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A Productive Monday

I can’t say that I’ve been super productive this summer.

I finally caved and turned off my alarm clock, except for World Cup game days and Sundays.

During the school year, I’ve already worked out, showered, and prepared my lunch by 7:15am.

This past weekend, I decided that I was going to have to regain some control.  After all, living like I’m retired is all fun and games until August rolls around.

So, I said that I’d get up at 7.

I lied.  To the universe, that is.

Ha!

But seriously, after rolling out of bed around 9:45 and making my peanut butter banana shake, I headed out.

My first stop was the school.  I wanted to make sure that the schedule I’ve been told was mine is, still in fact, the schedule I’m set with.  Lesson plans are begging to be written so that I won’t find myself scrambling a few days before we open the doors to the new school year.

Alas, all of the administrators were in a meeting.  Nobody could tell me when my building’s floors will be waxed, so putting my classroom back together is still on the back burner.

Monday wasn’t looking like it was going to be very productive.

I managed to run to the grocery store and pick up a few items for dinner.

After an hour long workout (Day 75 of 80 Day Obsession, y’all), I was ready to sit down.

Only I didn’t because I had decided to be productive.

I spent the next four or five hours in the kitchen, with a brief break to fix the noise in my car (see yesterday’s post).

First, I made a bunch of boiled eggs for the Mr.  I use my Instant Pot for these because they come out perfectly each time.  He eats two of these every day for breakfast.

There were dishes from Sunday that needed to be washed.  It wound up taking a little longer because dirty dishes are like rabbits; they multiply!

After peeling the eggs, I prepped the veggies for the Mr.’s dinner so I’d be ready to throw everything onto the stove when he got home.

Go me!

Then, I baked a batch of chocolate chip muffins for myself.

Don’t judge.  The Mr. still had some of his cake leftover.

I figured to strike while the oven was hot . . . kill two birds with one stone . . . and prepped a new-to-me dish.

A week or two ago, I’d seen a recipe posted by the Minimalist Baker on her Instagram account.  It intrigued me because I had most of the ingredients already, and it seemed pretty easy to prepare.

For the first time ever, I roasted a cauliflower, adding the sauce as directed in her step-by-step instructions.

Look how pretty it turned out.

My Instant Pot got a workout today!  I pulled it out for the second time and prepared quinoa.

Then, for the first time ever, I made the Chimichurri sauce that is mentioned in the cauliflower recipe.

Y’all, this stuff, which I’ve never eaten before, is AMAZING!  It really boosted the rest of my dinner, which was fabulous.

You know, after all of that work, I think I’m going to take it a little easy today.  I’m pretty sure I expended enough energy for a couple of days.

Comfort Food

Do you remember me posting about getting an Instant Pot for Christmas?  I’m sure that I’ve written about a few things I’ve made in it, but I can’t remember – that’s how sporadic my blogging has been.

Ok, so my Instant Pot – it’s an appliance that I grow to love more and more each time I use it.

On Monday, I made a new recipe in it, and it was simply magical.

I follow Megan Gilmore on Instagram and Facebook (she’s Detoxinista).  She’s coming out with an Instant Pot recipe book in October.  I’ve already pre-ordered it because her recipes are very easy and don’t require a lot of ingredients.

She posted the Instant Pot Vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipe on her blog, and after seeing her little video on Instagram, I knew I had to try it.

The only real prep for it was soaking the cashews, but that’s even something that can be done quickly with boiling water if time is an issue.  It wasn’t for me since I’m on summer break.

I followed the directions exactly.  I knew it was going to be tasty when I licked the spoon after pouring the “cheese” sauce into the pot.

Now, I’ll admit that I’ve made a few vegan mac and cheese recipes.  They’re usually pretty good.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I lifted the lid.

Here’s what I saw.

When I stirred it, I could hear the creaminess.  You know what I’m talking about.

I finished by adding the water at the end, which was very necessary to get the pasta off of the bottom of the pot and down from the sides.

Oh word, y’all, but when I tasted it, it reminded me of the comfort food I loved when I was a child.

It paired well, in my Minion bowl, with my Riesling.

I’m a fancy Redneck, y’all.  What can I say.

A Nostalgic Hodgepodge

I haven’t participated in the Hodgepodge for awhile, so I thought I’d give it a go this week.   If you’re new to my blog, welcome!  If you’ve been here before, hello again!  Thanks for stopping by, y’all!

1.  What’s something in your house you’d like to get rid of but can’t?

I want to get rid of a futon that’s taking up a LOT of space in a spare bedroom, but I can’t because nobody wants to pay what I’m asking.  It’s actually much better quality than what you’ll find in many stores, so I’m going to be stubborn and hold my ground.  I figure that it will sell eventually.

2.  When is the last time you experienced a sense of nostalgia? Elaborate.

When the Mr. and I go to our neighborhood’s pool, I’m frequently reminded of when my children were toddlers.   We lived in Miami when they were little, and I took them to the pool twice a day, just to wear them out.  This was where both of the kids learned to swim – Rooster caught on before he was two years old!  Whenever I see littles at the pool, my heart does a little lurch, and I’m swept back in time to those exhausting, yet fun, days.

3.  You’re only allowed three apps on your smart phone or tablet…which three do you keep?

The pressure of this question is giving me a touch of anxiety!!!!  What the heck, Jo?  Ha!

I guess I’d have to keep my email because seriously, though, how would I function without it.

I’d also keep a GPS app because I am the queen of getting lost.

The third app I’d keep would have to be Safari because I can browse all the things with a web page.

Ha!  How’s that for being smart?

4.  July 11th is National Blueberry Muffin Day. Who knew? Do you like blueberry muffins? If you were going to have a muffin would blueberry be your choice? What’s the last thing you baked?

Yeah, no blueberries for me, thank you very much.  If it’s a super food, I’m not having anything to do with it.

If I was going to eat muffins, I’d probably choose the Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe I cooked up a couple of weeks ago.

Y’all, I just discovered this gal, and so far, the recipes I’ve tried have been spot on!

The last thing I baked were her Soft and Chewy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You’d never know that these don’t have eggs or any other dairy product in them!  I’ll be working those off later today – and every day.

5.  What’s the biggest way you’ve changed since you were a child? In what way are you still the same?

The biggest way I’ve changed is that I’ve grown more comfortable in my own skin.  Am I still self conscious?  Yes.  Do I mind that I’m a bit odd and march to the beat of my own drum?  Nope.

One way that I’m the same is that I am still extremely shy and introverted.  That surprises people who know me, but you guys, I don’t do crowds very well.  I’m not your party girl either.  Please don’t make me introduce myself to new people (except my students, where oddly enough I’m not shy).  I don’t know that I’ll ever outgrow these things about myself.

6.  My Random Thought

Ok, so I posted about this on Facebook yesterday, but I’m going to write about it here as well.

Why is it that when I go out looking my rattiest, I run into people I know?

Take Monday, for instance.

I had a hard time getting going.  My back was bothering me a lot and honestly, the longer that summer break goes on, the later I sleep in.  Don’t judge; I wake up at 4am during the school year, so I pay my dues on the front end.

I threw on some clothes to work out in.  I knew that there might be a possibility that I’d need to go to the store, but I pushed on.

I have a pair of twenty year old, khaki stretch shorts.  The drawstring has been AWOL for years now.

They are comfortable though, and I usually wear them when I’m doing yard work.

The Mr. loathes these shorts.  He has often told me to expect them to go missing one day . . . that they aren’t fit to be seen in.

I put on one of my favorite Hogwarts Running Clubs tech shirts from a race I did last year.  It’s pink, as you can see from the picture below.

Oh yeah, and my hair.  Can we discuss the fact that I was wearing it in the easiest way possible?  Messy buns and headbands are my thang, y’all.

It’s summer, after all.

So, after I finished sweating it up, I thought to myself, “Do I change, or do I leave these clothes on.”

Laziness won out.  I wasn’t going to be too long, after all.

I forgot that I live in Podunk, USA, where you can’t even run to the gas station without seeing someone you know.

I walked in and sure enough, I ran into one of the store managers – a drop dead gorgeous girl and the wife of someone the Mr. works with.  I’d met her a month or so ago.  Oh, hello, please excuse my nastiness, I wanted to say.

Sigh.

Then, in the produce section, I spied a young lady from my church.  I think she’s Rooster’s age and, like the other gal I’d seen, gorgeous.

I kept my head down, but we ran into each other again, and I knew it would be rude to ignore her.  I covered my brow and mumbled an apologetic hello.  I actually told her that I was hoping that she wouldn’t notice me because I wasn’t exactly dressed for the public eye.

Sigh.

So when I got home, I posted my warning to all of my Facebook friends that one should never wear ratty clothes out in public.  Ever.

The Mr. got home, caught up on social media (including my post), and came out long enough to say, “Really?  You just had to wear those?”  Sigh.

So on Tuesday, I figured I’d be way smarter.

I dressed in my Nike workout shorts, Nike tank top, and matching socks with ASICs shoes.  Heck, even my headband had the Nike emblem.  I could have been a model, minus the magazine-cover-worthy face and great makeup and hair, for them.

I’m holding up one finger because I only had one repeat left in my cardio workout.

I worked out, sweating prettily of course (you know I’m being sarcastic, right?), and ran out to our health food store to pick up a few items.

Guess what.

I didn’t see a single person I knew.

Oh no, because at that earlier time (I’d actually gotten out of bed before 9), it was only the older people who were shopping.

Not one person, y’all.

I told the hubby about this when he came home for lunch.  His response?  “You should look nice every time you leave the house.”

Sigh.

Forget random thought – you got a random story.

Have a great day!

New Year’s Shenanigans

I managed to stay awake until midnight New Year’s Eve.

Go me..

Actually, what helped pass the time was that the Mr. and I rented the movie, American Assassin.  It had a lot of action!

I slept in a little New Year’s morning.  It was the best night’s sleep I’d had since prior to my surgery.  Of course, it was the first time I was back in my own bed since then as well.

We got going pretty quickly and headed to the mall.  We had recently upgraded to the iPhone X and had purchased screen protectors and cases from Cellairis, a place in the mall that my Sprint guy had recommended.

Y’all, we usually buy this stuff on Amazon and don’t pay much for it; however, we weren’t willing to risk dropping our brand new phones without them being protected, so we coughed up the extra dough.  I was impressed by the young guy’s quick service and the fact that he got the protectors on without any issues.  I always ruin the first one when I do it myself.

My protector started lifting while I was out of town with family, so I visited a Cellairis in the mall there.  It took me a few hours to realize that they’d: 1) put it on crooked and 2) given me a matte protector.

Not good.

I went nuts.  I went back to that mall the next day and asked them to fix it but was told that they were out of them and to go back in a week.  I couldn’t do that because we were going back home the next day, so I figured that I’d go to the one in my own mall.

That’s what the Mr. and I were doing there at 10:00am New Year’s morning, but y’all, when we drove up, look at what we saw . . .

There were lines of people waiting to go into Dillard’s.

What the heck?

The Mr. dropped me off so he could park, and I got in the queue.  It was freezing, but the doors had just opened, so I didn’t have to wait.

Oh my goodness!  The people were NUTS!  They were almost running across the store, while I was doing my best to not get trampled or tripped.

I saw people grabbing blankets off of tables that only had 20% off sales signs.  What the heck?

I went past the shoe department, and that’s where the wacko behavior really cranked up.  I don’t even know that people cared what the shoes looked like.  They grabbed them and then jumped into a line that was marked off with a rope.

I just wanted to get out of there and into the rest of the mall.

The guy at Cellairis did NOT give me a new protector.  He had to call his boss who wouldn’t allow it because the other place had put on the wrong one.

Talked about MAD.  I was extremely angry and told the kid that it wasn’t his fault, but that this was horrible customer service.  I asked when his boss would be in, and he said later that day, but since the Mr. and I had plans to watch football, I told him we’d be back today.  He did straighten the matte protector, but y’all, do you know that it started lifting in the corner a little later?  I was DOUBLE-MAD.

I even tweeted out to corporate.

Take that!

When the Mr. met up with me, he told me that the line in the shoe department of Dillard’s was wrapped all the way around the corner.  Fortunately, he had parked in a different lot, so we didn’t have to risk our lives getting out of there.

We ran a couple of other errands before we returned home.

That’s when I got busy.

I had gotten an Instant Pot for Christmas and was eager to make my first dish, Vegetarian Instant Pot Chili.

First, I had the fun of using the new slicer that Chicky had given me to do some prep work.

You can find this at Walmart.

Look at that green, yellow, and red pepper deliciousness

I was so impressed with how quickly my veggies were chopped.

Next, it was time to get everything into the Instant Pot.  I was nervous; pressure cooking is something I haven’t done is probably twenty years, and it made me nervous back in the day.

Setup was actually pretty easy!  The manual that came with it had clear instructions.

Of course I chronicled my antics on Instagram (I saved the entire video story, posted below) . . .

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The dish itself took thirty minutes to cook.

I am sooooooo glad that I asked for the model that has Bluetooth; watching its progress on my app was fascinating.

I was like a mama hen and refreshed my screen often . . .

Isn’t this cool???

The pot took a few minutes to heat up and then about ten minutes to vent.  I’d read a few things about manually venting it or allowing it to do it naturally.  I turned the valve to venting after ten minutes of letting it do its thing on its own.

The results were sooooo worth my foray into new cooking lands . . .

The recipe is flavorful.  I’d suggest adding chili powder for an extra kick.

It made quite a bit, so I’ll be eating it for lunch this week – no complaints here!

Cleanup was a piece of cake!  Everything was seriously done in one pot!  I didn’t know that you could saute in it (this recipe didn’t require it, but I read that you could saute in it on a blog) . . . something that will be handy when I want to whip something up after a tiring day of work.

I also did some baking.  The Mr. had requested the Peanut Butter Cake that he loves so much.

This thing usually sinks in the middle because he’s not allowed to have anything with baking powder, cream of tartar, or other leavening agents.  I decided to try adding a splash of lemon juice to the recipe with the hopes that it would interact with the baking soda and make the cake rise.

You can see that it worked!  I was shocked!

It looked like a real cake after I frosted it . . .

The Mr. said that the texture was spongy too.  Yay!

I wasn’t done in the kitchen, though.

Chicky had found a recipe for a Peanut Butter Lover’s Chocolate Tart, from Oh She Glows (I found the recipe online yesterday, so you’re welcome) in one of my books, but we had not had the time to prepare it, so I got busy.

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Every component was homemade . . .

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First I baked the crust, and then I made the filling . . .

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While it was setting in the freezer, I made homemade caramel sauce and chopped peanuts for the garnish . . .

This was seriously fun to assemble!

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Look how pretty it turned out!

I’m going to cut this into small slices and freeze them individually for a quick solution to a craving for something sweet.  This thing is DECADENT!

After all of that cooking, I finally sat down to watch football and knit.

I slept well again last night – past 9am – the Mr. thoughtfully got up early and fed the dogs.

We headed BACK to the mall.  Just look at the aftermath from yesterday’s sales . . .

I am so thankful that the Mr. was willing to take me out on errands.  This is the second time in just over a year that I’ve been unable to because of my ankle.

If only my makeup looked that good without the Snapchat filter!!

We first visited the Cellairis place, and this time the manager was there.  I went through the spiel again, and he had to call the owner.  I was just about ready to blow a gasket; however, I’d prayed before I’d gone into the mall, and God had answered.  The manager replaced the screen cover, even managing to apply it evenly.  Whew!

Then, the Mr. and I did a bit of shopping at American Eagle, where they were having a lot of sales.

Of course, the things that fit me perfectly weren’t on sale.  I got them anyway.  Ha!

Excuse the hair – it was clean and dry but not styled. #ChristmasBreakProblems

That outfit right there?  Yeah, it’s what I’m wearing for the first day back at school tomorrow, so if you see me, just know that I did not wear it home!

We also went by Books a Million; I had a gift card to spend!

It took two employees to locate the cookbook I wanted . . .

While looking for it, I found a lot of other books I wanted; however, I held myself to just one more . . .

Aquafaba is the liquid left over in a can of chickpeas, and it’s magical, especially if you’re a vegan and can’t use eggs for whipped stuff.  I am so excited about this cookbook!

I’m sad to see the end of the break quickly approaching.  I needed the rest that this break provided.  Although the first week of it was rough with my surgery and ensuing recovery, I still enjoyed not having to stress about writing up errant children, entering grades, or making lesson plans.

Please say a prayer for the Mr.  He’s got to get up to take me to school until the 22nd (boot removal day), and he is not an early-morning kind of guy, let me tell you.  He’s already refusing to take me to Starbucks for hot chocolate or by Panera for the free daily bagel deal that’s going on this month.

It should be an interesting series of mornings as our “together time” is put to the test.

Ha!

Thankful Thursday – Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!  Today, I’m joining up with Rebecca for her weekly Thankful Thursday post!

This Thanksgiving has some special significance to me because I remember the way I spent last year’s holiday – three days post-op, dog sick from the side effects of my pain medicine, unable to eat, and plain old miserable.

You shouldn’t find it any surprise when I list, as the first thing I’m thankful for this week, the ability to walk and, so important to me, work out.

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I am so thankful for the essential oils that keep my ankle pain and emotions at bay . . .

There’s a roll on bottle inside. The combination of oils in this blend is so soothing!

For the baths I’m planning on taking after I get my stitches out after my surgery

For my migraines. I hope the hefty price tag proves worthwhile.

I love the rewards program through Young Living.  I’m earning points for my purchases, and when I spend a certain amount, I get free items with my order!

Free!

That Christmas Spirit you see?  Oh my goodness!  It’s amazing!  I have it in a USB diffuser that I run in my car.  ❤

Also free – The Pine oil will be perfect in this ornament diffuser!

I am thankful for my fur babies.  Molly took a piece of my heart with her when she passed away this summer.  My boys keep me grounded and help me remember to keep loving even when it’s hard.

I am thankful for a husband who didn’t mind that our Thanksgiving meal wasn’t all that fancy given our lack of company this year.  He went with the flow, ate the spaghetti squash and spaghetti sauce that I prepared, and never complained.

I set a fine table, don’t you think?

I am thankful for those who create vegan recipes so people like me can still eat good food, like this dish – Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole – from Oh She Glows.

It took a couple of hours from start to finish to put this together – mainly because I accidentally dropped the carrots and potatoes I’d cooked for the “cheese” sauce in the dirty side of my sink and had to boil more.  :::Slaps forehead:::

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I used this marinara sauce, which I found at Publix.  It’s one of the few I’ve seen that doesn’t have added sugar or other unnecessary additives . . .

The smell coming from the oven reminded me of an Italian restaurant.  Seriously.

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The “cheese” sauce is absolutely divine and MAKES this dish!  I’ll be eating on it for days and days.

Another recipe I made for Thanksgiving is this Vegan French Silk Pie, by Detoxinista.

I’m fairly certain that it’s the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made.  It’s that good (and deceptively quick to assemble).

I am very, very, VERY thankful for technology that allows me to see my babies’ faces when we talk on the phone, should they choose.  The Mr. and I chatted with Rooster and his sweet wife for forty five today.  Seeing the smiles on their faces, the little nuances when they cracked jokes, their raised eyebrows at the sarcasm thrown digitally across the miles – well, it made our hearts swell with love.

I hope you have a wonderful day and that, if possible, you’re able to spend it with loved ones.

Shopping, Taste Testing, and Cooking

Is it Friday yet?

This was me, on Tuesday, after I got home from school . . .

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I needed groceries.  So badly.

I needed a nap even more.

Wednesday, I pulled up my big girl pants and went to the store on my way home.  That was after I spent my entire lunch break, my planning period, and a half hour after school inputting about 400 grades.  I’d taken up three assignments this week but had figured out a more fair way to grade the third . . . only AFTER I’d put grades in for three or four of my classes – because I suck at math and like to do things the hard way.

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And no, I did not go to the grocery store with my hair in a wrap, thank you very much.

I am not that much of a redneck.

Ahem.

I am glad, though, that I pushed through my fatigue and made it to the store.  Look what I found . . .

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When you play the video, it will right itself.

But y’all . . . look at all of the options!  I had a hard time deciding which one to buy, so I didn’t choose at all . . .

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Can someone please explain to me WHY my videos are sideways?  Ugh.

Anyhoo, I decided to do some taste testing to compare.  I felt a bit like Goldilocks.

The Original Silk Nog is thin but tastes most like what I grew up drinking (before I became lactose-intolerant and a vegan).

The So Delicious Coconut Milk Holiday Nog is the thickest of the three and has a distinct flavor that I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe it’s a subtle hint of coconut. It’s almost as though I’m drinking a version I’d find on a Caribbean island. Delicious!

The Califia Farms Holiday Nog seems, on first appearance, to be the second thickest, but after going back and forth, I think it’s actually more watery in flavor.

While I was taste testing, I was also hard at work cooking up a new-to-me recipe from a blog I follow.

This recipe is called Meatless Meatloaf Cups.

I used black beans instead of the white ones suggested in the recipe.  I also used my food processor to mix everything together.  I think I’ll try mashing up everything with a fork the next time I make this for a chunkier texture.

Still, the flavor was amazing!  My house smelled like I’d been cooking real meatloaf.

The cooking didn’t stop there though.

Well, okay.  So I actually had a break . . . say a seven hour sleep break 😉 . . . and woke up with the plan to make one more dish I’d seen in an email . . .

That is Snickerdoodle Mug Cake, a recipe created by A Virtual Vegan.

Preparing it was super easy.  I used almond butter and almond milk.  I did NOT use my microwave – I quit using this appliance quite a few years ago.  Instead, I baked this in my toaster oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

The texture came out perfect!

I snacked on it all morning at school!  Since I haven’t been baking lately, the treat was especially delicious.  My taste buds were not complaining one little bit.

Time to Make the Donuts

Y’all, I am constantly on the lookout for yummy things to make.  I’m just about willing to try anything vegan related.

Last week, the Mr. and I talked about how much we missed Krispy Kreme donuts.  Neither one of us can have them due to our special dietary needs.

Well, I did what I do best and googled.  My search proved fruitful when I hit upon this Vegan Glazed Donut recipe.  I headed out to the store on Saturday to pick up the ingredients I needed.  Then, I got busy.

It’s been a long time since I worked with yeast, so I was a little nervous.  I used aquafaba, the liquid leftover in a can of chickpeas, as an egg substitute.  I wish I’d saved the photo of my dough rising.  It was pretty though.  I love when magic happens.

Then, I rolled out my dough.  I didn’t have a lot of space because there were a ton of dirty dishes on the counter.  Since I had not been feeling well the past two days, I wasn’t up to washing them by hand, and the dishwasher was full, so there was that little problem.

I had a bit of an issue when I realized that I’d forgotten to purchase a donut cutter when I’d been at the store earlier.  I googled what to do, but I still didn’t have what I needed.

I found a round cookie cutter among my baking items and used that first.  Still, I needed something to cut out the centers, and after thinking and thinking about it, I went back to my cabinet where I found a cupcake center removal thing – the tool you use to take part of the cupcake out so you can add filling to it.  I’ve never actually done this before, but I had anticipated a time when I would, hence the item in my kitchen.

It worked perfectly.

I had to let the donuts rise a second time.

They weren’t the prettiest, and some were thicker than others.  Since I didn’t have much space on the counter, I couldn’t roll them out evenly.  It’s okay.  It was my first time, so I was still in the experimental phase.

I didn’t waste anything and even let the donut holes rise.

The thicker ones got HUGE after an hour of resting . . .

I’ve never seen Krispy Kreme donuts that thick before, but whatever.

Then, I fried them in canola oil.

Oh my heavens.  I should have downloaded the Instagram story I did on it.

They took about 45 seconds to cook on each side and came out amazingly well!

The icing was a piece of cake to whip up, and I gave each donut a quick bath before setting it on a rack to cool off.

These donuts are so delicious!  Because mine were kind of small, I was able to get make almost 36 out of the dough.

I’ll be sharing these with friends at work to prevent me from eating all of them and, thus, keeping my cold, which is a result of too much sugar and stress in my life of late.

But y’all, I freaking made donuts!!!

The Mr. is a bit jealous and said that he wished I’d enjoyed cooking like this before he’d been forced to change his diet.  Poor dear.  I’m going to be on the hunt for something he can have.  It won’t be a Krispy Kreme donut, but maybe it will be an acceptable alternative.

 

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