Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Sometimes during my questionably numerous hours on the internet, I come across “healthified” recipes that look pretty good, but still make me wonder why you wouldn’t just make the original.

This is one of those recipes.

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ll admit, I made it mostly out of curiosity. Unlike many modern Americans, I am not afraid of potatoes. In fact, potatoes themselves are quite healthy for you, and can be an excellent source of nutrients. Sure, they are pretty high carb, but I’ve never paid much attention to carbs so it doesn’t concern me. Potatoes get a bad rap but it’s not the vegetable that is the problem, it’s how we prepare it: French fries are clearly unhealthy, but then of course we like to pile on loads of salt, cheese, chili, et cetera, just to really make sure we’re not benefiting at all. Mashed potatoes are typically made with loads of butter and cream and various other dairy products that add tons of fat and unnecessary calories, along with their delicious, wonderful flavors. Baked potatoes, we say, those are healthy! And yes they are…until we add the toppings.

Whoops.

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole {{Baking Bytes}}

This particular recipe kinda makes me giggle because the things that make potatoes unhealthy are still quite present in here, whereas the potatoes themselves have been substituted with cauliflower. I vastly cut down the additions from the original, and even made it a second time to cut them down some more, but I’m still not sure I’d consider it a truly healthy side dish.

In any case, it is quite delicious, and if you’re into the low-carb situation, maybe it’ll be great for you. It probably won’t become a staple around here, but it’s a great way to spice up an otherwise familiar palate. Or sneak some cauliflower into picky eaters.Loaded Cauliflower Casserole {{Baking Bytes}}

Creamy and cheesy and optionally topped with bacon, it has a texture like slightly lighter mashed potatoes and all the fun flavors that go with them. It makes for a great side dish and could easily be made vegetarian simply by nixing the bacon. The second time I made it without bacon and it was excellent as well.

Although I likely won’t be making it weekly, or even monthly, I did really enjoy the final product and it was a fun way to eat cauliflower. It also reheated nicely which is always a pleasant surprise. Hope you enjoy it!

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole {{Baking Bytes}}

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Adapted from Calamity Jayne
Makes one 8×8 dish (6-8 servings)

Ingredients

2 lbs cauliflower, diced

1/3 cup sour cream (full fat preferred)
2 cups grated cheese, divided (I used cheddar)
salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 and 1 tsp, respectively)

optional toppings: 3-4 slices crumbled bacon, 2 Tbsp minced chives

Directions

  1. In a large pot, boil cauliflower until softened, about ten minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8×8″ baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  3. Drain completely and return to pot. Mash or puree into desired texture. I used an immersion blender to puree mine completely in order to mimic mashed potatoes.
  4. Return pot to stove over medium heat, and cook at least 5 minutes longer (stirring constantly) to evaporate excess water. Remove from heat.
  5. Add sour cream and 1 cup of cheese, and stir until completely combined. Salt and pepper to taste, making sure it’s well mixed.
  6. Spread cauliflower mixture into prepared baking dish, and top with remaining cheese (and bacon, if using.)
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and cauliflower is bubbling. It might look kind of watery, but don’t worry, that’s normal.
  8. Let cool on the counter for about 5 minutes before serving, then top with chives (optional) and enjoy.

Notes

In my opinion this step is paramount. Nothing is worse than watery mashed potatoes and this casserole is no different. I recommend tasting a couple of times, and keep going until the cauliflower doesn’t just taste of water, especially if you pureed it.

Bacon Baked Beans

Okay everyone, don’t panic, but I didn’t make dessert this week. I know, I know. *GASP* But don’t worry, I’m sure next time we’ll return to our regular scheduled programming.

This week, however, I stepped slightly outside my forte into the world of real food and made baked beans. Granted, I still used the oven, and there was bacon involved, so I guess it wasn’t that far outside my comfort zone after all.

I’m still counting it.

This recipe comes from my mom, who got it from her mom, who got it from a friend of hers. It’s the family favorite for taking to potlucks and barbecues and my mom is asked for the recipe every time. A plethora of beans and bacon with the taste of brown sugar results in a fabulous and filling side dish sure to complement any barbecue.

Baked Beans

Admittedly, I did not like this dish as a kid. It wasn’t till a few years ago that I had another taste and suddenly understood why family friends always raved about my mom’s baked beans. This past weekend I took a pan to a pig roast and didn’t bring any home. In the words of my mom, this recipe is “too delicious not to share.” I’m definitely inclined to agree.

But don’t take our word for it. Make it yourself and let me know what you think. Your family will thank me.

Baked BeansBaked Beans

Makes a shallow 9″x13″ pan

Ingredients

1 can (15 oz) lima beans
1 can (15 oz) butter beans
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans
1 can (28 oz) pork ‘n’ beans

1/2 lb bacon
1 medium-large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground mustard

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Drain lima, butter and kidney beans.
  3. Slice the bacon into roughly 1″ pieces.
  4. In a large bowl (at least 3 quarts), combine drained beans, pork ‘n’ beans, bacon, onion and garlic.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, vinegar and mustard.
  6. Pour sauce into beans and mix gently, but thoroughly.
  7. Pour beans into a 9×13 baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for two hours.
  8. Remove the foil, stir gently, and bake for another hour or so, stirring every
    15-20 minutes. Beans should be nicely browned and not too runny when done.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before digging in.

Baked Beans

Notes

  • This is a very forgiving recipe. Likely it will look pretty runny when you remove the foil, but it will thicken up during the uncovered baking time. If it looks too thick, you can always stir in a little water.
  • If you double the recipe use a deep dish lasagna pan OR one 9×13 pan and one 8×8 pan. Bake them at the same time but switch sides of the oven after you remove the foil.
  • In a little bit of a hurry? Raise the temp up to 375 and cut the covered baking time to 90 minutes. Uncovered time will likely be closer to 45 minutes but keep an eye on them.
  • Taking them to a potluck? Use a slow cooker to keep them warm for serving.
  • If needed, you can use regular white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is best.
  • I love bacon, so I used the thick cut variety.
  • You can easily make this vegetarian by getting the “vegetarian” labeled pork ‘n’ beans, and leaving out the bacon.