Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Just Eat It!


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.
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I’m still alive! One week without sugar and I feel fine. I thought this was going to be so much harder than it is and I really didn’t experience any terrible cravings or physical sugar withdrawal symptoms (i.e. headaches, lethargy, etc.). The only thing I really noticed was that I was hungry…all of the time! Apparently this is common and ok…however the hard part for me was to eat whenever I felt hungry. Especially because I was so hungry!! I have to keep reminding myself that the 21DSD is not about losing weight, but strictly to detox the body from sugar.

This made me reflect on everything I know about ‘diet’ and I’m referring to this term in both the aspect of the food you eat as well as how most people think of the word diet…losing weight. I felt so guilty eating when I was hungry because I felt like I was eating too much. For most of my adult life I’ve focused on calorie restriction…even skipping meals in an effort to lose weight. I recently read a blog (darn it, if I can’t remember where it was!) and the author spoke about how she basically loathes the term “clean eating” because it makes it sound like those who don’t eat clean, are eating dirty and that this just reinforces her toxic relationship with food.  I like this, because I can relate. My “food relationship” is also toxic. Whether it is overeating, eating too much junk, restricting myself, eating low-fat & nonfat chemical laden foods…the whole thing is just messed up. I mean, why do we even have a “relationship” with food? Shouldn’t we just eat when we’re hungry to fuel our bodies? Can’t we just enjoy a treat here and there without feeling bad or dirty? Maybe it’s the sugar withdrawal…but I am starting to see things in a whole new light…a much more positive light!!

This past week I’ve had to retrain my brain to recognize when I was genuinely hungry and to allow myself to satisfy this hunger. For me this first week was about truly listening to what my body was saying and not allowing myself to be driven by my thoughts about eating too much. Although it has only been a week, I feel very good and it makes me hopeful that this is a step in the right direction for me…and Hubs as well. The food we eat is so good…I’ve made a number of recipes from the 21DSD book and some that I’ve found on Pinterest. So today I share with you a recipe for Brussels Sprouts which I made as a side for steak on day 4 (is it Brussels or brussel? spell check always changes it to the city). The original recipe is from a magazine (possibly Redbook)…but I cannot remember the exact source.

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Charred Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

2 lbs Brussels sprouts

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

½ cup walnuts

2-4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven on Broil setting.

2. Clean & trim the Brussels sprouts.

3. Put the Brussels sprouts, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.

4. Spread the chopped Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and broil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Leaves should be browned, but not burned. To prevent burning make sure you are stirring!

5. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a pan set to medium heat for about 5 minutes.

6. When Brussels sprouts are done, remove from oven and place in a bowl. Add the toasted walnuts and balsamic vinegar. Mix it up to distribute the vinegar (start with 2 tbsp. and taste; add more if desired). Taste & adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve warm or room temperature.

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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!

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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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Happy Adoptaversary!


I had this wonderful, endearing post written on March 3, which was my dog’s 1 year “adoptaversary”. Why didn’t I post it, you ask? Unfortunately I somehow deleted all but one paragraph messing around trying to add pictures from my iPad! Major bummer! I never had a chance to sit down and get back to it until now…almost a month later. In any case, here is the recreation of that post complete with a homemade doggie treat recipe!

Gemma Pooches

Gemma Pooches

One year ago today we adopted our cute and crazy mutt, Gemma Pooches (yes, I gave her a middle name! Is that a problem?). As I mentioned in an earlier post, the adjustment to being a first time dog-mom took me a little longer than I expected. You see, I have never owned a pet…unless you count the beta fish in a vase (remember when those things were all the rage?) I had in college. Sadly little fishy only lasted a week or so…so I don’t really count that. Anyway, I have never really been around animals that much and have had allergies to dogs & cats all my life. I have been getting allergy injections over the past 5 years and my tolerance for dogs improved greatly…doctor gave me the ok to have a pet.
Hubby loves dogs and after hearing non-stop about our friends’ dog and seeing the joy he got from playing with him I randomly said “Let’s get a dog.” He said ok, but I know he thought I was full of ‘you-know-what’. I started checking on the internet for adoptable dogs and we spent a few weekends checking out some shelters and adoption events…all with no luck. I finally found a shelter that was a little bit further from us and we headed there to see if we would find the one.

Gemma loves the pool!

Gemma loves the pool!



I first just have to commend this shelter for being so clean and taking such great care of the dogs. The first thing I noticed (besides the craziness of so many people looking and trying to adopt) was how happy the dogs were. There were other shelters we visited that I literally started to tear up because the dogs just didn’t seem happy or most of them were just lying in their cages looking defeated. They also had many volunteers who were in and out taking the dogs for a walk or to play. Our volunteer knew a great deal about the dogs we looked at and was very helpful. We met a few dogs, but Gemma was the one I had a connection to. Now, this is where I have to stop and say that a year ago I would never have said such a thing…I really didn’t get the whole “animal lover” thing and figured a dog is a dog. There was just something about her, though, and although we liked some of the others I just had to have her.

Gemma paying it forward...donating food to the shelter that cared for her until she found her furever family!

Gemma paying it forward…donating food to the shelter that cared for her until she found her furever family!

Gemma was basically everything we said we didn’t want in a dog. For some reason, I had it in my head that I wanted a male dog, not really sure why that was, but in any case Hubby didn’t necessarily care about the gender. We did agree though that we didn’t want a dog that was too young or active. Gemma was female, only 10 months old and although she is half boxer and half beagle…her temperament is ALL Boxer! She is so full of energy and would literally play 23 hours a day if she could (I think she would at least take an hour to eat and sleep!). Our friends cautioned us about “Boxers being crazy, hyper and stubborn.” While this is somewhat true I’ve learned that with the right owner they are awesome dogs!

Gemma is a great study buddy!

Gemma is a great study buddy!

We brought her home and I was completely neurotic…every little thing scared me; I was your typical first time mom…just with a dog instead of a baby! Lucky for me, Hubby is always the voice of reason and doesn’t feed in to my neuroticism…I finally calmed down a bit and Gemma & I enrolled in mommy & me classes…ok not really, it was just basic dog training, but we both benefited greatly. I have to admit that I didn’t think we were going to graduate considering we were put in the timeout room during the first session, but as the weeks went by I gained more confidence and Gemma learned her commands like a pro…I finally saw how smart she really is. After our training and reading lots of books and articles I understood how to be a good pet parent to a headstrong dog and Gemma and I have bonded into best buds.

Gemma cooling off in the lake after some dog park fun!

Gemma cooling off in the lake after some dog park fun!

Fast forward to the present and I am “one of those animal people”. I love Gemma and can’t imagine life without her. If I can, I take her wherever we go. When we went on vacation I called our dog boarders every other day because I missed her so much. I can’t wait to get home each day and see her and look forward to warmer weather so we can get back to our neighborhood walks and play days at the dog park. I post more pictures of her on my Facebook page then most parents do of their children. I still can’t believe I have become this person…and most people who know me can’t either!! Such a transformation.
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The public service portion of my post is this: For those of you who might be considering a pet for the first time…I say make sure you are ready for the work and responsibility that goes into it…and if you feel you are willing get out there and adopt!! Don’t get stuck on “breeds” or wanting puppies…there are too many dogs who are waiting for a home of their own. Trust your gut…even if the dog you like isn’t what you have in mind!
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To celebrate Gemma’s adoptaversary I made these healthy (don’t tell her that!) homemade dog treats. The original recipe can be found here. I modified it just a bit omitting the wheat germ (because I didn’t have any) and applesauce, and increased the amount of pumpkin (to make up for the lack of applesauce) and added peanut butter because Gemma just loves peanut butter! Also, this makes a lot of treats, especially depending on the size cookie cutter you use, so I recommend freezing some and taking them out a little at a time. They only last about 5 days since they have no preservatives.
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Homemade Healthy Dog Treats
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup ground flax seed meal
1 tbsp. raw honey
3 eggs
½ cup olive oil
1 cup water
½ cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and flax seed. Set aside
3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients; honey, eggs, oil, water, pumpkin and peanut butter. Stir until well-combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Form dough into a ball and roll out flat onto a well-floured surface until about ¼” thick.
5. Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until treats are very brown and very hard.
7. Allow to cool before serving.

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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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Homemade Hamburger Helper….Slimmed Down!!


So who out there is going to own up and admit they like Hamburger Helper?

Ok, I’ll start…I like Hamburger Helper…ok, ok…I love Hamburger Helper!

I love Hamburger Helper and I am not ashamed to say it!!!

Now, doesn’t it feel good to come clean about these things? 😉

Hamburger Helper has been around for about 40 years now (According to Wikipedia it was first introduced in 1971). If you were lucky like me as a kid you got to eat it for dinner once in a while and you probably loved it. If you have kids now and you are cool enough to serve them Hamburger Helper they probably love it as well. Even in adulthood I’ve never tired of the ease of browning some ground beef and adding a few ingredients and coming out with a quick and tasty meal. Now when I say “tasty” I really mean salty and processed. As a child I never realized that this yummy food was any different than when my mom cooked a real meal, but as I got older this meal became a guilty pleasure knowing that it is basically a box of chemicals and salt. I even started adding broccoli to it, to make it “healthier”. LOL!! (Don’t you just love how easily I can rationalize things?)

So this past weekend when I did my meal planning (yes, I started planning all of my meals, as well as Hubby’s dinner, a week in advance) for the week and knew I’d be getting home late from work one night I put Hamburger Helper on the menu. It’s perfect for a busy night because you can just throw everything together in no time and still say you “cooked”! Then the guilt started to set in….I mean it’s not a very Weight Watchers friendly food…or a healthy food in general. So, I got to thinking…someone out there must have come up with a “homemade” version.

After a quick search on Google, I found this blog. Awesome!!! Not only does she give you the “base” for the helper recipes, she gives you all different varieties. There are also instructions for making your own “packets” to keep on hand just like the boxed variety. Genius!!! The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a slimmed down slightly altered version of her recipe for the cheeseburger macaroni flavor.

Here is where I have to warn you…I thought it was pretty good, but immediately noticed a difference between this and the real thing. Hubby didn’t like it at all. I’ve determined, however that the reason it seems so different is because it is a lot less salty. I did up the salt a little bit in my recipe but I’d suggest starting with 1 tsp. and then tasting it as you go along and add more if you feel the need to do so. My recipe calls for broccoli but you can omit it if you want or you can be creative and add other veggies.

Also, it freezes quite well so I made up bags of 1 cup portions with my Foodsaver (you could use freezer bags or plastic containers, but it won’t be as good or last as long) and then freeze them. I pack them in my lunch and this has become a much better option than buying those expensive microwave meals (Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, WW Smart Ones, etc.). I just open the pack, put it in a bowl with a splash of fat free milk and microwave it. Tastes great and I don’t have to feel bad about eating food with all kinds of sodium and other additives…and since it’s “Slimmed Down” it is a satisfying meal for only 5 WW points plus.

So go on and try my version and you will no longer have to be ashamed that you like Hamburger Helper!! Here’s to guilty pleasures… 🙂

Slimmed Down Cheeseburger Macaroni “Hamburger Helper”

(Makes approximately 8 cups; 1 serving = 1 cup; 5 WW Points Plus)

Adapted from Chickensintheroad.com

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef

1 cup whole wheat macaroni

1 cup hot water

2 cups fat free milk or unsweetened almond milk

1 seasoning packet (see below)

2 cups chopped frozen broccoli

1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

~Seasoning Packet:

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. paprika

1 ½ tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

  1. In a small bowl or Ziploc bag, combine all the ingredients for the seasoning packet.
  2. Brown the ground beef and drain any excess grease.
  3. To the browned ground beef, add the hot water, milk, macaroni, and seasoning packet. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for a total cooking time of about 12 minutes, being sure to stir frequently. Add the broccoli after 7 minutes and the cheese at 10 minutes, stirring until the cheese is melted and well combined.
  4. Remove from heat and serve.
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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.
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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.
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Chicken Fajitas


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Even though I am not technically calling this a “Slimmed Down Sensation” it is a healthy low-fat dish and it’s definitely not lacking in the flavor department. This recipe is a little different from other Fajita recipes that I’ve come across which require a marinade. This one is like the pre-packaged mixes you get at the grocery store…only better because you know exactly what is going into it and there is not as much sodium.

This is a great weeknight meal that tastes great, but requires little effort….guaranteed to please the entire family.

Prepare the seasoning mix ahead of time and pull it out when you need a quick meal!

Chicken Fajitas (Makes 4 servings, WW Points Plus = 5, not including tortilla)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

1 c. water

4 flour tortillas (white or whole wheat)

Fajita Seasoning:

1 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tsp. chili powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. parika

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. chicken bouillon powder

½ tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add chicken and cook until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. About 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the Fajita Seasoning by mixing the cornstarch, chili powder, salt, paprika, sugar, bouillon, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through, add 1 cup water and seasoning mixture. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add the green pepper and onion. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender.
  7. Serve on flour tortillas with Mexican style shredded cheese, if desired.
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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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