One of the things I missed most about the years I spent living outside of Texas was holidays with family.

Newspapers publish every day, and I usually ended up working, which made it nearly impossible to get home for Thanksgiving when I lived 1,000 miles away.

My first Thanksgiving away from home, I enjoyed a meal with friends and co-workers who couldn’t get home either.

We all brought our favorite traditional Thanksgiving dish, which made an interesting buffet that blended several cultures.

It was the first time I ever had turkey, egg rolls and Swedish meatballs at the same meal.

My contribution was broccoli casserole — the one item that makes my holiday meal complete.

While the gathering — also my first introduction to tofurkey — kept me from feeling lonely, it just wasn’t the same as time spent with the people I love most.

Since I moved back to Texas in 2008, I’ve hosted my family’s Thanksgiving dinner so we can eat lunch before I head to work.

Now, I get the best of both worlds — time with my family to reflect on all the things we’re thankful for while we enjoy a feast of ham, turkey and all the trimmings, and an excuse to avoid washing dishes.

Whatever your tradition may be, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Broccoli casserole


  • 24 ounces chopped broccoli (I buy it frozen to save time, but if you buy it fresh, you need about 4 cups)
  • ½ pound reduced fat Velveeta cheese, cut into
  • 1-inch cubes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter, melted


  • Steam broccoli in microwave until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt cheese and stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • When broccoli is cooked, mix it with the cheese.
  • Pour broccoli and cheese mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish.
  • Melt ¼ cup of butter and mix with crushed crackers to make a topping.
  • Spread it over the broccoli mix.
  • Bake at 350°F until crackers are golden and mixture is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: To save a little time on Thanksgiving, the ingredients can be premixed and refrigerated overnight, baking before the meal is served.

Serves: 8

News/Design Editor M. Clare Haefner enjoys cooking for family and friends. Contact her at or (254) 501-7551.

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