Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baked Cauli-Tater Casserole

I love cauliflower.  It's such a versatile vegetable. 

Versatile Vegetable - try saying that five times in a row without getting tongue-tied!!! 

Anyway, it is true.  Cauliflower can be made into rice.  I've already shared with you how to do that, right here.  It can also be used in place of white potatoes such as in mashed cauliflower. 

Then when I discovered this little gem of a recipe by Love and Primal using cauliflower like a potato loaded with all the fixin's, well I knew I had to try it and give it my own flare that suited my family's needs and allergy concerns. 

Here is my tasty version.  I omitted the buffalo sauce that Love and Primal used since I have kids to feed and they don't do spicy.  I made my own sauce using olive oil, vinegar and coconut aminos.  I cooked the cauliflower different too.  In fact I did everything separate and then put it all together at the end.  Also, my husband is avoiding cheese right now so I put half with cheese on (for me of course!) and half without.  I've made this twice in the last month and everyone loved it!  I think you will too if you give it a try!

Baked Cauli-Tater Casserole
(Serves 4)
Adapted from Love and Primal

2 chicken breasts, cooked - boiled and shredded or cubed
2 bags of frozen cauliflower
5 strips of bacon, cooked using my Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon method
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp sea salt

Sauce for the Cauli-tater:
2/3 cup of olive oil + a little more for greasing pan
1/3 cup of vinegar - I used a combination of apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar, mmm! 
6 tsp of Coconut Aminos (a soy sauce replacement.  You can just use soy sauce or BBQ sauce if you're not following a strict diet like us!)

Toppings for the Cauli-tater:
1/2 cup of all natural cheddar or other type cheese, shredded
3/4 cup of chopped green onions
Don't forget to include your bacon too!

Start this dish by cooking your bacon in the oven using my Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon MethodThat takes about 25-30 minutes to bake so you can start the rest of the prep work for this dish. 

Boil your chicken breasts until no longer pink, about ten minutes.  Let it cool for a few minutes before chopping into small pieces or shredding in your food processor.

Cook your cauliflower.  If I'm lazy, I will microwave mine for about ten minutes until tender.  If I am up for it, then I steam it on the stove top for about ten minutes.  Do what works for you! 

While you've got those three prep things going in, you can shred your cheese and cut up your green onions for the toppings.  You can also take out your ingredients to make the sauce. 

When your bacon is done and cooled, tear it into bacon bit size strips.  Try not to eat any right away and save it for the casserole!  :-)

To make the sauce: Place the olive oil, vinegar combination and coconut aminos (or soy sauce or bbq sauce) in a small bowl and mix well together.  That's it.  The sauce is made, congrats!  Set aside until ready to use.

To make the cauli-tater: Place your cooked, drained cauliflower in a large bowl with your cooked, cubed chicken pieces.  Season it with the onion powder and sea salt.

Then spread it into your greased baking dish.  I used a 2.5 QT pan, like this:

Pour your prepared sauce over the chicken and cauliflower.  Mix it around a bit to coat it well. 

Now for the best part.... top it with the bacon bits.  Like this:

Now add your additional toppings, cheese and green onion or whatever you feel like using.  Since my hubby is not currently eating cheese or onions, he didn't get any of that good stuff.  More for me:

Now turn up the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Remember you already preheated the oven because you cooked the bacon at 350.  Place your cauli-tater casserole in there and bake for 30 minutes. 

It will smell so good in the last ten minutes.  Let it cool before you serve and inhale.  You could even add some sour cream to top, making it truly like a loaded spud that you'd get from a restaurant like McAllister's Deli or similar.

However this version will be much healthier for you and won't leave you feeling bloated or heavy.  It has way less carbs and is packed with good nutrients.  (Yes, bacon is good in moderation!)  :-)

So enjoy!  I know we have!

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