Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole and Fire on the Mountain

November 17th, 2016

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole 1

It all started innocently.  Hikers climbed to Party Rock on the mountain behind our home on November 5th.  Neighbors heard young people hooting upon arriving at the pinnacle.  Shortly thereafter smoke started billowing down the mountain. It was just a small fire.  The next day helicopters starting buzzing our house.  The fire had spread and they were scooping water from the lake and transporting it to the top of the mountain and dumping it on the blaze.

Fire 1

Notice the helicopter in this photo.

Fire 2

We were out on the lake when all of this was happening.  The helicopter is coming in for another scoop of water in this picture.  We thought it would be under control in no time.


It was not to be.  The fire went from a few acres to over 4000 acres over the next week.  Winds had picked up and the fire spread both east and west along the ridge line.  Evacuations were ordered. We were told to leave.  What do you take when told to evacuate?  It was a harrowing experience.  We gathered clothes, medications, files, paintings, family photos and David’s favorite wine collection in our two cars and left with our dog Daisy.

Lake Lure Inn

We went a few miles across the lake to The Lake Lure Inn and Spa.  They were accepting refugees from our side of the lake and had reduced the rate to well below half of what they would normally charge.  We spent three days here with our neighbors and eventual friends.  The only silver lining in this story is how wonderful it was to meet and spend time with our neighbors.


We had communal meals in the Moose and Goose Lounge every night while we were there.  Everyone was displaced and worried, but we managed to make the best of it.


On the fourth day of the evacuation David and I moved to a cabin owned by good friends Tom and Diana. They live out of the state so the cabin was available. It was just the respite that we needed.  I was able to cook a few meals; spaghetti and this soup.  We relaxed with good books and the stillness of the isolated woods surrounding us.  The evacuation notice was lifted the next day and we returned home.  With over 700 firefighters battling the blazes, our small area was declared safe.  Our air quality is not great but our home is safe.  We are thankful.  The fire may burn for another few weeks, but with the dedicated fire crews we feel that we will get through this.

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole

So . . . I am back in my kitchen.  As part of the blog posts that I promised on Thanksgiving side dishes, I made this Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole.  The recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman who can be relied upon to offer great recipes.  There are several steps involved in making this, but it all comes together easily and can be prepared ahead of time.  Just slip it into the oven an hour before your meal.  It has lots of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery and wild rice with a thickened sauce of chicken broth and cream.

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole 3

Thanksgiving this year brings much more to be thankful for than I have ever expected.

BROCCOLI WILD RICE CASSEROLE (Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond)
I halved this recipe for just the two of us, except for the carrots and celery. Recipe as written is for the full amount.


2 cups uncooked wild rice
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock, plus more if needed for thinning
3 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Add the wild rice to a medium saucepan with 5 cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until the rice has just started to break open and is slightly tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the broccoli by throwing the florets into the boiling water until bright green and still slightly crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Immediately drain the broccoli and plunge it into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove it from the ice water and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, then melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to evaporate, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft and the mixture begins to turn darker in color, 3 to 4 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables, stir to incorporate it and cook for about a minute. Pour in the remaining 3 cups of broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Let the mixture cook until it thickens. Add the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix together the cooked rice and broccoli and tip into a 2-quart baking dish. Using a ladle, scoop out the vegetable/broth mixture and spoon it evenly all over the top, totally covering the surface with the vegetables.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then pour it into a separate bowl with the panko breadcrumbs. Toss the mixture together to coat the breadcrumbs in butter, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole.
Cover with foil and bake the casserole for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until golden brown on top, another 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the parsley after you remove it from the oven.

Printable Recipe

28 responses to “Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole and Fire on the Mountain”

  1. I am so glad you both and your home are safe. I can’t imagine how scary this all has been. Your dish sounds wonderful.

  2. Bonnie says:

    What a terrible experience! I know that it has been very dry in your area. Your comment on FB made me wonder what I would pack up and take in a situation like yours. I will give that subject more thought. Very glad that you are all safe and your home has been spared.


    • Penny says:

      Bonnie, I think we all should take stock of what is important to us. It turns out, that most of the things we took we either necessary to health and comfort (clothes), sentimental or important possessions, files, passports and wine (LOL). We only had an hour to gather things, so our cars looked like Jeb Clampett’s truck. Really an experience.

  3. Can’t begin to tell you how concerned we were for you and your neighbors around the lake. Thankful when Penny C. kept us up to date though and we knew your lovely house was not damaged.

    We’ve not had much rain here either – know it’s dangerously dry in the western part of the state. Just sad that people cannot be more careful, or kind, when it comes to camping and fire danger.

    Have a happy thanksgiving Penny, know you have much to be thankful for after these past couple of weeks of worry.

    Hugs – Mary (and Bob)

    • Penny says:

      Thank you Mary and Bob. We are fine and appreciate your concern. What would we do without our blogging friends who have turned into real friends? David and I are happy that you are just that.

  4. Catherine says:

    Dear Penny, I am glad that you are safe and sound and cooking in your kitchen again.
    Happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
    xo Catherine

    • Penny says:

      Thank you Catherine. You are so gracious to leave your uplifting message. I love your inspiring blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

  5. Monique says:

    Fires are devastating..what a worry to be evacuated.It must feel so good to be home in your nest.
    Home is where we feel safest.Quite a shock I am certain.
    This Thanksving I bet you will be even more thankful!
    This casserole looks so good.

  6. Patty says:

    This was a terrible story and I am very happy you are both okay. The biggest thing I got from this story is how wonderful that hotel was. Usually you hear about stores, hotels, restaurants, gouging people when there are problems. This was very refreshing to hear. I will have to think about what I would take too.

    • Penny says:

      Yes Patty the hotel was wonderful. The staff were kind, even allowing all of the pets in. We even got upgraded to a jacuzzi suite when they found our original room was already occupied by a firefighter. I am proud to have such a wonderful hotel in our community.

  7. Madonna says:

    So very glad you are safe. We have had a few times of concern with the Santa Ana winds and the drought making a little fire quickly get out of control, but have never had to leave our home. Although the air quality was bad and the ashes drifted down like snow.

    • Penny says:

      I have heard about California wildfires. Really horrible Madonna. You are right about the ashes drifting down like snow. My porches are covered in ash.

  8. Lynne says:

    So glad you and your home are safe! The devastation of these fires is so sad. Hate to see our beautiful mountains and forest destroyed!

    • Penny says:

      I hate it too Lynne. I read somewhere that fires can be good to help renew vegetation. Let’s hope for the best. Looking up at the mountains, I still see trees.

  9. KATHY says:

    I am so glad you are safe and your home was not burned! How scary for you and yor family and friends!…When my daughter was in high school she took Lifeskills Class and one of the questions was ‘What would you take from your home in an emergency?” She was quite perturbed because we did not include the fish from our fishtank in our hurry to leave!!

    • Penny says:

      That is funny Kathy. It is a hard decision, especially when you have limited time to gather stuff. But I think we made wise choices and if it ever happens again, we are set to go. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  10. What a terrible experience, but so pleased that it turned out okay for you and David. I love that you’ve included wild rice in this. It’s so often overlooked and that’s a shame. I know you must be glad to be back home cooking in your own kitchen.

    • Penny says:

      I love this dish because wild rice does not have the carbs of regular rice and there are lots of vegies in it. Thank you for your support during the evacuation. It has been quite the experience.

      • Penny says:

        Oh, and I am so disappointed that you are giving up your blog, but understand completely. There have been times when I’ve thought the same . . . but I am not quite ready yet. Still enjoy it. You could just change the name to My Florida Kitchen. LOL.

  11. Darla says:

    So thankful that you and David are home safe and sound. Many people were praying for you & continue to pray for the firefighters’ safety and an end to these fires. Hard to imagine that it wasn’t that long ago that we were hiking with the grandkids up to party rock. It will look much different the next time we see it, but new growth will emerge. Looking forward to giving thanks with you & the family next Thursday!

    • Penny says:

      We are looking forward to Thanksgiving this year with the family. Going through this has made us even more aware of the gifts that we have been given and the beauty of our family connections. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

  12. Pondside says:

    I am very glad to read that you and your house are safe. We faced forest fires at Pondside House and had our ‘Grab and Go’ bags ever ready.
    That casserole looks like a good idea for my contribution to a Christmas potluck!

    • Penny says:

      This is the first morning that smoke is not in the air. Pondside is so lovely, it must have been hard to think of fires destroying it. Thank you H. Think you would like this casserole.

  13. Susan says:

    What a harrowing experience and how sad that the fire devastated so much of your beautiful mountainside. I’m so happy that your home is safe and you are back in it for Thanksgiving, Penny.

    • Penny says:

      Thank you Susan. We are smoke free right now, but the fires are still smoldering. My house was supposed to be on a Christmas tour on Dec. 3rd. but it has been cancelled. Hopefully our area will be back to normal soon.

  14. Got lucky in life LO

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.