Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Millionaire Shortbread

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

My husband is the king of gift giving. It’s basically his super power. Over the years, he has given me so many wonderful, thoughtful gifts that are always totally surprising but also exactly what I want, sometimes without even knowing it. And though he does often spend more money than I would, it’s never about how expensive the gift is. He always finds something that shows that he has been listening and really gets me. Every gift says I love you.

I’m turning forty soon, and I’ve been pretty anxious about it. Signs of age are finally undeniable in my face and body, and I’m not sure how to deal with that. I want to accept it gracefully, but it’s a struggle.

The other night, I came home from my yoga class to a pile of packages on the kitchen table. I overlooked them, assuming they were maybe Christmas gifts or something from various family members that had been sent up early. I couldn’t think what else they would be, and I was too hungry to process them beyond another thing I would need to tidy up.

Ten minutes later, to keep myself from dying while I waited for some real food to be delivered, I dug out some ice cream bars from the freezer, and as I was setting the empty box on the table, I finally noticed the note that was sitting there. A note to me. The sweetest note I’ve ever read declaring that all those gifts and envelopes were actually for me. 40 gifts for the 40 days leading up to my birthday so that I would remember every day how much I am loved, how wonderful my life has been, and what a beautiful future we have together. That note will probably still be my favorite part of the gift by the time my birthday finally arrives. I’ve said it before, I didn’t know what it meant to be truly loved until I met this man. Nothing has changed.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

For Geoff’s birthday a few months ago, I bought him a video game and tickets to a local Oktoberfest event. I’m terrible at gift giving. My brain just doesn’t work like that. The way I showed him my love was to make him homemade caramel ice cream, and these Millionaire Shortbread bars. I’m a terrible shopper, but you best believe, you’ll get the homemade dessert of your dreams. And this Millionaire Shortbread is definitely the stuff that dreams are made of.

A layer of crumbly, buttery shortbread is topped with a layer of chewy caramel, then a thick chocolate ganache is spread over the whole thing. It’s heavenly. While there are three different components, and each needs to be made individually, this can be done after work and still be eaten later that night. Caramel-making is always a little bit fiddly. My pot is old and doesn’t heat evenly, so I get hot spots, but hopefully you don’t have hand-me-down cookware and won’t have to contend with that problem. But even if things don’t go perfectly, this is still gonna be awesome.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We all have unique ways of saying I love you. Millionaire shortbread is a great place to start.

Millionaire Shortbread
Serves 16
Millionaire Shortbread is an awesome way to show a caramel lover you care.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the crust
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons corn starch
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 ounces cold butter, cut into chunks
  6. 1 tablespoon cold water
  7. 1 egg yolk
For the caramel
  1. 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 3 ounces unsalted butter
  4. 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the chocolate
  1. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped of chips
  2. 3 tablespoons double cream
For the crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment or foil leaving a bit of an overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, corn starch, and salt until combined and lump free.
  3. Work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like wet sand. I find my clean hands are the best tool for this job.
  4. Add the water and egg yolk and blend together with a fork until everything is well combined.
  5. Transfer this mixture to your baking sheet, and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the caramel
  1. While your crust is in the oven, you can start making your caramel. Start by whisking together your sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter and golden syrup in a medium sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached. Make sure you have enough space as the mixture will expand as it boils.
  2. Cook this over medium heat, whisking gently all the while until the butter melts and the mixture starts to boil. Continue to cook and stir until the temperature reaches 225F. Once you hit your target temperature, turn off the heat and quickly add in the vanilla and salt. Whisk this all together, then quickly and carefully transfer your caramel onto your crust. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes for the caramel to set.
For the chocolate
  1. Combined your chopped chocolate or chocolate chips with your cream in a microwave safe dish. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each round, until the chocolate is just melted. Give it a good stir to smooth everything out, then pour this over your caramel layer. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate mixture as evenly as possible right to the edge.
  2. Refrigerate the whole thing for at least an hour to set everything before slicing into 16 pieces. These are pretty rich, so you could make them even smaller if you have the patience. If you're finding your bars difficult to cut, allow them to come up to room temperature first.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
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.

Best of Honolulu | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Best of Honolulu

Best of Honolulu | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Last night I had resigned myself to waking up and taking sad, ugly photos of the desperation brownies I made in an old frying pan that we unscrewed the handle from because I’ve given away all of my baking pans. They were delicious and just about the only thing that made me feel better, but they weren’t very pretty.

As of 4 am on the day of writing (which, in case you haven’t figured it out is the day before posting), my desperation turned to joy. My visa is in the mail, and I won’t have to be left behind after all. Let’s celebrate by remembering all the awesomeness that Honolulu has to offer.

Best Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Sweet E's Cafe

Going out for breakfast is possibly one of my all time favorite activities. There are so many outstanding places to get breakfast in this town, but my favorites are definitely Hula Grill and Sweet E’s. Everything on the menu is awesome. Geoff votes for the breakfast buffet at Duke’s Waikiki.

Best Happy Hour

Happy Hour: Bar 35

Coming in a close second to going out for breakfast is hitting up happy hour. Mexico Lindo has great food specials. Bar 35 has the best cocktail selection. Hula Grill gives you the best bang for your buck. But the place I really want to be is Home Bar. Tater tot nachos, baby.

Best Beaches

Waikiki Walking Tour

Honestly, we didn’t hang out at the beach as much as we probably should have. I get sunburned in about 20 minutes. I wasn’t made for a high UV index. We lived near Waikiki, so our favorite swimming spot was right in front of the Moana Surfrider. That’s the old plantation style hotel. The most beautiful beach with the softest sand has got to be Lanikai in Kailua. The best place to go snorkeling is definitely Three Tables on the North Shore. It’s just across from Foodland in Pupukea.

Best Burgers

Happy Hour: The Counter

We are not fine dining people. $20 a day is a lifestyle, people. Burgers it is! My favorite burger is at The Counter. I never tire of making new creations. Islands is pretty dang good, too. And our final meal in Honolulu will be at Cheeseburger in Paradise because that’s where it all began.

Best Adventures

Honolulu Zoo

The most easily accessible hike from Waikiki is Diamond Head, but that thing is super hot. I prefer Manoa Falls, which is also quite easy to get to and very jungly. They filmed Catching Fire and Jurassic World up there, among many others. If you’re feeling generous, you can also make a donation to visit Lyon Arboretum next door which is breathtaking.

We have slightly mixed feelings about the Honolulu Zoo, but I still love visiting the animals there, and I would recommend it if you’re visiting.

By far our favorite thing to do when visitors come to our island is to take them kayaking in Kailua. Combine it with breakfast at Cinnamon’s, then go to Mexico Lindo afterwards and treat yourself to a giant margarita. It’s the perfect day.

There are so many awesome places to visit on this island. I lived here for four years and have still left so many things unexplored. And so many wonderful places I didn’t get a chance to show you. I hope you visit Honolulu soon and find something awesome.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m still thinking about summer picnics, lying on a blanket under a tree, sipping pink sparkly wine, shoes off, cookie bars waiting to be eaten. It all sounds so splendid. And it’s all so bittersweet as I’m currently stuck in bed with a mysterious chest pain. Don’t panic. I’ve been to the doctor, and it’s nothing serious, but it is seriously annoying. As long as I don’t move my upper body or breathe too heavily, I’m fine. So you know, no picnics.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

So you’ll have to go without me, and you’ll have to bring dessert. I always feel like a meal is not quite complete until you’ve had something sweet. Choosing a great dessert for a picnic can be somewhat limiting. You don’t want to take anything that needs to be refrigerated up to the time of serving, and you also don’t want to take something with a lot of frosting that can melt all over the place. Cookies, brownies, and bars are the perfect option. They’re easily transportable, can be eaten without silverware, and they’re just completely delicious.

These Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are a mash up of chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispie treats. Folded into the cookie dough is a ribbon of marshmallow fluff and crunchy crisp rice pieces that add a bit of sweet crunch. Plus, you just smash all the dough into one pan and bake it, so no scooping in multiple batches. Easy breezy.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Get on it, kids. Make yourself some Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, head outside, and eat up. 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Yields 18
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are a mash up of chocolate chip cookie and Rice Krispie treat. Also, they're totally awesome!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  5. 1 cup brown sugar
  6. 1/2 cup sugar
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 egg yolk
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 cup chocolate chips
  11. 3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
  12. 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  4. Turn your mixer all the way down to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture.
  5. Step away from the electric mixer and get out your spatula to fold in the chocolate chips, then the marshmallow fluff, and finally the cereal. You want to see a ribbon of marshmallow, so don't worry about incorporating it completely. You also don't want your cereal to be smashed, so work gently.
  6. Press your dough into your waiting pan and spread as evenly as possible. Bake for about 30 minutes. The top will be golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting. I actually put mine in the fridge. Pack into an airtight container for picnics or other outdoor festivities.
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Happy Hour: Harbor Pub & Pizza

Happy Hour: Harbor Pub and Pizza

Happy Hour: Harbor Pub & Pizza

We went a little crazy last month with the eating out, but you know I can’t skip out on happy hour. I mean, it’s got the word happy right in it. We needed drinks that were seriously cheap this time, and we found them at Harbor Pub and Pizza.

This place has $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is easy on the wallet, and $3.75 mai tais and other cocktails. Who can argue with that? They do have some other choices if you’re willing to spend a bit more, but it’s really just a bit. The beers are 12 ounce glasses, but the mai tais are potent. Relax, it’s cheap.

Happy Hour: Harbor Pub & Pizza

They also offer a dollar off all of their quesadilla and nacho choices. Our friends ordered some nachos, and they were ample and looked tasty.

We opted for the pizza. It is, after all, in their name. They were full price, but still affordable. These are classic pub pizzas, nothing fancy, just super cheesy and delicious. The crust was crispy, and the sauce was just a touch sweet. I couldn’t seem to stop eating it.

Happy Hour: Harbor Pub & Pizza

The ambiance is low-key. It’s a bit dark being downstairs, and I have to admit, there’s a bit of an unpleasant smell. I’m not sure I’d want to hang out here on the reg, but we were able to cover the check for four people with multiple rounds for less than $20 a person. I say they get a pass.

If you’re into cheap, get yourself down to Harbor Pub & Pizza between 4 and 7. Grab a drink and a pizza for next to nothing. You won’t regret it.

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