collections || recipes for rainy days

At the risk of being a complete broken record here, I'll say it again:

I love all things cozy.

In my estimation, rainy days are perched high atop the list of what makes a day cozy. Now, the very best of rainy days are when they are accompanied by cool temperatures, sweaters and flannel blankets, a classic read or a classic film, and your hands wrapped around the warmth of a mug full of something delicious. So when the first rainy autumn days make their arrival I thrill. My husband knows this so well about me that when he spots such days coming on the weather app he'll send me the forecast via text with some sweet comment about just how happy he's knows this will make me. 

I love cozy rainy autumn days.

Yes, it is true. And forever it shall remain. Those other may mock me or be shocked that I could love such a day (and they have) I will stand steadily by this love of mine.

So when I spotted some more days bearing this description in the forecast for this week and next I thought I would share with you lovelies some of our favorite rainy day recipes. Some of our go-to's when that chill in the air is accompanied by those pitter-pattering sounds. 

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Soups and stews are musts in this list. This Irish Stew is the very definition of comfort food and when you make it -- because you must -- it must be paired with a good (as in chock full of butter and other dairy products) mashed potato recipe and a crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside bread.

This chicken gnocchi soup is like a warm hug. Our favorite roasted tomato soup recipe paired with an oozey grilled cheese. And no stew list would be complete with a nod to dear Julia's beef bourguignon. The woman was just a fountain of foodie wisdom.

Pasta. Always pasta. This spaghetti with white wine and roasted tomato cream sauce has such great flavor from those roasted tomatoes. This marinara sauce is so simple and quick and makes for a delicious combination with a warm baguette and heavy sprinkles of parmesan.

Finally, the baking. You must always have baking. The apple crisp in the picture up there we made twice in a couple weeks period. So simple and tasty, especially paired with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. These pumpkin donuts are so good, like really really. Up the spice amount a bit and just dip them in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar if you don't want to worry about the caramel glaze and you'll be oh so happy.

My precious mama's pumpkin bread is the best of all the pumpkin breads. Just look at the amount of spices she puts in. She knows her way around a kitchen. If you like, you can make a little cream cheese/powdered sugar concoction to spread across the top of your slices of pumpkin bread and then you shall achieve pure fall bliss.

These carmelita bars. Gracious, they are yummy. These with a fresh cup of coffee and you'll be closing your eyes and making all the "mmmmm" sounds with the best of 'em. I discovered these bars on pinterest a few years ago and tried them on a whim for a Christmas party for J's work. They were devoured and highly requested afterwards. A favorite was born.

Lastly, the biscotti recipe from my lovely friend, Rachel's. She lives in Minnesota now and I miss so much our long chats over cups of coffee and pieces of fresh biscotti while our littles play. But I love how making a recipe like this stirs up memories and so many reasons to be thankful.

I think that's why recipes become dear to us. Along with the fabulous tastes and the comfort of spending time in your kitchen you build memories around recipes as you share it in that moment in time with family and friends. Sometimes tears fall into a bowl of soup, sometimes you come close to choking on a bite of pumpkin bread because you're laughing just that hard, sometimes you share news or clink celebratory wine glasses together over a plate of pasta, but always, you are building up those memory blocks. Then the next time you are trying to think of something warm and wonderful to make you find yourself drawn to that particular recipe because it's so much more than a good blend of ingredients.

Stay cozy, lovely ones, and Bon Appétit!

 

collections || quick and simple

I love being in my kitchen. I'd happily spend all day trying out new recipes and honing my culinary skills and knowledge. Being in my kitchen is soothing and inspiring for me, and one of my favorite creative outlets. 

However, there are days that are long and time or energy is not on my side. There are days/weeks that grocery store runs have been minimal or we're at the end of a pay period and waiting to make the big grocery trip. There are days with evening plans and dinner has to be quick. Every day, we don't have a dishwasher, and sometimes I just really don't want to stand at the sink anymore. There are days when dinner just really needs to be quick and simple. 

Quick and simple doesn't have to mean lunchmeat or peanut butter and jelly; however, sometimes a good pb&j is the perfect dinner to consume. Childhood revisited. Quick and simple can still have a little flare or elegance to it, or quick and simple can be just the comfort meal you need that day. And I think it's a bit in the way you approach the meal, too! Gratitude, joy, and creativity are required elements in the kitchen, my friends, whether you're laboring over a 4 course dinner, waiting for the timer on a frozen feast, or sandwiching together grilled cheese. Speaking of grilled cheese.....it's first on my list.

1. Grilled Cheese

                                                 photo via    pinterest

                                                photo via pinterest

           It can be comforting, it can be fancy, and it is always good. It's hot cheese and bread! How can you possibly go wrong? Here's some ideas:

-- saute onions and mushrooms and add them to your sandwich.

-- make a "caprese" grilled cheese using fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil (substitute spinach or arugula if you don't like a strong basil flavor).

-- add avocado, bacon, tomato, ham or turkey, spinach or arugula, cranberries.

-- instead of grilled cheese, make it a grilled mac and cheese. AHH!

-- or a grilled pimento cheese.

-- make a brie & apple or gouda & apple grilled cheese. perhaps add some bacon. 

 

Next on the list:

2. Pasta

                                                     photo via   pinterest

                                                     photo via pinterest

There's a part of my heart carved out just for pasta. Pasta and bread, all the day long. 

  -- make our new favorite: this simple, light homemade marinara sauce. add meatballs if you'd like.

-- a baked ziti that you can easily prepare earlier in the day or a day previous and bake that evening, and it's kid friendly. Cook your penne and mix it with marinara sauce or a marinara/alfredo combo and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. 

-- make spaghetti carbonara or a bolognese sauce.

-- make pasta e fagioli. it's truly Italian comfort food. my lovely friend, Lauren, makes the best. 

-- shrimp scampi. it's light, fresh, and simple.

-- a favorite way to prepare some bread to go alongside. take a baguette and cut into serving slices, just DON'T cut all the way through, so the loaf is still connected at the bottom. slice slivers of butter and place into each crevice and then sprinkle garlic salt all across the top/crevices of the bread. Then sprinkle mozzarella cheese all over the top. Wrap the bread in foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 15  minutes. Pull back the top of the foil so the bread is exposed and cook for 5 more minutes so the cheese gets nice and golden brown on top. we devour this bread. 

*I'm linking to a few Pinterest links for some of these recipes, but I haven't tried all of them

 

In slot #3 on the list:

3. Salads

                                               photo via   pinterest

                                               photo via pinterest

a good salad makes for a great dinner, especially in spring & summer months. sometimes "light" is just what you need. 

-- greens, veggies, chickpeas, cranberries or dried cherries, grapes, avocado, olives, nuts, cheese, meat (leftover chicken, salmon, tuna, lunchmeat). it's quite simple to create your own salad and homemade salad dressings are typically pretty simple to throw together as well.

-- chicken caesar salad. roast chicken breasts earlier in the day and later shred them/slice them/cube them up and mix with romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan. one of my favs.

-- egg salad or chicken salad. 

 

To end this little compilation:

4. The Mish-Mash

                                           photo via   pinterest

                                           photo via pinterest

Little bits and pieces to wrap it all up. 

-- make a simple homemade bread or buy a nice artisan loaf from the grocery, cut it up and serve alongside a cutting board topped with different cheeses, meats, olives, pickles, pepperoncini or banana peppers, apples, grapes, or oranges. It makes you feel fancy and it's so easy. 

-- grilled tilapia in foil. wrap tilapia fillets in little foil packets and before sealing sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and squeezes of lemon juice, then set them on your grill or grill pan over medium heat. it falls apart and it tastes so good.  

-- salmon patties. 

-- homemade mac n' cheese. try one made with greek yogurt!

-- quesadillas -- easy to fancy up or dress down and always good dipped in homemade salsa.

-- baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

-- in the spring & summer some of the best sides are roasted or grilled veggies and/or fresh fruit.

 

And, my friends, there is never any shame in frozen pizza, boxed mac n' cheese, frozen chicken tenders. It just makes the day easier sometimes. Plus, the frozen food game has been greatly upped in the last little while. We always have purchases from Trader Joes frozen aisle in our freezer and I'm always thankful we do.

Embrace creativity, friends, and don't find your value in how many culinary marvels you can whip up every week for you and your family. Frozen pizza and a side salad can be the best meal ever when it's accompanied by good conversation, laughter, and a table full of cherished faces. 

Happy Cooking, lovelies! And please share any simple recipes you have, as well. 

xoxo, Jenny

 

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