Cowboy Spaghetti | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cowboy Spaghetti

Cowboy Spaghetti | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I look forward to occasionally staying at a hotel or a person’s house with cable so that I can relive my Food Network binging days when things get boring. I was a bit let down the last time I tried this. Food Network in the UK is sort of awful. They basically only have a handful of shows that the play in four to six hour blocks. One of them is Jamie Oliver, and that’s beautiful, but they also play The Pioneer Woman for hours on end, and I just can’t abide. It’s a good thing no one reads my blog because I’m sure I’d get kicked out of the blogosphere for it, but I find her show so annoying and contrived.

I miss the good old days when Saturday and Sunday mornings featured a different show every half hour, each one with actual recipes and cooking, not silly food competitions or restaurant tours. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen shared a clip of Sandra Lee making a cocktail the other day, and it was a hilarious hit of nostalgia. I vote they make a Food Network Classic channel where they just replay all the great shows from the 2000’s. Sounds pretty awesome to me.

Cowboy Spaghetti | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

It’s official. Bacon makes everything better. Case in point, this Cowboy Spaghetti. What makes this different from regular spaghetti bolognese? There’s your standard onion, garlic, and tomato, but along with bacon, there’s also beer instead of red wine, a bit of hot sauce, and cheddar cheese instead of parmesan. It’s an absolutely delicious twist on a family classic. I was proclaiming myself a genius as I ate. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice Geoff stealing the remaining bacon that was meant to accompany the rest of the pot of pasta.

This is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe from her 30 minute meal days, so you know it’s easy to accomplish. It will also easily feed your whole family, as we’re cooking up a whole package of spaghetti here. With just the two of us in the house, we’ll be eating this for probably three days, but I’m not mad at it.

Cowboy Spaghetti | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cowboy Spaghetti has all the good things. Who’s coming over for dinner?

Cowboy Spaghetti
Serves 6
Cowboy Spaghetti is an awesome twist on a family classic, loaded up with bacon and cheddar cheese.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound spaghetti
  2. salt
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 3 slices of bacon
  5. 1 pound ground beef
  6. 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  7. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  8. black pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon hot sauce (or more if you're into that sort of thing)
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. 1/2 cup beer
  12. 1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  13. 500 grams tomato sauce or pasata
  14. 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Instructions
  1. Put a large pot of water over high heat to boil. Don't forget to put a lid on it, or it will take forever. When the water boils, add salt and spaghetti, stirring occasionally.Cook according to package instructions, but check it a minute early to make sure your pasta isn't overcooked.
  2. In the mean time, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cut your bacon with scissors right into the pan. Cook to desired level of crispness (the correct answer is very crisp). Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and pour off some of the fat, leaving enough to coat the pan.
  3. Add your ground beef to the pan to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on how lean your beef is, you may want to drain the fat off before proceeding.
  4. Add the white part of your green onions (save the green tops for later) and garlic to your ground beef and then season with hot sauce and Worcestershire. Add the beer and scrape up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and sauce. Bring everything back up to a simmer and check for seasonings. This is usually where I add more hot sauce. Simmer for about five minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a bit and for all the flavors to marry.
  6. After you drain your pasta, put it back in the pot, then pour the sauce over the spaghetti and stir to combine.
  7. Top your bowl or plate of spaghetti with plenty of cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of crunchy bacon, and the green tops of your green onions.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
http://awesomeon20.com/
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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/
Cheddar Cheese Risotto | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Is Instagram the best thing ever, or is it totally ruining our lives? It’s the only social media platform I still follow, and I love looking at gorgeous images from around the world, but I worry about what it’s doing to us sometimes. We now have an expectation that everything from our food to our faces has to look absolutely spectacular. What started out as snaps of real life has evolved into highly edited and curated images portraying utter perfection. Yet I can’t look away.

I see the teenage girls in my school putting so much effort into piling on pounds of makeup with varying degrees of finesse. I see restaurants serving food that looks absolutely stunning but tastes like cardboard. I see the Instagram aesthetic washing over every part of our lives, homogenizing everything from apartments to cheeseburgers to female faces. It’s beautiful, yes, but is there something else we might not be seeing?

I saw a style blogger talking in her Instagram story recently about how she finally put on makeup and then she felt normal? That struck me as a little bit insane. We paint our faces, cover up our unique features to look more like everyone else, and that’s when we feel normal? Look, I’m sure I’ve said something similar many times. I wear makeup to work every day. But for once I stopped to wonder what would happen if we were all just satisfied with ourselves exactly the way we are. What if we didn’t need to enhance, find the perfect lighting, edit away our “flaws?” What if we were just good enough already and the rest was just for fun? 

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

With that nonsense rant in mind, I’m sharing a dish that is truly delicious and pretty ugly. I have to confess that the first time I made it, I used orange cheddar instead of white, and the color was slightly more appealing, but the flavor was exactly the same. I thought about not sharing it because it wasn’t pretty enough, but then I realized that you would be missing out on something truly tasty. Not everything needs to be Instagram ready.

I assure you, this Cheddar Cheese Risotto will be a joy to eat. It will fill you up with its cheesy heartiness, and you’ll want to come back for more again and again. It’s not remotely difficult to make, but you do need to tend to it. Make sure you have all your ingredients measured out and waiting before you turn the stove on because once it starts cooking, you need to stay with it to the glorious end. But all you have to do is dump and stir. And stir and stir and stir until you achieve the creamy and chewy goodness that is risotto.

Cheddar Cheese Risotto | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The face you woke up with is already beautiful. Your body is already a powerhouse. Your food does not need to look like a unicorn. There’s more to life than what shows up on Instagram. Be real. Eat real. Live real. It’s gonna be awesome.

Cheddar Cheese Risotto
Serves 3
Cheddar Cheese Risotto may not look beautiful, but it's super tasty, and that's what counts.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  4. 300 grams risotto rice
  5. 125 ml white wine
  6. 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  7. 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  8. 125 grams sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the white parts of your green onions to the pot, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Save the green part of the onions for later.
  2. Add the rice and give it a good stir to coat the grains in the fat. Add the wine and mustard, and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Start adding the vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring all the while until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. It will take about 18-20 minutes to work in all the stock. Taste it as you get toward the end until the rice is cooked through and chewy.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  5. Serve right away, and sprinkle some of the green tops of your onions over the top of each dish.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
Raspberry Margarita | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
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Baci di Ricotta | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
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