Childhood lunches get a grown up makeover


 Calling all Gen Xers! Today’s column features nostalgic lunches our generation grew up with, only they are getting an adult makeover. Since Gen Xers are often referred to as the forgotten middle children, this one’s just for us (and maybe our baby boomer parents who packed our lunches each day). The first recipe is a hybrid of two favorites, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the grilled cheese sandwich. Please note that Goober Grape® is no longer on the list of ingredients. The second recipe features an adult version of SpaghettiOs®. The basic elements are all there, but this one has a bit more spice.

A combination of two quintessential childhood favorites, this sandwich gets an adult upgrade with slightly more gourmet ingredients- creamy brie cheese, mixed nut butter (everything but peanuts), fruity preserves and grainy bread. The result is a warm, cheesy and golden brown sandwich – straight off the grill. You’ll need a few napkins for this one. Serves 2

• 4 slices whole grain bread with seeds
• Nut butter of choice
• Fruit preserves – apricot and cherry work well
• Brie cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened

 Slather a scoop of nut butter on the inner side of one slice of bread. On the other slice, spoon on a dollop of preserves then top it with a hunk of brie cheese. Put the two slices together. Spread butter on both outer sides of bread. Repeat process with remaining bread slices. Place sandwiches in a large sauté or grill pan and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy.

(Recipe by Jennifer Alexander Ruple)

Grown Up SpaghettiOs®

 More flavorful and zestier than the canned version, these Os are now suitable for grown ups. Save time and purchase the mini meatballs from the frozen section at Sofo’s Italian Market – they are delicious. I searched for O-shaped pasta to no avail; however, I did find mini wagon wheels. Honestly any small, tubular-shaped pasta will do. Serves 4

• 8 ounces ditalini pasta or small, tubular pasta
• 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• ¼ pound frozen mini meatballs, thawed
• 1 cup onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon dried basil
• Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

 Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside in a food processor, purée tomatoes and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat oil. Add meatballs and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato pasteand cook for 1 minute. Add the paprika and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add sugar, basil and reserved tomato purée. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced and flavors have melded about 20 minutes. Add the meatballs and excess juices to the tomato sauce. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through. Add pasta to sauce and toss to coat. Serve. (Recipe adapted from

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