Holiday Homecookin’ brings festive flavors

COVID-19 has forced families to separate, rather than gather for holiday festivities this year. Those lucky enough to celebrate together or those connecting virtually all maintain the uplifting attitude of communal intentions and focusing on the positive outlook of giving thanks for daily blessings. No matter the location or socially-distanced size of a party, recreating generational passed down recipes has been a staple in many families for past and future events. 

Looking to inspire college students and community members alike using fresh vegetables and organic rice, this Wild Rice Casserole side dish and Mom’s Infamous Apple Pie – complete with a buttery dash of deliciousness – is guaranteed to fulfill all homecookin’ cravings and desires. 

Photo/Cassidy Ulery

Wild Rice Casserole:


1 8oz package of Wild Rice (be sure not to get true not Wild Rice/White Rice mix)

1lb bacon

1 green bell pepper

1 small yellow onion

2-3 stalks celery

3-4 sliced mushrooms

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Preparing the rice:

This recipe requires a 24-hour advance preparation and originates from Minnesota. The rice comes dark black, however “pops,” to a black and white, fluffy consistency after soaking in boiling water minimally twice and overnight. Fill a tea kettle with enough water to completely submerge and saturate the rice in a pot with an accompanying lid. Pour the water over the rice once it comes to a boil.

Let the water cool down enough to comfortably touch the soaking rice pot with bare hands, be careful to drain and repeat the soaking process once more but let the rice sit in the hot water overnight. Before the second soaking, the black rice should be showing signs of bursting open – displaying white, fluffed up rice kernels. 


Cutting the pound of bacon into bite size pieces, cook and set aside on a paper towel plate to drain excess grease. Chop the celery, bell pepper and onion into small pieces, as well as slicing the mushrooms. Saute the vegetables, minus the mushrooms until the end in the pan’s remaining bacon grease for about 10-15 minutes, adding the mushrooms last to prevent “mushing.” 

Drain the sauteed vegetables from the grease, set aside in a large mixing bowl with “popped,” wild rice. Mix and thoroughly combine the veggies, rice, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and ½ cup of water measured from the cream of mushroom soup can. Transfer blended mixture to a casserole dish with a proper fitting lid, drizzle some water on top and bake covered at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly – approximately an hour, depending on oven. 

This dish can be prepped and prepared the day before serving and cooked in the oven day of. To make it vegetarian, omit the bacon and saute the vegetable mixture in butter. 

Mom’s Apple Pie:


Apple Filling:

6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Dash of ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp butter 

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar mixture to the sliced apples, toss to coat fruit. Set aside.

Flaky Butter Crust:

1 ¾ cup flour

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

1 ¾ sticks butter (chilled and diced)

Cold water

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.

Divide dough in half for top and bottom crust and shape with a rolling pin. 

Fill a pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate with apple mixture; dot with butter.  Adjust top crust.  Seal and flute edge.  Sprinkle with sugar atop if desired.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until the crust is golden.

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