Mmmmmm….comfort food. When I think of self care and food, am I wrong to conjure up cheese and chocolate, rather than kale and wheat berries? I have never been one to skimp on the calories when making a recipe. To me, if you have to replace the butter with applesauce, why bother? I want the original, authentic ingredients! Fat free ice-cream? Please. I’d rather eat less of the real stuff than settle for a substitute. Give me real sugar over aspartame any day! Give me butter over margarine!
That being said, there is a time and a place for a kale smoothie now and then. But sometimes you just need a buttery chocolate chip cookie; or freshly baked banana bread; or grilled cheese with tomato soup; or homemade pizza. There is something cathartic in measuring, and mixing every rich ingredient, smelling the aroma of fresh-baked dough wafting from the oven, and taking a calorie-rich bite.
Made-from-scratch recipes that make your taste-buds sing, take you back to your childhood, to a guilt-free, innocence and bring warm, fuzzy feelings: Food that makes you feel generous and optimistic, that you share with others and come back for seconds–that is comfort food to me– and something that’s a really important part of my self-care regime.
Here are recipes with two of my favorite comfort food ingredients: cheese and chocolate (did I already mention that?)
Homemade Baked Mac & Cheese
Basically, a quiche with pasta inside, this is the way my mom still makes it. Yum!
One 16 oz package of pasta (I like shells, or macaroni)
1-2 TBS butter
6 large eggs
3 Cups half and half (or 1.5 C cream and 1.5 C milk)
2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan (optional)
1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain pasta and toss with the butter until melted to keep from sticking together. Then toss with the grated cheese and pour into 9 x 12 baking pan (I have used other shapes and sizes as well and it still turns out delicious).
Beat eggs together in a large bowl. Then whisk in the cream, milk, salt and pepper.
Pour egg mixture over the pasta, the egg mixture should almost cover the pasta. Sprinkle the grated parmesan or some extra cheddar cheese, and bread crumbs over the top. Then bake, uncovered for 45 minutes or until browned on top. The consistency should be wobbly, but firm (like a quiche, but with pasta inside!)
Varations: 1) Toss in cooked spinach in with the cooked pasta. 2) Add in other seasonings such as basil and oregano, or thyme, mustard powder and paprika.3) Add in sauteed mushrooms and chopped onion.
Chocolate Truffle Cake
This one is flourless and therefore gluten free! I stumbled on it when trying to find something to bake my friend who has a gluten intolerance. I can’t take any credit for this one–I adapted it from THIS RECIPE from the amazing Gluten Free Goddess. Since I can’t be bothered with a springform pan, I changed it to be spooned out of a round casserole dish with a layer of whipped cream on top. You can also add fresh berries on the top. It’s a fairly easy recipe and one that I have repeated several times. It is always extremely popular. You probably want to plan to make it when you are having guests over. Otherwise, you will be tempted to eat the whole thing yourself, and…well, you might not be feeling so comfortable later.
1 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 C heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium sauce pan, gently heat the cream over low heat. When the cream is fairly hot, melt the chocolate chips by adding them slowly to the pan as you whisk. Add the butter, in pieces. Whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted. Add the vanilla extract. As soon as the mixture is melted, smooth, and glossy remove it from the heat.
Using an electric beater, beat the eggs, light brown sugar and salt until the eggs are foamy and doubled in volume, roughly 3-4 minutes.
Slowly add the cooling chocolate mixture to the eggs, and beat gently until combined.
Pour the batter into a round deep casserole dish.
Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for one hour, or until the cake is set and cracked. It will still appear a bit loose in the center, underneath. This is fine.
Place the dish on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cake can be covered and chilled if you want to save it for later. I like it served room temperature.
Before serving, whip the cream until it forms a stiff peak. Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and then serve with a spoon.
Serves 10-15 people, depending on how much of a chocolate lover they are. This cake is rich, decadent and pure comfort!
I hope you enjoy these recipes! What about you? Tell us what your favorite comfort foods are!