Awesome in April

The hibiscus lady at the KCC Farmer's Market is super awesome!
The hibiscus lady at the KCC Farmer’s Market is super awesome!

April has come and gone and we’ve reached the end of our first full month of Awesome on $20. No idea how that happened. I’m so thrilled that a few people have found their way here. Isn’t the internet crazy? Indeed.

Here’s the awesomest stuff April offered up. Let’s do this every month! And let’s invent new words.

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Awesomest Way to Get Funny Looks at Work

My new obsession is the Joy the Baker Podcast. I’m honestly a little sad that this has been happening for two years without me. Luckily, when you subscribe on iTunes, you can get every episode, and then listen to two a day at work. There’s a strong chance you’ll burst out laughing while everyone is quietly clicking away in their cubicle, then everybody will look at you like you’re a freak. It’s okay. They don’t even know how awesome you are.

Joy and her sidekick Tracy of Shutterbean chat endlessly about “totally important unimportant things.” Sometimes they even talk about food and blogging. It’s reassuring, as a new blogger, to know that people as successful as these two once felt a bit insecure as well. I’m totally normal. Yeah, I’m totally not normal. Joy the Baker podcast. Get it. Laugh much too loudly. You won’t regret it.

The Steeldrivers

Awesomest Band You Never Skip When Your iPod Is on Shuffle

Do people even have iPods anymore? I’ve been using the same one since 2008, and I don’t think I’ve ever skipped over a Steeldrivers song. I’m always in the mood for their perfect brand of contemporary bluegrass. Alas, they lost their lead singer and songwriter, Chris Stapleton, a few years ago. I haven’t heard any of their recent stuff with the new singer, but that doesn’t stop me from singing bad harmony while driving my moped down busy streets. Their first two albums, plus “Live from The Station Inn” will always be worth listening to.

If you have Adele’s 21, and who doesn’t, then you already know one of my favorite Steeldrivers songs, “If It Hadn’t Been for Love.” I adore everything Adele does, but you really have to check out the original version. This song has a fiddle solo that just rips my heart out. Even if you think bluegrass isn’t your thing, I urge you to check out this band and have your mind thoroughly blown.

photo and recipe by Tracy of Shutterbean.com
photo and recipe by Tracy of Shutterbean.com

Awesomest Thing I’m Super Excited to Make

Whilst obsessively listening to the Joy the Baker podcast, I heard Tracy of Shutterbean talking about making her own amaretto. I immediately gasped (cue weird glances) and dropped everything to pin the recipe from her site. A few weeks ago I wanted to make a cocktail that called for amaretto, and the cheapest bottle at my grocery store was $25. What? I’m not paying that. When I looked at her recipe, I realized I already had everything except the vodka. How are we out of vodka? That needs to stop. I’m so psyched to try this out. I promise to let you know how it goes.

Clockwise from the top: pulled pork grilled cheese; pulled pork sandwich with smoky bbq beans and spicy mac and cheese, both from Tin Hut BBQ; mini sampler from Dolcita
Clockwise from the top: pulled pork grilled cheese; pulled pork sandwich with smoky bbq beans and spicy mac and cheese, both from Tin Hut BBQ; mini sampler from Dolcita

Awesomest Opportunity to Stuff Your Face in Honolulu

Since before I moved here, I’ve been saying I wanted to check out Eat the Street. That was a year and a half ago, and I finally went for the first time last week. Eat the Street is a monthly gathering of food trucks in Kaka’ako. They have around forty vendors, including beer and wine. There’s music and entertainment, and it’s all outside under the stars (depending on what time you get there, I suppose). Every month there’s a theme, and each truck creates a special dish for the event. April’s theme was bacon. How could I stay at home?

Next month is garlic Eat the Street. It happens the 4th Friday of every month. You don’t want to miss it. I don’t think I’ll miss out ever again. If you live in town, or you’re visiting my island, look for me. I’ll be near the cupcakes eventually.

What was the awesomest thing in your life in April?

Spam Mac and Cheese & Spam Jam Waikiki

Spam Mac and Cheese

On Saturday evening, we went to the Spam Jam in Waikiki. The what? Yes, Spam Jam. It’s a huge annual street festival on Kalakaua in the heart of Waikiki. Tents stretch for blocks with vendors selling their best recipes featuring Spam. I heard there were 25,000 people there. It was packed. Hawaiians love their Spam. I mean, you can get Spam, eggs, and rice for breakfast at McDonald’s.

This event also benefits the Hawaii Foodbank, an organization that is dear to me. I urge you to consider donating or volunteering with your local foodbank. Their work is absolutely vital to the community.

Twisted Spam Mac and Cheese from The Hard Rock Cafe

We decided to try the Hard Rock Cafe tent. I had the Spam mac and cheese, and Geoff had the Spam taco. When mine arrived, I was a bit… disappointed. It was not what I was expecting. This was my first time to try Spam, so when I had a huge scoop of ground Spam that looked and smelled like cat food on top of my mac, I was put off. I scooted most of it off to the side and just mixed a bit of the salty Spam into the mac. It was good enough, but I knew I could do better.

Spam mac and cheese

I switched out that soggy mess for crispy salty bits of Spam joy. It was a million times better. I also mixed the Spam throughout instead of just putting it on top. A hit of cayenne and garlic adds a lot of interest to the flavor. Spam is not a go to ingredient for me, and I’m not sure I’d work with it again, even if it is cheap. Yet I was pleasantly surprised that eating this Spam mac and cheese made me ridiculously happy. In fact, I ate it twice in one day. It was definitely awesome.

Spam mac

Spam Mac and Cheese
Serves 2
Salty crispy ham enhances a delicious and simple mac and cheese
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 oz macaroni
  2. 1/2 cup Spam, diced to small cubes
  3. 1 egg
  4. 6 ounces evaporated milk
  5. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  6. 1/4 tsp cayenne
  7. pinch of salt (go easy, Spam is really salty)
  8. 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 475
  2. In a medium pan, put your water on to boil. Add salt and macaroni to boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Drain.
  3. In the meantime, cook your tiny Spam cubes in a small skillet over medium high heat. Once they are nice and crispy, they will start to jump and attempt to escape the pan. Transfer Spam cubes to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Beat the egg and evaporated milk together, then add the seasonings, followed by the cheese and most of the Spam. Finally fold in the cooked pasta.
  5. Spoon your mixture into two greased ramekins which are resting on a baking sheet to catch any possible drips. Sprinkle the last of your Spam on top.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for at least ten minutes to avoid burning your face off.
  7. Dig in and learn to love the Spam.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
http://awesomeon20.com/

 

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Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Bacon Cream Cheese Icing

The way I see it, the four food groups need an overhaul. I know they had that pyramid thing for a while, but I like to keep things classic. How about the four food groups of awesome? Henceforth they shall be: Bacon, Cheese, Sugar, and Liquor!!!!!

Oh, and carbs because duh, how would you live?

I combined two of the essential food groups into one ridiculous cupcake. I mean, you haven’t been able to buy yourself any new clothes in months. You need cupcakes to keep you going. You deserve it.

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

I’m not so up on the trends, usually because I can’t afford them. It took a while, but I finally put bacon in a dessert, and it was super awesome. I know I’m not the last one on the planet to give this a try. Let me urge you not to waste another day.

The cupcakes are sticky and rich, with a hint of spice. And the cream cheese icing has bits of bacon throughout. Bacon! What else do I have to say?

This cupcake isn’t overpoweringly bacony. It’s not like putting your breakfast on top of a cake. The bacon just adds an essential chewy, salty, smoky factor that pretty much makes you want to swoon.

Bacon Irish Coffee

You might also like to put some Bailey’s and bacon vodka into your favorite coffee to help wash it down. Bacon Irish Coffee can’t possibly be a bad idea.

Put bacon on your cupcakes. Do it now! You’ll thank me later.

 

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes
Yields 12
A moist and lightly spiced chocolate cupcake dripping with cream cheese icing studded with crisp bacon
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
18 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
18 min
for the cupcakes
  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 4 Tbsp recently boiled water
  3. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  4. 1 cup flour
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 2 shakes of ground cloves
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 cup sugar
  11. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
for the icing
  1. 1/2 stick (2 ounces) butter, softened
  2. 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp milk
  5. 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped to small pieces (save one piece per cupcake to decorate, it you so choose)
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and put your favorite cupcake papers in your pan.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and hot water to form a thick paste. Then slowly whisk in the buttermilk.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cloves, and both sugars.
  4. In a larger bowl beat the eggs for about a minute. Mix in half the cocoa mixture, then half the flour mixture. Then repeat the process with the rest of the cocoa and flour. Stir until just combined.
  5. Fill the cups about halfway, then bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely.
for the icing
  1. With a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and milk, and mix until smooth. It will be halfway between a set frosting and a glaze.
  3. Stir in the bacon.
  4. Spoon the frosting onto your cupcakes. It will drip a bit. Garnish with bacon pieces then store in the refrigerator.
Adapted from My Year in Meals by Rachael Ray
http://awesomeon20.com/
 

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