Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking Rachael's Soup

Hands down, in my opinion, Rachael Ray makes the best soups and stews, or stoups, as she calls them.  They always look so good when she makes them so I thought that I would give it a shot.

I've been looking for a recipe that uses that cut up butternut squash that Costco sells.  Now you know that there is no way Miss MoneyPenny is gonna cut up a hard squash because that would most likely be a quick trip to the emergency room.  The best I can do is those tasty Delicatas because they are small and sometimes that can get dicey.

 I came upon Rach's (we are bffs) recipe called Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Alborio Rice Soup and that one sounded really good.  Of course, I did change it up a bit by using orzo pasta instead of the rice because I didn't have it.  As you can see from the above photo it turned out crazy good.

The first thing I did was brown a pound of bulk Italian sweet sausage in a large Dutch oven.  Mine was barely big enough so that gives me the excuse I've been needing to buy a new one.  Then add a chopped onion and three cloves of chopped garlic (all from my garden).

After they have sweated out for about five minutes add a bay leaf, two pounds of cut up squash, and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Stir in the six cups of chicken stock and two cups of half & half and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and add a bunch of cut up Tuscan kale.  Simmer until until done.

When the soup had cooked down some, I took my masher to the squash making it thick and yummy, leaving some chunks for texture.  I cooked 3/4 cup of orzo separately and added it to the soup.

At serving, Rach suggested a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of Parmesan.  I didn't do the olive oil but the Parmesan really took the soup to perfection.

Here are the ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian Sweet sausage with fennel (couldn't find it so I went with just sweet)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large bay leaf
2 pounds butternut or pumpkin squash, cut up into 3/4 inch dice
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups half & half
1 small bunch Tuscan kale (any kale will work or maybe even chard)
3/4 Arborio rice or orzo pasta
Parmesan for topping


Several years ago, Miss Know-It-All told me that WD-40 should be in every woman's tool kit, so I bought some and it has languished up in the cupboard.  Until Saturday morning.  I got up and turned on the coffee, let the dogs and cat out, and let them all back in again.  I fed, watered and medicated everybody, grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in my chair to watch the news.

Now my LazyBoy came about in the early 90s when my favorite ex husband was racing stock cars.  He usually kept his winnings to put back into the car or buy beer for his pit crew but one night he gave it to me and I bought the recliner.  And it is the most comfortable chair in the world and holds myself and all my critters at one time but that morning the footrest got stuck at half mast and wouldn't budge.

People that know Miss MoneyPenny know that she did not get the fixit gene...just like my dad,  I immediately break out into sweat and start cussing when something needs me to fix it.

I decided that maybe something had come loose underneath, so to the chorus of all three dogs barking at me, I turned the chair over and looked.  All I could see were bells and whistles and springs that meant nothing to me but everything seemed to be intact.  Then I was hit with a stroke of genius.  I grabbed my can of WD-40, hoping that it would still spray, and gave everything that even looked like it could move a good squirt.  The whole house smelled like WD-40 but I sat on the couch and had my coffee.

After my coffee I felt almost human and brave enough to turn the chair upright.  Guess what??  It worked like a charm.  After years of fighting that stiff handle on my chair I can now raise the footrest up or let it down with one finger.  Who knew!!

Miss Know-It-All always know best.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/15

I grabbed my camera yesterday afternoon when the sun peaked out and got this picture of my red maple all ablaze and looking gorgeous.  My son, the plumber, gave this to me for my birthday the first year I lived here.  At that time it was a twig in a five gallon bucket and I worried that it wouldn't make it because the ground was so hard and cold when we planted it at the end of the year.  But 19 years later you can see that it did just fine.  My fence is six feet so you can see how big it got.

It is hard to see but there is a rake in front of the tree.  I go out every day and rake leaves until there are no more.  Leaves are like gold to me because they are the "brown" in your compost.  I just throw them in all three of my composters and they break down fine because the leaves are fairly small but if you have larger ones you can run them over with your lawnmower.  I also mulch with them and get great results.

I mentioned earlier that my besties and me were putting together an Indian meal.  This is a great way to try out new foods and recipes that you might not be familiar with.  Miss Jenny made a true chicken curry with all the wonderful spices and there wasn't a drop left.  Miss Know-It-All took care of the rice and made the above desert.  Now - I want you to know that she knows her deserts but this one definitely needs more work.

Miss CutiePie provided the big kitchen, the naan bread, and the cute baby.  I brought the cucumber raita (sp?), dal, and my peach chutney.  The cucumber dish and dal were pretty good but I'm glad I brought along some storebought chutney.  I thought that the chutney was expensive to make and not near as good as storebought but most of it got eaten.  Good friends are wonderful aren't they??

I didn't get a QFC ad this week (probably because of the holiday) so I got this list off the website.  I hope it is accurate.  If you are gearing up for holiday baking check out the ad because there are lots of deals on ingredients.  Kroger spices are 50% off  and canned pumpkin is $1 a can.  A 4 pound bag of sugar is $2.99 and I will buy some for my hummers.  You do know that this area has hummingbirds all year long??  I found out a couple of years ago when I saw them hovering around the seed feeders.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Gold Medal Flour - $2.79/5lb
Kroger Sugar - $2.99/4lb
Kroger Spices - 50% off
Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz bag or 10/ct
Kroger Pumpkin - $1/15oz can
Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/7oz
Kroger Sour Cream - $1.50/16oz
Kroger Cottage Cheese - $1.50/16oz
QFC Large Eggs - $1.99/doz
Boneless Pork Tenderloin - $2.99/lb
Fresh Wild-Caught Cooked Dungeness Crab - $6.99/lb
Pears - $ .99/lb
Greens - $1.50/bunch
Simple Truth Organic Grape Tomatoes - $2.99/10oz

This handsome little guy is Cooper Lee.  It seems like we waited a long time for him to get here.  Mr. BlueEyes sat at the table and interacted with us.  He would smile and look us in the eye and listen to everything that was being said.  He is a very calm and relaxed happy baby.  His mommy and daddy are doing good work here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/8

Have you planted your garlic yet??  I got mine in on Sunday.  I've never been a huge garlic lover but after growing my first crop I'm in love with all things garlic.  This year I planted twice as much as last year using the biggest cloves from the last crop.  My sister has asked for some of my garlic but I'm gonna make her come up here to get it.  I think that it is worth a ten hour drive.

The picture above is my begonia in October.  Still looks gorgeous, don't you think??  But every morning when I go out to water him there are blooms all over the place suggesting that he is getting ready for the first hard freeze.  Begonias aren't crazy about full sun but this poor guy is now in total shade so I'm thinking that has something to do with the dropped blooms.

I've been wanting to go out and put the veggie gardens to bed but the flowers are still blooming.  No way could I rip out the above beautiful blooms.  I've mixed dahlias and zinnias in this bouquet.  I always thought that zinnias were like granny plants until I started growing them.  All you do is plant the seeds and stand back and enjoy the show.  I think that they add a touch of beauty to the veggies.  They do curl up their toes at the first hard freeze though.

Since I haven't been able to put the garden to bed I went after the blackberries.  What a job that was.  I'm beginning to think that cutting them off my fence (from the neighbors) is making them grow even more because they were seriously thick.  I've got piles like the above all over the yard waiting for Chris to take them away.  I want to make clear that none of these blackberries came from Tina's side of the fence.  No blackberry would be stupid enough to grow in her perfect yard.

Check out this colander full of beets, carrots and onions from my garden.  I've been in a real nesting mode lately and had decided to make a beef stew using my produce.  I did buy the mushrooms and turnips.  I let it simmer all day and it was really good for dinner.  I froze two containers for later.

The next day I made a big pot of spicy chicken soup using up the leftover meat from a Costco rotisserie chicken.  By the way, you do know what a good deal one of Coctco's chickens is don't you??  They go for $4.99 and they are much larger and tastier than supermarket chicken.  My sister gave me the idea of taking all the leftover skin and bones and throwing them in the crock pot with some water for free broth.  I rarely buy chicken broth any more.

On Sunday I'm getting together with my besties for an Indian feed.  Miss Jenny, who used to own a restaurant for about 30 years, is making a chicken curry.  She is a serious cook and is going to roast and grind the spices!!  We are meeting at Miss CutiePie's house because she has the biggest kitchen and Mr CutiePie will be gone hunting which is a good idea because I don't think that he appreciates spicy foods.

I volunteered to make chutney.  I found some recipes on the Internet that I'm going to cherry pick the ingredients for peach chutney.  I know I should probably just follow the recipes but where is the excitement in that??  Just to make sure that we have decent chutney I will be buying a bottle of Major Grey's yummy chutney, also.  If it turns out to be a hit I will share my chopped together recipe.

If you are wondering about the QFC ad there isn't one.  Or rather, they are running the one from last week again and you can check my last blog for the highlights.  I don't know why they are doing this.  Maybe to save money on printing the ad and changing all the signs??  You got me.

I bought this bath mat and it is so thick that it takes forever to dry and it throws my washer off balance but it feels good on my toes.  I took it out of the dryer when it had been in there for an hour and found a sunny place at the end of the deck to finish drying it.  Guess who found it??  Yep.  The Boston Terror who loves all things warm out of the dryer.  Her leg looks cut off in this picture but it isn't.  She has it folded under.  Anyway, the last time I looked she had all four legs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 10/1

My sister sent this to me and it sure is true around the MoneyPenny House.  Miss MoneyPenny wears shorts and capris all summer long and leg shaving gets to be a real drag but getting dressed is sure easy...just a clean pair of shorts and t-shirt and I'm good to go.  Now we are all about socks and hoodies and keeping warm.

And cooking soups and stews.  Isn't it funny how good a hot bowl of soup sounds now??  Just a couple of weeks ago I was still into salads and lots of fresh fruit but with the change in weather I'm planning a big pot of beef stew.

I make a fairly normal pot of stew except with the addition of turnips and mushrooms.  I also add a can of beef broth to the water for added flavor.  My favorite mother-in-law taught me how to make stew and she knew what she was talking about.  Oh, and by the way, she was not the mom to my favorite ex-husband.  I like to pick and choose my favorites.

Okay - let's look at the ad.  Again QFC is running their ad for two weeks.  Didn't they just do that a little while ago??  I don't think that it is such a wonderful ad that it needs two weeks but that is just my opinion.  Groceries have gotten so darn expensive.  I really got spoiled eating out of the garden but that is coming to the end because I don't grow a winter garden.

A couple of things to mention about the ad - Kroger Cheese is going for $5.99 for a two pound brick so if your family eats a lot of cheese stock up.  It will keep well unopened.  Also the cod is on sale again this week for $7.99 a pound.  I bought it last week and it was delicious!!

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs - $2.50/doz
Bush's Variety Beans - $1/can
Hunt's Tomatoes - $1/can
Kroger Cheese - $5.99/2lb
Tillamook or Chobani Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - BOGO
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Wild Cod Fillets - $7.99/lb
Fresh Wild Dover Sole Fillets - $6.99/lb
Barilla Pasta - $1/box
Asparagus - $2.99/lb
Bartlett, Bosc or Red Pears - $1.49/lb
Broccoli Crowns - $1.49/lb
Honeycrisp Apples - $2.49/lb
Medium Hass Avocados - $ .99/ea
Organic Hard Squash - $ .99/lb
Organic Kale - $2/bunch
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.28/lb


Get your flu shot!!  I was at the beauty shop this morning and one of the ladies was out with the flu and her whole family had it, so it is going around already.  Flu shots are easy to come by.  Most pharmacies have someone who can shoot you up if you aren't going in to see the doctor.  I had mine last week and it didn't hurt at all and I'm a big baby when it comes to needles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 9/24

Readers of Miss MoneyPenny know how much she loves the fall but it sure is gonna be sad when she can't go out in her backyard and pick what is needed for a dinner dish.  I took advantage of the sale last week and bought two large red peppers.  I cut them up and added them to the mix above (except the lemon cucumbers) and roasted them for a great soup.  In fact, I'm having the last of it today for lunch.

Now that is eating locally and seasonally when everything is fresh and at its best...and at the least expensive...if you aren't growing it in your garden.  I really get thrilled when I need an onion and just go outside and pull one whether it be a Walla Walla or a red onion.  I'm looking into one of those onion storage containers that I saw in the latest gardening catalog.  Putting things out in the shed is dicey because the ratties would take care of it in no time but that might work.

And speaking of fall, I've been working on checking things off my list for getting ready for winter.  I made an appointment for an oil change and winterizing with my mechanic, put flannel sheets on the bed, put away the fans, and got my flu shot.  I'm raking leaves for the compost and slowly putting the garden to bed.  I also fought the blackberries (and that was one hell of a job) and got them stacked up for Chris to haul away.  I put away all my shorts and capris and threw all of my flip flops in the washer for a good going over.  How did I end up with four pairs of flip flops??

I still have to call to get my heat pump maintained, make my mammogram appointment, and make an appointment with the dermatologist to assess the damage from all the sun we had this summer.  And they are calling for a nice weekend so I'm going to scrub my deck cushions and let them dry in the sun and take down the umbrella.  The work never stops around here.

Okay - let's look at the ad.  Kind of ho-hum this week.  If you are planning on making the famous green bean casserole for the holidays you can stock up on Campbell's soup and green beans for a dollar a can.  I also  noticed that the only fresh veggie on sale this week is hard squash at $ .99 a pound.

Here are my suggestions this week:

Starbucks Coffee - $6.99/12oz or 10ct K-cup
Campbell's Soup - $1/can
Chicken of the Sea Tuna - $ 50/can
Del Monte Vegetables - $1/can
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1/can
Mission Flour Tortillas - $1/10ct
Draper Valley Split Breasts - $1.99/lb
Fresh Wild Alaska Cod Fillets - $7.99/lb
Fresh Wild Coho Fillets - $8.99/lb
Boneless Chuck Roast - $3.99/lb
Hard Squash - $ .99/lb
Gala Apples - $1.29/lb
Large Navel Oranges - $ .99/lb
NW Yellow Peaches or Nectarines - $1.49/lb
Red, Green or Black Seedless Grapes - $1.99/lb
Nancy's Yogurt - $3.99/64oz

Check out the size of these cucumbers!!  I'm almost afraid to open them up for fear that the seeds will be as big as marbles.  Sweet Mikey from across the street brought them over with a five gallon bucket of yellow crooknecks that were so giant and hard that you could use them for ammo.  He said that they got away from him.  I suggested that he use them in gourd arrangements since they were so pretty but totally inedible.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 9/17

The Bradster and I headed out to Sol Duc Hot Springs on Sunday.  This was the first time that he has gone with me.  Usually he stays home with the critters while I have a wonderful time.  And we did have a wonderful time but it was too darned hot to spend much time in the hot springs.  I hate this global warming business.  Until the last couple of years the September trip up the mountain was either rainy or at least cool enough that you could enjoy a good long soak.

Staying at Sol Duc can get real expensive if you don't plan ahead.  We stayed two nights and it cost us about $400 including the pet fee for Pici.  We ate breakfast at the lodge every morning and lunch at the cabana by the pools.  The food is very good but expensive.  The dinners run close to $30 before dessert and wine so we opted to eat out of the ice chest.  We had beer, hard cider, cheese, hummus, crackers, cookies, and grapes.  We were quite happy with that.

Okay - let's look at the weekly ad.  Fresh wild caught King is on sale for $12.99 a pound this week which is as cheap as I've seen it all season so I will be buying some.  It looks like the new "sale" price for colored peppers is going to stay $1.50 each instead of the old $1.  The last time I looked you can still get six peppers at Costco for around $6.  Find a friend and share and while you are at it you can share a bag of avocados for about a dollar a piece for nice big ones.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Mission Tortillas - $1/10ct
Simple Truth Organic Beans - $1/15oz can
Tully's Coffee - $5.99/12oz
Special K Cereal - Buy 3, Final cost $1.99/ea
Bumble Bee Tuna - $1/can
Coffee Mate Creamer - $2.50/qt
Fage Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Fresh NW Cooked Shrimp Meat - $5.99/lb
Fresh Dover Sole Fillets - $6.99/lb
Fresh Wild Caught King Salmon Fillets - $12.99/lb
Lean Ground Beef - $5.99/lb
Pork Country Style Ribs - $3.49/lb
Barilla Pasta - $1/ea
Broccoli or Cauliflower - $ .99/lb
Grape Tomatoes - $2/10oz
Green Beans - $1.49/lb
Greens - $1.50/bunch
Large Navel Oranges - $ .99/lb
Colored Bell Peppers - $1.50/ea

I can't believe that the Bradster is smiling after I soundly trounced him at our nightly Scrabble game.  We worked two crossword puzzles and he really was good at that - after all, he is a reference librarian.

Next year we are planning on taking advantage of the end of season discounts and going in October when, hopefully, it will be much cooler.  It looks like they offer a BOGO deal on their cabins - buy one night and get the other free.  For that price we could afford to stay longer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

QFC Grocery Basket 9/10

I'm waiting for my sister, Miss SmartyPants, to show me up with pictures of her dahlias.  She is the dahlia growing queen and people actually come by her office just to look at them.  I'm just so-so at it but you got to admit that this one is a real beauty and way too heavy for her stem.

You can tell that the seasons are changing when Miss MoneyPenny drags out her crock pots.  On Sunday I had dueling crock pots - one with apples and the other with a chicken carcass.  Miss Tammie waits on the Thursday Ladies Who Lunch and she brought me a big bag of apples from her trees and I made applesauce.  I always make it in the crock pot and then run it through the food mill.

I ended up with a quart for Miss Tammie and her boys and four half pints for the freezer.

Look at that rich broth!!  I let it go all day and night and it turned into liquid gold.

I used one of these quarts for a big pot of soup and froze the other two for later.  I bought the chicken so why not use every bit of it.  The QFC ad has Simple Truth Chicken Broth on sale this week for $2.50 a quart.  It looks like I saved $7.50 from something that most of us just throw in the trash.

Okay - let's look at the ad for this week.  I talked to the world's best fish lady the other day when I was buying the King salmon that was on sale and she said that the season is almost over for fresh and wild salmon, so take advantage of it.  Another sign of the changing seasons is that the hard squashes are showing up in the ad so look for Acorn, Butternut, etc.

Here are my suggestions for this week:

Seattle's Best Coffee - $4.99/12oz
Simple Truth Organic Beans $1/15oz can
Valley Fresh White Chicken - $1/5oz can (good to have in pantry)
QFC Large Eggs - 3 for $5
Fresh Wild King Salmon - $16.99/lb
Simple Truth Organic Ground Beef - $6.99/lb
Fresh NW Shrimp Meat - $3.99/lb
Barilla Pasta - $1/12-16oz
Bartlett or Red Pears - $1.49/lb
Eggplant - $1.50
Hard Squash - $ .79/lb
New Crop Gala Apples - $ .99/lb
NW Yellow Peaches or Nectarines - $1.49/lb
Tomatoes on the Vine - $1.99/lb
Red, Green, Black Seedless Grapes - $1.99/lb

I noticed that Poppy, the Boston Terror, was sleeping in the cat bed which is way too small for her.

And this was the reason why.  The cat was on her special blanket so turnabout is fair play.  Look at that cat looking all fat and innocent.