6 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes From The Pioneer Woman (2024)

6 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes From The Pioneer Woman (1)

Forget the notion that cooking from scratch is difficult and time-consuming. "If it were," says Ree Drummond, known as the Pioneer Woman to fans of her blog and TV show, "I wouldn't be able to do it!" Drummond's life as a mother of four and wife of an Oklahoma cattle rancher—a far cry from her younger years as a sushi-loving sophisticate in Los Angeles—is anything but ordinary. Yet she still faces the "what's for dinner?" dilemma that plagues every busy woman. "I'm driven by what I have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry," she says. "I usually start with the protein and build from there."

Drummond's recipes are geared toward hardworking cowboys, but we lightened them up—without sacrificing scrumptiousness—so everyone can enjoy. For Drummond, the rewards of home cooking go beyond great taste: "You know without question what is going into the meals you feed your family, and you can change each recipe up," she says. "I try to avoid monotony. And then there are the nights I throw up my hands and make bacon and eggs. The family never minds those nights!"

MORE: 20 Not-Boring Chicken Recipes

Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

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Try adding other root vegetables, such as butternut squash and turnip, to the mix. Complete the meal with cornbread, buttered egg noodles, or grits.

PREP TIME: 25 minutes /TOTAL TIME: 1 hour / SERVINGS: 8

2 pork tenderloins (1-1½ lb each), trimmed
3 Tbsp herbes de Provence
1 celery root (about 2 lb), trimmed, peeled, and diced
3 parsnips, peeled and diced
6 carrots (preferably varied colors), diced
1½ Tbsp olive oil
1 c peach, fig, or plum preserves
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1. HEAT oven to 425°F. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to sheet pan and coat all over with herbes de Provence.
2. TOSS vegetables with oil on another sheet pan and season. Roast vegetables, stirring once, until golden brown and lightly caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. At same time, roast pork until instant-read thermometer inserted in center reaches 145°F, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices.
3. STIR together preserves, vinegar, and ½ cup water in small saucepan. Warm through over medium heat while pork stands.
4. SERVE pork with sauce and roasted vegetables.

NUTRITION (per serving) 344 cal, 26 g pro, 48 g carb, 6 g fiber, 5.5 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 190 mg sodium

MORE: Pork Loin, 6 Ways

Beef Stew

The meat should fall apart if you just look at it. And the thicker, more flavorful the sauce, the better.

PREP TIME: 20 minutes /TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 50 minutes /SERVINGS: 8

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb cubed beef stew meat (1¼")
1 med onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz beer (pale lager)
3½ c beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp paprika
8 new potatoes (1½"-2" diameter), quartered
4 carrots, sliced diagonally
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Crusty bread (optional)

1. HEAT oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef. Working in 2 batches, brown meat on all sides, 6 minutes. Remove to plate.
2. ADDonion to pot and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. POURin beer. Add broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire, sugar, paprika, ½ tsp kosher salt, and pepper to taste.
4. RETURN beef to pot. Simmer until meat is tender, 1½ to 2 hours.
5. STIR in potatoes and carrots. Simmer until vegetables are tender and meat is very tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
6. REMOVE 1 cup of liquid from pot and slowly whisk in flour. Stir back into pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 10 minutes. Season. Sprinkle with parsley (if using). Serve with bread, if desired.

NUTRITION (per serving) 434 cal, 25 g pro, 19 g carb, 2 g fiber, 26.5 g fat, 9 g sat fat, 523 mg sodium

MORE: 20 Satisfying Soups And Stews

Spicy Grilled Vegetable Panini

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If you don't have a grill pan, roast the vegetables on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven until browned and tender and heat the sandwiches in a skillet. For a tasty alternative spread, mix 2 Tbsp pesto with 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes
Serves 4

½ c + 1½ Tbsp olive oil
¼ c + 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 sm yellow squash, sliced diagonally (¼" thick)
1 sm zucchini, sliced diagonally (¼" thick)
1 sm red bell pepper, cut into flat pieces
1 sm yellow bell pepper, cut into flat pieces
1½ c sliced button mushrooms
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
¼ c reduced-fat mayonnaise
¼ c hot-pepper jelly
1 French baguette or Italian loaf (16"-18" long), cut crosswise into quarters and split
4 slices pepper Jack cheese

1. WHISK together ½ cup of the oil and ¼ cup of the vinegar in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add squash, zucchini, and bell peppers and toss to coat. Set aside.
2. HEAT 1 Tbsp of the oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms until just golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp vinegar, reduce heat to medium, and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
3. HEAT lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat. Working in batches, remove vegetables from marinade (reserve marinade) and grill, turning, until golden brown and tender, 4 to 6 minutes for squash and zucchini and 10 to 15 minutes for peppers.
4. TOSS tomatoes in marinade while vegetables are grilling. Mix together mayonnaise and jelly in small bowl.
5. PUT bottom baguette halves on work surface and spread with half of the mayonnaise mixture. Top evenly with squash, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheese. Spread remaining bread with remaining mayonnaise mixture and close sandwiches. Brush both sides of sandwiches with remaining ½ Tbsp oil.
6. RETURN grill pan to medium heat (or use panini press). Grill sandwiches (placing a heavy skillet on top of them to press together), turning once, until golden and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

NUTRITION (per serving) 548 cal, 14 g pro, 51 g carb, 3 g fiber, 32 g fat, 8.5 g sat fat, 654 mg sodium

MORE: 13 Ridiculously Tasty Vegetarian Recipes

Chicken and Noodles

Frozen store-bought noodles have a thick, doughy texture that adds to the heartiness of this comforting dish.

PREP TIME: 20 minutes /TOTAL TIME: 2 hours /SERVINGS: 8

2-3 lb fryer chicken, cut up
½ med onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
½tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground thyme
¼ tsp white or black pepper
2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
16 oz frozen egg noodles
Splash of half-and-half (optional)

1. PUT chicken in pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes. Skim foam from surface. Remove chicken from pot and let cool briefly.
2. SHRED chicken with 2 forks, reserving bones and discarding skin. Return bones to pot and boil 20 minutes. Skim foam from surface. Remove bones from pot and discard.
3. ADD shredded chicken, onion, celery, and carrots to pot. Stir in turmeric, thyme, pepper, parsley, and 2 tsp salt. Mix flour with ½ cup water until smooth. Stir into soup. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
4. STIR in noodles (don't thaw) and half-and-half (if using). Simmer until noodles are tender, about 15 minutes. Soup should be stewlike. Taste and add more salt if needed.

NUTRITION (per serving) 281 cal, 23 g pro, 35 g carb, 2 g fiber, 4.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 675 mg sodium

MORE: 10 Slimming Chicken Dishes

Panfried Spinach

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I'll eat spinach any way I can get it. The garlic flavor in this recipe is out of this world.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes /TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes / SERVINGS:4

2 Tbsp olive oil
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fresh baby spinach, roughly torn

1. HEAT oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and immediately stir to avoid burning, about 10 seconds. Add spinach and toss with tongs.
2. SEASON to taste. Continue cooking and tossing until just wilted, 45 to 90 seconds. Remove to bowl.

NUTRITION (per serving) 91 cal, 3 g pro, 5 g carb, 3 g fiber, 7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 90 mg sodium

MORE: What's Healthier: Kale vs Spinach

Crash Hot Potatoes

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Try topping each smashed potato with grated Cheddar before baking.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes /TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes /SERVINGS: 6

12 new potatoes (3" diameter) or other small round potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp minced rosemary (or other herb)

1. HEAT oven to 450°F.
2. BOIL potatoes in lightly salted water in medium saucepan over medium heat until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
3. PLACE potatoes on large baking sheet. Using potato masher, press down gently to mash each potato. Rotate masher 90 degrees and mash again. Drizzle oil on tops. Sprinkle generously with rosemary, kosher salt, and pepper.
4. BAKE until potatoes are golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes.

NUTRITION (per serving) 194 cal, 3 g pro, 30 g carb, 3 g fiber, 7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 18 mg sodium

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Copyright © 2012 by Ree Drummond. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow Cookbooks, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

6 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes From The Pioneer Woman (9)

Katie Kackenmeister

Katie Kackenmeister is a senior associate editor specializing in food writing, recipe editing, and nutrition analysis. She’s a 9-year Prevention veteran and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Katie is a proud New Englander whose accent has faded, but not her love of the Red Sox, baked beans, and Cape Cod. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, 2-year-old daughter, and yellow Lab.

6 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes From The Pioneer Woman (2024)


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