Awesome in February | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Awesome in February

How does tiny little February somehow always seem to go on forever? The weather was horrible pretty much every day, but let’s focus on what was awesome in February.

Awesome in February | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I went to the wedding of a dear friend this month, and it was lovely. Other than that, I’ve barely left my house. We did go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. How you know you’ve married the right person? They take you to Five Guys for special occasions. I never get tired of a good cheeseburger and a thick milkshake. And when you can share that experience with someone you love, that’s pure heaven.

While being cooped up in the house avoiding one storm after another this month, we watched the final season of The Good Place. While it wasn’t as strong as the first two seasons, I was still so sad when it ended. It’s like saying goodbye to friends.

We also watched Parasite, and guys, it’s everything everyone has promised. It’s visually stunning, hilarious and horrifying. If you’re still resistant to watching foreign films, this is the time to get over it. After a few minutes, you forget that you’re reading. This story is completely engrossing, and you must see it.

Internet food is starting to become more enticing this month as we’ve all given up on our new year diets. Refried beans are always my favorite part of any Mexican meal, so I’m pretty excited about these Easy Refried Beans from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Speaking of Mexican food, maybe I can serve those refried beans with these incredible looking Saucy Chipotle Chicken Skillet Enchiladas from How Sweet Eats. So what if you have to go to a specialty shop in the West End to get chipotle peppers in Glasgow.

Do I have to wait all the way ’til next year to try this Pull-Apart Biscuit King Cake from Joy the Baker? I don’t know if I can wait that long.

Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Your favorite recipes this month were Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels, White Cheddar Fondue, and Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies. I’m so into it.

They say Spring is coming. It’s keeping itself well hidden for now, but we know it’s out there. Just keep turning your face toward the sun.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

This no-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts. A chocolate cookie crumb crust is topped with decadent peanut butter mousse. And that fancy chocolate decoration is unbelievably easy. You won’t be able to stop eating this one.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We eat dessert at my house pretty much every day. Sometimes it’s just a scoop of ice cream or a bit of factory-made snack cake. Often it’s the remnants of the weekend’s photo shoot or a new recipe I’m testing. It doesn’t really matter. The point is, I’m addicted to sugar, and I need to finish each day with something sweet.

I also stop and eat some chocolate every day around 3 pm. It’s a little ritual that helps me get through the emotional roller coaster that is working with teenagers. I’ve never really been much good at depriving myself when it comes to food. I’m extremely disciplined in other ways, but when it comes to denying myself the pleasure of good food, I’m out.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is pure indulgence. It’s somehow both light and rich. You know you probably shouldn’t be eating this much sugar, but it tastes so incredible, you really don’t care. Your resistance crumbles with the pleasure of each bite, so cut the pieces small to save yourself.

What I love about this pie is that it’s no-bake, so you don’t even need to turn on your oven. We crush up some chocolate cookies like Oreos and mix that with some butter. Press it into the bottom of a pie pan or a springform pan and pop that in the fridge. To make the peanut butter filling, we use an electric mixer to beat together some cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and condensed milk. Then fold in some whipped cream to make it light and airy.

If you want, you can stop there, pop it in the fridge for a few hours, then try not to devour the whole thing. If you want to add a pretty chocolate swirl, simply drizzle some melted chocolate over the top and use a toothpick to get those pretty little swirls. It’s so simple. No one needs to know.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Life is short. Eat some Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Trust me. It’s so awesome.

If you’re looking for more no-bake pie ideas, try this Chocolate Lime Pie. It’s pretty awesome.

Are we hanging out on Instagram? I can’t wait to see you there.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Sweet & Sour Chicken

This Sweet & Sour Chicken is exactly what I remember from home. Lightly crispy chicken breast is coated in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Serve it with sticky rice and skip the take out. You’ll love it.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I know I talk a lot about the differences between America and Britain, but friends, they never stop. Yes, I realize that American Chinese food is nothing like the food in China. I lived in Taiwan for two years, so I’ve seen for myself. What I wasn’t prepared for was how different Chinese food would be in the UK. They have a lot the same dishes we have in America, but the way it’s prepared is so weird.

When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese takeaway, what I expect to get is bite-size pieces of chicken coated in egg and corn starch so it has a thin crispy coating on the outside. Then, it should be liberally tossed in the sauce so that it’s well coated but not swimming in sauce. That’s how I like it.

When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese place in the UK, I either get pieces of plain, possibly boiled chicken or little bits of chicken encased in a thick pancake-like batter served as big balls. Then there’s like a lake of sauce. I mean, I really like sweet and sour sauce, but what am I supposed to do with that? Swim in it? I can’t get into it.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Thankfully I found this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker that reminds me exactly of Sweet & Sour Chicken from home. When I first made it, I didn’t read through the entire recipe, which obviously you should never do. I just looked at the ingredients list, thought yeah, that looks good. Turns out it takes over an hour to make, but the wait is totally worth it.

How do I make Sweet & Sour Chicken?

After we chop and season our chicken (we like chicken breast, but you do what you want), we’re gonna coat it in corn starch, then dip it in beaten egg before pan frying it in a little oil just to brown the outside. Don’t worry if it’s cooked all the way through at this point because like I said, it’s going in the oven for an hour. At this point you might be thinking, if I cook this for an hour in the oven after frying it, won’t it be horribly dry? I thought that, too. The answer is no, it’s perfect.

Before it goes in the oven, we make up our sauce with sugar. There’s lots of it. Be prepared. The word sweet is in the title. Then we add ketchup, rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also work, or a combination if you’re low on rice vinegar like I was the first time) soy sauce, and some garlic powder. Stir that all together, pour it over the chicken before it goes in the oven, and toss the chicken in the sauce ever 15 minutes as it bakes to coat it in the sauce.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

You can also add some veggies, either on the side or right in with the dish. I used red bell pepper and added it to the baking dish along with my chicken pieces. Then I topped it with some sliced green onions for a little hit of something fresh and green at the end. You could use onion, pineapple, whatever you love. And of course, serve it over a bed of sticky white or brown rice. I think you should eat it with chopsticks, but I’m a weirdo.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We all like a bit of comfort, and to me, this Sweet & Sour Chicken takes me back to my childhood, where I was an even more picky eater than I am now. Make your own take out, so you can get it exactly the way you like. It’s gonna be awesome.

Looking for more chicken dinner ideas? Try this Teriyaki Chicken.

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

So it turns out that manifesting your dreams is really hard work and super discouraging sometimes. Occasionally, I hear about people who seemed to just wake up with 10,000 Instagram followers or they just made more than my annual salary in a month without really trying, and though I know I shouldn’t let it get me down, it so does. When that envy dragon rises up inside of me, it rages pretty ferociously. Envy is my wickedest demon. Maybe you can relate.

Right, give me two seconds to vent, then we’ll get on to solutions. For context, ya know. I’ve been putting the vast majority of my spare time and pretty much all of my emotional energy into growing this blog and trying to learn how to make some semblence of a business out of it for over four months now. While I’ve seen a tiny bit of growth over last year, my traffic is still much lower than it was in 2016 when I was hardly trying. I’m growing at a glacial pace, and it’s so demoralizing.

But nobody wants to hang out at this pity party all day. So let’s flip the script. When life is kicking your ass, what do you do? For me, there’s usually chocolate involved. But I also need to shift my perspective. Other people’s success don’t negate the possibility of my own. Just because someone else is releasing a new book doesn’t mean I could never write one. What comes easily to someone else might be a huge struggle for me, but there may be people who look at my life and wish they were doing something I take for granted.

Failures are so easy to spot. They take up so much space in our hearts. But hiding amongst all the work, there’s always success that we don’t see when we’re so busy focusing on what we haven’t accomplished. I made my traffic goal for January, modest as it was. I’m creeping up on 400 followers on Instagram, which isn’t much, but it’s more than what I had. I still haven’t made any money, but I’m trying to learn more to change that. And I haven’t slacked off and missed a post once since my relaunch. That’s something I haven’t been able to say for years.

Next time you’re stuck in an envy spiral, stop and look through a different lense. Find something to celebrate, no matter how small. And if you can, say it out loud. Better yet, say it out loud to someone who will tell you how extraordinary you already are. Chances are, you’ve been working too hard to remember. You are smart and creative and that thing you’re trying to do? You can totally do that. Just keep working. We’ll get there together.

Brownie Butterscotch Parfait | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Brownie Butterscotch Parfait

This Brownie Butterscotch Parfait will take you straight back to your childhood. Brownie chunks are layered with buterscotch pudding and sweetened whipped cream. It’s pure delight. Don’t forget the sprinkles.

Brownie Butterscotch Parfait | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m a big fan of nostalgia. I love going back to my favorite things from the past. From picking up a beloved children’s book to watching Clueless one too many times, there’s something so comforting about taking that trip back in time. I much prefer the original to a remake. Please, Disney, make something new. And no thank you to that Friends reunion people seem to be clamoring for. Just go back to the original.

I guess there are a few things I’m not so nostalgic for. Homophobia. Scrunchies. Do I really need to buy scrunchies again? Not everything from the past is good, but getting in touch with your inner child can be healthy. Let’s all stop taking ourselves so seriously all the time, and watch The Muppets while eating mac and cheese from a blue box.

Brownie Butterscotch Parfait | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

A pudding parfait always makes me feel like a kid in the best way. This Brownie Butterscotch Parfait is chocolaty and sweet. I love the creamy texture combined with the chewy and sometimes crunchy brownies. I never want it to end.

This dish is not only great for kids, but it can also be made with kids. I used store-bought brownies and instant pudding. You could also use store-bought whipped topping if you’re not a cook. I made my own whipped cream because it’s ridiculously easy, but I would have been just as happy with Cool Whip. I am (mostly) not a food snob. Do what makes you happy.

Brownie Butterscotch Parfait | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

What childhood favorites do you still love? Let me know in the comments. If one of them is Little Bucket Parfaits from KCF, take yourself back in time with a Brownie Butterscotch Parfait. It’s gonna be so awesome, kids.

Love layered desserts? Try this Salted Caramel Pudding.

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