Black Bean Soup | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Black Bean Soup

This simple Black Bean Soup is packed with flavor. It’s made with dried beans and flavored with just a few fresh ingredients. You’re not going to believe how delicious something so simplistic can be.

Black Bean Soup | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

How are we holding up, friends? I feel like we have to ask this before we do anything else these days. Are you keeping busy while being stuck at home? Or are you one of those essential workers out there sacrificing to make sure we stay safe? If you’re still going out of the house to work, thank you so much. Sincerely. I was honestly a little scared when I thought I might have to keep going in to work. I’m so grateful to be safe at home. I hope you get a big fat bonus.

My husband, our cat, and our dog are all sharing our two bedroom flat quite comfortably so far. Geoff has taken over the spare bedroom with his seventeen minotors for all of his many electronics, so I can curl up in the corner of my couch with my laptop and do endless admin and data entry while Friends plays in the background. It could be a lot worse.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that we still have to eat several times a day. Today I’m sharing Black Bean Soup, and beyond tasting really great, it’s super simple to make. If you’ve got some dried black beans in your pantry, you’re most of the way there. If you can find a few vegetables at your supermarket, this soup should definitely make an appearance on your table.

Black Bean Soup | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

How to make Black Bean Soup

You don’t need to soak your beans, but you do need to simmer them for about an hour and a half. Let’s face it, you probably don’t have anywhere else to be right now. Throw in a bay leaf for some added flavor. While that’s bubbling away, sautee an onion and a bell pepper until soft. Add a bunch of garlic, some cumin and oregano and some lime zest.

Once that’s cooked, it’s all going into a blender along with a couple of ladlefuls of the liquid from the simmering beans. When you’ve got yourself a nice puree, just set that aside until the beans are ready. Then stir it in and let it all cook together for a little while longer. Finish it off with a splash of sherry, then top it with all your favorite things. I definitely think some sour cream is a must.

Black Bean Soup | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re all living life a little differently right now, and hopefully that means you’re trying something new. I hope making soup is one of those new things. Make it Black Bean Soup. It’s gonna be awesome.

Recipe is adapted from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson.

Looking for more black bean soup recipes? Try this Black Bean & Chorizo Soup.

Goat Cheese Souffle | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Goat Cheese Souffle

This Goat Cheese Souffle is delicate, but packed with flavor. Topped with a creamy sauce and a hit of extra cheese, it’s practically foolproof and definitely delicious. Don’t worry. You totally got this.

Goat Cheese Souffle | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

How are we, friends? Do we even know where we’re going or what we’re doing? As I write this, so much is uncertain here in my part of the world. We’re still allowed to go out but strongly encouraged to limit gatherings. Schools are closing soon, but I think I still have to go in to work because the building is still open and one of my kids might show up for lunch or something. I’m not really sure. I just know I’m tired.

Getting into my kitchen at the end of each day has been a welcome escape. It might be the only thing keeping me sane at the moment. At the moment, I’m still able to get everything I need, and I hope that lasts. It feels so comforting to be able to rely on the simple magic of ingredients plus heat transmuting into a delicious meal. It keeps me going.

My store is short on eggs, so I’m hoping that means you already have plenty in your kitchen, and you want to eat them before they go bad. Souffle might seems too fussy to some people, but I find it heavenly. This Goat Cheese Souffle is both light and earthy with plenty of cheese. I just love it.

Goat Cheese Souffle | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

How to make Goat Cheese Souffle

I love this recipe, but it is a bit of a project. It will use several pots and create a lot of dirty dishes. You don’t have anywhere to go at the moment, though, so you might as well just get into it. We first need to steep some onion, bay leaf, and pepper in milk that we gently heat on the stove. While that’s going on, we’re cooking together butter and flour in another pan, then stirring in our warm milk, straining out the onion and bay leaf to create a thick cream sauce. Stir in some fresh parsley, egg yolk, and lots of goat cheese, then let that hang out.

Don’t freak out, but we’re gonna whip some egg whites to stiff peaks. Use an electric mixer. You’re not a superhero. Then comes the sort of tricky but also not really a big deal part of the process. Ever so gently bring together the egg whites and the cheese mixture to create a light and airy batter. Divide that amongst three ramekins and baking until golden and puffy.

Sorry, but we’re not done yet because while that’s baking, we’re going to mix together some cream and more goat cheese over a gentle heat. When the souffles come out of the oven the first time, we spoon over this sauce, top each one with a fat pinch of grated Swiss cheese, then put the whole thing back in the oven again to puff up.

Look, souffles are always going to look their best the moment they come out of the oven, but they’ll tastes amazing always. Serve these with a green salad and a glass of wine for a fancy lunch.

Goat Cheese Souffle | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re all gonna be fine, kids. We’ve got each other’s backs, and we’ve got Goat Cheese Souffle. What else do we need? It’s gonna be awesome.

Love souffle? Try this White Cheddar Polenta Souffle.

Also, let’s hang out on Instagram and help keep the world awesome.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

These Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits are light and fluffy, but also filled with awesome flavor. They’ve got a bit of heat from red jalapeno, and they’re deeply savory from the addition of cheddar and fresh chives. Bake them up for breakfast with a fried egg and bacon, or serve them alongside your favorite soup or chili. Get baking, kids.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hate wasting. I keep ill-fitting clothes and unflattering makeup for ages because I can’t bear to throw things away when they’re perfectly usable. There are probably some very out of date condiments in my fridge. Oh, and lots of half-empty bottles of flavored spirits used in a few cocktails and forgotten. None of it is going anywhere until it gets used. Otherwise, you might as well throw your money in the garbage.

This refusal to waste is exactly why I usually make square biscuits. It’s so much more practical. When you cut biscuits into a round shape, there’s always scraps of dough left behind. Yes, you can reform and cut again, but you can never use it all. If you want to use up all your biscuit dough, simply pat the dough into a rectangle and instead of using a round cutter, use a pizza cutter to cut it into square or rectangles. Nothing gets left behind. You get to eat every last bit. There are probably some minor scientific flaws in this plan. It’s never held me back.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

These particular Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits bake up light and fluffy with lots of layers and a crisp outer texture. The heat from the jalapeno is subtle and builds as you get through your biscuit. They’re at their best when eaten fresh out of the oven with plenty of salted butter. My husband likes to take the heat to another level with a drizzle of honey habanero sauce. You do you.

This recipe comes from that genius Joy Wilson’s first book, The Joy the Baker Cookbook. She really knows her way around a biscuit, and these ones turned out beautifully. We start by mixing dry ingredients together in a big bowl, squishing in lots of cold butter with our bare hands, tossing in the jalapenos, cheddar, and chives, then finally stirring in some buttermilk to bring it all together. Lightly knead the shaggy dough together on the counter. Then we cut it into delicious squares, and bake it in a super hot oven until fluffy and golden. Biscuits take a little practice, but we’ll all get there.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits are where it’s at. Make them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Never stop. It’s gonna be awesome.

Love biscuits? Try these Self-Rising Biscuits. For something a little extra, go for Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits. They’re both super awesome.

Lemon Risotto | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lemon Risotto

Lemon Risotto is a delicious meatless dinner option. With fresh rosemary, lots of Parmesan cheese, plus a bright punch of lemon, it’s a big bowl of carby goodness. Risotto is surprisingly easy to make and a pleasure to eat.

Lemon Risotto | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

It’s March already, and I’ve lost track of how many weekends in a row we’ve had a storm. We actually saw the sun for a couple of days last week, and it was such a tease. How’s the weather in your part of the world? Is it hopelessly depressing? Or should I be asking to come crash on your couch for a few days? I’ll bake you a cake in exchange for even a hint of warm weather.

I know we’re all supposed to be getting into hygge and all that jazz. Embracing the cozy comfort and togetherness. Going cross-country skiing or whatever it is rich Norwegians do. But I just want to get out of my house and go for a walk without the fear that I’ll get blown to some fantasy land. Actually, that might be pretty fun. Maybe I’ll go for a walk on Saturday and see if I end up in Oz.

Lemon Risotto | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Risotto is a great dish to make when it’s miserable outside. Suddenly standing at your stove stirring for 20 minutes seems like a welcome retreat. It’s also ideal for practicing a little kitchen witchcraft, if you’re into that. Stir your risotto clockwise, infusing it with love and joy for all who eat it. Or just space out and stop worrying about your to do list for a while.

This Lemon Risotto is bright and hearty. There’s a richness from a touch of cream and lot of grated Parmesan cheese. I also love the hint of earthiness from fresh rosemary. I used to think I didn’t like risotto because it always seems to contain mushrooms or asparagus or something any self-respecting picky eater would turn their nose up at. This Lemon Risotto is nothing but deliciousness.

Lemon Risotto | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

How to make Lemon Risotto

To make this risotto, you can blitz some shallot and celery in your food processor, then sautee your veggies with a little butter and oil in a big pot for a few minutes. Toss the rice in and stir it around to coat it in the oil. Then, stir in veggie stock a ladle at a time until it’s absorbed each time. Keep stirring and ladling for about 20 minutes until your rice is al dente. Stir in the rosemary and lemon zest. Finally, stir in a mixture of egg yolk, cream, parm and lemon juice. Risotto is best served straight away with a bit of extra cheese grated on top.

Lemon Risotto | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you’ve gotta be cooped up to avoid the storm, you might as well make the most of it. Make a big pot of Lemon Risotto. It’s gonna be awesome.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson.

Love risotto? Try this Bacon & Corn Risotto.

Oh yeah. One more thing. We’re getting close to 400 followers on Instagram. When we reach our goal, we’ll give away a batch of cookies. Help us out by following us on Instagram if you don’t already or sharing your favorite post with your friends.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Sweet & Sour Chicken

This Sweet & Sour Chicken is exactly what I remember from home. Lightly crispy chicken breast is coated in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Serve it with sticky rice and skip the take out. You’ll love it.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I know I talk a lot about the differences between America and Britain, but friends, they never stop. Yes, I realize that American Chinese food is nothing like the food in China. I lived in Taiwan for two years, so I’ve seen for myself. What I wasn’t prepared for was how different Chinese food would be in the UK. They have a lot the same dishes we have in America, but the way it’s prepared is so weird.

When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese takeaway, what I expect to get is bite-size pieces of chicken coated in egg and corn starch so it has a thin crispy coating on the outside. Then, it should be liberally tossed in the sauce so that it’s well coated but not swimming in sauce. That’s how I like it.

When I order Sweet & Sour Chicken from a Chinese place in the UK, I either get pieces of plain, possibly boiled chicken or little bits of chicken encased in a thick pancake-like batter served as big balls. Then there’s like a lake of sauce. I mean, I really like sweet and sour sauce, but what am I supposed to do with that? Swim in it? I can’t get into it.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Thankfully I found this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker that reminds me exactly of Sweet & Sour Chicken from home. When I first made it, I didn’t read through the entire recipe, which obviously you should never do. I just looked at the ingredients list, thought yeah, that looks good. Turns out it takes over an hour to make, but the wait is totally worth it.

How do I make Sweet & Sour Chicken?

After we chop and season our chicken (we like chicken breast, but you do what you want), we’re gonna coat it in corn starch, then dip it in beaten egg before pan frying it in a little oil just to brown the outside. Don’t worry if it’s cooked all the way through at this point because like I said, it’s going in the oven for an hour. At this point you might be thinking, if I cook this for an hour in the oven after frying it, won’t it be horribly dry? I thought that, too. The answer is no, it’s perfect.

Before it goes in the oven, we make up our sauce with sugar. There’s lots of it. Be prepared. The word sweet is in the title. Then we add ketchup, rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also work, or a combination if you’re low on rice vinegar like I was the first time) soy sauce, and some garlic powder. Stir that all together, pour it over the chicken before it goes in the oven, and toss the chicken in the sauce ever 15 minutes as it bakes to coat it in the sauce.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

You can also add some veggies, either on the side or right in with the dish. I used red bell pepper and added it to the baking dish along with my chicken pieces. Then I topped it with some sliced green onions for a little hit of something fresh and green at the end. You could use onion, pineapple, whatever you love. And of course, serve it over a bed of sticky white or brown rice. I think you should eat it with chopsticks, but I’m a weirdo.

Sweet & Sour Chicken | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

We all like a bit of comfort, and to me, this Sweet & Sour Chicken takes me back to my childhood, where I was an even more picky eater than I am now. Make your own take out, so you can get it exactly the way you like. It’s gonna be awesome.

Looking for more chicken dinner ideas? Try this Teriyaki Chicken.

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