4 Winter Comfort Recipes
Like clockwork, the stroke of a new year encourages a slew of ambitious healthy resolutions — more green juice, less alcohol, more intentional living, less screen time, more kale, less ice cream.
But when the temperature outside is so cold that the locks on your car are frozen solid, and when you absolutely cannot bear to go outside for any length of time at all, it’s a good time to stay home and cook. And sometimes that’s what helps make winter seem more bearable and comforting.
The key to winter comfort food cooking can be using savvy meal planning as our tour guide. But since we know this is a lot to take in and meal planning takes work, we’ve decided to make things a bit easier for you.
We've compiled 4 comfort recipes for you to plan and prepare to get you through the chill of the remaining winter months. Healthy comfort food recipes are January’s theme because, let’s face it, we need to ease into this. Excess fat and calories aren’t needed this month, but it’s still winter, and that means comfort food still rules.
- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Bake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces*
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp. marinade from artichoke hearts
4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped
red wine vinegar
1 lb. whole wheat fusilli pasta
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, whole
½ c. marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
½ c. white beans, rinsed + drained
½ c. Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
⅓ c. parsley and basil leaves, roughly chopped
2-3 handfuls of part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
salt + pepper
parsley + basil leaves
*You can substitute with chicken breast (just keep an eye on it so it doesn't overcook)
1. For the chicken marinade, drain the artichoke hearts reserving the juice. To a large bowl, add the chicken, artichoke juice, garlic, and oregano leaves. Drizzle with olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and mix well to coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour, maximum 3 hours.
2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.
3. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
4. To a casserole dish, add the sliced onions and tomatoes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the tomatoes begin to burst, about 15-20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet warm 1 tsp. of olive oil over moderate heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides. It will be slightly undercooked.
6. Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Add the cooked pasta, chicken, artichoke hearts, beans, olives, and chopped herbs. Stir to combine.
7. Top with grated cheese and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbling. If you like it really brown, pop it under the broiler for a minute.
8. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh herbs right before serving.
- Light Shepards Pie with Cauliflower Mash
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
1½ pounds lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
½ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups beef broth 2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
For the whipped cauliflower:
1. Bring a large saucepan filled half way with salted water to a simmer and add the cauliflower. Add a lid to the pan and steam for about 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth and season with kosher salt. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the Shepard Pie:
1. In a 10” shallow braiser or skillet over medium heat add the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until mostly cooked through and then add the onion. Cook another 5 minutes until the onion is soft.
2. Add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix it into the vegetables and beef.
3. Add the frozen peas and 3 ½ cups of beef broth and 2 bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes over medium low heat.
4. Mix the ½ cup of beef broth with the cornstarch in a Tupperware and shake well until smooth. Pour the slurry in and stir it in well. Cook while occasionally stirring for another 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Season to taste with kosher salt.
5. Spoon the cauliflower in scoops to the top of the skillet. Bake the skillet uncovered for 20 minutes and then take it out when it is piping hot and the cauliflower is golden around the edges. Sprinkle with chives and serve hot.
3. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 ½ hours
Total time: 1 hour 45 mins
2 split chicken breasts with ribs and skin on
2 chicken drumsticks with skin
1 yellow onion peeled and cut into quarters
1 head of garlic unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
6 carrots leaving 2 of them unpeeled and cut into halves, and the remaining 4 peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
6 ribs celery two of them cut in half and the remaining cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 parsnip unpeeled cut into 3-inch chunks
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 bunch fresh thyme
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 ounces extra wide egg noodles
1. Add the chicken pieces, onion, head of garlic, two unpeeled and halved carrots, two ribs of celery halves, parsnip halves to a large stock pot. Tie 15 stems of Italian parsley and 15 stems of thyme with a bit of kitchen string and add to the pot.
2. Cover with cold water 1-2 inches above the chicken and veggies or 14 cups of water. Add 3 chicken bouillon cubes, bay leaves, black peppercorns and kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a lightly rolling simmer and cook uncovered for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is cooked through and tender and stock is well flavoured. If the stock tastes weak, add another chicken bouillon soup and a bit more salt.
3. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool and remove the vegetables from the stock and discard. Place a strainer over a large bowl and strain the broth. Return the broth to the stock pot and add the chopped carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Add the egg noodles and cook for another 8 minutes or until noodles are tender but chewy. Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the chicken with two forks. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, start by adding 3/4 of the shredded chicken to the soup then add more if you have enough broth or reserve for another use. Season with more salt and pepper if desired and stir in 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and serve hot.
4. Slow cooker healthy chicken pot pie stew
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4hr
Total Time: 4hr 5 mins
1 lb. chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrot(s), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup frozen pearl onions
1/3 cup peas
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1. Add the chicken, yellow onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and chicken broth to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir to combine.
2. Add the bay leaf, cover, and cook on Low for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
3. Remove and discard bay leaf.
4. Remove chicken breast, shred, and set aside.
5. Measure out 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the liquid and contents from the slow cooker and place into a blender. Puree this until smooth, and then return to the slow cooker. This will serve to thicken the stew. (If you’d like it even thicker, mix 1/2 cup of the liquid with 1 tbsp. corn starch and dissolve into the liquids).
6. Return the cooked, shredded chicken to the slow cooker, followed by the frozen, peas, frozen carrots, frozen pearl onions, and Greek yogurt.
7. Re-cover and cook an additional 30 minutes, until the frozen vegetables have heated through. Season to taste before serving.