted the cupcakes I added the Lucky Charms to the top and by the time we finished dinner and were ready for the cupcakes, the cereal had turned stale and this definitely took something away from the overall taste.

I hope you enjoy them…even though St. Patty’s Day is over, Lucky Charms are great any day of the year so give them a try!!

Lucky Charms Cupcakes (Makes 4 cupcakes)

Adapted from “The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake”

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup + 3 tbsp. cake flour

1/4 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 large egg (beat egg and divide in half. For more accurate measurement weigh the beaten egg on a food scale and divide in half.)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 tsp. sour cream

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. whole milk

1/4 cup Lucky Charms Cereal

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 4 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt).
  3. Add the butter and beat with a mixer for about 3 minutes. You should end up with a fine crumb like consistency.
  4. In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
  5. Add this to this to the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. Slowly add the milk, mixing on low speed until just combined.
  7. Fold in the Lucky Charms cereal.
  8. Fill cupcake liners about half full.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Place cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting(Makes enough frosting for 4 cupcakes)

Adapted from “Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting”

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. powdered sugar

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. milk

  1. In a mixer, combine the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Add the milk and mix until desired consistency is reached. Add more sugar or milk to adjust the consistency.
  3. Add 2-4 drops of food coloring (green for the Lucky Charms cupcakes) and mix until combined and frosting is green.
Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: