Category Archives: Make Ahead Meals

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

Standard

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

________________________

  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!

________________________________________

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

Advertisements

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

Standard

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)

____________________________

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

____________________________

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.

____________________________

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

Standard

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

_____________________________

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.

__________________________________

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

Standard

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

—–

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

__________________________________

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.

Shredded Broccoli Salad

Standard

I don’t remember what inspired me to make this salad a few years ago, but it’s one of my favourite ways to eat broccoli. Not only can you buy broccoli slaw pre-made like I did, but you can also use your broccoli stalks and shred them yourself to create this salad. We love this as a side to just about any meal!

A quick and easy new salad to try that is super healthy

A quick and easy new salad to try that is super healthy

Broccoli Salad
(makes 2 servings)

1 cup Broccoli Slaw

1/2 cup Shredded Carrot

1/8 cup Almond Slivers

1/8 cup Dried Berries

1/8 cup Oil & Vinegar Dressing
(like Kraft Calorie-Wise Balsamic Vinaigrette)

____________________________________

Mix all ingredients together and toss in the vinaigrette. Serve chilled.

Keeps great for 2nd day servings!

Do you use Broccoli Slaw?
What is your favourite recipe?

Creamy Flank Steak Stoup: When Supper Transforms and Becomes Lunch

Standard

One of my newly found, favourite recipes from last summer was Miles Thatcher’s Guinness & Honey Marinated Hanger Steak (I use flank steak) from the June 2012 issue of Flavours Magazine. I’ve made this recipe about 4 or 5 times since discovering it’s yumminess, and usually one flank steak is way more than enough for the two of us. And a great accompaniment to this recipe are my Spicy Marinated Mushrooms.

Guinness Beer

BUT… neither my husband nor I are big fans of Guinness‘ darkness… Nothing against the brand, but I just don’t drink beer. Initially I was leery of trying this recipe because I was worried that the strong taste of this Stout would be pronounced in the final result. But it’s not, this is an incredible BBQ recipe that you will want to add to your repertoire – forever.

Here’s a great tip… when I want to make this flank steak, I try not to waste the leftover 3/4’s of the can of beer… so I actually make a quadruple batch of the marinade, and freeze the extra three portions for later use.

So when you make this flank steak recipe, and if you have leftovers that you don’t want to use for sandwiches, fajitas, steak & eggs breakfasts or… whatever, please consider giving my soup a try for lunch the next day.

Just a lil' something I threw together

Just a lil’ something I threw together that was a big hit

Originally, I wasn’t going to blog about this soup because I’ve been including a lot of soup recipes lately. Plus, I’ve been making these soups up off the top of my head. It’s been very cold here in Winnipeg this past week, so soup has, of course, been top of mind.

After grocery shopping and picking up some fresh mushrooms and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup to have for an easy (i.e. discrete and not blogged about) lunch I found myself inspired to try yet another LunchFor1 soup recipe.

I had also picked up a couple Tetra Paks of Beef Broth because my freezer’s stash of broth was getting low, and it’s always a good idea to have some broth either in the cupboard, in the fridge, or in the freezer at all times for quick soups, sauces and stews.

So it was with these ingredients on hand that inspiration struck! Plus I had to do something with the leftover flank steak… and thankfully it all worked out – and we loved it!

Creamy Flank Steak Stoup

(Stoup is a word I first heard used by Rachael Ray, it’s Stew+Soup)

Leftover BBQ Flank Steak, diced

1L Campbell’s Beef Broth

1 Ready to Serve Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

20 Baby Carrots, chopped

3 Celery Stalks, chopped

3 cloves Fresh Garlic

1/4 Onion, diced

1/4 cup Pot Barley

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1 tablespoon Canola Oil

____________________

1. Heat oil in large pot.

2. Add vegetables, and saute for 5 minutes.

3. Add diced beef and beef broth, and bring your soup to a boil.

4. Add uncooked barley to the pot, and turn down your stove to Medium-High. Cook for 30 minutes.

5. Stir in cream of mushroom soup just prior to serving, and warm the soup through for 5 minutes. NOTE: Overcooking this step may cause your soup to “break” or separated, so be careful.

6. This recipe made 4 hearty servings, with a side dish. Try my Chevre Grilled Cheese Sandwich or my Feta Dip and crackers as an accompaniment – those posts will follow later this week.

Soul warming, hearty goodness made quick and easy for a yummy supper or lunch.

Soul warming, hearty goodness made quick and easy for a yummy supper or lunch.

What recipe do YOU make for supper one night, and then turn around the next day and create an amazing lunch from?
I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section below.

Perogies – Ukrainian Cure for the Common Cold

Standard

Today, my husband, Jeff is home sick again – so it’s LunchFor2! When lunch rolled around, he again requested a bowl of soup… URGH! I thought that I’d whip out a little of my Russian magic, and try a “perogie-cure” on him. Hopefully this will do the trick to get him back to work tomorrow!

Using ready-made perogies allows you to create a quick lunch in about 10 minutes

Using ready-made perogies allows you to create a quick lunch in about 10 minutes

There’s nothing really special about heating up pre-made perogies. Ann’s Perogey Palace here in Winnipeg are one of our favourite brands. And our preferred flavour is Potato and Cheddar Cheese. It’s a bonus that I can easily pick these up fresh at my local, independent grocery store.

Check back tomorrow to find out if my Ukrainian cure for the common cold worked!

Check back tomorrow to find out if my Ukrainian cure worked!

As you can see, buying a dozen perogies can get pricey at $7 each. However after attempting to make perogies from scratch last year… I know first-hand that the trick is to get the dough just right. And I am SOOOO not a great dough-maker. It’s one of my Bucket List items to perfect in the kitchen!

To make my version of super easy perogies, place your 2 dozen perogies in a large pot of boiling, salted water, and cook them until they float.

While simultaneously using a small fry-pan to cook 3/4 of an Onion (diced) in 2 tablespoons of Canola Oil for about 5 – 8 minutes, or until translucent.

I then threw in 3 – 4 tablespoons of Butter in the fry pan to melt with my the onions.

For a quicker finish to lunch, I added a small handful (1/3 cup) of good-quality Bacon Bits (Costco’s Kirkland brand are my favourite) to the fry pan and tossed that around for a minute.

Strain the perogies out of the pot into a casserole dish. Again I love my Coring Ware dish with lid as it allows me to quickly put my leftovers away in the fridge.

Top the perogies with your onion/bacon/butter mixture, and serve with a dollop of Sour Cream, and some fresh-ground pepper.

You can almost taste the goodness if you get really close to the screen.

You can almost taste the goodness if you get really close to the screen.

Not the healthiest lunch… but definitely a great comfort food on a super cold day (-32*C with the wind chill here) when someone in your household is sick.

PS – There seem to be many different spellings for the word perogy/perogie… these are mine, and Ann uses Perogey. This food by any other name… still tastes just as great! 😉

Everyone has a favourite perogy, and way to prepare it – What’s Yours?
Please feel free to share it in the Comments section below.