Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re in a long period of financial austerity in this household after an absolutely amazing vacation. We made a moderate effort to stay within the $20 a a day budget, but getting an advance on my allowance was absolutely necessary. Now we’re trying to make up for that by being really boring and staying in the house as much as possible. I still somehow find myself spending a bunch of extra money at the grocery store and going to Subway for lunch way too often, but I’ll get caught up eventually.

Luckily, we’ve got some built in entertainment this month in the form of the World Cup. Geoff is committed to watching every match. I’m just in it for the drinks. To be fair, that’s where most of my money has gone this week. You see, we have a tradition of trying to find a drink, either spirits, wine, beer, or cider from each country that’ playing. We have four bottles of wine open in our fridge right now, and I’m having a great time. 

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hopefully you’ve got a full social calendar and are getting invited to all sorts of picnics and cook outs, or are hosting your own, or just eating outside by yourself. Regardless, you’re going to need a great pasta salad recipe, and this Southwest Pasta salad is it. I confess, it’s normally hard to drag me away from a mayonaissey potato salad, and if there’s a bowl of mac salad available, I might run away with the whole thing. But this mayo-free pasta salad keeps me coming back for more.

The colors in this thing are absolutely gorgeous, and the dressing is packed with flavor. And because there’s no mayo, you don’t have to worry about it sitting out on the picnic table all afternoon. Just make sure to give it a good stir before dishing it up to make sure the dressing hasn’t all pooled on the bottom of the bowl. And the best thing is, the longer it sits, the more flavorful it gets and the pasta soaks up all the spicy goodness.

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hope you have an exciting summer in front of you, and I hope you make Southwest Pasta Salad for your next party. It’s gonna be awesome.

Southwest Pasta Salad
Serves 6
Southwest Pasta Salad is the perfect spicy and colorful solution for your breezy picnic life.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound small pasta, your favorite shape or whatever's in your pantry
  2. zest of 2 limes
  3. 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  4. 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  5. 3 green onions, chopped (I use scissors)
  6. 1/2 cup frozen corn
  7. 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
for the dressing
  1. 6 Tbsp lime juice (Use what you can get from the limes you zested earlier, then top up with bottled lime juice if you need to)
  2. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  5. 1 tsp ground cumin
  6. 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 2 tsp sugar
  9. 3/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to the time on the package. Drain
  2. Zest your lime into the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the black beans, bell pepper, green onion, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the pasta and stir it up.
  5. The easiest way to make the dressing is to combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake until the oil has mixed in. If you need to mix this in a bowl, whisk together all ingredients apart from the oil, the drizzle the oil in slowly while whisking all the while until everything is well combined.
  6. Pour the about 2/3 of the dressing over your salad and give it a stir. If you want more, add it. If not, save it for when you're ready to serve. You might find that after the pasta salad has cooled in the fridge, it can take a little more. Drizzle it over and stir well before serving.
  7. Allow the salad to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but overnight is even better.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
http://awesomeon20.com/
Eating Out: Max's Bar & Grill

Eating Out: Max’s Bar & Grill

Eating Out: Max's Bar & Grill

One of my very favorite places to pop in for lunch after an afternoon of shopping in Glasgow’s City Centre is Max’s Bar & Grill. From the outside, it’s an unassuming little place. You might have walked past it a dozen times and never noticed. On the inside, it’s got a beautiful 20’s speakeasy vibe with lots of wood and a gorgeous mirror backed bar. Be sure to look up and notice the light fixtures, as well. But what keeps me coming back is the menu.

Max’s might have a historic theme to their decor, but the service is very millennial. They bring an iPad to your table, and you get to browse through their entire menu on it. Each item has a drool-worthy photo and description if you want to know more. For someone who loves reading menus, this is heaven. And it’s not easy to choose what I want because there’s no shortage of tempting dishes. I need to get back quick to try something new.

This is not just standard pub food friends. I promise, Max’s has the best chicken strips I’ve ever eaten. Normally, I just see chicken strips as a vehicle for a variety of sauces, but these do not need sauce. They’re tender, juicy, crispy, and so flavorful all on their own. I didn’t know chicken strips could be so good. The chips are also perfectly cooked, and I love any opportunity to eat corn on the cob. 

Eating Out: Max's Bar & Grill

Geoff opted for a spicy veggie burger the size of your face, and he loved it. He’s officially the worst at describing his food, but I can attest that there was not a crumb left. They have a lot of creative burgers and dogs on their menu, and I can’t wait to try one myself.

I’ve also had their mac and cheese with garlic toast before, and I can assure you that’s fantastic as well. 

Unfortunately, the restaurant is a bit dim, which is great for intimate conversation but not fantastic for food photography. My photos here certainly don’t do the food justice. You’ll be too excited about your delicious to take many photos, though. The next time you’re hungry in the city, be sure to pop into Max’s and fill up on something delicious.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m supposed to be writing about life and chocolate cupcakes. I’ve been staring this computer for a good fifteen minutes trying to conjure up some words. My husband is out drinking with work friends, and my animals are both asleep on separate sofas. Old episodes of Friends are playing in the background, and I’m just sitting here so happy it’s Friday. It’ll already be Saturday when you read this. You will be well and truly sunk into the weekend by now, and I hope you’re absolutely reveling in it. 

I think the older I get, the more precious weekends become. Especially when I think about how I probably won’t be able to retire until like a week before I die. I suppose that’s all the more reason to take the time to make and eat cupcakes. Let every weekend be a celebration. You survived another week, and you deserve chocolate.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes stay moist for days, and the combination of tender chocolate cake and creamy mint frosting is unbelievable. They also have a lovely light texture because of the addition of ground almonds. If you have a hard time finding them, you can always throw some skinned almonds in into the food processor. 

The mint frosting is sweet and refreshing. I promise it doesn’t taste like toothpaste. Though if you could eat it from a tube, I’d be cool with that. These are definitely from scratch cupcakes. There are no clever shortcuts. But there’s absolutely nothing fiddly about making them. You’ll be nice and relaxed, and the smell is absolutely heavenly.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

You work hard. You deserve a cupcake.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Serves 24
Chocolate Mint Cupcakes stay moist for days, and the combination of tender chocolate cake and creamy mint frosting is unbelievable. 
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the cake
  1. 100 grams chocolate chips
  2. 175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  3. 275 grams brown sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 150 ml buttermilk
  7. 200 grams all-purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 100 grams ground almonds
For the frosting
  1. 200 grams unsalted butter, room temp
  2. 250 grams powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 1 tsp peppermint extract
  4. green food coloring, or not, whatever you like
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and prep 24 cupcake papers. If you only have one pan, stash the batter in the fridge between batches. It’s not the end of the world.
  2. Boil some water, then measure out your chocolate into a bowl. Pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) of the boiling water over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smoothish. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  3. With your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla to your beaten eggs.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the egg mixture.
  6. Add the chocolate. Make sure to get it all.
  7. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined. If you’ve been using a stand mixer, you can abandon it at this point.
  8. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda over your wet ingredients, then add the almonds.
  9. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together.
  10. Divide your batter between the 24 cups. I use my cookie scoop. Each one gets two generous scoops. Fill them about two thirds full.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they spring back when touched.
  12. Let them cool in the pan for about 2 minutes, then cool them completely on a wire rack if you have it. Or the counter is totally fine, too.
For the frosting
  1. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with your mixer on medium high for about five minutes. It should be light and fluffy.
  2. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the peppermint extract and food coloring for your desired effect.
  3. Marry your cake and frosting in whatever way you see fit. I used a Wilton 1m tip straight above the cupcake. Just squeeze it for about three seconds. Easy!
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
http://awesomeon20.com/
Basic Burgers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
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