Childhood is filled with memories of discovering our favorite foods. Whether it’s grilled cheese, favorite finger food, mac’ and cheese or one of mom’s home cooked meals, our childhood favorites will always be a big part of what we remember growing up as a kid.
Now that I’m an adult, I hardly eat the kid friendly dishes that I enjoyed as a child. Grilled cheese and chicken nuggets have been pushed aside for more grown up tastes like sushi and guacamole (How many of you ate avocados or guacamole as a kid?)
Our grownup tastes often demand something more complex and more nutritious. Quality ingredients are also much more of a priority in this day of age. With that said, there’s still a Peter Pan in all of us that refuses to grow up. So I figured why not try and resurrect our juvenile favorites by finding grownup versions of our favorite childhood meals.
Grilled Cheese with Mozarella, Kale and Prosciutto
I remember the first time I had a grilled cheese sandwich. I was in 1st grade when I used to go over the school lunch menu and decide between a sack lunch or a hot meal. I always went with the familiar and shied away from the unknown. Hotdogs, burgers and pizza were safe but something like Salisbury steak was too risky of a proposal at that age. I was still getting over the shock that school lunches didn’t come with rice.
One day, a change in the menu meant grilled cheese for lunch. I panicked. What the heck was a grilled cheese and was I going to like it? Or was I going to be grossed out and end up crying in the cafeteria? I had no choice but to try the grilled cheese. My first bite of that buttery grilled bread and warm melted cheese and I was hooked.
I then remember going home and telling my dad about my grilled cheese experience. My dad then told me something that my 1st grade self thought was unbelievable and completely out of this world, that he can make a grilled cheese right there at home. Before that day, I never knew that a grilled cheese existed and I thought there was no way my dad could ever make one in our own kitchen.
My dad whipped out some bread, butter, cheese and a frying pan. With wide eyes, I watched my dad spread butter on bread, place a piece of Kraft cheese between the slices and grilled it over the frying pan. He then placed the perfect golden-crusted buttery grilled cheese on a plate and I took a bite. It was better than the one I had at lunch and I was happy as any 1st grader can be. I knew from that point on that grilled cheese would be a go-to-meal for a long time to come.
To appeal to my more grownup tastes, I found this grilled cheese recipe from Angela Murray’s food blog, Last Call for Corn. Angela was lucky enough to obtain a free copy of the cookbook Grilled Cheese, Please! It’s a 148 pages committed to our favorite sandwich growing up. Click on the picture below for the recipe.
Macaroni and Cheese
While we’re on the subject of cheese, let’s now turn to another cheesy childhood favorite, Macoroni and Cheese.
My brother, sister and I had the blessing of having our grandparents live with our family while growing up. My grandparents were instrumental in helping my parents raise three children, thus allowing them to work full time without the need for daycare. Every morning, my grandparents helped us get ready for school and were also there to greet us when we got home.
My grandparents and my mom are from the province of Pampanga, a region known for their great cuisine. (In case anybody is wondering, my dad is from Manila) Naturally, Filipino cooking was a common occurrence in our household. But kids born and raised here in the United States can’t live on Filipino food alone. Our American upbringing demands American food and my grandparents’ interpretation of Western meals was often quite questionable.
For whatever reason, my grandma made macaroni and cheese with about 8 times the amount of milk called for in the recipe. The result was one soupy bowl of mac and cheese that had to be eaten with a spoon and finished with a long slurp. Although my grandma’s mac and cheese was completely off, it’s what made it hers. And oddly enough, it’s not her chicken adobo, fried rice or pancit I remember most, it’s her soupy bowls of macaroni and cheese.
My taste for macaroni and cheese evolved as soon as I found out that it wasn’t supposed to be a bowl of soup. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way; you can imagine my embarrassment when she served a bowl of her mac and cheese to some friends I had over after school one day.
If you’ve weaned yourself off of macaroni and cheese over the last few years then Meagan’s recipe from A Zesty Bite will kick you off the wagon. Bacon, onion and garlic contribute to its addictive properties warranting its well-deserved name, Crack-N-Cheese. Click on the photo below to get hooked all over again.
Finger food. We all love it for its tasty convenience. It’s fun, youthful and yet another food that we can relate to during our younger years.
My grandparents, who normally lived with us during the school year, would often spend the summer months up in Montreal with my cousins. I remember my parents hiring a cousin or a neighbor to baby-sit during those months that they were gone.
But one year, my parents finally thought I was old enough to baby-sit my siblings (who are 6 and 8 years younger than me). I don’t recall my exact age when I was asked to do this, but that’s probably for the better because I’m really not sure if I was legally able to do so.
Besides one minor flood in the kitchen, nothing disastrous came from us fending for ourselves. To make things easier for us, my mom bought us foods that were easy to prepare or that I can simply just put in the oven. Out of all these foods, the one that comes to mind were frozen chicken nuggets. I think my siblings and I spent an entire summer eating chicken nuggets for lunch.
Whether it’s McDonalds Chicken McNuggets, chicken strips, or the frozen Tyson brand chicken nuggets, boneless morsels of chicken are a food that most of us have enjoyed during our youth. Mardi, the author of the food blog, Eat, Live, Travel, Write shares a Jamie Oliver recipe for chicken nuggets.
If you want to feel a little younger but still cater to your more mature and grownup tastes, give one of these recipes a try.