A splash of hot sauce, a topper of pan-fried ham and a just-right secret ingredient for ultrasmooth creaminess. (Guilty pleasure, thy name is American cheese.)
This dish is pure creamy, chickeny goodness. The pastry lids can be made a day or two ahead. Bake as directed; cool and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Chicken Pot Pie 
There are a lot of ingredients in this spruced-up comfort-food dish, but trust us, it’s worth the effort for a weekend treat. The recipe from Michael Watz of Chicago was a finalist in our Best of the Midwest® recipe contest.
Affordable beef chuck roast, apple, parsnip and sweet potato slow-simmer in broth flavored with dark beer, herbs and spices. Warm corn bread muffins and cold winter night optional.
Chocolate alone delivers all the comfort a lot of us require. But add it to pecan pie with some coconut, and you've awakened a flood of welcome food memories: German chocolate cake, toasted pecan pie and chocolate chips. All that in a flaky piecrust.
Millionaire's Pie 
Your quest for cold-weather comfort stops here, with maple-flavor sausage, creamy milk gravy, herby biscuits, and mustard-glazed roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts.
Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but this hearty supper soup takes just an hour to make. The secret? Deli-roasted chicken and precooked sausage. Pair with breadsticks or a crusty baguette for a perfect winter meal that will fill your house with good smells.
The classic fruit and pork combo gets a bold update: Slather the meat with a paste of garlic, mustard, lemon and rosemary, then serve with ruby red cherries. This recipe multiplies easily for entertaining.
Potatoes, onion, sauerkraut and brats pack in the German flavor in this homey slow-cooker soup. Try with Whole Wheat Pretzel Rolls; the soft pretzels' chewy, brown exterior comes from being boiled in an alkaline solution—the 1/4 cup baking soda in the water isn't a typo!
Dan and Nancy Viste specialize in American classics at their Old Feed Mill restaurant in Mazonomie, Wisconsin. Their pot roast slow-cooks until the meat turns brown and tender and the flavor mellows to an almost caramel overtone. Browned bits in the pan become the base for the rich red-wine gravy.
These cookies come with a friendly warning: Chewy caramel, toasted pecans and a flurry of sea salt will make you popular. Very popular. A product called caramel bits gives these cookies great flavor and chewy texture. Some supermarkets carry them, and they’re widely available online. (Search for Kraft Caramel Bits.) Take care to follow recipe directions when baking: caramel bits melt quickly.
This version of a winter staple, from author and cooking-school instructor Marilyn Harris of Cincinnati, features basil-flecked meatballs. "This is a quickie version of veggie-beef I created that's great to make when time is limited," Marilyn says. "But it still has all of the good flavors."
Hearty Meatball Soup 
Chalk this recipe up as an occasional indulgence. It's topped with a totally mouth-watering combo of thin-sliced potatoes, bacon, sausage and a delectable garlic-rosemary butter. The recipe comes from Hidemi Walsh of Plainfield, Indiana.
Rub a blend of lemon peel, rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic on the chicken before baking; Add fresh thyme sprigs and garlic bulbs around the chicken for even more flavor. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots make this a one-pan meal.
Chopped and pitted dates stand out beside the hint of maple syrup in this dark brown, nutty quick bread. This recipe is from Ruth Smiley of Smiley Brothers maple syrup producers in Indiana.
Maple Date Nut Bread 
Start with a darn-good glazed meat loaf. Add toasted French bread, melted Muenster and peppery arugula (to make it fancy). Then douse it all in special sauce (because fancy needs to loosen up).
Salty-smoky crumbled bacon tops our cheesy potato soup. "I made this soup and we loved it! Best potato soup ever!" writes one of our website reviewers. "I put carrots in mine; made it even better."
Dawn Logterman of Verona, Wisconsin, created this clever twist on the classic cream puffs served at the Wisconsin State Fair. Her recipe was a finalist in our annual recipe contest.
This three-cheese specialty comes from Army and Lou's, a soul food eatery on Chicago's South Side that's long been a hot spot for foods that give you a sense of well-being. The one-dish masterpiece embodies everything we want in a comfort food: It's warm, it's fattening, and it revives childhood memories.
Cincinnati-area chef Paul Dagenbach upgraded the classic Midwest corn chowder. Sweet potatoes and andouille sausage made their way into the mix, along with cumin, chili powder and Cajun spice for a little zing.
Fresh apple, dried fruit and cashews add color, sweetness and crunch to a ready-in-45 vegetarian chili. For a twist on the traditional toppers (and to hint what’s inside), garnish with apple slivers.
Apple Harvest Chili 
This recipe, with its heady aroma of yeast and spice, comes from the Patchwork Quilt Country Inn near Middlebury, Indiana. In winter, let the yeast dough rise in your unheated oven. The roll dough proofs best at a temperature between 80° and 85°.
Cinnamon Rolls 
Spreadable fruit jam ribbons through this buttery crumb cake, sinking here and there for a marbled look. A generous crumb topping adds more flavor. Choose your favorite jam, strawberry or raspberry, for the recipe.
Jam Crumb Cake 
This warm and comforting dessert recipe, one of the winners in a Midwest Living® Favorite Winter Recipes contest, comes from a Brookfield, Missouri, reader. Serve with raisins, dried cherries or dried cranberries for extra flavor and color.
Never-Fail Rice Pudding 
The rich, creamy flavors in this colorful soup from a Lima, Ohio, reader, earned it a top spot in a Midwest Living® Favorite Winter Recipes contest. If you like, you can cut calories by substituting turkey kielbasa, fat-free milk, and low-fat cheese.
Layer creamy white and tomato-mushroom sauces with noodles to create this meatless dish. You can serve it with a salad as a main course or spoon out smaller portions as a side dish.
French Spaghetti 
This fried ravioli recipe comes from Charlie Gitto's on the Hill in St. Louis. For a quick dinner, substitute frozen ravioli for fresh and serve topped with purchased marinara sauce.
We like the smooth richness of this chunky main-dish soup from Antlers Restaurant at Breezy Point Resort in Breezy Point, Minnesota.
Another comforting chicken soup: Creamy Velvet Chicken Soup, the signature dish in the re-created L.S. Ayres Department Store Tea Room (circa 1905) at the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis.
Antlers Wild Rice Soup 
This almond-kissed, fruit-packed pie comes from David Harper, of Richland Center, Wisconsin. He likes to serve it with a wedge of Wisconsin cheese, but it's just as good with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! The recipe was a finalist in our annual recipe contest.
Wisconsin Harvest Pie 
This classic Italian dessert almost always brings a round of contented sighs when it's served. This recipe comes from Gian-Tony's on the Hill in St. Louis. Our Test Kitchen decided the liqueurs could be omitted if necessary, but we liked the flavor they added.
Breakfast-for-dinner gets a wake-up call, courtesy of a bright vinaigrette, fresh lettuce and a hearty oven hash of sweet potato, onion and green beans.
Long before corn stick pans and muffin tins, a skillet was the pan of choice for making corn bread. This traditional recipe comes from a bed and breakfast in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Skillet Corn Bread 
Cherry pie is the specialty of Betty Reichle, mother of Southmoreland on the Plaza co-owner Mark Reichle. Her filling has a hint of cinnamon and almond. And she weaves a handsome lattice crust on the top. "I make points with Mark when I make this pie," she says.
Cherry Pie 
Forget what you know about store-bought packages—this is REAL macaroni and cheese. The children of cheese-makers Shelley and Randy Krakenbuhl accepted nothing else while they were growing up above the Prima Kase cheese factory in Monticello, Wisconsin. Here's the family recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Perfection, which Shelley prepares using Prima Kase's Emmentaler cheese and some Parmesan.
Wild rice may seem like an unusual breakfast ingredient, but it adds chewiness to this fruit-nut hot cereal. Dried cranberries, blueberries and cherries also cook into the porridge.
This easy, saucy meat loaf makes a quick weeknight dinner—and a great sandwich the next day! We love it between slices of whole wheat bread with banana peppers, lettuce, onion and extra barbecue sauce.