When it comes to comfort food, I don’t limit myself. It doesn’t matter whether I’m having a crap day or feel like I’m on top of the world – I am game for a comfort meal in any kind of scenario or emotional status. I know there are a lot of comfort food haters out there, claiming that it’s “boring” or “vanilla,” scoffing at fluffy mashed potatoes and noodles drenched in sharp cheddar, but comfort food doesn’t have to be dull. It doesn’t have to come out of a box or concocted from three cans of condensed soup.
I like my comfort food like I like my fantasy wardrobe: sophisticated. Okay, that was cheesy. But so are some of these recipes!
1. Savory Cheddar Pierogi
Up for a challenge, anyone? In Russia, pierogi can practically serve as currency, since they are such a b*tch to make. But they are so, so worth it. When she was alive, my grandma made the best pierogi in the universe, and I will probably never eat anything so good again. But the good news, is that this recipe is actually really helpful and close to the real deal. If you’ve never tried pierogi, they’re these soft, doughy pot stickers that are filled with potatoes, cheese, and sometimes other things like mushrooms or jam.
2. Beer bacon mac ‘n cheese
Oh, mac ‘n cheese, AKA the ruler of the comfort food underworld. If I could eat you five times a week, I would. The beauty of mac ‘n cheese, is that there are all kinds. Pesto mac, broccoli mac, chipotle mac, Sriracha mac, M&M mac, you name it, it exists. I love this recipe for beer bacon mac ‘n cheese because it’s slightly more grown-up, it sounds super cool and impressive, and it tastes awesome.
3. Shepard’s Pie
When I was in England, I ate Shepard’s Pie (okay, and Indian food) for a week straight. I was totally into it. And every single restaurant I visited had some kind of unique way of preparing it. About a year ago, I decided to try and make my own, Googling a recipe. Meaty, potatoe-y goodness that will make you feel like the happiest person alive, Shepard’s Pie is a classic. You can always spice things up by using sweet potato instead of regular potatoes, but I must admit, I always stick to the standard recipe. Although I’m pretty sure you will thank me after you try this recipe.
4. Turkey, cranberry and baked brie grilled cheese.
This sandwich is the perfect combination of turkey dinner and grilled cheese, two famous staples of comfort. All you need is: 1) your choice of bread (I like using a thick slice of French baguette), 2) cranberry sauce, 3) turkey slices (it’s better if they’re thicker – try getting some from your local deli), and 4) brie. Pile the ingredients between two slices of bread and stick your sandwich in the oven (set at 350) for about 7 minutes. I’m terrible with timing, so I stick around the kitchen and check on my food every 3-4 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn.
5. Double cheese baked gnocchi with sage.
For some reason, I always forget gnocchi exists and that’s a shame. They’re these delicious little potato dumplings that go with just about anything. They’re also on every single gastropub menu, but you can create your own gnocchi meal easily.
6. Thai green curry.
Thai food is hard to pull off at home. Rarely does it taste like the meal you get at restaurants, but I found a recipe that is pretty close! This Thai green curry recipe is really good — the only suggestion I would make is adding some chili paste, or sprinkling some dried chili peppers into the curry while it’s hot.
7. Broccoli cheddar soup (a Panera Bread copycat recipe).
I’m guilty of ordering the same You-Pick-Two combinations from Panera Bread over and over again. What can I say – I know what I like. I almost always used to order the broccoli cheddar soup and the turkey artichoke Panini, but then one night, I learned how to make broccoli cheddar from scratch. Feeling desperate for Panera, but too lazy to leave my apartment, I simply Googled “Panera broccoli cheddar” and lo and behold, I found a recipe which I then tested and used to create a vat of 100% pure Panera crack. Pro-tip: do use extra sharp cheddar, otherwise your soup will come out bland.
8. Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni Salad.
When I think of summer, I taste macaroni salad. The perfect side to any dish (BBQ ribs, yum!), macaroni salad is super easy to make, and you can alter it in countless ways. This recipe uses olives, green onions, roasted bell peppers, and pickles. It’s amazing. It has a zestier flavor, but is still true to the classic picnic side.
9. Cheeseburger casserole.
I couldn’t compile a comfort food list and not include a casserole, right? Don’t worry, this recipe does NOT call for condensed cream of anything, nor is it all that bad for you. I found it on Skinny Taste, which is my go-to food blog for lighter meals. Using 95% lean ground beef and reduced fat cheddar cheese, this meal is only 260 calories. Yep. Even comfort food can be healthy.
If you’ve never made pizza from scratch, it’s actually really fun. You can even toss the dough in the air, but I don’t recommend that. This recipe for cheese pizza is super basic, but I like to garnish it with feta, olives, artichokes, arugula, mushrooms, and salami. Use this recipe for the crust (it’s really good), and go from there, adding your favorite veggies and cheese.
What are some of your favorite comfort foods?