So what makes you feel better? A lot of people would say, "My go-to food." Or, "Something my mom (or dad) used to make." And, yes, some might put away Frito Lays by the bag. But we won't go there.
I can't get away from what my parents used to make us for dinner. I don't necessarily remake those meals in their original form, but I often adapt them into recipes that are a little more... current.
My favorite thing to make is homemade pizza. This was a staple in our house when I was growing up. The recipe I use for the crust is exactly the one my parents made. I don't even really know where it came from; I guess I could ask. But the rest of the meal looks pretty different.
Growing up, our pizza would consist of tomato sauce (plain), some dried herbs, ground beef and mozzarella. Maybe some green pepper if we were feeling adventurous. (Sadly, I probably prevented that kind of excitement, since I was the pickiest eater in the house. Go figure.)
Over the years, I've tried making lots of different kinds of pizzas. I've probably made pizza hundreds of times. Some toppings (beyond pepperoni and sausage) have included sun-dried tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, feta, fresh mozzarella, Canadian bacon and pineapple, jalapenos and carmelized onions. Probably the most unique pizza I ever made was BBQ chicken pizza, with a fresh BBQ sauce made out of plums. I'll detail that recipe in my next post.
For now, I suggest thinking about a childhood favorite and how you can make it your own. If it's perfect the way it was, that's great. But with fresh ingredients in grocery stores that may not have been available 20 years ago, you can take the memory of a food that makes you smile and jazz it up so that your parents (and perhaps Ina Garten) would be proud. What do you have to lose?