A family favorite recipe gets a makeover. Broccoli Cheese Casserole is packed with delicious broccoli, cheese sauce, and topped with sweet and salty Ritz crackers. It’s on our holiday table every year.
This week is Holiday Side Dish Week. I had to sign up because I don’t have that many side dishes on my blog. This gave me an opportunity to share a family favorite with you and a new recipe to my family. I hope you like them both.
This is the family favorite. It was on our table for almost every holiday meal: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and sometimes New Years but not always. That was typically black eyed peas, greens, and ham. Sometimes I even asked for it for a birthday dinner. Of course, that was dinners that I didn’t ask for lasagna with was rare, but they did happen.
The story goes that I wouldn’t eat broccoli.
Of course, what kid does? Yes, there are those rare few that like it right off the bat, but I was not one of those kids. I was the picky eater of the house. When we ordered dinner out the phrase, “There’s one in every family” was said quite often about me.
One of the things I couldn’t get enough of growing up, and it’s still true today, are Ritz crackers. Those buttery slightly salty crackers are perfect with a little peanut butter on them, or some hot pepper jelly and cream cheese, or cheese to nibble on with your chili. You can dip them into crab salad or hot artichoke dip. They’re great to make little pizza bites with a piece of pepperoni and some cheese toasted in the air fryer. Yeah, you see what I mean?
And, well, what kid doesn’t like cheese? I guess those that are intolerant or have an allergy, but most kids like cheese. So, my parents decided to combine Ritz crackers and cheese and put it over broccoli and bake it. I couldn’t get enough broccoli in that delicious dish.
The first time I made the family recipe version of this dish, he commented on how dry it was. I might have put more crackers than cheese in there. And it was a bit dry with all those cracker crumbs in the broccoli. But we were keeping track of fat and protein at that time and I probably used a fat free cheese which doesn’t melt right.
Now I know how to get it to melt right, but we’re not tracking fat and protein right now. Maybe one day I’ll back to that. I might have more time for tracking my food intake soon. We’ll see.
We chatted about how to make it a better casserole for holiday dinners. The discussion of a cheese sauce came up along with few crackers and maybe some butter on the crackers. To add a little more moisture to them before baking. All of these sounded like great ideas.
Since I haven’t made it often in the last few years, I thought I’d work on the new and improved version of the family classic. This time I think I made too much cheese sauce. And I over processed the crackers. Of course, the written recipe corrects all of these issues. I doubled the amount of broccoli I initially had.
I thought there would be way more than was actually in those packages of broccoli. My mistake! If the package had as much broccoli as I thought, it would have been fine. And I used frozen broccoli for convenience. It’s inexpensive compared to fresh and has a lot of the original nutrients in it, so not to worry there.
For the price of one or two heads of fresh broccoli, I could have 4 or 5 bags of frozen. That’s enough broccoli to make this casserole for a large family! Might want to up the cheese sauce by 50% to compensate if you use that much broccoli.
So, this is my amped up version of the family casserole. I made a sharp cheddar cheese sauce to pour over the broccoli. Use whatever cheese you want! It’s versatile that way. I added cauliflower, but the frozen cauliflower is really mushy. So, don’t do that. Stick with all broccoli in this one. I didn’t think it would do that, but it almost disintegrates into the cheese sauce. Maybe that’s a good thing for you? I don’t know. I wasn’t keen on it so I don’t suggest it.
You can see how cheesy and delicious this is! It is stick to your ribs comfort food your family will ask for year after year. I know because *I* did! Asked for it every year to the point where it just became part of all of our holiday celebrations.
What your family favorite casserole or side dish recipe?
A family favorite recipe gets a makeover. Broccoli Cheese Casserole is packed with delicious broccoli, cheese sauce, and topped with sweet and salty Ritz crackers. It's on our holiday table every year.
- 36 ounces frozen broccoli, thawed (or 6 cups freshly steamed broccoli)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 cups Ritz crackers coarsely crushed (about 1 sleeve)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine the milk with the flour in a saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring to a low boil and cook until thickened.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
- Spread the broccoli in the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli.
- Combine the Ritz crackers and butter and sprinkle over the top of the cheese sauce.
- Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown and the sauce is bubble.
- Cool slightly before serving.
Amount Per Serving Calories 317Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 55mgSodium 442mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 17g
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