Baby, it’s cold outside! Whether you’re on the East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in the middle, the temperatures are dipping into the polar zone and thoughts are turning to warm fires, hot chocolate, and bundling up.

But there’s one thing that can take the edge off the chill outside, and that’s comfort food! What is comfort food exactly? I think it means something different to whoever is eating it. For some a certain dish brings back sentimental feelings or a sense of nostalgia, for others comfort food is a go-to dish they make when they’re feeling under the weather, have had a bad day, or want a pick-me-up in the middle of a busy winter week.

Because comfort food is pretty personal, how easy or difficult it is to create is completely up to you. Here are a few traditional Canadian comfort food recipes you may want to try as the temps dip even lower this weekend:

Martha Stewart’s Meat Loaf

Courtesy of Martha Stewart, this classic Meat Loaf will hit the spot on a chilly winter night.  You’ll need a loaf pan and a food processor for this one.

Ingredients:

3 thick slices white bread, torn into large pieces
garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
24 ounces ground beef chuck (90 percent lean), preferably pasture-raised
12 ounces ground pork, preferably pasture-raised
1 large egg
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse bread in a food processor until finely ground. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs.) Transfer to a medium bowl.

Pulse garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and parsley in food processor until finely chopped. Add to breadcrumbs. Add meats, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix together using your hands. Transfer mixture to a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan.

Stir together remaining 1/2 cup ketchup and the brown sugar until smooth; brush onto meat. Set pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reaches 160 degrees, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

 

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie 

There’s just something about chicken pot pie. It’s great for a night in or as part of a ‘comfortable’ dinner with friends. To make this version, you’ll need a good pie dish.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
2 medium leeks, sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen cubed hash browns with onions and peppers
1 cup matchstick carrots
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 large egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leeks, and sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth; bring to a boil, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat; stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients.

Roll each pastry sheet into a 12- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Fit 1 sheet into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; spoon chicken mixture into pastry. Place remaining pastry sheet over filling in opposite direction of bottom sheet; fold edges under, and press with tines of a fork, sealing to bottom crust. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp. water, and brush over top of pie.

Bake at 375° on lower oven rack 55 to 60 minutes or until browned. Let stand 15 minutes.

 

The Best Mac and Cheese Ever

Absolutely the number one dish I go to when I’ve got the blahs, and you can never get bored of it because there are so many variations you can try. I’ve tried this one from Kitchentreaty.com a few times and it’s amazing.

Ingredients:

8 oz. (1/2 pound or about 1¾ cups) macaroni or other medium tubular pasta (like penne or conchiglie)*
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top
2½ cups 2% milk
3 cups grated medium cheddar cheese

Directions

Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside.

 

(Mix in a little butter to keep the noodles from sticking if it’s going to be awhile before you make the sauce)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika. Stir constantly over medium heat for about three minutes.

 

Stir in the milk. Keeping on medium heat, whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, and stir in 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted.

 

Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and toss gently until all noodles are covered. Add half the noodles to a two quart casserole dish. Sprinkle on half the cheese. Add the rest of the noodles.  Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, and dust lightly with the smoked paprika.

 

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until it starts getting a slightly dry and a tiny bit brown on top. Serve, topping individual servings with cooked, chopped bacon if desired.

Feeling cold? I don’t blame you, but I guarantee if you spend some time in the kitchen creating one of these comfort food dishes you’ll warm up in no time.