Vanilla Ginger Mojito | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Ginger Mojito

Vanilla Ginger Mojito | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Are you getting legit fall weather where you live yet? In Scotland, summer is a distant memory, and it’s been chilly and damp for weeks now, but I know other parts of the world are just now seeing those delightfully crisp autumn days. October is up there as my favorite time of year. The autumn leaves are in full show, and you still get some sunny, albeit cold, days where you can get outside and feel alive. They don’t have apple picking or pumpkin patches or hay rides here in Scotland, but at least there’s still boots and sweaters and all things toffee. 

Today I’ve made you a cocktail that is the perfect transition from summer to fall. Mojitos bring to mind steamy beach vacations, short skirts, and salsa music. But this version has some beautiful fall flavors that are perfect to sip in front of the fire after a day of crunching through leaves. Okay, maybe you can’t pick the mint from your garden, but you can definitely make this happen.

Vanilla Ginger Mojito | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Vanilla Ginger Mojito is one of the best cocktails I’ve made in a long time. I splurged on a whole vanilla bean to make the syrup, and it was totally worth it. This cocktail is so beautifully fragrant, I wish it was a perfume. I also made that vanilla bean do double duty. The recipe calls for vanilla rum, but that wasn’t available at my grocery store, so I just popped the vanilla bean into my bottle of white rum and presto, vanilla rum. 

This recipe is two stage and involves several fresh ingredients, but it’s in no way complicated to make. And I assure you it is an absolute pleasure to drink. It’s all for the best that this recipe only makes two cocktails because you could easily drink a bucket of these.

Vanilla Ginger Mojito | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cheers to autumn, friends. Make yourself a Vanilla Ginger Mojito and enjoy these awesome days.

Vanilla Ginger Mojito
Serves 2
This Vanilla Ginger Mojito is the perfect drink to take you from summer to fall with a smile on your face.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
For the syrup
  1. 1/2 cup water
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half with seeds scraped out
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled
For the cocktail
  1. 2/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  2. 4 ounces vanilla rum
  3. 2 ounces soda water
  4. 2 ounces ginger ale
  5. 2 ounces lime juice
  6. Lime wedges for garnish, optional
For the syrup
  1. Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan. Stir together the water and sugar, then add the scraped out beans from your vanilla bean, along with the whole bean, the vanilla extract, and the piece of ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, and reduce the heat to simmer for about two minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for about fifteen minutes to steep. Remove the vanilla bean and ginger.
For the cocktail
  1. Add about a third of a cup of fresh mint leaves to two glasses. Add two ounces of vanilla rum to each glass and muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass by giving it a good smash with something blunt. I use the handle end of a butter knife.
  2. Fill each glass with plenty of ice, then divide the remaining ingredients between your two glasses.
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lime and some additional mint. Give it a good stir before drinking.
Adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant
Adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m supposed to be writing about life and chocolate cupcakes. I’ve been staring this computer for a good fifteen minutes trying to conjure up some words. My husband is out drinking with work friends, and my animals are both asleep on separate sofas. Old episodes of Friends are playing in the background, and I’m just sitting here so happy it’s Friday. It’ll already be Saturday when you read this. You will be well and truly sunk into the weekend by now, and I hope you’re absolutely reveling in it. 

I think the older I get, the more precious weekends become. Especially when I think about how I probably won’t be able to retire until like a week before I die. I suppose that’s all the more reason to take the time to make and eat cupcakes. Let every weekend be a celebration. You survived another week, and you deserve chocolate.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes stay moist for days, and the combination of tender chocolate cake and creamy mint frosting is unbelievable. They also have a lovely light texture because of the addition of ground almonds. If you have a hard time finding them, you can always throw some skinned almonds in into the food processor. 

The mint frosting is sweet and refreshing. I promise it doesn’t taste like toothpaste. Though if you could eat it from a tube, I’d be cool with that. These are definitely from scratch cupcakes. There are no clever shortcuts. But there’s absolutely nothing fiddly about making them. You’ll be nice and relaxed, and the smell is absolutely heavenly.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

You work hard. You deserve a cupcake.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Serves 24
Chocolate Mint Cupcakes stay moist for days, and the combination of tender chocolate cake and creamy mint frosting is unbelievable. 
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the cake
  1. 100 grams chocolate chips
  2. 175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  3. 275 grams brown sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 150 ml buttermilk
  7. 200 grams all-purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 100 grams ground almonds
For the frosting
  1. 200 grams unsalted butter, room temp
  2. 250 grams powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 1 tsp peppermint extract
  4. green food coloring, or not, whatever you like
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and prep 24 cupcake papers. If you only have one pan, stash the batter in the fridge between batches. It’s not the end of the world.
  2. Boil some water, then measure out your chocolate into a bowl. Pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) of the boiling water over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smoothish. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  3. With your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla to your beaten eggs.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the egg mixture.
  6. Add the chocolate. Make sure to get it all.
  7. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined. If you’ve been using a stand mixer, you can abandon it at this point.
  8. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda over your wet ingredients, then add the almonds.
  9. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together.
  10. Divide your batter between the 24 cups. I use my cookie scoop. Each one gets two generous scoops. Fill them about two thirds full.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they spring back when touched.
  12. Let them cool in the pan for about 2 minutes, then cool them completely on a wire rack if you have it. Or the counter is totally fine, too.
For the frosting
  1. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with your mixer on medium high for about five minutes. It should be light and fluffy.
  2. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the peppermint extract and food coloring for your desired effect.
  3. Marry your cake and frosting in whatever way you see fit. I used a Wilton 1m tip straight above the cupcake. Just squeeze it for about three seconds. Easy!
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Shamrock Shake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Shamrock Shake

Shamrock Shake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

When I first got a car at the age of 16, it didn’t take me long to fully appreciate the many advantages this new found freedom had bestowed. Among the best perk was the ability to be able to go through the drive-thru of my favorite fast food restaurants without having to beg my parents. It was pure magic. I probably drank Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s until I turned green myself. 

Now I live in a place that doesn’t have drive-thrus, and even though we’re practically across the street from Ireland, they don’t pay any attention to St. Patrick’s day either. They definitely don’t know the thing about pinching people who don’t wear green, which is fortunate for me because my closet has a very limited color palette. 

Shamrock Shake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Luckily, I can make own Shamrock Shake in less time than it takes to go through the drive-thru (and yes, I do actually know how to spell through). To no one’s astonishment, all we have to do is add a splash of peppermint extract to a vanilla milkshake, then turn it green with some food coloring. And we can actually go one step further than McDonald’s ever will by adding whipped cream and sprinkles. 

So stay home, get out your blender, and don’t forget to wear green this St. Patrick’s Day. Or just drink green. That counts, too, right?

Shamrock Shake
Serves 1
Avoid the drive-thru, and make yourself a minty Shamrock Shake at home this year.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  2. 1/2 to 1 cup milk
  3. 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  4. 4 to 6 drops green food coloring
  5. Whipped cream and sprinkles, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine ice cream, milk, peppermint extract and green food coloring in a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.
Notes
  1. Please don't measure this, just add and blend until the milkshake is the consistency you love.
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail

Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I love Christmas break. I have no obligations. I can stay home in my pajamas as much as I want. I can eat muffins and peanut butter toast any time I want. And I get so much of my own work done. Work that I love. Except dishes. I still hate dishes.

I think it’s high time I win the lottery and become a lady of leisure. This real job nonsense is for the birds. More 

I used my Christmas break epic free time to make you a cheeky little cocktail for your holiday festivities. This Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail is sweet, chocolaty, and potent. We’re mixing up three spirits with some chocolate milk because we’re grown ups, but we still like to have fun. Creme de menthe is packing a pepperminty punch to bring the holiday spirit to your glass. It’s so good.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

And I’m not saying you have to give yourself a candy cane stir stick, but I can’t really think of a good reason why you wouldn’t. Whipped cream and cocoa powder are also optional, but would it really be Christmas without it. 

Merry Christmas, friends. Get real merry with a Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail in hand. It’s gonna be awesome.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail
Serves 1
This Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail is sweet, potent, minty, and oh so merry.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 shot vanilla vodka
  2. 1 shot creme de menthe
  3. 2 shots creme de cacao
  4. 1/2 cup chocolate milk
  5. Candy cane, whipped cream and cocoa powder for garnish
Instructions
  1. Add your spirits and chocolate milk to a collins glass, stir it all together with your candy cane, top with whipped cream and cocoa powder, and sip away.
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Have we all started permanently wearing our stretchy pants for the Thanksgiving to Christmas holiday party bonanza? I miss the days when I actually had to wear spandex to work. What do you think would happen if I showed up in tights and a leotard at my East End Glasgow school? Can we sit on the floor? Desks are for suckers.

This whole moving debacle is putting a a massive wrench in my plan to cook all the things. I might maybe sort of be co-hosting a waffle party this weekend, but I’m about to put most of the stuff in my kitchen into a box. I may not know who I am for a while.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Before moving madness hit, I made you a cheesecake. Actually, I made you a White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake that you can serve as your Christmas dessert this year. Prepare to be loved by everyone.

This cheesecake has a chocolate cookie base and creamy white chocolate peppermint cheesecake studded with peppermint bark, then the whole thing is topped off with a white chocolate mousse and scattered with crushed candy canes. Not only is it festive and beautiful, but it’s one of the best cheesecake’s I’ve ever eaten.

If you can’t get peppermint bark where you live, you can make your own. It’s pretty easy. Here’s the peppermint bark recipe I used. Don’t worry about fancy molds. Just spread the chocolate out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Oh, and you only need half of this for the cheesecake. You can only make half or save the other half for snacking.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I can’t wait until I can invite the world over for dinner in our new place. Until then, please please please make this White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake. It’s so very awesome.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
Serves 12
White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake had better be in your face very very soon, like now.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
10 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
10 hr
For the crust
  1. 2 cups (around 20 cookies) chocolate cookie crumbs (like oreos or bourbon biscuits)
  2. 3 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling
  1. 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
  4. 1-1/2 tablespoons flour
  5. 1-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  8. 3 eggs
  9. Approximately 1-1/2 cups pepermint bark pieces
For the mousse
  1. 1/2 cups cool whip, thawed
  2. 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. 2 ounces white chocolate, melted
  4. 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. Crushed peppermint candies, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C). Prepare your 9-inch springform pan by wrapping the outside with plastic wrap and then foil to keep any water from seeping in when you put it in a water bath.
  2. Use your food processor to crush up your cookies into fine crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, you can put the cookies in a zip top bag and and smash them with a rolling pin or other heavy object.)
  3. Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs and pulse until your crumbs resemble wet sand.
  4. Pour your crumb mixture into your springform pan, and press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake your crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool while you get on with your cheesecake filling.
  5. Reduce oven heat to 325.
  6. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat your cream cheese until smooth. Next beat in the sugar, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Beat in the melted white chocolate, flour, heavy cream, salt, and peppermint extract, and give the bowl another scrape.
  8. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Scrape and beat once more to make sure the mixture is completely smooth.
  9. Scatter your peppermint bark pieces evenly over your crust. Pour your cheesecake mixture over the crust and peppermint bark.
  10. Place your springform pan into a large roasting pan. Place the whole thing in the oven. Pull the rack out a bit so you can reach it easier. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it's about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Gently push the oven rack back into place, close the door, and bake your cheesecake for an hour.
  11. When the hour is up, turn off the oven, but don't open the door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 45 minutes.
  12. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and allow the cheesecake to cool on the counter for an hour. Transfer the cheesecake to the fridge to cool for at least four hours before adding the mousse.
  13. To make the white chocolate mousse, add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl, and beat together until thick and smooth.
  14. Carefully spread the mousse over the top of the cheesecake, and return it to the fridge for another four hours at least.
  15. To add a bit of festive cheer, crush up a candy cane, and sprinkle the bits over your cheesecake just before serving. They'll be crunchy the first time around, but they'll melt in the fridge. It' fine. They make a cool watercolor effect and still impart peppermint flavor.
Adapted from Baked by Rachel
Adapted from Baked by Rachel
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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