Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Broccoli-Rice Bake

Next to cooking, tutoring, and maybe quilting, the thing I really love to do is read. I'm not a heavy duty, philosophical, non-fiction (for the most part) reader.  Pure escapism is where I get my jollies. It's my "Calgon, take me away" fix. I especially love good detective and suspense novels. But recently I strayed a bit from my norm and read an incredibly funny memoir about....drum roll!  I just finished Julie&Julia...My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Seems young Julie, back shortly after 9/11, was feeling some dissatisfaction with her career, or lack there of, and decides she should take on the project of cooking Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume 1. And she is going to do it in one year....524 recipes. And she is going to blog about it. This after a full day of work that wasn't very satisfying. What was she??? Nuts??!! The book regales the reader with stories from that experience. And the book is also now a movie being released this summer with Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the movie in August. But be warned, Julie's language is a bit bawdy.

Personally, I am sticking to the recipes from the Farm Journal's cookbooks. Few surprises, and I understand the processes these hardy farm women used. And the majority of people I cook for will eat these dishes. Such as the following.

This is a delicious side that dresses up a main meat dish such as chicken, chops, or fish, but is also great as a meatless entree. And as a dish for a pot luck, you can't beat it. I did some updating to the original recipe, both to add flavor and nutrition. This is one of my hubby's favorite dishes. (Farm Journal's Best-Ever Recipes, published in 1977.)


2 TBS. butter or half butter and half olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery chopped
3 cloves garlic grated
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth (if you want to make this vegetarian use vegetable broth)
1 to 1 1/2 cups packed grated cheddar cheese
4 oz. cubed Velveeta (trust me on this)
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 medium to large heads of fresh broccoli chopped in large pieces and cooked until just barely tender (it cooks more in the casserole)

Saute onion, celery, and garlic in butter in a large saucepan until the veggies are very tender. Combine soup, broth and cheese. Add to the saucepan and heat until the cheeses are melted. Combine rice and broccoli in a very large bowl. Gently stir in the soup/cheese mixture. Fold until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole or 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Notes: This casserole has many layers of flavor. The brown rice and fresh broccoli add another layer of nutrition. It's side dish that can do double duty as a vegetarian main dish. Hurray for versatility.  Enjoy!

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