Eating like a kid can be fun. Waves of nostalgia and fond memories come rushing back with each bite. However, one of the fun things about being an adult is our privilege to indulge in alcoholic beverages. Try your childhood favorites with a new twist and some added booze. It’s the best of both worlds.
By Annelise McAuliffe
Spaghetti and Meatballs: Add Beer
As a kid, there is nothing more delightful than wrangling tangled spaghetti from the bowl, around the saucy, red fork and into your mouth. Having permission to cover your face in flavorful red sauce for a meal is another perk. This version is cooked low and slow with your favorite can of beer. If you have a tried and true version, use it, but substitute some of the liquid in the recipe for beer. You won’t be sorry. Try this recipe.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: Add Bourbon
The best thing about this sandwich is that it is like eating dessert for the whole meal! Add to the salty peanut butter some sugary jam or sweet chocolate spread and things are looking spectacular. Not only is this a great lunch to pack a child, but it is still delicious as an adult. Especially, if the finished sandwich is flambéd in bourbon. Make the sandwich as usual and then follow the flambé instructions here if you are unsure.
Macaroni and Cheese: Add Whiskey
Just like “The Blue Box” from Kraft, mac and cheese is nostalgic for most American children. With the adult version you can kick the blues to the curb and dive into pure grown-up comfort food. A sharp blend of cheeses, greasy bacon pieces, and a dash of cayenne makes this whiskey pasta complete. Try this version.
Pizza: Add Vodka
The highlight of winning a school contest, be it reading or class spirit, was the pizza party prize. Pizza parties were the bomb as a kid. At birthday parties, cafeteria menus, and kids arcades there had better be pizza on the menu, or else! The best part of pizza is that it can be as simple or sophisticated as you choose. Try the vodka sauce topped with sausage and fresh mozzarella slices. Get a recipe here.
Chicken Tenders: Add Rum
Crispy chicken nuggets and tenders are kids favorite protein to dip and dunk into ranch and ketchup. Generally nestled in next to greasy fries, what could be better or more nap inducing as that? As an adult we still like chicken and we definitely love fried food. Try frying your tenders in a batter of rum and lime juice for a new twist. Get the recipe here.
Cheeseburger: Add Tequila
Fast food meals complete with toys brought burgers font and center of the attention of youngsters. A fluffy bun, gooey cheese, lots of sweet ketchup, and hold the lettuce. Kids have always enjoyed this special treat of a sandwich. As we grow up we learn to thrown them on the grill, stuff them with cheese and jalapeños, and top them with a fried egg. But we also must learn to add tequila and lime to tenderize and make a juicy, flavorful burger. Top with a chipotle mayo or tequila pico de gallo and your favorite cheese. Try this recipe.
Chicken Noodle Soup: Add White Wine
When you’re sick or you’ve just come inside from a snow-day romp the best thing to meet you at the door is a steaming bowl of soup. As adults we still need a bowl of soup to warm up and feel better, but we also could use a glass of wine. Chicken soup with wine has both! This version has a kick of tart lemon and plenty of thyme, but it also has white wine to add a whole other level. Add the wine in one of the last steps and adjust the amount to your liking. Recipes have called for half of a cup to half of a bottle. Get the recipe.
Grilled Cheese: Add Whiskey
Gooey grilled cheese triangles dipped into a creamy tomato soup is a kids meal enjoyed throughout adolescents and coveted by adults. The traditional sandwich has been truffled, gourmet-ed, and graced with foie gras, but all grown up, we like it best with cheese curds and whiskey. Try it now.
Ice Cream (sandwiches): Add Red Wine
We all had our ears tuned to hear the jingle of the ice cream truck from blocks away, as kids. Running outside with a pocket of change to snag an ice cream sandwich or a scoop of our favorite flavor. Make this ice cream with citrus and delicious red wine for a soft, boozy summer treat. For added flair smash between citrus sugar cookies or a rich brownie. Get the recipe here.
Juice: Add Gin
“Water, milk, or juice?” are the biggest choices a child has to make at a meal. As an adult the freedom to choose a plethora of beverages can be overwhelming. Bring it back to the three simple options at square one and choose juice. Then, go to step two and add gin. Snoop Dog (must we call him Snoop Lion?) knows what’s up and this time only you should follow his example and try it too. Get the recipe for this fruit punch with gin.
Mandatory family outings to the Detroit farmers' market and nightly home-cooked meals cultivated Annelise's respect and curiosity for food. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she spends her free time in New York City recipe testing, eating breakfast all day, and dreaming up international culinary adventures.