Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

The Last Supper


Just a reminder that I wrote these blog posts back in October but never got around to posting them. I thought it would be good to chronicle my 21 Day Sugar Detox experience for anyone who may be considering it.

October 14, 2014

I am ready.

Tomorrow is the big day. The 21DSD! Hubs has decided to join me in this and after an enormous bill from Whole Foods and bags upon bags of processed and unhealthy foods thrown into the trash we’re ready to go. I’ve created our menus and the preparation has begun.

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I am excited, but know it will be hard because there are some things I just love!!

The things I will miss the most during this time (in order) include:

Diet Coke – oh how I love you! I will miss you so…and don’t take it the wrong way but if this works out, you will never touch these lips again!

diet cokeWine – My weekend indulgence; I love the way you go so well with all things from cheese, to steak, to chocolate, to a good book. Our love affair will probably not end after this, but will be reduced.

wine diet

Ketchup – OMG…I just can’t even! I need ketchup on my eggs!

kethchup

Cereal – You’ve always been there for me when I didn’t feel like cooking dinner. With your sugary flakes and your marshmallow-y goodness.

perfect world

Potatoes – Mashed, fried, baked, hash, you name it…I love it!

potato ninja

Tonight we indulge in our last meal of spaghetti with meat sauce…a big old plate of it. So here is my spaghetti sauce recipe. I usually add ground beef or ground Italian sausage, but it is good without meat too. It is easy and tastes way better than that stuff you buy in a jar! Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Sauce (Modified from this recipe.)

2 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

2 (6 oz.) cans tomato sauce

½ cup water

1 tbsp. honey (or 2 tbsp white sugar)

2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. fennel seed

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp salt (more or less to taste)

¼ tsp. black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft & slightly browned. Add garlic and continue to cook for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours minimum. Remember to stir occasionally!

If not using immediately, allow to cool and refrigerate or freeze.

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Happy Belated New Year!


I hope everyone is having a great 2015 so far….and I hope you’re all sticking to your resolutions. I haven’t made resolutions this year, but rather have extended my goals from 2014 (all of which are going quite well!) and added a few new one’s here and there. One of my main goals is to get back to cooking and blogging! Grad school will be over in just four months so there are no more excuses. I’ve had some posts written but never got around to posting so you can look forward to those in the next few weeks. The end of 2014 was full of positive changes for Hubs and me. We are regularly exercising and eating clean. Most importantly we are feeling great, better than ever before. You can look forward to some delicious recipes made with real food.

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So to kick off the return of my blog here is a quick recipe to make zucchini & carrot noodles with red sauce. I use this product to make the noodles but there are all kinds of contraptions on  the market that you can pick up. You can also just use a julienne slicer if you don’t want to buy another kitchen gadget. If you can, I recommend using organic canned crushed tomatoes or make your own.

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Zucchini & Carrot ‘Noodles’ in Red Sauce

(Makes 2 servings)

1 medium carrot

1/4-1/2 small zucchini

1 tsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup organic canned crushed tomatoes

1-2 tsp. Italian seasoning

salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Peel the zucchini.
  2. Using a spiralizer or julienne cutter make the carrots and zucchini into noodles.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the zucchini & carrots and boil for 1-2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them; you want them to be firm and overcooking will cause them to be mushy. Remove from water and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a pot. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  6. Add sauce to the noodles and serve!

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Grilled Pineapple Sundae with Rum Sauce


This is a really easy and yummy dessert perfect for summer! I don’t even like pineapple, but I always eat this when I make it…it’s just that good (especially the rum sauce). You will impress whoever you make this for and little will they know that it was so simple!

I wish I could take credit for coming up with this on my own but I did read it somewhere. I think it was either in Food Network Magazine or on their website. I just remember seeing it and since it had minimal ingredients I was able to commit it to memory (shocking at my age 🙂 !) So I can’t give proper credit, but I’m definitely not trying to take all the credit! 😉

So what are you waiting for? GO MAKE THIS!!!

Grilled Pineapple Sundae with Rum Sauce

1 small pineapple, sliced into rings

Vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pineapple rum (i.e. Malibu)

1 tbsp. butter

  1. Combine the sugar, rum and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Grill the pineapple rings for 4-5 minutes per side.
  4. To “build” your sundae: place 1 pineapple ring on a plate, top with a scoop of ice cream in the middle and pour about 1 tbsp. of the warm rum sauce over the top. Serve immediately!
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Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce


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I’m not quite sure if this is an “authentic” marinara sauce, but it’s easy to make & it tastes great (and way better than the kind in a jar). I always let mine simmer for about an hour, but if you’re really crunched for time you could get away with 30 minutes. The best thing to do, however, is to make it the day before…the flavors are just so much more prominent letting it sit for a day. This is nothing too fancy so you can definitely substitute dried herbs for the fresh, just remember to use less of the dried. I’ve done this plenty of times and it still tastes good (fresh herbs are better though!). As for the wine you can use any red wine. Up until tonight I had always used chianti, but today I used a Cabernet that I’d opened but didn’t really like for drinking. It tasted good in the sauce and didn’t taste all that different from when I use the Chianti. Serve over pasta or with whatever your heart desires (used mine for steak strombolis tonight)!

Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Red Wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
2. Add garlic & onion and cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add wine to pan and allow to reduce by about half.
4. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, parsley & oregano.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for an hour or more. 6. Stir in basil and serve.

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2 for 1: 12 Spice Dry Rub Mix and Sweet & Tangy Barbecue Sauce


Grilling season is in full effect and I am loving my new grill!! Since tomorrow is Saturday and the weather is supposed to be nice again I’m going to attempt to make smoked baby back ribs. In preparation, I’ve made a nice big batch of barbecue sauce to go with them. My inspiration for this recipe comes from Monica at The Yummy Life.  The recipe calls for her 14-spice dry rub mix, so I’ve also included my modified version of this recipe as well (ergo the “2 for 1”), which is actually a 12-spice dry rub mix which can be used on pork or chicken and can also be used in sauces, such as the barbecue sauce I’m sharing with you today.

Stay tuned for my smoked ribs adventure…it’s going to be an interesting journey into unknown territory! 🙂 Until then whip up this tasty barbecue sauce and throw some meat on the grill!!!

Sweet & Tangy Barbecue Sauce (Makes approx. 2 1/2 cups; Weight Watchers Points Plus = 1 for 2 tbsp of sauce)

Source: “Barbecue Sauce” @ The Yummy Life

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

2 tbsp. honey

2 cups ketchup

2 tbsp. 12-spice dry rub mix (recipe follows)

1 1/2 tsp. liquid hickory smoke

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in a plastic container in the refrigerator.

12-Spice Dry Rub for Pork or Chicken (Makes approx. 1 3/4 cups)

Source: “14-Spice Dry Rub Mix” @ The Yummy Life

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. salt

1/2 cup smoked paprika

1 tbsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. celery salt

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. dried sage

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground mace

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

  1.  Place all ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2. Keep rub in an air-tight container and use as desired.
  3. For use on chicken or pork sprinkle rub on meat and rub in on all sides. For best results, wrap seasoned meat in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. When ready to cook, remove meat from refrigerator and sprinkle a little bit more of the rub onto the meat.
  4. Cook meat as desired (grill, bake, broil, etc.).
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