Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I like pumpkin, and I don’t care who knows it. If that makes me basic, I’m totally fine with that. The last thing I want to be is a Kardashian. Too much makeup, who knows how much plastic surgery, and endless self-worship? Is that what we’re considering interesting these days? Sign me up for not that. 

Just leave me alone with my pumpkin spice chai, my Isadora Duncan scarves and my Joni Mitchell albums and let me do my YouTube yoga in peace. I’ll be as basic as I want to be. Except now that I think about it, I might even be too weird to be basic. Can you still be basic if you’re jamming to the Flaming Lips on the subway on your way to theatre jazz class at the age of practically 40? I don’t know. Just give me a damn muffin.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Guys, these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are ridiculous. They’re a triple threat. You’ve got your moist, sweet, and spicy pumpkin muffin action, then there’s the sweet and crunchy crumb topping, and hidden inside is a hit of creamy sweet cream cheese that just takes it right over the top. 

All this awesomeness means there are a few components to bring together which might make it seems a bit fiddly, but I assure you, it’s all quite simple. Maybe don’t attempt this before you’ve had your first cup of tea or coffee, but if you give yourself some time, you can definitely accomplish this. Also, don’t panic if some of your cream cheese erupts out while they’re in the oven. Everything’s gonna be fine.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Look kids, just be whoever you are, and do whatever you want to do. And eat pumpkin cream cheese muffins whenever you can.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Serves 12
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are a totally awesome triple threat.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr
For the filling
  1. 4 ounces cream cheese
  2. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the muffins
  1. 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  3. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 cup sugar
  9. 1 cup pumpkin puree
  10. 150 ml vegetable oil
For the topping
  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 2-1/2 tablespoons flour
  3. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tablespoons cold butter, in chunks
For the filling
  1. Mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar in whatever way you want until smooth. I used an electric hand mixer to bring it together quickly.
  2. Pour your cream cheese mixture onto some plastic wrap and carefully mold it into a cylinder about an inch and a half in diameter. Carefully wrap up your cream cheese log in the plastic plus a layer of foil. Stash this in the freezer for about two hours.
For the muffins
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line your muffin cups with your favorite paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Give it a whisk to combine.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until fully combined. Turn your mixer down to low, and slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
For the topping
  1. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl by squishing it all together with a pastry cutter, fork, or clean fingers. You want a rough, oatmeal like texture. Stash it in the fridge until you're ready for it.
  2. To assemble your muffins, start by adding about a tablespoon of muffin batter to the bottom of each muffin cup. Spread it a bit to make sure that the bottom of each cup is completely covered.
  3. Next, take your cream cheese log out of the freezer and cut it into 12 even discs. Place on cold cream cheese disc into each muffin cup.
  4. Evenly divide the remaining batter between the 12 cups. Try to completely cover the cream cheese if you can.
  5. Finally, evenly distribute your topping over each muffin. It might seem like too much topping. Trust me, it's not.
  6. Pop your muffins into the oven for about 25 minutes. Give them a little more time than you normally would because you've put something frozen in the center. It's tricky to test them because of the filling. Use your baking instincts. 25 minutes was perfect for me.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool a little bit longer than you might normally so that you don't burn your face off on molten cream cheese. Because of the pumpkin, these stay moist for days.
Adapted from Annie's Eats
Adapted from Annie's Eats
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

When you really love someone, you go out of your way to give them what they want. When you really love someone, you find little ways to show them you’re thinking about them. When you really love someone, you surprise them with cute paper straws and washi tape and let them go to Five Guys late at night after too many drinks because you know it’s their favorite thing in the entire world. When you really love someone you find a way to let them know.

I really love my amazing husband who does so many wonderful things for me, so the least I could do was make him one of his favorite foods, even if I had to jump through some ridiculous hoops to make this very American food in Scotland.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are absolutely jaw dropping. They’re a bit time intensive, but super easy to make. It’s mainly construction. But trust me, everyone will love them. You should really make these for your next party. Or, you know, just for your husband because you love him so much.

If you’re outside the US, you may have a problem tracking down some of these ingredients. Ranch seasoning can be ordered through Amazon. So far, the only place around Glasgow I’ve been able to find jalapenos is at Whole Foods in Giffnock. This is definitely NOT near where I live, but I’ll do anything for love. As you can see, they’re a bit on the small side, but they were all eaten in about ten minutes, so I’m sure the flavor is fine. If anyone knows another source for jalapenos, definitely leave me a comment.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Some people might not think you can say I love you with food. Those people would be wrong. Nothing says I love you like Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Say I love you with Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  2. 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  3. 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack or other spicy cheese
  4. 6-8 jalapenos
  5. 6-8 slices of bacon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and cheese in a mixing bowl. I used my stand mixer because I'm lazy, but you could mix it by hand.
  3. Cut the stem off of your jalepenos then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the ribs and seeds. I use a spoon to scrape out the insides. Just make sure you wash your hands a lot. Arrange jalapeno halves on a foil lined baking sheet.
  4. Cut your bacon slices in half.
  5. Fill the cavity in each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture, then wrap a half piece of bacon around it and secure with a toothpick.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until your bacon has reached desired crispness.
  7. If you want them to be less greasy when you serve them, place them on a wire rack over foil to cool.
  8. These are good hot or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. You'll likely have some of the cream cheese mixture leftover, so if you want to a few extra, just increase your jalapenos and bacon accordingly.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Swiss and Bacon Dip | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Swiss and Bacon Dip

Swiss and Bacon Dip | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

My love of cooking started long before this blog and has only grown over the years. It began with an unexplained obsession with The Food Network. Like, that was all I ever watched on TV. Rachael, Ina, Giada, Paula, Alton, Nigella, Emeril, they were my cooking teachers. Literally everything I know about cooking I learned from them.

And I’m still mediocre at best. I think the only thing you have to do to get your friends to say you’re a great cook is to actually cook something. So few people actually take the trouble to cook things that whenever someone mixes a few ingredients and pops it into the oven, they’re impressed. I’m happy to keep fooling them.

Swiss and Bacon Dip | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Swiss and Bacon Dip is something I’ve been making for ages and was originally a Rachael Ray recipe. I look for excuses to make it all the time and consequently have served it at almost every part I’ve ever thrown, and even sometimes at other people’s parties. I even served it at my wedding. If you’re a long time reader, you might remember the first time I posted this recipe with horrible photos from that event.

It’s also among the recipes that people most often ask me for, and even friends who say they never cook have made it successfully. It’s super easy. Crisp up some bacon. Mix together a few simple ingredients. Heat it all in the oven. Wow your guests with a bread bowl. They’ll think you’re a genius.

Swiss and Bacon Dip | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Delicious food is simple than you think. Anyone can cook. If you think you can’t, just try making this Swiss and Bacon Dip. You’ll be a believer.

Swiss and Bacon Dip
Serves 6
Swiss and Bacon Dip is so easy anyone can make it, and so delicious everyone will love it.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 slices bacon, chopped (I use scissors)
  2. 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  3. 1/2 cup mayo
  4. 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  5. 10 grinds of pepper
  6. 1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  7. 3 scallions, chopped (use the scissors again)
  8. 1 round loaf of sour dough bread
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cook your bacon to desired crispiness, which for me is nearly burnt. Drain the bacon on a paper towel.
  3. Add cream cheese, mayo, mustard, and pepper to a mixing bowl and mix until combined and smooth.
  4. Add cheese and scallions and mix to combine. Then throw in the bacon and mix that in, too.
  5. Scoop out the mix into a shallow baking dish. Bake it uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until gooey.
  6. In the meantime, cut the top out of your bread loaf and pull out the guts of your bread to make a bread bowl. Tear the bread and arrange it on your platter around the loaf.
  7. When the dip is hot, carefully scrape it in to the bread bowl. Steal a piece of bread to clean off the baking dish for taste testing purposes. Don’t skip this step.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Nutella Cheesecake Parfait | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Nutella Cheesecake Parfaits

Nutella Cheesecake Parfait | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Okay, the secret’s out. I can finally tell you. After months of dreaming and hoping and scheming and stressing, it’s final. We’re moving to Scotland!!!

For right now, I’m setting aside all the stress of applying for a visa and selling everything we own. I’m suppressing the sadness I feel about leaving my amazing job and my wonderful friends. I’m focusing on the excitement and the possibilities. I’m forgetting about soon being unemployed and dreaming about how I’m going to eventually decorate our apartment. Anything can happen.

I am already thinking about emptying out our current home, though. We’ve collected a lot of random ingredients in our kitchen, and I want to eat as much as possible before I go. Expect to see a lot of cocktails and recipes using various condiments in the next few weeks. And please come over and help us drink all of our booze.

Nutella Cheesecake Parfait | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I managed to use a whole lot of nutella in these Nutella Cheesecake Parfaits. Not gonna lie,  kinda wanted to just eat it all with a spoon, but I managed to actually make something. They turned out super tasty, but if I had to make this all over again, I’d do two layers of graham cracker and nutella cream cheese before topping it off with the whipped cream. You could also add some crushed hazelnuts and/or shaved chocolate to the top. But we’re trying not to buy anything unless we’re going to use it all. Sorry for the plain Jane parfaits, kids. This is real life.

And don’t worry, the only heat you’ll need for this recipe is to melt a bit of butter which you can definitely do in the microwave. It may be freezing in Glasgow, but it’s still disgustingly hot in my Honolulu kitchen.

Nutella Cheesecake Parfait | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Stick around, kids. It’s about to get crazy. Watch me try to figure out how to use British money, how to understand a Scottish accent, and how to find the @ key on my computer at my new job. Oh, plus totally awesome photos of a new country. It’s gonna be so so so so awesome.

Nutella Cheesecake Parfaits
Serves 4
Nutella and cream cheese are swirled together and piled high on a graham cracker crust for this totally awesome Nutella Cheesecake Parfait.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 sleeve graham crackers
  2. 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  3. 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  4. 2/3 cup nutella
  5. 8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
  6. Whipped cream for topping
Instructions
  1. Crush your graham crackers into find crumbs with a food processor or pop them into a zip top bag and give them a good smash with a rolling pin. Stir in the melted butter, then divide your crumbs among four glasses or other small containers. If you want to do a double layer, obviously, hold half back for a second round. Stash this in the fridge while you get on with the cream cheese layer.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and nutella with an electric mixer until smooth. Now ditch your mixer and switch over to a rubber spatula. Gently fold in your whipped topping until you're pretty much streak free. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  3. Divide your cream cheese mixer between your four glasses. If you're layering, here's where you'd add more graham crackers and then another layer of nutella cheesecake mixture. Finally, top the whole thing off with a fluffy cloud of whipped cream and any extra topping you might like.
Notes
  1. Note that you'll use the entire container of cool whip to fold into the nutella mixture, so be sure to have extra whipped topping or whipped cream if you want to top off your parfait with it.
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Pillow Dogs | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Pillow Dogs

Pillow Dogs | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

By now, you may have noticed that I have the palate of a third grader. I can’t handle bitter flavors, and the texture of most fruits and vegetables is unbearable. I like kid food, and I don’t care. So what if I’m not sophisticated? Sophisticated people were never going to hang out with me anyway, so I might as well eat what I like because before you know, eating will be over. That’s why today we’re making Pillow Dogs.

Pillow Dogs | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This “recipe” is something I’ve been making since Emily was little. Since the days when I watched Food Network for hours and hours on end. Everything I know about cooking I learned from The Food Network. This was one of those things that’s so stupid easy, you can watch it on TV once, never look at the recipe, and make it whenever you have an outrageous mustard craving. For me, that’s fairly frequently.

The cool thing is, you can get everyone in on the action. Pillow Dogs lend themselves well to assembly line style cooking, so get some little hands in the kitchen to make the work, if not easier, definitely more fun.  And don’t worry about whether or not they stay sealed up in the oven. Pillows, not blankets. It’s fine. Serve them up at a party, or if you’re me, for dinner and then again for breakfast.

Pillow Dogs | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Remember how awesome it was to be a kid? Why not relive that at dinner time? Eat some kid’s food. Make Pillow Dogs. Have fun at the table.

Pillow Dogs
Yields 16
Puffy, savoury, irresistible, these Pillow Dogs are perfect for the kid in everyone.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 container refrigerated biscuit dough
  2. Approximately 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  3. 16 Li'l Smokies
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut each biscuit in half. Place the half biscuit in the palm of your hand and give it a good smash to flatten it out a bit. Place a pinch of cheese in the center of the dough, then place a smokie on top. Pinch the dough up around the smokie and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with all our dough.
  3. Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until your biscuit dough is as golden as you like.
  4. Allow to cool slightly and serve with ridiculous amounts of mustard, if you're into that.
Adapted from Sandra Lee
Adapted from Sandra Lee
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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