Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Time for New Year’s Resolutions


I am completely not into New Year’s Resolutions. You are probably wondering “why are you talking about new year’s resolutions a month after you’re supposed to make them?” Well it’s simply because I decided I did want to do something meaningful in 2014…I just don’t think it’s beneficial to try to do that on January 1st. Why not give yourself a month to adjust to the fact that it is a whole new year? Or maybe that’s just the procrastinator in me…or the fact that 2014 did not start out so great! In any case, better late than never!

Last year I set out to try to make myself a better person overall…I didn’t really set any specific goals, but I think I did pretty good with this. In 2013: I started grad school. I lost 25 pounds (let’s not count the fact that I gained back 10 between November and now!). I made some internal changes to have a more positive outlook and be a more pleasant and happy person. I worked to improve my communication skills (is this a job application?). I attempted to be a better wife. Some days were better than others, but I have to say I did show personal improvement…and even though there may have been days and even weeks and months that I reverted back to my old ways, I did not beat myself up about it or let it get me down. I just brushed it off and got back on the horse.

Enjoying a cinnamon apple martini @ Bonefish Grill!

Enjoying a cinnamon apple martini @ Bonefish Grill!

So for 2014 I want to continue my self-improvement but I don’t want to set “resolutions” which I will undoubtedly break. I am also a person who struggles with long-term commitment so when I came across some other blog posts that talk about “a month without”, I really liked the idea. (Be sure to check out my page with all 12 months!)

So I decided that starting February 1st (this was supposed to be written & published yesterday…still need some work on that darn procrastination!) I was going to give up one thing each month to improve my health and well-being. Most of the things I chose have to do with my terrible eating habits and poor nutrition. I am hopeful that the great feeling giving up my vices provides me after 30 days will ultimately lead me to cut down dramatically. The end result will hopefully be an overall healthier me I’ll be able to control myself better and not over do it with my favorite things (which are mostly bad for me!).

You see I’ve accepted a few things in 2013 that I will continue to follow in the years to come. I’m sure many of you may already know these things or follow them. Such things as, there is no such thing as a diet. You must be in the right mental state to lose weight. You must eat healthy normal size portions (I refuse to say “small” because that makes me think of deprivation) and you must eat whole foods. You can still treat yourself once in a while and it is not the end of the world. There is no such thing as a “restricted” food (or drink) so long as you do not over do it! You do not have to join a gym or hop on the crossfit bandwagon to get exercise…you can walk your dog everyday or run around like a lunatic with her in the backyard. You can feel better and less stressed out simply by getting enough sleep and maintaining a positive frame of mind.

So to start off my year of “withouts”, in February I am going a month without alcohol. I assure you this is not because I am an alcky…I enjoy a glass of wine (ok 2 or 3 glasses) with dinner on the weekends or as long as I don’t have work. I also like to try different martini recipes now and then. So this actually won’t be so difficult since I don’t indulge every day (like my #1 addiction…diet coke!).

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I leave you all with this Apple Cinnamon martini recipe. You will need to prepare this in advance, since it takes some time to infuse the vodka with the apples and cinnamon. I left mine sit for about a week, but within 3 days or so you will get a good flavor. Just remember the longer the better, but be careful that your apples don’t start to disintegrate.

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Apple Cinnamon Martini

Apple Cinnamon Infused Vodka

  • 1 bottle of good quality vodka (I used SKYY)
  • 3-4 apples, cored and sliced thin (I used my mandolin to get them really thin)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

            Divide the sliced apples between two large jars, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Add 1 cinnamon stick to each jar. Pour the vodka evenly into the jars. Seal. Let sit in a cool dark place for 3-7 days.  Strain vodka into a container and enjoy.

Apple Cinnamon Martini

  • 3 oz. Apple Cinnamon Infused Vodka
  • 1 oz. Honey Simple Syrup
  • Splash Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • Ice

         Fill a shaker with ice. Add all ingredients, shake well and pour. Top glass with a slice of apple.

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Chocolate Cake Martini


Apparently flavored vodka is all the rage right now and so I picked up a bottle of Pinnacle Cake Vodka after seeing some drink recipes on Pinterest. Unfortunately I didn’t look at those recipes carefully enough because I really didn’t have any of the other required liquors to make them. So I just ended up improvising…

Chocolate goes with cake right?? Of course!!! So here is a really quick easy and very tasty martini recipe for your Saturday night (or any other night for that matter ;)!).

Chocolate Cake Martini (Serves 1)

2 oz. Pinnacle Cake Flavored Vodka

2 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liquorer

1 splash Half & Half

Chocolate Syrup (optional)

Ice

Drizzle chocolate syrup around the inside of a martini glass.

In a shaker, add the ice and all the other ingredients. Shake for at least 30 seconds and pour into prepared glass.

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Slimmed Down Sensation: Cadbury Creme Egg Martini


For those of you who celebrate Easter, there are probably many of you who have been slaving away preparing the food for Easter Dinner tomorrow or getting the kids’ baskets ready. So today’s post is a yummy adult beverage for you to indulge in. Put the kids to bed, kick off your shoes, put your feet up and sip on this creamy martini as a reward for all of your hard work.

For those of you who are like me and did not have to do any Easter preparations…well who needs an excuse to have a martini!

I love Cadbury Eggs and so when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. Of course, it called for too many bad (but oh so good…”cream” for instance) ingredients, so I decided to make it a “Slimmed Down Sensation.” And you can trust me when I tell you…this is sensational!!

Now, because I didn’t have the liquor listed in the original recipe (Bailey’s Caramel & Crème De Cacao) I decided to improvise with what I had. If you’re making this for others or you don’t care about calories, you can always use regular caramel syrup, regular chocolate syrup and light cream (some people just aren’t a fan of sugar-free and low fat ingredients…go figure!). The Weight Watchers Points Plus value for this cocktail is only 6 points!

Now, here is the big question….Does it really taste like a Cadbury Crème Egg? Unfortunately I’d have to say no, but it does taste very similar to the Cadbury Caramel Eggs. I’m not a huge fan of these as I feel the need to remain loyal to the original creme egg. However, it really really tastes good and goes well with the little Cadbury mini crème eggs that I used to garnish my martini glass! 😉

No matter, it definitely tastes like all those delicious chocolate goodies that the Easter Bunny likes to drop in our baskets! I may have to rename this for next year, but I am just drawing a blank right now. Those of you who try it I’d love to know your suggestions or modifications to make it actually taste like the Cadbury Creme Eggs.

One last thought…if you try this and think it has too strong of a caramel flavor you can decrease the caramel syrup to only 1 tbsp. and increase the half & half to 3 tbsp. I tried this as well in an effort to make it taste more like a Cadbury Egg and both tasted good, but I preferred the one with more caramel flavor.

I never thought I’d get to a point in my life where I’m enjoying Easter Martini’s instead of chocolate bunnies…but hey, I guess you need to grow up sometime!

Slimmed Down Sensation: Cadbury Crème Egg Martini (Makes 1 serving; WW Points Plus = 6)

Source: SheKnows

Ice

1.5 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 tbsp. Fat Free Half & Half

1 tbsp. Hershey’s Lite Chocolate Syrup, plus more for glass

2 tbsp. Sugar Free Caramel Syrup (ex: Torani or DaVinci)

1 mini Cadbury crème egg

Put all ingredients into a shaker. Shake until well combined and pour into a martini glass. Garnish rim of glass with Mini Cadbury Egg and Chocolate Syrup, if desired.

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So Refreshing: Tropical Fruit Slush Slimmed Down


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The past few days have been warm & sunny and I’ve just been reveling in the glorious weather. Hence the reason I missed two days of posting! So in honor of this summer preview I bring you a quick & easy drink recipe. It is great for an afternoon treat or with the addition of a little vodka a great low-cal drink option for a party or barbecue. It is also a great base recipe so the possibilities are endless as to how you want to make it. Try out different types of fruit and different types of sugar free drink mixes and you’ll always have new & creative combinations. I originally tried this out when I saw a drink recipe on pinterest that called for frozen peaches, lemonade & sprite. I’ve tried lots of combos since then…but I’ve included my favorite for this post.
Can you guess the best part about this drink recipe? Aside from the natural sugar in the fruit, it is virtually sugar free….making it 0 WW points! Of course if you add alcohol you’ll end up with a 4-5 point cocktail, but it totally beats those high-calorie sugary drinks they serve in restaurants and bars. Plus, if you’re picky like me and you’re not a big fan of fruit, this is a good way to sneak it into your diet. 🙂

Tropical Fruit Slush
1 cup frozen mixed fruit (I use peaches, strawberries, pineapples & mangoes)
6-8 ice cubes
1 packet Kool-Aid Sugar Free drink mix, Lemon Berry
4 oz. water
4 oz. diet lemon-lime soda (Sprite Zero)
2 oz. Rum or Vodka (optional)

Mix the Kool-Aid drink mix with the water and add to blender. Add all other ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

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