Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Thanksgiving is probably going to look a little different for a lot of us this year, but we can still celebrate, enjoy good food and each other’s company in new and creative ways. Since a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings will be a bit smaller this year, I’m going to take advantage of cooking less volume by adding a little more flare. Maybe go for that fancy cheese. Add that extra topping. Cook a sauce from scratch. It’s all easier and more affordable when you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. So that’s what I did with this super cheesy, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole. It’s a rich and indulgent side dish with tons of fun toppings and a smaller batch size, fit for a smaller 2020 Thanksgiving feast.

The post Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Thanksgiving is probably going to look a little different for a lot of us this year, but we can still celebrate, enjoy good food and each other’s company in new and creative ways. Since a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings will be a bit smaller this year, I’m going to take advantage of cooking less volume by adding a little more flare. Maybe go for that fancy cheese. Add that extra topping. Cook a sauce from scratch. It’s all easier and more affordable when you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. So that’s what I did with this super cheesy, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole. It’s a rich and indulgent side dish with tons of fun toppings and a smaller batch size, fit for a smaller 2020 Thanksgiving feast.

This post is sponsored by ALDI. Ingredient prices and availability may vary. Visit ALDI on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Instagram.

cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background with a striped napkin

Adding that extra flare is also more affordable thanks to the awesome selection at my local ALDI store. They have everything I need for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, plus those fun specialty ingredients that can take your meal to the next level, all for unbeatable prices. And their cheese selection? Ah-maz-ing. So, I had a little fun with the cheese in this dish and used two different varieties of cheddar. #noregrets

What Kind of Cheese is Best?

Cheddar is definitely the best choice for this Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole because it melts smoothly and has a rich and creamy flavor. But you can play around with different flavors of cheddar to give the dish more flare. I used Emporium Selection Vintage Selection White Cheddar from ALDI for the cheese sauce, and their classic Happy Farms Mild Cheddar for the topping. If you want to try something more fun, they have tons of seasonal flavored cheddars like smoked cheddar, hatch pepper cheddar, or Cajun spice cheddar, all of which would all be incredible in this casserole.

Use the ALDI store finder here to find a store near you, then tell me in the comments below what kind of cheese you tried, so I can go try it too. ;)

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to add even more to your already “loaded” cauliflower casserole, I have some ideas. I tend to like things spicy, so a few thinly sliced jalapeños would be awesome, especially if coupled with a few small dollops of cooling sour cream. Slices of avocado might also be nice. Or, if you want to take this a different direction, a light drizzle of sweet and tangy BBQ sauce would be an amazing compliment to the creamy, cheesy sauce.

Want to turn it into a meal casserole? Add some shredded chicken or browned Italian sausage before drenching the cauliflower with sauce.

What is the Serving Size?

While I could probably easily eat half of this myself, I don’t think that would be a reasonable serving size, considering how rich this casserole is. This recipe makes about six smaller Thanksgiving sized servings (serving sizes tend to shrink when you’re trying to fit more items on one plate), or maybe four regular weeknight-dinner-sized side dish servings. It all depends on how many other items you’re serving with your meal.

Can the Recipe be Doubled?

Yes, absolutely! I purposely made this a smaller batch size recipe, but if you do have more mouths to feed this recipe is easily doubled. As long as you use a 9×13″ casserole dish so that everything is still evenly spread out, the cook times should all remain the same.

close up of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole being scooped out of the dish
Overhead view of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background

Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

This rich and cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole is an indulgent Thanksgiving side dish with plenty of flare.
Total Cost $8.65 recipe / $1.44 serving (prices may vary by location)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 about ¾ cup each
Calories 418.13kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Appleton Farms Hickory Bacon $1.63
  • 1 head cauliflower $2.29
  • 3 Tbsp Countryside Creamery Salted Butter 0.42
  • 3 Tbsp Baker's Corner All-Purpose Flour $0.03
  • 2 cups Simply Nature Organic Whole Milk $0.75
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Simply Nature Organic Garlic Powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Stonemill Black Pepper $0.02
  • 6 oz. Emporium Selection Vintage Cheddar, shredded $3.16
  • 2 oz. Happy Farms Mild Cheddar, shredded $0.42
  • 1/4 cup Chef's Cupboard French Fried Onions $0.16
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.11

Instructions

  • Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the grease in the pan and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower, then cut it into small florets. Add the cauliflower florets to a pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Let the cauliflower boil for about 5 minutes, or until it is fork tender. Drain the cauliflower well in a colander.
  • While the cauliflower is draining, prepare the cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a sauce pot. Melt the butter over medium heat, then continue to cook and stir the flour and butter for about two minutes more.
  • Whisk the milk into the flour and butter until it is fully dissolved, and no lumps remain. Continue to heat and stir over medium until the milk reaches a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Season the white sauce with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat, then begin adding the shredded vintage cheddar, one handful at a time, making sure it has fully melted in before adding the next handful. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it over low heat only until all the cheese has melted into the sauce.
  • Place the boiled and drained cauliflower in a 2-quart casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, making sure it is fully covered. Top with the remaining 2 oz. shredded mild cheddar and the French Fried onions.
  • Bake the cauliflower for only ten minutes, then switch the oven from bake to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes, or just until the top is slightly browned (broiling is optional). Do not over bake the casserole, or the cheese sauce will split.
  • Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the cooked bacon and sliced green onions. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 418.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.67g | Protein: 21.08g | Fat: 30.43g | Sodium: 962.32mg | Fiber: 2.68g
close up side view of cheesy cauliflower casserole

How to Make Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole – Step by Step Photos

Bacon cooking in a skillet

Cook about 4oz. bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the grease in the pan and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate while you prepare the rest of the dish.

cauliflower florets in a pot with water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the leaves and stem from one head cauliflower, then cut it into florets. Add the florets to a large pot, cover with water, place a lid on top, then bring it up to a boil over high heat. Let the cauliflower boil until fork tender (about 5 minutes). Drain the cauliflower in colander.

flour and butter roux in a pot

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a pot over medium heat (I used the same pot from the cauliflower to avoid dirtying another pot). Add 3 Tbsp flour and continue to cook and stir for about two minutes.

milk being poured into the pot

Whisk two cups of milk into the butter and flour mixture until it is fully dissolved, and no lumps remain. Continue to cook and stir the milk over medium heat until it comes to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to about the same consistency as heavy cream.

Seasoning in white sauce

Season the sauce with ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp pepper, and ¼ tsp salt.

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Remove the sauce from the heat and begin adding the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, making sure it is fully melted in before adding more. If the sauce becomes too cold to continue melting the cheese, place it over low heat only as you melt in the rest of the cheese.

thick cheese sauce in a pot

When all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce it will be thick and cheesy.

cheese sauce being poured over cauliflower in casserole dish

Place the cooked and drained cauliflower in a 2-quart casserole dish, then pour the cheese sauce over top, making sure to fully cover the cauliflower.

shredded cheddar added to top of cauliflower

Add the final 2oz. shredded mild cheddar and ¼ cup French fried onions on top. Bake the casserole for ten minutes, then switch the setting on the oven from bake to broil. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or just until you get some slightly browning on top.

Final toppings added to casserole

After baking, add the final toppings: cooked bacon and sliced green onions. Serve hot and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness!

Overhead view of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background

The post Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions

Creamy mushroom sauces make me weak in the knees. Anyone else? The chicken here is purely a vehicle for the creamy, garlicky, heavenly mushroom sauce. And the crispy onions? Well that’s just icing on the cake! This Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions is a really simple and scrumptious dinner with plenty of customizable options […]

The post Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy mushroom sauces make me weak in the knees. Anyone else? The chicken here is purely a vehicle for the creamy, garlicky, heavenly mushroom sauce. And the crispy onions? Well that’s just icing on the cake! This Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions is a really simple and scrumptious dinner with plenty of customizable options that I’ll outline for you below. Tuck this one in your back pocket (browser bookmarks?) because I’m sure you’re going to be making it again and again. ;)

Overhead view of creamy mushroom chicken in the skillet

What Are “Crispy Onions”?

I’m not sure how popular crispy fried onions are outside the U.S. so I wanted to take a second to explain and link out to this product for those who are unfamiliar. They’re basically deep fried onions that you can buy in a carton and are often used to top the classic Thanksgiving recipe, Green Bean Casserole. The onions are super crispy, a little salty, and they just add a wonderful texture and flavor in contrast the to the creamy mushroom sauce. The only brand I know that makes them is French’s, but you might be able to find a generic version at some grocery stores. 

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes, boneless, skinless chicken thighs will work beautifully for this recipe and, because they are already thin and flat, will not require the pounding step that I show for the chicken breasts below. I do not suggest bone-in chicken thighs or breasts for this recipe because they require a much longer cooking time.

Can I Substitute the Mushrooms?

Not a mushroom lover? No problem. This recipe would also be great with spinach. Simply make the sauce without the mushrooms by adding the garlic to the skillet after removing the chicken, then proceeding to deglaze the skillet with broth as directed below. After adding the cream, simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce, then stir in fresh spinach until wilted. Finally, add the chicken and warm through.

Make it Dairy-Free

Full fat coconut milk will work well here in place of the heavy cream, just as it does in my Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen. Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk in a can, not the kind in a carton, which is thinner and meant to be a substitute for dairy milk. Shake up the can well before measuring, to distribute as much fat throughout the liquid as possible. Also, use coconut oil or your cooking oil of choice in place of butter.

Creamy mushroom chicken on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pictured with Steamed Green Beans and mashed potatoes.

 
Creamy mushroom chicken on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions

Creamy Mushroom Chicken topped with delicious crispy onions is an easy weeknight dinner with plenty of options for customization!
Total Cost $8.70 recipe / $2.18 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 369.8kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms $1.69
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1.3 lbs. total) $5.63
  • 1 pinch salt $0.02
  • 1 pinch pepper $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided $0.26
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.39
  • 1/4 cup crispy fried onions $0.37
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) $0.05

Instructions

  • Rinse and slice the mushrooms. Set the sliced mushrooms aside.
  • Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound the chicken until it is an even thickness, about ¾-inch thick. Cut each chicken breast into two pieces, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add one tablespoon of the butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover with foil or an upside down plate to keep it warm.
  • Add the second tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their water and the skillet begins to dry up again. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about a minute more.
  • Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet and spoon mushroom cream sauce over each piece. Allow the chicken to simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes more, or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Top the chicken with the crispy fried onions and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 369.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.25g | Protein: 36.13g | Fat: 22.4g | Sodium: 345.45mg | Fiber: 0.65g

How to Make Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions – Step by Step Photos

Sliced mushrooms

Wash and slice 8oz. baby bella mushrooms. Set the mushrooms aside.

Pounded chicken breasts on a cutting board with a rolling pin

Place two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a mallet or a rolling pin to gently pound the chicken until it is an even thickness, about ¾-inch. This helps the chicken cook quickly and evenly in the skillet.

Chicken portions seasoned with salt and pepper on the cutting board

Cut each chicken breast in half to create four portions, then season each with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cooked chicken in the skillet

Add one tablespoon butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. When the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, add the chicken and cook until golden brown on each side (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep it warm (either foil or another plate turned upside down).

Sautéed mushrooms and garlic in the skillet

Add another tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their water and the skillet dries up again. Add four cloves minced garlic and continue to sauté for about a minute more.

Cream being poured into the skillet with mushrooms

Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom. Add ½ cup heavy cream to the skillet and stir to combine.

Chicken in creamy mushroom sauce in the skillet

Add the cooked chicken back to the skillet and spoon the creamy mushroom sauce over the chicken. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and the sauce is slightly reduced.

Creamy mushroom chicken in the skillet, topped with crispy fried onions

Top the chicken with crispy fried onions (I used about ¼ cup total). 

Finished Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions, garnished with parsley

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired, then serve. This goes really well with mashed potatoes or pasta, so the creamy sauce can be spooned over top like a gravy.

The post Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions appeared first on Budget Bytes.