This time of year screams comfort food. It's just starting to get cold, sweaters are being pulled on, scarfs and gloves are out at night, and depending on where you live, the first signs of snow are beginning to land. And to me this is the perfect reason to whip up a batch of your favorite comfort food. What's my favorite comfort food? Ugh - I don't know. Macaroni and cheese, or maybe beef ragu, or perhaps beef stew, or this amazing seafood stew my aunt made one year for Christmas with crusty bread - it's just too hard to decide. There are just too many delicious options and luckily there is a way to lighten up virtually all of them. Here are some great ones. What are your favorites?
1. Beef Stew, 5 P+
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about comfort food is beef stew. Not only does it make the house smell amazing when it is cooking, it overflows with tender beef, melty potatoes and carrots, and lots of deep, rich flavors. And although this recipe is made in a Dutch oven, you could easily make it in the crockpot. Feel free to adjust the recipes and add in your favorite herbs. Rosemary, thyme, sage, and even fresh oregano would all be delicious.
2. Macaroni and Cheese, 7 P+
Perhaps the most classic comfort food is macaroni and cheese. This is macaroni and cheese with a twist made with poblano peppers to add some spice. Personally I love macaroni and cheese this way because it warms you even more with the hint of spice. You can easily substitute in another veggie if peppers aren't your thing - broccoli would be delicious, as would spinach or even some cubed butternut squash.
3. Shepard's Pie, 6 P+
Growing up, I hated shepard's pie. I don't know why - I liked potatoes, I liked ground beef, I liked corn - but something about combining it all togther, I was out. Luckily my tastes have evolved over the years and I have grown to love Shepard's Pie. This version substitutes some of the potatoes with mashed cauliflower to reduce the calories. Consider tossing in some mushrooms when you make it for an earthier taste, or topping it with sweet potatoes or squash. Yum.
4. Chicken and Dumplings, 6 P+
Not growing up in the South, I had never had chicken and dumplings until I moved out to California and a friend from the South whipped them up one night for dinner. It was love at first sight, all in one delicious cast iron skillet. This lightened up version from Weight Watchers is delicious and isn't as hard to make as the ingredient list would suggest. Just take your time, whip it up on a Sunday and savor this time of year. And have a glass a wine, no one is judging, we actually would love to join you.
5. Beef Stronganoff, 9 P+ with the egg noodles
Beef, mushrooms, cream, egg noodles - c'mon. How can it not be delicious? This version from Cooking Light cuts down on the cream and butter but still tastes delicious. Consider adding in some extra fresh herbs and a touch of Dijon mustard to enhance the flavors even more.
Still looking for more comfort food classics, check out these great cookbooks. I actually own all of them and use them all the time - Weight Watchers Comfort Food Classics Weight Watchers Pure Comfort: 150 Recipes, Elie Kreiger's Comfort Food Fix, and Cooking Light: Comfort Food
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