As a kid I absolutely loved winter. It meant a long Christmas break from school, Santa visited and tons of snow days. It meant hot chocolate after a long hard day of playing in the snow, red runny noses, snowball fights and Mom’s comfort foods.
As an adult.. yeah, I hate winter. Well okay hate is a bit harsh. I like the ‘thought’ of winter and the pretty snow…on tv. Now, being in my 40’s the winter means achy bones, the WORST drivers in the world on the road, bitter cold temperatures that seriously make you question your location – “Do I still live in Pittsburgh or did I get relocated to the Arctic Tundra overnight?”, road salt stains on the bottom of every single pair of pants you own and comfort food. Okay fine, there is a silver – an oh-so-delicious-silver lining from winter… COMFORT FOODS! I don’t care how bad my commute home was, how many idiot drivers I encounter on the roads or the fact that I did some incredible ballerina-like move on the ice while walking… in front of all of downtown Pittsburgh. Knowing I’m coming home to one of my favorite winter comfort foods… WORTH IT!
Now if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where you don’t feel the wintery wrath of Mother Nature well… can I move in? *bats baby blues* I’ve become one of those folks. I’m not a weather complainer per se, but let’s just say I want sun, warmth and no more -15F days. However comfort foods shouldn’t be reserved for bitter cold days. Heck if that were the case folks in say Arizona may never eat these types of foods and that’s just a crime. You NEED these recipes in your life… and in your tummy!
So regardless of where you live, regular life can get stressful. Why not let one of my favorite dishes help you unwind, get cozy/comfortable and just relax?
♥ Double Chicken with Power Greens Soup – This soup is one that I love all year round. It’s packed with tons of protein, vitamins and veggies! The kale really adds amazing flavor and balances out the flavors so well!
♥ Grandma’s Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes – My grandma stood all of 5′ nothing, donning purple or pink hair, black cat-eyed glasses and was one rockin’ granny! She welcomed you into her heart and home without any question. Her meatloaf was iconic and packed with flavor. It filled up your belly and always, ALWAYS put a smile on your face!
♥ Simply the BEST Macaroni & Cheese – Super creamy and cheesy! – Growing up I was an UBER picky child. My food consisted of mac ‘n cheese, pb&J and no veggies… EVER! During college mac ‘n cheese kept me fed on those days when I couldn’t make it to the cafeteria or those 4am post-frat party cravings.
♥ Italian Pot Roast and Potatoes – This.. THIS, now this is pure comfort food for me. It represents Sunday dinners growing up, my Dad dancing around the kitchen, my Mom laughing til she had tears pouring down her cheeks and incredible leftovers for a few days.
♥ Creamed Chipped Beef (Ham) on Toast (SOS) – While this is known as a few names, this is MY meal. This meal is one that Mom made special for me every birthday. It’s a poor man food but one that is one of my favorites. This is the dish that truly ties me to my Mom as it was something she and I shared that was just ours. When I’m really missing my Mom, I’ll make this dish and think about our times in the kitchen.
♥ Mom’s Comfort Beans & Weenies Tater Bake – Some dishes aren’t the prettiest or have the fanciest ingredients but that doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the best. Whether you call it ‘pork ‘n beans’ or beenie weenie, just realize this is a part of me – this is how I grew up. This is honest food. It’s unpretentious and real. It’s hearty but down home. This, with a side of corn bread.. oh yeah, life is good!
♥ Italian Style Stuffed Shells – It’s funny how taking 3 pretty basic ingredients – shells, marinara sauce and cheese filling can result in one spectacular dish. Marrying into an Italian family, making pasta or spaghetti of some sort at least 3-4 nights a week is just a requirement. For me, I can give or take spaghetti or regular pasta. I mean I love it but there is just something truly magical about stuffed shells. These along some crusty garlic bread… dear lord yes!
♥ Classic French Beef Stew – Full disclosure here about stew. It took me a quite a while to really develop a love and appreciation for beef stew. You NEED to read the post about the time my mother got drunk making stew. One bottle of wine went into the stew and one bottle of wine went into my mother… the woman who never drank! LOL This dish is something that every time I think of it I remember a scene from our (my Mom, sister and I) favorite movie growing up “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.
There’s a scene in there where Adam meets Milly for the first time. She’s serving her stew to a group of men and after she gives him a bowl he proceeds to ask for ketchup. She immediately stands up and says “My stew can stand on its own feet!” We’d sit there watching this movie every time it was on tv singing along (out of key) every time. It’s funny how a single dish can bring back such vivid memories.!
♥ Beef Shepherd Pie – Okay seriously how could I not include shepherd pie? I mean tender beef, veggies, flavorful sauce and mashed potatoes all in a flaky crust! This is the epitome of comfort food!