My mother doesn’t believe in massage.  The same way one wouldn’t believe in unicorns or pimple cream.

I, on the other hand, do believe in massage and if push came to shove I could probably make a solid argument for unicorns based on a theory I have involving magic, hallucinogens and Neapolitan ice cream.

And even though I believe in massage I wouldn’t say I enjoy it.  This is probably because I’ve only ever had therapeutic massages, which are exactly as relaxing as walking through your local grocery store naked while being pummelled by canned hams.  But I do get a massage to break up the knots in my shoulders and neck every once in a while because like you I’m sure, come wintertime I can count on two things;  moving less and eating more. I spend more time typing away at my desk with my shoulders jammed up near my ears and less time moving and stretching my way through the garden.

Even if we get big snowfalls and I have to shovel a couple of times a week, and chop wood and jump up and down 25 times to get my jeans over my thighs,  the winter exercise doesn’t even come close to how often I’m moving around in the summer.  Even with The DIY walking desk I implemented last year I’m a bit of a lump.

And that’s O.K.

It’s part of what I love about living in an area of the world that gets 4 distinct seasons.  You have 4 distinct lives.  There’s spring life (happy and optimistic), summer life (sweaty and exhausted), fall life (exhilarated and nesting) and winter life (cocooning and lumpy).   Each also has it’s own clothing and food requirements.  For instance, thou shalt not feast on stew in summer.  Because, gross.  A thick, heavy, bowl of stew sitting in your gut makes it really hard to chase fireflies.  And yuck.  That’s meat sweats on top of humidity sweats and that’s just stupid.

But a warm, nutritious bowl of beef stew with root vegetables and steaming dumplings on a cold winter’s night?  That make sense.



And that’s exactly what I had the first cool night this fall.  I whipped up a bowl of stew and *just* like that my new life had begun.  The lightweight blanket on the couch got tucked away and the thick, fluffy one was pulled out.  The heated floors in the kitchen were turned on, the pumpkin scented candles lit and from the back of the pile I found my flannel pajamas which had been in hiding for 6 months.  They smelled like drawer.

I plan on filling the next 6 months or so with bowls of comfort food.  It’s a well known fact that comfort food almost always comes in a bowl.  At least true comfort foods do.  The 4 comfort foods making the top of my list are in no particular order:  Macaroni & Cheese, Spaghetti & Meatballs, French Onion Soup, and Beef Stew.  Honourable mention to Chili Con Carne with toast.

Those meals will be on rotation, interspersed with my favourite soups (you can read all my favourite soup recipes here) for the foreseeable future and I’m smiling just thinking about them.

As committed as I am to these comfort foods for myself, I’m open to suggestions (as long as those suggestions don’t include brussels sprouts because there’s nothing comforting about those satanic little cabbages).

Let me know … WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD?  If you have a picture, include a picture! If you have a link to the recipe, include the link!

Aw shucks.  If you’re convincing enough I may even be moved to try a brussels sprouts recipe.

And if you believe that, I have a unicorn for sale.

Have a good weekend, and I’m looking forward to hearing about what your favourite comfort food is.



  1. Kathline says:

    I love too many comfort foods to play favorites, but a recently added one jumped up in my mind and said, “ooh, pick me!”
    My son learned to make an excellent stove-top mac and cheese and then upped it’s yum quotient by adding beef and chili powder (preferably smoked) and using an extra sharp cheddar. Now we call it “smack and cheese” and it’s love in bowl.

  2. Eva says:

    Something we pretentiously call “bean gratin” – which is actually kidney beans in tomato sauce (made with lots of onion and garlic). Mash beans a bit, add salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, cumin, chilli and a little lime, then top with corn chips and lots of cheese (here in Germany I use Gouda, but anything somewhat flavorful and inexpensive is good), then let cheese melt in the oven and serve with sour cream and/or some sort of Guacamole. It is veg, gluten-free, and you don’t even notice that it might have healthy components …

  3. Brenda says:

    Ooey Gooey Cheese Fondue and I second all the rest … plus we need a list of all of these now to post on the fridge

    Oh and sleigh bells ringing in the mulled wine … and a good book with fireplace flames licking at our toes while we pet both ears and the unicorn’s horn

    oh dang … winters in its way

  4. Teri says:

    There is a winter’s worth of comfort here. I’m copying and pasting and editing. I love to cook, I hate having to decide what is for dinner. Every. Single. Day. My queendom for an idea person. I’ll be fulfillment…

  5. Elen G says:

    Soup. Soup. And soup.
    And anything with hot cheese.
    And this — Baked Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup, which I discovered the 1993 edition of The Canadian Living Christmas Book.

    You might have that, Karen.

  6. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Pumpkin muffins-or pie and hot coco (for the sweet)
    White bean chicken chili with cornbread
    Today is the first cool day in forever down here in Alabama! High of only 70! May even have to take a jacket to the football game tonight.
    You’ve inspired me to try frying sage leaves…have NEVER EVER even thought of doing that before!
    Here’s to a nice fleecy throw!

    • Gretchen Sexton says:

      Forgot to mention that now instead of burning candles (except on special occasions) we diffuse essential oils…have you tried them? Good for you and so much fun to mix and match.

  7. Rod from Calgary says:

    Okay Karen…you gotta figure out how to get all these recipes and get them to us! Just reading these has me drooling on my shoes…

  8. Linda says:

    Potatoe soup….lots so salt, pepper, onions and BUTTER. Oh so yummy.

  9. Sera says:

    Macaroni and cheese casserole. Over the years I’ve completely changed my Grandma’s recipe. But I still have to use the cream of mushroom soup. So now I use the Pacific organic instead of campbells. And of course there’s the addition of white wine, Dijon mustard, red chili flakes to the cheese sauce all over rotini, zucchini, and flash steamed broccoli. Covered in a crust of rosemary bread crumbs and butter. Mmmm. So good.
    One of these days I’ll try that cauliflower sauce and see if I can healthy it up some more, but it’s not like I eat this everyday.

  10. Meredith says:

    I’ll second the PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie….that’s a wet kind with no crust. A fall into winter food.
    Meatloaf and Macaroni and Cheese
    Hungarian Goulash
    Roast Chicken (Thomas Keller recipe) and mashed potatoes (in the crockpot, AMAZING!)
    Chili of course

  11. MountainWoman says:

    PA Dutch Corn Pie. I’m pretty sure it involves corn and pie. And lard. And I think some hard-boiled eggs (gahkies to the Dutchies). My mom, grandmother, and I used to make Chicken Pot Pie from scratch when I was a kid. It involves noodley things, chicken and corn. And lard. Oh, and Apple Dumplings too. Apples, dough, sugar and shockingly, lard. So all three are very nutritious.
    But really, since I’d rather use a tumble to carve my own eye into a detailed sculpture of a chicken than cook, most anything someone else makes will qualify as comfort food.

  12. bill keiser says:


  13. Leisa says:

    One of my fave comfort foods is Ina Garten’s chicken pot pie and her spaghetti and meatballs, which I’m making today. Also, just bought “Thug Kitchen 101” and made the spaghetti pie and it wa incredible!!!

    • Ronda says:

      I bought Thug Kitchen for my son, without really checking what was in it. good to know there are some good recipes in there! thanks Leisa!

  14. Mary W says:

    Hardee’s biscuits and sausage gravy. Drive thru, sit in car and eat while inhaling the aroma. I sneak that in when I “gotta run to the bank” – no noise, no kids, no dog begging for a bite. Just me, the car, and the gravy biscuit.

  15. Valerie says:

    Welsh Rarebit

  16. Jenny says:

    Clam chowder, chili, my mom’s meatloaf recipe (which is a secret and cannot be shared ^_^), and pot roast with gravy.

    My husband and I also finally found a recipe for mac and cheese that we both like (it’s been a years long struggle to find one that’s the right amount of creamy, the right amount of cheese to noodles, the right spices, etc.) so I’m thinking that will be on the menu a lot this winter.

    It’s getting pretty chilly here so I think we’ll be making chili and cornbread tonight (ours includes bacon, so you know it’s good!).

  17. Steve says:

    So about this unicorn you’re selling…..

    • Karen says:

      It’s not for sale anymore. It’s lame. You don’t want it. I’m pretty sure it has colic, it’s … JUST STAY AWAY FROM MY UNICORN!!! ~ karen

  18. Brook says:

    Pillowy soft ricotta-potato gnocchi with spicy arrabiata sauce. Perfect on a freezing cold winter’s day.

  19. NinaMargo says:

    Slow cooker chicken white corn chowder:

    Throw maybe 4-5 cups of home made frozen chicken broth into the slow cooker along with a couple packages of trader joe’s frozen super sweet white corn, 1 cup of medium, mild or hot chopped hatch chiles (your choice) and 2 frozen breasts. Cook on high for 4 hours. Walk away. Come back in about 3 hours. Pull out the chicken breasts, shred them, throw them back in. Add red pepper flakes if you want even more heat. Let it cook another hour. I was making this for a husband coming down with the flu, so I ratcheted up the heat! Found a box of cornbread mix in the cupboard. Yay! Made that too! Squirted honey and sprinkled some cinnamon on top when served it. Found a bottle of zinfandel! Now everybody’s happy, and even the hubster’ s fever is going down!

  20. pat barford says:

    ‘m already looking forward to making your grandmother’s spaghetti and meatballs. It’s on regular rotation for us. Sundays, when it all sits in the oven for a couple of hours and infuses the house with roasted tomatoey goodness. It’s like a hug when you walk in the door.

    • Karen says:

      It is! :) I’m glad you’re using that recipe, it’s so easy and one of my favourites in terms of deliciousness! ~ karen

  21. maggie van sickle says:

    pasta anyway you serve it except for lasagna not a fan.

  22. Danni says:

    Stifled beef, sort of a cross between stew and pot roast, dead easy and delicious.
    Cube up a couple pounds stew beef, toss in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne are my go to, but this is where you can take it in another direction if you want)
    Brown in oil in oven safe pot, set aside
    Add a can of beef broth to pan and scrape up the browned flour a bit. (if it doesn’t look like there is enough to eventually thicken, add more flour to the bottom and cook it before adding the broth, but the coating on the beef usually is enough to finish thickening the pot.)
    Throw the beef back in the pot, add a sliced onion, button mushrooms, bay leaf, season if needed, and cover tightly.
    Low oven, 275 to 300, 4 hours or longer. The lower the longer it can stay in. Perfect for when you have stuff to do and can’t be tied to the kitchen. Mash up some potatoes to go under it and you’re good to go.
    I was wondering what to make this weekend! Boom! Done!

  23. Wendy says:

    African Peanut soup, ratatouille, moussaka (without the lamb ?), seafood chowder….but usually numerous variations of grilled cheese.

  24. Marilyn says:

    Homemade tomato soup and a grilled cheese

  25. Kim K. says:

    I “heart” you. Are we sisters? You put into words what I know in my heart. Except massage…massage is creepy. I’d rather dig a swimming pool…with a shovel.

    • Karen says:

      Sisters? Maybe. Do you also stand on your right leg with your left leg bent at the knee, foot resting on your inner thigh sort of like a flamingo? If so, yes. It’s possible. ~ karen!

  26. Ella says:

    Risotto. Any kind…but my particular fave is one made with farro, san marzano tomatoes, great lashings of shaven and grated parmigiano reggiano, basil and garlic, finished by baking in the oven. It’s nutty, chewy, gooey, garlicky. I try not to make too much because it’s so good, I keep sneaking back for a snick more. Hmmm….it’s looking good for this Saturday.

  27. Rose says:

    After coming in from a cold day, fry up some chopped bacon, throw in some leftover spaghetti, lots of garlic, scramble an egg in there, then sprinkle some parmesan cheese. It’s really good!

  28. Ronda says:

    ox tails baked in broth for hours so the meat falls off the bones, served with mashed taters and any vegetable. I used to make them so often when my kids were little, they begged me to stop! then there’s lasagna, or oktoberfest sausages with sweet and sour red cabbage like my Oma used to make, with pan gravy and egg noodles, or beef stew baked with bacon, onion and red wine, or … or …. there are so many!!

  29. Claire says:

    Pumpkin mac n’ cheese with smoked bacon bits. My grandmother was from Tennessee and use to make the BEST mac n’ cheese…. adding pumpkin tricks my brain into thinking it’s a “healthy” comfort food…

    And for comfort drink — hot mulled apple cider served with a dash of honey whisky liquer.

  30. Jean Ann says:

    Braised short ribs and mashed sweet potatoes made with butter, s and p only.

  31. Rita says:

    In our home, the arrival of firework season is greeted by the lightweight pale blue and silver duvet cover and fleece being replaced with the regal dark red and gold duvet cover and an actual duvet. And the electric underblanket. And my sexy silk négligé becomes a cow print fleece night shirt. Like Cinderella, at the stroke of midnight, if she’d be at a bordello instead of a ball….

  32. Cynthia says:

    I get knots in my shoulders and neck in winter too. It helps cut down on massages if I remember to wear a soft scarf around my neck to bed at night. Try it. It might help. Not sexy but neither is looking like Quasimodo.

    • Karen says:

      At one point last winter I started wearing a cashmere hoodie to bed with the hood up to keep my neck protected. I’m not above looking ridiculous at any time let alone while I sleep. :) ~ karen

      • Cynthia says:

        I dont think cashmere qualifies as ridiculous looking. I use a crappy, fluffy polyester scarf. The trick is to start the habit before it gets really cold. It works. Especially for us girls with long elegant necks and huuge heads. (according to my husband).

  33. Steph H says:

    Sour cream enchiladas like my mom made them: all cheese and no redeeming good-for-you ingredients.

  34. Catt in Kentucky says:

    Soups of almost any kind but I love Butternut squash soup with a drizzle of cream and frizzled sage and roasted vegetable soup with a bit of local beef and fresh herbs. Love a plain whole baked sweet potato with that lovely natural caramelized goodness.

  35. Karen says:

    Home made egg noodles and pot roast. Served with cole slaw. The mayonnaise kind.

  36. Teri says:

    Pumpkin (or squash) and Pasta

    Reminds me of Fettuccine Alfredo only better.

    Makes: 4 servings
    · 1 Tbsp. olive oil
    · 1 large garlic clove, minced
    · 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
    · Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    · 1/3 cup white wine
    · 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree, or canned pumpkin or any winter squash
    · 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
    · 3/4 lb (375g) linguini (or pasta style of choice)
    · 1/4 cup whipping cream (I use Philly instead of cream for extra zing)
    · Pinch ground nutmeg (I use a very generous pinch)
    · Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    · 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 
plus some for the table
    · 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
    · 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

    Cook pasta.

    Heat oil in lg skillet, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, oregano and chili flakes. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the pumpkin and stock and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, cook 2 minutes, and then remove from the heat. Whisk in cream (or Philly), nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

    Add cooked pasta to sauce in skillet along with a little,of the pasta cooking water if mixture seems dry. Toss with Parmesan..

    Serve with toasted garlic bread.

    • Katie C. says:

      That sounds DELICIOUS!

    • Karen says:

      I’m going to try that this winter! But I might add a few fried sage leaves on top if that’s O.K. Love pumpkin with fried sage leaves. ~ karen!

      • Teri says:

        Ooooh, fried sage leaves sound like a delicious addition. Fortunately, here on the wet coast the sage is available year round and purple sage leave would look good against the orangey pumpkin sauce. Yum and thanks for that idea! ??

        • Karen says:

          Funny story Teri … it’s available here year round too. It’s a really cold tolerant herb. :) Mine is pickable all winter. ~ karen!

  37. Phylicia M says:

    Well it has to be Beef Stroganoff and I use my grandmother’s cook book (which I added a photo of)
    It is just so yummy!

  38. Melissa says:

    You are SO lucky to have four distinct seasons, here in Texas, we have two! Real Hot and Really Hot, but we still force ourselves into sweaters and boots and scarves and pretend we live in the tundra. Being Southern, and having a mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers who cooked beloved Southern comfort foods, my all time favorite is Chicken and Dumplings (really pronounced dumplins). I know there are battles about what constitutes a dumplin, but my favorite was how my momma did it. Pop open a can of biscuits and just drop them in the last ten minutes of cooking. What you get is a big ‘ol fluffy ball of chicken-y goodness. Here is a recipe I use, sometimes I make the dumplins from scratch…but sometimes I like to bring myself back to the “pop open the can” feeling and make it like my momma. Yummee!

  39. YvonneM says:

    My very own recipe which I’ve named Kitchen Sink Chilli. The usual basic recipe but then I add anything I find in the pantry that might taste good and add to the experience. Simmer low and slow. Always different. And always remember to add a couple of squares of good dark chocolate at the end, it mellows any bitterness from the chillies.

  40. Ukrainian food, of course! My home made Sauerkraut perogies drowning in mushroom gravy and buttered onions. Doesn’t get any better!

  41. Rod from Calgary says:

    My own home made cabbage rolls, from a recipe — adapted a bit — passed down through my Ukrainian grandmother! There’s nothing quite like a big plate of cabbage rolls and the Grey Cup game! Hmmm…that game is only about a month away…mmmmm!

  42. sheryl Powell says:

    Best comfort food from my childhood. Chocolate syrup and toast. Made by Grandma for weekend breakfast, against mom’s wishes. (I’ve also heard of a similar treat called chocolate gravy and biscuits). Recipe? Use any fudge recipe, milk, sugar, cocoa vanilla. Just don’t cook it as long. Melt the sugar but keep it sticky. Any toast will do but the best is buttered bread in a skillet. Weird I know. Hey ladies. Ever hear of chocolate fondue? Huh? Nearly the same thing.

    • Ardith says:

      My Dutch friend used to eat sandwiches of buttered white bread with chocolate sprinkles. And yes, she did get me hooked on them, so I’m onboard with you.

  43. judy says:

    I love C****ken Divan-I have concealed a key ingredient because I have come to love the key ingredient (due to your influence) as interesting little life forms,kinda quirky,colorful and the babies are beyond adorable.

    AnyHoo- 3 large cans of cream of chicken soup- cup or more of sour cream- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, and cumin and whatever other spice appeals to you.spray bottom of a large casserole dish and lay 6 Chicken Breasts on bottom layer- salt and pepper the breasts spread sauce mixture and then a layer of frozen broccoli-more sauce-grated cheddar cheese and I put those crispy onions on top. Serve over rice…This is very low cal..if you live in Siberia and use lots of calories not to freeze to death. This feeds sons for dinner and two old people for so many meals that I don’t make it again till next Winter.

  44. Ardith says:

    I’m looking forward to joining you for some cool to cooler weather. Texas just isn’t cooperating yet. Meanwhile, I dream of my recipes for stews and thick soups, fajita enchiladas, pizzas, roast chicken, quick breads (zucchini, pumpkin, cranberry)…and my foray into yeast breads.

    I’d just as soon circumvent the walking/running-naked-while-getting-pummeled-with-canned-hams experience, thank you very much. I’d like that as much I enjoy professional massages (I just cannot shake the image of “Friends” Ross’s reaction to massaging the hot model’s father. It always makes me wonder what goes on in the massage therapist’s mind, so I cannot relax).

    Have fun basking in the bliss of hot food, warm blankies, and scented candles. I envy you.

    Cheers, Ardith

    • Karen says:

      Today is the first coolish day we’ve had! And really, it isn’t all that cold, lol. Yesterday or the day before it was 26 or so. (that’s almost 80 in American-speak) ~ karen!

    • martina says:

      Argh. I’m in California and today it was 37C!!!! I can’t think about comfort food yet, we had poke for dinner so I didn’t have to use the oven. I wish I could start thinking about stew and mac and cheese. :(

  45. Patti says:

    Pioneer Woman Pot Roast w veg on a bed of garlic mash. Every winter Sunday. Then make beef sandwiches au jus with the leftovers. Heavenly…

    • Karen says:

      I have a love/hate relationship with pot roast Patti. My father-in-law(ish) made a delicious pot roast but I never seem to be able to make a great one myself. :/ ~ karen!

      • Carol says:

        I have the same pot roast relationship – pain in the you know what. However….Costco to the rescue! Have you discovered 44th Street pot roast yet, Karen? Omigod. You get two fully cooked, individually vacuum packed pot roasts with lots of dark brown gravy to pour over those mashed potatoes you must eat it with for $20, unless they’re on sale, as they are this week here in Montreal, for $16. One roast will feed two piggies or three normal people. The only negative is that occasionally you’ll get one that is oversalted. You can freeze them and they can be heated up in the microwave in the bag they come in. Dinner on the table in the time it takes to make mashed patates or less if you have any of those leftover ones! Love it!!

        Something odd is happening here in that there is no cursor to help you find your way around. All else is working fine. A finger on the iPad works instead of a cursor but isn’t that accurate, as you might imagine.
        Thanks for all you do, Karen. Much appreciated!

        • Jan in Waterdown says:

          Hey Carol! I saw that pot roast in “my” Costco this week where it is also on sale. I deeply pondered trying it but put it back. So now, I will have to zip over there and pick one up! Thanx for the info . . . hope I don’t get an oversalted one lol!
          Have you tried their chicken pot pie? I’ve avoided it for years since my husband isn’t a big pie person but recently decided what the heck, and it IS good. Before baking, I brush the top lightly with olive oil then sprinkle on some dried herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) to give it a flavour boost. Very tasty.

        • Carol says:

          Hi Jan, Hope you enjoy the pot roast! I keep avoiding chicken pot pie because of all those pie crust calories that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from consuming. Seems the 44th Street folks have got it figured out!

        • Jan in Waterdown says:

          Hi Carol, so yesterday I broke my own rule about not shopping @ Costco on a weekend. It was stupid busy, looked like Christmas. I managed to zip in and out with a pot roast and a chicken pie in about 10 minutes. Must admit I was a tad apprehensive about the roast but it was really good!! It wasn’t pretty and I thought it might have that “commercial” taste but I was wrong! Thank you thank you from the bottom of my tummy!

  46. Jane S says:

    Spaghetti squash lasagna. The recipe says it’s low fat but I add way more cheese. Yummy.

  47. Vicki says:

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Bacon.
    How much do you want for your unicorn? :)

  48. TucsonPatty says:

    Mashed potatoes. Not very original, but – potatoes, am I right? Chili cook-off this weekend here, and vegetarian it will be. So no meat sweats. (Is that a thing?) 30+ years since I’ve eaten any meat. Well, except for last Christmas when someone brought in “Man Cookies”, and I had 4 or 5 of them before someone told me they weren’t pecans on the top – that was BACON!! They were good but they didn’t taste like bacon.

    • Michelle says:

      Meat sweats are real but like you I don’t get them. Haven’t for about 20yrs. I too am another veggie. Lol. We just get AZ dry sweats! Or lately some other awful kind of hormonal sweat. Sigh. Love Tucson traded it for Scottsdale feel ripped off.

      I love Stew but just the root veggies. Still 90s here sigh.

  49. Jennie Lee says:

    As a matter of fact, at my house comfort foods come in a Fiesta Ware gusto bowl. Or at least a jumbo bowl.

  50. Auntiepatch says:

    Creamy Chicken Soup with wide egg noodles

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