Pure Comfort Food
Since many of us are still staying warm indoors during this winter and COVID season, we’re eating lots of comfort food. And Miss Hulling’s Sour Cream Noodle Casserole is definitely pure comfort.
What is comfort food and why we crave it?
There’s no right answer to that question. Comfort food is usually something from our childhood that we loved to eat. It’s the food that made us feel loved. It’s the food that keep us all going and made us feel better—physically and emotionally. And it still does.
I love comfort food–meat loaf and pizza being my favorites. Unfortunately, comfort food is too often loaded fat and lots of calories. So comfort food may not be the healthiest, but it sure seems like it’s the tastiest. Moderation once again.
Popular Comfort Foods
Here are a few comfort foods that several surveys rated “Best.”
- Grilled Cheese (most popular in Illinois)
- Mac & Cheese (often from the box)
- Tacos or any Mexican Food
- Mashed Potatoes
- Ice cream
Florence Hulling-Apted–“Queen” of Midwestern Comfort
One of the queens of Midwestern comfort food has to be Ms. Florence Hulling-Apted.
Born in 1891 in rural Illinois, Florence Hulling began her restaurant career at age 18 after moving to St. Louis, Missouri. She worked in several positions at Child’s Cafeteria before becoming the manager of the restaurant—quite an accomplishment for a woman during her era.
After working in the restaurant industry for 25+ years, and marrying Stephen Apted after a 20-year friendship, she opened her own cafeteria-style restaurant in 1930.
“I started with $600 and a prayer. I was terribly frightened. I didn’t know anything about bookkeeping or the finer points of business administration. Times were bad. The stock market had crashed and business everywhere was falling into the great depression.”
Over their 38-year marriage, the couple, along with their son, Stephen, owned and operated Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria and four other very popular and successful restaurants in the St. Louis area.
A Comfort Food Empire
Florence expanded Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria, her flagship restaurant in downtown St. Louis, to include a retail bakery. She made sure to position the bakery near the front door of the restaurant, making for easy access for take-out orders. Her layer cakes (especially lemon and chocolate split layer cakes), pies and danishes became St. Louis favorites.
Ms. Hulling-Apted remained active in running her restaurant empire well into her 80s. She died in 1984 at the age of 91. Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria closed in 1993, and the building was demolished in 1997.
Florence Hulling-Apted is gone by not forgotten. Her memory lives on in her cookbooks, shared recipes, and her desserts that are still available for sale at Straub’s Fine Foods in St. Louis.
Miss Hulling’s Sour Cream Noodle Casserole—Comfort at its best
One of the best-remembered recipes from Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria is her recipe for Sour Cream Noodle Casserole.
When I first read the ingredients for the recipe, I couldn’t imagine how it could be so well loved. That is until I made it. Easy to make and so delicious!
How to Make Sour Cream Noodle Casserole
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large stock pot, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles.
- In a large skillet, brown the beef in a bit of oil. Drain the grease.
- Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and tomato sauce to the pan. Stir and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), green onions, and cooked noodles.
- Grease a 2-quart dish or 8 x 11 baking dish.
- Alternate the noddle mixture with meat mixture, beginning with the noodle mixture and ending with a layer of meat.
- Top last layer with shredded cheese. ( I use a sharp cheddar)
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and has browned.
Miss Hulling’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake
- 1 8- ounce package egg noodles
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 to 1- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped green onions both green and white parts
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large stock pot, COOK noodles according to package directions and DRAIN.
- In a large skillet, BROWN beef in oil. DRAIN the grease.
- ADD salt, pepper, garlic powder, and tomato sauce to the pan. STIR and SIMMER for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, COMBINE the cottage cheese, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), green onions, and cooked noodles.
- GREASE a 2-quart dish or 8 x 11 baking dish. Alternate noddle mixture with meat mixture, beginning with the noodle mixture and ending with a layer of meat.