Fiery Halloumi Salad | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Fiery Halloumi Salad

Fiery Halloumi Salad | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Fiery Halloumi Salad is an easy, healthyish dinner with homemade sweet chili sauce. Pan-fried halloumi makes a bed of greens so much more awesome. Go on, eat a salad, and actually enjoy it.

As you read this, I will be heading back to work after a little over two weeks off. It’s never easy to get back into the swing of things. I know I’m lucky because my husband’s been back in work since last week, but still, it’s hard not to feel a bit mopey.

Fiery Halloumi Salad | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

It’s been two glorious weeks of not being stuck behind a desk. Of staying in my pajamas as long as I want. Having plenty of time for all the things I really want to do, like take pictures of my food and share it with you. Two glorious weeks without whining teenagers or late trains or having to wear high heels.

I’m grateful to have a job because it allows me to help people. It also allows me to buy all the food I want and travel from time to time. I’m very lucky in many ways, and I don’t want to forget that. But just a few more days of peace and quiet would be nice.

Fiery Halloumi Salad | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Being back at work means we all need more quick and simple dinner ideas, and this time I’m even giving you leafy greens. Of course, it wouldn’t be awesome on 20 if I didn’t somehow also ruin the health factor by adding something delicious. This Fiery Halloumi Salad is awesome because it’s easily just as much cheese as it is salad. You know you can’t stay mad at me for long.

We’re making up a simple homemade sweet chili sauce with sliced red chilies, honey, and lime juice. We slice up a block of halloumi and fry it in a hot, dry pan. We drizzle our favorite salad leaves with a bit of nice olive oil, lay on the hot cheese, and drizzle over some heat with our sweet chili sauce. Then we eat, feel smug about having a salad, but actually enjoy it because cheese.

Fiery Halloumi Salad | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hope your transition back to work has been smooth and as stress-free as possible. I hope you’re having something awesome for dinner tonight, like maybe this Fiery Halloumi Salad. It’s gonna be awesome.

This recipe is adapted from Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson.

And just in case you can’t get enough salad, maybe try this Bacon & Egg Salad.

Italian Grilled Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Italian Grilled Cheese

This Italian Grilled Cheese features fresh mozzarella, crispy proscuitto, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and a bright hit of syrupy balsamic vinegar. Plus, it’s extra crunchy from a coating of Parmesan cheese on the outside of the bread. It’s got all the good stuff.

Italian Grilled Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

The other day I had friends over fairly early in the day. I knew I wanted to feed them, but I wanted to keep it simple. Somehow, I managed to convince them that it would be a real treat to make them grilled cheese sandwiches. I felt guilty about doing something so simple, but when they actually ate them, they were so happy. On the one hand, people like any food they don’t have to cook themselves. Yet on the other hand, it’s clear that if something is delicious, it doesn’t matter how elaborate it is.

The simplest things are often the ones that bring us the most joy. A laughing baby, a cute cat video, a Ron Swanson hamburger, a simple cozy black sweater. Maybe we’re stressing ourselves out trying to make things complicated when they can just be simple.

Italian Grilled Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Okay, so maybe this Italian Grilled Cheese is a little more advanced than just a couple of slices of buttered white bread and too much Velveeta. While that’s certainly great, this Italian Grilled Cheese is a little bit extra. Sometimes more is more, ya know. Sometimes we’re a bundle of contradictions. But good food is good food, and this is definitely that.

That’s being said, we’re still just making a sandwich, so it’s not exactly rocket science. Spread the inside of your bread with your favorite pesto. No need to make it yourself, but you can if you want. Next we’re going to add some fresh mozzarella. We could stop there, but we’re not gonna. Next, we layer on some chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Then comes the slice of proscuitto that we crisped up by popping it in a hot oven for about five minutes. Then because Samin taught us that everything is better with a hit of acid, we’re going to add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar that we reduced down to a syrup by boiling it down for a few minutes.

Italian Grilled Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

For a last little hit of salty goodness and ultimate texture, we’re going to spread some softened butter on the outside of our bread and then sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese. When we grill up our sandwiches, they’re going to go extra crispy as that Parmesan sizzles away. When you dig in, you’re gonna get the crispy cheese and bread, the crunch of the proscuitto, and the oozing cheese. That little bit of extra work will really pay off.

Keep it simple but creative. Do the thing that makes you happy. Who cares if someone else thinks it’s impressive. And make yourself an Italian Grilled Cheese. It’s gonna be awesome.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Looking for more awesome Grilled Cheese ideas? Try this Fig Jam & Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese.

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese is hearty and delicious. You don’t need to make a cheese sauce, so it comes together easily. And the addition of dried thyme makes it smell amazing.

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

It seems like everyone is on a special diet these days. Food allergies are practically an epidemic. Also, there’s the usual rash of restrictive fad diets. Veganism is spreading like wild fire. Of course, the irony is not lost on me that veganism might be a great way to decrease the chances of wild fires. But I’m not there yet.

Sadly, science still hasn’t come around to the diet of my dreams. If only we could all save the world and lose weight by being carbetarians. All carbs all the time. With a little cheese thrown in from time to time for good measure. I mean, you can eat other stuff, too. I’m not trying to deprive you. You just don’t ever have to feel guilty about about eating potatoes and pasta in the same dish. A girl can dream, right?

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese would loom large in the diet of a carbetarian. This hearty pasta dish features crispy pancetta, nutty gruyere, and a good hit of thyme to make the whole thing sing. You won’t want to stop eating this.

We’re keeping the clean up to a minimum by cooking the potatoes and the pasta in the same pot. Next, we’ll crisp up the pancetta in the same oven-proof skillet we’ll bake the whole dish in later. Finally, mix the cheese, cream, and other ingredients into your drained pasta, then put it back in the skillet to bake. Keep it simple. Keep it delicious.

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

There’s no shortage of things to feel guilty about these days. May I suggest you make and eat this Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese with nothing but joy and pleasure. No guilt necessary.

Recipe adapted from Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson.

Finally, if you like this recipe, you might also love this Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. It’s awesome!

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

Easy Chili Cheese Dip

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

This Easy Chili Cheese Dip is so simple, absolutely anyone can make it. It’s also impossible to stop eating. Perfect for game day, game night, or any gathering. Get your friends together, and dig in.

I’ve lived with a proper football (aka soccer) fan for so long, I don’t even know if people still watch American football. I have fond memories of everyone getting together at the weekend to watch what seemed like endless football. I was never really interested in the games, but the food was always pretty awesome.

Because it’s all supposed to be “man food,” whatever that means, you don’t have to pretend to be healthy, which I love. Though I’m guessing there are probably plenty of vegan football fans these days. And that’s cool, too. Not gonna lie, though, I’m here for the hot cheese dips consumed with an endless mountain of tortilla chips.

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

This Easy Chili Cheese Dip is exactly that kind of food. People don’t really get together to watch the game here, so we just sometimes eat this for dinner because we’re horrible people. And by horrible, I mean awesome. It’s spicy, cheesy, gooey, and irresistible.

And as the name suggests, Easy Chili Cheese Dip is unbelievably simple to make. Spread a baking dish with some cream cheese. Mix together a can of your favorite chili with a jar of your favorite salsa. Scatter some shredded cheese over the top. Bake. Eat with chips. Live your best life.

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

Make Easy Chili Cheese Dip any time you get together with friends. Football, basketball, board games, book club, heck break this out at a baby shower and watch everyone lose their minds. This is the food you really want to eat. Let’s do it.

Recipe adapted from Circle of Friends Cookbook – 25 Dip and Spread Recipes.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells are creamy, cheesy, and packed with veggies. This is an excellent meat-free meal, even for picky eaters who normally turn their nose up at vegetables. Yes, that’s me.

As a food blogger, the things I have always struggled most with is photography. We live in a visual world these days, and the pressure to make your life look perfect online has never been higher. It seems people will spend hours styling a shot that makes them seem effortlessly chic. The irony really smacks you in the face.

When I took these photos, I had a moment of real self-defeat. I made the wrong choice before this dish even went in the oven. That left it looking less than perfect by the time I got it in front of the camera. I was criticizing myself in a way I would never speak to another person.

What could I do? I could have started over. I could have bought all these ingredients again and taken more photos that may or may not have been better. What I’ve decided to do instead is share with you what this dish will really probably look like when it comes out of your oven. I’ve decided to remind you to be kind to yourself and allow yourself space to grow. This is the gift I’m going to try to give myself.

Guys, I also really want you to make this recipe. Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells are absolutely perfect for Autumn. It’s a great option for meatless Monday, but any day of the week will do. I love this dish, and I normally stay far away from vegetables. Chewy pasta, soft squash, creamy bechamel, and of course, plenty of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of sage make for the perfect dinner.

While nothing here is difficult to make, there are a few components to this dish. And your kitchen will not be clean by the end. I use frozen butternut squash chunks to save some time. And any time you make pasta, the first thing you should always do is put a pot of water on to boil. If you call in a little help to stuff your shells, you could easily get this on the table on a week night.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re keeping it real here, friends. We’re always learning, we’re eating awesome food, and we’re doing it all with kindness.

Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats.

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