Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down


Check out these yummy zucchini chips that you can make right in the microwave!

 

Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

via Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

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Chocolate Candy Cookies


A friend of mine calls me her “personal pastry chef”. She is always asking me to make baked goods for her, especially when there is a party or event coming up. Her son’s birthday was this past Saturday so she asked me to make some cookies and bring them to the party. She said it was because he just loves my cookies, but I am really thinking his mommy loves them too! 😉

I chose these because I thought they were a good choice for a kid’s birthday party with the candy pieces making it look nice and festive. I’ve made these before and I typically am not a fan of using shortening in recipes, but after much trial and error making substitutions, I’ve found that the best way to make these is to just go ahead and use the shortening. These will make 3-4 dozen cookies depending on how big or small you make them. I usually make my cookies about 1”-1 1/2 “ just because I personally like a smaller cookie, plus they tend to keep their shape better and not run together. Make sure you do not skip the refrigeration step. This will save you a big headache in the long run. Also, remember to put the dough back into the refrigerator between batches.

One last word of caution….you will not be able to just eat one of these!! Enjoy!!

M&M Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 ¼ cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 bag (12 oz) candy coated milk chocolate pieces (i.e. M&M’s)

  1. Thoroughly cream together shortening, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, except the candy. Add to creamed mixture a little bit at time, beating on low and until well combined.
  3. Stir in the candy and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour up to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. When ready to bake, drop the batter into 1” round balls onto the cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow to sit for 2 more minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
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Zucchini Bread


Well for those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you probably know that the zucchini from my garden has been quite plentiful so far. Like I mentioned in a post a while back, I planned to make zucchini bread. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to it until this weekend. I made a couple of loaves and gave them out to my neighbors along with a zucchini. I had so many large zucchini I had to get them out of the garden because they were starting to kill the other plants!

I love this zucchini bread recipe, which I originally found on www.allrecipes.com. I’ve tried others but this one is my favorite. It is super moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I have to say zucchini bread is my favorite thing to make from zucchini…of course that’s only because it is a baked good…and I love baked goods! 😉  The recipe makes 2 loaves, so you’ll have some to share if you feel like it! It also freezes well. Also, I forgot to take pictures of the bread before I wrapped it up for the neighbors, but you get the point!

 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cup sugar

2 cups uncooked zucchini, grated

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Combine the oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium until well combined. Stir in the vanilla extract and the zucchini.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add this a little bit at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium.
  4. Divide the batter in half and pour into two greased loaf pans.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until baked through.

 

 

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Grilled (Baked) Apples


Looking for something sweet, light and easy to make to top off all those 4th of July hamburgers & hot dogs? Try making this delicious dish.

Grilled Apples…which taste exactly like the baked apples from Cracker Barrel. I usually make these as a side dish to pork, but they are great as a dessert or for topping waffles, pancakes, crepes, etc. If you don’t have a grill, you can also make this recipe on the stove.

Grilled Apples

(Makes 2-3 servings)

2 apples, sliced

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. corn starch

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  1. In a foil pie pan (or any foil pan) add all the ingredients and cover with foil.
  2. Place on a medium-high preheated grill and allow to cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the foil from the pan and stir. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes or until apples are tender. 
  4. Serve warm.

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Trying to Stay in the Groove


Wow, despite my best efforts I just haven’t been able to keep up with my blogging.  I’ve read quite a few blogs where this has happened…and the writer genuinely apologizes for not posting in so long and clearly it was simply that little thing  we call “Life” that got in the way.  For me, however, that is not the case (although I was really tempted to sit down and say that I just got busy and therefore could not blog…but a liar I am not!!!) I honestly just haven’t been feeling like it….despite my best efforts to plan out what delicious recipes or interesting tales I want to share I just don’t sit down and do it! So…today I am getting back into the groove.
Speaking of getting back in the groove, I’ve been pretty much staying on task with my Weight Watchers and eating pretty good (well except for those Curly Fries I inhaled last night!), but this has also been a challenge. Again, I have very good intentions and plan all of my meals, prepare all of my food in advance to make life easier, but still sometimes I just don’t feel like eating a salad…and so it is quite easy to bring on the french fries.
Anyway, earlier in the week Hubby took me to Whole Foods (stay tuned for my Whole Foods post) and all that fresh local produce and healthy stuff inspired me to make this delicious strawberry yogurt parfait for our dessert the other night.

 Hubby rated it a “5”!!! That’s right a “5”!!!! The best he could give me based on our little rating system. I was happy I made something so yummy, yet so easy and most importantly something healthy that we both enjoyed.  The Weight Watchers Points Plus value is 6, however you could replace the honey with artificial sweetener (such as Splenda) and you can use another kind of yogurt like Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla and it will help reduce the points plus value.  Also, I highly recommend you use “Raw Honey” if you can find it (Whole Foods carries it and a lot of Farmer’s Markets). It is sooooo much better than the regular honey you typically find in grocery stores. The first time I ever sampled it at a little store in Lancaster County I was totally hooked!! I guess like most foods…natural always tastes best.

Strawberry Yogurt Parfait (Makes 2 servings; 1 serving = 6 WW Points Plus)

1 cup plain non-fat Greek Yogurt

1 cup fresh strawberries, tops cut off and halved

1 tbsp. raw honey (more or less to taste)

1/4 cup granola with almonds (i.e. Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch)

  1.  puree strawberries and honey in a blender.

  2.  Add 1/2 cup yogurt to a serving dish. Top with half of the strawberry puree and 2 tbsp. of the granola.

  3. Serve and eat immediately.

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Cookies for Inspiration


So I’ve been feeling very uninspired to blog this past week. I’ve been cooking up a storm and even have a list of foods I’ve made that I want to share….but I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and share my thoughts.

However tonight I made these really good butter cookies appropriately called “Meltaways” because they literally MELT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!

One of my employees had asked if I would be so kind to make cupcakes or cookies for her classroom’s picnic tomorrow.  Since I had just made cupcakes for them I wanted to do something different, however I was met with a challenge since the Individuals we serve have various degrees of developmental and physical difficulties and quite a few of them cannot eat regular food such as a cookie. I was determined to come up with something so I set out on Google and searched for soft cookie recipes. I came across these Meltaways at a blog called Landee See, Landee Do.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, however my method of adding the ingredients was a little different based on some of the comments that I’d read from others who had tried to make these. I also doubled the recipe and I got almost 5 dozen cookies out of it (unfortunately I wasn’t really focused on making them all similar in size so some got a little bit on the larger side). They came out great and are the perfect texture for our Consumers with special food texture requirements.

These were really easy and quick to make and are a nice change of pace from the usual cookie recipes you come across.

Now…if I could just stop eating them!!!!  (Oh yeah….if you haven’t figured it out…these ARE NOT diet friendly :)!)

Meltaways (Source: Landee See, Landee Do)

1 lb. (4 sticks) salted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 C. cornstarch

1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 C. flour
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
  1. Using a mixer beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes. Stop one time to scrape down the sides.
  2. Add the sugar and beat well until combined.
  3. Add the cornstarch a little bit at a time and beat until well blended.
  4. Mixing on low speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Dough should be thick and manageable. If it is too thin add up to the full 2 cups (I used just under 2 cups, about 1 3/4 c.) if it is starting to get crumbly you’ve added too much.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets and gently flatten with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 2 more minutes, then remove cookies from cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Cool completely and add frosting. Be careful when handling these cookies as they are quite delicate!

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Add food coloring, if desired.
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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!!!

 

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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.
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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.

 

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D.I.Y. Microwave Popcorn


Ok, so why am I just now finding out that you can make your own microwave popcorn?  When I saw this on the Dr. Oz Show I was so surprised that this wasn’t a well known fact (or maybe it is & I am just behind the times?). I immediately tried this out and now that I have, I will never buy microwave popcorn again.

After a little research I did come to learn that this is considered “air popped” popcorn and so if you don’t add any oil or butter it is an extremely healthy snack. In regards to Weight Watchers, this version of microwave popcorn is actually less points (well only 1 less, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to lose) than the 94% Fat Free microwave popcorn available in stores.

As for taste….I can honestly say it tastes freakin’ awesome!!  So much better than the chemical-laden kind I’m used to buying. I do actually like it completely plain, but for a little added flavor I sometimes add a little bit of salt and  some “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray.

As for my recipe below (you really don’t need a recipe, but for those of you who feel better with one…which is ok, trust me I’ve been there….I’ve included it) it should make about 3 cups, but depending on your microwave and if all the kernels actually pop or not will make the difference, so you may need to adjust the amount of kernels you are using. I chose to only try to make 3 cups because 3 c. equals only 2 WW Points Plus. Which is a decent size snack for such a small points amount. If you use ¼ cup of kernels you’ll have about a regular size bag of microwave popcorn (5-6 cups).

One last note…this is an official “Hubby-Approved” snack! Made it for Hubby (with the salt and buttery spray) and he thoroughly enjoyed it. No more store bought, chemically altered, fattening microwave popcorn for this family!!

Microwave Popcorn (WW Points Plus = 2)

2 tbsp. popcorn kernels

1 brown paper lunch sack

Salt, to taste

10 sprays, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray

  1. Add popcorn kernels to the brown paper bag and fold over 2-3 times.
  2. Place bag upright and set microwave for 3 minutes on high. Popcorn will probably be done within 2-2 ½ minutes, but it’s best to set it for longer and pay close attention to when the popping stops. When popping is down to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove from microwave. (If you leave it in too long it will burn, just like the store bought kind.)
  3. Add salt to bag and shake.
  4. Spray 5 sprays of the buttery spray on popcorn and shake. Spray 5 more times and shake.
  5. Pour in a bowl and serve.
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