Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Perfect Thanksgiving

My mom can't cook.
Don't worry. I asked her for permission to say that. {She may not be able to cook, but she DID raise me right!}

The truth is, she adds her own ingredients to recipes, puts the mixed product in the wrong sized dishes for baking and has burned a few dishes in her day.

What she lacks in the cooking arena, though, she makes up for in cleaning charm.
She is the best hostess you have ever met. She will give you a warm welcome, offer a drink and just happen to have some crackers and cheese ready for you. She loves pithy {e.g. "Wine is a serving of fruit! I'll have two!"} or customized party napkins {like Other Mama- her mom} and always has the perfect serving dish. No one ever felt like a stranger in our home... just as long as she didn't cook.

But there is one dish that she can make like a Paula Dean and Martha Stewart combined {let's call her Paula Stewart} that's a warm Southern delicacy: Broccoli and Cheese Casserole.
She made it every Thanksgiving and there was never any left. Paula would be so proud.

Every year, while we were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the smell of warm rice and warmer Cheez Whiz filled our home. And we loved it! Even the smell of broccoli in the microwave was wonderful because you knew it would soon be swimming in cheese- the way God and nature intended it.

We would load up in the car, drive 30 minutes to Uncle William's farm and eat with the entire Hart family. We often played "frisbee around the pond" {in what would later be named Frisbee Golf by other people with less creative naming abilities}, ping pong with a complete tourney bracket, horseshoes and the wonderful American sport of Football Watching.

When lunch time finally came, we loaded up our Chinet plates, headed to the kids card table and laughed at whatever was goofy that year: a new uncle, a new hairdo or the wettest attempt to retrieve a frisbee from the pond {I AM from Alabama; you know that right? We don't let good frisbees go to waste!}. We had the usual fare: turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, Sister Schubert rolls, beans and tons of desserts. But the broccoli and cheese was a staple. And I was very proud it came from our home.

In honor of Mary's Giving up on a Perfect Thanksgiving, I'd love to share the family recipe with you. My Thanksgiving won't be entirely perfect this year because I won't be with my mom and dad, but Thanksgiving would never be the same without the Broccoli and Cheese Casserole.
I may give up on perfection, but I am a sucker for tradition.

Rhonda's Famous Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
Ingredients
ingredients
- 1 big bag of frozen cut broccoli {preferably florets; I'm pretty sure I paid 1/2 of that price FYI}
- 16 oz can of Cheez Whiz {you're loving this already, aren't you?} {And that CW was all they had at Tar-jhay. I tasted fine, but it's not the norm.}
- 1 can cream of mushroom or chicken soup
- 1 box Uncle Ben's long grain wild rice {NOT the quick cook kind} {I used mushroom because I didn't have cream of mushroom soup- my soup preference.}

Directions
{Here's the truth: I was busy with one child crying, one applying stickers to furniture and a sick-ish husband, so I forgot to take pictures in the steps. You can get this, though. I promise.}
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cook rice according to package directions.
3) Cook broccoli in microwave 8 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of water, then cook 5 minutes more.
4) Stir Cheez Whiz and soup together.
5) Drain broccoli.
6) Pam {You like that? A verb!} casserole dish then add broccoli, rice and cheese mix {in that order}. {Proof Jason was sick: his prescription meds made the picture.}
Ready for oven
7) Bake for 30 minutes until it's bubbly and beautiful. Bubbly
* Can add chunks of chicken if you want to get all crazy with it, but why mess with perfection?

Isn't that wonderfully easy? I wish you could taste some. It is really SO simple and SO delicious.
YUM!
So thank you, Mom! Not only for the wonderful recipe, but also for teaching us that Thanksgiving perfection is not in the food or the cooking, but in the warmth of family and friends.
I'm thankful that we have such wonderful traditions, years of funny stories and never-a-dull-moment, non-perfect Thanksgivings.
But I'm most thankful that Dad cooked the other 364 days of the year.
{Love you, mom! Thanks for letting us laugh with you. You are a good sport!}

For more imperfect dinners, family traditions and surely a fried turkey fire, head over to Mary's Giving Up On a Perfect Thanksgiving. She has wonderful prizes today and you can add your stories, too!

18 comments:

Diana said...

Oooh...thanks for the recipe! We're going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I offered to make something and my MIL asked that I make a veg that Logan, Pat and Cate (and myself - that's how she put it, with me last as an aside. But I know she didn't mean it mean, it was funny) would eat. As the kids, Logan especially, usually eats their veggies unadorned (steamed broccoli, black-eyed peas, raw baby carrots [NOT COOKED-CRUNCHY!]) and we usually prefer fruit, I was looking for a "fancier" recipe to make. Someone at work suggested a cheesy broccoli and rice but I didn't have a recipe. Now I'm stealing yours! Thanks Hillary! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Diana said...

Oooh...thanks for the recipe! We're going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I offered to make something and my MIL asked that I make a veg that Logan, Pat and Cate (and myself - that's how she put it, with me last as an aside. But I know she didn't mean it mean, it was funny) would eat. As the kids, Logan especially, usually eats their veggies unadorned (steamed broccoli, black-eyed peas, raw baby carrots [NOT COOKED-CRUNCHY!]) and we usually prefer fruit, I was looking for a "fancier" recipe to make. Someone at work suggested a cheesy broccoli and rice but I didn't have a recipe. Now I'm stealing yours! Thanks Hillary! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Diana said...

Oops! Not sure why that went twice! Feel free to delete one!

servantsheart.wordpress.com said...

Wow...are you sure we don't have the same mother? I laughed out loud when I read this because we have long teased my mother about her not-cooking skills. She has a magnet on her refrigerator that says "Don't Assume I Cook."

BUT...every holiday that woman whips up the best BROCCOLI CASSEROLE ever! It is always requested and she always comes through.

Goodness...I love that woman. Thanks for making me smile today!

VanderbiltWife said...

I LOVE Pam as a verb. So much easier than "spray with cooking spray."

I'm a little too into healthier whole foods this year to make this...but if someone served it to me, I don't think I would refuse. :)

The Incredible Shrinking Woman said...

I have to tell you, the cheese whiz is enough to sell me! It looks wonderful, and I bet it tastes as good as it looks!

And LOVED the frisbee part. I know how that is. There were many a summer afternoon we searched through corn fields (no lakes) to retrieve our UFO- Un Findable Object. Cause we gt 3 a summer, and we always ended the summer with none. So we looked if they got lost before we ran out of gravity defying fun!!!

Anonymous said...

Hillary,
Barbara Thomas gave me this recipe!! We should give her the credit!! I have got it down to a science, now ...
In my defense about not cooking--maybe it was because I was teaching school full-time and going to school at night to get my master's degree??? My job was to put on some veggies to go with the grilled meat, right??
Love you, Mom

Tami said...

I am sending this recipe to my friend Barb in Minnesota...her motto is "I'll eat anything with cheese on it!".

We don't have broccoli on our Thanksgiving menu...yet...this may sneak it's way onto the table. I may be tempted to add a little HOmemade Gourmet Sunday Roast seasoning to it [in my head...it would be very good this way :)]

Loving the sharing!

Lori said...

I'm all for not-perfect holiday moments! Looks like a yummy recipe - thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

You know you're from the south when you take anything green and either fry it or smother it with cheeze whiz...and I love the verb pam.Happy Thanksgiving!

Carrie said...

Aw, your mother sounds so sweet.
Broccoli and cheese are meant to be together (I love broccoli and cheese hot pockets...mmm).

Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

YUM!! That looks fantastic... and, none of the calories and fat consumed on Thanksgiving count, RIGHT?!

Mrs. Nurse Boy

Donna said...

Consider it done. New addition to our Thanksgiving. My dad is not the biggest brocoli fan so we never had it too much, BUT who wouldn't like it smothered in cheese whiz! Holla! P.S. I'm hosting it at my house this year. I take it you are staying in H-town as well.

holly said...

yum!bf i read the caption, i was going to say that i really hope u didnt pay that price for brocoli!

Melanie said...

Hi HIllary, I'm going to be like your mom - my kids are going to be the ones who one day in the far future will be coming home from college, and they'll wish that their mom could coook delicious home-cooked meals. Maybe I'll learn by then:)And they'll definitely be able to count on the fun part of coming home.
Loved this recipe
HOpe you have a great Thanksgiving!
melanie

Marge said...

sounds delicious! i make it all the time but not with those ingredients. --and mine isn't very good at all.
i bet y'alls is so much better!!! i'm going to have to try this. yum!

Domestic Chicky said...

I am seriously going to make this - not for thanksgiving, because heaven knows we dontneed one more calorie that day, but soon...and at BlissDom I will show you the dimple that pops up on my thigh because of it :)

(3 more momths! Squeee!)
Deanna

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

A belated thank you for linking up. :) It's funny that as I was reading your post, I was assuming that your broccoli and cheese casserole was the same as mine. But then, there's your recipe and the pics - and wow, it's not!

I'm sure your mom's is still good, though - especially since you also have Cheez Whiz. I mean, how can anything with Cheez Whiz go bad?!

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xoxo,
Hillary

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