As our kids get older, life gets busier and more hectic. Even now, as many of us are spending more time at home, online work and school schedules can make it difficult for us to come together as a family. Yet, as winter approaches, the days are getting shorter and colder and our big kids are returning home from college. It’s a time of year that many of us crave coziness and family time more than ever. That’s why it’s the perfect time for comfort foods!
Whether you love spending hours in the kitchen making your grandmother’s signature recipe from scratch, or you barely have time to throw a few ingredients together, here are three takes–homemade, shortcut, and slow cooker–on favorite comfort foods to help you nurture your family body and soul all winter long.
Comfort food to cook for your family this winter
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings are a southern staple, but even if you aren’t from the South, your family will love this hearty and soothing comfort food.
- If you want to try your hand at a from-scratch version of this dish, Southern Living’s recipe is easy and delicious.
- If you want the taste of homemade chicken and dumplings but are looking for a shortcut, try this Betty Crocker recipe which uses Bisquick.
- If you want to use your slow cooker, try this super easy recipe that uses canned biscuits or this one which relies on homemade dumplings.
I’m pretty sure all my friends are tired of hearing how the Pioneer Woman (unbeknownst to her) is my nemesis. It’s a long story, but basically she’s leading my life. After all, I live in the middle of nowhere with a handsome husband, four kids, and a bunch of dogs, and I love to cook. Where’s my Food Network show and adorable line of cookware?
- Still, for all my resentment, I do have to admit she makes a pretty tasty pot roast.
- For a shortcut pot roast recipe, try this one using canned cream of mushroom soup.
- Versions of this slow cooker Mississippi pot roast using packaged ranch dressing have been shared online so many times that the New York Times food editor, Sam Sifton, set out to make a more sophisticated version of this wildly popular recipe. It is definitely worth the extra effort.
I love how I can throw almost any mixture of ingredients into a 9×13 pan, bake it at 350 for half an hour, and call it a casserole. Once when my kids were young, and I desperately wanted to avoid a trip to the store, I mixed leftover mashed potatoes with leftover taco meat, and cheese. I called it Cheesy Potato Taco Bake, and they devoured it.
- If you’d rather have an actual recipe instead of just using leftovers, check out Food Network’s best comfort food casseroles.
- I don’t know if anyone makes easier, more delicious recipes than Pilsbury. Here are twenty of their best busy-night casserole recipes.
- And if you want your casserole ready to go when you get home at the end of a busy day, try one of these slow cooker recipes from Southern Living.
Mac and Cheese
As a side dish or as a meal by itself, nothing is more comforting than a hot, gooey bowl of macaroni and cheese.
- Want to nourish and impress your family? Serve them John Legend’s macaroni and cheese. As a perk, you get to watch him prepare it with Martha Stewart.
- Possibly the easiest and creamiest version of mac and cheese has to be this one using Velveeta.
- For another musician’s favorite, try Trisha Yearwood’s slow cooker mac and cheese.
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
When it comes to a quick and easy comfort food meal, there’s nothing that beats a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. Still, even this classic dish comes in a lot of variations.
- Ina Garten’s recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, heavy cream, and chicken stock (preferably homemade, of course) and would be perfect with one of these gourmet grilled cheese recipes from Bon Appetit.
- Rachel Ray’s tomato soup recipe also calls for heavy cream but is quick and easy. Or just use Bon Appetit’s tricks for kicking up canned tomato soup.
- Here’s a slow cooker recipe that requires roasting your vegetables before placing them in your pot, and here’s one that has a ten minute prep time and uses canned tomato puree.
Breakfast for Dinner
I admit that when I think of breakfast for dinner, I’m thinking scrambled eggs and toast, but these recipes have me thinking I could up my game.
- This cheesy pasta frittata looks yummy and unique. And this caramelized onion, bacon and kale strata looks like a more sophisticated and healthier version of my standby egg and sausage casserole.
- For a quick country breakfast for dinner recipe, try Pilsbury’s biscuits and gravy casserole using canned biscuits.
- And to make breakfast for dinner in your slow cooker, try one of these recipes from the Today Show.
Okay, so maybe paella isn’t on everyone’s favorite comfort foods list, but my family loves it.
- My go-to recipe is from How To Cook Everything author, Mark Bitman–except I use chicken thighs and chorizo or polish sausage rather than lamb.
- McCormick offers a shortcut paella recipe that looks delicious–and remember you can use chicken or sausage if you don’t like shrimp.
- And as committed as I am to Mark Bitman, I think I might have to give Rachel Ray’s slow cooker recipe a try.
Nothing brings a busy family together like a good meal–the kind of meal you linger over, using a recipe you’ll pass on to your children. Still, it isn’t the time spent cooking or the quality of the ingredients that matters most. Because when it comes to comfort foods, maybe the comfort isn’t in the food, but in the love of the family sharing a meal together.
What is your favorite meal to share with your family?