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Master Mashed Potatoes plus 5 other Comfort Food Recipes

Master Mashed Potatoes plus 5 other Comfort Food Recipes

Some days, no matter what season it is, you find yourself just craving warmth and comfort from food. A hug in a bowl. An ooey-gooey cheese pull. A dish that brings back memories or feels soothing. Mmm, mashed potatoes. Tender meatballs. French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese. Comfort foods are the ones that make us pause, take a breath, and feel a bit soothed from the stresses of the world. 

When comfort food is what you crave, this is really no time to cut corners. It is likely that it is the entire experience is needed – the stirring, simmering, spooning, and sitting down with real dishes. Make some time for yourself and take a fresh look at some classic comfort food recipes that can be prepared any time of yearCustom options are often included for modern twists or for those who are avoiding gluten or dairy but still want to indulge in a bit of soul soothing deliciousness. 

More than Mashed Potatoes 

Turn creamy, smooth mashed potatoes into an entrée by adding a few fun toppings!   

Ingredients: 

  •  3 pounds of peeled Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2” chunks 
  • 1 cup of milk (or heavy cream) 
  • 1 stick of butter 
  • 1 pint of sour cream 
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste  

Directions: 

  1. Bring potatoes to a boil and let cook until they are fork tender. 
  2. Drain the potatoes and let them rest in a colander. 
  3. Add milk and butter to the warm pot. 
  4. Once the mixture is melted and combined, add the potatoes back in. 
  5. Mash with a masher then add the sour cream, salt, and pepper and mash until creamy. 

Dairy free? Substitute a cup of chicken broth and omit the milk, butter, and sour cream. 

Once the potatoes are mashed, scoop a serving into a bowl and top with any combination of the following: 

  • Black beans 
  • Corn 
  • Crumbled, crispy bacon 
  • Chives 
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Chopped parsley 
  • Gravy 
  • Jalapenos 
  • Pulled pork 
  • Roast chicken or beef that has been shredded 

Whether in a bowl or on a plate, treat your mashed potatoes like the ice cream base in a sundae and load them up with savory toppings!  

Everything’s Better with Cheddar Pasta 

Shouldn’t this recipe be called macaroni and cheese? Well, it could be but try cavatappi, cavatelli, medium shells, orecchiette or little earsfusilli, or even fancy farfalle (bow ties). Short pastas with places for the cheese sauce to pool or coat, are great alternatives to try. Going gluten free? Try a brand that uses more than one ingredient in the dough like rice and corn that offers a sturdy texture with a more familiar mouth feel. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick of butter, plus a bit more for the baking dish 
  • 1 lb. of cooked pasta, still warm in the colander 
  • 1/2 cup of allpurpose flour 
  • 5 cups of whole milk 
  • 3 cups of  shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 2 cups of shredded Gruyère cheese 
  • 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs 
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Heat the oven to 350°. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt one stick of butter in a medium to large saucepan. 
  3. Add the flour and whisk for a few minutes, until the butter has melted. 
  4. Pour in the milk, whisk until combined, smooth, and thick. 
  5. Mix in the cheeses, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir and let the ingredients form a sauce. 
  6. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and olive oil. 
  7. Stir the pasta into the cheese-sauce then pour into a butter greased baking dish. 
  8. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. 
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the topping is brown and crispy, cheese is bubbly, and no one can wait a minute more. 

Mamma Mia Meatballs 

Many traditional Italian style meatballs suggest using a mixture of ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal. For this recipe, ground turkey and ground chicken can also be options either in combination or on their own.  

Ingredients: 

  • 3 pounds of ground meat 
  • 2 beaten eggs 
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic 
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs 
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
  • ¼ cup of chopped parsley 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

 Optional: red pepper flakes, splash of milk 

Directions: 

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together until just combined. 
  2. Use hands or a stand mixer but do not overmix. 
  3. Create meatballs with a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball (about the size of an egg). 
  4. Gently brown in olive oil on the stove OR bake in a roasting pan in a 350° oven OR use an Air Fryer. 
  5. Turn after a few minutes on the stove or in the oven to allow equal browning on all sides. 
  6. Finish cooking meatballs in your favorite sauce and serve either over pasta, or spaghetti squash marinara (click here for the recipe) or with rolls to make meatball sandwiches. 

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese 

A 2-for-1 comfort food treat! This recipe combines the crispy goodness of grilled cheese with the beefy, savory twang of French onion soup. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 slices of bread per sandwich (French, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel – pick your favorite)  
  • 3 – 4 yellow onions, peeled and sliced 
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 – 3 slices of Provolone cheese 
  • 2 – 3 slices of Swiss cheese 
  • ¼ cup of beef broth 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Butter 

Directions: 

  1. Melt 1 – 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron pan or heavy skillet. 
  2. Add sliced onions, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Allow the onions to cook slowly until carmelized. 
  4. Once the onions are brown, add a few tablespoons of beef broth and let mixture simmer a few more minutes. 
  5. Remove onion mixture to a bowl and reserve. 
  6. Add a bit more butter to the pan. 
  7. Layer provolone and Swiss cheese on one slice of bread. 
  8. Spoon some of the onion mixture on top of the cheese then top with the second slice of bread. 
  9. Place sandwich in the pan and allow it to gently crisp for 3 – 4 minutes. 
  10. Flip the grilled cheese and finish browning on the second side. 
  11. Slice in half if desired and enjoy! 

Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits 

Sweet, ripe strawberries, tumbling over freshly baked biscuits, and topped with a dollop (or two) of freshly whipped cream gives you time to pause and enjoy a delicious and comforting dessert. Take a shortcut by using prepared biscuit mix that does not leave you short on flavor. 

 Ingredients: 

Strawberries 

  • 1 pint rinsedhulled and sliced, strawberries 
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar 

Biscuits 

  • 2 1/3 cups of your favorite biscuit ready mix 
  • ½ cup of milk 
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar 

Whipped Cream Topping 

  • 1 cup of whipping cream 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar 
  •  

Directions: 

  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. Combine strawberries with sugar in medium bowl and set aside.  
  3. Mix the biscuit ingredients in a large bowl then drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet creating six biscuits. 
  4. Bake biscuits on the middle rack for 9 – 12 minutes. Allow them to cool on a wire rack. 
  5. Beat whipped cream ingredients until thick enough to form peaks. 
  6.  Split biscuits, add a layer of strawberries, top half of the biscuit, more strawberries then a generous dollop of whipped cream. 

Unbirthday Cake Milkshake 

Love the taste of birthday cake? With ice cream? Sprinkles? Go ahead, mix your favorite flavors together and enjoy – because every day is a cause for celebration! 

Ingredients: 

  •  2 cups vanilla ice cream 
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 3 tablespoons of vanilla dry cake mix (or the kind with sprinkles in the mix) 

Garnish or rim the glass with rainbow sprinkles, a bit of whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry! 

Directions: 

  1. Simply blend the ice cream, milk, and dry cake mix 
  2. Pour into your favorite shake glass and top with whipped cream, more sprinkles and a cherry. 

I hope you have found a few new ideas to create some modern day or twist on classic comfort foods for all seasons and occasions. Tweak these recipes to create gluten free or dairy free options when needed (and doable) and take the time to sit at the table together whenever possible. 

About The Author

Sharon MacGregor

Writing from her desk in New York, Sharon MacGregor is a contributing reporter, freelance writer, and blogger with a passion for human interest stories as well as meals shared with friends and family. Her blog, Fed Well includes recipes with upcoming tips to prepare foods for infants and toddlers, simple and seasonal cocktails, and easy modifications to create dishes respecting dietary restrictions including dairy and gluten intolerances. She loves entertaining for the ones she loves including her new grandbabies!

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