Fast forward to 2005. I was living in Roanoke, VA and working for the Girl Scouts in the marketing department. My boss at the time (Now friend too, I'm proud to say), Jen, always had the best recipes, cooking ideas, and always brought in amazing noms for the company pot lucks. We often talked about, scratch that...laughed about my lack of culinary ability in the kitchen. I was also getting to a point in my life where I knew I needed to grow up and stop living like a college girl - I just didn't know where to start. Fortunately for me, Jen did.
Jen is the type of gal that is always thinking. She always has 20 different plates spinning and she is one of the most thoughtful people I know. Wrap that up all together and you get one fantastic person. When it came time to exchange Christmas gifts that year, she gave me one of the most thoughtful (Homemade) gifts that to this day, I've ever received...
My very own cookbook.
One of my favorite recipes from Jen's collection is the Rice Broccoli Casserole that she adapted from her friend, Lana. With fall knocking on my door, it is the perfect cozy homemade meal to make for a cool fall evening or a snowy winter day. It is super, super easy and oh so cheesy and delicious. Here are the details...
What you'll need:
1 package chopped frozen broccoli (You can also use fresh)
1 8 oz jar of Cheese Wiz
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup of a 7 oz box of instant rice
Here's how you'll make it:
Cook rice and drain. Cook broccoli without salt and drain. Add cheese wiz to rice and broccoli while hot and stir well until completely blended. Add both soups and stir well again until blended. Add the rest of the ingredients including salt and pepper to your liking and stir well. Place in casserole dish evenly and sprinkle with paprika.
*I also top mine with some mild shredded cheddar cheese but that's optional.
Cover the dish and bake at 350 for one hour.
Voila! Done! Scoop, serve, eat.
I make this many, many times during the cooler months and we usually eat off it for a few days. It's a great dish - very versatile and it can also be served as a side item with other foods you're serving. I've also taken it as a dish for Thanksgiving meals with friends. All in all, it's a staple of mine for fall and winter. You have to give it a try - trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Jen, thank you for sharing your love and recipes with me and for giving me the opportunity to spread my wings and fly. You are truly a great lady.
With fall and winter right around the corner, what are some of your favorite meals for the season?