Monday, November 12, 2007

Bridesmaid dresses!!! And Zuppa

I got my cousin Suong her bridesmaid gown via mail and it's soooo adorable. I'm probably more excited about it than she is. It's so chic and simple, though I worry a little that in spite of the fact I got her a double zero petite (yes, they make such a size) that it's probably going to be a tad roomy for her. Emily and Nini are down with getting their dresses too. The lone standout right now is Kim.

Not like I think she's intentionally holding out out of spite; she's having a bit of a tough stretch right now having maxed out her credit cards and having some car issues so bridesmaid dress isn't high on her priority list. I guess if she ends up paying full price for a bridesmaids gown in the same color as the other girls that's no big deal to me but I'd much rather her simply buy it now since I've gone through so much trolling around the internet for good prices.

And I finally met up with Amanda this past week! We had dinner at TGIFridays and caught up since I hadn't talked to her since around the time I got engaged and even then I never saw her and she hadn't seen my ring. Can you believe? There's a person in the world who hasn't been forced to eyeball my engagement ring? It's crazy. It was nice to see her. I don't think it'll be like it used to be with us constantly hanging out and gossiping but I miss her being in my life and I hope that we make it a better practice to make time for each other.

I had a very...cooking-ful weekend again. I was invited to go out on the town on Friday evening but I was content to stay in and watch a movie with Trevor. Sometimes, in spite of the fact that we live together we need to take some time to reconnect. It's easy to take advantage of the fact that someone is physically right there and forget to emotionally be there too.

I made some Zuppa Toscana a la Olive Garden. I like their Pasta Fagioli too and have made some once, but I think Zuppa Toscana is more satisfying and meaty. I have some food related issues that I inherited from my mother. When I like something I usually want to attempt to make it. She did that my whole life, sometimes with great success and sometimes it was less than spectacular but nonetheless she always loved being a recipe copycat.

So....Kelly's version of Zuppa Toscana:
-1lb of pork sausage
-3-4 potatoes cleaned and diced
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 cans of chicken broth
-1 can of evaporated milk
-1/2lb of kale
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Bacon crumbles (optional)

Smush up and saute your sausage in a big pot. I get the sausage in a tube from the refrigerated meats area. It's usually cheaper and you don't have to cut the casings. I use my dutch oven for the whole dish, which in spite of it's name is just a big pot and not actually an oven. Try to break up your sausage, the smaller the better since you're making soup. It gets pretty greasy so I always let it cool down and put it through a strainer. It also makes me feel slightly healthier since I'm at least attempting to healthy it up.

Use the same greasy dutch oven and turn on the heat. Throw in your garlic and your potatoes. You don't have to, but I like to let the potatoes sit with the garlic for a while and get some color from the heat. Then throw in your sausage chunks and stir until everything looks good. You can then dump in the contents of all your liquid filled cans. If you're more well prepared than me you will have made your own chicken stock. Since I was lazy I used the canned stuff though I suggest NOT using fresh dairy because it's very easy to curdle up if you overheat your soup, which I'm actually very apt to do. I don't know what they do to evaporated milk but it will not separate and look all nasty if you decide to reheat your soup in the microwave 2 days later. Simmer on low for at least 20 minutes to get your potatoes nice and soft.

I eyeball all my ingredients to Zuppa Toscana. Sometimes I put too much potato. Sometimes there's way too much sausage...but it always tastes good. Now if you like it slightly thicker you can fish out a few pieces of potato and go at it with a fork until it resembles mashed potatoes. If you reincorporate it with your soup it'll ever so slightly thicken it up without taking away any flavor or risking any cornstarch clumps (I can never quite stir fast enough).

Wash and chop your kale. Kale's a lot like collards in that you eat them cooked. I don't think anyone would decide to eat kale raw like lettuce. I add it just before serving, but if you are feeding a crowd just throw in handfuls and watch it all wilt in your pot. Kale reminds me of a sturdy version of spinach, and the closer you put it in to serving time the prettier and greener it'll be in your bowl. I garnished with some chopped reduced sodium bacon I had sitting in my freezer not being eaten since I never make a big breakfast anymore. (For those of you rolling your eyes, I have to say I think the less-salty bacon is yummier than the regular stuff which I can't bear to eat too much of.)

I also made fried rice but I'll save my feelings about that for another post...I don't want to rant forever :)