Cherry Orange Sangria | How to be Awesome on$20 a Day

Cherry Orange Sangria

Cherry Orange Sangria | How to be Awesome on$20 a Day

People have been so nice to me since I left the hospital. They keep bringing me fruit and red wine. It’s just so sweet! #facepalm

It’s cheese and riesing, kids. Or brownies and milk. Or a cheeseburger and a really cold cider. That’s my jam. 

Still, I’m not complaining. I’m tremendously grateful for all the love and support I received both while I was in the hospital and during this annoyingly long recovery. And if that love comes in the form of alcohol, I’m definitely going to find a way to make the most of it. Let’s make sangria, kids.

Cherry Orange Sangria | How to be Awesome on$20 a Day

Sangria equals summer, am I right? Throw some fruit in some wine, maybe a dash of extra booze. It’s all so pretty and festive. You have a whole pitcher stashed in your fridge to sip on throughout the day. It’s like an instant party.

This particular sangria starts with a sliced orange, as many cherries as you can stand to pit, a bottle of red wine goes in (I used zinfandel because that’s what I had, but I think something a bit lighter would have also been nice), then you add some maraschino liqueur, stir it up, and let it all hang out for a while. I did this part the night before. 

When you’re ready to serve, I like to add some club soda to the mix for a hint of sparkle. If you’re a red wine fan, you could probably stop right there. If you don’t love red wine, and we don’t, add some orange juice to your glass, as much as you need to make it awesome. And don’t forget to freeze any extra cherries to keep your drink cool.

Cherry Orange Sangria | How to be Awesome on$20 a Day

See? We can always find a way to make things awesome. When life gives you red wine and cherries, make sangria. It’s the only sensible soluion.

Cherry Orange Sangria
Serves 8
Crisp and fruity Cherry Orange Sangria to liven up your summer.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 orange, sliced
  2. 1-2 cups cherries, pitted
  3. 1 bottle of red wine
  4. 1/2 cup maraschino liqueur
  5. 1 cup club soda
  6. Orange juice to taste
Instructions
  1. Add your oranges and cherries to a large pitcher. Pour over the wine and the liqueur, and give it a good stir. You can let this hang out in the fridge for a few hours to chill and let the fruit and wine get to know each other. If you're in a hurry, just add ice to each glass as you serve.
  2. Before serving, stir in the club soda. Pour over ice and/or frozen cherries. Add orange juice to taste.
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Citrus Gin Fizz | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Citrus Gin Fizz

Citrus Gin Fizz | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We made it, kids. It’s finally Friday. When we started out the week, it felt like Friday was a million years away, but now it’s here, and I’m in it. And guess what kids. I’m making a cocktail.

Drinking gin makes me feel like a grown up for some reason. The first time I tried it, I was in my mid 20’s and with two older friends who I thought were super cool. I did not enjoy the gin at the time, and it made me feel distinctly unsophisticated. So now, when I drink it and actually enjoy it, it’s like I’ve finally left my girlish days behind.

Citrus Gin Fizz | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Of course, we’re still adding some sweetness to this Citrus Gin Fizz with fresh juice, agave syrup, and of course, it can’t be fizz without Club Soda. You can use bottled juice if you like, and certainly go that route if you already have it on hand. That’s what I used the first time around, and it was still awesome. But if you want to really get in to Friday, I suggest buying fresh citrus. Fresh squeeze your juice and add some fruit slices to your glass. It adds to the magic. I promise.

Citrus Gin Fizz | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Fridays only come around once a week. You need to celebrate them. Make yourself a lovely cocktail, and get to living.

Citrus Gin Fizz
Serves 1
Citrus Gin Fizz is sweet and bright and wonderfully sunny.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1-1/2 ounces gin
  2. 1/2 ounce orange juice
  3. 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  4. 1 ounce agave syrup
  5. Club soda
  6. Orange and lemon slices to garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Stir together gin, juices, and agave syrup. Add ice and top up your glass with club soda. Garnish with orange and lemon slices if you like.
Notes
  1. Fresh squeezed juice is awesome, but bottled is great, too. Do what's easiest for you.
Adapted from My Year in Cocktails by John Cusimano
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes

Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve been holding back on these cupcakes for a while now. I thought they were too bright and cheery to share in the middle of winter, and I didn’t want to rub it in that it’s been warm and sunny here the whole time. 

Believe it or not, there are some drawbacks to living in a place with near perfect weather. You can never wear boots, a scarf, and a hat all on the same day. You never ever ever get a snow day. And you feel terribly guilty every time you want to stay indoors and just veg out in front of the TV. There’s so much pressure to engage in outdoor adventures at all times. It’s like, “Shut up and leave me alone, sun. I don’t want to go to the beach. I just want to watch 8 straight hours of Downton Abbey.” Those dudes never get sun guilt.

Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

But no matter the weather on your part of the planet, now’s the time to make these slightly boozy, tangy, sweet Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes. There’s Triple Sec and coconut rum in the cake, and more Triple Sec in the custard filling and the frosting. There’s also plenty of fresh orange and lime zest. So sunny!

These cupcakes do have several “from scratch” elements. Each one is simple, but it can drag the process out, so make these when you’re not in a hurry. You deserve some time alone in your kitchen with some citrus. And if you want to make yourself an actual citrusy cocktail while this is all going on, you might be my new best friend.

Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Rain or shine, it’s time for Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes. So awesome.

Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes
Serves 12
Citrus Cocktail Cupcakes are bright and sunny and slightly boozy and perfect for an endless summer.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the cupcakes
  1. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 7/8 cup sugar
  5. 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1 egg
  7. 5/8 cup milk
  8. 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut rum
  9. 1 tablespoon Triple Sec
For the filling
  1. 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  2. Pinch of salt
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/2 cup half and half
  5. 2 egg yolks
  6. Zest of half an orange
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoons Triple Sec
  8. 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
For the frosting
  1. 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  2. 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. Zest of one lime
  4. Juice of one lime
  5. 1 tablespoon Triple Sec
  6. 3 cups powdered sugar
  7. Orange food coloring, optional
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar by mixing with an electric mixer on medium high speed for at least 3 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and mix in the egg, milk, rum, and Triple Sec. Your mixture will look very curdled. Relax, it'll be fine.
  4. With your mixer on its lowest setting, slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fill your cups about two thirds full with cake batter and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack after about 5 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
For the filling
  1. Combine all ingredients except for almond extract in a small saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it becomes thick like custard.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
  3. Pour the filling into a small bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Press it right down onto the top of the filling. Store this in the fridge until the filling and the cupcakes are cool.
  4. Make a big hole in the middle of your cupcake with chopstick or cut out the core if you like more filling. Transfer your cooled filling to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Insert the tip right into the hole and squeeze in as much filling as you can.
For the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the lime zest and juice and the Triple Sec.
  2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar a half cup at a time until smooth. Turn your mixer up to high for about a minute to make sure everything's light and fluffy. You can also mix in some orange food coloring if you like a bit of color.
  3. Frost your cupcakes in your favorite way. I used a Wilton 1M tip.
  4. Store your leftover cupcakes in the fridge, if you have such a thing.
Notes
  1. It's probably obvious that I halved this recipe, so if you want more cupcakes, this recipe can be easily doubled.
Adapted from Gourmet with Me
Adapted from Gourmet with Me
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Chocolate Orange Mousse | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Orange Mousse

 

Chocolate Orange Mousse | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This year, we’re keeping things intimate for the holidays. It’s just the two of us, and Christmas without my baby just isn’t the same. We got a small potted tree from the grocery store, which I happen to think is completely adorable. We’re doing out best to keep it simple, and yet each time we discuss our Christmas day menu, we end up with way too much food on the list. It’s a good problem.

Chocolate Orange Mousse | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chocolate Orange Mousse is an awesomely elegant dessert for an intimate holiday meal. This batch makes four small servings, so you could have two left over for the next day, or just fill two larger cups and go to town on chocolate orange overload.

When I was a teenager, I wished every year that somebody would give me one of those chocolate oranges. I think I’ve only ever gotten one in my life. This Chocolate Orange Mousse tastes exactly like that. And it’s barely more complicated to make than cracking one of those chocolate oranges into adorable delicious pieces.

The quality of the mousse is dependent on the quality of your chocolate, so feel free to get second cheapest or better. You only need 3 ounces. After that you just need to whip some cream, gently fold some ingredients together, stir in some booze and juice, and refrigerate. Too simple.

Chocolate Orange Mousse | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

A simple, intimate meal doesn’t have to be boring. Wrap it all up with Chocolate Orange Mousse. You’ll love it.

Chocolate Orange Mousse
Serves 4
Chocolate Orange Mousse is as simple as it is awesome.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 ounces dark chocolate chips, or finely chopped chocolate
  2. 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  3. 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  4. Pinch of salt
  5. 1 tablespoon Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
  6. 1 tablespoon orange juice
  7. Orange zest
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or over a double boiler. This amount only takes about 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Whip 1/2 cup heavy cream along with a pinch of salt until it's stiff but still smooth. Halfway between soft peaks and stiff peaks.
  3. Gently fold the sweetened condensed milk into the whipped cream.
  4. Add a third of your cream mixture into your melted chocolate and fold to combine. You can be a bit more rough here.
  5. Gently fold the remaining cream into the chocolate, working in two batches. It may not stay perfectly smooth, but it will still taste great.
  6. Finally, stir in the Triple Sec and orange juice.
  7. Divide your mousse between four small or two medium cups and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. When ready to serve, whip your remaining cream. Top each of the cups with a dollop of whipped cream and some orange zest. Share with someone you love.
Adapted from Nigellisima
Adapted from Nigellisima
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Citrus Bundt Cake from Awesome on 20

Citrus Bundt Cake

Citrus Bundt Cake from Awesome on 20

I work with heroes. My job is relatively boring normal, but the people I work with and for save people’s lives every day by helping them get off the streets and find a place to call home. I am honored to work side by side with them and play a small part in making these miracles hapen. It’s very challenging work, and sometimes it takes a little bit of bribery to get one of these heroes to go to a 7:15 am speaking engagement for us. Because this hero is so awesome, I was willing to do it.

Citrus Bundt Cake from Awesome on 20

Luckily, my colleague requested a lemon bundt cake with orange zest glaze, which sounded both easy to make and outrageously delicious. And both of those things turned out to be true. The cake was dense and moist, and bursting with bright citrus flavor. 

I used fresh citrus zest in both the cake and the glaze. To maximize your citrus flavor, remember to always zest your fruit directly into your other ingredients whenever possible. All the flavor lies in those essential oils  you see spraying all over the place when you zest. You want those oils to fall into your food, not onto a cutting board. Don’t waste flavor. It makes me cry.

Citrus Bundt Cake from Awesome on 20

If you ever need to talk somebody into doing something that sucks, you may want to bribe them with a citrus bundt cake. It’s worth it.

Citrus Bundt Cake
Serves 10
A dense, moist lemon bundt cake topped off with a bright orange zest glaze
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the cake
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. Zest of one lemon
  6. 1-3/4 cups sugar
  7. 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  8. 3 eggs
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2 drops lemon extract
  11. 1 cup buttermilk
For the glaze
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. Zest of one orange
  3. Juice of half an orange (you may need a bit more depending on how thick you like your glaze)
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Zest your lemon into the dry mixture and whisk gently to combine.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together on medium high speed for about 3 minutes until it's pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each.
  5. Mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low and add a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk, another third of the dry mixture, the rest of the buttermilk, and the last of the dry ingredients. Turn your mixer back up to medium and beat for another two minutes. You will have a very smooth, thick batter.
  7. Carefully pour the cake batter into the waiting pan. Even out the top to make sure you don't have a lopsided cake, then bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about five minutes, then invert your cake and cool completely before adding glaze.
For the glaze
  1. Sift your powdered sugar into a medium mixing bowl and zest the orange into the powdered sugar. Whisk in juice of half the orange. You can add a bit more orange juice a few drops at a time until your glaze is thick but pourable.
  2. Pour your glaze over your cake, and put it in the fridge as quickly as you can. This will help your drips stick to the side of the cake rather than sliding right off.
  3. Serve to heroic coworkers. They deserve it!
Adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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