Jonathan Cartu Says: 10 comforting throwback recipes to make while at home - Jonathan Cartu Restaurant, Baking & Catering Services
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Jonathan Cartu Says: 10 comforting throwback recipes to make while at home

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Jonathan Cartu Says: 10 comforting throwback recipes to make while at home

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Comfort food is huge right now, with many people channeling their emotions about the tumultuous state of the world into trying new things in the kitchen that make them feel good.

Everyone likes to eat food that feels like a warm hug, whether it’s a classic comfort food like fried chicken and dumplings or something that brings you back to your childhood, like Rice Krispie Treats and Hamburger Helper.

We’ve rounded up 10 comforting throwback recipes you can make at home that your entire family will love. It will bring you back to an easier time when you could chase the ice cream truck down the street or trade your puppy chow for a Pop Tart at the lunch table, which is a getaway we could all probably use right now.

Rice Krispie Treats

A fan favorite for kids and adults alike, nothing beats a homemade Rice Krispie Treat. You can get creative by making it with whatever cereal you want — Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch are all good contenders. Mix your cereal with a bag of marshmallows and some melted butter and you have a perfect sticky treat to enjoy in no time. You can also add mix-ins to make a plain old Rice Krispie even better — such as brown butter, Nutella, peanut butter, Cookie Butter and more.

Pigs in a blanket

Hot dogs conjure memories of baseball games and backyard cookouts, activities we can only dream of enjoying in these times. To spice things up, try making pigs in a blanket. Treat yourself to appetizer night on a weeknight and make these. You’ll just need mini hotdogs, crescent dough and, in my humble opinion as a native Northeast Ohioan, some stadium mustard. Cook in the oven until golden brown and proceed to cuddle up on the couch and enjoy while watching TV as a treat to yourself.

Puppy Chow

Every good Midwesterner loves puppy chow. It’s downright addicting. But how could it not be? The mixture of chocolate, peanut butter, cereal and sugar just sounds like a drug to someone with a sweet tooth. There are also tons of variations you can make. Add in M&Ms and pretzels for a party mix, sprinkles for a confetti-cake-batter flavor or crushed Oreos for cookies and cream. Plus, this treat makes a great gift to put on your neighbor’s doorstep to brighten their day just a little.

Sloppy Joes

The cost-effective meal can be a mess, but it’s a delicious mess and that’s why we love it so much. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own, or just whip up some Manwich like we did in the good old days. No matter how you serve it, your tastebuds will be in for a treat when you bite into a sloppy joe after a long day of sitting at home. Pro-tip if you’re making your own add home — it’s an easy dish to sneak in some vegetables. Chop up onions, peppers and even jalapenos really small and saute them with your meat before your mix in the ketchup-based sauce. No one will know the difference, and it might make you feel better about eating 4 sandwiches in one sitting.

Dirt Pudding

Another messy food with a big reward. This dessert conjures up memories of neighborhood potlucks and celebrating your birthday at a restaurant that will throw extra gummy worms and a candle into their signature cup of dirt. All you need is pudding, store bought or made from a mix, whipped topping and whatever other toppings you like. Crushed Oreos and gummy worms are the classic. Seriously, give yourself a break and eat a big bowl of dirt pudding on the couch, even call it dinner if you want.

Homemade Hot Pockets

One of America’s favorite afternoon snacks can be made 10x better at home, with just a little more effort. The easiest way to make this is with frozen empanada wrappers that you can find in the Hispanic section of the freezer aisle. If that’s not an option, you can also use puffed pastry or even pizza or biscuit dough that is rolled thin. Fill whatever you’re using with whatever you want, whether you’re more of a classic ham and cheese person or a more adventurous supreme pizza lover. Once you have them sealed, which you should do with a fork on both sides, it’s time to cook. If you’re using pizza dough, biscuit dough or puff pastry, it’s easiest to bake in the oven while golden. If you’re using frozen empanada wrappers, you can bake them as well, but they’re much more delicious pan fried in a lot of oil.

Adult Spaghetti O’s

Chef Boyardee canned meals were a staple in the weekly dinner rotations of many families with kids. There were the ever-popular “Beefaroni” and ravioli variations, but nothing can top SpaghettiO’s. Eating pasta rings and mini meatballs doused in sauce is undeniably comforting, but now that you’re an adult, you can make an upgraded version. Bon Appetit has a spot-on lookalike recipe for Adult SpaghettiO’s, but you could probably make a version at home based on your own favorite recipe for red sauce and meatballs. You just need to use a short, tube-shaped pasta like ditalini or tubetti to make sure you have a true nostalgic experience while eating it.

Pudding popsicles

Fudgsicles and other non-fruit flavored popsicles have lost their popularity to other frozen treats, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still delicious. You can make your own at home by sticking pudding in popsicle molds and you will instantly have a homemade version of the ice-cream-truck classic. You can mix it up by adding more chocolate to the pudding or experimenting with other flavors like vanilla or butterscotch for unique frozen treat.

Fluffernutter sandwich

While this sandwich is polarizing, one thing can be agreed upon — it’s not exactly a popular lunch for adults. A sandwich with marshmallow fluff and peanut butter is the definition of a dentist’s nightmare. But who cares! Live a little. You can elevate this classic by making your own marshmallow fluff, which is usually a mixture of corn syrup, sugar and egg whites. Also, you can use other nut butters like almond or sunflower, or even make your own. This tastes even better as a panini, so let yourself have this as a work from home lunch on a day you really just need a break.

If all else fails, have a cocktail

If you’re feeling nostalgic but don’t feel like cooking, you can still channel that energy into a drink. Swap your regular mixers like seltzer water and Diet Coke to something you loved as a child, like Capri Sun juice boxes, Hawaiin Punch or Sunny D. Like I said, there’s no judgement here, and honestly all the added sugar makes your drink taste that much more delicious.

Jonathan Cartu

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