A humorous, optimistic blog about Food, Family, Friends and Faith

This is one of the times of year when we find ourselves doing lots of visiting. People come to your house and stay for a few hours, you go to an Easter church potluck dinner, or your family winds up at Grandma’s for Passover. You’re running and often need something easy and portable to take along as a gift or as part of a buffet dinner.

This first recipe is from the 1960s. My parents used to have lots of cocktail parties. Their friends would get dressed up and come over for food and drinks. Most of the food was nibble-and-circulate finger food; I don’t remember too many sit down dinners in those days. My sisters and I were always banished to the basement, but could (and would) sneak up the stairs to snatch bits of food off the tables. I loved Mom’s rumaki and curried tuna turnovers, but this recipe remains one of my favorites.

This is a great recipe for large gatherings. It doubles and triples well, and makes a lovely gift if put in a mason jar with a fancy lid or a tied with a ribbon. This is the original Chex party mix, and does NOT contain mini cheese crackers or bagel chips – they didn’t exist back then! It is MUCH less salty than the commercial mix available today. I pour the cereals with a generous hand, and frequently substitute onion and garlic powder for the salts, but that’s your call. Enjoy!

Cocktail Hash

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 cup plain Cheerios
  • 2 cups Rice Chex
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex
  • 1 cup Corn Chex
  • 1 cup Kix
  • 1 cup pretzel sticks, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 250F.
  2. Put all cereals, pretzels and nuts in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the worcestershire and all the seasonings. Pour over the cereal in the bowl and mix well. Pour onto two half sheet pans (12″ x 18″). If there’s any butter or spice left in the bowl, drizzle it over the mix on the sheet pans. Bake in the center of the oven for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to redistribute the mix. (If you use two shelves, be sure to switch shelves after half an hour to ensure even cooking.)
  3. Let cool on pans and store in airtight containers.
* * * * *

This next recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. It’s a simple, yet delicious recipe that doubles or triples easily and travels well. Throw it in a plastic container or Ziploc baggie and you’re good to go. If you are driving, get cut off in traffic and the container goes plummeting to the floor, no worries. It’s still good (unless, of course, the container splits open and the pasta goes everywhere. Then you have a problem.).

You can use this as a basic pasta recipe. Substitute any sausage (the first picture I show uses turkey sausage), chicken strips, ground lamb, etc. for the Italian sausage. Use ziti or fusilli instead of gemelli (as in the second picture). Substitute any green for the chard (although chard is my favorite). Any dried fruit can fill in for the raisins – diced dried apricots are a great choice. Pine nuts are interchangeable with slivered almonds or chopped walnuts – whatever you like. As always, parmesan and romano easily substitute for each other. You just need a hard, grate-able, salty, aged cheese. If you can find queso anejo, use it! Play with this until you find a combination that suits you.

Pasta with Sausage, Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 pound gemelli or other short pasta
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 12 oz. sweet Italian sausage (or any sausage you like), casings removed
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, tough stems removed, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves smashed or minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. Soak the raisins in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes to plump them. Drain and set aside.
  2. While raisins are soaking, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining. Drain pasta and return to the pot.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add chard and garlic and season with black pepper. Cook, tossing, until chard wilts, between 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add sausage mixture to pot with pasta. Add raisins, pine nuts, Parmesan and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water. Toss to combine. Add enough additional pasta water to create a thin sauce to coat the pasta.
  5. To serve, divide among four pasta bowls and top with more cheese. Mangia!
* * * * *
Happy Easter, y’all!
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