Monday, April 11, 2016

"No Mac" and Cheese Recipe

This is always a tough time of year for those of us in the farming community.  We get teased with really nice, Spring - effect days, and then the next day is snow squalls and a variety of precipitation forms that fall from the sky (we've seen it all in the last couple weeks - hail, snowflakes, snow pellets, freezing rain, drizzle, heavy rain).  Just when we think there might be a clearing in the weather forecast to lend itself to some opportunity to do some field work, Mother Nature gives us another test.

While I busying myself with trying to keep everyone to work and school each day with nutritious foods and a positive mindset, I can't help but get a little frustrated myself.  This up and down with the weather, slows me down, too!  I can't be outside getting seed orders ready for shipment (or take any deliveries), I can't be outside doing landscape workout (AKA cleaning up the mess of winter in the yard), and I can't be outside just enjoying the clean air that all of the rain has provided us.

So, to avoid and deter prolonged frustration - I take to the things that I CAN do inside...the book work that needs to be caught up, laundry, meal planning and continuing with my fitness training (this is the glue that keeps my head in tact).  "Healthy wife creates healthy life"!!

The other day I was looking for something to do with a head of cauliflower that needed to be incorporated into our evening meal.  I did some research (recipe trolling on the Internet) and found several that I liked and that sounded like they would be healthier, too.  I love roasted cauliflower and my family loves Frosted Cauliflower (a blend of mayo and mustard and and cheese, atop the steaming head of cauliflower - it's melty gooey goodness).  But this particular night, I was wanting something different.

I found a recipe called Gluten Free No Mac-n-Cheese!  Sounded perfect!  And it ended up pretty perfect, my son was elated to see it come out of the oven piping hot, like a precious surprise at Christmas time!  His reaction alone, made the recipe worth it:



INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons butter, divided (I only used the first 3 T for the thickener)
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons coconut flour (I used Almond Flour since I had it on hand)
1 can (13.6 ounces) light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt three tablespoons butter. Cook the onion, stirring for five minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the coconut flour and cook, stirring constantly for three minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, mustard, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar and cauliflower until blended. Pour into the baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan, flaxseeds, and the remaining two tablespoons butter. Sprinkle over the casserole.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned.
The final product turned out nicely and quickly evolved into a base for several other items that I fixed last week.  I was able to use it for "noodles" under the homemade meatballs and marinara sauce that I made.  I also used it to add some extra depth to some tomato soup (converted from the Marinara Sauce) - my son exclaimed that it was the best tomato soup he thought he had ever had!!  Additionally, I used it as a substitution to a ham quiche that I made (the original recipe call for broccoli).  I used the cauliflower dish in it's place and didn't have to add any extra cheese!  It's been a versatile dish and overall a much healthier version of mac-n-cheese!  This dish turned out to be an excellent complex carbohydrate and added in that healthy fat component with a nice amount of wonderful cheese straight from the cheese block!  And what a complement to several other meals we had throughout the week, too!!  

It's a win to get a healthy comfort food dish, that can provide good fuel for the mind and body, and that can be utilized in several ways once prepared - certainly makes food prep and creative meal planning MUCH easier!  It's also a win to have yummy food that can take our minds from the blah days of early Spring weather.  Someday soon, I suspect we will be fast at it again in the fields, but for now, we'll just accept the comforts of home!




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