Mac & Cheese Cups | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Mac & Cheese Cups

Mac & Cheese Cups | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I love going out to eat. I get so excited to read a new menu. I love watching other people’s food go by just to see what’s coming out of the kitchen. If there’s a table that looks right into the kitchen, all the better. On a good day, we’ve gone to a place where I want to try a bunch of different stuff. My husband and I will negotiate to make sure we’re not getting the same thing so we can taste each other’s food. There’s the internal struggle about whether to get a cocktail or a dessert because I know I can’t afford both.

But lately, when my food arrives, I’m often underwhelmed. I don’t know if it’s because I’m used to outrageous American food or if British restaurants just aren’t that great unless you’re rich. More often than not, what I’m eating looks impressive, but it’s not any better, and occasionally noticeably worse, than what I could make for myself at home. 

Mac and cheese is one of those foods that’s hit or miss out in the restaurant world. Sometimes a place will describe this supposedly legendary mac, and what you end up with is pasta in a soupy white sauce with some shredded cheddar sprinkled over the top. The whole thing gets shoved under the broiler and brought to you bubbling and boring rather than properly incorporated, creamy, dreamy, gooey, and good. I assure you, today’s recipe is anything but disappointing.

Mac & Cheese Cups | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

These Mac & Cheese Cups have a buttery, cracker crumb crust, so we’re already off to a good start. I swear Ritz crackers are a true manufacturing miracle. We’re mixing our al dente macaroni with cheddar and garlic and herb soft cheese for a punch of bold flavor. A few more creamy ingredients help hold everything together. Pop all this into a muffin cup to bake, and you’ve got something truly awesome.

Mac & Cheese Cups are also versatile. We ate them for lunch in front of the TV while watching football, still warm and gooey, but you could also make them into a cheesy side dish for dinner, or serve them up at a party. These are good hot or cold. When they’ve been chilled, they actually hold their shape really well and are much easier to eat with your hands, so if you’re serving them at a party, don’t be afraid to make them ahead and stash them in the fridge.

Mac & Cheese Cups | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

There’s a lot of great food in the world, but chances are, some of the best food will come from your very own kitchen. Why not start with Mac & Cheese Cups. I assure you, they’re awesome.

Mac & Cheese Cups
Serves 12
Mac & Cheese Cups combine a butter cracker crust with chewy gooey mac and cheese for a great little party food.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 ounces elbow macaroni
  2. 1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs, or similar (about 12 crackers)
  3. 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  4. 1.5 ounces butter, melted
  5. 2.5 ounces garlic and herb soft cheese, such as Boursin or cream cheese
  6. 0.5 ounces cold butter
  7. 1 egg
  8. 100 ml milk
  9. 30 ml sour cream
  10. Pinch of salt
  11. Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C), and lightly grease the cups of a standard 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it's boiled, add a fat pinch of salt and your pasta. Cook for one minute less than the package instructions, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Drain.
  3. While your pasta is cooking, combine your cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of your shredded cheddar, and your melted butter in a mixing bowl until fully combined. Divide your crumb mixture between your 12 muffin cups. I use the bottom of a shot glass to gently press the crumb mixture into the bottom of each cup to flatten it down. Set this aside until your pasta is ready.
  4. Once your pasta is cooked, combine the cooked pasta, remaining cheddar, garlic and herb cheese, and cold butter in a mixing bowl. In a measuring jug, add in your milk, use displacement to measure out your sour cream, then crack the egg into the jug. Give this mixture a good whisk to smooth it all out, then pour it over your pasta mixture. Finally, sprinkle in your salt and crushed red pepper flakes, and give the whole thing a good stir until it's evenly combined.
  5. Evenly divide your pasta mixture into the twelve cups. Bake for about 20 minutes or until it's bubbly and just starting to hint at browning.
  6. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove them. I use an offset spatula to get them out. Run your spatula around the edge of each cup to loose then up, then carefully slide the spatula down the side and underneath. They should release fairly easily.
  7. These can be served hot, cold, or anywhere in between.
Adapted from Everyday Annie
Adapted from Everyday Annie
http://awesomeon20.com/
Halloumi Fries | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Halloumi Fries

Halloumi Fries | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re heading off for a little holiday on the Greek island of Kos in a few weeks, and I’m pretty excited. This will be the first holiday my husband and I have had just the two of us since maybe ever. I’ve never been to this part of the world, and I have no idea what to expect. Whatever’s out there, I can’t wait to explore it with the man I love.

I imagine the Greek Islands to just be positively dripping with history. I mean, this is sort of where Western history starts, so I imagine the entire island is like a living museum. I’m probably wrong, but there’s no denying this place will have seen a lot of action over the centuries. 

As a picky eater, I’m always a little bit concerned about going hungry when I travel, but I love hummus, and falafel is usually a winner as well, so I think I can survive four days in Greece without having to go to McDonald’s. 

Halloumi Fries | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

You know what else is awesome? Halloumi Fries! Have you tried this? Halloumi is a dense, salty cheese, the sort that squeaks against your teeth when you bite into it. Dredged in flour and quickly fried, these are a lightly crispy dream. I loved them dipped in sweet chilli sauce. I think the sweet heat is the perfect foil to the intense saltiness of this cheese.

Making Halloumi Fries at home couldn’t be easier. To keep from burning your house down, make sure you have a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, long tongs, and a thermometer to control the temperature of your oil. All you have to do is cut your brick of cheese into sticks, dredge it in seasoned flour, and drop it into the oil for a minute or two until it’s golden brown. Give it a minute to cool on a wire rack so you don’t burn your face off, then try to stop eating them before you clog all your arteries.

Halloumi Fries | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Have any of you been to Kos before? What should we do? Where should we eat? Share your wisdom. I hope it’s awesome.

Halloumi Fries
Serves 4
Halloumi Fries are a cinch to make and a total treat to eat.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup plain flour
  2. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  3. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 225 gram block of halloumi
  5. Oil for frying
  6. Sweet chilli sauce, for dipping, optional
Instructions
  1. Add your oil to whatever vessel you'll be frying in, giving yourself about two inches in depth. Clip on your thermometer and heat your oil to between 350 and 375. Keep an eye on the temperature throughout the cooking process and adjust the heat to stay within this range.
  2. On a plate or another flat container, mix together the flour, paprika and pepper. You don't need salt as the cheese is plenty salty on its own.
  3. Cut your block of halloumi into sticks.
  4. Dredge each stick of cheese in the seasoned flour and carefully lower it into your pot of hot oil. I can usually add about four sticks of cheese before the first one needs to come out. They brown fairly quickly, so just keep an eye on the pot as your dredging and dropping, and use your tongs to remove the cheese sticks that have browned as much as you like.
  5. As you remove the cheese sticks, allow them to cool on a wire rack over a baking sheet. They'll crisp up as they cool.
  6. Serve warm with sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
Adapted from Tesco Magazine
Adapted from Tesco Magazine
http://awesomeon20.com/
Breakfast Pizza | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
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20 Awesome No-Bake Treats
28 Awesome Recipes to Eat Outside

28 Awesome Recipes to Eat Outside

28 Awesome Recipes to Eat Outside

The time has come for dining al fresco. For picnics, potlucks, backyard barbecues, cookouts at the beach, and all other kitchen free eating. Today I’ve got a round up for you of recipes that you can cook or prep ahead. These are all things that are easily transportable and either don’t need to be refrigerated or could fit in a small cooler. The next time you’re invited to a party, you won’t be at a loss for what to bring. It’s gonna be awesome.

Starters, Snacks & Sides

Everybody wants something to snack on while their waiting for the main meal to come off the grill. And of course, a hot dog on a plate all by itself is just sad. Here are some things to get you started, fill out that epic cheese plate, or accompany your burgers and dogs.

Dill Potato Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Easy Peanut Butter Hummus – serve with veggies or chips to keep people from lurking around the grill

Fancy Pants Sauage Rolls – These are great hot or cold, so pack them in your picnic for sure

Southwest Pasta Salad – Mayo-free and full of flavor

Blue Cheese Crackers – That’s right, you made your own crackers

Picnic Cheese Plate – Be a hero and bring a simple, affordable, and totally delicious cheese plate for the gang

Dill Potato Salad – This is potato salad with a dash of elegance

Loaded Baked Potato Salad – This is that trashed up potato salad that you’ve been dreaming of

Homemade Oat Cakes – Another option to serve with some really great cheese

On the Grill

Because we’ve all decided that frozen burgers are the worst, I want to make it easy for you to always have the best burgers. Make your patties ahead of time, pack them on ice, and throw them on the grill when you’re ready.

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Stuffed Burgers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Jalapeno Cream Cheese-Stuffed Burgers – A burger with a spicy surprise

Cuban Burger – Add pickles if you’re into that because they really should be there

Spicy Southwest Burgers – You won’t be able to keep your hands off them

Basic Burgers – My tips for making awesome burgers with whatever’s in your kitchen

Sweet Treats

So this section is the longest because, let’s face it, I’m gonna ask to bring dessert. But you have to plan properly if you want people to eat something delicious instead of sad and melty. All these recipes are very easy to transport and serve outside and don’t need to be refrigerated.

White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

White Chocolate Chip Brownies

White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kahlua Brownies

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blossoms

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lofthouse Cookie Bars

Giant Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mexican Brownies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

S’mores Brownies

Go eat outside while you can, kids!

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