BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese

BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

For the past week I’ve been living the Olympic dream. I’ve been carefully honing my time management technique and training hard on my fast forwarding skills to get through about 16 hours of BBC Olympic coverage every day. At the halfway point, I’m all caught up, and I’ve taken in all the Olympic glory. I’m ready to go for the gold in week two.

My favorite is always the figure skating, and I don’t care how many time he falls down, Patrick Chan of Canada is absolutely exquisite. His performance is masterful and draws me right in. I did also love the two Japanese men. They were the perfect contrast of earth and air. Hanyu was light and ethereal while Uno is supremely grounded and powerful.  Who was your favorite on the ice?

BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

While I watch athletes at peak physical form, I am perfecting my butt groove in my couch and eating food that almost certainly would not be allowed in the Olympic village. A prime example is this BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese. Al dente pasta is loaded up with masses of cheese and complimented with salty, sweet, and spicy pulled pork. It’s a real winner.

This dish is a great way to use up leftover pulled pork if you’d made your own, but it’s certainly not necessary. I used store bought pulled pork, or you could pick up a takeaway portion from your favorite smokehouse. Being a stovetop mac, this dish won’t dry out and the cheese stays super silky. Stir in as much of your favorite BBQ sauce as you like. 

BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I will never be an Olympic champion, and I certainly don’t want to eat like an elite athlete, but I feel like a star when I serve something as awesome as BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese. You’ve got to try it.

BBQ Pulled Pork Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces short pasta
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used skim and it was plenty rich)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 ounce grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces pulled pork
  • 1/8 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta in plenty of salted water according to package instructions.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter, then sprinkle the flour over it. Whisk butter and flour together into a paste and allow to cook for a couple of minutes until it smells nutty.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk. Try to prevent lumps. Add garlic powder and cayenne. Let it thicken until it just starts to bubble.
  4. Stir in the cheese and mix until smooth. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir pulled pork and barbecue sauce together in a small bowl.
  6. After you've drained your pasta, return it to the pot. Pour over the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Fold in pulled pork mixture. You can add pepper if you like, but taste it before adding any salt. You may not need it since the pork is so salty.
  7. Drizzle on some extra barbecue sauce at the end if you like.
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English Pizza Rustica | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

English Pizza Rustica

English Pizza Rustica | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Somehow Instagram seems to know that I’m super stressed out because it’s been showing me a bunch of ads for meditation apps. Do any of you use these? Do you find them helpful? Do they actually work? I admit, I’m intrigued, but I also know I would absolutely fail. 

I am an accomplishment junkie. Maybe it’s an oldest child thing. I don’t know. Every moment I spend not ticking something off a to do list, I feel absolutely terrible about myself. I’ve got to be consuming information or producing work of some type to keep the guilt at bay. And quiet my mind? Please, you’ve got to be kidding. I cannot do that. Like at all. So, if I downloaded one of these apps, I know “meditate” would just become another item on my to do list. I’d only do it so I could tick it off the list. What’s wrong with me?

English Pizza Rustica | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lucky for you, one of my many lists is new recipes to test, and this English Pizza Rustica was an especially delicious accomplishment. I’ve already shared the Italian version, and this one is at least as good, if not better. It’s got ground pork, bacon, and cheddar cheese all wrapped in a flaky, savoury crust that just so right. 

My favorite thing about English Pizza Rustica is that it’s possibly better on the second day than it is fresh out of the oven. Not only does your pie hold its shape better, the flavors seem to harmonize better as time goes on. I actually look forward to leftovers. It’s a real thing.

English Pizza Rustica | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hope you add English Pizza Rustica to your to do list. And clear some space in your busy mind to really enjoy it. It’s awesome.

English Pizza Rustica
Serves 6
English Pizza Rustica is a glorious savoury pie with all your favorite English flavors.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
55 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. For the pastry
  2. 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  4. 2 egg yolks
  5. 2 tablespoons water
  6. 1 teaspon salt
  7. 1 tablespoon sugar
  8. For the filling
  9. 500 grams minced pork
  10. 7 ounces bacon
  11. About a tablespoon of reserved bacon fat, optional
  12. 8 ounces cheddar cheese
  13. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cottage cheese
  14. 2 green onions, chopped with scissors
  15. 1 clove garlic, grated
  16. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  17. Black pepper
  18. About 1 tablespoon dried bread crumbs
  19. For the glaze
  20. 1 egg yolk
  21. 2 tablespoons milk
  22. Pinch of salt
For the crust
  1. Put the flour and butter together in a dish and stash it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the egg yolks, water, and salt, and put that in the fridge as well.
  2. Once everything is well chilled, place your butter and flour as well as the sugar into a food processor and pulse until you've got a mixture that looks like wet sand. Add the wet ingredients and process until the dough starts to come together but is still a bit loose. I sometimes have to add a bit of extra water, but just add a teaspoon at a time.
  3. Tip the mixture out onto a clean counter and press it together with your hands. Divide the dough 60/40 into two discs (you'll need more dough for the bottom than the top), wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge while you get on with your filling.
For the filling
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C), and if you have a baking sheet that your 8-inch springform pan can rest comfortably on, pop that in the oven to heat up as well. If you don't have one, it's not the end of the world, your bottom crust will just be a little more wet.
  2. Add your bacon to your food processor and pulse to grind up your bacon.
  3. Heat your bacon grease in a skillet and add your minced pork and chopped up bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until your meat is cooked through, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
  4. To your pork and bacon, add your remaining filling ingredients except for the bread crumbs. Gently mix it all together.
  5. Roll out your larger disc of dough between two layers of plastic wrap until it's big enough to cover the bottom of your 8-inch springform pan and come up the sides. It's okay if it hangs over a bit. Sprinkle the bottom of your pie with the breadcrumbs. Don't worry about measuring. Just sprinkle until you have a fine layer across the bottom. Pour in your filling and spread it evenly over the crust.
  6. Roll out your second disc between layers of plastic wrap until it is big enough to cover the top of your pie. Place it on top of your pie, then fold over any overhanging dough to seal in your filling. Press the edges down with a fork, and poke several holes in the top of your pie with your fork for ventilation.
  7. In a small dish, whisk together your glaze ingredients and use a pastry brush to brush it evenly over the top of your pie. This will give it a lovely brown shiny top.
  8. Place your pie into the oven, on the hot baking sheet if you have it. Bake for 10 minutes at this temperature, and then lower the heat to 350F (175C) and bake for another 45 minutes.
  9. Allow your pie to cool for at least 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife before removing the collar and slicing into it.
  10. Store any leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator. It will be totally awesome the next day.
Adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Pork & Apple Hot Pot | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Pork & Apple Hot Pot

Pork & Apple Hot Pot | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m sitting on my sofa, watching The Golden Girls, and thinking about how I don’t want to write a blog post. I struggle to find any space for creativity at the end of a long day. At the end of a work day I just want to throw my to do list out the window. Work out? No thank you. Make dinner? Do I have to? Write a bunch of words that no one will read? Surely it can wait until tomorrow. But then I don’t want to do it tomorrow either.

I’m just so crap at staying motivated. Tell me your secrets, friends. How do you keep up with your life? And before you suggest it, no I can’t afford a maid. 

Pork & Apple Hot Pot | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Pork & Apple Hot Pot is decidedly not a quick and easy week night dish. I mean, it’s easy, but it’s anything but quick. It’s a slow cooking autumn fantasy. Apples, onions, and bacon cook down to a soft flavorful mush that makes your pork unbelievably tender. I’m normally not a pork chop person, but man, this is tasty.

A bit of good news for you. This whole thing can be cooked in one pot. Just make sure you have something that can transfer from the stove top to the oven. A bit more good news. This will make your house smell heavenly.

Pork & Apple Hot Pot | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

The weekend will be here soon, friends. We can make it. And once we get there, let’s eat Pork & Apple Hot Pot.

Pork & Apple Hot Pot
Serves 6
Pork & Apple Hot Pot is a one pot all day dish that's perfect for autumn.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 3 onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into half moons
  3. 250 grams bacon (of the streaky variety)
  4. 50 grams flour
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  8. Salt and pepper
  9. 6 boneless pork loin chops
  10. 4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  11. 750 ml apple juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (170C). Heat the oil in an oven proof pot and cook the onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft. Remove the onions to a separate bowl.
  2. Scissor your bacon in small pieces into the hot pt and cook until the pieces start to crisp up. Remove the bacon to the same bowl as the onions and mix them together.
  3. Put the flour, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, and pepper into a zip top bag and give it a bit of a shake to combine. Add the pork chops two or three at a time and shake it all about to coat the pork in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess flour, and sear the pork in the hot pot for a couple of minutes per side and remove to a plate. Repeat until all the pork is seared.
  4. Tip the remaining flour into the pot and give it a whisk until it soaks up the oil. Slowly add in the apple juice, whisking it with the flour after each addition to get rid of any lumps.
  5. Add half of the onion bacon mixture back to the pot, then three of your pork chops, followed by half the apples. Repeat the layers again.
  6. Pop the lid on the pan and put the whole thing in the oven to do its magic for three hours. Your pork will be tender and the apples and onions will be soft.
Adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Mini Pork Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Mini Pork Pies

Mini Pork Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Writing a blog post when I’m exhausted out of my mind is always a bad idea. Words? What are those? Do I know how to make sentences? Am I even human? What’s happening? One thing I know for sure is that time never stops and while hard work won’t get you everything it will get you a whole lot further than laziness.

When I was a kid, we always left cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. If we were especially on the ball, they were monstrously decorated sugar cookies that my brother and I loaded up with way too much candy. I was never ever good at art. I always just naively assumed that everyone left cookies and milk for Santa. Not so.

Mini Pork Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Apparently, in England, they leave pork pies out for Father Christmas to snack on. He can apparently also get cookies if he’s lucky, and in at least one house in Lancashire, he could stop off for a shot of rum. It’s a stressful night, I guess. A bit of booze may be exactly what he needs. 

I also learned that you can buy pork pies from a vending machine in England, which kind of freaked me out. Room temperature meat? Turns out those machines are refrigerated. Not to worry. Still, I think we can do a bit better.

Making your own pork pies is actually quite simple, especially if you’re lazy, like me, and you use store-bought pie crust. Just mix together some finely chopped onion and ground pork, along with a few seasonings. Nestle it down into some pie crust, give it a lid, paint on some egg wash, and pop it in the oven.

These are a great little snack for a party. Easy to eat with your hands and finish in two to three bites. No need for a knife and fork, so you can keep holding your drink in the other hand. I imagine that’s how the English would do it.

Mini Pork Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you can’t get your favorite treats from back home, there’s a pretty good chance you can make them yourself. Mini pork pies are an awesome place to start.

Mini Pork Pies
Yields 12
Pie crust surrounds a pocket of savory ground pork, perfect for a party.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  2. 1 pound ground pork
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  5. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 sheet refrigerated pie crust or your favorite recipe
  7. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Pop your half onion into a food processor and give it a spin until you have small bits. Add the ground pork to the processor and pulse 4-5 times. Add the seasonings to the meat and pulse a few more times to combine. Refrigerate if you're not going to use it right away.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Roll out your pie dough on a lightly floured surface. You'll want to be careful with your dough because you'll just barely have enough. Start by thinning out the dough just a bit.
  4. Cut 12 11-centimeter circles from your pie dough and 12 8-centimeter circles. You'll have to re-roll the scraps several times, but you can just make it.
  5. Use your large circles to create the base of your pie by pressing it gently into the cups of your muffin pan. Fill each pie with about two tablespoons of the meat mixture. Place a small circle on top of each pie and gently pinch the top and bottom together.
  6. Brush the top of each pie lightly with the beaten egg, and use a sharp knife to cut an X shaped vent into the top of each pie.
  7. Bake your pies for about 40 minutes or until your pie crust is golden brown. Allow the pies to cool for several minutes in the pan, then gently lift them out to cool completely. Pies can be eaten warm or cold, preferably with a drink in hand.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Adapted from BBC Good Food
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Pork and Onion Hand Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Pork and Onion Hand Pies

Pork and Onion Hand Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Do you ever feel like a mad scientist in the kitchen? I normally a recipe follower, so I don’t wing it very often. Of course, even with a recipe, the first time you make it is still an experiment. How will all the different variables perform in your kitchen? Sometimes it turns out amazing, sometimes not so much. This experiment, though, was a huge success.

Pork and Onion Hand Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

It was my husband’s birthday recently, and he wanted some of his favorite English foods for his party. One of the things he requested was mini-pork pies. I followed the recipe, basically, and the pork pies came out good, but I had a ton of filling leftover. I cooked it up and stored it in my fridge until I could think of what else to do with it. That’s when the idea for these hand pies came to me.

I made my life in a hot kitchen a little bit easier by using store bought pie crust and piled some pork and onion, jarred gravy, and shredded sharp cheddar onto rounds of dough. Each pie got a lid, got brushed with an egg wash, then got popped into the oven. I was nervous the first time I tried them. Some of my experiments have been less than awesome, including another one I tried this week with the rest of the leftover pork. But this one was heavenly. Soft flaky crust surrounding savory pork and onion, a punch of flavor and richness from the cheese and gravy. Man, I’m a genius.

Pork and Onion Hand Pies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Experimenting in the kitchen can be exciting. And when it works, it not only satisfies your hunger, it also satisfies your creativity. Go mad. Make something awesome.

Pork and Onion Hand Pies
Yields 8
Flaky pie crust surrounds pork, onion, cheese and gravy for a quick dinner or transportable snack
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1/4 onion, chopped
  3. 1/2 pound ground pork
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  5. 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  6. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  7. 2 sheets refrigerated pie dough, or your favorite recipe
  8. 8 tablespoons gravy (use your favorite)
  9. 8 tablespoon shredded sharp cheddar
  10. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion and cook for about five minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the pork, nutmeg, mustard powder, and Worcestershire sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through. You can do all of this a few days ahead of time and store the cooked meat in a sealed container in the fridge. Use leftovers from another recipe if you have them.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375
  3. Roll out your pie dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut 16 circles, about four inches in diameter. I was able to get 8 circles out of each sheet by re-rolling the scraps a couple of times.
  4. Place eight circles onto a parchment lined baking sheet or two. Add a big spoonful of pork and onion to each circle. Add a pinch of cheese and a large spoonful of gravy onto each pile of meat.
  5. Use your finger to trace some water around the edge of each dough circle, then place a second circle on top and press the dough together around the edges with a fork.
  6. Brush beaten egg over the top of each pie, then use a sharp knife to cut a couple of vents into the top of each one.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes for a sturdy, but softer dough, or 20 minutes for a more crispy pie.
  8. Allow the pies to cool for at least 10 minutes. The insides will be very hot. These are also great at room temperature. Feed your friends and family and revel in your genius.
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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