Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Guilt free caramel apple bread pudding for dessert this Thanksgiving? Ummm, yes please!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of coconut sugar
13.5 oz can of coconut milk

4 eggs
8 oz coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of chopped apples (about 2 apples)
10 oz of whole wheat bread (little more than half a loaf)

1. To make the caramel, add the coconut milk and coconut sugar to a small saucepan. Stir and once it boils, stir again and lower to a simmer.
2. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the coconut milk and beat together.
3. Add the cinnamon, sea salt and vanilla extract.
4. Next core the apple, peel off the skin and slice into tiny pieces.
5. Add the apples to the egg mixture and make sure they are well coated.
6. Rip up the bread and continue to mix in until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
7. Grease a pan or a stone that has edges with coconut oil.
8. Add the bread pudding and spread it out evenly.
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9. Drizzle half of the caramel on top and use a fork to help it seep through.
10. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
11. Once it comes out, let it rest while you stir the remaining caramel. Once you serve it, drizzle that delicious, warm caramel on top! You can even add some ice cream or whipped cream! Mmm.
Like…. all of the noms. I’m not gonna lie, it was very hard to stop eating! ¬†But hey, at least it isn’t loaded with refined sugars, heavy cream and butter… right? ūüôā
Stephanie
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Honeycomb Toffee

It is SO easy to make Honeycomb! Only 2 ingredients and it will be in your mouth in less than 20 minutes! My Australian chef, Adam, shows us how to do it! It tastes like a toasted marshmallow. No, really! Super delicious if you melt some chocolate and dip the pieces in, or crumble it over ice cream!

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp baking soda

1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have the baking soda already measured out and a whisk right next to it!

2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Gently swish the liquid around using the handle, do NOT mix with a utensil. When the sugar is starting to crystallize up the sides, feel free to use a pastry brush with some water to dissolve. (Watch the video at 45 seconds, because I don’t think I explained that very well, haha!)

3. About 5 minutes in, the sugar should turn a light amber color. Watch it! Because in another minute it will turn a dark color. When it does, turn the heat to low and let it sit for about 10 seconds.

4. Turn the heat off, then immediately whisk in the baking soda until it is completely dissolved. Then, pour onto the parchment paper. Right away! These two steps should be done quickly. I did that part of the video with no editing so you can see it done in real time!

5. Let it sit on the parchment for about 10 minutes until it is hard. DO NOT touch. Boiled sugar will burn you. I’ve done it. I don’t recommend it.

6. Once hard, break into pieces! From there, you can eat plain, or crumble over ice cream, or dip in chocolate!

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Let me know if you come up with another idea for honeycomb!

Have a great week,

Stephanie

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Deep Fried Bananas with Honey and Coconut Ice Cream

Last week, my family and I went out for Thai on my brother’s college campus. He said, “you HAVE to try this dessert!”. It was so incredibly delicious, yet so simple, and I thought, “I can definitely make a mock version of this at home!” And so… I did!

You’ll need:
1 package puff pastry
2-3 bananas
2 cups vegetable oil
3 tbls honey
2 tsp sesame seeds
Coconut ice cream

Really, all the measurements are just estimates. You can make as many or as little as you’d like! You can add as much or as little honey, sesame seeds, ice cream…you get the point. Just go with the flow ūüôā

1. Cut the bananas into thirds, and then into quarters, as you can see in the video.

2. Make sure the puff pastry is thawed before you attempt this step. Place a piece of banana on the end and roll just once so there is no banana showing. Cut where the two pieces of pastry meet. Then pinch all edges together and set aside.

3. In a stainless steel pot, wok or frying pan, heat¬†about 2 cups of vegetable oil on a medium flame. Should take about 12-15 minutes. You don’t want to rush and speed up the heating process. To test for the right temperature, drop in a small piece of leftover pastry and when it is bubbling and rising to the top, it’s ready! (Also, make sure it’s not TOO hot and the piece burns!) If you feel comfortable to start heating up the oil before making the bananas to save time, go for it. Just be careful you don’t burn it!!

4. Very carefully, place the bananas in the hot oil. When one side is golden brown, flip. Keep turning until all sides are golden.

5. Once ready, place on a paper towel on top of a plate to soak up some oil. Drizzle the honey, sprinkle the sesame seeds and serve with the coconut ice cream.

Side note, you can also just take the bananas out of the hot oil and coat with powdered sugar so that way, it’s kind of like a fancy version of zeppole!! Mmmmmm!

You’ll love this. So light and flaky and will melt in your mouth. The flavor combination will make your tastebuds REALLY happy ūüôā

Enjoy!
Stephanie

 

Most Delicious Red Velvet Cupcakes!

Oh my are these yummy! And so beautiful for the holidays!

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbls cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbls red food coloring

Frosting:
12 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Easiest Steps Ever:

1. Combine all the dry ingredients. Sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

2. Combine all wet ingredients. Vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients.

3. Pour into muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick and when it comes out clean, they’re ready!

4. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Frost the cupcakes with a knife, or, do my fancy method! (see video)

These are seriously delicious. They flew off of the plate! They are beautiful and festive, too! If you make them, send me a pic!! ūüôā

Happy holiday season!

Stephanie

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Donuts!

You’ve met my grandfather on my dad’s side when he showed you how to make his delicious cornbread. ¬†Now, you’re going to meet my grandma on my mom’s side who has a recipe for donuts passed down through her family for generations since the 1800s!

Funny story, my grandfather is KNOWN for his cornbread. ¬†When you think, “What does Pop cook?” ¬†The first thing that would come to any of our minds would be cornbread. ¬†Grandma? ¬†The first thing I would think is cookies. ¬†She is the best at making various types of Greek cookies and classic sugar cookies. ¬†We were decided on making Kaloudia for the video, an amazing Greek cookie, when at the last minute, she decided she didn’t want her Greek friends to find out her tricks. ¬†Ach! ¬†Don’t worry, I’ll convince her to do it eventually.

I was skeptical about making the donuts because she hasn’t made them in so long. ¬†I haven’t had them since I was little and I only vaguely remember that. ¬†She convinced me that it was easy and I liked the fact that it’s been in her family for so long. ¬†I like tradition. ¬†We are estimating it’s from the early 1800s, if not earlier! ¬†How cool is that?

So we did it and it worked out great!  AND Рthey were delicious!  Plain and simple, not too sweet, perfect for dipping in coffee, tea or just good old cold milk!

Wondering about the gag with the Bailey’s? ¬†Well, she’s not a wine drinker, so we decided since she was the guest, we should drink what she likes! ¬†She loves her Bailey’s! ¬†And usually I don’t drink my wine during a shoot, (if you notice, the glass always stays the same level) but she kept sippin’ on hers AND mine! ¬†She can’t be trusted!

*By the way, 10 points to the first person who knows what the sound effect is when my wine magically turns into Bailey’s!*

Here’s what you need to run to the grocery store and get right now so you can make these awesome donuts:

2 eggs

1 cup + 1 tbl of sugar

1 cup buttermilk (you can easily find it at the grocery.  I saw 3 different brands where you buy regular milk.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 tbl butter, melted

1/2 tsp salt

Approx 4-5 cups of flour

3 lbs crisco

1. You’ll want to use a large saucepan, not too deep, because if it’s too deep, you’re essentially just melting all that extra crisco for no reason. ¬†If you have one that is wider than what we used, go for it. ¬†But grandma likes that size that way she only puts in a few at a time so she can really keep track of them. ¬†Me with my young eyes, would probably rather use a wider, larger sauce pan to get them done faster. ¬†But, of course, this is up to your own discretion. ¬†Fill your pot with crisco, as it melts, add more, but you’ll only need about 3 pounds in total. ¬†Keep it on a low flame while you are preparing your donuts. ¬†You’ll need a thermometer to test the temperature. ¬†It needs to be between 350 and 375. ¬†If you don’t have a thermometer, I have another solution for you when we get there!

2. In a large mixing bowl, add your eggs and sugar.  Mix together with a blender.  Now add your nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Mix again.

3. Add the melted butter and 1 cup of flour.  Mix.  Continuously add a cup of flour, then mix.  Stop after 4 and evaluate.  Is your dough still sticky?  Would you be able to take it out and roll it like dough as if you were going to make cookies?  If not, add another half of a cup.  We ended up using 5 total cups.  We may have been okay with just 4 and a 1/2.   At 3:00 minutes, you can see what the dough should look like when there is enough flour in it.

If you don’t own a donut cutter, you can easily find one in a grocery store or any type of cooking/baking store. ¬†Maybe even a Bed Bath and Beyond. ¬†If you don’t have one and don’t feel like finding one, use a can. ¬†Using a can opener, take the top off and poke holes on the bottom to let the air release. ¬†You’ll just be making donuts without the hole in the middle, and really, they taste just as awesome! ¬†If you do have a donut cutter though, save some of the round insides and fry up munchkins like I did in the video!

4.¬†Flour the surface you’ll be rolling and cutting on. ¬†Take your dough out of your bowl and flour your rolling pin. ¬†Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick. ¬†Cut one donut out. ¬†Make sure the crisco is at the right temperature and place it (gently!) in your pot. ¬†Do NOT throw in, avoid splashing! ¬†Hot oil with burn you! ¬†If by chance, you do get a small splash, stick whatever body part it hit in the flour!! Roll on the countertop if you have to ūüėČ

If your test donut sinks to the bottom, rises within a minute and begins turning a light brown, then your oil is ready! ¬†If it turns a terrible dark color and looks burned, your flame is too high. ¬†Wait til it cools off for a minute and try again. ¬†This is why it’s easier with a thermometer, but you can always do it by testing donuts to find the right temperature!

5. Cut out the rest of your donuts and fry!  When one side is brown, flip over and brown the other side.  Take out and place on a brown paper bag or a paper towel.  We used a brown paper grocery bag.  It worked just as well as the paper towels.

6. ¬†While they are still warm you can coat with powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, or whatever tickles your fancy! ¬†You can probably melt chocolate and dip them in that, too! Yum. ¬†Now I’m getting hungry.

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That’s it! ¬†Let me know if you try them and love them!! Also, let me know if you run into any difficulties and I will happily pass along the question to grandma! Or, you can just leave a comment for grandma to let her know you think she’s pretty awesome for 84 years old! ūüôā Every day she calls and asks if anyone left a new comment on her video!

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This is the recipe card my great grandmother typed up sometime between the 1920s and 30s!  I highly recommend preserving family members recipes on a video tape!  Do it.

Keep it classy folks,

Chef Stef

 

 

Peppermint Bark is DELICIOUS!

I have no idea if one would call this “bark” or “toffee”. ¬†It’s almost a mix of both!

My grandma told me about some recipe she had from our cousins in Florida. ¬†She was explaining it to me and I was so uninterested. I furrowed my eyebrows as she’s telling me about matzah and butter with sugar and chocolate. I was, foolishly, completely “eh” about it.

The next day, I went to work to find my boss telling me about this great recipe she makes every Christmas and that I have to go try it, “it’s in the fridge”! ¬†Lo and behold, there’s the exact thing my grandma was just trying to explain to me, except it’s not matzah, it’s saltine crackers! (Give her a break, she’s 82! It’s basically the same thing…)

One small bite and I thought I was in heaven. ¬†I couldn’t believe how simple it was and yet, it tasted so exquisite. ¬†Delicate, yet distinct flavors. ¬†I called grandma, and she relished the opportunity to repeatedly say, “I told you so!” ¬†She’s still such a kid. And what a brat she was about it! (said lovingly, of course. We are very close.)

So we attempted to make it at her house, following the recipe from our cousins in Florida.  (You know Italians, we just have cousins everywhere)  We were able to make it very quickly and it came out not only delicious, but addicting.  Ya gotta try it!

Here’s what you need:

40 saltine crackers

1 cup of butter

1 cup of brown sugar

12 oz of chocolate or white (or both!) chips (You really don’t have to measure out the chocolate, I’ll explain why later)

For a topping, you can choose candy canes to make it nice and peppermintylicious, or you can use walnuts which is just as awesome and easier to find when it is not the holiday season.

Put your oven on 400¬į.

Step 1: Line your baking sheet with tin foil. Fold the edges up on the sides. Line the sheet with your crackers. ¬†Since I’m already doing it, sometimes I’ll make 2 batches at the same time, one white chocolate and one milk.

Step 2: ¬†In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together. ¬†Cook until boiling. ¬†It should turn into a smooth paste. ¬†This is the part that tastes like toffee. ¬†It’s magical.

Step 3:  Pour all over the crackers. Spread around. Place in oven for 6 minutes.

Step 4: Crush the candy canes or chop the nuts.

Step 5: Take tray out of your oven and throw the chocolate chips on top. Cover. This is why you don’t really need to measure them out, just put them on top and make sure everywhere is mostly covered with chips. ¬†After letting them sit for a minute or two, the chips will soften from the heat enough for you to spread them around!

Step 6: Sprinkle the candy canes or the nuts all over the top. ¬†Place in freezer. ¬†Let it get hard, about 30-60 minutes, or a day or two… then peel off the tin foil and break apart!

It’s THAT simple! The entire preparation and cooking process will take you ten minutes. ¬†No joke. ¬†And they will be flying off the plate! ¬†Maybe that’s why my cousins call it “magical toffee”…

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Anyway, to conclude the Grama part of the story… after I released the video, I find out my great aunt is not pleased with me because I did not mention her name. ¬†I was so confused. ¬†I asked grama and she said, well, it’s from the cousins, but I got it from Aunt Mimi… Oops!! ¬†So… thanks Aunt Mimi for sharing the awesome recipe with Grama from our cousins!

AND! ¬†I have some awesome news! ¬†I will be on my first TV segment on “Better Connecticut” on the local WSFW channel 3! ¬†I’ll be making a chicken dish, but the bark will be on the table for the interviewers to try! ¬†I will definitely post the video when it’s available online so all can see from out of state ūüôā

Thanks for your continuous support always,

Chef Stef

 

 

 

Pop’s Cornbread (secret family recipe…)

Watch my grandfather teach you how to make his family famous cornbread!

As I have said before, I am very family oriented and am very grateful to have all of my grandparents healthy and happy in their early to mid 80s. ¬†I want to make videos with them to share family recipes not only for the purposes of Chef Stef, but for posterity. I know that one day in the future I will be so happy I made these. ¬†You should do the same! ¬†If you don’t have a video camera, use your phone! ¬†Or, you can buy a little flip video camera on ebay for $30. (They discontinued, but only because phones have good quality videos now so they lost popularity. ¬†But flip videos are actually great cameras. I use a flip for all of my videos! ¬†They are extremely user friendly, point and shoot cameras and it probably weighs half a pound. ¬†You should get one now while they’re so cheap before they’re gone!)

The next issue was, which of the 4 grandparents is going to do it first? ¬†Since it was my birthday on the 18th, I convinced my grandparents who live in Long Island to come the night before. ¬†I kept telling Pop that I wanted him to make me cornbread for my birthday.¬†I subtly mentioned to him that we may make a video.¬†It’s the idea of doing it that stresses him out. ¬†He is 86, afterall.¬†I knew if I had everything set up and pressed record, he would do it. ¬†And he did. He ate that camera up. Some of that he did all on his own. ¬†I started to put his girly apron on to match me and he didn’t object in the least. He’s the original ham. ¬†I got some of my spunk from him. And as you can see by the outtakes, we had a blast doing it. ¬†We laughed the entire morning! ¬†My grandma was there too, in the peanut gallery, cracking up behind the camera. Mom was filming. ¬†I knew I wouldn’t be able to work the camera like I usually do and concentrate on Pop! And she did a great job. (Thanks, mom!)

It really is a very simple recipe.  If you like spicy, my grandfather sometimes dices up a few jalepenos and throws them in the batter!

Here’s your grocery list:

2 cups of flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal (I didn’t mention this in the video because Pop didn’t realize until after, that he usually mixes half cup of course cornmeal and half cup of regular. ¬†It gives it a bit more texture. ¬†But course cornmeal is sometimes difficult to find, so regular works just as well.)

3/4 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of butter (1 for the recipe, 1 to coat the pan so it doesn’t stick!)

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups of milk

Directions:

Set your oven to 425¬į

In one bowl, beat the 2 eggs and add the sugar. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients. Sift the flour, add the cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Now mix in your milk and melted 1 tablespoon of butter. It’s going to be a bit dry, so don’t worry, that’s correct.

Now, add the egg and sugar mixture. You can see what the consistency should look like of all the ingredients mixed together at 2:32.

At 2:37, we have no idea what Pop was singing…and neither does he! He started singing this random Italian song that we’ve never heard him sing before. We asked what it was and he said he had no idea. ¬†It’s amazing that he sometimes seems like he’s losing his memory, and yet, he will pull a song out of nowhere that he probably hasn’t heard since the 1940s. Crazy.

Take your loaf pan and put the other tablespoon of butter in it. ¬†You can put the pan in the oven to melt the butter, or just melt it the usual way you melt butter. ¬†The goal is to coat the loaf pan so it doesn’t stick! ¬†Taking any cake out of any pan is always scary because if it cracks in half because it’s stuck… well, it’ll taste good but it won’t look very fancy! So always over butter. ¬†A little extra butter in this one instance won’t kill you!

Put your batter in the pan and place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. ¬†Turn the pan around 20 minutes in. ¬†It may look burned on top, but it’s really okay. ¬†Everyone’s ovens are different. ¬†Ours came out a little darker on the top than it does when it bakes in Pop’s oven. ¬†It didn’t taste any different though. ¬†It was the thinnest layer at the top that was very brown. Around 30 minutes, take it out and stick a toothpick in. ¬†In Pop’s oven it takes 30 minutes, in my oven it took 42 minutes until the toothpick came out clean. ¬†Keep an eye on it! ¬†Be sure to stick the toothpick in the middle, the thickest part, not the ends.

Pop wanted to share with you all where he got the recipe at 3:19. ¬†I didn’t tell him to do that! He said, “Can I tell them where I got it?” The Durgin Park restaurant he’s talking about still exists in a very famous, touristy part of downtown Boston called Faneuil Hall. ¬†I think it’s been around since the 1800s. ¬†Isn’t it funny that back in the day, in the 1940s, my grandfather said, “Your cornbread is great,¬†can I have the recipe?” and they handed it over? I triple dog dare you to ask any restaurant for a recipe now without getting laughed at! Every restaurant is super secretive now. I have one good guess as to why that is. ¬†Because most restaurants no longer use all the real ingredients because it’s expensive. They look for cheaper shortcuts, for fillers. For example, when someone in my family told a waitress that she couldn’t have the bun on her burger for gluten reasons, the waitress proceeded to tell us, “well there is oatmeal IN our burgers…” ¬†AKA, they use oats as a filler because meat is expensive. And wait… oats in a burger?? ¬†1. Who would have thought and 2. Ew?

Start cooking more and eating out less! ¬†At least if you make your own food… you’ll know what’s in it…

Once your cornbread is done, it can be eaten warm or cold, with or without butter. If there is any leftover, store it in tin foil in a drawer or fridge if you plan on keeping it for a few days.

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This picture below was taken of Pop and my dad on my birthday in 2011.  Everyone bought me aprons because I was getting serious about starting Chef Stef!  Then life happened, and it took another 2 years to finally get it going.

IMG_0937 Real men wear aprons.

And that’s it! The outtakes are all entertaining, so watch the video til the end if you need a laugh!

Stay tuned for more episodes with my other 3 grandparents! It’s going to take a bit more convincing for them. ¬†But, I’m so sneaky, my plan worked! ¬†I knew if I got just one of them to do it, the rest would get jealous. ¬†They did. ¬†So now they’re all talking about what they’re going to make on my show. ¬†Teeheeheeeee!

Have a FABULOUS, beautiful Fall weekend!

Chef Stef