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 😉.

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

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Vegetarian Cottage Pie – Set It & Forget It

I really love cottage and shepherd’s pie. I can practically eat an entire casserole dish of it on my own, and all in one sitting. If you’re wondering what the difference is between cottage and shepherd’s pie, you’re not alone. Before someone recently brought it to my attention, I thought I had been making shepherd’s pie all these years. However, shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb and cottage pie includes other meats, typically beef.

The way I made this a couple days ago is seriously the new way to cook one of these pies. In this case, I used a vegetarian ground beef. Because of this, I was able to eliminate pre-cooking the meat and I cooked everything in one step in my InstaPot pressure cooker. However, given the many talents of the pressure cooker, I imagine you could get away without pre-cooking real ground meat, too. (I just haven’t tried it. If you do try it, make sure the pressure cooker is set to cook long enough to fully cook the ground meat.)

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Here are the ingredients I used for the “meat” mixture:

  • 1 carrot (medium diced)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • A couple of sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • Corn kernels from one ear of corn
  • 12 oz package of vegetarian ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp cup water
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Here are the ingredients I used for the mashed potatoes. Increase the amounts if you like or want more mashed potatoes on top than a thin layer.

  • 5 small potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 pat butter
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk (any kind of milk you prefer for mashed potatoes is fine)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, freeze dried chives (to taste)

I stirred all the “meat” mixture ingredients (except the water) together in the InstaPot. I decided to add a tiny bit of salt and pepper. The vegetarian beef I got seemed to already be seasoned, so I didn’t want to be too heavy handed. I sprinkled the water over the top. The water was to add some moisture to the pressure cooker while everything cooked. I patted the mixture down at the bottom to compact it a bit. I left it relatively flat on top, but made a little divot in the center. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Next, I got a piece of tin foil and made it into a semi-bowl. I placed this in that divot. This was so the sides of the bowl would stay somewhat in tact during cooking and not allow any of the liquid for the mashed potatoes drip out the sides. In the tin foil bowl, I added all the mashed potato ingredients. I didn’t even bother mixing it up.

I put the lid on the pressure cooker and set it to “Bean/Chili” at normal pressure for 25 minutes. If you’re using a veggie beef like me, you could probably get away with 15-20 minutes. If anything, the potatoes would take the longest to cook and that should still be plenty of time.

Once the cooking was done, I did a quick release of the pressure and opened the lid. At this point, the potatoes should be fully cooked through. I dumped the potatoes from the tin foil directly on top of the “meat” mixture. I smashed it right on top and flattened/spread it across. I opted sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top.

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I also found that the amounts of liquid I originally used made it a little more watery than I’d like, so I set the InstaPot to saute and let some of the extra liquid boil away. This made some of the juice boil up to the top, which I didn’t mind. It gave it a nice rustic/hearty look and brings some of that flavor to the top. Plus, it only took a few minutes and it was literally zero effort.

Finally, the cottage pie was served. We had extra avocado we needed to use, so we added that and a dollop of sour cream.

This is the first time I’ve made this dish in this way, so there is surely some room for improvement. At the very least, I hope this gives you some ideas on how to make your dinner prep and cooking more efficient and still delicious!

Sincerely,
Fu’d