Anyone who knows me knows that I love festive occasions, and I especially love the fall and winter holidays. Holidays combine the traditions and history of our culture with the memories of our childhoods.
My mom loves the fall and winter holidays, too. She’s the reason I enjoy cooking and why I pay attention to things such as setting a table properly even for the most casual of meals. She built many happy holiday memories for us.
One holiday tradition that Mom always did for Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings when I was growing up is making us a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Another is her absolutely delicious Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, which always made any meal a special one.
When Googling around for some new ideas and/or ways to make holiday meals easier, I came across a recipe from McCormick for Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole.
This recipe appealed to me for several reasons:
- It calls for frozen vegetables (fresh could be used, I’m sure, but fresh frozen are typically more affordable)
- It can be made up to a day ahead
- It reminds me of the yummy flavors of my mom’s Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, but unlike that dish, it doesn’t have to be made at the last minute.
So, I decided to give it a try. Of course, me being me, I made a few changes and adjustments, making the dish a bit lighter and more suiting our personal tastes.
Let me tell you, peoples — it was YUMMY! Mom said she likes it better than her own Broccoli with Cheese Sauce! I’m not sure about that, but it is mighty good.
McCormick’s suggests two seasoning variations — either all Italian Seasoning or a mixture of lemon pepper and basil seasoning. I went the lemon pepper and basil seasoning route, as I felt that would complement my Thanksgiving menu better, but the Italian seasoning would be yummy, as well.
I also think that a two pound mixture of almost any vegetables of your choice would be yummy, too!
And while it’s too early to tell, I’m thinking I may have started a new tradition with this dish! 🙂
So the next time you’re looking for a yummy but easy side dish, give this Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole a try — it just may become a new tradition for you, too!
Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole (Serves 10)
- 1 or 2 slices wheat bread run through a food processor and turned into crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (VEGETARIANS: Substitute another cheese)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning PLUS 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves, mixed together OR 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen cauliflower florets, thawed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 or 3 tablespoons flour
- Squirt of yellow mustard
- Sprinkling of garlic powder to taste
- Sprinkling of coarse ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 4 ounces reduced-fat (Neufchâtel) cream cheese, cubed
- 2 or 3 ounces shredded or sliced cheeses of choice (I used a bit of reduced-fat American cheese, Meunster, and cheddar, because that’s what I had on hand)
- In a large non-stick skillet or Dutch oven, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons butter over medium to medium low heat until onion is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in flour and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (either the lemon pepper/basil blend or the Italian seasoning), lightly browning flour. Stir in a squirt of yellow mustard. Gradually stir in milk, stirring all the while to prevent lumps and scorching. Stir in cubed cream cheese and other cheeses, stirring constantly over low to medium heat, until cheeses melt.
- Gently stir in thawed broccoli and cauliflower. Season to taste with garlic powder and coarse ground black pepper. Pour into lightly buttered (or sprayed with cooking spray) 2 quart baking dish.
- TO BAKE LATER: Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours, then proceed to next step. (You can prepare and refrigerate the bread crumb mixture.)
- Mix together the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning. Sprinkle evenly over top of casserole. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Bake at 350F until heated through and bubble (about 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven; about 55 minutes if oven isn’t pre-heated).
- Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
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