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Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

I’ll never forget when my dad was in the hospital years ago. It was a sad, stressful, and painful time. The hands on the clock that hung on the wall just seemed to be stuck in one spot, yet the days were passing so quickly somehow. It was like watching one of those movies where the days flew off a paper calendar, each day removed like it were only a second in time.We spent most of our days up at the hospital standing with my dad when we could be, or sitting out in the waiting room. So many families from far away were also in the same predicament but didn’t have the luxury of having a home to go to close by each night to shower and get some much needed rest. My dad spent 3 whole months in that hospital and two of those were in the ICU alone.

I’ve locked a lot of that whole experience away in my “choose not to remember” files, just as my father has. One of those evenings stand out to me in particular. I had spent the day, as usual, up at the hospital and we just made it home. We were all so exhausted dinner hadn’t even crossed our minds. As soon as we sat down, the doorbell rang. It was our neighbor Susan who’d brought by a chicken casserole. She quietly handed the warm dish over to me, whispered a few words of encouragement, and disappeared into the darkness.

That meal was the only thing I can really remember eating and actually tasting through that whole ordeal. It was such a simple gesture, but yet it meant so much to my family.

When people are in mourning or are taking care of someone else, they often forget to take care of themselves. Meals are easily forgotten because the person is focused on their loved one(s). I just found out yesterday that a coworker of mine lost his partner. He didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t want to hear the “I’m sorry’s.” He didn’t want the pity, or the looks. He just told me yesterday, and she had passed over a WEEK ago with no one really even knowing. She is what brought him to this town. She was all he had, not only here, but even back “home.”

When he shared his loss with me I racked my brain trying to think of what I could do to perhaps give him a moment of comfort, perhaps a second to catch his breath. And then I thought of that casserole that Susan brought over.

These recipes are just simple little dishes that provide warmth and heartiness to the soul…especially one that is grieving. They can all be frozen in a pinch, especially if you’re making them for just one person. For my coworker I did a chicken poppy seed casserole (which is made with rotisserie chicken), a quick spaghetti, and some super quick banana muffins. These meals should provide a bit of sustenance for someone for a few days. The Poppy Seed chicken was adapted from the website “All Recipes.” It is a good and simple recipe made even quicker with Rotisserie chicken. This casserole recipe makes two 8″ Square Cake pans as well as the spaghetti. I used disposable foil pans so that my friend could just throw it away when he was done. The spaghetti is super simple using one of my favorite pasta sauces that I always buy in bulk when it goes on sale. It uses only good wholesome ingredients like roma tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. There’s no preservatives or added junk. I just let the sauce simmer on the stove with an added 1/2 cup of water for about 20 minutes with 1 pound ground beef.

chicken poppy seed lilchefchic

Poppy Seed Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 2 sleeves Everything Ritz Crackers, crushed (you can sub in Regular if you like)

  • 2 teaspoons Poppy seeds

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

  • 2  8oz. Container Sour Cream

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 (10.75 oz) Cans Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix crackers, butter and poppy seeds and set to side. Mix sour cream, and cream of chicken soup with milk. Divide half the mixture between the two pans. Spread with shredded chicken and top with remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle each with 1/2 cup cheese and top with Cracker mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes until golden brown.

spaghetti delgrosso lilchefchic

Super Simple and Hearty Spaghetti:

I often make a homemade sauce for spaghetti but I always have a jar (or two) of really good quality sauce hand for quick meals and that’s just what I did with this recipe.

  • 1/2 Pound Spaghetti Noodles

  • 1 Jar Del Grosso “Late Night Puttanesca), 26 oz.

  • 1 Pound Hamburger meat

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Squeeze of fresh Lemon

  • Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil pasta following box instructions. Add hamburger to large skillet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook hamburger until no longer pink. Add sauce and water, using the water to get all of the sauce out of the jar. Let simmer 20 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add fresh squeeze of lemon juice. Toss pasta in sauce and scatter with Parm.

I wrapped one of each dish in aluminum foil and put it in a brown paper bag. I baked off 12 muffins and packaged up 6 for Jim as well. They were good muffins but not a recipe I’d try again so I’m not even going to post the recipe here. Here they were shining in the sunlight though.

banana muffins lilchefchic
I called up to my job to make sure Jim was there and asked him to meet me out back at the delivery door. I handed him the bag and said, “I brought you some food.” He just stared blankly at me. I said,”No card though Jim, they were all covered in birds and butterflies and pretty sappy so…”
His eyes watered up and he just said back, “Thank you for thinking of me Jennifer.” I caught myself tearing up and quickly explained the meals before telling him bye.

You never really know what people are going through in their life. We are all so quick to judge others based on our assumptions of how they are or even WHO they are. I have to remind myself of this constantly. It felt good such  small gesture for someone that was/is dealing with so much..the loss of a loved one.

What foods do YOU find comfort in? Is it something that reminds you of someone from your past? Maybe a cake your grandma used to make? Cookies? Leave me comment below. I’d love to hear YOUR story.

21 thoughts on “Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More”

  • Oh, so sad to know that these good recipes remind you of bad memories.
    I hope your dad is doing better now.
    I have a question though.
    Did you bake the muffins in the aluminum foil?

    • Hi Pearl! Oh these recipes only remind me of the good that can come out of a bad situation. And that something small to one person can mean so much more to someone else:)
      The muffins were actually baked in a nonstick muffin tin. The recipe just wasn’t the best I’d had so…I’ll try and post another really good one up soon. 🙂

  • Sometimes simple gestures mean the most, especially when they come at the right time. These are great recipes and so nice of you for preparing the meal for your co-worker. When we do something for others, it has a double effect, because it also makes us feel good. Thanks for sharing, it’s a great read!

  • Your story is truly heartwarming and what comfort food means. Bringing people when a loved one passes is something that I have watched my mom do on many occasions. Growing up and attending funerals of loved ones we would gather around a dinner table and fellowship and share stories about our loved ones. A comfort food of mine is my mom’s hamburger pie if I was sad or not having a good day that pie always made me feel better. I will give that Poppy Seed chicken casserole a try and think of your story.

    • Thanks Justin. That’s so sweet of you:)I love hamburger pie! I bet your moms is the best, too. Everything always tastes better when it’s made by our moms:)

  • This touched my heart. I know all too well what it like to be by your father’ side in the hospital where food is the last thing you want to think about, but is necessary for survival. These simple gestures mean oh so much. Lovely article, so lovely.

    xoxo –Ciara

  • These recipes look delicious! I happen to have a super super weak spot for pasta, but I love the poppy chicken recipe you share here and it’s something I’ve never tried so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

    Do you happen to know about how many calories are in these dishes per serving size?

    • I love pasta too Aria:) As far as calories? Not a clue..I’ll just say “a lot.” lol. 🙂 Thank your for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • I have a soft spot for pasta as well Aria:) As far as calories-I’m gonna have to say “prolly a ton.” lol. I have not a clue. Maybe have a very tiny bit:p Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment:)

  • This kind of comfort food really is so important, and I love that your recipes are easily made with some “ready-made” items, like the rotisserie chicken and the jar of spaghetti sauce. No one really plans for tragedy, and making meals on short notice can be difficult for the person cooking them as well (I moved in with my parents in May and we found ourselves on the meal list for the families of lost friends four times in about a month and a half). It’s great to find something that can be quickly made for those who need it, especially when it’s being made by someone who has their own family to cook for and has to work.

    • Hi Kelli:) Thank you for sharing your story too. I know it was hard to have to step up like you did for those families, especially with work and your own busy life, but I know it gave those family members something to be thankful for.

  • Great looking food.will have to save the recipes to try soon.

    Wonderful story line. Your knack for story telling is wonderful great use of descriptive emotional words to make the story complete just like we are there and you are telling it in person. wouldn’t the world be so much nice if there were more people who thought about others more than themselves like you.

    Keep up the good work.


  • What a powerful and heart warming story. As you say it is so important to look after yourself to stay strong for others. Great ideas for simple, warm, hearty meals. It is so true that we don’t know what others are going through and so lovely that you take the time to think of others and provide meaningful gestures. Reminds me of when my Dad was in hospital many years ago and our neighbour would bring casseroles and soup round for us.

    • Thank you Justin. How very sweet of you to take the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. I appreciate that:)

  • Hello jennifer ,I do love all your recipes.Omg i got hungry when i saw them.I will follow you and if i have time i will also make it for myself

  • What a heartwarming story. I think I am going to enjoy your recipes.

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