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

Spam Mac & Cheese

Spam Mac & Cheese is a cheap and easy week night dinner. It feels nostalgic and a little bit naughty. Try it with your favorite Spam flavor tonight.

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

February is definitely when I miss Hawaii the most. Though the crocuses are emerging and signs of life are returning, we’re still firmly in winter. The wind is harsh, the rain is endless, and the sun barely penetrates. When I see my friends on the beach, my heart aches for our tiny house in Honolulu.

That’s not to say that Scotland doesn’t have its own charm. Stepping into a cozy pub to escape the storm never gets boring. Lighting a fire in the fireplace and snuggling up under a blanket to watch a movie is something we never would have done in Hawaii. And I can cook and bake whenever I want without sweating to death.

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

This Spam Mac & Cheese is the perfect mash up of my life in Hawaii and my life in Scotland. It features the salty weird but somehow delicious canned ham that Hawaiians adore mixed with the coziest comfort food of all time, mac and cheese. I didn’t realize that mac and cheese was a pub food staple here. It’s so amazing. I never have to worry that there won’t be anything I like on the menu.

We’re making a simple mac and cheese sauce here with evaporated milk that thickens and sets in the oven. First, the Spam gets cubed up and cooked until crisp in a skillet to change up the texture. Then sprinkle the crispy Spam bits over the creamy mac and cheese, and dig in.

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

No place is perfect. Everything has beauty. Spam Mac and Cheese is awesome. Some things are just universally true.

If you love mac and cheese, check out this Chorizo Mac & Cheese recipe.

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

Chorizo Mac & Cheese

Chorizo Mac & Cheese is spicy and gooey and so satisfying. Take a little help from the store to easily get this on the table on a week night. Dinner is gonna be awesome.

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

Can we be done with our January diets yet? You know I don’t let anything get in the way of me and cheese. A couple of years ago I tried to take a week long cheese hiatus, and it was super sad. Let’s not even think about it.

For me, cutting specific foods out of my diet has never worked. I give up so easily. I personally find it much easier to just not eat for a day once or twice a week than to give up dairy or gluten for a month. Maybe this isn’t the best long-term solution, but I don’t think anybody comes here for nutritional advice. I’m delivering comfort, friends, and today is no different.

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

My husband randomly requested Chorizo Mac & Cheese one day, and Pinterest led me to this. I’ve adapted my recipe from this one at Simply Recipes. Translating recipes from American to British almost always requires a bit of adjustment. We have about a third less choice at the grocery store. I never realized how spoiled I was as an American grocery shopper until I came here.

Chorizo is very popular here, though. Perhaps because we’re that much closer to Spain. What I love is that I can buy pre-chopped chunks of chorizo which saves me tons of time. We’re using a blend of regular cheddar (which is white by default here) and cheddar with chilies. In the US, you should be able to get your hands on some pepper jack no problem, but UK friends might have to go to the specialty cheeses. If you want a little less heat in your mac and cheese, use all plain cheddar.

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

If you’ve made mac and cheese from scratch before, there’s nothing revelatory here. The flavor, however, is worth getting excited about. Chorizo Mac & Cheese makes bacon mac seem boring. I hope you give it a try.

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

Go after what you want in life, friends. And if it’s Chorizo Mac & Cheese, now you know exactly how to get it.

Looking for more mac and cheese awesomeness? Try this Potato & Pancetta Mac & 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!

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.

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
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/



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