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!

20181111_181623.jpg

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

Advertisements

A Visit From My Parents: Cabbage Casserole and Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

My parents and I don’t get to visit with each other very often. They’re retired out in Nevada and I’m here on east coast. And although they came out to Hawaii for my wedding this summer, we didn’t have a lot of time spent together between preparing for the wedding and entertaining others that had come to celebrate with us. Before that, the last time we visited was during the holidays a couple years ago. Fast forward to last week – They happened to be setting off on a cruise from NY, so they took some time beforehand to stop by and see me and Jake.

I decided I wanted to prepare a couple of dishes for them so they could eat at their leisure. I made a cabbage casserole with ground turkey and a simple slow cooker chicken/black beans/corn/salsa dish to go along some Jasmine rice.

I had made this cabbage casserole once before for my friend Lindsay, but I forgot some of the things I didn’t particularly like about the dish. I ended up making and baking the whole thing as specified in the recipe. But believe it or not, I ended up taking everything out of the casserole dish, rinsed it off, added new seasonings, and re-baked it. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

First, the recipe calls for cooking the chopped cabbage a bit in water to soften it up. I think this was unnecessary. I think it could have just been cooked down a bit when added to the ground turkey mix.

Separately, I cooked the ground turkey and then added in the onion, diced tomato, and first part of the tomato paste.

Once the onions were translucent, I added the semi-cooked cabbage, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, packet of minute Basmati rice, and chopped parsley. I let that cook for about 15 minutes. (I didn’t use dried mint as specified in the recipe because I didn’t have any.)

The recipe then calls for the rest of the tomato paste stirred in and everything transferred to a baking dish to bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes.

The image below is what it looked like the first time I baked it.

I taste tested it and wasn’t thrilled with it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I thought there was way too much tomato paste and there was a little too much spice for this particular dish.

I put it in the fridge overnight and re-evaluated the next day. I still wasn’t happy, so I ended up dumping everything back into a pot and rinsing it with water to try and get rid of some of the excess tomato paste and cayenne pepper. I tried to drain most of the water out and put it back on the stove to evaporate some of the water. I added in garlic powder and onion powder. I put everything back into a clean baking dish, sprinkled some cheese on top, and put it back in the oven to bake. The result the second time around was much better in terms of flavor. I should have let the water cook out a little more, though. It fell apart a little bit when serving. Also, I froze the leftovers and had some a couple of days later. It was a bit mushy because of the little bit of extra water.

Overall, I learned my lesson for the next time I make this and will make it right the first time!


The second dish I made was the slow cooker chicken. This is a recipe I’ve made several times in the past, both in the crock pot and in the pressure cooker. Since I was making this ahead of time, I went with the crock pot since I had some time. This is one of the easiest recipes that takes almost no effort at all. I used one large chicken  breast torn into a few smaller pieces, one can of black beans (not drained), one jar of medium heat Tostidos salsa, and about 3/4 cup of frozen corn. That’s it. Set it on low for about four – six hours. You can choose to use chicken tenders and leave them whole or do what I did and take the chicken out, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the mix.

We ate this over some Jasmine rice. Very simple, but very good. I imagine you could eat this as an appetizer with chips, too!

I had also ended up making a quiche with some frozen store-bought pie crust and they really loved that, as well. I think they liked having the variety and ability to choose what and how much they wanted to eat.

20181029_111039.jpg

It was nice to see them and I’m glad the food turned out well 🙂 I hope this inspires you the next time you need to prepare foods ahead of time or feed a small crowd!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I had been really craving tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe I could make with ingredients I already had at the house. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) I had also seen in other Pinterest posts that people have made grilled cheese croutons. We also happened to have half a loaf of French bread from the day before, so I sliced it and made some grilled cheese croutons, as well as a couple of mini grilled cheese and prosciutto croutons for some extra dunking action.

I first cut up and cooked the bacon.

Once browned a bit, I added the onion and carrot. I was feeling lazy, so I only used about half of a carrot.

Once those were tender, I added in the tomato paste. I let that cook for a few minutes and then added the flour. I didn’t bother measuring – just eyeballed it.

From reading past recipes and experiences, I know that if you don’t cook the flour down, you can sometimes taste it in the final dish. So, I let the flour cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes. When I added the tomatoes, I didn’t crush them separately as the recipe indicates. I just poured the can into the pot and crushed a bit with the back of a cooking spoon. The canned San Marzano tomatoes are tender enough that they break up easily. Plus, I knew I was going to be blending it all later. I added the chicken broth and seasonings and let it all simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmer, I used my immersion blender and blended the soup right in the pot. This was so much easier than trying blend in the food processor in batches!

The grilled cheese was air fried, only because that’s what’s convenient for me. Cook these on the stove or in an oven if that’s what works for you. I used a combination of a vegan cheddar cheese and regular american cheese. I then cut into bite sized pieces. I made two more grilled cheese sandwiches for us to eat and dunk in the soup, with the same cheeses and the addition of a slice of prosciutto. Yum!

All in all, this satisfied the craving. Although, I just have to say, there is still nothing that compared to childhood Campbell’s canned tomato soup. 😉 I would make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Turkey Meatballs With A Garlic Dill Yogurt Sauce

I have been craving meatballs so badly recently. I’ve seen so many people making them with the onset of cooler weather and I had to jump on the bandwagon. I air fried turkey meatballs and made a garlic dill sauce to drizzle over them. On the side, I air fried some broccoli and roasted some red kuri squash. The original inspiration for this meal was a Pinterest recipe I had pinned a long time ago. It includes a chicken meatball recipe and the garlic dill yogurt sauce. I chose to create my own recipe for the turkey meatballs, but I followed this recipe for the sauce. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

I’ll tell you – these sides were perfect, but were not my original plan. I had bought dandelion greens for the first time and intended to saute them, use a bit of the cooked leaves to incorporate into the meatballs, and then serve the meatballs over a pile of them. Fail. The dandelion greens were too bitter for my taste and the bunch hardly yielded anything when they cooked down. So, I salvaged a few of the cooked down leaves and put those into the meatball mix.

Anyway, back to the main event…

Turkey Meatballs

For the meatball mixture, I used:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • A few of the sauteed dandelion greens (Omit this if you want)
  • 1/4 cup cooked peas (I had cooked these with the dandelion greens originally)
  • Salt and pepper

I mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl. I then shaped the meatballs. Feel free to make these as large or as small as you want. Mine were about 1.5″ in diameter. I placed these in my air fryer basket and set the air fryer to about 375 degrees. These cooked quickly. It only took about 10 min (or a little less). I moved then around a bit halfway through so the browning would be a bit more even. I also took this opportunity to cut one in half to check the doneness.

Garlic Dill Sauce

Here’s the link from up above again to the recipe.

I actually didn’t realize at first that this recipe called for non-fat yogurt. I had whole milk Greek yogurt on hand. Only when I read the comments saying the sauce should be pourable did I realize that my sauce was too thick due to the yogurt I used. I thinned it out by adding a tiny bit of water and unsweetened original almond milk. I also used a dried dill, but the bottle I have is very fresh and the dill wasn’t too dry.

Red Kuri Squash and Broccoli

I only ended up using about 1/3 of the red kuri squash. Jake and I bought this at the store because we had never seen it before. I forgot to take a picture of it before I sliced the top off. I sliced this into wedges about 3/4 – 1″ thick and roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, flipping half way through. I really like this squash. My palate is honestly not sensitive enough to taste the differences between squash, at least not yet, but this tasted similar to other squashes I’ve had, like butternut. The skin was also edible, so we ate the pieces whole.

The broccoli was just air fried with some salt and pepper.


 

20181010_202810.jpg

I served this over a little bed of arugala, but I did that just to add some more greens to the dish. The was extremely delicious. The ginger from the meatballs went well with the yogurt sauce and the sauce actually tasted really good over the squash and broccoli. It seems that this sauce is quite versatile if you wanted to try it with other foods!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Forget the Chinese Takeout – A Simple Beef and Broccoli Dish

Now, I know there is no substitute for the really salty, greasy, and guilty pleasure of Chinese takeout food, but this beef and broccoli dish is sure to please. Plus, it is really easy to make. I finished prepping this dish way faster than most of my other weeknight meals. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

Before I walk through how I cooked up this recipe, here are a few comments:

  • This first note isn’t really a tip, but more so a testament to how good this was. Jake came in from doing yard work and the first thing he said was, “Wow, that smells really good!”
  • In reading through the recipe comments (and I agree) that substituting the protein for chicken or something else would still work perfectly. So, you should definitely try this with something other than beef if that’s what you prefer.
  • I had also asked Jake later what he thought could be improved about the dish and he said more sauce. For me, the amount of sauce was perfect, but I did see other comments of people who doubled the sauce. So, if you’re a sauce lover, go ahead and double it.

The ingredients you need are listed in the recipe at the link above, but here’s what I did:

First, I sliced up the steak tips into about 1/4″ slices. You could even do thin strips if you prefer smaller pieces and more sauce-to-beef ratio. 🙂

I then prepared the mixture that would coat the beef, giving it a little more texture with the cornstarch for pan frying and some flavor with the garlic powder. I liked that this was a liquidy mixture, rather than some other recipes that simply tell you to toss the meat with cornstarch.

In most cases, I like to prepare the later ingredients before I start cooking. So, I took this opportunity to cut up the broccoli, begin cooking the rice, and prepare the soy sauce mixture.

I used a deep pot because I wanted room to toss the beef and broccoli in the sauce, without accidentally flipping everything out of a pan. I heated up oil and cooked the beef until I had some browning on the outside and the pieces were cooked through. I took the beef out and put in a bowl to set aside. (I usually like to place cooked food in the microwave, not turned on, to keep warm.)

I then cooked the broccoli. I actually also decided to add some sliced mushrooms, which was a nice addition. When done, I tossed the beef back in and added the sauce mixture I had prepared earlier. I tossed to coat everything and let that cook for a few minutes.

Then, it was done! My rice had also finished cooking in that time. Just plate and serve! I happened to have some sesame seeds on hand, so I sprinkled some on top as a garnish. Since I love sriracha, I also added a drizzle of it on my dish.

This was very yummy and I would definitely make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

The Perfect Fall Treat – Mini Cider Donut Muffins

20181007_122026

We don’t usually drink apple cider, but we bought some last week so we could make that delicious bone-in pork recipe. Of course, we had a bunch of the cider left over. With fall now officially in the air, cider donuts are apparently a must. I’ve never personally had cider donuts, but Jake raves about them. That gave me the idea of maybe trying my own cider donuts and using up some of that left over apple cider. Most of the recipes I found required buttermilk. That would’ve been yet another ingredient we buy a jug of when all we need is a cup or less. So, instead, I found a cider donut muffin recipe. No buttermilk and no frying! (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

20181007_111120

I prepared the wet mixture, which included one egg, 3/4 cup apple cider, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

20181007_113245

I then put the dry ingredients (as directed in the recipe) into my stand mixer bowl. I turned the mixer on to mix up the dry ingredients a bit and then I poured the wet mixture in batches until well combined.

20181007_112017.jpg

The mixture seemed a little too wet. I thought maybe I forgot to add a 1/2 cup of the flour! I ended up adding about one more tablespoon of flour.

I decided to use a mini muffin tin because I wanted more bite-sized donut muffins. I sprayed the muffin tin with olive oil spray. I then used a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the batter into each muffin spot. That seemed to be just the right amount.

20181007_113904.jpg

I placed the mini muffin sheet on top of a baking wire rack, which was on top of a baking sheet. I did this because I didn’t want the bottoms of the mini muffins to cook faster and darken more than the rest of the muffin. I baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. When done, I set everything on the counter to cook as I prepared the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture. I only melted about 4 tablespoons of butter (rather than the 7 tablespoons in the recipe.) I also halved the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

To get each mini muffin out of its little hole, I poked a toothpick around the edges and pried the muffin out a bit, taking care not to rip the bottom part of the muffin.

20181007_120209.jpg

I decided not to cover the entire mini muffin with the sugar both because it was easier just to dunk the top and also because I thought it might keep the muffins a little lighter/healthier. I dunked the top of the muffin into the butter and then immediately after into the cinnamon sugar mix. I then set each on the wire rack.

20181007_120010.jpg20181007_120224

20181007_120232.jpg20181007_121635

These cooled very quickly, so they were ready to eat almost immediately after I was done coating all the muffins. These were great! Not the same thing as the fried cider donuts, but still a winner – great to just make and eat at home or to bring as a mini dessert for friends and family. If you have kids, this would be a great shared baking experience to try!

20181007_122029.jpg

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Garbage Quiche with a Phyllo Dough Crust

20181006_094344.jpg

I just received my new toys from Williams Sonoma yesterday. I don’t usually shop there, but we received a gift card (Thank you, Jim and Cindy!) as a wedding gift. I bought several items; two of them are a 3-piece stoneware baker set and 4-cup glass measuring cup. I purchased the stoneware baker set because all we have of that sort are Pyrex baking dishes. Those work great, but they don’t look great for serving guests or to bring as a guest to someone else’s house. I bought the large measuring cup because Jake needed one recently and I had been thinking about getting one and so I took this opportunity to go for it.

20181005_152608.jpg
My new purchases from Williams Sonoma

This morning, we didn’t really have anything specific to make for breakfast, but we did have eggs and vegetables that needed to be used soon. What came to mind was to make a frittata or quiche. So, I dug into the freezer and found some left over phyllo (or filo) dough that I thought would work great as a crust. I call this recipe a “garbage” quiche because it will work with virtually any sort of vegetable or protein you have – whatever you have on hand! In fact, my favorite fillings for a quiche are ham and artichokes.

Here’s what I used:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
  • Vegetables:
    • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
    • a couple of large broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
    • 3 campari tomatoes, 2 diced and 1 sliced
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (all to taste)
  • Garnish: fresh parsley (optional)

Here’s a summary of what I did.

If you’d like more explanation/description, read past the summary steps. I know, sometimes I at least like to know the tips and tricks before I get started so I can adjust accordingly.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
  2. Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and water. Beat the eggs.
  3. Add all the vegetables (except the sliced campari tomato) and half the cheese to the eggs. Mix to combine.
  4. Spray or rub a baking dish with oil/butter. Layer the phyllo dough in the dish, with the dough going up the sides and slightly over the top.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the dish.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the top begins to get a little firm, but is still liquidy.
  7. Place the sliced campari tomato on top of the egg and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and egg is cooked through. (This will vary.)

Additional Explanation/Description of Steps

First, I cracked 5 large eggs into the measuring cup. (I normally would’ve done this in a small mixing bowl, but I was too anxious to use that measuring cup for something!) I seasoned the eggs with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I also added a splash of water to the eggs to give them a little volume. Beat the eggs, seasoning, and water.

Then, I chopped up my vegetables. I diced two campari tomatoes, thinly sliced a little red onion, and small chopped a few broccoli florets. I added those to the egg mix along with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine.

(At this point, I sliced a third campari tomato, but we’re going to add that later. I also sliced an avocado, which we’ll add later, as well.)

20181006_084522.jpg
Sliced avocado to go on top of the quiche

I defrosted the rolled up dough by microwaving it directly inside the ziplog bag for about 30 seconds. I sprayed the baking dish of my choice with some olive oil. I forgot I had previously cut the phyllo dough, so I had smaller rectangles. I simply laid out the sheets with some slight overlap. I did this part very roughly. A lot of recipes that do this will have you put down one piece of phyllo dough and then brush it with butter, repeating that 5 or 6 times. I didn’t bother. I simply took a pile of about 5 sheets and laid it down. I then just sprayed some more olive oil spray over the top. You can see from my photo that my pieces were just slightly too small and didn’t hang over the top of the dish. If you want a little more of that golden phyllo dough to stick out the top, just use larger sheets that hang over the edge and trim to your liking.

20181006_083807.jpg
My messy phyllo dough layering in the baking dish

I poured in my egg mixture into the dish, on top of the phyllo dough.

20181006_084339.jpg
Egg mixture poured into the dish and on top of the phyllo dough

I popped this into the 350 degree Farenheit preheated oven and baked for about 15 minutes. I then took the dish out and layered my sliced campari tomatoes on top. I had also added the sliced avocado at this time, but that was a mistake. (The avocado browned a bit while cooking in the oven, so I covered it with some cheese. My suggestion is to put the avocado on after everything is done cooking just as a garnish/topping.) Take this opportunity to also sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

20181006_091235-e1538838595910.jpg
Adding sliced campari tomatoes part-way through baking

Bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and your baking dish. Check the doneness by sticking a toothpick through the middle. If it still looks a bit liquidy, it needs to cook longer. If it feels firm and doesn’t seem watery, then it is likely done.

20181006_094340.jpg
The finished quiche

Voila! The final product. Garnish with parsley and sprinkle with a little additional paprika if you’d like! This would be the perfect dish for breakfast or brunch with family and friends. 🙂

20181006_094934

Happy breakfast/brunching!

Sincerely,
Fu’d