Broccoli Casserole

I was volun-told to make a Broccoli Casserole for a Christmas luncheon at work last week. In the South, a typical Broccoli Casserole contains a boat-load of mayonnaise. I think it is gross. I wasn’t too happy about having to make the dish, but set out to create a Broccoli Casserole recipe I would be proud to serve to people. I wanted to make one that had way less mayo and fat, but still maintained the essential elements of the dish. I think my revamped Broccoli Casserole turned out great. It was creamy, but didn’t have an overpowering mayonnaise taste. I really liked it. I will definitely add this side dish to my repertoire.

Broccoli Casserole

2 12 oz. packages frozen broccoli florets
1 10.5 oz. can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use mild)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a casserole dish (a 9 X 13-inch will work) with cooking spray.

Cook the broccoli according to the package directions (I just zap it in a bowl in the microwave) and drain well in a colander. 

In a large bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, egg, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the drained broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly.

Mix the crushed Ritz crackers with the melted butter. Spread evenly over the top of the broccoli mixture. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until nicely browned.


Hot Water Cornbread

 

This is another favorite from my childhood. It’s a Southern classic. My Dad used to add in shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced onion, and minced jalapenos to his hot water cornbread mixture before frying. Experiment with the add-ins. The possibilities are endless. I like my hot water cornbread simple, plain. I’ve been known to dip mine in ketchup, but others like them drizzled with honey are maple syrup. They go great with a nice pot of pinto beans.

Hot Water Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying

Add about an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into patties by forming a ball with about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then flattening it into a 1/2-inch patty with your fingers. Fry the patties in the hot oil in small batches, turning often until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.


Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.


Perfect Fried Okra


Fried okra reminds me of my childhood in Texas. We always grew okra in our garden and it seemed like we ate okra every day in summer. This is the absolute best fried okra recipe. Simple and to the point. The okra turns out crispy (and not slimy at all) every time. I recommend this recipe for anyone who has never tried okra before, or who thinks they don’t like okra. After having okra fried this way, you will love it.

Perfect Fried Okra

1 pound fresh okra
1 quart water
1/4 cup salt
cornmeal
oil for frying

Wash okra well; drain. Cut off stems and tips. Slice into small pieces.

Combine salt and water. I know it seems like a lot of salt, but trust me, the salt draws out the slime and helps make the end result crispy. Soak okra in salt water for 30 minutes.  Drain okra in a colander. Rinse well (it will still be somewhat slimy, but that’s ok because it will allow the cornmeal to adhere) and drain again.

Roll the drained okra in enough cornmeal to coat all pieces.

Fry in batches in hot oil until golden and crisp.  Drain on paper towels.