Retro Recipes Meet Their Modern Cousins

One of the best parts of summer is cooking delicious food with your family and friends. Everyone has their favorite go-to recipes, some of which may be generations old. The best part of these retro recipes is that – in many cases – modern updates are available that are just as tasty. This summer, you can impress everyone at your party with these traditional favorites or their present-day counterparts!


One of our favorite traditional appetizer recipes is for tortilla pinwheels. These fun looking cheese-filled treats are easy to prepare and are always a hit at any gathering.

Tortilla Pinwheels


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, well drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Seasoned salt to taste
  • 5 flour tortillas (10 inches)
  • Salsa, optional


  • Beat cream cheese, shredded cheese and sour cream until blended. Stir in olives, green chilies, green onions and seasonings
  • Spread over tortillas; roll up tightly. Wrap each roll in plastic, twisting ends to seal; refrigerate for several hours
  • Unwrap. Cut into 1/2 to 1/4 inch slices, using a serrated knife. If desired, serve with salsa.

A delectable modern take on this recipe is ham-and-cheese pinwheels with a brown sugar glaze. These savory appetizers will remind you of a gourmet Hot Pocket!

Hot Ham and Cheese Pinwheels


  • 1 can Pillsburyrefrigerated Classic Pizza Crust
  • 3/4 lb. deli ham (thinly sliced, but not shaved)
  • 12 slices Swiss Cheese (thinly sliced)


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Unroll the pizza dough onto a cutting board and press into approximately a 13×18 rectangle. Top with ham and cheese slices. Starting on the longer side of the rectangle, roll up the edge tightly. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. Cut into 12 slices, approximately 1 inch wide. Arrange in prepared baking dish.
  • Next combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and poppy seeds in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until the butter is melted and the glaze is smooth and combined. Pour evenly over the rolls.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or bake uncovered for 25 minutes until golden brown.


Casseroles can make a wonderful addition to any summer party. They’re easy to make and great to share with large groups. A favorite traditional casserole is tuna noodle.

Tuna Noodle Casserole


  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 cups cooked yolk-free wide noodles
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 can (6 ounces) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


  • In a large bowl, combine soup and milk until smooth. Add the noodles, peas, tuna and pimientos; mix well.
  • Pour into a 1-1/2 qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Toss bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the top. Bake 5 minutes longer or until golden brown.

A modern take on tuna noodle casserole eliminates the soup from the dish. All of the ingredients in this recipe are fresher, making it a little more time-consuming to make, but the end result is scrumptious.

Grown-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole


  • Butter, to grease pan
  • 12 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3-1/2ups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 5-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced kale or spinach
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, to top (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-1/2 or 3 quart casserole dish and set aside.
  • Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until shallots are translucent and mushrooms begin to soften. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 additional minute. Slowly pour in wine, lower heat to medium-low and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  • Add flour to pan and stir well to ensure all mushrooms are coated. Increase heat to high and slowly pour in milk, bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring to avoid sticking or clumping, until milk begins to thicken and starts to look more like a sauce, about 4 minutes
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, parmesan cheese, capers, tuna, sour cream, kale (or spinach), thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the creamy mushroom sauce into bowl and stir to coat all ingredients. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs and cook until fragrant and slightly toasty, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle crispy breadcrumbs over top of casserole and bake for 20 minutes, or until top is light brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Serve hot. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. This casserole also freezes beautifully.


The old fashioned pot roast is a traditional recipe staple that’s simple to prepare, and easy on the taste buds too.

Old Fashioned Pot Roast


  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 lbs.)
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 celery rib, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces


  • Sprinkle roast with 1 tablespoon flour. In a Dutch oven, brown roast on all sides in half of the butter. Add water, bouillon, onion, celery, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Add carrots; cover and simmer 45-60 minutes longer, or until meat is tender. Transfer meat and carrots to a serving platter and keep warm. Strain cooking juices; set aside.
  • In the same Dutch oven, melt remaining butter. Stir in remaining flour; cook and stir until bubbly. Add 2 cups of the cooking juices and blend until smooth. Cook and stir until thickened; add additional cooking juices until gravy has desired consistency.

This updated roast recipe will make a regular appearance at the dinner table. Rather than the traditional pot roast, baked in an oven, this roast is grilled with a delicious seasoning and rosemary chimichurri sauce.

Pepper Crusted Grill-Roasted Beef with Rosemary Chimichurri


  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 lb. boneless beef top loin roast, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch

Rosemary Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic, mashed to a paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • In a small bowl, mash oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic with the back of a spoon. Rub all over beef and refrigerate for at least 12, and up to 24 hours.
  • Heat all burners on a gas grill to medium low. A thermometer resting on the grill grate should register about 450 degrees with the lid down – or you should be able to comfortably hold your hand a couple of inches above the grill for 3 or 4 seconds. If hotter than this, lower heat on burners slightly. Brush grill grates with a stiff wire brush and then wipe with a lightly oiled wad of paper towels.
  • Set beef on grill, cover, and cook until it’s nicely browned and easily releases from the grates, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully during this stage. If a flare-up occurs, move the meat away from flames until they die down. If necessary, squirt flames with a little water to quench them.
  • Transfer meat to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes. Thinly slice and serve with chimichurri.
  • Chimichurri sauce: Heat oil and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until rosemary is aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar and garlic. Whisk in rosemary oil and 1/4 cup water. Then stir in parsley, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper (don’t worry if the emulsion separates). Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Side Dish

Side dishes can make or break a meal! Our favorite retro side dish is this sweet-tart cucumber salad.

Sweet-Tart Cucumber Salad 


  • 10 pickling cucumbers or 3 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced


  • Place cucumbers in a colander over a plate; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and toss. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain.
  • In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, celery seed, pepper and remaining salt until blended. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers and onions. Pour dressing over cucumber mixture; toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours before serving.

This newer take on cucumber salad adds some unexpected elements for a refreshing, mouth-watering dish.

Cucumber Salad


  • 1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbs. fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)


  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp. za’atar (or 1 tsp. oregano)


  • In a small, mix together the ingredients for the dressing, set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, parsley, mint and dill.
  • Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine.


No meal is quite the same without dessert! A classic dessert that reminds us of days gone by is mincemeat trifle. This sweet treat features layers of custard and mincemeat, topped with cream.

Mincemeat Trifle


  • 6 large yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cup prepared mincemeat
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 prepared angel food cake (8 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • Red and green candied cherries, optional


  • In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, milk, sugar, lemon zest and salt until blended. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, combine mincemeat and lemon juice. Tear cake into 1-inch cubes; place a third of the cake in a trifle bowl or 2-qt. serving bowl. Top with a third of the custard and half of the mincemeat. Repeat layers. Top with remaining custard.
  • In a bowl, beat cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form; spread over custard. Garnish with cherries, if desired. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Mincemeat trifle has inspired many modern adaptations. This version of the traditional trifle uses fresh blueberries and lemon pudding to create a light, summery treat.

Lemon and Blueberry Trifle


  • 1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 boxes (3.4 oz. each) instant lemon pudding mix
  • 3 cups milk brought to room temperature
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) whipped topping, thawed
  • Angel food cake (2 loaves or 1 tube cake), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pints (3-4 cups) fresh blueberries
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish (optional)


  • Beat cream cheese and pudding mix together until smooth. Slowly add room temperature milk until smooth. Fold in 2 cups of whipped topping.
  • In a 3-quart bowl, layer 1/3 cake, 1/3 pudding and 1/3 blueberries. Repeat layers two more times. Garnish with whipped topping and lemons.
  • Cover and chill until ready to serve.

While many of these classic recipes remain family favorites, the updated renditions offer an enticing “variation on a theme”. We challenge you to try each of these retro recipes and their modern counterparts and let us know which version you prefer!