The first thing you should know about my cooking is that I drive my husband crazy in the kitchen. As much as he would like a clear, simple formula for creating a meal, I tend to experiment. A little of this, a little of that. A shortcut here, a fancy technique there.
Which means that when I try a new recipe, I often read five or six versions online — then do my own thing.
Today, in my effort to have a low-carb Thanksgiving due to my gestational diabetes, I tried mashed cauliflower. But not plain mashed cauliflower — more of a cheesy cauliflower bake.
I started with a shortcut. Though most recipes I read said to steam the cauliflower on the stove, I tend to go quick with steamed veggies. I cut up two heads of cauliflower, added a little water to a glass bowl, covered it, and stuck it in the microwave for a while. Six minutes in my microwave makes perfect broccoli, so that’s where I started. But then I realized I wanted the cauliflower more mushy, so I kept going about four more minutes. (HINT: This ultimately wasn’t long enough. Everyone says you can’t overcook the cauliflower, but I discovered you definitely can undercook it.)
I strained all the water out of the cauliflower, added half a brick of cream cheese, then looked for another shortcut. I should have just pulled my awesome Cuisinart food processor out of the cupboard, but I hate washing all the pieces. So I tried the immersion blender another online recipe suggested. Didn’t work at all.
I dumped the cauliflower/cream cheese mixture in my blender. The bottom inch or so started to get creamy, but then the blades just spun uselessly.
I put it all back in the bowl and tried my hand mixer.
Don’t do this! My kitchen, hair and clothes ended up covered in cauliflower flecks.
Finally, I determined that the cauliflower needed to be softer, so I put it all in the microwave for a couple more minutes … then relented and pulled out the food processor. (Yes, instead of saving myself dishes, I quadrupled my work. Oops.)
Perfection. Once the cauliflower was starting to get creamy, I added the rest of the cream cheese, along with some shredded cheddar. When it all looked pretty much like smooth mashed potatoes, I put it in a covered casserole dish, added some more shredded cheddar to the top, and dumped on a couple tablespoons of crumbled bacon.
Then, I stuck it all in the fridge to await the trip to my mother’s house, where I baked it just before we sat down to eat. Success.
Now, I just have to wash that sink full of dishes.
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake
2 heads cauliflower
1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz)
Garlic powder or roasted garlic to taste
1 cup shredded chedddar
2 T (or to taste) real bacon bits
Clean, chop and steam cauliflower until very soft.
Drain cauliflower thoroughly, then place in food processor with half the cream cheese. Mix until cauliflower starts to become smooth and creamy.
Add the rest of the cream cheese, plus the garlic, until you get the consistency you desire.
Mix or stir in half the shredded cheddar.
Put the cauliflower mix into a covered baking dish and top with the rest of the shredded cheddar and the real bacon bites.
Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, covered. Remove the cover for the last 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese.