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September 16, 2008

Favorite Comfort Foods

On the finicky kids thread, somehow I got reminded of foods I used to make all the time when we were first married and didn't have any money, but that I never make anymore now.

Now I am starving.

So I thought I'd make a partial list. I used to be very good at stretching the budget, so we had a lot of meals that were light on meat, or even meatless. By the way, whatever happened to casseroles? Does anyone make those anymore? Here are some of the foods I haven't made for a while that I miss:

Homemade split pea soup

Chicken pie (this was the best - I made it once for one of my husband's Marines and he asked me to marry him!)

Tortilla soup

Chicken adobo

Broccoli cheese soup (with a dash of cayenne pepper - I used to love when winter came and I could make this)

Homemade lasagna

Turkey tetrazini (boy, is that an old one)

Beef bourguigon

I'll think of more. Back to work. Feel free to add yours in the comments section.

Posted by Cassandra at September 16, 2008 04:17 PM

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Homemade mac & cheese (my mom always used tomato soup in her recipie)
Chili spicy enough to drain your sinuses
Swedish Meatballs (one of the dishes I can cook very well)
London Broil
Chicken Alfredo
Chicken Cordon Bleu (or as close to it as I can make)
Oooh! I made some pretty darned good Calzones (use the Pillsbury pizza crusts for them... works great)
I bake a lot too, cookies and cakes and what not, but I get the feeling you want dinners

My lovely bride has many wonderful qualities. Cooking is not one. So I cook or at least re-heat dinner (getting home at 6:30 means nothing too involved for dinner these days). Were I a better planner, I'd crock pot more meals.

Posted by: MikeD at September 16, 2008 04:35 PM

Homemade pizza is wonderful.

Chili -- although what I find to be a "comfort food" might put some of our readers into the hospital. :)

Posted by: Grim at September 16, 2008 04:50 PM

Hot lentils and spaghetti squash. Chili over rice. Meatball subs. Gazpacho soup. Toasted raisin bread.

Posted by: Patrick O'Hannigan at September 16, 2008 04:53 PM

macaroni and cheese, made with a bechamel sauce, topped with homemade bread crumbs.

Chinese noodle chicken salad

Baked potato soup with all the toppings for a baked potato, with a green salad and corn bread

Clam chowder. This one is a family favorite and I make a LOT.

Beef stew.

apple pie, brownies and cheesecake.

roast chicken on the grill, and leftovers (yeah, like that would happen at my house) get put into a chicken pie.

chicken and dumplings.

I will give you my scrapple recipe.

taco soup

Tortilla soup

baked beans with brown bread

french toast made with homemade bread.

Omelettes made with peppers, mushrooms, cheese and onions.

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Applebee's tomato soup.

Posted by: Cricket at September 16, 2008 05:02 PM

comfort foods, or foods you eat when poor?

for the latter i remember ketsup soup... and the sandwhiches you can get at an open house... etc.

for comfort... well, the oldsters are gone, and i dont have time to cook waht little i remember. but my grandmothers on both sides were expert cooks and cooked slovak, and latvian, as well as other such dishes...

i miss them...

Posted by: artfldgr at September 16, 2008 05:03 PM


I am just getting to where I can cook bacon as well as my grandfather did. It's a simple thing: bacon, pan. And yet...

Posted by: Grim at September 16, 2008 05:21 PM

Ooooh, after all the political posts over the past few weeks, this is a bit of a welcome relief (no pointing fingers, just sayin')

Hamburger Casserole (lazy man's lasagna)
Chicken pot pie (though my husband dislikes savory pies as he wants his pie at dessert)
Fried chicken
For me, comfort food is also stuff I don't have to cook, like take-out thai and greek and pizza.

Posted by: Kimberly at September 16, 2008 05:27 PM

I have been sick of politics too :)

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 05:40 PM

"I have been sick of politics too :)"
Must be going around... I think I've caught it too.

Only problem I'm having with the threads on food is that reading everyone's comments about all the wonderful food is going to doom my efforts to control my heft.


Grilled Salmon, hush puppies and a nice salad for supper... Later maybe a BLT or a pizza. And beeeeeerrrr...

Posted by: bthun at September 16, 2008 05:50 PM

Oh my gosh!

That's another one I haven't made forever:

Oyster stew and corn fritters! That is SO good in the wintertime. I LOVE oysters. I'm an oyster fiend.

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 05:58 PM

art, comfort food and food I used to cook when I didn't have any money are kind of the same thing for me.

Now that I have more money, I don't tend to cook as much as I used to. It's just my husband and I, and also we're both watching our weight now that we're older. So we eat mostly lighter fare. Though I LOVE steaks -- when he was in Iraq I ate steak a lot, with salad. That was one of my staple dinners. Easy to cook and so good.

But I don't make potatoes or casseroles or gravy often. Or soups that take all day to simmer, because I work.

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 06:01 PM

See what you've done to poor bthun? First it was the "iron furniture" post, and now he'll have to read my chili recipe.

Posted by: Grim at September 16, 2008 06:01 PM

Scalped potatoes and weiners (potato and weiner slices baked in cream of mushroom soup); adjust proportion of potato to weiner per weekly budget

Truck Garden Supper: sweet corn on the cob, sliced cukes and home-grown tomatoes, eat as much as you picked

Posted by: joe doakes at September 16, 2008 06:02 PM

Here are some Southern oldies that will date me (or make someone think I'm insane):

Garlic cheese grits with country ham and biscuits

Hoe cake

Fried squash

biscuits with sausage gravy (I used to make that for dinner sometimes)

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 06:03 PM

Oh Joe - that sounds WONDERFUL :)

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 06:04 PM


Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 06:05 PM

Yes art - catsup soup and my mother in law used to make a thing with catsup and pork chops and several kinds of beans. Sounds awful, but it was fantastic. A Navy chief taught her how to make it - it was out of this world.

My Mom's tamale pie.

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 06:07 PM

"Garlic cheese grits with country ham and biscuits"
Hot stewed maters on grits ain't half bad either, fer a grits dish.

Let me tell ya, after this, the treadmill is gonna be abused...

Posted by: bthun at September 16, 2008 06:20 PM

Pinto beans and fried potatoes with onions. Served with Mama's cornbread which I've been trying to imitate for years.

That probably places me as well as dates me.

Posted by: Donna B. at September 16, 2008 06:40 PM

"Pinto beans and fried potatoes with onions. Served with Mama's cornbread..."

Heh, that's what for dinner tonight!

Posted by: DL Sly at September 16, 2008 07:28 PM

Mmmmmm :)

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 07:32 PM

Oh gosh - here's one: tuna casserole!

I used to make a mean tuna casserole. My kids loved it, too! Haven't made that for YEARS! It was my Mom's recipe.

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 07:33 PM

Things we used to eat all the time when I was a kid?

Bean rolls & chapulas:

canned refried beans
picante sauce
corn tortillas
cooking oil (whichever is your preference)
lettuce & tomato, if desired

Warm up the beans in a sauce pan, add picante sauce if you would like.
Heat the cooking oil in a skillet

For a "bean roll", put a tortilla in the hot oil long enough to be able to "roll" the tortilla without it "cracking". Remove from the oil, placing it on paper towels to drain the excess oil. Once drained, take a small amount of the heated refried beans and put them to one side of the tortilla. Add cheese, if desired (we always had American when I was a kid, but whatever you like), then roll the tortilla up around the beans and cheese.

For a chalupa (NOT what they call a chalupa at Taco Bell), put a tortilla in the cooking oil, leaving it flat, until crisp (turn over if necessary). If the oil isn't hot enough, the edges of the tortilla will get crisp, but the center will be kinda chewy... Remove from the oil, drain on the paper towels. Spread refried beans over the crisp tortilla, add cheese, lettuce & tomato as desired (I was always "cheese only"). This is what Taco Bell calls a "tostada", but I call a tostada something else entirely...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 16, 2008 08:35 PM

Something I got from my best friend's family when I was in elementary school, which is a favorite of mine and my oldest younger sister:

Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes:

Mashed potatoes (if not from scratch, the instant variety I find is a very good substitute is Potato Buds)
1-1.5 lbs of ground beef
beef bullion cubes

Brown the ground beef and season to taste (I've always used pepper & garlic salt, and if I had it Original Spike seasoning.
Once the beef is cooked, add the beef bullion cubes following the directions (normally one cup water per bullion cube), enough to make a proper gravy.
After bullion cube have cooked down, slowly add flour to thicken the gravy (don't do too fast, or it will get lumpy).

Serve mashed potatoes up on a plate, top with the hamburger gravy.

It was also nice to have biscuits, preferably from scratch, to go with...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 16, 2008 08:57 PM

I used to do something a lot like that when we were first married, Miss Ladybug.

Remember how we used to use Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup for EVERYTHING in the '70s?

This was hamburger, lightly sauteed, minced onion, and sliced or chopped fresh mushrooms. You could use canned button mushrooms but I prefer fresh. Drain and add COM soup, can of milk, dash of Worcestershire sauce (to taste), black or red (cayenne) pepper. I think that I used to sprinkle in some Lipton's onion/mushroom soup mix to give the gravy some flavor - not a whole packet, though - that made it too salty.

I am not big on measuring. I cook everything to taste and adjust a lot. Anyway, I haven't made that for centuries, but that's another thing my kids just loved, and their friends always liked it too.

When I couldn't afford the mushroom soup I just made a white sauce and flavored it with beef boullion (so it would have been very similar to your recipe).

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 09:58 PM

How about baked acorn squash with brown sugar, butter, salt and pepper (and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg)? Does anyone make that? Patrick's spaghetti squash reminded me.

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 10:00 PM

Damn I'm hungry! Commissary run tomorrow so for now, I'll just drool.

Comfort foods...

mom's mac and cheese
minestrone soup
homemade french roll pizza
vegetarian lasagna
tequila lime chicken (a la Applebee's)
bourbon smoked salmon
hobo stew
homemade burritos (with blackbeans and rice)
anything in the crock pot
anything with a sweet potato in it

Posted by: HomefrontSix at September 16, 2008 10:43 PM

There was never any Cream of Mushroom soup in our house. I think my brother is the only one who ever ate mushrooms. It would have been between '78 and '80 (before my oldest sister was born in Feb. '81) that I learned that recipe. Missy and I were either at my house or hers, and while I don't remember exactly when we became friends, it was after we moved to Augsburg, but before my sister was born.

She and I also ate grilled cheese sandwiches, which I always like with Fritos... We were old enough to cook those ourselves. But, I do remember the time I backed away from the kitchen sink not knowing she was bring the hot griddle over to be cleaned. I had a nice half-dollar sized burn on my elbow...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 16, 2008 11:05 PM

Ultimate comfort food: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy made with meatloaf drippings and Campbell's Cream of Chicken (or Mushroom) soup, green peas.

I'm not a great cook but I do make the world's best spaghetti sauce - my version of a recipe from my college roommate's mother (she had five kids and a husband in the military so she had lots of ways to stretch a food dollar).

My grandmother made a wonderful rice pudding (I assume it was Norwegian style) that she called "gooma". She didn't hand down her recipe and I've never been able to track down a dish with the same name so I imagine that was a bastardization of the real name.

Posted by: Elise at September 17, 2008 12:45 AM


Grilled cheese sandwiches always remind me of being a little girl and visiting my grandmother in Petersburg, Virginia.

There was another little girl living down the street. I made friends with her, and whenever I'd visit my Grandma, I'd run down and play with her. She used to fry us up grilled cheese sandwiches on the gas stove - they were SO good!

HF6, I think one reason I always liked liver was that I had a tendency to be anemic as a kid. I read somewhere that your body will crave a food if you need the nutrients it contains. I get cravings for particular foods all the time.

The secret to cooking liver is to soak it in milk (I'm not kidding) ahead of time. This gets rid of the strong flavor and tenderizes it. The other thing is not to overcook it. It's like broccoli or salmon - it has to be done, but if you overcook it, it is utterly ruined. I am very picky about how I cook certain things.

I generally don't like to get salmon in restaurants, for instance, because they ALWAYS overcook it and it's dry. I like it so much the way I do it at home that it's ruined for me in a restaurant. I don't think I'd order liver out either, for the same reason.


Speaking of rice pudding, my Mom used to make that but she also made fantastic bread pudding when we had leftover bread. I used to love that as a child.

Posted by: Cass at September 17, 2008 06:12 AM

Miss LB,

Your hamburger dish reminded me of one I lived on when I was a young and single fellow having to cook for myself.

Grill the hamburger in an iron skillet with salt, pepper, a slathering of liquid smoke, a dash of whatever you're drinking and A1. Add red and/or green peppers and diced onions. Scramble the meat and just before done, add an appropriate number of beaten eggs to the skillet and mix until the eggs are done. Serve with baked potato, under a coating of your favorite condiment(s) along with anything resembling vegetables and pan of cornbread.

Mmmmmm. Sorta like Wonder Bread, it builds strong Neanderthals in 10 ways.

T'ain't purty nor sophisticated, but it are quick, easy and right tasty.

Posted by: bt_has-fallen-off-the-diet-wagon_hun at September 17, 2008 07:35 AM

Hmmm....comfort foods for me would be:
Roast chicken with mashed potatoes
Corn pudding
Stefado (Greek beef stew)
Chicken enchiladas
Macaroni and cheese with little smokies

I have to go to the grocery store now. I'm hungry.

Posted by: Carrie at September 17, 2008 10:31 AM

Grim, I'd love to take you up on your chili challenge. I LOVE chili that burns. The hotter the better.

Posted by: MikeD at September 17, 2008 12:40 PM

When I was young, we didn't have much money either and dessert was a SERIOUS luxury. My dad would take butter and some honey and mix them together and spread it on a slice of bread. Instant dessert.

When I'm sick or sad, I reach for that.

And now I am off to the commissary. Anyone need anything?

Posted by: HomefrontSix at September 17, 2008 04:43 PM

Ummm -- comfort foods AND poor folk foods:
fried chicken made in lard
pork tenderloins on biscuits with cream gravy
Snow's New England Clam chowder
Tuna Helper (yes, really!)
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (but only the original, with butter and milk)
Homemade mashed potatoes
My mom's Christmas cookies (not plain sugar ones)
Moon pies
Jello with fruit cocktail in it
Green bean casserole with the little fried onions on top

When I was 20 I had a last-minute six-week TDY in San Diego and didn't get an advance allowance -- I spent the whole time living on Raisin Bran and PB&J.

Posted by: emac at September 18, 2008 08:58 PM

I was wondering when someone would mention some of those!

I used to fry up my chicken in bacon/sausage drippings. It tastes heavenly, but you have to drain it very well. Haven't done that lately either, but I used to make it all the time when we lived in N.Carolina.

I remember my Mom making the jello/fruit cocktail thing.

Posted by: Cass at September 18, 2008 09:34 PM

Ice cream.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 19, 2008 03:21 PM

And you had to save the bacon grease in the fridge for it, too. My mom had a can that was just for bacon grease (which was also used to make corn bread).
Meat loaf with ketchup.
Anything with lentils.
"Fruit Goop" (sort of a deep dish fruit thing -- had a crumb crust on the top and whatever frozen fruits were about to die in the freezer inside)
Homemade apple butter
Dad's Tgiving turkey dressing
Buckwheat pancakes
The onions from liver and onions (I didn't like the liver and still don't)
Homemade donuts
Fresh hot Krispy Kreme donuts
McDonald's fries when they were still done up in beef tallow
B&G Fried Pies

Oh yes, and comfort food (but not poor food) = onion dip made with real sour cream and lipton soup mix. I still sneak it at parties when I can find it.

Posted by: emac at September 19, 2008 04:49 PM

Oh yes, and comfort food (but not poor food) = onion dip made with real sour cream and lipton soup mix. I still sneak it at parties when I can find it.

I love this stuff. Especially with Ruffles. (Do they still make those?)

Fried chicken with cream gravy. I haven't had that in 20 years probably. And mashed potatoes.

Fried chicken cold with my mother's potato salad.

Posted by: Elise at September 20, 2008 02:16 PM

We still keep a coffee can for bacon and sausage drippings in our refridge.

I don't use them nearly so much to cook with anymore, but there are certain dishes that only taste right fried in bacon drippings.

Oh ... and I bet I could get you to eat my fried liver :). People say they hate it, but when they try mine, they are surprised. Same with squash. There are a lot of people who won't touch squash who will eat mine. It's all in how it is cooked.

Posted by: Cass at September 21, 2008 09:52 PM