Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Heart and Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Tuesday I exercised. For 20 whole minutes.

I know. Doesn't seem really impressive. For me it sure is.

I haven't done anything purposely physical for probably 6 months. OK, that is stretching it a bit. I had some awesome walks on the beach. But that might be the extent of my physical activity.

Not because I did't want to but because I physically could not.

As I talked about a few weeks ago I changed my cardiologist. Can I just say I love Dr. D? He's awesome and he listens to me and he explains things to me. In a way that I understand.

The really awesome news is that my heart is wonderful. You heard it here first. It's pumping like it is supposed to, my stents are doing their jobs and the blood is flowing like it should. Of course this information is encouraging but at the same time it frustrates me. It frustrates me because it means I should have been able to exercise and do the things that I want to do but I haven't been able to because I was basically over medicated for the last 6 or so months. So I have gained weight (AGAIN) and I'm tired all of the time - tired because I'm out of shape. Sigh.

But I exercised Tuesday for 20 whole minutes.

Yes I did. And I'm proud of that.

And Wednesday I exercised for a total of 40 minutes.

And Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday.

Now just to keep going.

OK - enough about exercise.

Let's talk donuts......


Specifically Pumpkin Spice Donuts.

Not fried in oil but baked. Yummy cake-like donuts with a glossy Cinnamon Glaze.

OH yeah.

Here they all of their glory. So delicious and cakey and cinnamony. And simple.

First, you mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
Set that aside. In another bowl whisk together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk.
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
The batter will be thick and delicious. Spoon into a prepared donut pan. Make sure not to overfill the pan because these donuts will puff slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes.
While they are cooling make the glaze with powedered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and milk.
Make sure the donuts are completely cool before glazing. Once glazed place the donuts in the refrigerator and allow the glaze to harden.
These are so darn yummy.

Pumpkin Spice Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze

For the donuts:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar or 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you love cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until just comgined.

Fill donut pan partially full and bake 12 minutes.

Allow donuts to cool.

Mix powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and milk together in a small bowl. Dip the top of each donut into the glaze. Place on a pan and allow to set.


Hugs & kisses......


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting ready for Fall

I'm feeling Fall-ish. It's mid-August and my love of Summer is fading. Quickly. VERY quickly.

Of course I'm stretching it by saying "love" when I actually barely tolerate Summer. I love the fun things that Summer brings - family vacation, added time with Kaitlyn and neon pink toenails (what??). But Summer is honestly something I could pretty much do without.

It's too DAMN HOT.

I think I could handle the 90's for a few months but when it peaks in the 100 to 105 range I just want to hurt someone curl up and cry. It is so completely miserable. And then add almost NO RAIN and it gets to the point of unbearable. I don't want to be outside or go anywhere that requires me to be outside. And working outside? Forget it. My front flower bed looks absolutely AWFUL because I just can't bring myself to get out there and work. I even try to get my shopping done in the morning on Saturday because I don't want to be out after Noon. That's pretty bad. And it limits my fun too!

Bring on Fall.

Honestly it probably won't even being to really FEEL like Fall until October, possibly November, but I can create Fall inside the house. I am trying to get rid of my Summer smelling candles and once they are gone I will put away all remnants of Summer. I have to admit that my Easter stuff is still in the front room. Not packed. That's embarrassing. Maybe since I have confessed I will make myself pack it all up for Preston to put away. I mean, before I know it I will be pulling out the Halloween stuff!! OMG!

So before Fall gets under way I should wrap up Summer.

Little pink cupcakes.

Literally bite size for an adult but perfect for for a pretty two year old.
A sweet, pink Happy Birthday to Baby O! She's growing up super fast!
We had birthday celebration (early) and good time with family.
Kaitlyn is back home with her Mom and getting ready for 4th grade. We had a GREAT summer and miss her!!

Back to Fall.....Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

I have been making this for YEARS and it's one of my favorites. The zucchini reminds me of Summer but the cinnamon in the bread makes it feel Fall-ish so it's a great transition bread. As I was making it today I couldn't help but think that it didn't seem very chocolatey - until I mixed it and remembered how deliciously brown and chocolatey it gets.

First mix your dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Then your other ingredients (in a separate bowl): sugar, eggs, canola oil, vanilla and grated zucchini.
I know, it looks like a wet mess - but wait for it.

Now, add the dry ingredients to the zucchini wetness.
And mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Spread (because it's so thick you can't pour) the batter into your pans.
Bake and let it cool.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Splenda sugar mix for baking OR 2 cups regular sugar or Splenda
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar and eggs; beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture and stir just until moistened. (Batter will become VERY thick) Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Divide and spoon batter evenly into loaf pans.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.

I made two loaves and they are delicious. Once cooled you can stick a piece in the microwave for about 30 seconds and it tastes like it's fresh from the oven!!

On the future agenda....pumpkin recipes. First on the list are Pumpkin Spice Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze...keep your eyes open!!

In the mean time, keep cool and think Fall!!
Hugs & kisses....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome baaaack.....possibly...

Oh my blog. Why have a strayed so far away from you? How did I ever get so lost??

Well I'm back. (Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back)

I hope.

The month of July was packed full of fun, family and activity but somehow I just forgot to write about it. Possibly because I have been physically miserable in the midst of enjoying it all. As much as I can with this horrible heat. I mean, I know it's like 115 in Phoenix but it's SUPPOSED to be 115 in Phoenix in the summer. But it's like 105 or something here and I keep thinking "this isn't Phoenix". What. The. Heck?

Enough about the heat though....

About a year ago I lost my very favorite cardiologist. Dr. S didn't exactly wander off and get lost, he moved to Kansas. So while someone else gained his greatness, I lost it. Several months ago my second cardiologist, Dr. T, decided that my heart rate wasn't where he felt it should be. Mind you, after my heart attack Dr. C and Dr. S both said "oh, you have a naturally high heart rate". We all seemed fine with that. I guess Dr. T never got that memo. (Why did you leave me Dr. S?) So he upped one of my medications. A few months later he still wasn't happy so he upped it AGAIN. And I began to feel miserable. I went from being fairly active and able to take walks with Shiner to hardly being able to walk to the mail box. And then as the summer progressed I noticed that there were times I just couldn't breath. Couldn't even catch my breath - with hardly any exertion. Strangely enough that just didn't seem right to me. We were in South Padre in the middle of July and I was getting up early to walk Shiner on the beach. I would get about 10 minutes down the beach and had to turn around to head back. By the time I reached the condo I could hardly breath. It was not only extremely scary but incredibly frustrating.

Geez, I just want to take a darn walk!!!

So, a change in cardiologist seemed necessary. Welcome Dr. D to my family of doctors. My first appointment went like this:

Dr. D: So what brings you to see me?
Me: I had a heart attack in October 2010, I have 6 stents and I'm having trouble breathing on a regular basis.
Dr. D: Well that's not good is it?? (smile)
Me: Not really. 

I know - it seems odd that he didn't know that. For some reason my OTHER doctor had not released my file to my NEW doctor. OK, doctor's are generally awesome and intelligent human beings but they can't magically figure out a patient's medical history without a file. And it's really quite impossible for ME to explain to the doctor everything that has gone on with my heart for the last two years. I signed the release (before the appointment) and did everything I was supposed to do - but no file. And we wait. So he set up another nuclear stress test (YUCK) and an echo-cardiogram. Fun times. My blood pressure and "cardiac" reaction were great. My breathing?? Yeah. Not so much. I almost passed out. And not from being out of shape (which I currently AM) but from lack of oxygen. Possible diagnosis? Asthma.

REALLY?? Seriously??? (insert a string of very bad words here)


I'm partially encouraged because it could be caused by the medication that Dr. T kept "upping" the dosage on. But at the same time I'm highly frustrated. It's like a big slap in the face. 

And to top everything off my blood sugar has decided to go all wonky on me. That's just great. 

But we wait. Dr. A treats the blood sugar problems "temporarily" until Dr. D. and I can figure out what the heck is going on with my breathing. I just know that once I can exercise without passing out things will normalize again. I have faith. Most days.

Have I mentioned lately that I hate all of this? Am I thankful to be here and have a life to live? Absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that every time I turn around I feel like I hit another wall. Don't get me wrong, I don't walk around feeling sorry for myself but there are days when I'm pretty darn pissed off about it and struggle to not throw things and scream. There are also days where I just want to stay in bed and cry and eat not-sugar-free bon bons (WHAT??). Most days I just take it all in stride and remind myself to be thankful. 

By the way - today is an angry-throw-things kind of day. Just saying.

It's also a day where breathing seems extra difficult so that might add to my general frustration.

But I'm glad to be back to my blogging. Maybe venting my frustrations in writing will make me feel better. And maybe not but it's worth a try!!

Summer pictures and yummy-ness to come soon.

Hugs & kisses....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Seriously Sumptuous Strawberries

I love strawberries. I love their sweetness. I love their juiciness.

I have been buying them. A LOT of them. They look so red, juicy and delicious that I can't resist. I spend too much time looking at them at the grocery store.

Maybe next year I will find somewhere to go pick them. Yes....

And we all know I love cupcakes. Glorious and fluffy little nuggets of goodness.

So a few weeks ago I was talking to Preston while he was at work and things had been particularly difficult that day - all around. His coworker, Bobby, had a most difficult customer that day who threatened, um, well, to kick his a$$.

Because that's the way to make friends and influence people - right?

Anyway - I asked what kind of cupcakes I could make for Bobby that would make him feel better. Quick response - STRAWBERRY.


A while back I found this delectable strawberry cupcake recipe on Pinterest. I think when I originally pinned it there were no fresh strawberries available. But it's that time now...

Pretty butter, sugar and vanilla.

Cream them.
Now, a note: she specifically says to use the PADDLE attachment - which obviously I did not do. Sigh. I'm learning though. I think the "whisk" attachment adds too much air and my cupcakes aren't as fluffy as they should be. So - if you make these cupcakes use the paddle attachment.
Take the bowl off of the stand mixer and gently fold in your strawberries (this I did correctly).
Pour your batter into the prepared cupcake liners.

Bake until delicious.

Now, onto the frosting. Swiss meringue buttercream. I was reading about it here on Sweetapolita and I felt all weak-kneed and dreamy. I was trying to think of a reason to try it. Then I reread the strawberry cupcake recipe and realized she was making swiss meringue buttercream. Dreamy deliciousness.

Start with pureed strawberries.
Quick note to everyone: do NOT put your brand new camera on the cute little tripod, point it downward to take pictures and then walk away. You might get a LENS FULL OF STRAWBERRY PUREE. Or something like that....

Next start warming your egg whites - with the candy thermometer.

Once the egg whites are at the temperature they need to be - remove them from the heat and start beating. And beating. And beating. I made the mistake of making this frosting on a humid day. Sigh. It took almost an HOUR to get the egg whites "stiff" enough to use in the frosting. But, like I said, this frosting is worth it.

Weird things happen with this frosting but the end product is well worth it.

Once you start adding the butter it will get this yucky curdled look. Keep going.

Add the strawberries - you will get a strange looking frosting again. Gently mix in the strawberries and it will get yummy again.
And to quote Preston's boss "these are the BEST cupcakes I have ever put in my mouth".

Hugs & kisses.....