Mmm, Swiss Chard! (What is it and how to make it)

This vegetable needs to be used more. I never see it on menus in restaurants and not many people I know are aware of this superfood! It’s in the same family as kale and absolutely delicious! Inexpensive and very versatile, so eat up!

My grandma makes this all the time, ever since I can remember. She uses it mostly as a side veggie, but in my family, I usually make it more as a main dish by adding chicken and rice.

All you do, is buy a bunch at the store. You’ll find the stems in all different colors, red, purple, peach, pink, etc. Absolutely one of the top most beautiful veggies in the produce section! Wash and dry thoroughly. Sometimes there’s a lot of dirt on them. Cut up and definitely eat those stems, lots of nutrients in there! But, make sure you cook those first, because they are obviously tougher than the leaves. You can eat them just by sautéing with some olive oil and onions or garlic, or you can make my grandma’s recipe to make it a bit more kid friendly. The tomatoes make it sweeter.

If you make this recipe, you’ll need one bunch of swiss chard leaves. Cut them up. Saute half of a diced onion with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the stems and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the leaves. (I wouldn’t add any salt. If you feel you need it, add once it’s already prepared. It’s a bit of a salty veggie and the cheese makes it saltier, too! Feel free to add lots of fresh black pepper though!)

Then add 14 oz of crushed tomatoes. Make sure you buy a brand that does not add extra sugar. Add pieces of any hard cheese you’d like, pecorino, parmeggiano, asiago, etc. This will just soften the cheese, not melt it. (If it’s a hard enough cheese, that is.) It’s such a lovely surprise to bite down into a piece of cheese, tomatoes AND chard! Mmm.

I hope you try it! If you make any variation of it – I’d love to hear your idea! And send a picture! Happy cooking.

Stephanie

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Grandma’s Meatballs and Sauce – Sicilian Style

I have been promising this video ever since I started my channel over a year ago. But, it wasn’t so easy getting my 84 year old grandma in front of the camera and YouTube audience. I must say she did a fantastic job! (Not that I EVER had any doubt she would…)

When I was growing up, we went to my grandparents’ house every Sunday for meatballs and sausage, smothered in sauce, on top of a much too large bed of pasta. This is a recipe my grandma learned from her mother, my great grandma Rosa. They are from Sicily.

Back in 2010, I made my very first cooking video. Not for YouTube, but just for our family to preserve my grandma’s recipe. I was tired of hearing family members say the same phrase about various family favorites, “this tastes good, but it doesn’t taste like so and so’s.” I decided to start documenting. This was actually how the idea for Chef Stef came to me. If I was making videos for a youtube channel with my grandparents to share with the world, then it wasn’t as morbid as “I’m documenting this because I know one day you won’t be with us anymore…” And then Chef Stef kind of exploded into this huge channel from there! Now, I’ve had SO many guests, including my dad, brother, cousin, all 4 grandparents and some friends and family friends. (Mom is next, don’t worry!) It has turned into a super fun, bonding experience.

This recipe will make about 25 good sized meatballs. If you want to make less, you can simply cut the ingredients in half!

2 lbs chopped meat

1-2 eggs

1 tsp salt/pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 32 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

3 tbl olive oil (enough to cover bottom of frying pan)

2 more cloves garlic

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt/pepper

Fresh basil

1. Mash the chopped meat and add in 1 egg. If it’s too dry and difficult to mix, for example if you’re using very lean meat, add a second egg.

2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder (or as grandma says, “gahlic” powder. There’s that Italian new yorker accent I love!), and minced garlic cloves. If you love garlic, feel free to add more, if you don’t, use less! My grandfather is perfectly happy to stick an entire raw clove in his mouth, so there is always a lotttt of garlic in our food.

3. Add the breadcrumbs. We use the breadcrumbs that have Italian seasonings already in it. If you use regular breadcrumbs, feel free to throw in a teaspoon of Italian seasonings, like parsley, basil, oregano, etc. And then add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

4. Add in a few tablespoons of your crushed tomatoes to keep the mixture moist. We love the Cento brand. She thinks it tastes the most like her mommy’s. (I am in no way being endorsed by that brand. She’s just always used it and she wanted to include it in the video! How could I say no? She’s just so cute!)

5. Put your olive oil in a large frying pan and heat up. When hot, start rolling your meat into palm sized balls and place gently in the frying pan. Be careful, you don’t want to get splattered with hot oil! When they turn brown on the bottom, flip them over. Take them out and place in a bowl when they are brown on all sides.

6. Do not clean out the pan! Leave all that good stuff at the bottom and add 2 more cloves on garlic. (I told you we use a lot!) When they start to brown, add your cans of crushed tomatoes. Again, carefully, trying to avoid splatter. To clean out the can, add a little water, swish around the sides, and add to the pan!

7. To the sauce add the oregano, salt and pepper. Mix together. When it begins to bubble a few minutes later, add the meatballs in slowly. (You can also make the sauce in a large sauce pot by the way.) You can let this sit for a few hours, or if you’re dying to eat, at least wait 30 minutes so it can absorb some of the flavors! The best sauce is when it’s been sitting on the stove for a few hours! Add fresh basil, too!!

Comfort food to the MAX! Nom nom. Let grandma and I know if you make her meatballs! Enjoy!

Stephanie

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Apple Crisp in 10 Minutes – LESS than 500 CALORIES!!

Traditional apple crisp is made in the oven and takes a long time, not to mention uses a TON of butter and flour. But, what if it’s just you at home and you want to make something quick? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me.. and voila! Here is the result! Out of curiosity, I calculated the calories. I was shocked to find that before you add the ice cream, it was only 220 calories! Add the ice cream, and you’ll get just below 500, as long as you stick to a 1/2 cup of ice cream 🙂 What if you’re not home alone, you ask? Easy! Just multiply the recipe a few times and make in a larger pan!! Perfect for a quick, last minute dessert for unexpected guests!

Here’s all you’ll need! 5 ingredients! And, most likely, you already have them ALL in your kitchen!

For the apples:

1 apple

1 tsp butter (or 1 tsp of coconut oil if you’re lactose intolerant!)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

Topping:

1 tsp butter

1/4 cup quick oats

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

(optional crushed walnuts)

 

1. In a small frying pan, melt the butter. Add the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix and let the apples cook until soft on medium heat, about 3 minutes.

2. Place the apples in your serving bowl and cover to keep warm. (Always trying not to dirty extraneous dishes!!)

3. In the same pan, melt the butter. Add the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix with a spatula and cook on low heat so it doesn’t burn. Let these cook for 3-5 minutes, they’ll get crispy and super hot, so be careful! (Totally burned my tongue the first time I made it because the brown sugar smelled so good that I just had to stick some in my mouth. It sounded like pop rocks. I had to spit them out anddd I still had a lovely hole on the tip of my tongue!)

4. Place on top of the apples and serve with ice cream or whipped cream!

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Seriously, the ice cream melts into everything and your bowl will be empty before you know it! Cravings satisfied, check! Enjoy and send me a pic if you make this!!!

Stephanie

 

 

 

Easy Caramel Apples – a super fun and delicious fall activity!

Who DOESN’T love a caramel apple?! So, so good. But, even better when you make your OWN homemade caramel! It takes just as much time to unwrap all the little caramel candies as it does to make your own, so just do it! 😉

You’ll need:

10-12 apples

1/2 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

Popsicle sticks, chopsticks, apple sticks, whatever kind of stick you can find!

1. Melt the butter. Then add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook on medium heat until it boils, about 10-12 minutes.

2. Scrub the apples very well, to get off all of the icky wax. If there is any on there, the caramel won’t stick! Then be sure to dry completely and add the sticks in, straight down the middle where the stem is. If it’s a long stem, you can pull it out.

3. When the mixture boils, add 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk. Stir in slowly. Then let cook on medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 248º F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should take 15 minutes. Just base it off of what mine looks like! (Be very careful, the first time I did it, I burned myself on the caramel.)

4. When it reaches the correct temperature, turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla. Ready to dip!

5. Turn the apple slowly, or you will get bubbles. Only turn it once or twice, or you’ll have too much caramel. Let it drip off by holding it upside down and then right side up. Quickly coat with nuts, coconut, sprinkles, candy, etc. Then place on parchment paper – NOT wax paper!

If you’re doing a layer of chocolate on top, let the caramel cool and stick it in the fridge before putting a layer of chocolate on!

We made them look like pumpkins by adding red and yellow food dye to white sugar to turn it orange. Coated the apple with that sugar and once it was dry, we used candy writers to paint on the stem and face. They were adorable.

The caramel hardens quickly, so if after you dip 2 apples, you feel the caramel getting stiff in the pot, just put it back on the heat for a few seconds to turn it to liquid again.

That’s it! You can do it! Very simple and kids love it… especially eating it. It’s challenging to eat if you don’t cut it up!

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cuties.

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this face…

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Happy caramel apple-ing!! Send us pics if you do 🙂 The kids would love to see them!

Have a great week!
Stephanie

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Pumpkin White Chocolate Muffins!

I just can’t get enough pumpkin this fall!! Pumpkin and white chocolate complement each other so nicely. I almost made it a bread, but obviously ended up choosing the muffin route. Then again, I guess you could just bake in a loaf pan if you wanted to! If you’re allergic, simply not a fan of walnuts, or, don’t want to spend the money on them, feel free to leave them out!! There is actually a lot more pumpkin flavor without the walnuts. But with the nuts, it balances the flavor and makes them a bit less sweet. Your choice!

4 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp all spice

3 cups flour

1-2 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts

1. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar and vegetable oil.

2. Mix in the pumpkin and water.

3. Now add the dry ingredients and blend. Baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all spice.

4. Blend in 1 cup of flour at a time.

5. Fold in your white chocolate. Feel free to add more than 1 cup if you love white chocolate! Then fold in the nuts, if you choose to use them.

6. Grease a muffin pan, mini muffin pan or loaf pan. Add the mixture. Sprinkle the tops of each with a few more crushed walnuts and some brown sugar. I know. Genius. 😉

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7. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes for big muffins, 10 minutes for mini muffins. (Didn’t try this, but probably 35 minutes in a loaf pan. But check after 30 minutes with a toothpick!) Place on a cooling rack. Voila!!

So simple and so delicious. As I sit here typing this, my tummy is actually not happy with me because I had a few too many for breakfast… Eeek! They’re just so good!

Have a great weekend!
Stephanie

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Hearty, High Protein Vegetable Soup!

Fall. Soup. They go hand in hand. Get healthy before the holiday season comes full of delicious food loaded with 5,276,387 calories?? Yes, please.

My best friend, Janine, who was born less than a month after me and we’ve been friends ever since (literally), sent me a snapchat of a delicious looking soup. She likes to cook the way I do. Just throw stuff together, no recipe required. She followed the delicious looking picture up with a text of the ingredients she used. And I was sold!

Very simple to make, and really, you don’t need a recipe. I would say, with the ingredients I used, there are a good 8-10 servings in the pot. Won’t cost you very much, very filling, one pot, and it’s perfect for leftovers or freeze for another week! If you don’t like an ingredient, don’t add it! If you love one of them more than another, add more of that one! It would be lovely to snuggle up on the couch on a chilly fall night, with this bowl of healthy goodness. Try it out! I think you’ll be quite pleased.

Ingredients:

1 tbl olive oil

5-10 cloves crushed garlic

8 oz sliced mushrooms

2 medium sized zucchini

1/2 tsp salt/pepper

1 head of kale

1 lb 13 oz can white beans

32 oz vegetable broth

1/2 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

2-3 tomatoes

basil (optional)

Heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic in a large soup pot.

Add the mushrooms. If someone isn’t a fan of mushrooms, either don’t add them, or cut them smaller!! (Totally did that with my mom, she ate her whole bowl and didn’t taste them 😉 I love mushrooms and she hates them!) Stir and leave on low heat.

Cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise, then make small slices. Add to your pot. Add the salt and pepper. Stir and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.

Wash and dry your kale. No one wants to chomp on a giant piece of dirt. You could really hurt your pearly whites!! Rip the kale apart and add to your soup, just make sure you throw away the spine. It’s way too bitter to eat. Stir.

Add white beans and vegetable broth. Stir. Add the quinoa and water. Stir and turn the heat up to bring to a boil. While you wait for it to boil, cut up your tomatoes. Don’t make the pieces too small, or they will disappear into your soup! Once boiling, turn heat to low and add in your tomatoes. Don’t splash yourself!! Stir and cover. In 20 minutes, it’s ready to eat!

You can prepare this long before you’re going to eat it. But if you do that, just wait to add the quinoa and tomato. Add those in 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat. If you would rather the soup have more quinoa, add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. I did that the first time, but the quinoa kind of took over, so I used less when I made the video. Your choice!

If you aren’t a vegetarian, you can add some meat to this soup. I bet chicken would be fabulous. When I made it, I added organic ground turkey and it was delicious! Let me know if you add something that you love 🙂

Have a great week!!
Stephanie

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The BEST (and easiest) Pumpkin Bars!

Oh, fall, how I love you. There’s nothing better than pumpkin desserts at this time of year!!

This amazing recipe came from my dad. He’s a sucker for pumpkin, too! This is a foolproof recipe. If you know how to turn on a beater, throw something in the oven and spread frosting on top of a cake, you’re golden!

Seems like a lot of ingredients, but I bet you already have most of these:

Cake:

5 eggs

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups pumpkin

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 cups flour

Frosting:

1/2 cup plus 2 tbls softened butter

4 oz softened cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Here are the incredibly ridiculously simple steps:

1. Mix the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and pumpkin.

2. Add the baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Mix.

3. Mix in the flour, a little at a time.

4. Coat a 9×13 (or 11×17 if you want them thinner) inch pan with vegetable oil or butter. Pour in the batter. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center and it’s ready when it comes out clean!

5. To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in the vanilla.

6. A little at a time, beat in the confectioner’s sugar.

7. When the cake is totally cool, frost it! You can sprinkle with cinnamon on top to make it look all fancy.

Send me pics when you make them!! Have a great weekend…

Stephanie