Coping, Diet, Triggers

The Comfort of Casseroles and Home Cooking

It’s my first day blogging in a month and I’m obsessed with finding casserole and other Midwestern home cooking recipes. I haven’t written a new post in weeks (I scheduled them all before my vacation) and have to respond to tons of comments. But I need to make the perfect beef mac and cheese to be ready to tackle my life.

Yes, I know this directly conflicts with the drastic migraine/headache trigger elimination diet I described Thursday. As many times in a day I decide to eat only rice, chicken and lettuce for a few days, I dismiss the crazy idea.

Today’s Googling is part of my long-time preoccupation with finding easy meals that are won’t clog our arteries and are free of additives and other triggers. Vegetables would be a good addition too. Maybe you can benefit from my obsession.

The culprit, beef and cheese macaroni, doesn’t have veggies, but sometimes simple comfort food is the best. As long as I substitute regular cheddar for American, I can justify making this at least once. Right?

From mac and cheese, I moved onto casseroles and other comfort food. Only a couple caught my eye. Do you have any favorites?

When I’m slightly more ambitious, I cook from The Big Book of Casseroles or Moosewood Simple Suppers. I modify Moosewood a lot to fit my diet, but the basic recipes are really good.

Then I got caught up in grilled cheese. The best part is that making it on the George Foreman grill drastically reduces the need for patience.

What are your favorite easy recipes for fall?

9 thoughts on “The Comfort of Casseroles and Home Cooking”

  1. Well, since I started low-carb again, a lot of the traditional comfort foods are out the window, since they are mostly starch. I did make this big mess of steamed broccoli and cauliflower topped with cheese sauce, with nitrate-free hotdogs sliced in. It was good, I think even better than the mac-n-cheese I’d been craving, because broccoli and cauliflower are tastier than pasta.

    I also love making soup, and one of my favorites is really easy. Brown a pound of ground beef with some chopped onions and garlic; pour in chicken broth (or water, if you’re worried about MSG), a can of tomatoes with or without chopped chiles, and some shredded cabbage. (Use packaged coleslaw mix for the ultimate in laziness, but I don’t think shredding a cabbage takes much time.) Simmer until the cabbage is done to your liking. If carbs or gluten are not a problem, you could throw in some tiny pasta or rice or even corn kernels. I usually add some habanero pepper, because the chiles in the canned tomatoes are really wimpy.

  2. Thanks for the recipe suggestions. I bought stuff to make calzones on Friday and still haven’t been able to make them. *sigh*

    I didn’t realize how cheese-heavy my recipes were until last night. Sorry for taunting you if it is a trigger for you. The recipes also negate my “requirement” for foods that wouldn’t clog our arteries!

    Take care,

  3. Kerrie, I so wish I could eat cheese. It’s one of my favorite foods but it’s sure to trigger a migraine. I crave it all the time though. Lately I’ve been making a big vat of vegetable soup with a chicken broth and adding brown rice. It’s been a staple for lunch. It works. I would so much prefer a grilled cheese sandwhich but years of experience has finally taught me to say no to cheese and other foods. I am trying to go wheat free and dairy free and am not 100% there but I am trying.

  4. Reading about turkey and stuffing is killing me! I’m so ready for Thanksgiving. But I don’t like to spoil the fun of all that great food by having any of it this close to the holiday. I hope this month and change flies by!

  5. Anything in a slow-cooker, usually a pot roast with potatoes, salt and fresh spices. Spalsh in a little water and let it simmer all day.

    I also don’t wait for the end of novemper for turkey. I use an onion stuffing receipt from a 1950’s Joy of cooking (adding the uncooked liver to the mix) and make that the night before. I stuff butter and spices under the turkey skin, stuff it, roast it. Boil the gibblets for flavored water to go with the stock & flour for gravy… nosh on that for a week at least. And WA has nice fresh turkeys year round.

    (The key to moist turkey is to cook it covered for the full cooking time then let it brown for 30-60 min… you’ll get a fully cooked turkey that’s so tender the meat just falls off the bone.)

  6. I’ve been craving a really good grilled cheese sandwich for at least a week. I think I’m going to have to indulge that very soon!

    Here are a couple of my favorite comforting recipes:

    Chicken Sausage & Provolone Penne Bake
    1 pound uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1 (12-ounce) package sweet basil and pine nut chicken sausage (such as Gerhard’s), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    3 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
    Cooking spray
    1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
    1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
    Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

    Preheat oven to 350°.

    Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, sausage, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until sausage is browned. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through diced tomatoes); cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

    Combine pasta and tomato mixture; spoon into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

    I look for MSG-free sausage and leave out the Parmesan to make this headache friendly.

    Creamy Potato Soup
    1/2 c. shredded carrot
    1/2 c. diced onion
    1/2 c. diced celery
    1/2 c. butter
    8 diced, cooked potatoes
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can potato water
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    salt & pepper
    garlic powder
    parsley flakes

    Saute carrot, onion, and celery in butter. Add potatoes, soup, and water. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, shredded cheese, and parsley flakes to taste. Add enough milk to create the desired consistency.

    I think comfort food feeds the soul. So even if it isn’t always the healthiest food, sometimes you just need it.

  7. Mmm, grilled cheese. I’ve had a few grilled cheese sandwiches during the past few weeks at my new job, since I help with making lunch and my residents enjoy grilled cheese 🙂
    Unfortunately/Fortunately, however, I just started a diet… my boyfriend decided he wanted to start one, so I said I’d try it too… definitely tricky to stick with, especially when my middle name is “chocolate.”
    A big comfort food for me is sweet potatoes with canned pineapple mixed in and marshmellows on top 🙂

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