Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Favorite Comfort Food

I don't care what anyone says, I'm a fan of the starches. And the carbs. I never stood a chance between the Spam & fried potatoes and the tuna casserole of my youth.

For the 18 years that  I haven't lived at home, I"ve requested beef and noodles or chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes almost every time I go home. It's my go-to comfort food. Give me egg noodles or give me eternal discomfort! Something like that. You get my point.

Just like the yeasts, the bobbins, the gravies and the whole poultries, I somehow placed this meal into a category of fear and trembling. It seemed to me like something only my mom could pull off. So I never tried.

Granted, I've still never lived to stuff a cavity, but I'm starting to realize that the conspiracies of the elder generations run deep. Turns out, it's easier to make beef and noodles than Tuna Helper, and I would know.

To make matters more glorious, my friend Alison made BBQ Green Beans for me last year and my world was changed forever.

So what you'll find below is the perfect Sunday Dinner. Or Thursday With Friday Left-Overs, as the case may be.

As the wise Cookie Monster might warn, this is a sometimes meal, not an all-the-time meal. But it's a crowd-pleaser. And I will personally attest to the fact that you will not need a late-night snack later on. (That almost never happens.)

Cook 3 strips of bacon with 1/2 cup chopped onion. Or, do like I do and buy a box of pre-cooked bacon, chop it, and cook it up with the onion.

Add 1 quart of beans (I also added a pint)...

 Then add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup ketchup, and 1/8 cup vinegar. Stir.

 Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour. (I kept the burner as low and it would go.)

While your beans are slow-cooking, bring 6-8 cups of beef broth to a boil. Add 1 lb of thick-cut egg noodles, bring to a boil, then simmer until you reach desired tenderness.

(I used these noodles.)

Then? The meat. I used a home-canned pint of beef - a gift from my Mama.
(Looks grody, right? Well, it ain't.)

Use the back of the spoon to break up the meat, continue to simmer.

At this point, you want some extra broth with the noodles, but not too much. I drained a bit of mine off. 

I personally like my noodles to have a thicker, creamier texture. So...

In a separate dish, mix 1/4 cup of flour with a cup or so of milk. (I eyeballed both.) Stir well, then stir mixture into noodles.

Continue to cook on low and the broth will take on a creamy, thicker level of magnificence. At this point, I add some parsley flakes (fancy!) and salt a pepper to taste.

Booyah. You're done.

Your beans should be barbecuey and delicious and read to eat. 

But don't forget to take the mashed potatoes out of the oven (225 degrees) where they have been staying warm and divine while you did your other cooking mostly because you only have one big pan, so you had to do the potatoes first, then wash it out and do the noodles!

I've had trouble mastering homemade mashed potatoes in the past, but they are one of my love languages, so I've stubbornly refused to give up. I'll never understand why it took me so long, but I finally found the best technique and I love it. 

My secret? Sour cream. And maybe a smidgen of heavy cream if I have some lying around, because we all need more calcium. 

She's not the most colorful meal, but she sure is the homiest.

What's your go-to comfort food? What's the meal that takes you back to your roots?
I've got all night here, people. And I love almost nothing more than talking food.


  1. Clearly chicken and homemade dumplings... Which I would love to say are as good as TeeTee's (my most special aunt), but they never will be. Somehow I manage to eat them ALL anyway!!!

  2. I love pork chops, mashed potatoes,corn and gravy.
    My Mom made canned beef too. Nothing is better. I wish someone in the family would carry on the tradition.
    Love reading your blog.

  3. OH MY GOD a girl after my own heart. . . .that's my kind of dinner. Noodles and mashies. . .I just died. LOVE IT!

  4. I do not even know where to begin! Should I begin with the bacon?! The Amish noodles?! That casserole dish?! Oh my goodness. I cried a little. I feel comforted just by looking at this post. I will make it. I will, I will. Sunday dinner I guess, because I feel the anointing here, FPFG. Amen.

    You know I am a carb girl. Anything carbolicious makes me comfortable. A little too comfortable, if we're being honest. I walked for an hour today, though, which I think constitutes a marathon? A half? Oh well. It earned a heapin' helpin' of this meal, I think.

    Love, Love.

    PS, I'll eat anything your Mom puts in a jar, FYI.

    1. I agree with Abby. I'll eat anything your Mama sees fancy to can. You have my address. I am currently dining on a can I strawberry fig preserves. On a spoon. Straight from the jar.

      Butter Keks? You nailed that one.


  5. That looks really, really yummy. I love carbs too.

  6. My comfort food is breakfast for dinner: omelets, waffles, etc. I'm currently 8 weeks pregnant and my husband has been making me vegetable omelets, blueberry waffles, and fruit smoothies for me when everything else seems disgusting to me.
    Oh! And one night he made an omelet with mashed potatoes rolled up inside! It was amazing.

  7. My momma could make fried chicken with a creamy white gravy full of those crispy bits of chicken skin served over mashed potatoes with corn and biscuits on the side. I've never had better.

  8. That looks amazing!!
    And I love my mom's chicken pot pie, johnny marzetti, and chili.

  9. Holy Cow!!!
    First off, green beans are my absolute favorite. ESPECIALLY with onions and bacon. I have already written down this recipe to try. Mashies, yes please. Now, the beef & noodles sounds SOOO yummy, but I had a bad experience with canned meat as a kid and never got over it - but I WOULD try your mama's. This is about as perfect a meal as you can get. My other comfort food would be chicken and dumplings - the kind made with canned biscuits like my grandma made when I was a kid - it seemed like MAGIC that those biscuits became dumplings :)

    PS - I want butter keks!!! ;)

  10. Now I ask you this, did you know that just three days ago I said, "I need some new recipes for canned green beans"...? I am SO grateful for this one...definitely giving it a well as the beef and noodles! It all looks so yummy.

  11. I am requesting this for my birthday dinner! ;) we are cosmic! I love, love, love noodles + meat. Serious comfort food. Must have slice of buttered bread in the side! Yum!

  12. A few months ago I messed up some mashed potatoes. I usually put plain yogurt in (instead of sour cream), but this time I accidently added two big dollops of vanilla yogurt. OOPS! Thankfully a lot of ranch dressing salvaged them.

    Some of the favorite foods of my youth are my grandma's cheesy potatoes (the hashbrown ones), oven fried chicken, and goulash (not the "real" kind-the one with hamburger, macaroni, and tomato soup).

    Though I've expanded my own recipe repertoire it's always fun to take a trip down memory lane around the supper table.

  13. Chocolate chip cookies are my current comfort food, but back in the day when Mama did the cookin', it was 1) fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy, or 2) roast beef and mashed potatoes with gravy. Daddy did the mashing and fortunately for all of us, he taught me how a few years before he passed away. I passed the knowledge on to his grandchildren, my nieces and nephews. Nevertheless, I never make them because Bob Evans does such a nice job, God bless him. Can we all say gravy in a jar? And I never eat fried food (finicky digestive self) and rarely eat gravy. What is wrong with me?!?! It's those chocolate chip cookies!!! They ruined me for my roots cooking! ... but yours look nice ;) Mary

  14. Oh how I love homemade canned meat it's delicious! Dinner looks fabulous~Kim

  15. My parents can beef. It makes me want to puke. Maybe your mom is better at it? Surely. I'm loving this green bean recipe! You're my food hero.

  16. Did you know that we can't get Amish egg noodles like that in the South? My mom brings them when she comes down for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! And I'm salivating over your pictures. I'm on the 3rd day of a "cleanse." Truth be known, I'm only doing it because my husband says I won't make it. But, man, do I want a cheeseburger!

  17. This is why you keep me coming back. You had me at this:

    "Granted, I've still never lived to stuff a cavity"

    I do believe I snorted!

    That meal looks divine minus the beef. No offense. But it really does look yummy.

    One year, I went to a family Thanksgiving that I really didn't want to attend, just to have the homemade mashed taters! My comfort food is mashed potatoes with ALL kinds of butters and fat things in them. Brad just made some tonight. He said "I did what you told me to." (I am a poor cook so needless to say I wondered "Huh?") Brad "Just kept adding more and more butter. If you think it's enough, ADD MORE."

    Wise words from me, I guess. I seem to forget when I hand out sage advice.

    They were a delight!

    I also loved my mom's homemade hot dish. We called it hot dish in Mn. I think it's "casserole" to others or God forbid...sometimes "Goulash" (sp?)

    You're also my food hero!

  18. Pinto beans and cornbread, with a big slab of onion. Mmmm. Your green beans look delicious!

  19. Looks wonderful I might have to try a few of those recipes. Yum.

  20. that looks delicious! i love me some pot roast with potatoes and carrots roasted alongside. this is what i request when i wonder back to my homeland. i think i may have to try that green bean recipe - makes me yearn for some summer beans fresh from the garden....

  21. Ooooh! You just summed up carb-heaven! I want to come over for Sunday lunch! Can you keep it warm while I drive from Pennsylvania. :) I will have make this soon!

  22. Turkey tetrazzini. My Mum made it the week after Christmas, my Dad always dreaded it, now my husband lists it as his least favoured meal (I make them a steak) and the rest of us guzzle down the mushroomy, creamy, noodl-y goodness. It has almonds in it too, and takes me in a heartbeat back to the years before my Mum passed. Love how food can do that.

  23. Hot beef sandwich...OR Fried pork chops, mashed potatoes and pork gravy. THE BEST!

  24. What a fun post and comments! (Yes, I read every single comment-what can I say? I'm up feeding the baby and am now starving after all this!) I loved my dad cooking us breakfast on Sundays-burritos, waffles, orange rolls, egg sandwiches on Texas Toast....I could go on. And coffee when I got older, blessed coffee :)

  25. Hot tea. With scones. Or crumpets.
    Crusty French bread with soft, pungent cheese.
    My grandmother's recipe for chicken and dumplings, all from scratch.
    Roast chicken, with salty, crispy skin, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. My mom's best meal.
    Shrimp scampi. Which my husband makes for my birthday.
    Lasagna. Which my mom made for my birthday growing up.
    Oyster stew.
    Chili with cornbread. And shredded cheddar. And sour cream.
    Chicken broth. No seriously. I'm loving this for the winter (
    I think I'll stop now.

  26. Pot roast with carrots and extra onions over mashed potatoes.
    Homemade chicken noodle soup.
    Cinnamon waffles with fresh blueberries, pecans and maple syrup and a side of bacon.
    And ice cream.

  27. Baked chicken (in flour and melted butter) then sprinkled with Lawry' s) yum! side dish of fried tators and onions! yum! and then for something healthy: steamed veggies and fresh fruit! by far my favorite meal! ~Kim

  28. Beef Stew with thick bread. My Momma's recipe, of course. Or chicken & gravy & biscuits (no veggies in that one). YUM!

  29. Looks delicious! My favorite of my mom's is her goulash. She adds potatoes instead of noodle. I can never seem to make mine as good as hers. She also makes wonderful fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Yum! I'm so hungry now!

  30. The meal I ask for at nanas is ham biscuits, potato casserole and sweet potato soufflé. I figure three times a year isn't so bad. Oh and collard greens with sweet chow chow on top.

  31. Girlfriend, you have comfort down to a science!
    (And, apparently, extra Calcium, too!)

    Drooled. Pinned. Passed on FB. Drooled some more.

    And, seriously, when is the past time I've heard the word grody?
    I'm sooo with Layla.
    I'm a big fat #flowerhead

    (Who just might have a pint of beef in my fridge right now.)

    ~ Dana

  32. If only I were at your table tonight! If only. Missing you so much this week and wishing I were anything but a world away from our family! I wanna go home... to AMERICA... live under your roof... play with 'my' sweet kiddos... eat your divine meals and maybe dream of Africa. xx

  33. Oh my goodness, that looks like it might cure everything that ails me! I must say, I have never seen beef in a jar. I'm a homegrown farm girl though so I'm totally believing you that it tastes good. I'm so very tired of eating what the books say is the "right" food. Salad, salad and more salad. The other day I went to a restaurant and ordered stacked meatloaf and potatoes. Get this, layers of mashed potatoes, meatloaf, french fried onions and gravy. I ate the whole thing and scraped the plate. Comfort food at it's finest. Enjoy!

  34. Chicken & noodles! Try making your own egg noodles. Super easy & yummo!!

  35. In lieu of comfort foods that have something to do with bacon (which is all of them)(our house is owned by a Muslim so no-go on baco), we do sweet potato casserole pretty often. (no pecans because they're too expensive here) and eat like dessert when we darn well please.
    I started a new blog after 5 years of 2 blogs. Which leads to the question, "What was I thinking?"
    I actually posted a recipe for seafood bisque, which for this Florida girl is quite homey indeed. And without bacon.


  36. Chicken and Noodles (I use those amazing amish ones), mashed potatoes avec sour cream and mayo (creamy!) the chicken & noodles go on top of the mashed potatoes), tossed salad, corn on the cob OR my dad's bbq ribs, cole slaw, biscuits (just Bisquick with garlic and cheddar cheese)and corn on the cob. YUM! When can we talk Mama's desserts??? Blackberry cobbler anyone?

    1. Sister. We are TWINS!

      And yes, the noodles ALWAYS go on top of the potatoes! Just had to adjust for the purposes of the photo. ;)

  37. Ah noodles, so good and so comforting. My grandma made the best homemade egg noodles and would occasionally drop food coloring in so it was not uncommon to have blue or green noodles with your mashed potatoes. I was also so perplexed when I went to college in Southern Indiana and would talk about noodles and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and everyone looked horrified that I would eat spaghetti noodles with my mashed potatoes. Must be a midwest thing!

  38. Oh. My. Goodness. This looks AMAZING! I want this in my belly RIGHT NOW!

    Angie Pants

  39. Now we are talkin'!!! I can do the beans, my girlfriends at work have made them for years! Beef and noodles, yes please and I always and I mean always, eat waaaaay to much :0 this is more up my alley, not like the crockpot apple oatmeal mush I tried to make :)

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  41. Those green beans look so good! The whole meal looks good. My comfort food from growing up would have to be a crockpot-cooked roast with potatoes, carrots and green beans cooked in there too. Yum.