• Annamarie Stedjan

Comfort Food and Joy

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Is it just me or are you freezing lately?!  I feel like once I get a chill, I can’t seem to get rid of it.  I make myself a cup of coffee or a piping hot cup of tea,  I start to warm up as I slowly sip and take in the delicious warmth and as soon as I am finished drinking, back to being cold I go.  There was one day recently where I think I drank 2 cups of coffee and about 5 cups of tea.  And I am not talking about your dainty china cups, I am talking mondo size mugs!!  I was not quite sure that my body could hold that much liquid…but I digress.  Anyway, I love that I live in an area of the United States where (for the most part) we see all four seasons.  Although Winter is not my favorite season, once the chilly weather sets in, I so look forward to cooking up some comfort food.


Comfort food equals joy in the Stedjan house.  My son is a lover of meatloaf and my daughter loves mashed potatoes and gravy.  My husband is a fan of soups and stews and honestly who doesn’t love some delicious gooey mac and cheese? Yum!

A big hit in our home is my Italian Wedding Soup.  It is literally the best one pot meal that is chockfull of meat, veggies and starch if you choose to add a little pasta.  I think I made a large batch of it once a week during last winter.  So I figured this year I better think of a new one pot meal or else my kids are going to look at me and say “this soup again!”

I was browsing through one of the Allrecipe magazines and they had this whole section on recipes for pressure cookers and Instapots, neither of which I have, but this one recipe caught my eye and I thought, “yum…I definitely need to try this out.”  The recipe was for Chicken and Vegetable Miso Soup.  Of course, I needed to adjust the cooking times and the order in which things got prepared, but after making it several times, I finally wrote the recipe and I am so excited to share it with all of you.  This is definitely a must try!!


Brown up the chicken thighs, not cooking them all the way through, so that when you place it back into the pot with all the veggies and stock it can finish cooking in a gentle simmer.  Then, when the soup is finished cooking, take two forks and shred the chicken right in the pot.  The chicken thighs just effortlessly fall apart and marry with all the vegetables, miso paste and a touch of sriracha for a little zip.  It is such a flavorful and delicious soup.  It is super healthy and surprisingly filling too.  One nice deep soup bowl full is the perfect dinner for a busy weeknight.


Moving on from my soup saga, a few weeks ago when it was zero degrees outside (literally!), I was totally on a comfort food kick and started off the week making my meatloaf with mustard pan gravy and roasted garlic mashed potatoes for dinner and for some strange reason we had a decent amount of mashed potatoes leftover.  I must have peeled one too many potatoes that night, because we very rarely have any scraps left in the serving bowl.  I put the leftover mashed potatoes in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator doubting that it would eaten because there was no meatloaf or veggies left to go with it.  Three days later, and out of ideas for dinner, I open up the fridge and still see that container sitting there packed with mashed potatoes.  I thought I had some ground beef in the freezer, which I did, and said to myself….”Shepherd’s Pie!!”  Now, I know for the devout foodie crowd, Shepherd’s Pie is not a Shepherd’s Pie unless it is made with lamb.  So technically, I guess the recipe I am about to give you should be called a Cottage Pie.  You can call it whatever you want, either way, it is delicious.  The tomato paste melted into the meat and the Worcestershire sauce coupled with the beef stock give this recipe a deep, rich flavor that is quintessential to any comfort food dish.  I found myself, and the rest of my family digging in for seconds which is always a good sign!  I have since then, been asked to make it at least twice.  Yay!  So below is both recipes, one for the Meatloaf with Mustard Pan Gravy and the other for the Shepherd’s (Cottage) Pie.  I hope you get a chance to whip one or both of them up before the weather starts to turn.


I can’t really say exactly when I start to get tired of cooking and eating comfort food, but it’s typically sometime in the middle to end of March when I have had it with the tease in temperature changes, or when I start to hear birds chirping outside my window early in the morning.  That’s the time I start thinking about the lighter and brighter flavors of  Spring and ingredients like sugar snap peas, apricots, artichokes and fennel.

For now, I will continue to cook and enjoy rich delicious comfort foods like the ones I’ve included in this post.  I hope you get to try some of these recipes out this month for yourself or for your family.  I really think you’ll love the flavors and they will totally warm you up from the inside out!


Here’s to another six weeks of winter. Stay warm everyone!

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