Quick comfort food


The temperature has plummeted, and it’s time to make those comforting recipes that warm you up when you get in from the cold.

We’re all busy, and often don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen preparing lunches and dinners. (I love a beef stew, but it takes a while to prepare and then hours to cook.) Here’s a selection of delicious, warming dishes that you can rustle up in no time.

Cheesy Pasta Bake

This is a tasty, simple recipe that is easy to throw together. If you have any leftover meat or vegetables that you want to use up, then add these to the pasta before it goes in the oven.

400g pasta
Jar of tomato pasta sauce (or make your own with tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs)
Grated cheddar cheese
Mini mozzarella balls (optional)

  • Heat the oven to 200C/180C(fan)
  • Cook the pasta for 10-12 minutes.
  • Warm the sauce and mix together with the pasta, with a glug of the pasta water.
  • Pour the pasta into an oven dish.
  • Gently mix through some grated cheese and then cover generously with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Leek and Potato Soup

I love this soup with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You can blitz it in the food processor to make it smooth, but I prefer it served as it is, with chunks of potatoes and soft leeks.

Knob of butter
Potatoes (3-4 large, peeled and chopped)
Leeks (2 large, chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
Chicken stock

  • Melt a large knob of butter in a large pan.
  • Add the onions and leeks, and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and stock (enough to generously cover the veg) then season.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

Cake and Custard

In winter, puddings are one of the most comforting things. This pudding is really easy to make and it’s a life-long favourite of mine. You can make the cake chocolate by swapping out 50g of flour for 50g of cocoa powder and not adding the vanilla.

200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Tin of custard

  • Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
  • Beat the butter and the sugar together until the mix goes whiter in colour.
  • Add one egg at a time, along with a big spoonful of flour and gently mix through. Sieve in the rest of the flour and then mix.
  • Add the vanilla extract, and a splash of milk if the mix is a little heavy.
  • Put the mix into a lined tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until it is golden and risen.
  • Turn out onto a wire rack to cool a little.
  • Warm the custard and serve it with the cake while it’s still warm from the oven.

Bacon Butty

There are few things that are as delicious as a bacon butty with tomato sauce, served up with a hot cup of tea. For a great bacon butty, make sure your bacon is really crispy, and if you want to treat yourself, buy a crusty roll and warm it in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. Delicious.

When we’re busy or simply out of ideas, we have breakfast dishes for dinner, and it can be really satisfying (hash browns, bacon, eggs and beans work particularly well)!

Soft Beef Tacos

1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
2tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
400g Mince
Soft tortillas

Options for serving: lettuce / cheese / avocado / salsa

  • Fry the pepper and onion for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add a cup of water to the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until it has evaporated off and the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the garlic, chilli powder, and cumin, and cook while stirring for a minute.
  • Add the mince, season with salt and pepper, then stir to cook through in the vegetables and sauce for about 5 minutes. Add a splash of water if it gets a little dry.
  • Serve up in soft tortillas with lettuce and salsa, cheese or avocado.

Jo Murricane is a freelance copywriter and blogger, based in Leeds. Read all about her food and lifestyle investigations on her blog,