By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

My husband, who has always enjoyed puttering around the kitchen when he’s had the time, has recently taken a new interest in cooking.

In the mornings, I often find him propped up in bed with a cookbook or with his laptop, scouring the Internet for new recipes. For Christmas, he asked Santa for exactly two things: an electric griddle and a dough cutter.

Charlie has always liked to fiddle with breads and desserts. His focaccia and creme brulee skills are known far and wide. A couple of months ago, he mastered homemade biscuits, and the children and I are treated to those at least once a week now.

And, of course, he’s always been the griller in the family.

But he has never, ever, been a big fan of casseroles.

Oh, he’ll eat them. (In fact, he usually has seconds, which I think means he secretly likes casseroles, but doesn’t want to admit it.)

At one point in our marriage, if I mentioned the word “casserole” he’d roll his eyes and pretend to gag. So I stopped calling them “casseroles” and started calling them “bakes.” When he’d ask what was for dinner, I’d answer, “Chicken and pasta bake,” and he’d nod in approval.

No one, then, was more surprised than I when Charlie announced last week that he wanted to try Paula Deen’s recipe for, of all things, a broccoli casserole. I had to clean my ears twice to make sure I’d heard him correctly.

I bought the ingredients and he in turn made one delicious, cheesy casserole. We enjoyed it with chicken one night and the next morning, he made another to take to a potluck Christmas luncheon here at the Journal.

I noticed on the ongoing grocery list on the refrigerator that’s he’s added frozen broccoli and Cheddar cheese. My guess is that we’ll be enjoying this dish during the holidays.

Broccoli Casserole

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups crushed Ritz crackers

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, mayonnaise, cheese, soup and eggs. Mix well with a metal spoon. Place mixture in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with crushed crackers and pour melted butter evenly over crackers. Bake 35 minutes or until set and browned.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/ garden editor.

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