Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole

I put a poll on my Instagram stories a couple of weeks ago asking my followers what kind of recipes they were looking for right now. The options were main dish, dessert, side dish, and appetizer. Side dish was the unanimous winner! That is one thing I’m always looking to change up too so I was happy that I got to make this Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole that reminds me so much of Texas.

Growing up in East Texas, this is one of those dishes that you’d find at every potluck and on every holiday table. Year round! Us Texans really like to put cheese on just about every savory food you can think of and broccoli is no exception. The broccoli rice I grew up with was full of processed cheese and sometimes canned cream soup. It was good but I definitely wanted to freshen things up with my version.

The homemade creamy cheese sauce is perfection! It’s very easy to make and isn’t that much harder than opening a can of cream soup. You mix fresh broccoli florets and cooked rice into the cheese sauce then top with a crunchy breadcrumb mixture. My kids who usually choke down broccoli absolutely loved this! My daughter said this is the only way she will eat broccoli from now on. Ha!

My Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole is such a great holiday side dish because it will go with any main dish like ham, prime rib, or turkey. Serve with chicken any time of the year for a complete meal too. I hope you enjoy another little piece of my Texas heart with this easy, delicious side dish!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale Dec 17-26: rice, butter, flour, sharp cheddar, white cheddar

Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

6 cups fresh broccoli florets, cut small
2 cups cooked rice
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup gruyere or white cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
2/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11×7 (or similar sized) baking pan by spraying with cooking spray.

Make topping by combining 2 tablespoons melted butter, panko and parmesan in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the half-and-half and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Add ¾ cup of cheddar and ¾ cup of gruyere then stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add broccoli and cooked rice to the cheese sauce and stir until combined.

Transfer to baking pan and sprinkle remaining cheddar and gruyere cheese to the top. Pour chicken broth over the top. Cover tightly with non-stick aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle breadcrumb topping evenly over the casserole. Place back into the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until brown.

Notes:
1. Make sure broccoli is cut into small bite-sized pieces so that it cooks through.
2. If needed, turn on broiler after 10 minutes to get topping browner.

Winter Cobb Salad with Citrus Dijon Vinaigrette

We had the best Thanksgiving ever this year. My sister and her family who live in Arkansas came to visit us in Utah! We have lived in Utah for almost 10 years and have never spent it with my side of the family. My kids don’t have cousins their age here and it was so special for them to have their younger Arkansas cousins here to hang out with. We got almost 2 feet of snow while they were here so we ended up watching LOTS of movies, played in the snow, ate so much good food, laughed a lot, and just enjoyed each other. I miss them already!

Speaking of food, is anyone else craving something healthy after Thanksgiving? I definitely indulged for the holiday and have no regrets but my body has been begging for something light and healthy. I have had this salad on my recipe idea list for a long time and am so glad I finally had the chance to make it. It is loaded with healthy ingredients like pomegranate seeds and oranges. Y’all know I had to add some bacon to it to stay true to myself! Ha! The Citrus Dijon Vinaigrette might be the star of the show though. My son hates fruit on his salad and hates vinaigrettes even more but he tried this and loved it so much. I felt like I scored a touchdown when he approved! We had grilled chicken and roasted veggies on the side and it was so healthy and satisfying. If you’re looking to add some greens to your menu this week, my Winter Cobb Salad is exactly what you need!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of Dec 3-9: Salad greens/lettuce, oranges, bacon, eggs, Dijon, olive oil

Winter Cobb Salad with Citrus Dijon Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

5-6 oz salad greens
3-4 sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
1 orange, segmented
2-3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup slivered almonds (or chopped pecans)
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons honey
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together until well combined and set aside.
Add greens to large bowl or platter. Add bacon, pomegranate, oranges, eggs, feta, and almonds on top. Drizzle vinaigrette on top then toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Note: Add grilled chicken for a complete meal. Additional ingredient options: avocado, cucumber, pears.

Rosemary Sweet Potato Hash

Here’s another roasted vegetable dish perfect for Thanksgiving! I made my Rosemary Sweet Potato Hash today on ABC4’s Good Things Utah and it was so fun to share. Everyone at the studio loved it! Watch me make it here.

I have been making this for years! Growing up, I absolutely hated sweet potatoes or yams. The only time I ever had them was at Thanksgiving and my mom (who was usually a great cook) used canned yams and covered them in marshmallows. Yuck! About 7 years ago I was really into Crossfit and of course started the paleo diet too (that didn’t last long-ha). I was looking to add variety to my diet and decided to give sweet potatoes another chance. I came up with this hash and fell in love! How can you not love them when they are roasted with bacon, onions, mushrooms, and loads of fresh rosemary???

This hash goes perfectly with grilled chicken, fish, and even with a fried egg. I make it year-round but it is such a great addition to Thanksgiving. I made it last year instead of Sweet Potato Casserole and didn’t miss the super sweet traditional side at all! I’d honestly rather save my calories for dessert or a cheesy appetizer. If you add this to your holiday table, make sure to comment here and let me know what you think or tag me on social media!

Rosemary Sweet Potato Hash

  • Servings: 8+
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup pre-cooked crumbled bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Toss all ingredients together on a sheet pan and spread to single layer. Bake for 20-25 min or until potatoes are tender (stir halfway through cooking).
I love cooking with host Nicea DeGering!

Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Garlic Aioli

It’s brussel sprout season! Who’s cheering with me?? If you aren’t cheering with me just give me a minute to tell you that these aren’t your mama’s brussel sprouts. These could easily turn a hater into a lover! Crispy parmsan and panko crusted brussel sprouts with an amazing aioli loaded with roasted garlic. Yum!

I’ve loved brussel sprouts since I was a kid believe it or not. My mom prepared them terribly though! She’d boil them to death then drown them in butter and salt. I ate them as a kid but never knew just how incredible brussel sprouts could taste until I roasted them. My favorite pieces are the super dark almost burnt ones!

You could serve these as is roasted with the crispy coating and they are so good but the aioli takes them to the next level. Maybe a few levels! Also, roasting garlic is so simple! You just need a 400 degree oven, whole heads of garlic, a sharp knife, olive oil, and a piece of tin foil. I make it all the time and add it to mashed potatoes!

This is all you need to make roasted garlic!

My Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Garlic Aioli would be the perfect addition to your holiday table! It could be a appetizer or a side dish. I love traditional sides but every year I throw in something new for variety. You’re going to love this one!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of September 12-18: brussel sprouts, olive oil, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, butter

Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Garlic Aioli

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
For the aioli:
2 whole heads garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon
Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off ends of garlic heads and place on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up and seal into a packet. Place in oven to roast for 45-60 minutes. It’s done when garlic is brown and soft. Set aside to cool.
Place brussel sprouts in a large bowl then drizzle with olive oil and melted butter. Add salt, pepper, parmesan and panko. Toss to combine.
Pour onto a large baking sheet and spread out to single layer. Place in oven and roast for 15-25 minutes or until browned and tender.
While brussel sprouts are roasting, make the aioli. Remove garlic cloves by either squeezing or using a small knife to pry out. Place on flat surface and mash using the tines of a fork.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Dijon, and cayenne. Add garlic then stir to combine.

When brussel sprouts are done, serve immediately with the roasted garlic aioli as a dipping sauce or drizzle.
Note: Fresh grated good quality parmesan cheese works best.

Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I was just thinking about this mac ‘n’ cheese that I created last year and realized that it wasn’t on my blog yet. Yikes! I developed the recipe last year for a Good Things Utah segment and it is one of my favorite segments to date. Watch me make it here!

Getting ready on the set of ABC4’s Good Things Utah!

So many of my friends have made this and loved it. You could definitely say its “grown-up” or “fancy” mac ‘n’ cheese. It requires a bit of effort but is sooooo worth it! The combo of roasted butternut squash, crispy bacon, creamy gruyere, and fresh rosemary is perfection! This is amazing alongside roasted chicken or pork and is the perfect side dish to take to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. You will definitely impress your family and guests with this elevated take on classic mac ‘n’ cheese! If you make it (or any of my recipes) please comment on my blog and share my recipes on social media. It will help me grow!

Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

1 butternut squash – peeled, de-seeded, and cubed (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup shallots, finely diced
1 stick (8 TB) butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (1%, 2%, or whole)
2 cups grated gruyere cheese, divided
2 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
16 oz cavatappi pasta
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.
2. Place cubed squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven to roast for 20 minutes or until pieces are fork tender. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash half of the pieces (doesn’t have to be completely smooth). Leave on tray and set aside.
3. When water boils for pasta, add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water then cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and place on a towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet.
5. Turn the heat for the skillet to medium then add diced shallots. Cook until translucent.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the shallots. Once melted, whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. Cook for about 1 minute or until the flour starts to brown. Whisk in milk with a slow, steady stream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
7. Once the sauce thickens (coats the back of a spoon), add 1 ½ cups of gruyere and 1 ½ cups of cheddar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and about ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir until cheese is melted then turn off the heat.
8. Add rosemary, bacon, butternut squash and drained pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
9. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Add panko and parmesan and stir to combine.
10. Add remaining gruyere and cheddar to the pasta then sprinkle the panko mixture on top.
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until topping starts to brown.
The GTU crew devoured my mac ‘n’ cheese after the show wrapped! Love these people!

Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits

I know, I know it’s about time these cheesy pillows of perfection made it onto the blog! If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, you’ve seen these already. I created them last summer on Good Things Utah and I am so proud of them! GTU asked me to make something “southern” and my mind immediately went to biscuits. I had to add a little Texas twist and my Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits were formed. Watch me make them here!

The “hardest” part of making these is roasting the pepper but I promise it’s so easy. Don’t let it intimidate you. Do it once and you’ll be a pro! Make sure to really char them because it will make it easier to get the skin off. Also, they are not spicy! That’s one of the reasons you see poblano peppers in many of my dishes. They are only slightly spicy with a natural smokiness. They add SO much flavor without the overwhelming spice that a jalapeno or serrano can add.

These biscuits go with just about anything! Serve them with chili, with breakfast, or a side dish at a BBQ. I made them recently and served cream sausage gravy over the top. It was next level! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make plain biscuits and gravy after having that.

Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits

  • Servings: Makes 15 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

2 C all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
2 TB sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ C melted butter plus 2 TB melted butter, divided
1 C milk (whole milk preferred)
1 poblano pepper, roasted and finely diced
1 TB olive oil
1 small yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
1 C shredded Colby jack cheese

Directions

Roast poblano pepper by placing on a baking sheet under the broiler. Rotate the pepper every few minutes until all sides are blistered and blackened. Immediately place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave for 15-20 minutes to steam. Turn off broiler and preheat oven to 450. (Can also be roasted on a hot grill or open flame)

While the pepper is steaming, add oil to a small skillet and heat to medium high. Place diced onion in skillet and cook until onions are browned then set aside.

Peel skin off of pepper by scraping with the sharp edge of a knife then remove stem and seeds. Finely dice the pepper and set aside.

Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add ½ C melted butter and milk. Stir until just moistened.

Fold in peppers, onions, and shredded cheese, being careful not to over mix.

Immediately drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet (silicone baking mat preferred). Brush tops with remaining melted butter.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges turn to golden brown. Makes 15 biscuits.

*Note: These do not spread much so you should be able to fit all 15 on one large baking sheet.

With creamy sausage gravy. Game changer!