Sunshine at last!

Happy Sunday! We’re on the other side of the blizzard at last. Dan and I took our first trip out to the grocery store this afternoon and surveyed the damage, so to speak. Our road is still very narrow in parts, and we had to drive underneath a downed power line on one of the intersecting streets. The Stop & Shop was still very picked over (we actually had to make a second stop at Whole Foods to get baby spinach and blueberries — the blueberries were “conventional” and still $5), and the lot had been stripped of all the cart return areas and “customer with infant” parking spots. The snow banks are so high you could sled down them and get a good deal of speed going.

Yesterday was a flurry (haha, flurry. Get it?!) of shoveling out our cars and then playing musical chairs with them so the plow could get our lot clean. We are so lucky to have a private driveway, though, because there is nowhere to park in the shoulder on the streets, and there seems to be a parking ban in town at night, anyway. I honestly wouldn’t want to leave my car out there with the plows going by and kicking up rocks and with people coming so close to the doors because of the narrow streets. It’s bright and sunny out today and not too cold, so I’m hoping some of it starts to melt so we can be a little safer while out and about.

Friday night felt like a chili night. I had a TON of canned beans in my cupboard, and diced tomatoes, so I found a recipe for a veggie chili without too much spice. Dan is still taking it easy on spicy foods and dairy. I couldn’t believe how much it made (eight servings, 1 1/2 cups each), but we ate it all weekend and there are still leftovers. It used up a whole bunch of my can reserves! I subbed two cans of kidney beans for the black beans I was lacking, and pinto beans for the cannellini beans I didn’t have. I used some red pepper and paprika for the spice, since I was missing chili powder. I bought some of that today!

I decided to tackle my Valentine’s Day baking while I was trapped in the house. I based my cookies on recipes from a great blog, Bake at 350, on her design for Double-Decker Stripey Valentine cookies. Mind you, I’m not a decorator when it comes to my baking. That’s more my sister’s thing. But I had time and supplies and an excess of food coloring, and I figured I’d freeze them and bring them to work on Thursday. I used the blog’s recipe for spiced sugar cookies (easily found in the recipe index) as an alternative to plain sugar cookies. I had a linzer cookie cutter with scalloped edges and a tiny heart cutter from a Wilton love-themed four pack. My roll out cookies always seem to be thin and crispy. I think I roll too thin.

Regardless, they came out pretty well and I put them aside until Saturday when I could tackle the frosting. My royal icing (you can check out Wilton’s recipe on their website — they call it Color Flow Icing and I used their Color Flow Icing powder) was super thick and hard to pipe. Somehow, I made it work and thinned down a bunch for the flowing-in process. My food coloring only yielded a neon pinkish hue, rather than the red in the recipe, but I figured pink was Valentines-y, too. Whatever. It’s a cookie. After using three pastry bags, three Wilton tips, both my plastic spatulas, every glass bowl I had, and my poor Kitchenaid mixer, I had slightly dorky looking cookies and a whole sink full of dishes to do. Yikes.

Today I tried to eat a salad from the WF salad bar. Clearly, they didn’t get their fresh stuff due to snow because I got it home and it was NOT tasty. Disappointed and hungry, I made a berry smoothie to use up the last overripe banana in the house. I based it on a web recipe for a Strawberry Banana Smoothie, except I used 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries from a bag, 1/4 cup of almond milk to thin it out so it would blend, and no additional ice. It was thick and delightfully violet colored from the blue and blackberries in the bagged mix (the mix is only 70 calories a cup). Low-cal and satisfying!

It’s back to work for a four day week tomorrow and then a three day weekend for Presidents Day! We’ll be celebrating Dan’s birthday the best we can and I’ll be working off all the Chex Mix and cookie scraps I indulged in during our brief house arrest! Hope everyone is digging out of the snow okay and didn’t have any troubles with power outages or tree damage!

Veggie chili is perfect for a blizzard!

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Unfrosted cookies

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A little goofier looking than the recipe, but the taste is what counts!

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Closeup of the double-decker aspect

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Berry smoothie!

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Did some knitting, too! I knit, by the way, when I have time!

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Soaking up the precious Vitamin D through gray fur

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