The Best Ever Broccoli “Puff” Casserole


This broccoli casserole is a must have at every one of our holiday family gatherings. We always have it at Thanksgiving. We sometimes even have it again at Christmas. It’s THAT good!

Everyone in my family has the original Broccoli Puff recipe. It’s posted in a “Taste of Country” cookbook that was released in 1987 by relatives and friends of ours that live in Washington State. I think I got it as a high school graduation present, or shortly there after. I can’t believe I have held on to this cookbook for almost 30 years!?

I have always been the one to bring the broccoli puff, for the last 20 years or so, because I make it a little different. I’ve added my special touches to it to make it my own.

The recipe is for a generous 9×13 casserole which is what you’ll need if your making it for a crowd! I always make a big batch because we all love to take leftovers home! It’s easy enough to divide in half to have  a reasonable casserole to have with dinner, or FOR dinner. You could add cooked ham, or chicken into the mix, for a one dish dinner casserole! You could also add cooked rice, too.  Enjoy 🙂

The Best Broccoli Puff Casserole EverThe photo above is just a small portion – Don’t let the size fool ya.
This is one big batch of a casserole!

Ingredients:

8 cups of chopped fresh broccoli, steamed until just crisp tender & drained
*(or) 40 ounces of frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup real mayonnaise (I prefer olive oil mayo)
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
3 full sleeves of Ritz crackers, crushed *divided
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted *divided
*1 sleeve of crackers & 1/2 stick of butter go IN the casserole
* 2 sleeves of crackers & 1 stick of butter goes ON TOP of the casserole

Optional Mushrooms: (steps below)
8 ounces sliced baby bella or button mushrooms
1 vidalia onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp cooking sherry

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 9×13 casserole by buttering the bottom and sides of the dish.

In a large mixing bowl combine the soup, mayo, eggs, cheddar cheese & seasonings.
Add the broccoli. Now, add 1 sleeve of ritz crackers, crushed and 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) of melted butter to the mixture. Give it a good stir. It’s going to be a lot, so it’s going to take a few minutes to get it thoroughly mixed. Spread the mixture into the buttered casserole dish.

If you love mushrooms, this next step makes the casserole even more divine!

In a medium sized pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil & 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onion, thyme and a good sprinkle of salt & black pepper.
Saute until onion is tender and starts to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and give a good stir. When the mushrooms have dried out, releasing all of their juices and have started to brown, add the sherry and let simmer until sherry has been absorbed. Set aside to cool. Add to broccoli mixture and combine thoroughly then add to casserole dish and top with crackers.

In a bowl, combine the rest of the crackers ( 2 sleeves crushed ) with remaining 8 Tbsp melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the buttery crackers over the top.

Bake for 1 hour ( if halving the recipe it will only take 45 minutes )

It should cool & set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy 🙂

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Veggie & Black Bean Chili


Veggie & Black Bean Chili

This chili is so packed full of veggies, you will not miss the meat – I promise you!

I have been known to eat a bowl of this chili like it’s salsa with a bag of tortilla chips! Don’t judge – just try it!

There is a lot of chopping involved and a lot of spices to gather, so I like to do all of that ahead of time. I throw all the veggies in a big bowl. I measure the spices in a measuring cup. I open all the cans. Drain & rinse the beans. Set everything aside until ready to use. You could easily do all of the prep work a day or 2 in advance.

As far as the broth / beer goes. Use whatever you have on hand or prefer. I would start with 1 1/2 cups of broth ( or 1 bottle / can of beer ) and let it cook down a little. If it’s too thick, add more. You can even use broth and beer! Taste and adjust it to your liking.

Here are the fresh veggies that you’ll need:
1 large or 2 small Red Onions, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Yellow Bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 or 2 Zucchini, depending on their size, quartered
( cut in half, then in half again) sliced thin
1 bag of Shredded Carrots –
( or grate your own – it will easily take 4-6 carrots )
16 oz Pre-sliced Button Mushrooms
( of course you can get whole mushrooms and slice them -or- quarter them if you want chunks! That is delish if you love mushrooms! )
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Here are the spices & seasonings you’ll need:
3 Tbsp Ground Chili
3 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp – 1 tsp Cayenne ( depending on heat preference )
2 tsp kosher salt
A few (like 12) good cranks of fresh cracked pepper
( or a tsp of black pepper )

By the way, you can make this seasoning ahead of time and store in a small mason jar and use it wherever you want chili / taco seasoning. It makes about 1/2 cup.

All Purpose Chili or Taco Seasoning.
All Purpose Chili or Taco Seasoning.

You’ll also need:
2 – 15 oz cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 – 29 oz can Tomato Puree
2  – 15.5 oz cans of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 – 2 cups Vegetable -or- Chicken Broth ( or a Bottle of Beer )
3 – 4 Tbsp Olive or Veggie Oil
2 tsp Salt & 1/2 tsp pepper – for cooking veggies
Optional: 1 bag of frozen sweet white corn ( I use it, depending on my mood )

Garnish and/or serve with any of these options:
Sour cream
Shredded Cheese
Avocado sliced
Fresh Cilantro
Finely chopped Red Onion
Chopped Jalapeno
Rice, Quinoa or Orzo
Saltines or Oyster Crackers
Tortilla Chips
Corn Chips
Cornbread

This is what you’ll need to do:

1) In a large stock pot with a lid, drizzle in about 2 Tbsp oil then all of the chopped veggies. Toss in 2 tsp of kosher salt & a few good cranks on the pepper mill.

2) Sauté veggies over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may need to add more oil if it feels dry. Keeping the lid on will help with the veggies sweat down faster. It could take up to 20 minutes.

3) When the veggies are tender/crisp, add in the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato puree, all of the chili seasonings. Stir & mix everything together.

4) Add in the broth ( or beer ) and the black beans – add corn if using. Thoroughly mix and let simmer over low heat for a good 30 minutes.

You’ll want to the lid partially covering to pot. This will allow the chili to cook down a little bit, but not too fast. It will also save your stovetop from splatters! You’ll also want to go in there and stir it to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot!

5) After 30 minutes. Taste it, carefully it will be hot, and adjust it to your liking.

Make sure it’s at the thickness you want, too! Some like it thick & chunky. Some like it more soupy. If it’s too thick, add more liquid – if you want it thicker, let it cook down a little more with the lid off! If you want it even thicker, you could always add some masa flour to it. I would do a Tbsp at a time and give it some time to let it do it’s job! Just don’t use straight flour. Leftovers thicken up quite a bit, so keep that in mind as well.

6) Top each bowl with preferred garnishing. Serve with either cornbread or tortilla chips on the side. I usually have everything set out in bowls on the counter so each person can make it the way they want.

It freezes nicely. I just put any leftovers in a freezer safe Ziploc bag. Lay it down flat to store in freezer. When you want to have it again, just thaw in the fridge first. Pour it back into a pot and slowly reheat it.

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP {Copycat Panera Bread}


Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This is my daughter’s “Go-To” Soup whenever we visit Panera Bread. Of course she has to have it in a bread bowl, too! When I told her I was making this for dinner, she literally jumped for joy!!! This recipe is super easy to throw together…

Panera Bread Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
The original recipe had barely enough to feed 4, so I went ahead and converted it into a more realistic pot of soup that will be enough to feed four, and maybe have some leftovers! We like leftovers, so if you double it you’ll have some for lunch the next day! – OR – you could throw some ham or chicken in there, top it with pastry dough or pie crust and make a potpie!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock**
3 broccoli crowns, chopped (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
16 ounces fresh grated cheddar cheese
*I like to use half sharp cheddar & half mild cheddar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: Seasoned Salt

**I like to use a jarred roasted chicken base (Better Than Bouillon is my fave!) If you have that, use 4 tsp of the base with 4 cups of water in place of the chicken stock.

NOTE: I chop the broccoli into different sizes, so there are bigger pieces and some that will just fall apart into the soup, but you want small bite size pieces and smaller – Also, I like to use quite a bit of broccoli, so this isn’t exact, use as much as you like. I don’t use the stems. I even take my knife and cut off the very outer edge of one of half of one of the broccoli crowns, so it fills the soup with as much broccoli as I can get in there! This is why I get so much broccoli – make sure  to get the crowns, too. Don’t waste your money on the weight of the stems that you aren’t going to use anyway!

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Saute the onion and carrots in butter and a light sprinkle of S & P – until softened, and only slightly browned.

2) Stir in the flour and stir everything together for a good 2 minutes, get that flour taste cooked out!

3) Slowly whisk in the half and half and chicken stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring constantly.

4) Add the broccoli. Simmer on medium low for about 25 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Stirring occasionally.

5) Add nutmeg and cheese. Let the cheese melt, Give it a good stir, then taste. Add S & P to taste. I’ve been known to use a little seasoned salt to give it a little extra “oomph”.

6) Serve in individual bread bowls. I used mini boule – A regular bowl will work, too I suppose… I recommend the bread bowl though!

mini boule bread bowl
mini boule bread bowl

7) If it thickens up as it sits, just toss in a little bit of chicken stock to the desired consistency.

Panera Bread Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Panera Bread Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli “Puff” Casserole


Broccoli “Puff” Casserole | Blue Eyed Soul Food | Broccoli and Cheese Casserole Topped with a Buttery Cracker Topping

This is one of those casseroles that has been in our family for MANY years!
I have adapted it over the years and this is the casserole that has everyone craving it during the holidays.
You could easily adapt it to your family, too.
Add rice. Add chicken or ham if you’d like!
It is one of those decadent dishes, so be prepared to devour a hearty, tummy filling, comforting dish 🙂

Now with that said, I am posting this as I make it every year for the holidays. It makes A LOT! This will feed a hungry crowd

It’s easy enough to adjust and cut the ingredients in half.

You will need a Large Mixing Bowl
and a buttered 9 x 13 Casserole Baking Dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In mixing bowl combine:
40 oz Broccoli Florets* ( If frozen, heat through until just tender – don’t over cook or use frozen)
2 cans Cream Mushroom Soup
1 Cup Mayo
4 Eggs
3 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Cups Crushed Ritz Crackers
2 TBSP Melted Butter
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Granulated Garlic

Optional:
Sauté 8 oz Sliced Mushrooms with Half Vidalia Onion.
with butter, salt & pepper, a pinch of thyme until onions are tender and mushrooms have released their moisture.
Deglaze with a good splash of cooking sherry, white wine or white wine vinegar. Continue to sauté until lightly browned
Let cool and add to the broccoli mixture.

Evenly spread the mixture into the buttered casserole dish

Top with more crushed Ritz crackers – I find that 2 sleeves mixed with a stick of melted butter cover the top nicely!

Bake for 1 hour until bubbly and crackers have browned a bit.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving

*I have used a mix of chopped broccoli with broccoli florets/crowns. If you use spears just go through and break them down a little bit. Baby broccoli florets work the best. Make sure you don’t overcook the broccoli before adding them to the casserole or it will get mushy.

Enjoy!!!