Pavlova with Almond Whipped Cream & Berries

Pavlova with Almond Whipped Cream & Berries

Is there anything more welcoming than a cloud-like cake filled with whipped cream and berries to bring spring to the table (even if it’s a little early)?

A pavlova is simply a large meringue, made with egg whites and sugar and baked. It gets its name from the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova, because it’s as light and airy as she was on her feet. If you like meringues, with their crisp exterior and marshmallowy-pillowy interior, this stunning dessert is a must-make.

Pavlova | Big Girls Small Kitchenpavlova | Big Girls Small Kitchen
Pavlovas are showstoppingly beautiful, and the good news is, they are easy to create. Just be sure there are no bits of egg yolk in your whites and that the sugar is fully dissolved into the egg whites. The top of the pavlova may cave from the weight of your fruit, but no matter; it still tastes just as delicious. While a pavlova is a dessert, it is very low in sugar and I think it makes a lovely addition to a brunch table as well.

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 egg whites, nuts, and fruit. Don’t miss her sprinkle-filled Rice Krispie treats

Rice ‘N Cheese

Rice 'n Cheese| Big Girls Small Kitchen

I had always saved my leftover rice for fried rice or breakfast-style rice pudding.

Last year, I read about a method for making leftover rice pudding that used rice’s starchiness as a natural thickener, activated by a slow simmer with the liquid of your choice–coconut milk, half and half, whole milk, or a mix.

Rice 'n Cheese| Big Girls Small KitchenRice 'n Cheese| Big Girls Small Kitchen

Immediately, I thought about how this might work as a savory rice pudding instead of a sweet one. Immediately after that, I had a feeling that I’d replace all the sugar with grated cheese. The result, which I’ve been making for lunches on days when there’s extra rice, tastes a lot like mac ‘n cheese but with rice instead of pasta.

Rice 'n Cheese| Big Girls Small KitchenRice n Cheese | Big Girls Small Kitchen

With mac ‘n cheese, you have to add flour to the béchamel sauce. In most recipes, that’s what turns plain milk into a sauce that can insinuate itself into pasta shapes. But with this recipe, the rice releases enough starch into the milk that the dish thickens of its own accord. By the time 40 minutes are up, you’ll find your milk turned into a thick sauce. Stir in cheese, as much as you like, and whatever kind you like or have, and lunch is ready. A green salad is nice, but you can also one-bowl this and get your vegetable intake at another meal.

All About Cinnamon Rolls and Sticky Buns

Cinnamon Buns

I write a series over at First We Feast that intends to give cooks a guide to making favorite take-out food at home. As you know if you’ve been reading for a while, I interview chefs who make the best versions of the dish, whether tacos or French toast or lasagna. And, for a couple months now, I’ve been trying to convince my editors that the next post had to be about cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.

Sticky Buns

Finally, they agreed.

I got out the buttermilk, the butter and the yeast. I reached for the honey, the cream, and the cinnamon. I let dough rise, then proof. And I learned – both from my interviews with three expert bakers and from my own experiments – that cinnamon buns are a lot more forgiving to bake than they look. You can read the guide and see the step-by-step here.

Giant Lemon Valentine Cookies with Cherry Frosting

Cherry Glazed Cookies for Valentine's Day

A few years ago, I decided that sugar cookies could be as buttery and chewy as chocolate chip cookies. I developed a recipe based off of my favorite chocolate chip cookie formula, substituting classic white sugar for the molasses-y brown, skipping the chocolate, and grating in a lemon’s worth of fresh zest. Today, I’m turning those cookie jar favorites into a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe.

Giant Lemon Valentine Cookies with Cherry FrostingGiant Lemon Valentine Cookies with Cherry Frosting

I hadn’t made the recipe in a while when my sister Kate reminded me of it a month or two ago. Her boyfriend brought a batch into his office, where colleagues raved about the very qualities I’d engineered the cookies to have: softness, chewiness, butteriness. Yes.

Giant Lemon Valentine Cookies with Cherry FrostingGiant Lemon Valentine Cookies with Cherry Frosting

Of all the characteristics of these sweets, my favorite is their size. Dainty treats have their place elsewhere. These cookies are huge! You only get 20 out of the full batch, a fact that makes these quicker to make, since you’re not shaping spheres forever…

That means lots of crispy edges, lots of chewy center–and lots of surface area for a hot pink frosting made from a handful of cherries (all natural!) that transforms these from cookie jar types into bright, festive cookies perfect for your Valentine and all your sweet friends and family.

Baked Tortilla Skillet with Chicken, Black Beans, and Peppers

Baked Tortilla Skillet with Chicken, Black Beans, and Peppers

What’s funny about this no-roll baked tortilla skillet shebang is I didn’t mean for it to appear during what I think of as Tex-Mex, or football, season. I invented the recipe – a means of eating an enchilada-like meal without actually rolling up a dozen or more tubes of filled tortillas – to be one of those smart shortcuts you take when you want to eat a decent meal, one with some vegetables and without copious amounts of refined carbs or cheese, but you’re on a little bit of a time budget.

Tortilla Baked Tortilla Skillet with Chicken, Black Beans, and Peppers

When you cook layered foods, each layer has to be just right: seasoned aggressively but not overwhelmingly. Here, I started with the sauce, making a tomato-based enchilada sauce flavored with both a fresh habanero and a dried chile de arbol.

Aloo Gobi with Chickpeas

Aloo Gobi | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Every so often, I return to my vegetarian ways of the past (I was a vegetarian when BGSK started, just in case you haven’t been reading forever). With the notable exceptions of pepperoni pizza and ShackBurgers, I’ve been choosing to cook veggies since 2016 started. This is all accidental, not as part of a big resolution or anything. In this small kitchen, it’s been all potatoes and peppers and beans and rice and pasta and sauce and cheese.

Aloo Gobi | Big Girls Small KitchenAloo Gobi | Big Girls Small KitchenAs an omnivore, I don’t worry too much about protein in my vegetarian food. But after a couple weeks of pasta with veggies, I had the feeling that I should maybe add a handful of chickpeas to my aloo gobi to make sure my muscles stayed strong enough for barre class.

And so, I turned a recipe for the beloved Indian potato and cauliflower curry into a spicy, warming, all-vegetarian formula for a potato and cauliflower stew with chickpeas, making for a complete–if carb-centric–vegetarian dinner whose leftovers make a lunch I couldn’t wait to eat. Aloo Gobi | Big Girls Small KitchenAloo Gobi | Big Girls Small KitchenAloo Gobi | Big Girls Small Kitchen

You should know that this–and most of the recipes I used as starting points for my experimentations in spicy potatoes and cauliflower–are all shortcuts. The best aloo gobi, like the best ratatouille, requires individually frying the vegetables before you combine them with the sauce. You can do it if you want. I might, sometime. But on a busy weeknight, that sounded like a pain. The other bit of knowledge to have is that aloo gobi is most often a dry curry. There’s not a ton of sauce, though you could increase the amount of tomatoes if you wanted. For that reason, I serve it with paratha instead of rice. Aloo Gobi | Big Girls Small KitchenIf I have a little extra time til dinner, I’ll mix up the carrot raita from this New York Times recipe, which is an ideal match.