These healthy comfort food recipes have love and balance in mind. They are intended to be comforting and mindful of dietary and caloric preferences. The recipes are meant to be cooked with minimal fuss and are full of opportunities to try something new. I cook. Then I love. Then I share. I food good.

al pastor tacos
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5 from 2 votes

Al Pastor Tacos

Pork Tacos like the Pastor
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 12 hours
Servings 18 tacos
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork loin (sliced into 1/2 inch slices)
  • 2 Tablespoons Achiote paste (or adobo, if you can’t find it)
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pineapple (cored and peeled)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • fresh cilantro
  • Corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges
  • Pickled jalapenos

Instructions

  • In your blender, place chipotles, shallot, garlic, orange juice, vinegar, oregano, chili powder, and salt. Liquify.
  • Add marinade to large resealable bag along with the pork. Marinade overnight.
  • Place grill over high heat. Slice pineapple into 1/2" rings. Grill pork for 3-4 minutes a side or until charred. Grill pineapple for 1 minute a side or until just marked. Do the same with the corn tortillas. Chop pork and pineapple, serve on tortillas adorned with the onion, lime, jalapenos, and cilantro.
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
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5 from 3 votes

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Chicken Use Lamb for a more traditional flavor, or half Italian Sausage for some funky awesomeness
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 quart low sodium beef stock
  • 4 tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 pound Mixed Vegetables
  • 4 cups Cooked Sweet Potato * Cooked Spaghetti Squash great here too
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 4 oven safe bowls or a 12” cast iron skillet

Instructions

  • Put large dutch oven over medium heat. Dice onion and put in dutch oven along with butter and pinch of salt. Sweat 4-5 minutes. Mince garlic and add to onion, cook for another minute, and remove from pot. Set aside.
  • In same pot, brown meat until cooked, 7-8 minutes, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once cooked, add in tomato paste and cook out for another minute. Add in cooked onion and garlic, mixed vegetables, Worcestershire Sauce, red wine vinegar, chopped rosemary, corn starch (combined into the stock), and stock. Bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Turn broiler on high. Mash together the sweet potato, cheese, garlic powder, and pinches of salt and pepper. Turn stew off heat and fill oven safe bowls/baking dish. Top with the mashed sweet potatoes and broil for 2-3 minutes or until slightly brown. Serve immediately. Your bowl will be hot.

Notes

* Make it lighter with riced cauliflower, more traditional with baking potatoes.
Chopped Salad
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5 from 4 votes

Chicago Chopped Salad

Side of Italian Beef optional
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Ditalini pasta*
  • ½ cup turkey pepperoni
  • 6 cups lettuce (iceberg and spinach work great)
  • 1 cup cherry tomato
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup olives (green or black)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 lemons**
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard**
  • ¼ cup olive oil**
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Instructions

  • Boil salted water in pasta pot; cook ditalini until very al dente, 7-8 minutes.
  • Chop veggies (tomato, red pepper, cucumber, olives, avocado) into uniform cubes and quarter pepperoni. Roughly chop lettuce.
  • Juice lemons into bowl, add in Dijon. Whisk in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.**
  • Assemble Chopped Salad. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Notes

*Make the entire box, add some to your next soup, or do like I do and just dump a ton of pasta into the salad. Bonus points if you use, say, a chickpea pasta for added nuttiness.
**The classic chopped salad has either a mayo based poppy dressing or a classic Italian dressing. This lemon vinaigrette is just a little lighter, but just about anything works.
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5 from 5 votes

Weeknight Bolognese

Weeknight Bolognese
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound pasta*
  • 1 Pound ground meat (Turkey Sausage great here**)
  • 28 Ounces crushed tomato
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Cup White wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper flake
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning (Mine is equal parts basil/oregano/parsley)
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add in ground meat, season with salt and pepper, and brown, ~8-10 minutes.
  • As meat browns, 
bring a large pot of salted water to boil. As it heats, dice onion and mince garlic.
  • 
When meat has browned, remove from dutch oven. Add in onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add in garlic to dutch oven. Stir for 1 minute, then add in wine, tomatoes, herbs, pepper, and meat. Bring to simmer.
  • 
As sauce simmers, drop pasta into boiling water; cook for 8-10 minutes or per package, drain pasta once al dente, put back in pot with 2 tablespoons oil to prevent sticking.
  • Check seasoning on sauce*** and serve over the pasta, garnished with parmesan cheese.

Notes

*Unpopular opinion alert: For a dish like this, a short pasta like penne or shells even is ideal. Spaghetti has its place; just not with Bolognese.
**You can find prepackaged ground turkey just about anywhere, and it’s pretty good, but some brands are a bit fatty and have additives. I like to hit up the butcher counter, where they typically have either ground turkey, or turkey breast that they will grind for you. I prefer this, because then I know exactly what I’m getting.
*** If sauce is too sweet (unlikely, with the wine), add in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar until sauce is to your liking. If sauce is acidic, add in 1/8 teaspoon baking soda until sauce is to your liking. If sauce doesn’t take like anything (very unlikely), add in 1 teaspoon of salt. If sauce is black and bitter, order pizza.
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5 from 4 votes

Tomato Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup in minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 bowls
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (about 1 small one)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans (thats one can)
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Italian bread (for sopping)
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven over medium heat, add in olive oil, then sweat onion/carrot for 6 minutes along with a heavy pinch of salt. Add in zucchini and garlic for another minute, then add in bay leaf, stock, drained beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer the soup for 10 minutes, then served, garnished with the basil, cheese, bread, and grinds of black pepper. Yeah, its really that easy.
italian wedding soup with italian sausage
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5 from 4 votes

Italian Wedding Soup with Italian Sausage

Italian Wedding Soup. With Italian Sausage.
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Servings 6
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 12 cups Low Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Stock (Quality matters here; if you have homemade, use it here!)
  • 1 shallot
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 thick Parmesan rind
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 ounces short cut pasta
  • 4 ounces baby kale or escarole
  • 1 pound bulk sweet Italian Sausage
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Chop the shallot and lemon into quarters (reserving some lemon for later garnish). Smash the garlic.
  • In a slow cooker or instant pot set on high/simmer, pour in the stock. Add in the shallot, lemon, garlic, black pepper, Parmesan rind, a handful of parsley, and bay leaves. Cook on high for at least 4 hours.
  • Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, draining 2 minutes shy of the recommended time. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
  • 20 minutes before the stock is ready, make the meatballs. Form the sausage into 1/2 ounce balls (about a centimeter wide). In a wide sauté pan set over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, brown the sausage on all sides, 7-8 minutes.
  • Finish the soup: strain out the soup into a large bowl or other appropriate vessel. Discard the stock solids and return the broth back to a simmer. Once simmering, add in the greens and sausage and simmer for 4-5 minutes along with a pinch of salt. Once the greens are wilted, the soup is ready. Serve in a wide bowl with a bit of pasta on the bottom, topped with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Enjoy!
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup
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5 from 5 votes

Butternut Squash Soup

Best soup ever
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 Bowls
Author Jim

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Cooked butternut squash* (that’s about 2 pounds frozen/uncooked)
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cup Diced celery**
  • ½ cup Diced carrot**
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock great too)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Optional garnish: sunflower seeds, pomegranate arils, sherry vinegar

Instructions

  • Dice onion/celery/carrot. Sweat in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the butter and a pinch of salt for 5-7 minutes.
  • If using frozen squash, defrost the butternut squash in the microwave. If using roasted, pull out 4 cups.
  • Once vegetables are sweated, 5-7 minutes, add in squash, maple syrup, chicken stock, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to simmer.
  • Once simmering, blend soup using stick blender to desired consistency.
  • Add in thyme, ancho chili, and corn starch (pre-mixed with 3 tablespoons of water). Bring back to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • If serving warm, serve immediately. If chilling (which rocks), chill for at least 4 hours. Remove thyme, and serve topped with optionals (highly recommend sherry vinegar and sunflower seeds).

Notes

*Yes, I realize you could buy, half, roast, peel , and cube a butternut squash, but that takes well over an hour. Take the weeknight shortcut and use frozen. It’s okay.
**Since most stores only sell celery and carrots by the half ton, here’s a tip: hit up the salad bar. Fill a pint container with some celery and carrot sticks. You’ll save money, and not end up with a fridge full of leftover veggies

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