Comfort takes many forms: a cup of hot cocoa, a furry pet on your lap, a warm blanket. And of course, there’s comfort food — be it a plate of pasta or a bowl of chicken soup, a pile of cookies or a pint of ice cream. Perhaps we’re comforted because it’s what we ate as children, or maybe because we think we deserve it. After all, how often do you reach for an austere salad in times of turmoil? I know I reach for a grilled cheese.

What comforts one person doesn’t always do the trick for others. My comfort food — laced with Mexican spices and steeped in frugality — probably looks different from yours. But no matter what you call comforting, the food does what its name implies: It makes us feel better, if only for a moment. So in case you need them, here are a few dishes — most of which come together quickly — that we’d reach for in times of need, all found in the Recipe Finder.

With cheese

(Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

American Dip Grilled Cheese, pictured above. Grilled cheese meets roast beef meets zingy horseradish sauce.

Grilled Kimcheese. Grilled cheese gets a kick from kimchi and a sweet side from Asian pear — use apple if you can’t find the pear.

Corn, Black Bean and Red Onion Quesadillas. Vegetables provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy melted cheese.

Pimento Cheese. Spread it on crackers or serve with sticks of carrot or celery.

Molletes. Rolls are broiled with refried beans and queso fresco for a satisfying snack that tastes like more than the sum of its parts.

Served in bowls

(Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Tami’s French Fry Soup. A quick, creamy potato soup (plus a clever way to use up leftover fries.)

Lemon Lentil Soup. Red or yellow lentils get a boost from curry powder and preserved lemon.

Better Than Instant Ramen. You can jazz up instant ramen noodles with condiments such as sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili paste.

Creamy Pumpkin Grits With Brown Butter. Warming and seasonal.

Chloe’s Vegan Sweet Potato Mac ’n’ Cheese. This recipe proves you don’t need cheese to have comfort.


(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Double Chocolate ‘War’ Cake. This has a moist, fudgy crumb, even though it lacks butter, milk and eggs.

Banana Cookies. Vegan, gluten-free and whipped up in a flash.

Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Chippers, pictured above. These take a little more time, but your efforts will be rewarded.

Bilo Bilo. A simple, warm, rice-pudding-like dessert, made extra creamy via thick coconut milk.

Not My Father’s Cinnamon Toast. The memory of the classic breakfast treat, but with new additions and ideas to improvise.