So I kind of feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere.  I set out to make this:

And I ended up making this:

I think we can all agree which one looks more appealing.  I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have a clue when I dumped the mixed pasta into my casserole dish but I think I was hoping closing my eyes and wishing real hard would make it magically transform in the oven.  It did not.

Sadly, I think I under-salted so the whole dish was so very bland.  Bland and carb-y and heavy.  Not a very good combination.  But the almonds were a nice crunch.  And I’ve never had almonds on top of a casserole, so that was a new and interesting experience.

Seriously, is there any way to make casseroles look attractive after plating?  Will bake for photography tips!  My dutch oven for a horse!  Help, I need somebody!

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I was writing up this blog post and a thought occurred to me.  A terrible, terrible thought and I just scared the bejeesus out of Martin by making the weirdest sound ever.  I will re-enact said thought:

(Melanie skims the blog post)  Wow, this post is really depressing.  I should really – ohmygod, isn’t Chinese New Years soon?  Chinese New Years is soon!  Did I freaking miss Chinese New Years?!!? (googles “Chinese New Year 2011”)  Okay, lots of crap about the traditions behind Chinese New Years … where’s the date?  GIVE ME THE DATE.  February 3rd … are you serious?  That’s THURSDAY!  * unintelligible sound of frustration and disbelief**

Then I think I said “oh sh*t” a lot, actually aloud, thinking about how I am totally not ready for CNY.  First, I felt like a bad Chinese person and then I felt like a chicken with no head.  Then I irrationally had the thought that if I were a chicken with no head, I would at least be prepared for CNY, except you’re supposed to eat chicken with the head still attached so actually I’m in the same place I was five minutes ago.  Actually, maybe in a worse place, because now I’m a chicken with no head.  😦  It’s been a long day.