Your Favorite Food as a Kid is now College Ready—5 Recipes!

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Dining hall food simply cannot compete with home-cooked meals. Being away at school teaches you just how amazing your favorite home dishes truly are. Some days, all you want is that nostalgic meal that reminds you of your childhood to cheer you up. Whether it’s mac and cheese or dinosaur chicken nuggets, these nostalgic foods are the perfect way to make you feel like a kid again with no worries. 

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by college recently and want a taste of home, VALLEY has the perfect recipes for you…but with a twist!

Enjoy some of these tasty, nostalgic treats from your childhood but with a more grown-up, sophisticated feel. If you live in the dorms, ask your friends who live in an apartment if you can borrow their kitchen—then share the food with them!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Banana Bread 

You can never go wrong with a PB&J sandwich. Want to make it even more delicious? Turn it into banana bread with this recipe from Taste and Tell Blog!

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What You’ll Need:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves
What You’ll Do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper then lightly spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, bananas, brown sugar, peanut butter and vegetable oil.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the peanuts, then pour half of the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  4. Take 1/4 cup of the preserves and dollop it on the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the preserves. Pour the remaining batter and top, then dollop another 1/4 cup of the preserves on top, swirling again with a butter knife.
  5. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Let cool completely.
  6. Once the bread has cooled, take the remaining 2 tablespoons of raspberry preserves and microwave for 15-20 seconds until melted. Drizzle over the top of the bread. Enjoy!
Adult Mac and Cheese

This Bon Appetit recipe is a step-up from the usual Annie’s box mac and cheese — which is still delicious, but why not try something new? If you’re a fan of the classic cacio e pepe pasta, you can’t miss this creamy “adult” mac and cheese version.

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What You’ll Need:
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 pound small pasta shells
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled, unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 ounces storebought grated Parmesan
What You’ll Do:
  1. Add 3 handfuls of kosher salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Drop 1 pound small shells into boiling water and set a timer according to package directions for al dente.
  3. Cut 1 stick of chilled, unsalted butter into 8 pieces.
  4. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons ground pepper in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and foaming, but not browned, and pepper is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add 1 cup whole milk to butter to stop it from browning and bring to a simmer. Whisk remaining 6 tablespoons butter into milk mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to fully melt before adding the next. If pasta still needs a few more minutes to cook, turn off heat under your sauce, cover the pot, and keep warm.
  6. Scoop up 2 cups pasta cooking liquid with a large glass measuring cup to use later. 
  7. Drain pasta and add to pot with milk mixture. Return to medium heat and cook, tossing with a wooden spoon to evenly coat all shells.
  8. Add about 1/3 of grated Parmesan, stirring pasta vigorously to melt. Add about ½ cup reserved pasta water and continue to stir until combined. Repeat this process 2 more times with remaining Parmesan. Add ½ cup at a time until pasta is very creamy and well coated. Enjoy!
Vegan Chicken Nuggets

This homemade vegan crispy nugget recipe from Jessica’s Kitchen is incredibly tasty and different from the normal frozen nuggets. If you’ve been wanting to cut more meat out of your diet or even try tofu, this recipe might be just what you were looking for.

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What you’ll Need:
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce + 1 tablespoon (or liquid aminos or tamari)
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • ¾ cup any nut or vegan milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar
  • 1 cup gluten free flour or regular flour
Crumb mixture:
  • 1 ¼ cup gluten free breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs 
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup of oil if pan-frying
What you’ll do:
  1. Take your pressed tofu and slice it in half lengthwise and cut into 1 inch cubes. 
  2. In a bowl or glass Tupperware container, add all the marinade ingredients and stir to combine. Add in tofu and stir to combine so all the tofu is coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, but up to overnight. While marinating, prepare your bowls with the flour, the buttermilk, and the crumbs.
Batter and Crumb Mixture:
  1. In a bowl, add the nut milk and the apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine and let sit for about 2 minutes. This is your buttermilk mixture.
  2. Add the flour to its own bowl and line up side by side.
  3. In a bowl add all the crumb mixture ingredients. Line up all three bowls alongside a baking sheet — the sheet is where you’ll place your tofu pieces before pan-frying them, or layer them to bake them.
  4. Take one tofu piece from the marinade and dip it into the flour, shaking off all the excess flour, then into the buttermilk. Shake off the excess buttermilk, then dip it back into the flour. Repeat. Then dip it into the crumb mixture, roll around, and place on the baking sheet.
Cooking Tofu:
  1. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a baking pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add one piece of tofu. Cook for 1 ½ minutes on each side or until golden brown, then flip and cook for another 1 ½ minutes on the other side. Cook the rest of your tofu pieces.
  2. Continue until you’ve cooked all of the tofu. Allow to cool slightly, then serve immediately by itself, or with a dipping sauce.
  3. To BAKE: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the battered and breaded tofu pieces on the baking sheet and spray with some cooking oil on both sides. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once way at the halfway mark. Enjoy!
Fish Tacos

Remember eating frozen fish sticks in elementary school? For an elevated meal, try these easy-to-make fish tacos paired with a special sauce from Natasha’s Kitchen!

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What You’ll Need:
  • 24 small white corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 pound tilapia
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small purple cabbage
  • 2 medium avocado, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro, longer stems removed
  • 4 ounces,1 cup Cotija cheese, grated
  • 1 lime cut into 8 wedges to serve
Taco Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice, from 1 medium lime
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
What You’ll Do:
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or silicone liner. In a small dish, combine seasonings and evenly sprinkle seasoning mix over both sides of tilapia.
  2. Lightly drizzle fish with olive oil and dot each piece with butter. Bake at 375 for 20-25 min. To brown edges, broil for 3-5 minutes at the end if desired.
  3. Combine all taco sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended.
  4. Toast the corn tortillas on a large dry skillet or griddle over medium/high heat.
  5. Assemble by starting with pieces of fish and then add remaining ingredients, finishing with a sprinkle of cheese, taco sauce and fresh lime juice.  Enjoy!
Homemade Dunkaroos Cookies and Dip

You knew you were going to have a good day in third grade when your mom put one of these in your lunchbox. Have a group of friends over and make this sweet nostalgic treat from PopSugar!

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What You’ll Need:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons milk (optional)
What You’ll Do:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter until creamy and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, egg and molasses and beat until combined.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then slowly beat to combine. Add the rest of the mixture, working in 1/3 increments.
  4. As the dough forms, use your hands to mix the dough. Continue kneading. If it’s too sticky, add a small amount of flour.
  5. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap or baggie. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. After the dough is done chilling, set it out on the counter until it becomes malleable enough to roll out.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out shapes with the cookie cutters. 
  7. Place the dough cut-outs on the baking sheet. Bake for five to seven minutes or until golden brown. 
  8. As the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and salt. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until combined. Add enough powdered sugar until the frosting reaches your desired sweetness and consistency. If it’s too thick, add one to three tablespoons of milk to thin.
  9. Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula. Serve with the cooled cookies. 

Which nostalgic recipe are you going to make? Snap a photo and tag us, @VALLEYmag, on Instagram to show off your kitchen masterpiece.



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