Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce with a Cauliflower Base

I had somewhat recently joined a Facebook group that was created for people who live in the same town to share photos of their home cooked meals. First off, this group is absolutely amazing – the things that people cook and all the encouragement is a breath of fresh air. There’s been a recent onslaught of people making chicken broccoli alfredo. So, of course, I started to crave it like crazy!

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Here’s a version that I adapted for the pressure cooker from a Pinterest recipe. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, feel free to follow the original recipe as is, but be sure to read on for a few tips and suggestions! I also tried to make my own pasta shells…that was a disaster. Luckily I was smart enough to pick up some backup shells at the store.

Here’s what I used for the sauce:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Your choice of cheese (optional) – I used shelf-stable parmesan and a shredded pizza blend

You can supposedly pair this sauce with a number of dishes, but I made stuffed shells with chicken and broccoli. So, here is the rest of what I used:

  • 1 box of shells, cooked and drained
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 large chicken breast (You may want a little more if you want to try something unique with the sauce. Read on to learn more!)
  • More cheese for topping
  • Breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top (optional)

Cut the cauliflower head into medium sized pieces (doesn’t need to be perfect) and put it in the pressure cooker. Mince or use a garlic press and put all the garlic in with the cauliflower. Add one cup of vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper.

I chose to cube the chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, and put into a little tin foil boat. I put this on top of the cauliflower in the pressure cooker. If you chose to use some additional chicken for the unique twist on the sauce, add a handful of the chicken cubes in with the cauliflower, but outside of the foil. (You will end up incorporating that extra chicken right into the sauce.)

I set the pressure cooker to the poultry setting for only 5 minutes and then used the quick release when done. This was enough time to cook the chicken and soften the cauliflower.

Add the 1/2 cup of milk.

Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender or food processor), blend everything together. If you added the extra chicken into the sauce, this means you are blending chicken right into it. This may seem odd, but I accidentally did this the first time and I loved it. It gave the sauce flavor some depth and it also help give the sauce a little thicker in consistency!

I decided to put in some cheese and about 1 cup of small cut broccoli so they would fit in the shells for baking. (I left larger chunks of broccoli for addition to the baking dish after the shells were stuffed.) Go ahead and dump the cooked chicken cubes in there, too.

Mix together well.

I chose to microwave the remainder of the broccoli with a little water but feel free to pre-cook it any way you like.

Spread a thing layer of sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.

Stuff the shells with the sauce, chicken, broccoli mixture and place shells in the dish. I placed the microwaved broccoli around the shells.

I topped the dish with the rest of the sauce some more cheese, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

I baked at 375 degrees Farenheit, covered with tin foil for about 15 minutes.

I then baked for another 15 minutes uncovered. I broiled at the end for a few minutes to get the golden brown color on top.

Lastly, serve and enjoy! Leftovers are delicious, too. I had this for lunch two days this week AND I was able to freeze some for when I get the craving later on ­čśë.

Again, I chose shells, but feel free to eat this with any type of pasta or give it a try over some vegetables, on a white pizza, with rice, etc.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

My Air Fryer: Convection Perfection

As Seen On TV –

A few months ago, I decided to purchase an air fryer. Up until then, it was only one of those “as seen on TV” gags. I was sure no one had any use for it in real life. However, my husband, Jake, and I really wanted to start eating healthier. We tried all sorts of things. We counted calories, did intermittent fasting, cut down on meat, etc.

The air fryer was another one of those “things” on the list. It started to look appealing because advertisements showed fried foods that didn’t require the typical unhealthy amounts of oil and fat. As it crossed my mind with increased frequency, I started to notice the weekly Bed Bath & Beyond coupons I usually ignore in my e-mail. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link and searched for air fryers. I found one that had a decent number of positive reviews. Plus, I could use the extra 20% off coupon. I decided to go for it. I didn’t know if it was something I was going to like or use a lot, so I didn’t want to invest a lot of money. I ended up paying $76.49 for the┬áGourmia┬« Fryista 5-Quart Air Fryer in Black/Stainless Steel from Bed Bath & Beyond. I think this model may be a bit older and not sold anymore.

A breakdown of my costs:

Air Fryer……..$71.99 (after 20% coupon)
Shipping………..Free
Sales Tax………$4.50
TOTAL………..$76.49

 

 


What To Cook?

This is the best purchase I have made in a long time. I use my air fryer as often as possible (sometimes every night of the week). Now I wish that I had bought a nicer one with a digital display! I seldom use it to actually fry foods. I use it more so as an easy way to bake, saut├ęe, and pan fry. Here are just a few of the foods we have cooked so far in our air fryer. The photos below include chicken wings, mini frittata cups, bacon, french fries, coconut shrimp, fried rice, tofu, and sweet peppers.

(By the way, bacon coming out of the air fryer tastes so much better than when it sits in its own grease on the stove. It is also much easier than trying to balance a baking sheet full of grease while taking it out of the oven.)

 

 

We’ve also tried jalape├▒o poppers, steak, bacon mac and cheese balls, and bacon wrapped scallops.┬áSome other foods that I cook in the air fryer regularly are fish, kale, green beans, mushrooms, onions, and chicken. In fact, below is a simple weeknight dish I made. It has sweet peppers and onions cooked in the air fryer, as well as haddock with blackening seasoning cooked in the air fryer.

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Next on the list will be to try cookies, cakes, and breads!


Regrets Are For People Without an Air Fryer

Following Recipes

You’ll find a lot of air fryer recipes out there, but my advice is not to follow those. The air fryer is easy to set in terms of time and temperature, but I often just pull the basket out, shake the food around, and use my own judgment on if it’s done or not. I also find that I can cook most foods on the highest temperature (400┬░F). I convinced my parents to purchase an air fryer and they’ve had trouble getting foods to turn out right because they’re too reliant on following recipes to a T.

Less Dishes, More Relaxation

Overall, I end up needing to wash less dishes – YES!! Here’s how:

  • The grated basket comes right out of the base part and can double as a colander.
  • The air fryer is not always completely an oil-free endeavor, but most of the time I can get away with spray oil on the food when it’s already in the basket. This means no separate mixing bowl or utensils to cover the food with oil.
  • I’ll generally use the air fryer to cook multiple parts of a meal on a given night, so I don’t end up with multiple dirty pots and pans.

For The Love of Copper

We are a huge fan of copper. We have copper pots, pans, and baking sheets. Needless to say, the copper in our air fryer works well for us and is easy to clean.

If in another few months we continue to use the air fryer frequently, perhaps we’ll consider an upgrade and/or purchasing some accessories. I would love to get pan inserts or racks for double-layer cooking.


Hopefully this got you thinking about air fryers. Good luck with any purchases you make!

Sincerely,
Fu’d