Hello, friends! Welcome to Djalali Cooks. Today I am really feeling the comfort food vibes. Maybe it’s because there is frost on the grass and my birdbaths have a layer of ice; or maybe it’s because 4 PM feels like 6 PM…either way, December (and its holidays) have us all gravitating toward those dishes that give us comfort, warmth and peace of mind. So let’s revisit some comfort food recipes.
Langostino and Pimiento Skillet Mac and Cheese
Let’s kick off today’s Comfort Food Round Up with everyone’s favorite comfort food: Macaroni and Cheese. But we are going to make it a little fancy. I found cooked, frozen langostino tails when I went to Trader Joe’s this week, and I thought they would be a perfect addition to this skillet mac and cheese.
What is a langostino you ask? Well it’s kinda like a tiny lobster. The word langostino is Spanish and it roughly translates to “prawn” or “little lobster.” Interestingly though, a langostino is neither a true prawn or lobster. It is actually more closely related to a hermit crab. The tail meat of the langostino is texturally more like shrimp, but the flavor is just like lobster. So langostino tails are a perfect way to make a “lobster-like” mac and cheese, for less cost and easier preparation.
Chicken Noodle Soup
What Comfort Food Round Up would be complete without Chicken Noodle Soup? I asked Alex to smoke a chicken for this recipe and I am glad I did, because while I would have been happy with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, the smoked chicken really added a ton of amazing flavor. The other incredible flavor boost in this soup is dill. A lot of dill. If you’ve never had dill in your chicken noodle soup, you’re in for a treat. The savory, bright flavor of this soup will have you wanting to make it every week!
Smoked Meatloaf and Cauliflower Mashies
This meatloaf is the best meatloaf I have ever had. Every time I have been to a barbecue joint that has meatloaf on the menu, I always think, “Yeah, right. Meatloaf. I am here for the ribs, or the pulled pork. Not something I can make easily at home.” Well, shame on me because it’s taken me 40+ years to realize that smoked meatloaf is something unto itself; separate from the rest. A revelation. Because we have mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, you can feel pretty darn good about this classic comfort food.
Not-so-Instant Instant Ramen
This comfort food is really high on my favorites list, because sometimes I really don’t feel like cooking. And that’s when I make this go-to: Instant Ramen. But, I don’t just boil some water, toss in the seasoning packet and the hunk of noodles and call it dinner. No, I like to make it a little more special. Sure, there are a few more steps, but they’re just as easy as sprinkling in a seasoning packet. Step one: throw away the seasoning packet (or save it for sprinkling on popcorn!). Let’s get to it: Not-so-Instant Instant Ramen!
Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mashies
This Shepherd’s pie is super flavorful and not at all heavy. While potatoes are not bad for you, cauliflower is less starchy with fewer carbs and calories. Cauliflower is a great source of fiber, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and potassium. To get the most health benefits of potatoes, you need to eat the skins; but to get silky mashed potatoes to top your Shepherd’s Pie you want to peel those potatoes! That’s why I think these Cauliflower Mashies are the perfect solution. All the comfort food flavor with the peace of mind that comes with eating a healthy meal!
Easy Homemade Wonton Soup
I won’t lie, wontons take time, but if you have a helper it’s a fun activity to do together. If you don’t have a helper (I did not) it’s a meditative experience, so settle in and go with it! I promise that because you made the wontons yourself, this will be the best wonton soup of your life. Whether they are Asian Dumplings, Italian Dumplings, or Mexican Dumplings…most cultures have some kind of dumpling; dumplings are perfect little packages of flavorful ingredients all wrapped up in a dough; and steamed, boiled, fried or baked to perfection. To me, there are few things more comforting than dumplings.
Spanakopita Pasta Bake
Like a Greek version of Mac and Cheese, this recipe is super easy and so satisfying! There is a ton of flavor from the variety of greens and fresh herbs. And of course, the cheese and creamy sauce! The Rigatoni noodles are perfectly al dente and the pasta that pokes out of the top gets crispy and delicious.
My paternal grandfather was Mexican and I have very fond memories of having Tamales for holiday dinners. So it’s no surprise to me that I tend to gravitate toward Mexican flavors for comfort foods. Tamales are a process, much like wontons, it takes time. But if it’s time spent on a Tamale assembly line with family, it only adds to the association with Tamales being a comfort food. Even if you’re making these solo, you will no doubt be comforted by the meditative process and the fact that you will have plenty of leftovers to freeze and save for another time.
How to Make Lamb Bolognese Sauce
This Lamb Bolognese is a rich and hearty sauce. Deeply flavored during its long, slow simmer; the lamb gives this sauce a very meat-forward flavor which, to me, is why this sauce feels so special. I like the idea of this dish as a Holiday Dinner alternative because it’s a long cook, creating hours of enticing aroma in the kitchen, which is an important part of preparing a feast. Classic Italian American Spaghetti and Meat Sauce might just at the top of this Comfort Food Round Up list!
Thank you all so much for diving back through the archives with me today for this Comfort Food Round Up! What are your favorite comfort foods? Let me know here in the comments, or reach out on Instagram to let me know! I will see you here tomorrow for a great cookie recipe! Take care and be well, xo Kelly
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