Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

These creamy, dreamy frozen chocolate banana bites are sure to make the rest of your summer more delicious. Easy enough to make for the kids on a whim, and delicious enough for the grown-ups to eat straight from the freezer when the kids aren’t looking, these are sure to be a hit. They’re a riff on the famous Trader Joe’s “Gone Bananas”—with an even more tasty addition of a white chocolate drizzle to take these to the next level.

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites You’d think this would be a great recipe to use up too-ripe bananas, but resist the urge. The method will still work, but fresh bananas hold up much better and give you a fresher treat. Freezing the slices beforehand makes the treats edible as soon as you put the chocolate on, but feel free to dip unfrozen slices then freeze for later. This recipe makes slices from just one banana, but feel free to scale up and up and up. Still, since the chocolate will eventually seize because of the moisture in the bananas, I recommend making this in one-banana batches.

Natalie of Good Girl Style 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 stuff like bananas and chocolate. Want even more GF desserts for summer? Check out Natalie’s recipe for Sweet Tea Slushies.

Zucchini, Mushroom & Provolone Picnic Pizza

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When you bring homemade pizza to a picnic, you can’t afford to have cheese sliding all over. Maybe that’s why we don’t see enough pizza posing as picnic food: we’re all afraid of hot mozz sliding off the marinara and onto our laps. Or maybe worse–the cheese congealing while we toss the frisbee until we sit down to a pie that looks more like yesterday’s late-night order than today’s fresh meal.

Zucchini Pizza | Big Girls Small KtichenZucchini Pizza | Big Girls Small Kitchen

But what if you forget pizza margarita and make a pie that’s less saucy and slide-y? If you do so, you’ll see that pizzas, re-envisioned as vegetable-topped flatbreads–are ideal picnic food. They’re easy to transport, good at room temperature, and if you put enough vegetables on top you might just eliminate the need for side dishes.

Another thing you can eliminate: bringing utensils to your picnic by cutting up the pizza at home before you go. That’s what we did, with a pair of kitchen scissors, ten minutes after it came out of the oven; the crust and topping were sturdy enough by then. They held up pretty well when we piled the uneven rectangles onto two plastic plates and headed, with friends, to the park for a concert.

The presentation on plates left over from December was a little makeshift, sure, but since the cheese wasn’t dancing all around on a hot, flimsy crust, transportation was easy and successful. We brought a few napkins and nothing else, gear-wise. We ate on our blanket, grateful not to have to buy dinner at the park, food that always looks good but usually, you know, disappoints. We didn’t have to haul back containers or leftovers, either.
Zucchini Pizza | Big Girls Small KitchenZucchini Pizza | Big Girls Small Kitchen

When I made this again the following week, we weren’t going anywhere outside to eat. So after the timer beeped and I piled on the parm, I sat down to a meal in a very sticky apartment. That’s when the foolishness of turning the oven to 500°F when the city has already hiked up the heat to 95°F became evident. My cravings make me an idiot! Still, if there’s any good reason to sweat out dinner prep right now, using summer veggies to produce pizza has got to be top of the list.

Thai Banana Smoothies

Banana Smoothie | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Working in Seoul, I was ready for a holiday on the beach before heading off to graduate school. The Ko Phi Phi Islands certainly fit the bill.

My desire to visit Ko Phi Phi was prompted not simply by tales of the pristine beaches and the unreal beauty of the smaller island Ko Phi Phi Le. In 2004, the Boxing Day Earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged countries along the perimeter of the Indian Ocean, including this small group of islands, killing nearly 230,000 people. Friends had traveled to Ko Phi Phi the summer before the earthquake and were devastated at the news. What had become of the island, they wondered. I was headed to find out.

As the ferry pulled up to the shore, I took in the bay filled with ruea hang yao, the famous long-tail boats of Thailand, and the palm trees. Near the shore, the trees were short and looked freshly planted. Further in, the trees were taller, but patchy in places, some bearing scars and gashes. To the unacquainted eye, the island showed no real evidence of destruction. Buildings lined the boardwalk along Ton Sai Bay: restaurants, bars, hotels, and snorkeling shops. All the ingredients necessary to satisfy the tourist population.

During my time on the island, I saw traces of the tsunami here and there. The island had been hit with much less force than other countries closer to the epicenter of the earthquake, such as Indonesia. A restaurant bore a pen mark on its wall, indicating where the water level had been after the tsunami, far above the heads of dining customers.

Banana Smoothies | Big Girls Small KitchenBanana Smoothies | Big Girls Small KitchenBanana Smoothies | Big Girls Small Kitchen

On the second day of my visit, I stopped by a smoothie stand and asked what was on the menu. “Anything you’d like, but banana is delicious,” said the man, smiling with a blender in hand. “Just banana?” I asked. The cart stood overflowing with exotic fruits. Banana alone sounded unimpressive, but he seemed confident in his recommendation. We chatted as he threw in the ingredients: some type of milk, a small bit of cocoa, and huge chunks of banana and ice. “Enjoy!” he said with an even bigger grin. I did. It was the most delicious smoothie I have ever had. Pure banana, subtly sweet and milky rich.Banana Smoothies | Big Girls Small Kitchen

I went back every day, sometimes twice, during my stay on the island. The man was always there and, as he put together the smoothie – always banana – we talked about our lives. He told me that the island was rebuilt quickly after the tsunami. The tourist industry was so important to the lives of the people that there was no other option. The finished facade that greeted newcomers to the island was only part of the story. Over the hill, where the Thai residents lived, was the other part. Houses still in shambles and lives just now being reassembled. I took his story with me as I traveled back home, as well as the memory of that perfect banana smoothie. This re-imagining of that banana smoothie adds in a few more ingredients and comes without a view of the beach, but it makes the average summer day a bit more tropical.

There’s nothing like travel to get the appetite ready for new tastes and cooking methods, and I’m happy to have Carly Diaz here once again, showing how seeing the world inspires us in the kitchen. Don’t miss her last gorgeous post about Welshcakes

Ceviche with Toasted Coriander & Mustard Seeds

Ceviche | Big Girls Small Kitchen

The day we ordered ceviche in Lima, lunch was supposed to be the first stop in a short eight-hour swing through the city. When our flight was canceled eight hours later, we ended up with quadruple the time and the ability to see streets beyond of Miraflores, the oceanside neighborhood where we ate lunch that reminded me of L.A.

Avocado & Raita Sandwich

Raita Sandwich | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Out of the blue, I became a yogurt lover.

At first, I disliked the stuff. Then, I reluctantly thought it was okay. Though I wouldn’t snack on a flavored yogurt, every so often, a few bites of plain with honey hit the spot. I added spoonfuls to my smoothies because I figured it was good for me. Boring reason to eat something – right?

Raita Sandwich | Big Girls Small KitchenWhat flipped the switch a couple months ago was thinking of yogurt as a savory ingredient rather than a sweet one. Though milk and cream have natural sweet notes, by the time dairy becomes yogurt, the tanginess has taken over. With berries, bananas, and granola, my tastebuds just don’t like how that jibes.

Instead, I mixed yogurt with pesto for a sauce, spooned tzatziki onto some recent Greek meatballs in equal proportion to the meat, and dolloped plain whole-milk yogurt onto whatever I put in my mouth: weird hodgepodge bowl lunches, egg-and-cheese toasts, in place of sour cream on chilaquiles and tacos. I started ordering Sohha from Good Eggs in bigger and bigger containers. This was an odd set of eating events.

How to Cook Food in a Small Kitchen

How to Cook Great Food in a Small Kitchen

Nearly seven years ago, my co-founder and I wrote the first post on Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Four and half years ago we relaunched with the sweet turquoise logo that stuck around until yesterday. In spite of a lot of time, and a lot of changes, I’m still here (hi!), cooking in a small kitchen. About a year ago, I looked at that sweet turquoise logo (and the crowded sidebar, and the lack of functionality on mobile), and I sighed. I had had enough.

So I made plans to bring in the new: colors, logo, layout, functions. I worked on all this for you. I wanted readers to be able to find the recipes you were looking for, enjoy the photos without so much visual clutter, and browse through tips and menus to find kitchen inspiration and knowledge at your leisure.

I also worked on this redesign for me. Big Girls, Small Kitchen had to look good when I came to publish posts or look for dinner ideas in the archives. Most of the words and recipes are mine, and I wanted each page to look mine, too. The new red is pretty much my favorite color right now. The black body font is the text my eyes want to read on a screen. Everything adapts for my awkward fingers on mobile. The Kitchen Stuff archive shows you recommended tools. The recipe index is navigable either as a massive comprehensive beast or a more gentle curated grid. I hope you like it all! Please let me know if you find quirks or problems anywhere: I’ll fix ’em.

Should I be amazed that I’m still blogging? Cooking is a lifelong practice. In seven years, I’ve become a much better cook, in part because of the record I’ve kept here, of meals, parties, friends, breakfasts, drinks, travel. I think my food tastes more delicious than ever before. But I’m sure my style and tastes will keep changing. In this moment, at least, I feel, well, wise. So in honor of the new design, I’m sharing my circa-July 21, 2015 habits for making great food in a small space.

Use a lot of oil and butter

Don’t skimp. That’s where the flavor is.

Sprinkle a lot of salt

Yes, yes, you should salt to taste. But I’ve noticed that most people don’t, really. Taste, that is. They sprinkle on some salt and then they eat. You should salt as you go and try bites (if food safety allows). If you know you won’t try, can I implore you to at least add a little more salt than you think? Whole foods have very little to begin with, but they need salt to taste good. Don’t start hurling in fistfuls, but know that if I were standing beside you, I’d tell you to put in another pinch or two or three.

Add lemon or vinegar

I don’t like tangy flavors much. So I used to skimp on the acids. But I do like balance. Sourness balances out sweetness, saltiness, and richness in one go. If a dish feels like it’s missing something, squeeze on lemon juice and taste again.

Cook what you like to eat

This one sounds so stupid! But I think we’re all constantly bombarded by what other people–writers, restauranteurs, TV personalities, our friends, BuzzFeed–like to eat that we forget to make ourselves our favorite dishes. I maintain that the best part of being a grown up is eating exactly what you want. What do you want? Make it.

Cook a lot

Whether it’s on Sunday afternoons or in 30 minute bursts during the week. You’ll get better, you’ll learn a lot, and hopefully you’ll enjoy yourself.

Eat leftovers

They’re just the best. Having great leftovers around means that from-scratch meals feel like semi-homemade ones. If you’re not super into leftovers, see if you feel differently when you stick them in a sandwich, melt some cheese on top, or crown them with a fried egg. Here are the 14 best dishes to make in advance.

Use only two burners at a time

Seriously, if you’re starting out, don’t let four pots simmer at once. Recipe for disaster. Maybe even start with one burner and make a second dish in the oven. Graduate to more as you improve at multitasking.

Make food for guests before they arrive

All casserole-type things; many assemble-your-own type sandwiches, noodle bars, and pastas; and big pots of stew should be made in advance: they’re better that way, and you don’t have to worry about cooking while guests are there. Maybe one day you’ll want to fry tempura while your friends hang out in the living room, but I still don’t. Assemble a salad or finish some crostini at the last minute if you run out of time or like having buddies help in the kitchen.

Buy staples every time you shop

Don’t try to outfit a pantry in one go. Constantly take stock of what you own, and if you’re running low on sesame oil or peppercorns, add those to an otherwise mundane shopping list. This spreads out your spending too, which is nice, and you won’t have to lug home huge bags from the supermarket–if you still go to brick-and-mortar markets.

Sauté vegetables til tender, then mix them with pasta, pasta water, and parm

It’s a no-fail meal. You’re not quite carbo loading, because you have a lot of veggies mixed in, but you are eating something cheap, delicious, and comforting. A bowl that’s half pasta and half vegetables (and half cheese and half garlic) can get you through a lot of weeknights. The cooking water has starch that turns the vegetables into a sauce.