Grown-up Takes on 5 Childhood Favorites
I catch myself getting nostalgic for my childhood every time I see the kid’s menu at a restaurant. I have a weakness for my childhood favorites – I think of them as delicacies—corn dogs, fish sticks and chicken fingers. Oh, how I long for the days when I did not have to think about nutrition!
Recently, I caught myself salivating over a frozen chicken tender Kid’s Cuisine at the grocery store, and I realized it was time for me to revisit some of my favorite kid foods. I thought—instead of swearing them off completely; why not adapt them into more adult-friendly versions? If you have big kid cravings, here are some adult versions to help satisfy the child that is in all of us.
For Peanut Butter and Jelly lovers:
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 4 Whole Wheat Baguettes
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 3 carrots, shredded
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
- 1 cup Apricot Jam
Rinse four fresh chicken breasts and trim any excess fat off. Place olive oil in frying pan and heat to medium high. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and place in pan. Cook thoroughly on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from pan and plate to cool.
In large microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha and stir until smooth. Heat for approximately 20 seconds, and remove from microwave. Stir peanut butter spread until smooth.
Lightly toast 4 baguettes, split in half (lengthwise, for sandwich). Spread peanut butter sauce evenly on face up side of both slices bread. Slice cooled chicken breasts into thin slices, and evenly distribute on bottom slices of bread. Top chicken with pepper, carrots, cilantro, onions, peanuts.
Spread jam on top of peanut butter on top slice of bread. Top sandwich with second slice of bread.
For Mac and Cheese lovers:
- 1 pound macaroni
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 ounce crumbled blue cheese
- 1 tablespoon white truffle oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Cook macaroni according to instructions on package. Drain and set aside.
Add vegetable oil to a saute pan and heat over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and thyme, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in flour, cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the flour and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cream into the stock and flour and whisk. Allow cream and stock mixture to simmer for 5 minutes, until thick. Strain the sauce to remove the onion, garlic, and thyme. Using a whisk with the cream mixture is hot, stir in the three cheeses immediately until melted and smooth.
In a large pot, combine sauce and macaroni. Heat over medium for 2 to 3 minutes, to help ensure cheese is melted and the mixture is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in truffle oil and serve.
For Spaghetti-Os lovers:
- 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup red cooking wine
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 12 leaves basil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1/2 cup water
- 2-1/2 cups mozzarella, grated
Pour tomatoes into large mixing bowl. Squeeze juice and seeds into second bowl, and return tomatoes to original mixing bowl. Heat 1/4-cup olive oil in large pot. Add tomatoes to the pot and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Mash tomatoes with a potato masher, then allow to cook for 5 minutes. Mash tomatoes one more time. Add red wine to tomatoes and stir. Allow the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too think, use the squeezed juice and seeds to thin it.
In a large pot, boil water and cook rigatoni, per package directions. Add remaining olive oil to cast iron skillet. Heat skillet over medium low and cook garlic, basil and red pepper flakes approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Drain cooked pasta and set aside, saving 1 cup of pasta water.
Take cooled garlic and basil mix and strain through a sieve into a bowl, leaving garlic and basil behind. Add the infused oil to the tomato sauce. Add pasta water to sauce and stir. Allow to cook for 5 minutes.
Combine cooked rigatoni with tomato sauce. Add diced mozzarella to pasta. Top with shredded basil.
For Corn Dog lovers:
- 1 package corn muffin mix
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 1/2 lb diced kielbasa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 11×7-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together corn muffin mix, egg and milk until combined. Add cheese, onion and kielbasa and stir to combine.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
For Chicken Finger Lovers:
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 skewers
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 6 red chilies, chopped
- 1 lime
Slice each chicken breast into 3 strips, lengthwise. Combine soy sauce, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add chicken to say sauce mixture and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
Skewer each pieces of chicken on a satay skewer.
Crack egg into large bowl and beat. Pour breadcrumbs into shallow baking dish.
Heat oil in fry pan over medium high. Dip one skewer with chicken into egg then bread crumbs. Place each skewer into pan and let cook until brown. Flip. Place the lid on and allow to cook for several minutes – until cooked throughout (cooking times will vary depending on thickness of meat.) Lift lid and turn heat to high, allowing second side to char. When cooked, remove from pain to allow to cool and drain.
In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, shallots, tomato, chilies and stir. Add juice from lime and whisk into sauce. Pour sauce over satays and serve.
Your Turn: What favorite childhood meal do you still crave?