Mocha Layered Ice Cream Cake

Posted by on Friday Aug 15th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with a beautiful dessert that requires nothing more than time and ice cream. The beauty (and tastiness) is in how they’re arranged. 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, ice cream, and coffee. Don’t miss her recent summery posts, about Coffee Granita and Easy Mango Sorbet with Coconut Cream.

In August we cling tightly to our beloved iced coffees, eschewing the hot brews until it’s downright cold outside. But when days are filled with back-to-school busy-ness and perhaps a chilly morning or two, we start to think of hot beverages again. That thought fades quickly, of course, when it’s nearly 90 degrees in the afternoon and we’re craving iced coffee again. What a cycle! A mocha layered ice cream cake is the perfect compromise for bringing these luxurious caffeinated flavors to life on a late-summer day.

The chocolate, coffee, and vanilla ice cream are reminiscent of a layered espresso-based mocha drink, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate-covered espresso beans, it is an indulgent treat. Use the best-quality ice cream you can afford. Since it’s the unequivocal star of this dessert, you can really taste the difference. Lining the pan with cling wrap makes removing the ice cream cake a snap. Dip your knife in hot water to keep the slices clean and serve immediately to minimize melting. Depending on the size of your loaf pan, you might not need all of the ice cream, but it’s better to have too much than too little! You know what to do with the leftovers.

Pizza Bianca with Anchovies & Kale

Posted by on Wednesday Aug 13th, 2014

If, as you go about becoming a better and better cook, you find yourself looking for ways to increase the satisfaction factor of salad dressings and sautéd greens, beef stews and olive tapenades, I bet you’ll become incrementally more obsessed with a tiny sliver that delivers unbelievable flavor: the anchovy. I am here to tell you that this is what has happened to me. Paired with this confession? A homemade pizza that appreciates anchovies as much as I do.

Please, don’t shirk away if the brilliance of the anchovy has yet to glare brightly at you, grabbing your culinary attention. By modifying the amount of anchovies here, you can use this recipe–a simple white pizza–as a gateway for wannabe anchovy lovers (like yourself), as a celebration of brine, salt, and umami for those who already adore the little fish, or as something in between.

It’s funny, because the first time I made a version of this pizza, I was desperate for lunch and had almost no ingredients around. With some pre-shredded mozzarella I had stowed in the freezer so long ago I actually couldn’t remember the occasion and a pre-made pizza crust, I whipped up a pizza just like this in almost no time at all. Long story short, that pizza–sad ingredients aside–tasted delicious. That meant that an intentional pizza, with a similarly minimalistic number of ingredients, would taste even better.

Recently, I was exploring the realm of at-home pizza-making for First We Feast. This is a fanatical world, a place where ovens are turned, through hacks, into pizza ovens, and the moisture content of dough is serious business. I came back from that brink only to discover that Deb of Smitten Kitchen had pretty much figured out homemade pizza crust, that is, how to make Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe even more accessible than ever, and that’s where I landed on the homemade dough for this delectable shrine to anchovies, also known as Pizza Bianca with Anchovies & Kale.

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner, christophersorel!

In a small kitchen, you don’t need a lot of equipment to cook great food. Still, you do need some pots, pans, utensils, and dishes–obviously. In the BGSK book, you’ll find a bare bones list of necessary tools, but I’ve long wanted to bring you a similar resource on the web.

So we’re going one by one, stocking up our virtual pantries and maybe our real ones too. You can see the whole “set” here.

With the not-great news coming out all the time about plastic and our health, I’ve been switching to non-plastic storage wherever possible. I don’t make a big deal of it, but when I find good-quality glass containers that we can make space for on our crowded shelves, I rejoice. Especially when I know for sure I’ll be putting hot foods away or wanting to reheat something cold in the microwave.

Lifefactory makes three ideal sizes of glass container. The one-cup for small bits of leftovers or snacks. The two-cup for bringing lunch into work. And the four-cup for make-ahead delights that’ll feed you all week: beans cooked up from scratch, big batches of hummus, or a whole lot of quinoa to serve as a base for lunch’s grain salads.

Though pictured in my older storage containers, both glass and plastic, the three instagrams shown above and linked to below are examples of food you can store in glass instead of plastic.

Even better, you can enter to win two four-cup Lifefactory glass containers. Here’s what to do:

  • {one} Leave a comment below saying what big batch dish you’re most likely to want to eat for several meals in a row.
  • {two} Be a subscriber to the Big Girls, Small Kitchen newsletter and leave a second comment letting me know you’ve subscribed.
  • {three} Tell your facebook friends and/or twitter fans about the contest – post the link and tag @Big Girls Small Kitchen (facebook) or @BGSK (twitter). Leave a third comment letting me know you’ve done so.


Contest ends August 21st!


Totally From Scratch Shirley Temples

Posted by on Wednesday Aug 6th, 2014

Yes, Shirley Temples. The drink you drank before you were allowed to sip alcohol.

Why go back? Like Frozen Lemonade and Mocha Choco Locos, some childish things are best left the way they are–childish. Here, that means a little too sweet and almost entirely booze free. Almost, because the impetus for making these came from a pot of homemade Maraschino cherries, which includes Luxardo, which includes booze.

This season was a good one for cherries, and in the process of researching this DIY booze article, I was so glad to discover the recipe for preserving some of them in this sweet mix. It’s like no Maraschino cherry you’re envisioning, I promise. The jar turns a beautiful dark maroon instead of a fake bright red, and the cherries taste as good alone as they do in Manhattans or on top of sundaes.

Or, in Shirley Temples. I had such a strong vision of using some of the leftover boozy, sweet liquid in the jar for Shirley Temples, that I wasn’t even miffed to find that they were originally made from grenadine, not cherry liquor. Though cooks use grenadine to add cherry flavor to sweets, in fact the stuff is made from pomegranates! I, of course, pushed on

I also made my own ginger syrup (which I can’t recommend highly enough). That, and seltzer, replaced the Shirley Temple’s typical ginger ale. It’s spicier, but pretty much just as sweet.

You can drink extra ginger syrup in regular homemade ginger ale, or mix up Moscow mules for friends.

Peanut Butter Buckeye Bars

Posted by on Monday Aug 4th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with the dessert you’ve been waiting for, albeit unconsciously. That’s because, deep down, you always want peanut butter and chocolate–together. 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 Coffee Granita and Easy Mango Sorbet with Coconut Cream.

Oh, chocolate and peanut butter, how good you are. Sonnets and songs can be written about the flavor combination, and it’s one of my favorites in just about any form. This creamy, peanut buttery goodness is a mix between a buckeye and a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup. If you’re familiar with buckeyes, the round peanut butter candy dipped in chocolate with an ‘eye’ left to show the candy (they’re modeled after the buckeye tree nuts), you’ll immediately understand the appeal of the candy in bar form. The trees themselves are generally found in the Midwest, particularly Ohio, but the candy is loved everywhere.

The thick layer of peanut butter generously coated with chocolate can get a bit sticky on hot summer days, so keep these in the cooler if you’ll be taking them along on a picnic. They cut best at room temperature–if they’re too cold when you cut, the chocolate later may crack and leave you with uneven pieces (though they’ll be just as delicious!).

Minimalist Polenta, Three Ways

Posted by on Thursday Jul 31st, 2014

When you’re on the road, how quickly do you get sick of take-out and packaged snacks? For me, it’s about 30 seconds and/or four bites into my first mediocre buffet. That’s why I came up with three variations on one awesome recipe that you can make even in a basic on-the-go kitchen. Watch the video to see what I made.

WATCH NOW: 3 Polenta Recipes So Easy You Can Make ‘Em in a Hotel Kitchen!

At Extended Stay America, every room has a kitchen (not a mini kitchen, not a hot plate, but the real thing–equipped with a pot, a pan, bowls, utensils, a cutting board, and a knife–among other essentials). Inspired by the recipes guests were whipping up in their rooms, the hotel chain created the Cooking Away from Home Recipe Contest to let traveling cooks submit their best recipes for meals you can make on the road, without access to your stocked at-home pantry. You can vote for a recipe here.

So, what makes a recipe good for cooking when you’re not at home? Most importantly for me, the recipe has to require just a few ingredients, all of which are available at regular grocery stores, preferably in single serving sizes or at the self-serve antipasti bar or bulk section. If you plan ahead, you can pack olive oil, salt, nuts, and grains–like polenta. (Milk, sardines, almonds, butter, and beer each make an appearance here in part because of their single-serving packaging.)

Since polenta is kind of a blank canvas, I thought I’d encourage you to vote in the ESA contest by cooking on camera, showing off this cinch of a recipe for soft polenta and three great toppings, all easy to make on the road and enticing after a day of travel, meetings, or sight-seeing. Read on for the full recipes!

This post is sponsored by Extended Stay America. Read more about Away from Home Cooking, vote for a contest winner here, and share using #cookwithESA. If you’re excited to have a full-size kitchen next time you travel, book your stay at Extended Stay America. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

The Healthiest “Food Porn” on the Internet

Posted by on Wednesday Jul 30th, 2014

When I meet someone who’s just poked through Big Girls, Small Kitchen for the first time, especially if we meet around 11am or maybe 4:30pm, he or she often says to me, “I’m so hungry now!” and then I say, “that’s my intention.”

It’s cute enough repartee, but in fact the conversation masks something I’m not entirely comfortable with: tempting you. The best way I’ve found to stay healthy in a world full of temptations is to eat three meals a day that are relatively straightforward, meaning tasty but not indulgent (you know, lots of vegetables, whole grains and good bread, some meat and fish, some cheese, enough fat to make it all delicious: more or less what mom would tell you to eat). That means I try to keep treats (sugary things, gooey things, fried things, and expensive things) in my life, but as treats. Still, I recognize that it doesn’t always seem that way if I’ve just posted about mango sorbet, followed by rainbow cake, followed by filet mignon.

That tendency to prioritize our treats in our Internet food photos has created something of an imbalance, according to Bolthouse Farms, whose whimsical, yet serious Food Porn Index tracks how healthy the internet is by comparing the number of healthy food images shared against unhealthy ones. Go play around.

So to round out that sorbet, cake, and steak, I hope you’ll give these Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and turnips their due. I also put together a pinboard called “The Healthiest Food Porn on the Internet” in order to feature food images, including many recipes from Big Girls, Small Kitchen, that are gorgeous and also truly nourishing. See below, and please repin your heart out over on pinterest.

Follow Cara / Big Girls, Small Kitchen’s board The Healthiest “Food Porn” on the Internet on Pinterest.

And so, yes, now you’ve gazed at a lot of food, and yes, if you read this at 11am you might be feeling hungrier than you did before. But maybe that means you’ll go eat a hummus-and-avocado wrap for lunch instead of a burger and fries, or better yet, go home and make a really good dinner for yourself, perhaps inspired by something on the healthy pinterest board. Balance, which basically requires that you cook well at home, really is the way to go.

This post is sponsored by Bolthouse Farms, who also created the Food Porn Index in an effort to correct the healthy-to-unhealthy ratio in food images on the ‘net. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep BGSK delicious!