Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Craving comfort foods January 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:40 AM
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WITH THE START of a new year, I’ve tried to focus on eating healthier foods. Salads. More fruits and vegetables. Less bread. Less cheese.

The strategy worked for awhile. But then my body demanded more. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Macaroni and cheese.

So I caved in to my cravings. I couldn’t help myself. This time of year, in Minnesota, we tend to burrow into our homes, tuck ourselves under fleece throws while snuggled on the couch and wait for spring.

To ward off the winter blues that result from too much snow, cold and darkness, we often opt for hearty comfort foods with a lot of substance.

That said, the other night, instead of opening a boxed macaroni and cheese product, I opted for homemade. Years ago I always made maci and cheese from scratch using Velveeta. That’s how my mom made it, so that’s how I prepared it. But I wanted to try a different version.

I found a yummy recipe for Traditional Macaroni and Cheese on allrecipes.com. I loved the rich cheddar taste. The guys in the household rated it as much better than the boxed mac made with powdered cheese. (What’s in that stuff anyway?) But my husband says he prefers Velveeta to cheddar. Go figure. I’m sticking with the cheddar.


The mac and cheese I made from scratch and seasoned with extra pepper.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough comfort food for one meal, I made bread pudding for dessert with a recipe I also pulled off allrecipes.com. I adapted the Bread Pudding II recipe by substituting dried cranberries for the raisins, cutting the cinnamon to ½ a teaspoon and using only ½ a cup of sugar. I loved it and ate the bread pudding for dessert that evening and for breakfast the next day.

SO TELL ME, what comfort foods do you crave in the deep, dark depths of winter?


Bread pudding laced with dried cranberries because I prefer those to raisins.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Craving comfort foods”

  1. Bernie Says:

    I’m a big hotdish girl in the winter. Last night I made tater tot hotdish. Something that my husband had never heard of before. I also crave wild rice soup and wild rice hotdish,

    Sounds like your mac and cheese was a hit!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You’re a Minnesota native and you’ve never had tater tot hotdish? What? It could be the state hotdish.

      But then, I’ve never cooked wild rice. That’s more of a northern Minnesota dish and, of course, I grew up (and still live) in southern Minnesota.

      • Bernie Says:

        I have had it, my husband is a Montana native and HE had never heard of it. 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Ooops, sorry, I read your comment too quickly. So glad you’ve introduced your husband to one of our better-known Minnesota dishes.

  2. Laura Says:

    One time while making homemade macaroni and cheese at my college apartment, my friends melted the mixing spoon into the macaroni… needless to say, we had to start from scratch. again.

    I recently made the pioneer woman’s fancy macaroni – it was delicious and I would definitely recommend it to a friend http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/12/fancy-macaroni/

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      A melted spoon in mac and cheese does not sound too tasty.

      I’ll check out that fancy macaroni recipe too. Thanks for passing that along and for stopping by. I’ve admired the food photos on your blog and often wished I could sample the foods you feature.

  3. Donna Lyon Says:

    My winter craving is home made bread….slathered (is that a real word – I’m asking the Scrabble Queen) with real butter and raspberry jam. mmmmmm

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, Donna, “slathered” is a word. And that bread with butter and raspberry jam sounds delicious.

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