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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chili Cheese Rice Casserole

Granny and me in her rocking chair in Wichita Falls, TX
Chili Cheese Rice Casserole
When we celebrated holidays in Wichita Falls, Texas, at my Granny and Papa Poirot's house, it was an all day and all night event.  We spent Christmas mornings on the brown carpeted floor of their front room, Christmas afternoons napping in the den piled on top of them in their recliners, Christmas evenings eating dinner either in the dining room (if you were a grown up) or on the patio (if you were at the kids table), and Christmas night building box forts and wrapping their bedroom in toilet paper.  Yep, you read right.

Granny and me at Johnny Rocket's on our Caribbean cruise in 2008
Christmas dinners at my Granny and Papa Poirot's always included turkey, gravy, mashed pototoes and gravy, corn, cranberries (even though nobody really liked them), and chili cheese casserole.  I never wanted much to do with the chili cheese casserole when I was young, but, as you've seen through my posts, my tastes have grown and changed as I have grown.  Now, when I know my mom is making dinner for a holiday, I always insist that she makes my Granny's chili cheese casserole.

The following is the speech that I gave at my Granny's memorial service in November of 2008.  Yes, it is kind of long- but I promise that at the end you'll see why I loved her as much as I did.
Granny and me at my UT Graduation, May 2008
 Granny taught her family how to love.  Actually, she taught everyone around her how to love.  There was not a single person who met Getrude Albertina Poirot who did not love her with all of their heart.  Every time she smiled, which was just about every minute of every day, she absolutely beamed with care and affection.  She could make you feel like a million bucks, just by smiling at you.  You knew how much she loved you because she showed it all of the time.
Ashlea, Aunt Rhonda, Granny, my mom, and me at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas
for Delta Gamma Mom's Weekend 2007
No matter where we were- at the lake, at her house, wherever- the first thing she would say when I saw her was, “Katherine, come here and let me rock you a bit.”  I tried to tell her that I was 22 and probably too big to be rocked, but she insisted and would not let me leave until I had sat on her lap for at least five minutes.  Even if nothing was wrong, I always felt better after she rocked me.

Granny on the beach at Port Aransas, May 2008
Me, my mom, and Granny on the beach in Cozumel, Mexico
February 2008
I thought her double knee replacement surgery would put an end to our rocking chair days, but surgery did not put an end to anything.  At 89 years old, Granny went on the jetski at the lake with me, and she caught catfish off of our dock.  She went on a cruise to the Bahamas.  She went rafting in Jamaica.  She wanted desperately to parasail, but you know what stopped her?  No, not her knees or her health or her age- it was just too windy in Cozumel and the parasail couldn’t go up that day.  She drank margaritas at Margaritaville and Joe T. Garcia’s.  She visited Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and Port Aransas.  She even had me stand guard and take pictures while she fed the seagulls at beach because right next to us was a sign that read, “DO NOT FEED THE SEAGULLS,” in all caps (like that would have stopped her!)

Granny feeding the seagulls in Port Aransas, TX in May 2008
Our Granny was a rock-star.  She sewed up our ripped baby blankets when we were really too old to even still have baby blankets.  She let us build forts that went from one end of the house to the other and string toilet paper all over her entire bedroom.  In the kitchen, she taught us how to make rice krispie treats and how to die Easter eggs.  She cooked us macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, roast, and, my favorite, mashed potatoes and gravy.  For breakfast, we all were disgusted that she loved ketchup on toast, so she let us have cheese pizza with extra cheese on top instead.  She made us hot dogs and s’mores at midnight, but made us promise not to tell our parents.  She let us crawl in bed with her and Papa to watch Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.  She helped teach our Vacation Bible School classes, and she taught us how to play Domino’s and Chicken Foot.  She took us to all of the cool places- Chuck-E-Cheese’s, Alladin’s Castle, and The Plex.  I’ll be honest- she spoiled us rotten.
My cousin, Gillian, and me icing cookies in Granny's kitchen in Wichita Falls, TX

There is not a single memory any of us have with Granny when we’re not smiling and laughing the entire time.  Over the past four years, Granny has been a pillar of strength for our family.  She has been the angel that helped us through Papa’s passing and taught us to turn tragedy into triumph. In German, “Gertrude” means strength.  In French, “Albertina” means noble.  I can think of no two words to better describe Granny.  I have never, in my entire life, met someone with her courage, faith, and patience.  These, combined with her optimism and strength make her someone who we can only aspire to be like.

My Uncle Richard, Granny, Ashlea, and me on Christmas Morning at
Granny & Papa's house in Wichita Falls, TX
While it was probably not easy managing four children, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and all of their spouses, Granny did so with grace.  Her amazing faith inspired others to be like her.  She taught us how to love in the good times- when we were laughing and smiling.  She taught us how to love in the bad times- when we were crying and struggling.  She taught us how to love all of the time. 
On June 16, 1919, God sent an angel from Heaven down to the little old town of Scotland, Texas.  You may have known her as Gertrude Albertina, Gertie, Trudy, Gert, Mrs. Poirot, mom, mother, Gigi, or Granny.  Whatever you may have called her, she was an angel, and it’s thanks to this angel sent from God, these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest is love.

Chili Cheese Rice Casserole
Granny Poirot
Servings: 10

Chili Cheese Rice Casserole

  • 3 small cans chopped green chilies (medium hot) (12 oz total)
  • 6 c white rice, prepared as indicated on box
  • 2 c fat free sour cream
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pepper jack and sharp cheddar cheese sliced thin & into appr. 1.5x1.5 in. squares
  • black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  1. Prepare the rice as indicated on box; add appr. 1/2 tsp salt
  2. Drain green chilies
  3. Add sour cream, shredded cheese, and green chilies to rice; add appr. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  4. Stir well
  5. Spray a casserole dish with cooking oil
  6. Spread mixture in a casserole dish
  7. Top with cheese squares, alternating colors to make a checkerboard on top
  8. Bake appr. 20 mins, or until cheese is melted on top *if you have nonstick foil, place on top.  If foil isn't nonstick, it'll stick to the cheese.


  1. Kate, you're right, of course. Everyone loved Gertie! It was great looking at the old pics of the family in thier home. I don't remember very many changes in the house. It was almost like it was frozen in time and I loved it that way!I don't think I ever had the pleasure of trying this recipe but I will. When I got married 30+ years ago she gave me her recipe for apricot bars in her own neat handwriting. I still have it and treasure it!

    1. What sweet words- thank you for your comment :) I am so proud to have my amazing family be such a powerful influence on my recipes and recipe blog. What a legacy they've passed on!

  2. Those sound delicious! Feel free to forward it on :)