Chocolate-Covered Banana Pudding Pops

Posted by on Friday Aug 29th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with a totally retro dessert, gone frozen, in what will perhaps be the only appearance of pudding mix on this blog for all eternity. Natalie joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just good old-fashioned butter, sugar, peanut butter, and chocolate. Don’t miss her recent summery posts, about Peanut Butter Buckeye Bars and Mixed Berry Frozen Lemonade.

The combo of chocolate and banana is a match made in heaven. One of my favorite snacks is chocolate chips and banana chips, but this time of year something cool and refreshing is in order. So I figured why not take my favorite snack and make it into a popsicle? These banana pudding pops are an easy and fun treat to whip together for a crowd. They’ll please young and old alike, especially because they’re dipped in chocolate. Adding the coconut oil adds a tiny bit of tropical flavor to the treat, but really it just makes sure the chocolate hardens nicely. The texture of a pudding pop is delightful, creamy and decadent but I like to think it’s at least a slightly healthy treat.

The recipe can be doubled or even tripled if you have enough popsicle molds. Don’t forget to buy the popsicle sticks! You can probably find the popsicle sticks at the grocery store, but I got mine at a good old-fashioned hardware store…you know the kind, the kind with everything and the kitchen sink (truly!). Unmolding the treats can be a bit of an art, but submerging the tray in a bowl of hot water or running them under hot water for a few minutes should do the trick. Be sure to give a nice tug on them to get the popsicle out in one piece. And give your freezer rungs a good scrub before resting the popsicles on them. But a freezer full of gorgeous chocolate-dipped banana pudding pops is a beautiful sight indeed!

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Show me the chicken stew. I was famous growing up for my love of falling-apart chicken, and to this day I adore meat that has been cooked long enough to soak in the flavors of cacciatore, Morocco, coriander, and New Mexico.

Even white meat.

When I go to the butcher, I almost always choose chicken thighs, usually bone-in/skin-on. Yes, dark meat is more flavorful and harder to overcook. It’s also cheaper. Then I roast the thighs, or I make things like this stew, where you have to pick out the bones and skin as you eat, but I never mind that though I know some people do, which is why those people (maybe you?) search the internet for boneless skinless chicken breast recipes, and, in the process, say no to bones, skin, and dark meat. If we’re being 110% honest, sometimes I scoff at you guys (I’m really sorry!), but today I’ve made you a really lovely flavorful stew that’s ideally suited to right now: the end of summer, but not the end of tomato season, or eggplant season, or herbs-from-other-people’s-gardens season.

You know you’ve met a true carbohydrate lover when she craves not just warm bread, but warm bread with potatoes; not just a bowl of fluffy jasmine rice, but rice with chana bateta. Let’s take a minute to consider the real ingenuity of the burrito: it’s not in the guac nor the carnitas, but rather in the combination of tortilla and rice.

The latest edition of the Five-Ingredient Sandwich is cut from the same carby cloth. Slices of potatoes, tossed with oil and smoked paprika, pile up on soft foccacia to create a killer vegetarian sandwich. There’s arugula, mayo, and an egg as well.

The dual inspirations for this both come from Spain, and neither is in the double carb club. The first, a mountain of freshly fried potato chips with a spicy tomato sauce and a fried egg, was what my sister Kate and I subsisted on when we visited Madrid. We kept wanting to try new restaurants, but we kept returning to the one with the freshly fried potato chips, the spicy tomato sauce, and the egg.

The second, the Spanish omelet or tortilla espagnola, you probably know about. That, a bread-free meal-in-a-skillet will have long won you over if you’re a busy, new, poor, or space-challenged cook. My friend Marc has perfected the dish (his tip: use plenty of oil when frying the potatoes), but we’ve got an old BGSK recipe you can start with here.

Make the Best Burritos at Home

Posted by on Saturday Aug 23rd, 2014

In college, this joint Felipe’s opened up not far from my dorm, and everyone started going there for burritos and tacos all the time. Though my classmates from San Francisco and other parts of Boston were acquainted with the assembly-line format of this sort of burrito place, I was amused and amazed to watch the burrito assemblers go. Tortilla: steamed! Cheese: melted! Beans: scooped! Meat: chopped! Sour cream: gobbed on! Burrito: rolled. Go, go, go.

Though you don’t really want to be in the business of making small batches of burritos, because where’s the assembly line fun in that, you might want to add these to your repertoire if a) you’re having a party or b) you could eat burritos all day, every day. I interviewed one of the founders of Dos Toros and tested the formula at home to make burrito-making more approachable. You can read the full piece, with recipes and tips, over at First We Feast.

How to Cook a Lobster Feast at Home

Posted by on Friday Aug 22nd, 2014

For many years of my life, every summer brought a trip to Maine. Beginning way back in 1992, when I visited my older sister, Jill, who was spending all summer at sleep-away camp (the all-girls, electricity-free enclave in Poland, Maine, where my mom had gone) and ending in 2010ish, when the last of my best-friends-forever camp buddies finally gave up their counselor positions to get “real jobs,” I made the drive, and occasionally, the flight, to the best state in the union. The cold mornings, calm lakes perfectly suited for waterskiing, and goofy camp antics are what comprise the bulk of my memories.

As for the food? Well, camp cuisine isn’t all that enticing, but every Wednesday we went out for homemade ice cream, and at the end of each summer, the camp treated us to an enormous lobster feast, and those two eating events were awesome enough to make up for the rest. Years when I wasn’t a camper bound to campus, we always made a point of heading off site, to Harraseeket, in Freeport, where we ordered lobster feasts: fries, corn, fried clams, and just-cooked local lobsters. We put on bibs, cracked the shells to reach the meat, and dipped every bite in drawn butter.

Imagine, then, what it’s like to be a person who adores Maine, who makes up for days of brown bag lunching by breaking the budget at Ed’s Lobster Bar on a regular Wednesday, and who has never cooked her own lobster. That’s a stretch, eh? But that’s me. Or, that was me.

That’s why it’s something of an epiphany to find out that lobsters are more affordable than they used to be, and that they can be shipped, live, across the country by FreshDirect, the sponsor of this post. (Check them out here. They’re hosting a Lobster Party and have launched the first-ever Lobster Hotline [1-844-4LOBSTA] to help answer your lobster prep questions, provide recipes, and tell lobster jokes.) To eat a really great lobster, it turns out, you don’t have to be on the coast of Maine. You can be in your kitchen in New York City or wherever. Only difference: you are now responsible for sticking a live Homarus lobster (that’s the substantial kind we get here on the East Coast in summer, with sweet meat and easy-to-crack shells, which FreshDirect sends straight from the Maine docks where they’re brought in) into boiling water. This, however, was nowhere near as frightening as I thought it would be. Water boiling, lobster in, lobster out, and done. I shuddered for maybe a second when I grabbed those poor doomed crustaceans, but I got over it long before I made a much more comfortable plunge, of sweet lobster tail meat into melted butter.

Which is all to say that the result–truly fresh lobsters paired with corn, salad, steamers, and butter–made for a jovial and kind of epic weeknight dinner that took me both back to childhood evenings in Maine and forward to new planes of seafood deliciousness.

This post is sponsored by FreshDirect, who provided lobsters and compensation. Check out their sale on Homarus lobsters from Maine, and don’t miss tips for prepping lobster and recipes from Chef Anne Burrell at freshdirect.com/lobsterparty – also, follow along with #FDLobsterParty. Rirst time customers can get $25 off a $75 with the code FDLobster.* Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

Vote in the Away from Home Cooking Contest! — Cooking while traveling: kind of an impossibility, right? Nope! That’s because at Extended Stay America hotels, every room has a kitchen. Not a mini kitchen, a real “kitchen kitchen” (equipped with pots, pans, bowls, utensils, a cutting-board, knives and an Away From Home Cooking cookbook — among other essentials.) That’s why I shared this video recipe, about three minimalist but delicious ways with polenta, here. Don’t miss it! (more…)

There should be a single word for the anxiety you feel when you know your CSA or farmers’ market vegetables might go bad in their picturesque bowl on the counter before you get a chance to cook something delicious with them. There are two possible upshots of this feeling: one, that the vegetables do go bad, which stinks; and two, that you force yourself to cook everything up into some hodgepodge hash or curry that’s good but possibly not as off-the-charts good as that perfect eggplant/herbs/tomato would have been had you had the time to treat each vegetable like a star.

And then, when my sister’s neighbor dropped off so much fresh produce from his garden that she sent me a desperate text, and when my mother-in-law’s small garden yielded pounds of string beans just in the time we were visiting, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, I realized that our urban what-do-I-do-with-this-produce anxiety (see, we need a single word), is a faint facsimile of what people with gardens or farms must experience.

If you’re a pro at this, let us know what you make to prevent any veggies from going to waste!

In the city, we choose to live on the edge, with respect to potentially rotting vegetables, by joining a CSA or allowing ourselves to overspend at the market. In the country, on the other hand, you might be the innocent victim of  a neighbor’s overzealous springtime planting.So I don’t come from a place of total vegetable-overload expertise. My apologies. Still, I can’t help but think that this soup, which turns a half dozen ears of corn into a delicate cream that you can ladle into your mouth, is an awesome solution to the problem of too much corn. Besides corn, there are just two ingredients in the soup, potatoes and Unsweetened Original Almond Breeze Almond Milk, both of which complement the corn with their sweetness and their substance. Add bacon on top and a chunk of buttered baguette on the side, and you’ve got a dinner so delicious I can promise you one thing: that you will never learn not to over-buy or over-plant. If this silky substance represents the untold third upshot of the the too-much-vegetable anxiety, I think the whole dance is worth it.