Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Lady of Lourdes Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Every year I make a pilgrimage to a hidden grotto in Cleveland that is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, a place influenced by the Grotto where the Virgin Mary was seen at the location of Lourdes, France by Saint Bernadette. The nuns cook up some great food with the help of some volunteers. Many nuns there are retired from my church and there are also missionary nuns from Africa and other places in the world. My favorite nun there is Sister Phyllis Ann who was my confirmation teacher at my church until she transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes which holds the home of Our Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity. This is also the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. We get the best food and we go with other women in our church's solidarity and pray, do the rosary and talk. It's a day of prayer we dedicate to do every year.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto with Blessed Holy Water Stream

At lunch we get spoiled with a huge lunch or we can get breakfast if we get there earlier. At lunch they make this Broccoli Casserole. It is so good that I can't help but get a second side plate of it. So here I am sharing this recipe with you. It means a lot to me because not only is it from some of the best nuns/people I know but it's a day and a dish that I share with family and friends. Yesterday I went with other members of the church along with my son (who was the center of attention) my mom and my sister.

Saint Bernadette

My mom, sister and I spend this day together every year! My sister and I exchanged gifts that we bought from the gift shop. It was beautiful, sunny fall like day and it was peaceful, even my 2 year old son was so well mannered, it was angelic! It was truly a miracle and a mommy and son spending day!

My son doesn't mind what kind of paper you give him, he just loves to scribble!

Saint Anna with the Virgin Mary as a child.
(Both are my patron Saints and whom I was named after)

Earlier in the morning we held a memorial mass for my father's 2 year anniversary of his passing. Today is exactly 2 years since he lost his battle with cancer. Bladder Cancer specifically.

The Shrine's website: Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity

When the day was over, my sister dropped me off back at our church's parking lot so I could go and pick up my car.  We drove in my sister's car and I met them at the church for the memorial mass.  So with that I decided that I would pass by where I use to live when I lived in this neighborhood in Cleveland.  Back in the day it was primarily Italian immigrants, but since then most have left and it's not the greatest of neighborhoods.  It went really downhill.  Boarded up houses and houses falling apart.  It's sad really because we had such pride in our neighborhood.  We left the neighborhood for the Suburbs when I was 3, although I was young I remember much and I remember my friends in the neighborhood.  I wish I knew where my friend Vanessa ended up.  My parents owned the house which was a side by side, they rented the other side to Vanessa's family.  Also we had a house behind our house that was on our lot and my parents rented that out to our neighbor's daughter.

Our neighbor was also awesome.  Lucy and her husband.  Lucy was disabled because of diabetes and was in a wheelchair.  My parents were Italian immigrants and they welcomed my family with open arms.  My sister and brother went to school to our Church which was right down the street, our church was across the middle big door of our church.  Not far at all.  Lucy made me a blanket when I was a baby which I still have.  Her husband and Lucy have long been passed but I will never forget them.  She had a dog named Gigi that was a Bichon Frise.  They were older but none the less like grandparents to me since my grandparents lived in Italy.

So since I decided to drive by my old house, I couldn't believe how it was falling apart and the park next door was over run with grass.  Remembering my brother hanging out there with his friends playing basketball.  Vanessa and I playing in the backyard.  Good memories but so sad that our house and our neighbor's house is no longer being taken care of.  I know it's old but that is not an excuse.

My house is on the left and Lucy's is on the right.
(My parent's fixed the houses up when they owned them, I'm wondering if they are now trashed?)

The park was on the left side of our house.

Now back to the recipe, I hope you enjoy it.  It is so yummy!

NOTE: I do prefer using fresh broccoli for this dish, gives it a much more fresh taste on it's richness.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

14 ozFrozen Broccoli or Chopped Cooked Broccoli Florets
1 cMilk
8 ozVelveeta Cheese
1 TbspButter or Margarine
1/4 tspPepper to taste
1Long sleeve of coarsely crushed Ritz Crackers

Casserole Topping

1-2 TbspMelted butter or margarine
15Ritz Crackers or more if you'd like

In a large saucepan, cook the broccoli according to package directions; drain. Stir in the milk, cheese, butter and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is melted, stirring often. Add the sleeve of crumbled crackers and stir to blend. Pour mixture into an 11×7-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave; stir in the crumbled crackers. Sprinkle over top of broccoli mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post, Annamaria. Religious have such great recipes. :-)