frozen baby bananas

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What a monumental week. And what an amazing time to be in San Francisco. It was pretty magical going into the Castro on Wednesday night to celebrate the Supreme Court rulings. The energy was incredible and you could literally feel the love and happiness and excitement all around. And to top it off, we are having some crazy gorgeous weather at the moment, and when it’s warm in San Francisco, it is G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. I can’t wait to celebrate Pride with my boys this weekend. I have a feeling it’s going to be big.

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And then there’s these frozen bananas. These are totally my jam right now. It started with a visit to one of the local ice cream parlors. I had an afternoon ice cream date with the girls and all of their rugrats a few months back. While all of the adults had ice cream, the kids and I had ourselves some chocolate covered frozen bananas. And we were into it.

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But it got me into the crazy habit of making myself a faux banana split almost every night for two weeks. My faux split is basically just a banana split without the ice cream, but it was getting me into some trouble. All of that homemade ganache and whipped cream and toasted almonds on top was helping the pounds creep on. So I had to kick that habit.

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I still liked the idea of bananas and chocolate for dessert. And then I realized that I should just make frozen bananas. A frozen banana is the perfect treat when you want something cold and sweet but not super indulgent.It’s essentially the same as the faux banana split, minus the whipped cream and the richness of ganache. And if you use little baby bananas (commonly found in Asian produce markets), you’ve got yourself the perfect miniature serving size. It’s exactly what you want after a big meal or when you’re just kicking it on the stoop with your homies. Hooray for summer.

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frozen baby bananas

adapted from Martha Stewart 

makes 8 servings

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate or a combo of the two, chopped

popsicle sticks or wooden skewers

8 baby bananas, peeled,  or 4 regular bananas, peeled and cut in half crosswise

2/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted nuts (I used almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and pecans)  or sprinkles

flaky sea salt (optional)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir just until melted.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently insert a popsicle stick in one end of each banana. Dip banana in chocolate, spooning on additional chocolate to cover.

Sprinkle banana with nuts and a little sea salt and set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas. Freeze until chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes, or up to 7 days.

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for the babette

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The Babette came to us in the early 2000s. A family friend brought her over one afternoon, knowing that we were suckers for displaced animals. She was one of two cats belonging to a woman who was relocating to the East Coast; only one cat could go on the plane back East, leaving the other an orphan.

She was no ordinary orphaned cat – a Doll Face Himalayan with gigantic blue eyes and an amazing coat of fluff – she was magnificent. I think it was love at first sight for my sister, who decided on the spot that the cat would be hers. We originally named her the Baby because she had the face of a girl we had given the nickname to a few years earlier. We later decided her persona was that of a fancy French lady, so she was eventually dubbed the Babette.

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The Babette was one of the girls. She would sit on the couch with us while we gossiped over cocktails and read magazines in my sister’s apartment. She loved male attention and flirted with all of the boys that came to visit. She liked pretty things. We joked that she would play dress-up and put on vintage costume jewelry and expensive perfume while my sister was away at work.

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She wasn’t like other cats, and interestingly, other cats didn’t quite know what to make of her when she would walk up to greet them, almost as if she was of an entirely different species. Unlike most cats, the Babette was incredibly social and loved being around people and making new friends. She was playful and kept herself entertained for hours – we could always hear her playing and chasing balls around the apartment. Most importantly, she was a devoted companion and really took care of my sister during a very sad time. In my mind she’ll always be a tiny little hero. We’ll love her forever for that.

It was obvious that her age was catching up with her over the last few months. At times she seemed confused and she was beginning to feel frail. But she still managed to leave her perch and sneak outside to sunbathe almost every day. And she was affectionate until the very end. The day before she passed, I found her lounging in her bed on the front porch, enjoying the late afternoon sun. She looked like a glamorous old lady in that golden light. I think that’s how she’d want to be remembered. A glamorous old dame. Our sweet Babette.

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kale caesar slaw

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It’s beginning to feel like summer around here. I like it. I’m ready to make some frozen treats. But first, let’s take care of the important things. Let’s talk about kale.

tuscan kale

This is what I refer to as real life eating. I eat a whole lotta kale behind the scenes around here. Like at least two bunches a week, sometimes three, even four if I’m on a roll. It’s made its way into my eggs in the morning. And I usually have some form of kale for lunch or dinner. I haven’t really gotten into the whole green juicing thing, but I imagine that could happen some day.

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AD and I tried out this recipe for a kale Caesar slaw one night a few months back and since then I find myself making it at least once a week. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate raw kale into your diet, this is a great place to start. The secret to eating raw kale is slicing it into thin ribbons when prepping. I swear this makes a world of a difference. And if you love a classic Caesar salad like I do, this is right up your alley.

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This is the kind of salad that easily becomes a meal (I can eat half of it in one sitting – it’s that good). I think the grated hard boiled egg is what really does it for me. But I’m also a sucker for an anchovy-based dressing; if you’re not so keen on anchovies, capers are an excellent substitute. A hunk of crusty bread alongside and a glass of wine and you’re good to go.

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kale caesar slaw 

adapted from epicurious

serves 2-6

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

splash of Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled

14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups, or two bunches)

Combine the lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, Dijon, and Worcestershire in a blender or food processor; purée until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add oil, drop by drop at first, until dressing is creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

In a large bowl, toss kale and dressing and coat thoroughly (this is easiest done with your hands). Season with salt and pepper. Using a fine cheese grater or a Microplane, grate the hard boiled egg over the kale. Top with remaining parmesan and serve.

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