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/

Awesome in August

Awesome in August

August has been a month of extremes. From being absolutely desperate for air conditioning in Greece to strongly considering turning on the heat in Glasgow. From being obnoxiously bored to gloriously bored to so busy I could barely breathe. From being in a city buzzing with visitors to a quiet Greek island where there seemed to be as many cats as people. August has shown us a lot.

We went on vacation to Kefalos on the island of Kos in Greece just before the kids came back to school, and though I’m usually an obnoxious busy body, I managed to embrace doing a whole lot of nothing other than reading on an island in the Aegean. I also managed to consume my body weight in hummus and gyros and gelato. Not sorry.

Before we left, we managed to sneak a peak of one of the cycling road races while the European Championships of several different sports were being held in Glasgow. It was exciting to be in a city with a major event like that, provided you weren’t trying to take a bus through the city centre.

I’m thinking I definitely need to give both these Savory S’mores and these S’mores Fudsicles from Spoon Fork Bacon a try. They’re both gorgeous!

While we’re at it, let’s make some Root Beer Float Caramel Bars as well. If you’re really nice, I’ll share them with you.

Chicken Parmesan from Awesome on 20

Your favorites this month were Chicken Parmesan, Passion Fruit Green Tea, and White Cheddar Fondue. Clearly I’m not the only one who can’t figure out what season it is.

I’m ready for sweaters and boots and all things pumpkin spice. Hey September, you’re such a babe.

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

Baci di Ricotta

Baci di Ricotta | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

While we’re on the subject of the beauty and terror that is Instagram, can we talk about how Instagram always makes me feel like everyone in the world is eating doughnuts except for me? Pretty sure every time I look at my stories, there’s at least one person showing off a box of gorgeous, giant, creative, frosted yeast doughnuts. It makes me so jealous. I love doughnuts, but there’s really nowhere to get great doughnuts here. 

I experience food envy on a regular basis. I wish I knew how to just be happy for other people’s treats instead of suddenly feeling like I’m starving to death and there’s absolutely nothing to eat anywhere ever. I’m still working on it Life is growth.

Baci di Ricotta | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I found a temporary solution to the lack of doughnuts in my life. These Baci di Ricotta are quick and delicious, and the crisp on the outside, fluffy and creamy on the inside, not too sweet with a hint of cinnamon awesomeness will make your morning unbelievable. I know they’re not monstrous maple bacon pillows of dough, but I think you’re gonna love them.

As the name suggests, the fat in these little fried balls of dough is actually ricotta cheese. Before you click away, rolling your eyes and wondering what kind of crazy person would put cheese in a doughnut, just have a little faith. The ricotta keeps the mixture light, and they’re perfectly tender on the inside. They’re also made with baking powder instead of yeast, so you can go from looking at Instagram to eating Baci di Ricotta in like twenty minutes.

Baci di Ricotta | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

You never need to have doughnut envy again. Baci di Ricotta will make all your fried dough fantasies come true.

Baci di Ricotta
Yields 15
Baci di Ricotta are crisp on the outside, fluffy and creamy on the inside, and surprisingly simple to make
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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 ricotta
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  5. Pinch of salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  8. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. Vegetable oil for frying
  10. Powdered sugar to dust
Instructions
  1. Put the oil in a heavy pot to begin heating to about 350 degrees.
  2. Add the ricotta and egg to a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla extract, and whisk until you have a smooth, slightly stiff mixture.
  4. Once your oil has come up to the proper temperature, add the dough to the hot oil about a tablespoon at a time. I use a cookie scoop but only fill it about halfway. I can usually cook four or five little dough balls at a time.
  5. Flip each dough ball a few times as they're cooking until they're deep brown on the outside. Once cooked, remove to a wire rack over a baking sheet to cool and crisp up.
  6. Serve warm dusted with a generous amount of powdered sugar.
Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
Cheddar Cheese Risotto | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
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