Friday Favorites- Cookbook Edition

Friday Favorites- Cookbook Edition

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetI read cookbooks like novels–cover to cover, on the couch, with my fuzzy blanket. I feel like Ina Garten taught me how to cook, well Ina and my parents. Mom taught me the value of dinner around the table every night. Dad taught me that recipes are a guide, something to be tinkered with, not steadfast rules. And Ina taught me the whys–why vegetables taste so yummy when roasted, why good ingredients matter, and why certain flavors go so well together.

Every Thursday when I’m planning meals for the upcoming week, these are the cookbooks I usually go to. They are my favorites–stained, watermarked, with flour tucked in between pages.

Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?Favorite recipes from this one include roasted shrimp with feta, pank0-crusted salmon, and spicy turkey meatballs and spaghetti.

Barefoot Contessa Back to BasicsFavorites from this one include roasted potato leek soup, white pizzas (this is the pizza dough I use for every pizza I make), and oven-roasted vegetables.

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist: I think I’ve cooked just about everything in this one. The blueberry crisp is a staple for Sabbath meal. The risotto, turkey burgers, pork tenderloin, Gaia cookies, sweet potato fries, and white chicken chili make regular appearances on our table. The steak au poivre is a perfect date night meal!

Savor by Shauna Niequist: Shauna does my favorite type of recipe–simple with good ingredients. My favorites from this book include blueberry yogurt morning cake, lemon dill soup, fregolotta, Sara’s lasagna, wild rice salad, grilled peach & caramel sundaes, and Emily’s poppy seed cake. (I just listed half the recipes!)

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl: This one is newer to me, but so far we’ve loved the french toast, the Cake that Cures Everything, and the Sriracha shrimp with coconut rice.

Except for Savor, all of those books will also teach you cooking techniques–how to cook eggs low and slow, how to braise meat, how to season your food. I have a lot of friends who are intimidated when they step into the kitchen. But you have to treat cooking like you do other things. It can’t be about perfection. It has to be about the journey, about the learning, about trying new things. Sometimes, you will create something genius. And other times you will throw it in the trash and cook Annie’s mac & cheese and feed it to your family with apple slices and call it dinner. And both of those are perfectly fine. Over time, you will gain confidence to move out of your comfort zone. You might even find the rhythm of dicing and the sound of sizzling oil in a pan relaxing. And there’s always something fulfilling about putting something on the table to nourish those you love, something you made with your own two hands. Maybe it’s fancy or maybe it’s grilled cheese, but it’s the table, the food, the laughter, and the people surrounding it that make it something special.

 

A Letter to that Groundhog & Random Wintertime Favorites

A Letter to that Groundhog & Random Wintertime Favorites

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Dear Mr. Groundhog,

Perhaps it would have been better had you just lied to me. Because the sheer thought of six more weeks of cold and gray depresses me.

Love,

This sun-loving, flip-flop-wearing, green-grass-dreaming girl

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Random Wintertime Favorites

I love Christmas, but after that I’m ready for spring. I’m dreaming of all things warm and sunny, but in the meantime here are a few winter favorites getting me through…

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Apparel: Since most days I have been sporting the warmest outfit I own, my gymnastics sweat shirt from 7th grade and my fleece pants, until I quickly change into real clothes at 4:30 pm before Matt gets home (shh… don’t tell him!) my recommendations here are few. But my mom did give my sister and me a pair of fuzzy socks that go all the way up to my kneecaps, and those have been my lifesaver. If you don’t know the joy of fuzzy socks, you’re missing out. Oh, and plaid shirts and puffy vests. It’s like wearing flannel sheets and a down comforter out in public. My preferred outfit in the frigid temps.

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Recipes: We’ve been in a serious baking mood over here. I don’t know what it is about gray skies and freezing temperatures that make me want to bake, but Lydia and I have whipped up batches and batches of Shauna Niequist’s Breakfast Cookies and Gaia Cookies. The girls and I eat the breakfast cookies in the morning snuggled up in their tepee, and at nights Matt and I bundle up on the couch wrapping our hands around our mugs of tea munching Gaia cookies while we watch Sherlock.

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On the Telly: Apparently, we’re feeling the British vibe now drinking our tea and watching Sherlock and Downton Abbey. We love us some PBS, but the no commercial breaks are hard. When am I supposed to go take my Gaia cookies out of the oven?! And who is going to die this season on Downton Abbey?!

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For Fun: We love to be outside, but other than my runs–don’t you like my eyelash icicles–and the few and far between days with temps above 50, we have mostly been inside. Which means lots of baking, lots of books (new In Italics list coming next week) and some “creative” activities.

I so badly want to be one of these Pinteresty, crafty, whip-it-up moms, but I just don’t have it. My oldest loves crafts and asks all the time, “Can we do an activity, you know with glue?” Thankfully, a few months ago I learned about Kiwi Crate, and that little box has kept wee hands busy and Momma sane during these gray days. Basically, they send your child a box with everything you need to complete 2-3 activities each month. The instructions are simple and it’s delivered to your front door. Yes, yes and thank you. It costs $20 a month. If you’re the type who has a “craft closet,” this is probably not for you. But for those of us who don’t want three million popsicle sticks taking up residence in our home–because those things always seem to multiply like bunnies–this might be right up your alley.

My favorite part is that it gives us a starting point for our learning focus each month. In addition to the resources that come in the box, there are tons that Kiwi Crate provides online as well as some recommended books to go along with that month’s box. I go online to the Memphis Library website, find all the recommended books and have a big stack of books held for me at the front desk. Then I waltz in, tell them my name, hand over my library card and walk out with my books. I pat myself on the back and tell myself I’m awesome. (Then, my kid bonks her head getting in the car, starts screaming, everyone in the parking lot turns to stare at me and I’m suddenly back to reality.) If you want to check it out, you can get $10 off your first box. (And I get a $10 credit too. Hugs, thank you and a virtual cookie sent your way.)

What about you? Winter favorites? Netflix recommendations? Baking recipe ideas? Do you love fuzzy socks as much as me?

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