Everyone talks about the time period between winter ending and spring really beginning--those weeks of high anticipation for trading biting cold and heaviness for sunshine and flowers... anticipation for a drastic shift in general temperament and activities--as the "winter doldrums." That's fitting. But what about the length of time when summer transitions into fall, when we await for merciless heat to calm into crispy coolness and rich warm colors? Why isn't there a name for that awkwardness?

It's a period of time where appetites are changing but the seasons just seem to be... well, stagnant. It's a period when it may still be sweltering outside, but it's also noticeably more autumnal out there (or maybe I'm just making that up?). The days are for sure get a little shorter and from an indoor view, the air starts looking as though it might feel just a little more crisp when we step out into it (alas, it's doesn't). The point is--this transition period is real, and it's a little weird. What is a person with a longing for fall supposed to do? As with anything, simply waiting and wishing for time to pass is no great solution. You can remain in the present and enjoy what it has to offer, while simultaneously fulfilling a love/natural desire for fall (arguably the best season) by easing into it with recipes that feel cozy without being overly saturated with pumpkin spiced everything. The answer lies in making recipes that still embrace the goods that late summer has to offer, but satisfy these initial cravings for cooler weather comfort.

What's cozier than a freshly baked quick bread? The aroma alone is enough to fill your kitchen (and soul) with comfort. If you're like a lot of people, the summer season means a mass accumulation of summer squash and zucchini, and zucchini bread is an excellent way to make use of it--even while easing you away from the summer farmer's market. Delicately spiced to perfection, this zucchini bread offers a great gateway to fall.

Classic Zucchini Bread

Classic Zucchini Bread

Chili is the ultimate fall fare. But keeping it bright and fresh with plenty of fresh lime juice and a refreshing avocado cream dolloped on top allows this dynamic white chili to warm you up for the great fall stews to come without overdoing it.

White Chicken Chili with Avocado Cream

The classic flavor of fall is found in a bushel of apples--am I right? And with this delightfully easy puffy skillet (pan)cake, that fantastic fall combination is realized. But with a bake time of only 15 minutes and a light airy texture, making this Dutch baby won't heat the house up and eating it won't weigh you down.

Apple Oven Cake

This vibrant corn-topped soup is a great option to include in the end-of-summer spread because of it's robust spices and warmth balanced by the bright and intensely fresh flavors of late-summer produce stars: tomatoes and corn. Roasting the tomatoes offers smoky richness that adds even more comforting personality to this fast and fresh soup.

Roasted Tomato Corn Soup

Chai tea is an incredibly flavorful alternative to your typical caffeine source. Flavored with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger, chai beverages are definitely reminiscent of fall flavors and can be enjoyed any time of year. Serve it chilled as you work your way through the final weeks of intensive heat.

Chai (Spiced Indian-style Tea)

Pies are a year-round affair, but there's something about autumn that brings out the best in this versatile dessert. You can achieve a totally delightful, late-summer ode-to-fall pie by making a free-form crostata featuring a warm spices plus a seasonal stone fruit. Don't be intimidated by the whole "free-form" business--the crostata is super simple to make once you get into it, and allows you a little more hands-on time to enjoy and get excited for a full season of pie-making to come.

Spiced Crostata with Pluots

Since we're already on the subject of crostatas, these pies are a surprisingly easy treat that deliver a rustic elegance to any spread--embrace them. And if you still have plenty of summer berries left from your last farmer's market trip, I highly recommend using them in these berry crostatas featured in the video below.