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PB&J, Mac & Cheese, and 8 Other Childhood Recipes All Grown Up

PB&J, Mac & Cheese, and 8 Other Childhood Recipes All Grown Up

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Do you ever wish you didn’t have all of the responsibilities that come with being an adult — paying bills, taking care of the house, and having to go to work every day? Sometimes, we wish that we could revert back to our kid selves. I know one of my favorite parts of the day was getting home to a pudding cup, Bagel Bites, or a trip to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. While we can’t make all the responsibilities go away, we can help you bring back those childhood foods — in a refined way.

Click here for 10 Childhood Recipes All Grown Up

Now when you get home from work, you can have your own version of a pudding snack. For example, why not whip up some Tiramisù Pudding? It’s a rich and decadent dessert that is sure to make you feel good after a long day at the office. The pudding is packed with endless amounts of cream, chocolate, and coffee flavors — there won’t be any left after you make this recipe. Everyone else can have a pudding snack from the fridge. If you preferred savory food after school, we recommend making a gooey grilled cheese with bacon, a cheeseburger that is reminiscent of a McDonald’s burger, or Mediterranean mac and cheese.

Make any of these recipes and you’ll feel like you just got done with a long afternoon of fun and games, not a hard day at the office. Feeling nostalgic? Here are a few more recipes that will remind you of your childhood.

Asian Chicken Tenders

We used to love having chicken nuggets with a few French fries after school. Especially the ones that were shaped like animals — was that a hippo or a cow? We may never know. The taste of store-bought chicken nuggets was appealing then, but our palates have matured. To suit your adult tastes, make Asian Chicken Tenders — they’re marinated with ginger, soy, and garlic.

Blueberry "Pop Tarts" with Lemon Glaze Recipe

Sugary cereal, frozen waffles, and Pop Tarts are all on the list of foods that you used to eat before school. If you were running late, Pop Tarts were perfect, because they got you out the door in seconds flat. When you have some extra time on Sunday, make blueberry "Pop Tarts" for the next morning. They have a tart filling and a flakey crust that will put you in good spirits on Monday when you’re getting ready for work.

Made for Adults: Kid Favorites With Grown-Up Twists

How can you make a milkshake even better? Put some Guinness in it. That's what the bartenders are doing at 25 Degrees in Los Angeles' The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The drink includes vanilla ice cream, homemade chocolate sauce, and the dark beer. If Guinness isn't your thing, you might want to try one of their other for-adults-only creations: The Salty Caramel (Maker's Mark, butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, and Hawaiian sea salt), Bananas Foster (Kraken Black spiced rum, banana, butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, and Myers&rsquos rum floater), or Night Owl (Kahlua, Godiva dark chocolate liqueur, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream).

7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 323-466-7000

"A mix of salty peanuts and sweet caramel, plus dark chocolate, kicks brownies up a notch," says their creator Jodi Mongin, of Orlando, Florida.

Mac and cheese is a quintessential childhood favorite. Add some inspired flavors and it can become a satisfying adult dinner, too. At Lexington Social House in Los Angeles, Executive Chef Jared Simon serves macaroni with gruyère cheese and Serrano ham.

1718 Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 323-461-1700

Long a favorite among children, our PB and J, made with a triple dose of apple (apple butter, apple jelly, and fresh apples), will appeal to grown-ups. The wrap construction reduces crumbs and mess.

You want a Reuben. The kids want hot dogs. Let the kids top their dogs with ketchup and mustard while you make yourself a Grilled Reuben Dog.

Not all adults have the same aversion to vegetables that kids have, so they're much more likely to try this veggie-inspired sorbet. At Atelier Crenn, pastry chef Juan Contreras uses vegetables as inspiration for some of his cold treats, which have elaborate plate presentations before they are sent to guests. Since peas and carrots are a classic veggie combination, Contreras serves his pea sorbet with carrot cake. If you can't make it to the San Francisco location, try making the sorbet at home using your ice cream machine.

3127 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 415-440-0460

Juan Contreras didn't stop with pea sorbet. Atelier Crenn's creative pastry chef also brought beets into the world of frozen desserts. "The sorbet is shaped to look like an actual beet that is laying on a bed of earthy and organic compounds such as crispy oats, mandarin puree, sheep's milk yogurt, cocoa crumble, milk chocolate pudding, and edible flowers from the garden," Contreras says. "Everything about this dessert is meant to evoke a connection to the land and produce."

3127 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 415-440-0460

Many a child has been known to joyfully reach for an ice-cold popsicle on a hot summer day. Adults will rediscover their excitement for the frozen treats when they are offered Daiquiri Lime Ice Pops. These divine cool bites come from Alice Currah, author of SAVORY SWEET LIFE: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion. She says they are inspired by Baskin Robbins&rsquo Daiquiri Ice Sorbet.

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Youth was a simpler time. We had simpler schedules, simpler relationships, simpler palates. In terms of the latter, breakfast consisted of whatever array of cereal our parents so chose to purchase that week lunch was often some variety of sandwich—usually PB&J, perhaps with fruit and/or crackers to accompany snacks were a treasure trove of pre-packaged goodies or concoctions we knew how to whip up on our own.

And while, yes, having more flavor in our meals and options at our disposal and, oh, we don’t know, the ability to cook (!!) is a nice perk of growing up, it can still be fun to reflect back on the good old days, when mac and cheese was a solid staple in our diets. Today our team is pulling together a list of recipes that remind us of childhood, but with a decidedly grown-up spin.

Here at Wit & Delight, it’s rare that we’ll ever pass up the tried and true standby of mac and cheese. This version of an always loved dish features smoked gouda cheese and sourdough bread crumbs for more flavor than the childhood version (complete with hot dogs, anyone?) ever delivered.

Artichoke Pesto and Burrata Pizza with Lemony Arugula

BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HOW MANY VEGETABLES ARE ON THIS PIZZA, let us say a few words to you. Creamy burrata, folks. Marinated artichokes. Basil pesto. Salty green olives. Toasted pine nuts!! Herbs and THEN SOME MORE HERBS. We don’t need to convince anyone that pizza is a childhood staple, but it’s an adult staple, too. And this one? This one is a flavor bomb in your mouth. Go forth, make it, enjoy.

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with Brie

Is there *any* food more quintessential to being a kid than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Take two slices of bread, slather two ingredients on them, and—boom!—you’ve got yourself a downright delicacy in 2 minutes flat. This particular take on the classic requires a tiny bit more time, but we’re gonna go out on a limb and say it’s worth each additional minute (and then some). Melted brie cheese on grilled toast truly makes the average PB&J sing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Bars

The delicacies that came out of our team’s collective freezers in our childhood summers ran the gamut from freezies (of course…a staple) to bomb pops to push pops. One of the most prized treats of all was the ice cream sandwich. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Bar recipe features layers on layers of goodness—break-and-bake cookies as a base, topped with ice cream and hot fudge sauce, then dipped into crushed chocolate toffee candy as a topping. GO AHEAD AND SIGN US UP, THANKS.

Fancy BLT on Sourdough with Fried Egg

Okay. So maybe it’s true that most of us never found ourselves running home from seventh grade to whip up a BLT in our respective kitchens (although if you did, more power to you!!). HOWEVER, we can all admit that sandwiches on the whole? They definitely fall into the category of Food Kids Make for Themselves. And this BLT is a grown-up version we can all thoroughly enjoy. Toasted sourdough bread is the base for tangy mayonnaise, fresh greens, juicy tomato slices, crispy bacon, and perfectly fried eggs. Yes, yes, and yes.

It’s no secret that kids love ice cream. It’s no secret that we love ice cream. (An anecdote: last week it was made known that there was free ice cream in the hallways of the Wit & Delight studio building, and one member of our team ran out to get herself a cone within…seconds. She exclaimed, “There’s ice cream in the hall!” to no one in particular as she strolled back into the office, fully content. It was all quite impressive.) This recipe calls for just 3 ingredients and, as far as we’re concerned, features the perfect creamy-to-crunchy ratio (as is extraordinarily clear in the photo above!).

Honey Roasted Vegetable + Smoked Gouda Baked Penne

ANOTHER RECIPE FEATURING MORE NOODLES. PLUS MORE SMOKED GOUDA. BECAUSE YOU CANNOT GO WRONG WITH EITHER. We did the hard work of counting, and there are 7 different types of vegetables in this recipe. While that fact may not technically make it very kid-friendly, this dish is sure to shine among the grown-up set—it’s comfort food, it contains cheese, it’s slightly redeemable (given the aforementioned vegetable count), it’s delicious. AND. It’s not complicated to make. We swear. We pinky promise, too.

These popsicles hark back to a simpler time: warm summer days spent biking around the neighborhood and playing night games ’til dark, popping into the house to grab a beverage when you were thirsty or a snack from the freezer when you wanted to cool down. The nice thing about this popsicle version, compared to those of our youths? They’ve got a smaller ingredients list, to be sure, so we can feel good about eating them. An added bonus? They’re easy to make, requiring only 3 ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time. We’re sold.

Do you remember coming home from school, spreading a nice even layer of tortilla chips on a plate, dousing them in whatever variety of shredded cheese was within arm’s reach, and popping them in the microwave? We do. We really do. It was an easy, tasty snack, and today we’re bringing you a slightly (read: extremely) more flavorful version of the childhood original. These black bean nachos are topped with jalapenos, two types of cheese (*excellent*), thinly sliced radishes, and pico de gallo, among other things!! We are fully on board.

What recipes bring you back to your childhood? Let us know in the comments!

Who doesn’t like mac and cheese? I suppose it would be more meaningful to say that everyone likes mac and cheese, especially yours truly and my extended family. For that reason alone, I made it a point to develop a recipe for this staple that I’ve enjoyed since childhood. But my, how this dish’s public image has changed! From a satisfying last-minute filler Mom could make for the kids to a culinary magic trick whereby noodles and cheese are transformed into savory, smile-inducing surprises for even the most discriminating foodies. Offhand, I recall seeing (and tasting) versions highlighting lobster and steak. I’ve seen a scoop of creamy cheesy goodness atop pulled pork sandwiches. And I’ve seen mac ’n’ cheese fried into addictive little balls served as pass-around hors d’oeurves at fancy parties. I mean, nothing shows the evolution of this dish like people in tuxedos and formals gushing over mac ’n’ cheese. My version is for grown-ups and sophisticated kids. The four cheeses make it uber cheesy and teem with flavor, and the crab, which is pretty easy to find in stores, elevates it to main-course level. Depending on who’s at the dinner table, I occasionally leave out the crab and have a four-cheese version that even picky eaters devour. Served with a salad, I say, “Perfecto.”

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Set aside.

2. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a Dutch oven over medium. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, whisking constantly, until almost simmering, about 10 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce, salt, and pepper cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. dd the Cheddar, Gruyère, fontina, and 1 cup of the Parmesan stir until the cheeses melt and the mixture is smooth.

4. Pour the cheese sauce over the hot cooked pasta in a large bowl stir to coat. Gently stir the crabmeat into the pasta mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter. Stir together the melted butter, panko, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan sprinkle over the pasta mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly, about 25 minutes.


For a hint of tangy-sweetness with your spiciness, stir sriracha into classic macaroni and cheese. Want to make your mac and cheese Thai-style? Top it with shredded fresh basil leaves, diced green onions, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, along with that trusty Sriracha. For a surprisingly health-conscious version, check out the Sriracha Mac and Cheese Veggie Bake recipe here.


17 Macaroni and Cheese Recipes That Taste Even Better Than Mom's

Longing for macaroni and cheese like Mom used to make? When your childhood comes calling, answer with a batch of from-scratch macaroni and cheese. This oh-so-Southern delicacy has a place on every dinner table, whether you're preparing sides for your big Thanksgiving dinner or looking for a perfect pairing to fried chicken for the church potluck. These rich, creamy recipes may be the best macaroni and cheese recipes you've ever tried. From our Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese that brings back nostalgic memories from Grandmama's table to our Cajun Mac and Cheese which will transport you straight to the French Quarter, we promise that each and every one of these homemade macaronis are much more satisfying than the boxed stuff. As you're preparing, feel free to get flexible with your noodles. Pick a pasta&ndashlike cavatappi or elbow macaroni&ndashthat has plenty of nooks for capturing pockets of cheese sauce. You can thank us later.

Kid-Friendly Mac & Cheese Recipe

Grown ups love this mac and cheese because it is packed with nutrition and is a wholesome option for lunch or dinner that you can feel good about serving to the entire family.

And kids love this mac and cheese… because it just tastes really good!

With the recent controversy surrounding boxed macaroni and cheese, after an article in The New York Times revealed that high concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals may be present in boxes from brands such as Kraft, I wanted to come up with a healthier alternative to boxed mac and cheese that’s actually GOOD for you, without all the artificial colors and flavors.

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More Mac & Cheese Recipes:

Okay, so the photo totally gave it away.

Yes, there’s cauliflower in here… and carrot too!

The cauliflower thickens the sauce and adds creaminess without the saturated fat of heavy cream, while the Vitamin A-packed carrot gives it that classic cheesy color without any unnatural food dyes or preservatives.

And yet, if you don’t already know beforehand that the veggies are in there, you won’t be able to tell.

I adapted this recipe from a pasta alfredo recipe posted on the blog awhile back, but the inspiration to use carrot (and also wagon wheel pasta) actually came from a packaged product I often see at Whole Foods but have never tried, called Kidfresh Wagon Wheels Mac + Cheese.

One day, while in the frozen section of the store (probably looking for ice cream!), the Kidfresh box caught my eye with its claim of “Creamy Cheese Sauce With Hidden Vegetables.”

After inspecting the ingredients out of curiosity and seeing that carrot was the hidden vegetable, I was too intrigued not to try adding carrot to my own homemade cheese sauce.

Portobello Mushroom Mac and Cheese

This portobello mushroom mac and cheese recipe is what dreams are made of. Loaded with four different kinds of cheese and hearty portobello mushroom.

It’s savory, cheesy, and the perfect way for a grown up to enjoy a childhood classic!

Last month I attend a Expo West, and every year I find new food products that I love.

This year one of the first I went to go find and come home to devour was a baby bella mushroom jack cheese from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company (not sponsored – just really love it!)

I found it at costco, but I believe you can find it in grocery stores too.

I combined it with smoked Gruyere and original jack cheese, and sauteed portobello mushrooms in white wine, garlic and parsley to add into the cheese mixture.

The flavor is insane! All the cheese marry together and with the smell of the mushrooms is fills the house.

I’m not even a huge mushroom fan, but when I tried this cheese, I immediately knew I had to try it in a mac and cheese recipe.

Healthy Mac And Cheese

Try this healthy mac and cheese recipe when you’re craving mac and cheese but don’t want all the unhealthy saturated fat and calories you’d find in traditional recipes.

The healthy mac and cheese recipe below is low-fat, high-protein, and under 250 calories per serving.

If you make a batch of my favorite Vegan Brownies for dessert, you’ve got yourself a rich and decadent—yet secretly healthy—comfort food feast!

And yes, it really does taste just as cheesy and delicious as traditional mac and cheese!

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I’m very excited to feature Gina Homolka, an incredibly talented friend, on the blog today. Gina’s website, Skinnytaste, has a huge following with fans all over the world, and yet she is one of the most genuine and down-to-earth people you could ever hope to meet.

She puts passion into every one of her recipes and beautiful photos, and she really cares about her readers, no matter the size of their blogs. Years ago, Gina gave me the opportunity to be a guest on her site even though my own blog was much smaller, and I will never forget that kindness. Gina just released The Skinnytaste Cookbook, filled with 150 lower-calorie healthy recipes—from breakfast to dessert—to leave you feeling satisfied, not deprived.

The cookbook includes recipes such as PB&J Overnight Oats, Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup, Chickpea Potato Curry, and the healthy mac and cheese recipe below:

If you want the mac and cheese to be gluten-free, just be sure to use your favorite variety of gf pasta and breadcrumbs. If gf breadcrumbs are not available, just toast slices of gluten-free bread and then pulse in a food processor until you get breadcrumbs.

Although Gina’s original recipe isn’t vegan, it’s easy to veganize by just using Daiya vegan cheese for the cheese and nutritional yeast or vegan parm.