Back to School Special!

Kids across the country went back to school this week after a summer full of fun and sunshine. This was the inspiration behind this week’s dinner: the back to school special. Everyone has their favourite (and least favourite) dishes from the school cafeteria or the lunches they or their parents packed up for them to take to school everyday. Whether it was a trusty peanut butter & jelly sandwich or a gooey plate of mac & cheese, there were some foods that made lunch the best part of the day.

We made some of our favourite school foods and enjoyed a delicious dinner. What were your favourite foods when you were in elementary school?

Macaroni & Cheese: 


  • 1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated monterey jack
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a baking rack in the top-third of the oven. Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish (or an 8″-by-8″ baking dish). Set aside.
  2. Combine the cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gruyere cheeses in a medium bowl. Transfer 1 cup of cheese to a small bowl; reserve for topping.
  3. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat.
  4. In a Dutch oven or saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. Add flour immediately; whisk to combine for about 1 minute. Raise the temperature to medium, and slowly whisk in the milk. Bring it to a boil to thicken, whisking the entire time. (You might need to raise the temperature slightly to get things going.)
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the mustard, salt, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne and the 2 cups of mixed cheeses (from the larger bowl). Set the cheese sauce aside.
  6. Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add macaroni. Return the water to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain well, and add pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and add hot sauce, if you wish.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with reserved cheese, and bake in the top-third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly, but the inside is still creamy.



  • 2 large navel oranges, zested & juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 3 lbs. green apples
  • 3 lbs. red apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel, and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich: 


  • 1 tbsp. instant oatmeal, uncooked
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh berries, chopped
  • 2 tsp. all-fruit spread
  • 2 slices multigrain or whole-wheat bread


  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the oatmeal, milk and salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or until boiling. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the peanut butter.
  2. In another small bowl, stir together the berries and fruit spread.
  3. Spread the peanut butter-oat mixture on one slice of bread and the fruit mixture over it. Top with the second slice of bread.


Chocolate Chip Cookies: 


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt and cream of tartar. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.


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One thought on “Back to School Special!

  1. […] requested that I make the cookies I made for our ‘Back to School’ dinner (Taylor calls them the best ever which I’m not sure is true, but I appreciate the thought […]

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