This afternoon, I was scanning through Facebook while waiting in the car line. My feed is still filled with all things Fergueson. As someone who spent a good deal of time studying criminal justice and as the sister of a former police officer, my mind was screaming. Of course, that came to a halt when I picked Bria up. She had a thankful bag for Jack filled with various dry goods shared by his class. (Jack missed school today.) Of course she suggested that they share the bag since her thankful fruit cup was long gone. They laughed in the back seat as she found gummies in the shape of letters, “T” and “D.” They then made up their own “T.D.” song. Awesome sauce. Screaming it out at the top of their lungs. Here’s hoping everyone who heard them as we pulled off with the windows down assumed they were excited about Thanksgiving football. Unfortunately two little ones screaming those letters out of the back of the minivan sounded more to me like a young drunk on his first trip out to a strip club. I’m a good mom though so I didn’t point it out. It put a quick stop to me thinking I could save the world of our social ills anyway.

At home, I’ve started our Thanksgiving meal. I swear I think our kids like the night before as much as the day of Thanksgiving. It means movies and pizza while crazy mom makes a giant mess and sane Dad walks behind cleaning up the mess. This year, on the last island Thanksgiving, I’m feeling nostalgic. Arleigh has been helping me make Gran’s broccoli cheese rice casserole. She wanted to practice for her home ec class. (I do not need to hear from my mother or Susan Higdon about what I missed out on by taking media instead of home ec. I’m aware…) Anyway, it made me run to get the old brown apron out that is much shorter on me than it was on Gran. I’m also in bare feet running from here to there, talking to myself asking Arleigh if she understands what I’m doing and why just like she used to do for me. Saying things like, “The green broccoli and the red pimento just looks like Christmas.” That casserole, as horrible for you as it is, is my holiday comfort food. 

Since I have this handy phone, I thought I would share the recipe with you. It has changed a bit from the Cheez whiz and cream of everything soup that Gran used. That happens when 6 years of your life has been spent on islands and things aren’t always readily available. This is what works for us. 

I start with 3 cups of this stuff…

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Put it in 3 cups of boiling water and you somehow magically get 6 cups of cooked rice, exactly what you need in 5 minutes.

While the rice is settling, I dice and onion and a green pepper and saute it in butter. Arleigh was a little horrified by the amount…a stick but it mixes in with the rest of the casserole so it’s okay?

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As it gets tender and sweet in the pan, I pop a large bag of chopped broccoli in the microwave. About six minutes knocks the frost off.

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So, when the rice is cooked and onions and peppers are soft, I dump it all into my biggest stainless steel bowl. It doesn’t have to be a stainless steel bowl but it will taste better because that’s how Gran did it. Her favorite stainless steel bowl is now a sink in my mother’s house. (Sigh.) I’ll let you know how I feel about that another day. It is cute holding babies for first pictures but it’s hard to believe that no one will ever take corn off a cob in it again. Anyway, everyone in the pool with a few of my other favorite friends. 

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That would be a large jar of pimentos, drained; a small block of velveeta cheese hunked, and about 1/3 cup of cream. I also add some season salt and garlic powder to taste. I told you it’s not good for you. 

Mix it up. It’s heavy and you’ll get a workout. Then dump it into a 3-qt casserole that’s been sprayed with Pam. The final touch…I dump a sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers on top. 

Tomorrow I’ll bake this at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top looks brown and bubbly. Because it will be in the fridge, it takes longer. If I wanted it tonight, it would be about 30 minutes. If you dare to make it on a weeknight, add some cubed chicken and it’s a delicious and very unhealthy meal. So good on a cold night with a green salad though. 

Today I’m thankful for my little ohana. I thankful for my kiddos that cook with me and help me clean up. I’m thankful I was blessed to have a grandmother who was patient enough to teach me to cook. I’m super thankful for this inanimate object…

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It’s Gran’s recipe box. My Dee-Di made it. I’m from the south. Don’t judge my grandfather by what we called him. He was so super talented and the recipes that fill it make me happy. There are some in Gran’s handwriting, some in my Mom’s and some in mine when I had just learned to print. I hope one day my children will be just as thankful for it.

So I’m curious, what dish has to be on your Thanksgiving table? 

 

Gran's Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
Serves 8
It's a rich side dish perfect for any and every holiday meal.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 6 cups prepared white rice
  2. 1 large bag of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  3. 1 stick of butter
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 1 green pepper, diced
  6. 1 large jar pimento, chopped
  7. 1 small block velveeta cheese, hunked
  8. 1/3 c heavy cream
  9. 1/4 t salt
  10. 1/4 t garlic powder
  11. 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet, add onion and pepper and cook until soft. Add all ingredients except Ritz crackers to a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish. Put mixture in, top with crushed crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.
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