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70 Childhood Classics All Grown Up

Get ready to feel nostalgic with these childhood favorite foods, like tater tots, pizza and sundaes, that all have a grown-up twist.

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Childhood Classic: Pizza

This smoky grilled pizza scores big with me for two reasons: It encourages my husband and son to eat greens, and it showcases fresh produce. —Sarah Gray, Erie, Colorado

Grown-Up Recipe: Smoky Grilled Pizza with Greens & Tomatoes

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Childhood Classic: Chicken Nuggets

We devour these golden brown chicken nuggets at least once a week. If you want to tone down the heat, skip the chipotle pepper. —Cheryl Cook, Palmyra, Virginia
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Childhood Classic: Ice Cream Float

Everyone needs a little treat at brunch! I wanted to kick things up a notch, so I added a scoop of ice cream to my mimosas. Sometimes I add chocolate, too.—Amy Lents, Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Childhood Classic: Grilled Cheese

Roast beef, red onion and blue cheese really amp up this deluxe grilled sandwich. If you like a little heat, mix some horseradish into the spread. —Bonnie Hawkins, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Pancakes

I clipped this recipe from our local paper a few years ago. It's a tasty lunch treat for hearty appetites. Plan on doubling the recipe for hungry grandkids. —Maxine Smith, Owanka, South Dakota
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Childhood Classic: Macaroni & Cheese

This creamy mac and cheese definitely doesn't come from a box! Fresh veggies add crunch and color and will leave everyone saying, "More, please!" —Marsha Morril, Harrisburg, Oregon
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Childhood Classic: Lemonade

A friend suggested I add a sprig of rosemary to lemonade. The herb makes the drink taste fresh and light, and it's a pretty garnish. —Dixie Graham, Rancho Cucamonga, California
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Childhood Classic: Banana Split

This dessert is special enough to make hamburgers and fries a meal to remember! It's so tall and pretty and just like eating a frozen banana split. Make it ahead to save time. —Joy Collins, Birmingham, Alabama
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Childhood Classic: Hot Dogs

For parties, we shrink lots of foods to slider size, including these quick hot dogs. Pile on the easy but irresistible fruit salsa for a burst of fresh flavor. —Carole Resnick, Cleveland, Ohio
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Childhood Classic: Potato Chips

Game day calls for something bold. I top potato chips with tomatoes, bacon and tangy blue cheese. I make two big pans, and they always disappear. —Bonnie Hawkins, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Chocolate Cake

To say this cake is elegant would be an understatement. It’s worthy of special occasions, but once you learn how to make chocolate ganache, it's so easy to whip together that you can enjoy it any day of the week. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Childhood Classic: Ham & Cheese Sandwich

These Italian-style sandwiches are loaded with zesty flavors. To lighten them a little, use fat-free mayo. We serve them with minestrone or a crisp salad. —Priscilla Yee, Concord, California
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Childhood Classic: Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of my favorite soup recipes to serve in the wintertime because it's super easy to make and fills the house with a wonderful aroma. My whole family loves it! —Brandy Stansbury, Edna, Texas
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Childhood Classic: Apple Pie

Like an apple pie without the pan, this scrumptious tart has a crispy crust that cuts nicely and a yummy caramel topping. —Betty Fulks, Onia, Arkansas
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Childhood Classic: Chili

Tender pork adds extra heartiness to this slow-cooked chili. You can use pork tenderloin, boneless pork roast or boneless pork chops for the pork called for in the recipe. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Don’t have time to make chili from scratch? Find out the best canned chili to use when you’re short on time.
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Childhood Classic: French Toast

My handyman, who is originally from Nicaragua, shared this classic breakfast dish his mother use to prepare. He says he makes it frequently for his children and they clean their plates! —Gail Borczyk, Boca Raton, Florida
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Childhood Classic: Turkey Sandwich

As a turkey lover who can't get enough during fall and winter, I was inspired to come up with a restaurant-worthy sandwich. I love it with a soft, rich cheese like Brie. —Grace Voltolina, Westport, Connecticut
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Childhood Classic: Ice Cream Sundaes

We can’t resist brownie sundaes. I combined an affogato (coffee-based beverage) idea with a brownie to get this decadent sundae that mixes it all in there: warm, cold, sweet and salty. —Julie Merriman, Seattle, Washington
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Childhood Classic: Meat Loaf

Childhood Classic: Meat Loaf

I'm not big on leftovers, so I've pared down my recipes to serve two. This meat loaf is simple and quick to prepare, plus it helps you eat your veggies. It's great served with cheddar-topped baked potatoes. —Judi Brinegar, Liberty, North Carolina
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Childhood Classic: Mashed Potatoes

Gruyere cheese, bacon, sweet onions and herbs take smashed potatoes to a whole new level of amazing. This loaded side dish is so rich and satisfying, it could almost be eaten on its own! — Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida
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Childhood Classic: Fruit Cocktail

Looking for a fast, colorful side to round out any meal? This refreshing fruit salad is pure perfection! —Angela Howland, Haynesville, Maine
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Childhood Classic: PB&J

My kids ask for these pita sandwiches all the time. They haven’t noticed that as good as they taste, they’re also good for them. —Kim Holmes, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan
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Childhood Classic: Pudding

Homemade pudding reminds me of my grandma and how she turned milk and eggs into creamy textures before my eyes. The butterscotch in this recipe adds a caramel-sweet touch. —Teresa Wilkes, Pembroke, Georgia
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Childhood Classic: Fish Sticks

Childhood Classic: Fish Sticks

Searching for a lighter alternative to traditional fried fish tacos, I came up with this crispy, crunchy entree. It's a hit with friends and family. —Jennifer Palmer, Rancho Cucamonga, California
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Childhood Classic: Cupcakes

Treat yourself to these indulgent little cupcakes laced with the irresistible flavor of Amaretto and slivered almonds. —Anette Stevens, Olds, Alberta
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Childhood Classic: Tacos

I created this surprising pulled pork recipe to replicate our favorite food truck tacos at home. They're a little sweet, a little spicy and totally delicious any time of year. —Julie Orr, Fullerton, California
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Childhood Classic: Gelatin Dessert

Whenever I make this pretty raspberry salad, people talk! It's a festive side dish that works well for celebrations throughout the year. —Jane Vanderground, Macedonia, Ohio
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Childhood Classic: BLT Sandwich

My husband invented this twist on a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I like to make it with extra slices of bacon; if you want, you can leave the Gorgonzola cheese out of the avocado spread. —Lori Grant, Kingsport, Tennessee
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Childhood Classic: Lasagna

Here’s my best version of my favorite food—lasagna! The recipe is a winner, so it’s worth the extra prep. You’ll have plenty of time to plan side dishes while the main dish is cooking. —Suzanne Smith, Bluffton, Indiana
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Childhood Classic: S'mores

A big bite into a scrumptious s’more brings back sweet campfire memories. This fancy take on the classic treat is perfect for a fall meal and will be adored by young and old alike. —Rose Denning, Overland Park, Kansas
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Childhood Classic: Chicken Tenders

These crunch-coated chicken tenders are a little sweet, a little tangy and a whole lot of fun. In half an hour, your family's new favorite dish is ready to eat. When I have extra time, I roast garlic and add it to the sauce. —Andreann Geise, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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Childhood Classic: Waffle Fries

My husband and two grown sons really enjoy these fun nachos—they can devour a platter of them in no time. They're also fun to make when friends come over. —Debra Morgan, Idaho Falls, Idaho
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Childhood Classic: Chocolate Cream Pie

I'm a big coffee drinker and love the iced and frozen versions, too. This pie was my way of incorporating those flavors into a dessert. —Becky McClaflin, Blanchard, Oklahoma
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Childhood Classic: Spaghetti & Meatballs

I developed this one-skillet spaghetti and meatball dish to cut down on cooking time for busy nights. The beans, artichokes and tomatoes bump up the nutrition factor, while the lemon and parsley make it pop with brightness. —Roxanne Chan, Albany, California
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Childhood Classic: Waffles

I created this waffle recipe to recapture the memorable tropical tastes we enjoyed while visiting Hawaii. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Childhood Classic: Egg Salad Sandwiches

Turn your old-standby egg salad into your new lunch favorite. Honey Dijon mustard and pesto add a sensational, savory spin, and the celery and onion lend nice crunch. —Carrie Kenny, Batavia, Ohio
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Childhood Classic: Frozen Pops

Kiwi, pineapple, sugar and water are all you need to make these easy, breezy freezer pops.—Colleen Ludovice, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Cheeseburgers

When whipping up something for Father’s Day or the Fourth of July, I go big and tall with this fully loaded, juicy yumburger. —Chase Bailey, Costa Mesa, California
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Childhood Classic: French Fries

This dish combines the hearty, spicy flavors of my beloved slow-cooker short ribs with my all-time favorite comfort food: fries and gravy. With a little prep in the morning, it's just about ready when I come home from work (plus, the kitchen smells amazing!). If you are sensitive to spice, reduce the amount of Sriracha chili sauce. —Erin DeWitt, Long Beach, California
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Childhood Classic: Milk Shakes

Save a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies for this creamy milkshake that's fun for kids and adults, too. —Shauna Sever, San Francisco, California
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Childhood Classic: Monte Cristo

Childhood Classic: Monte Cristo

As a child, I wouldn’t eat veggies. As a parent, I try to include them in creative ways. I'm proud to say this eggplant sandwich is a hit with my son. —Macey Allen, Green Forest, Arkansas
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Childhood Classic: Strawberry Shortcake

In summer the strawberry farms are open for picking. I serve strawberries with a crunchy hazelnut meringue cookie. —Barbara Estabrook, Rhinelander, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Popcorn

Fresh herbs and real cheese make this popcorn a homemade favorite that will make you forget about store-bought seasoning mixes. —Dan Kelmenson, West Bloomfield, Michigan
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Childhood Classic: Monkey Bread

Time to give rum cake a little competition! If this boozy take on monkey bread is too strong for your taste, cut back on the bourbon or use milk as a non-alcoholic substitute. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy Editor
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Childhood Classic: Chicken Potpie

Chicken potpie is a top 10 comfort food for me. To save time, we use ready-made phyllo dough and rotisserie chicken, then add sweet potatoes and red peppers. —Jacyn Siebert, San Francisco, California
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Childhood Classic: Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate recipe is more than a warm-you-up—it's rich and thick decadence in a mug. —Cyndi Nistico, Palm Island, Florida
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Childhood Classic: Scrambled Eggs

I added a little color and flavor to an ordinary scrambled eggs recipe with some green pepper, onion and red potatoes. —Joyce Platfoot, Wapakoneta, Ohio
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Childhood Classic: Baked Soft Pretzels

My husband and our friends and family love these soft, chewy pretzels. Let the bread machine mix the dough, then all you have to do is shape and bake these fun snacks. —Sherry Peterson, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Childhood Classic: Bananas Foster

I have wonderful memories of eating bananas Foster in New Orleans, and as a dietitian, wanted to find a healthier version. I combined the best of two recipes and added my own tweaks to create this southern treat. —Lisa Varner, Charleston, South Carolina
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Childhood Classic: Peas & Carrots

This classic combination of peas and carrots is enriched with a handful of flavor enhancers. Slow cooking allows the ingredients to meld for maximum richness. —Theresa Kreyche, Tustin, California
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Childhood Classic: Mini Handheld Pies

Delicious figs combined with maple, walnuts and creamy mascarpone make a decadent treat that's easy to enjoy at a backyard cookout. These unique hand pies always disappear quickly. —Renee Murby, Johnston, Rhode Island
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Childhood Classic: Hot Turkey & Gravy Sandwich

Turkey with gravy makes divine comfort food that reminds me of old-time diners on the East Coast that serve open faced turkey sandwiches just like this one. Happily, my gravy is not from a can. —Chris Schwester, Divide, Colorado
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Childhood Classic: Ravioli

Sometimes I use chickpeas instead of cannellini beans, grated Asiago or Provolone instead of Parmesan, and all zucchini if I don’t have eggplant. Very flexible! —Sonya Labbe, West Hollywood, California
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Childhood Classic: Cream Puffs

On a sizzling day, we crave something light, airy and cool. Nothing says summer like cream puffs stuffed with peaches and whipped cream. —Angela Benedict, Dunbar, West Virginia
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Childhood Classic: Banana Bread

As a toddler, my son loved bananas, so we always had them in the house. We didn't always eat them all before they were too ripe, so we experimented beyond basic banana bread. That’s how we came up with Elvis bread! —Liz Somppi, Greenfield, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Tater Tot Casserole

I keep frozen Tater Tots on hand for meals like this yummy Tater Tot casserole. It’s a super brunch, breakfast or side dish for kids of all ages. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Childhood Classic: Sloppy Joes

Stirring canned pumpkin into sloppy joe meat may seem strange, but everyone is pleasantly surprised by these. Add cloves, nutmeg and chili powder for extra oomph, then plunk dill slices on top. —Donna Musser, Pearl City, Illinois
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Childhood Classic: Frozen Pound Cake with Berries

Everyone has a favorite way to serve pound cake, but no one will expect this! It's my go-to trick for using up leftover cranberry sauce. —Christine Wendland, Browns Mills, New Jersey
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Childhood Classic: Nachos

This chicken nachos recipe is delicious and so simple. Rotisserie (or leftover) chicken keeps it quick, and the seasonings and splash of lime juice lend fantastic flavor. My husband enjoys this snack so much that he often requests it for dinner! —Gail Cawsey, Geneseo, Illinois
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Childhood Classic: Cookies

Here's a cookie that makes you stop in your tracks to figure out what that delicious flavor is on the back of your palate. —Shalana Patout, Lafayette, Louisiana
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Childhood Classic: Applesauce

I always end up with lots of rhubarb each summer, but many of the recipes use a lot of sugar. This one lets the fruit sweeten up the rhubarb instead. I refrigerate the sauce overnight to help the flavors blend. —Amy Nelson, Weston, Wisconsin
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Childhood Classic: Bars

My grandmother handed down the recipe for these gooey bars, which we all love. The candied cherries are a must. —Deborah Pennington, Cullman, Alabama
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Childhood Classic: Roast Beef Sandwich

Rustic ciabatta bread is the perfect match for tender roast beef and bold blue cheese and chipotle in this easy, tasty recipe. —Andre Houseknecht, Feasterville, Pennsylvania
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Childhood Classic: Caramel Apples

These drizzled confections look gorgeous and taste over-the-top yummy. With peanut butter flavor and a salty burst, they'll be the treats you can't wait to make each year. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Childhood Classic: Chicken & Rice Casserole

I couldn’t say who loves this recipe best, because it gets raves every time I serve it! Occasionally I even get a phone call or email from a friend requesting the recipe, and it's certainly a favorite for my grown children and 15 grandchildren. —Maryalice Wood, Langley, British Columbia
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Childhood Classic: Cheesecake

I went through a phase when I couldn't get enough cheesecake or coffee, so I created this rich dessert. Its brownie-like crust and creamy mocha layer really hit the spot. It's ideal for get-togethers because it can be made in advance. —Shannon Dormady, Great Falls, Montana
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Childhood Classic: Doughnuts

Their light, tender texture and apple cider flavor make these small bites a big hit! My mom made them every year as soon as the weather turned cool. I carry on the tradition, and the aroma always brings back cherished memories. —Rebecca Baird, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Childhood Classic: Rice Krispie Bars

We pull out all the goodies for these chewy bars, like raisins and coconut. For more color, sprinkle on the M&M's once the bars are in the pan. Then press them in. —Connie Craig, Lakewood, Washington
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Childhood Classic: Kool-Aid

Our family enjoys giving homemade gifts for Christmas, and hot beverage mixes are especially popular. This flavored tea is a favorite. —Andrea Horton, Kelso, WA
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Childhood Classic: Tater Tots

Playing with food is loads of fun when you have Tater Tots and taco toppings. Let kids build their own for smiles all around. —Eleanor Mielke, Mitchell, South Dakota

Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.
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