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Happy Birthday to Me

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Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting

I’m another year older and deeper in denial about my age. After much debate, my husband finally convinced me to take a day off. I have a whole day to do exactly what I want. Chances are, I’ll spend it working on all the stuff I don’t get to do because I work too much. But if I wasn’t one of those people who feels guilty sitting still, here’s what I’d really like to be doing. I think a fairy godmother may be necessary. And a few extra hours in the day.

I’ll wake up and the house will be miraculously clean. There will be a cup of tea waiting for me, and somebody will have brought doughnuts from Regal Bakery. I’ll eat at least two, and it will cause me to lose 10 pounds.

Croissant French Toast at Hula Grill

A new wardrobe from ModCloth will have shown up on my doorstep. I’ll put on a fun frock and my husband and I will enjoy a long luxurious brunch at Hula Grill. Mimosas will be free. I’ll have four.

Happy Hour: Formaggio's Wine Bar

I’ll get a massage and a mani/pedi. Then I’ll come home and take a cozy nap, and no time will pass. I’ll lie on the beach and read food magazines for a while, then have a late lunch of wine and cheese at Formaggio Wine Bar.

Hawaiian Punch at Moose McGillicuddy's Waikiki

Everyone I’ve ever shared a good laugh and a meaningful conversation with will gather together at Moose McGillycuddy’s for cheap drinks and cheeseburgers. I will be awesomely overdressed. We’ll laugh much too loudly and my husband won’t even be embarrassed by me. 

Retro Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting

Somebody else will bake me a Retro Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting. We’ll eat it and pretend to be kids again. We won’t think for a moment about all of the things we haven’t done by the time we turn 36. We can do that tomorrow.

And if somebody could magically transport my baby in for the day, that’d be perfect.

Birthdays horrify me slightly. People pay attention to me, and I can’t decide if I like it or hate it. Either way, I’m going to do my best to relax and enjoy every minute of it. You only turn 36 once. Happy birthday to me. It’s gonna be an awesome year.

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles

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Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This year, I participated, once again, in the super cool Food Blogger Cookie Swap. If you’re a food blog addict like I am, you may be seeing a lot of cookies today because bloggers around the world are sharing their cookie swap recipes today. They also raised thousands of dollars to fight kids’ cancer, so that’s pretty awesome, too. It’s just a huge heap of happiness.

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I did what could have been a dumb thing and made a recipe I’d never tried before. Turns out I’m a genius because they were freakin’ amazing. I made caramel-studded snickerdoodles and you guys, I did not want to share. It was truly a hardship. These cookies are soft and chewy, buttery and sweet with a hint of cinnamon, and studded with bits of sticky caramel to make them truly truly awesome.

I searched for a Snickerdoodle recipe that was similar to the Mrs. Fields recipe, since that’s how they came in to my life to begin with. Then I picked up a bag of caramel bits near the chocolate chips on the baking aisle and folded those in because my heart told me it was the right thing to do. My heart knows what it’s talking about. It was a most outstanding combination.

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I don’t mess around when it comes to cookies, kids. Only the best for you guys. These cookies are ridiculous. You’ve got to get them into your life. Merry Christmas, friends. Have a cookie!

Caramel Studded Snickerdoodles
Yields 15
A traditional snickerdoodle gets made extra awesome with caramel bits to make a Caramel Studded Snickerdoodle.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
14 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
14 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 cup caramel bits
  11. 2 tablespoons sugar
  12. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Beat together butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes.
  2. Turn the speed down to medium low and add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. Finally, add the caramel bits and mix for a few seconds until they're incorporated
  5. Turn your dough out on to some plastic wrap and cover completely. Refrigerate the dough for at least a half hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 300 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.On a small plate, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Scoop your dough into ping pong ball sized bits, roll it into a ball, then roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar. Place the cookie dough on your cookie sheet and leave a couple of inches between each one. When it's full, bake your cookies for 12-14 minutes. I went with 14. They'll still be quite pale when you pull them out of the oven. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for about five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you can handle it.
  8. If a cookie sticks a bit because of the caramel, just give it a twist, and it should come free. Good luck keeping your hands off of them.
How to be awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/

Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese

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Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Exhaustion breeds laziness, which too often leads to eating substandard fast food or visits to the freezer section. I’ve eaten some unspeakable things during the busy seasons of my life. There’s often an obscene amount of peanut butter toast, Panda Express orange chicken, or greasy cheeseburgers. The solution to this madness? Grilled cheese!

Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Bread, cheese, butter, done. In this case, there’s a bit of something fruity involved as well. Fruit spreads on my grilled cheese is my new obsession. We’ve already done brie and blackberry as well as fig and smoked gouda. This time, I went for the classic combination of apple and cheddar. Obvious? Perhaps. Amazing? Duh.

Cheddar can be a bit oily when melted, so I used shredded cheddar for smoother melting and a slice of provolone because it’s super gooey. Each slice of bread also gets spread with a thin layer of apple butter on the inside. It’s the perfect combination to the sharpness of the cheddar. A little butter on the outside, a few minutes in a hot pan. We’re five minutes from heaven, kids.

Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

In my opinion, it’s perfectly acceptable to pair this with some store-bought soup. You’re busy. You’re tired. No need to work too hard. Put down the fast food, fix yourself a grilled cheese. Be happy. Simple.

Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Serves 1
Gooey sharp cheddar and apple butter make an unbelievable five minute meal.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 slices bread
  2. 2 tablespoons apple butter
  3. 1 slice provolone cheese
  4. 2-3 fat pinches shredded cheddar cheese (enough to cover the bread)
  5. 1 tablespoon softened butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat a small skillet over medium heat.
  2. Spread apple butter on each piece of bread. Place a slice of provolone on one piece and pile up some shredded cheddar. Put the lid on.
  3. Spread butter on the outside of one piece of bread, then place your sandwich, butter side down, in your hot pan. Spread the rest of your butter on the other piece of bread. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until your sandwich reaches your perfect level of crispiness.
How to be awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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