Awesome in July

Awesome in July

It’s been a blissfully quiet month. We’ve been sticking close to home, dodging the rain, and eating a lot of burgers. The best burger this month that I didn’t make myself was for sure from DogHouse in Merchant City. We’ve been continuing on with our Marvel film festival now that the World Cup is finally over, and I finally saw Black Panther. I absolutely loved it. Thor: Ragnorak was also really fun. Captain America: The Winter Soldier had the best fight choreography.

I also managed to finish three books this month; The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Between the World and Me was definitely my favorite of the three. 

I have a powerful need to try out this Baked Honey Hot Chicken Sandwich

I’d never heard of Smith Island Cake before, but I’m certain I need to eat it.

Also please hook me up with a bucket of Cinnamon Harissa Caramel Corn.

Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Your favorite recipes this month were Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies, Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels, and Peanut Butter Fudge. These are the best of the best, friends.

August means back to school and back to insanity. I’m reveling in the peace and quiet while I still can. Make it awesome, kids.

Lemon Polenta Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lemon Polenta Cake

Lemon Polenta Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

When we moved into this flat, it was with the promise that we could completely redesign the kitchen. In fact, I believe I was promised the kitchen of my dreams. And while our kitchen is spacious, it is far from dreamlike. We may have the stupidest oven ever sold.

My oven has four stops on the “settings” dial. There’s off, obviously, followed by the first click that turns the oven light off. The oven light does not work (insert face palm emoji). Then there’s the click to turn on the bottom AND the top heating element. And finally top only. Does anyone else see something missing? I can’t turn off my top heating element in my oven. Basically everything I put in there is getting broiled. I have to cook everything on the bottom rack to keep it from over-browning. Often, as is the case with this particular cake. I am not successful.

Lemon Polenta Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

And yet I’m sharing it with you today anyway because this blog has always been about finding the awesome in the everyday and making the most of what you got. And I still couldn’t get Geoff to stop eating two pieces a day, so I can confirm that it tasted absolutely amazing.

Lemon Polenta Cake is naturally gluten-free as it’s made with ground almonds and cornmeal. And of course there’s plenty of lemony-ness both in the cake and in the lemon syrup you drown this cake in to make it not just moist but damp for days. You won’t want to stop eating.

Lemon Polenta Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Some people have perfect kitchens. Some people… don’t. We all deserve great cake. This Lemon Polenta Cake is where it’s at. 

Lemon Polenta Cake
Serves 8
Lemon Polenta Cake is soaked in a tangy lemon syrup that makes this gluten-free cake awesome for days.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
for the cake
  1. 200 grams unsalted butter, room temp
  2. 200 grams sugar
  3. 200 grams ground almonds
  4. 100 grams cornmeal
  5. 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  6. 3 eggs
  7. zest of 2 lemons
for the syrup
  1. juice of 2 lemons
  2. 125 grams powdered sugar
for the cake
  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment, and grease the sides with butter
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F/175C.
  3. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine the almonds, cornmeal, and baking powder in a separate bowl, then mix a third of the mixture into the butter and sugar. Add an egg and combine. Continue alternating dry ingredients and eggs until everything is combined.
  5. Finally mix in the lemon zest.
  6. Transfer the batter to your pan and bake for 40 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the pan.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
for the syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, boil the lemon juice and powdered sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. With a toothpick, prick tiny holes in your cake, then pour the syrup over the cake and let it sink in.
  3. Once cool, remove the collar from your pan. Serve a big wedge and experience pure joy.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
http://awesomeon20.com/
Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve been digging deep for that Christmas feeling. I’m counting the days until I get a break from work so I can go into full relaxation mode. We bought our Christmas Tree last week. I even made Geoff take me on a date to the Christmas market so I could eat a Yorkshire pudding wrap and drink hot chocolate with Bailey’s. We took the route home that has a walk past the most twinkling lights possible. I’ve been finding a few moments of holiday zen, and it’s delightful.

Of course, I still have a bunch of presents to buy, and the idea of wrapping them is close to sending me over the edge. Practical geometry was never my strong suit. Then there’s the Christmas menu to finalize. Geoff’s requested this turkey recipe, along with some other British Christmas classics. As for me, I’m more interested in what cocktail to serve. A poinsettia is always a good choice.

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you’re looking for a deceptively impressive dessert this Christmas, may I suggest you make this Buche de Noel? The first time I made this, I thought it would definitely be a disaster. I don’t have the patience or fine motor skills to make fancy cakes, and I had never tried to make a rolled cake before. It all came together surprisingly easy, and it was so chocolaty and tender, I couldn’t stop eating it. 

You don’t need to worry if your cake cracks a bit as you’re rolling it up because the fluffy chocolate frosting will cover up any problems. And you don’t need to be Van Gogh to make it look like a log, either. All you need is a toothpick and an unsteady hand. Squiggly lines are a bad artist’s best friend. A few fresh cranberries and a couple of snips off of a sprig of rosemary, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed masterpiece.

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Maintain your holiday bliss and impress your family with a Buche de Noel this Christmas. It’s gonna be awesome.

Buche de Noel
Serves 8
A Buche de Noel is a great way to impress your family this Christmas without adding any stress to your life.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
For the cake
  1. 6 eggs, separated
  2. 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
For the frosting
  1. 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 60%)
  2. 2 cups powdered sugar
  3. 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  4. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  5. Pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Give yourself plenty of paper to hang over the edge, and fold it up in the corners to give it a bit of structure.
  2. In a large, very clean mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk your egg whites until they're nice and foamy. With the mixer still running, add in 1/4 cup of your sugar and continue to whisk until your have stiff peaks.
  3. In another mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer for this part) whisk your egg yolks with your remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Ditch your electric mixer at this point.
  4. Add the vanilla to the egg yolk mixture, then sift over the cocoa powder. Fold this all together with a rubber spatula.
  5. Next, fold in your egg white in three batches. A few streaks aren't the end of the world. The egg white are all you have to leaven this cake, so don't overwork it.
  6. Pour your cake batter into your waiting jelly roll pan and gently spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, the use the overhanging edges of your parchment paper to lift out the cake and allow it to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. Melt your chocolate by breaking it up into pieces and microwaving it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each go until it's completely melted and smooth. Should take about a minute. Allow this to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Add your powdered sugar to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to make sure you get rid of any lumps.
  3. Add the butter to the food processor and process until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and process until smooth and incorporated.
To assemble
  1. Once your cake is completely cool, spread a layer of your frosting over the entire top of your cake.
  2. Use your parchment paper to help you roll your cake. You want the short end facing toward you as you roll away from you. Don't panic if you have a crack or two. It will all get covered up with the frosting.
  3. If you want to have a stump or two coming out of your log, slice the ends of your roll at a gentle angle. This will also give the ends of log a cleaner look. You can then use a bit of your frosting to stick this slices onto the side of your cake. Once they're covered in frosting, they'll look like stumps of branches. It's almost too easy.
  4. Don't be afraid to use all of your frosting to completely cover all parts of your cake. No need to make it smooth. The rougher it is, the more it will look like bark.
  5. To complete the look, us a toothpick or skewer to to make some wobbly, bark like lines down your cake. Make some rough concentric circles at each end to resemble tree rings.
  6. If you want to get extra artsy. add a few cranberries and some rosemary to make a few sprigs of holly. If you want it to snow on your log, sprinkle it with some powdered sugar.
Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
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