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/
Vanilla Ice Cream | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

My husband is the best gift giver. I should maybe stop telling people this because apparently he’s started to feel some performance anxiety around my birthday and Christmas, which unfortunately for him, are only a week a part. But I have to say, he’s done wonderfully again this year. He’s given me a gift which in a way is a gift for everyone I know.

For my birthday this year, I got a an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. I was so so so excited. I’ve been wanting one of these for years. Even though you can make perfectly delightful ice cream without a machine, it’s not quite the same. But now, with a little pre-planning, I can make any kind of ice cream or sorbet that I want in my very own kitchen. The possibilities are dizzying. Please send your recommendations for your favorite ice cream recipe books, then come over for a cone.

Vanilla Ice Cream | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We started off with a classic, Vanilla Ice Cream. If you think vanilla is plain and boring, just get out now. If you’re using good vanilla extract, of if you’re feeling fancy, real vanilla beans, your ice cream is going to be awesome. Vanilla is actually one of my favorite scents and flavors.

Making your own ice cream is easy as long as you have the proper equipment. In addition to an ice cream maker, you’ll need a candy thermometer and a fine mesh sieve. Everything else you should definitely have in your kitchen already. And use the thickest, most luxurious cream you can find, along with whole milk. Higher fat content keeps your ice cream super smooth instead of icy. 

Technically, this recipe might be frozen custard since it’s made with eggs, but I’m not particular about those sorts of definitions. Call it what you want, it’s awesome.

Vanilla Ice Cream | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Everyone in the family agreed that this was some of the best ice cream we’d ever had. Make your own Vanilla Ice Cream at home, and you won’t be disappointed.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 4
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream might just be the best you've ever had.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups double cream or heavy cream
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 3/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Add your cream and milk to a medium sauce pan over low heat and heat this up until you just start to see hints of bubbles around the edge, stirring occasionally.
  2. While your dairy is heating up, whisk your eggs in a mixing bowl for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly whisk in the sugar until it's thick and creamy.
  3. Once your cream is hot, remove it from the heat. Temper your egg mixture by slowly drizzling in some of your hot milk into the eggs while whisking the whole time. Drizzle in about a quarter cup at a time until you've mixed in at least half of your dairy. This will raise the heat on your eggs slowly so they don't start to scramble.
  4. Now you can safely add your egg mixture back into the pan, then place the whole thing over medium low heat. Attach your candy thermometer to the side of your pan, and heat this mixture, stirring frequently, until it reaches 170F (75C). Remove from heat.
  5. To make sure we don't have any coagulated egg or weird chunks of fat from the cream ruining our perfectly smooth ice cream, pour your ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Allow this to cool on the counter for about 30 minutes, then stir in your vanilla extract.
  6. Cover this mixture with plastic wrap. Press it right down onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Put this in the fridge for at least an hour to chill. Over night is fine.
  7. Add this mixture to your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer's instructions. Store your ice cream in an air tight container while it freezes for at least four hours.
Adapted from Bakingdom
Adapted from Bakingdom
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Vanilla Vodka Root Beer | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Vodka Root Beer

Vanilla Vodka Root Beer | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Sometimes the only way to get something done is just to begin, so here we are on a Monday evening putting words on a screen. I have no idea where we’re going to end up, friends, but I’m glad you’re joining me on this journey. It seems like the last few weeks have been nothing but pain for the entire planet. There have been so many tragedies and disaster I can’t even begin to name them. Are there any other choices between absolutely breaking down and going completely numb?

I can’t look. What’s going to break next? Is it even okay to look away for a minute and talk about food? Is that allowed? It feels weird, but I’m going to give it a try. 

Vanilla Vodka Root Beer | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Vodka Root Beer is the favorite way to feel like a kid and a grown up all at once. It’s sweet with a bit of a vodka bite. It’s like a Sonic vanilla root beer, but you definitely can’t drink this in your car. Keep ’em comin’.

There’s no point in writing a recipe for this. Pour an ounce and a half of vanilla vodka over ice (crushed if you can get it) then top up your glass with your favorite cold root beer. Don’t skip the whipped cream. It’s so fun.

Vanilla Vodka Root Beer | How To Be Awesome on $20 a Day

It’s a tough world out there. Let’s get together for a drink and love one another just a little bit more. We can get through this.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I think I might be allergic to spending money on myself. Every time I want to buy myself something, whether it’s a chai latte, a book, or a new pair of shoes, I have to go through hours of overly dramatic rationalizing about why I should be allowed to have this thing in exchange for paper money. I work really hard at my job, so why don’t I think I deserve nice things every now and then just like everyone else? Could have something to do with my crap wage. There’s no telling. 

It’s probably just because I’m just a neurotic freak who’s too cheap to pay for therapy. Either way, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for more than ten years, and I’m still riding this bus with people who may or may not have had a shower in the past week.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

When I do finally decide to splash out, I can’t quite bring myself to by real vanilla beans, but I did pick up some vanilla bean paste, which is still pretty gorgeous. This Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is a superstar. It’s tender and moist, and the vanilla really shines through. 

This cake comes together easily, and the glaze can be made in one bowl with a whisk. Make your glaze just barely drippy. It will boost the sweetness and cover up any bits that might have stuck to your pan. Beautiful in so many ways.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you want something simple and sweet and a little bit splashy, make this Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake for your friends. It’ll be awesome.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
Serves 12
Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is tender, moist, and extra special.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
For the cake
  1. 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 9 ounces (255 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1-3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
For the glaze
  1. 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  2. 2-4 tablespoons milk
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and butter and flour your favorite bundt pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about five minutes.
  4. Turn your mixer down to low and beat in the vanilla bean paste, then add the eggs one at a time, combining completely before adding the next egg. Scrape the side of your mixing bowl, and give it another quick mix.
  5. With your mixer on its lowest speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, a second third of the dry stuff, the rest of the buttermilk, and finally what's left of the dry ingredients, combining well before each addition. Scrape your bowl and mix for a few more seconds to get everything well mixed.
  6. Pour your cake batter carefully into your waiting bundt pan. Make sure there are no bubbles and and try to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for an hour, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely before glazing.
For the glaze
  1. Whisk together vanilla bean paste and two tablespoons of milk in a measuring cup.
  2. Put your powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk in your vanilla and milk mixture. Add some extra milk a splash at a time until you reach the desired consistency. I recommend keeping it on the thicker side.
  3. Coax your glaze from it's bowl and pour it evenly around the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice generously and serve to happy friends.
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Adapted from Sweetapolita
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Lucky me, this winter is forecast to be the worst Scotland has seen in a very long time. I need sweaters, people. Lots and lots of cozy sweaters. And endless supplies of hot chocolate.

I drink possibly too much hot chocolate made from a mix, though I haven’t yet found one here that’s as good as Swiss Miss, but when I’m feeling fancy or god forbid I can’t get my hands on hot chocolate mix, it’s ridiculously easy to make my own hot chocolate in under three minutes. 

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The beauty of making hot chocolate from scratch is that you can create your own fancy flavors. Just peruse your pantry and try something different every time. Or go plain. That’s great, too. I especially like to fortify my evening hot chocolate with something boozy. Baileys, Kahlua, or Frangelico are my favorite choices, but again, the possibilities are endless.

I pumped this hot chocolate up with a splash of vanilla extract. I also stirred in a bit of cream since I had some in my fridge. I usually only keep skim milk in the house, so putting back a bit of the fat makes it a bit more luxurious.

One last note, you can make this right in the mug if you want to save yourself from washing more dishes, but I like to give myself plenty of space to stir, so I make it in a microwave safe measuring cup and then transfer it to a mug after it’s heated. Do what you want. It’s your life and you gotta love it.

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’m sorry I just said so many words about hot chocolate. I’m passionate. What can I say? 

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One
Serves 1
Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One can be made with stuff you have hanging around your kitchen in under 3 minutes.
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
2 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
2 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
  2. 2 heaping teaspoons sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 2 teaspoons cream (or milk if you don't have cream in your fridge)
  5. Milk to top up to six ounces
Instructions
  1. In a mug or microwave safe measuring cup, stir together cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and cream to form a paste. Add milk in slowly, stirring as you go, until your mug is full or you're up to six ounces in your measuring cup. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat this in the microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes depending on how hot you like it. Give the hot chocolate another stir and transfer to a mug if it's not already in there.
  3. Add booze and/or whipped cream and/or marshmallows to our hearts content.
Adapted from Hershey's
Adapted from Hershey's
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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