Category Archives: Freezer Friendly

Everything’s Coming Up Chocolate – My 5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

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If you’re a busy person who needs a quick, stunning, and cost-effective dessert, then you’ll want to try this recipe tonight! I haven’t had much time lately for baking with all the event planning for Winnipeg’s 1st Annual Chocoholics’ Buffet 2013 – benefiting the United Way of Winnipeg. But if you know me, you already know that I’m a serious Chocoholic! “Hi, my name is Anna, and I’m a Chocoholic”, so it was time to bake up something chocolate to satisfy my craving last week because all my advent calendar of chocolate truffles are history.

You can literally give five minutes to create this cake, well maybe 10 - not including baking time - I promise!

You can literally take just five minutes to create this cake, well maybe 10 – not including baking time – I promise!

Last week, for a special LunchFor1 – plus 1 luncheon here at Chez Echols,  I whipped up my 5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake for my friend Juliana. Yes, I freely admit that I’m a cheater when it comes to baking cakes. Since the mid-80s I’ve been a devoted user of Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix – just ask any of my former co-workers – it’s my “go to” secret birthday cake weapon.

It's really that simple. 4 ingredients to make the cake + 3 ingredients to decorate it = Yummy Bliss mmmmm CHOCOLATE!

4 ingredients to make the cake + 3 ingredients to decorate it = Yummy Bliss mmmmm CHOCOLATE! Simple.

5-minute Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

1 Super Moist Cake Mix*

3 Eggs

1/3 Cup Canola Oil

1 1/4 cup Water

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  1. *Follow the package instructions as they can be different for different cake flavours. Just dump everything into your mixing bowl.
  2. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then beat on medium for 2 minutes more.

    I like to use my KitchenAid whisk, but you can use a fork,
    a whisk, a hand mixer, or any stand mixer, of course.

  3. Spray your Bundt Pan generously with Pam and pour in your batter.
  4. Place into a pre-heated oven at 350*F for 35-45 minutes. Test for done-ness before removing.
  5. Let the bundt stand in its pan for 10 minutes, after you remove it from the oven.
  6. Turn out your cake onto your favourite plate.
  7. Let cool for another 30 to 60 minutes, or longer.
  8. Place 1/2 to 1 cup of the pre-made chocolate icing into a 1 cup measuring cup, and microwave for 20-30 seconds until your pre-made icing becomes pour-able.
  9. With a dinner fork, lightly punch shallow fork holes in the top, outer-sides and insides of your bundt cake. This allows the icing to seep into your already moist cake to make it extra delicious.
  10. Pour in a light drizzle back and forth over the top of your cake while turning the cake plate in a circle, and “paint” your cake with the icing.

Also works great with two different colour icing, like chocolate and vanilla!

This time I used some caramel sauce I had in the fridge along with the chocolate icing.
Then I decorated the top of my cake with small chunks of Skor bars.

Super easy – Super moist – Super tasty!

Click the above image to view Wine Enthusiast’s blog on Vday

VDAY TIP FOR MY GENTS… Hey guys – try this recipe to impress your lady with a special vday dessert at home… Simply bake a Super Moist brand vanilla cake mix the same as above. Use red and pink icing (or red & white) to drizzle over top the cake. Decorate the top with small heart-shaped sprinkles or small candies in the same colour scheme. I guarantee you’ll get “lucky” after dessert!!! Keep me posted! 😉 Watch for more Aphrodisiac Recipes coming soon! In the meantime, for more inspiration for February 14th – check out my Valentine’s Pins on Pinterest.

BTW this cake was even better the next day after it sat in my domed, cake server! PLUS, this recipe is totally freezer friendly too. My husband and I cannot possibly eat a whole bundt cake, so I’ll slice it into individual pieces and freeze it for a later treat. Remember my portion control suggestions from my WeightReleaseUpdate#2?

Sounds too hard? Don’t have that much time? Try my 3-2-1 Mug Cake recipe by clicking here. I LOVE making quick strawberry shortcake desserts for Jeff and I by using this easy method! Mug cakes work awesome at the cottage as well… sigh… Summer seems SO far away right now!

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What is your secret cake recipe?
Please click Leave a Comment below and feel free to share it with me and my readers.

DIY Shrimp Broth – super easy and much cheaper than store-bought

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I hate to let things go to waste… so when we are shucking prawn shells for a meal, I like to save the shells to make a shrimp broth. I place the shells in a Ziploc freezer bag, and store them in the freezer until I have enough to make up a few batches of broth.

Easy DIY Shrimp Broth - what else are you going to do with those leftover prawn shells?

Easy DIY Shrimp Broth – what else are you going to do with those leftover prawn shells?

This easy shrimp broth recipe was the base of flavour for my recent experiment in making my Shrimp-Flavoured Quinoa Pilaf which I will post tomorrow.

In making any type of broth, you can pretty much do a fridge-cleaning on whatever vegetables you have hanging around. In this version I used asparagus ends, onion chunks and long celery spears. Then I flavoured the broth with 1 tsp. of sea salt, 1 tsp. of peppercorns, and chunks of fresh garlic.

1. Throw your prawn shells (frozen or thawed) into a large soup pot,
add veggies and spices of your choice.

2. Cover everything with hot tap water. Put on your stove on
High to boil the mixture, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Allow the flavours to meld for a couple of hours (or more).

3. Place a large bowl or measuring cup under your colander to catch the broth
(something I always forget to do – almost), and pour the contents of your pot into the
colander to strain off the prawn shells and veggies.

Use this broth for Asian-inspired soups, seafood stews, mussels, or to flavour your favourite rice dishes. This broth also freezes well in handy-sized 1 cup Ziploc containers for future use.

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What types of homemade broth do you make?

On the Menu This Week: Anna’s Amazing Pulled Pork Recipe

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This week I’ll be making this dish for my dear hubby for sure. He’s all out of lunch
portions of his favourite… Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork!
(pictures posted later)

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2 to 3lbs. Pork Loin Roast

2 tbsp. Dark Sesame Oil

591mL bottle of Mug Rootbeer

3 tbsp. Colgin’s Liquid Smoke – natural hickory

1 bottle Tony Roma’s Hickory BBQ Sauce

½ cup Frank’s Hot Sauce

8 D’Italiano Hamburger Buns

2 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Pepper

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1.     Preheat your crock-pot on High while prepping the ingredients.

2.     Cut your roast into small fist sized pieces and place in your crock-pot.

3.     Coat your roast in Sesame Oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper flipping the meat around to coat.

4.     Add a full bottle of Root-beer, we prefer the Mug brand, but I am sure that any brand would work just as well.

5.     Add the Liquid Smoke, and stir mixture well before covering the crock-pot.

6.     Cook on High for 1 hour, then reduce your crock-pot’s temperature to Low for 5 to 6 hours.

7.     Add 1/3 bottle of BBQ Sauce, again we prefer it with the Tony Roma’s sauce, but any type would work.

8.     Cook for an additional 90 minutes.

9.     Remove meat from its liquid and place in large bowl.

10.     Turn off your crock-pot and discard the liquid.

11.  Using two forks pull the pork apart.

12.  Grind a generous amount of pepper over the meat.

13.  Add all of the remaining BBQ Sauce and Hot Sauce. Stir minimally to coat the meat.

14.  Cover and microwave the bowl for 2 minutes to warm and activate the sauces.

15.  Serve over sturdy hamburger buns. Makes 8 portions.

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Perfect for game day, or as an appetizer! This recipe freezes really well in individual servings, and makes awesome hot lunches with the addition of a fresh hamburger bun.

What is your go to pulled pork recipe?
Please click “Leave a Comment” below and share with me.

Our Family’s Secret Cabbage Roll Recipe

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Every family, especially here in Winnipeg – a diverse multicultural city, seems to have a different way of creating their family’s favourite cabbage roll recipe, especially for the holidays. The secret of ours is the Sour Cabbage. OK, well it’s not really ‘so’ secret.

I grew up in Regina, and just outside the city is the beautiful Lumsden Valley full of great market gardens. Kissel’s Cabbage is based there, and they are known for their sour cabbage product. They supply the majority of that bagged greeny-grey cabbage (and sauerkraut) that you see in the produce section of grocery stores across Western Canada. I see that they even ship to Minnesota.

So for my niece’s who always wanted to know how to make Grandma’s Cabbage Rolls, here’s the recipe… it’s super easy and fast. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to make them, as they are great on any cold, winter day!

Cabbage Roll Collage

This is really a very simple recipe, and it’s a million times better if you make them fresh and eat the whole batch. I’m not a fan of freezing these, but my Mom used to always make an extra big pot full of them and place the pot and everything into the freezer. She’d pull them out when my Dad’s friend Vic came to town unexpectedly, as these were his favourite.

The Not-So-Secret Coleshaw Cabbage Rolls

1 lb. Ground Pork

1 lb. Ground Beef

1 cup Long Grain Rice, uncooked

1 can Diced Tomatoes (796mL)

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Black Pepper, ground

1 head Sour Cabbage

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1. Mix all the ingredients together, except the cabbage.

2. Core the sour cabbage, and carefully remove the individual leaves.

Remember the outside leaves make the bigger cabbage rolls – those are my favourite.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the cabbage leaf in the middle
but closer to the end of the leaf with the thick vein.

There is a tricky balance between creating a nice, full cabbage roll and overfilling the leaf, so be generous with caution.

4. Fold the edge with the thick vein over the filling and roll once.

5. Fold in each of the side of the cabbage leaf and continue to roll the filling up tightly.

Sometimes you may need to poke the corners of the roll into the filling.

6. Place the finished roll in the bottom of a large soup pot with the open edge
facing down, this will help to ‘seal’ the seam.

7. Continue to fill your pot with rolls, laying them tightly side-by-side, and then
layering them to the top edge of the pot.

8. Once your pot is filled to capacity, top the rolls with tap water until
they are all covered with liquid.

9. Place the pot on your stove, and bring the water to a boil on High.

10. Reduce the heat after the water comes to a boil, and continue to cook
for an hour or more on a Medium-Low setting.

11. Remove rolls carefully with a slotted spoon and serve.

This is how I "roll", I don't really eat the cabbage leaves, but I like the flavour that they impart.

This is how I “roll”, I don’t really eat the cabbage leaves, but I like the flavour that they impart.

My mama never said that I “had to” eat the cabbage. Usually I’ll eat a leaf or two, but I really just like the filling with a nice, soft white dinner bun.

TIP: The smaller clumps of leftover cabbage leaves that are hard to roll can be shredded for sauerkraut and used on Reuben Sandwiches or over Bratwurst.

Can you make this in the oven – Yes!
Can you make it in a crock pot – Sure!
My Mom actually used to make these in a Pressure Cooker.

But if you make it this way on the stove-top, you will have homemade cabbage rolls in about 90 minutes. If you make them in the morning, you can have them for lunch, and probably dinner too! The other cooking methods are fine, they just take longer, and I’m impatient.

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How do you make your cabbage rolls?
Do you only make them at Christmas too?
What’s your secret ingredient?
Please share in the Comments section below.

Super Easy and Quite Healthy Crock Pot Lasagna

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The last time I was trying to lose weight, the one dinner that I missed the most was Lasagna. I was lucky to find, and adapt, this incredibly, tasty AND healthy version that is quick to put together. You can simply leave the lasagna to cook in your crock pot while you do other things around the house. It makes a great dinner, and as with all Lasagna recipes… it makes an even better lunch!

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Crock Pot Lasagna
(6 servings)

1 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1 pound Lean Ground Beef

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 1/2 tsp.  Italian Seasoning, dried

1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

28 oz Crushed Tomatoes , canned

15 oz  Tomato Sauce, canned

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1 cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

1 package Frozen Spinach, chopped

1 1/2 cups Part-Skim Mozzarella, shredded

6 Lasagna Noodles, no-cook variety

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL: 1 cup Zucchini, shredded & 1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, diced

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1. Brown ground beef, onions and garlic with seasonings on stove in pot large enough to accommodate all the sauce ingredients.
To save time on this step I just use 3-4 cups of my usual spaghetti sauce from the freezer.

2. Once the meat is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce (and optional vegetables). Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Mix the thoroughly drained spinach with ricotta and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella in a bowl.

4. Snap your lasagna noodles in half (depending on the size of your crock pot) using the edge of your counter, as shown.

5. Place 1/3 of the meat mixture in the bottom of your crock pot. Then layer 1/2 of the cheese mixture on top. Lay 4 lasagna noodles on the cheese mixture, and repeat all layers one more time.

6. Place the crock pot cover on top, and turn your crock pot on low for 4 to 6 hours.

7. Just prior to serving, turn off your crock pot. Mix 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup mozzarella, and add to your Lasagna as topping, and let melt for 10 minutes.

What is the secret ingredient in favourite Lasagna recipe?
Please feel free to share your tips in the Comments section below.

Easy Beef Tacos

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One of the meals that we look forward to on a regular basis are Tacos. Here’s how I easily make them up for just the two of us as an easy weekend lunch. If you make this for dinner, this style of ‘burrito taco’ also makes a great carry-forward for tomorrow’s lunch if you don’t add any fresh vegetables. This whole meal usually takes less than 15 minutes to make.

These tacos are quick to eat and not as messy as usual due to a couple simple tricks

These tacos are quick to make, and not as messy as usual due to a couple simple tricks

Easy Beef Tacos
(makes 10 tacos)

1lb Lean Ground Beef

Taco Seasoning

Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Taco Sauce

Guacamole

Soft Taco Shells

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1. Brown ground beef until almost cooked. Add taco seasoning to meat but do not add any additional water. Stir until meat is fully cooked. Drain in colander.
I like to use my potato masher to break the meat up.

The better you drain the meat, the less drippy mess your taco will make down your favourite shirt!

2. Lay soft taco shells side-by-side on your cookie sheet.

3. Grate cheese over taco shells. Place the cookie sheet into a pre-heated oven (350*F) for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and shells are softened.
Watch your oven closely so that you do not burn your taco shells.

4. Cut off the corner of your taco sauce and guacamole, and drizzle the sauces up the centre of each taco shell.

5. Add the cooked, seasoned beef to the top of each taco. Grate a bit more cheese over top the meat, and allow it time to melt.

6. You could then top with sliced iceberg lettuce and diced fresh tomatoes, but we rarely have those on-hand in the Winter.

I usually smear re-fried beans on the bottom of each taco shell before adding the first layer of cheese and baking… but I forgot to defrost the 1/2 can in time for making these.

You can double or triple the meat and freeze in ready-to-go packages for next time if you want to speed this process up.

How do you like your tacos?
What is your go-to topping for your favourite tacos?

Super Easy Salsa

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One of the potluck items I was constantly being asked to bring to work by my co-workers years ago was my Epicure Selections’ Poco Picante Salsa. This SUPER easy Salsa recipe is great for a quick snack, or to add spiciness to any dish you have on the stove for dinner.

This salsa is SO easy and SO delicious that you won't ever buy pre-made salsa again

This salsa is SO easy and SO delicious that you won’t buy pre-made salsa again

Super Easy Salsa

1 – 796mL can Diced Tomatoes

Juice of 1/2 Fresh Lime

2 tbsp Epicure Selections Poco Picante Salsa Mix

Nacho Chips

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1. Drain the can of tomatoes, but catch the tomato juice
as it’s great to cook rice in tomorrow.

2. Place tomatoes, salsa mix and the lime juice into
your food processor and pulse 5 times.

3. Re-drain the salsa one more time, and serve.

It’s really that easy.

Other uses for this salsa…

– Add to cooked rice or quinoa to create a spicy side dish

– Use with your favourite Mexican recipes like my Beef Tacos

– Use as a pasta sauce for a spicy, Italian-Mexican fusion dish

– Marinade and cook chicken breasts in this Salsa

– Use at breakfast with your favourite egg dish

What do you love Salsa on top of?
Are you a fan of the hot stuff? Or do you prefer a more mild Salsa?