There’s nothing like a piping hot bowl of soup or a warm curry with naan bread on a cold evening. With summer having officially come to an end, Canadians are bracing for yet another cold winter. That means trading the barbecue meals for heartier, warmer comfort food cooked inside the kitchen. There are a variety of small appliances that seem like they’re tailor-made for cooking and prepping comfort food.
Last year, I reviewed the Wolf Gourmet Pro Performance blender, and it simply screams comfort food. That’s because it not only blends ingredients, it can also heat them. If you have leftover cooked vegetables and stock, you can whip up a hearty soup in a matter of minutes without ever turning on the stove or firing up the microwave. Add cooked noodles or leftover potatoes from last night’s dinner, and you’re ready to curl up on the couch with a good book or to binge watch a show while slurping away.
Of course, any blender is great for blending ingredients for a lovely homemade soup, including in-season ones like squash and pumpkin. But the heating element in ones like the Wolf Gourmet takes things to another level.
The air fryer is arguably one of the most popular and versatile kitchen appliances you can own nowadays. I have the Air Fryer lid for my Instant Pot and have been considering buying a full-sized air fryer because of how often I use it, and the limited space that one has for when I want to make bigger portions.
When it comes to comfort food, you’ll instantly think of things like chicken wings and drumsticks, French fries, and, well, just about anything fried. Using an air fryer, you can cook a nice spread of items, right from the freezer. Sure, it might not be the healthiest meal. But the advantage of using an air fryer is that you don’t have to cook the food in mountains of oil. A small spritz is all you’ll need, if that.
One of my favourite meals to make for myself when I was in high school was canned chicken corn chowder soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Making a grilled cheese sandwich in a pan on the stove with some butter (or, if you want to go next-level, lathered with mayonnaise on the top sides of the bread) is typically the way to go. But using a sandwich maker gives you lovely, perfectly grilled cheese pockets with crispy brown crusts that ooze gooey cheese inside with every bite.
Perfect for dipping in the soup (or, as some prefer, ketchup), it’s also easy to add other ingredients, like sliced ham, bacon, or cooked vegetables, and change things up at each meal. Use a sandwich maker to liven up your otherwise boring ham and cheese sandwiches or mini pizzas for lunch, too. Everything tastes better in pocket form, after all.
One of my son’s favourite indulgent dinners is fried chicken and waffles. You can use the aforementioned air fryer for the chicken or cook it right in a toaster oven while still getting a nice, crispy exterior, especially if you have one with a convection setting. Use the same toaster oven to heat up frozen waffles (or make your own with a waffle maker!), plate them together with a side of vegetables, and it’s an instant, comforting dinner. Don’t forget to drizzle with maple syrup!
Another staple in the comfort food arena is mac and cheese, and my Instant Pot mac and cheese is a hit with kids and adults, alike. Using a simple set of ingredients including pasta noodles, water, salt, butter, cream, and shredded old cheddar cheese, it’s an ooey, gooey meal that is ready, from start to finish, in under 15 minutes.
Kick it up a notch by tossing in cooked bacon or ham at the end. The Instant Pot and other similar pressure cookers and multicookers is great for comfort food of all kinds, from chili to curries, stroganoff to pulled pork.
Similar to the Instant Pot, a dedicated slow cooker can make comfort food like chili and stews, cooking throughout the day. Not only can you simply dump ingredients inside in the morning and open and serve when you get home at night, the aroma will fill the home with a sense of warmth and comfort.
Pre-packaged microwave meals aren’t the healthiest most nutrition-packed option when it comes to satisfying your appetite, but I always have a few in the freezer for those days when I don’t have leftovers on hand for lunch, don’t have time to cook, or simply want something quick and comforting. Pop one right into a microwave and you’ll have something to satiate your hunger in 2-5 minutes. Don’t indulge in these too often, but every now and then, they’re nice to have. And it will make you appreciate a good home-cooked meal the next time you make one.
I love a delicious dip every now and then, especially when watching a big sporting event, movie, awards show, or while curling up with the family to watch several episodes of a new show at night. Instead of grabbing a pre-packaged dip, use simple ingredients like cream cheese, chickpeas, spinach, lemon, and herbs and spices to make your own at home. An immersion blender is the perfect way to blend it all to a nice, smooth consistency. Balance it out with a nice spread of vegetables or go full-on comfort food mode and slice up pita bread or grab some potato or nacho chips to scoop up the delicious creation.
Go ahead, indulge!
There’s no time like when the weather is starting to get cooler than to treat yourself and indulge in comfort food. While you don’t want to make comfort food an everyday thing, there’s nothing wrong with having a delicious and yes, even heavy, meal once a week. And there are plenty of small appliances that make whipping them up a breeze.
The great thing about all the small appliances on this list is that they are great for cooking any type of meal, not just indulgent comfort food. When it’s raining, snowing, or the temperatures have dipped, cozy up inside and enjoy some good eats. Being able to make dishes at home will save you money in the long run, since comfort food and take-out often go hand-in-hand. Plus, many dishes are a great way to use up leftovers and food that is about to go bad. You can also find creative ways to cook frozen meat, poultry, and vegetables that have been hogging space in your freezer for months.
Check out a great selection of small appliances that are ideal for making comfort food at home at Best Buy Online.