7 Comfort Food Recipes From Childhood That You Can Make Tonight
Get the cream of mushroom soup ready!!
It’s easy to get stuck on the same weekly recipe rotation. In search of something new, I recently found my mom’s recipe box with well-worn 3-by-5 cards for each of her favorite dishes. Each card has the title of the recipe neatly written next to the printed “Here’s what’s cookin’.”
Other cards describe favorite recipes from her sisters or friends, each with special notes of tips and tricks. Luckily, you don’t need a recipe box since many of the classic recipes from the 1960s and ’70s are available online with tips and tricks from around the world.
While we may not be able to go on our dream vacation right now, we can take a trip down memory lane. Get the can opener ready: Here are seven recipes laced with ’70s nostalgia and comforting memories of childhood.
Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole
The casserole tab dominates my mom’s recipe box, and the quintessential recipe that embodies the 1970s for me is tuna noodle casserole. This recipe brought to you by Campbell's Kitchen brings together some of the ’70s greatest hits: canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas. I like to mix in generous amounts of grated cheddar cheese before baking. For real nostalgia, you can crush some potato chips on top in place of the breadcrumbs. Now that’s some serious comfort food!
The Best Classic Meatloaf
I would be remiss if I did not include meatloaf on this list, and some of you may argue it deserves the top spot. This recipe by Amanda Finks hits the mark with classic taste right down to the glazed topping. I always looked forward to meatloaf night as a kid, and it’s a shame we don't “loaf” more foods. Although this classic recipe calls for ground beef, you can mix in any meat you have available — ground turkey or sausage make great additions to the loaf. Serve with a generous side of mashed potatoes and turn on some Happy Days for a perfect weeknight meal.
Pineapple was treasured in the 1960s and ’70s and turned up in dishes from appetizers and salads to mains and desserts. Although canned pineapple was used back in the day (we always seemed to have a lifetime supply stacked in the pantry), you can make this with fresh pineapple for a real taste of the tropics. This mouthwatering recipe from Taste of Home calls for breakfast turkey sausage links, but you can easily substitute other types of sausage, meatballs or even mushrooms for a vegetarian version.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Using vegetables as receptacles for meat and other fillings was another common cooking trick in the 1970s. The perfect cup formed by bell peppers makes this dish fun to eat and easy to prepare. Maybe it was my mom’s way of tricking me into eating veggies, and as a child I always got a real kick out of eating the pepper “bowl.” This recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond on the Food Network is filled with ground beef, veggies, rice and cheese. She recommends adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the baking dish and covering with foil to prevent burning.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper was another staple in my kitchen growing up. The pantry was packed with the colorful red boxes right next to the blue and gold Mac and Cheese. You can make your version of Hamburger Helper with this savory New York Times recipe from Priya Krishna. Loaded up with bacon and ground beef, this hearty dish is a real treat!
Ambrosia, or food of the gods, was a staple for potlucks in the 1970s. Although it tasted more like dessert, it always seemed to find its way to the salad table. I remember as a kid getting salad points for eating this delicious dish with marshmallows, pineapple and maraschino cherries. This ambrosia recipe courtesy of Alton Brown is exactly as I remember it from childhood. What a pity it fell off the rotation!
The vast majority of desserts from my childhood involved the colorful gelatin we all know and love. Here are a few of my favorite Jell-O recipes:
Retro Orange Jello Salad
Key Lime Cloud Squares
Rainbow Gelatin Cubes
Mix and match some fun colors and textures, and these recipes will have you humming “J-E-L-L-O.”
I never thought I would look back fondly on the food of the ’70s, but here we are! Last year was such a tumultuous one that a little comfort food is what we need right now. So, mix up your routine a bit with some of these easy recipes, slip on your favorite bell bottoms, turn on the disco ball and do the Funky Chicken all night long.
Photo credits: Offset (4); Getty Images; Stocksy